On my Pinterest page for the novel, you’ve seen a small, innocent looking picture of a Friendly’s. This is the beginning of that scene, where it all starts to come together. This is a first draft. It will be tightened, less tell etc. The POV will definitely change to omni. But for a first draft I’m pleased with it.
New York. He was in New York. Evan was not happy about this. Not the destination so much as the entire experience. He could live here, sure. But why? New York? Rent through the roof, pay rock bottom, competition out the door, for the possible opportunity to tell the same lies. Damn.
“Stay there, Slinky. I’ll be back soon dear.” A woman breezed through the doors, which was noteworthy because Evan took note of her. Normally he ignored the locals. This lady couldn’t help but make an impression. She was tall and curvy, carrying a few extra pounds no one would think to call “fat”. She had hit that golden age where, by appearance, she could be someone’s mother or grandmother with equal ease. Her travel stained raincoat seemed way too practical considering her large, colorful earrings (were those parrots?). Her smile seemed to say “you may not be someone I know, but I like you anyway.” She settled into a booth then scanned the menu with a sigh. Having nothing else better to do, Evan settled down to watch her settle as his food arrived.
“Hello menu, what’s good?” He half wondered if “menu” would respond before he caught himself. This was good. His reporter instinct was kicking in – the patented Peter Parker spidey senses tingled. “No, menu, that’s too fatty. Thanks anyway. But no salads either, dear. Strictly for rabbits. Come on menu,” she encouraged, “surprise me.” Without warning she looked at him, eyes sparkling. “What about it?” She indicated his plate. “That looks delicious.”
“Caden Parks, nice to meet you.”
He was in New York on gut instinct. Why not? Without preamble he gathered his food and slid in across from her. “What kind of name is Caden?”
If anything, her eyes sparkled just a bit more as she unwrapped her cutlery. “It means “we really wanted a boy”. In Welsh.” She speared a square of his waffle for emphasis.
Evan felt a knot loosening, ever so slightly. When he smiled tension eased from his face. When did he acquire a tense face? “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Caden Parks. Evan Lamarr.”
“You’re not from around here are you?” It was not a question.
“Boulder, by way of New Orleans.”
“Right.” Caden waved over the slightly confused waitress who had returned to check on Evan’s now empty table. “I’ll have one of him.”
The girl offered a startled look before plastering the trademarked “whatever the customer wants” smile firmly in place. “That’s great, be right up.” She walked away, scribbling. Evan could only hope she wrote down “Belgian waffle” and not “bored black guy from Boulder.” Though that did lead the imagination down some interesting paths.
Caden casually forked another bite from his plate. Myrna held the opinion that all food was communal, but he’d never met anyone else who was so nonchalant about the idea. Usually he would have made at least a token protest, but something about Caden disarmed him. He pushed the plate into the middle of the table and started working from the other side. “You’re from here?”
“Oh, no dear. I’m from Stony Brook.” His puzzled look seemed to amuse her. “That’s thataway, you see.” She made a vague but musical gesture to the left. “I’m on a bit of an adventure.”
He nodded sagely (when did he develop a sage nod?) “Not all who wander are lost”.
“Precisely!” She flourished the fork like a small sword. “Damn the orcs, full speed ahead!” She suddenly became still, her gaze fixed in the middle distance. “Though I do wonder about My Precious.”
His grin took on a slightly maniacal edge, rubbing his hands together. “My… Precious? Is it.. sweet? Is it… juicy?”
Caden looked offended. “You realize Bilbo cheated, don’t you? That was no riddle. “What’s in my pocket?” Honestly.”
“Sure he did. “Bilbo cheated” is the second most popular convention T-shirt.”
“What’s the first?”
“Han shot first.”
“Course he did.”
Not even half a waffle, and it was getting hard to remember he and Caden hadn’t walked in together. As she rooted around the waffle for more strawberries he caught himself about to ask her if she knew how Myrna was doing. He was almost afraid to – she just might tell him.