Elizabeth Poole has passed 50 followers on her blog, leaving us little 15 subscriber folks in the dust! In celebration of this milestone, she has called for a blog fest
! Take your older writing and post it to show what kind of writers we used to be! Now I've lost a lot of my older stuff over the course of repeated moves in my immediate post-college career. You can still listen to my short story "The End of Bliss"
So with that in mind, CONGRATULATIONS LIZ!
I thought I would instead post chapter two from my first completed novel, BLACK MAGIC AND BARBECUE SAUCE. It did not get picked up by an agent because its main character is Poseidon. He's a thief. I'm told this makes the story too much like Percy Jackson. Read the following chapter and tell me if you agree.
October 8, 2006
Cardinals 6, Padres 2
“Penultimate, man! There is no other way to describe it than penultimate!” Cy Lekkas wields a chicken drummie like a scepter, Weck-n-Wings' patented Nuclear Sauce flinging onto the table as if he were anointing it with holy water. The table matches his curly brown hair, most of his face, his St. Louis Cardinals baseball jersey, and his jeans, all of which have been sanctified by barbecue sauce at some point during the night.
The man across from him doesn't mind—or even notice. Beer has been flowing freely for hours and the night is still young. The Cardinals made short work of the Padres and are on their way to the championship series and, barring a spectacular collapse, will be the 2006 World Series champs.
“The St. Louis Cardinals are going to be the 2006 World Series champs!” Cy shouts, raising his drummie high in royal decree. The restaurant erupts in cheers. This might be considered a frustrating disruption to the dinner of non-baseball-watching patrons. Such a consideration is not feasible in St. Louis because there are no non-baseball-watching patrons, not in St. Louis, not in a place like Weck-n-Wings.
Weck-n-Wings is a chicken wing joint. The menu offers salads and shrimp, but the only people that eat those things are ex-employees and people that have no soul. For everyone else, there are wings, drummies, and sixteen different barbecue sauces from mild and sweet to Nuclear, a sauce that has earned its name. And like any good wing joint, there are copious amounts of beer. The walls are covered with big-screen LCDs offering every sport aired on TV: baseball, basketball, football, hockey, cricket, Aussie rugby (Union), and even curling. Curling is unnaturally popular. What space is left on the walls is filled with smaller screens with trivia games. The servers—all female—are the most beautiful, nubile specimens in the city and that is by design.
“If they win the series, I'm going to go to California and have a plastic surgeon implant a womb, right here,” the man says, rubbing his belly. “Then I'm going to go find Pujols, and I'm going to have his baby. I'm going to make love to him right there in the locker room, and I'm going to give him another child.”
“Sweet, sweet man love.” Cy has no idea who the man is, why the baseball star needs another child, or why that child wouldn't be conceived with his wife rather than a stranger, but he's wearing a Cardinals jersey so they are brothers.
“It's not man love if I have a womb,” he rebukes. “I'm going to give him a child. It's special.” The man looks visibly distraught at Cy's obvious lack of regard for the miracle of life.
Cy scrunches his face, pondering the miracle of life through a haze of Budweiser and the heady aroma of Nuclear Sauce—which he notices has dripped all down his forearm. He begins licking it clean as he ponders.
“But how is his semen going to get to your egg? And do eggs come with the womb or do you have to buy those separate? You'll need fallopian tubes. And a vagina. You gotta get the whole nine yards. I'm not sure if I would have a doctor cut off my dick if the Cards win the series.” His eyebrows raise, waiting for all the facts of womb transplantation to sink in. “I like my dick. I like it where it is.” He dries an arm with a napkin.
If he promised to remove his dick if they won—and obviously if they win it would be because he promised to remove his dick—would it be worth it? Which is more important, his dick or the Cardinals winning the series again. “Maybe a testicle. I've got two...”
“Nah, you got it all wrong.” The stranger nods his head authoritatively. “Those California doctors can do anything. You just have em pop off your junk for nine months, give Pujols a baby, then have em pop it back on. I don't think that's unreasonable.”
So which is more important, the uninterrupted presence of his penis or the Cards winning a series? This would take some consideration. Cy sits back at the table and dips his fingers into the tub of Nuclear Sauce then licks them clean. Sure the wings are tossed in sauce before they're served, but never enough. Not enough for Cy, anyway. And if he has to drop a few extra bucks for a mega-side of sauce, it is worth the price.
“Can I get you gentlemen anything else?” the waitress asks. She wears the Weck-n-Wings' black and gold uniform shirt surprisingly free of barbecue sauce with a name tag that says, “Welcome to Weck-n-Wings, I'm K A Y L A
.” Long blonde hair, pale skin, and wonderful curves. In the sea of post-season frenzy, she is the lighthouse that reminds these men that there is a world outside of baseball.
“I'm fine. Mother, do you need anything?” Cy asks the man across the table. The guy shakes his head. “We're good, thank you.”
Kayla collects some of the trash from the table. She gives him a “Who is that?” quirked eyebrow. He gives her an “I have no idea” shrug. She gives him a “Look at your shirt!” frown. He gives her a “Who cares? It's the playoffs!” smile. She gives him a “See you tonight” wink, careful that no other patrons see her lest they get the wrong impression.
“I'll bring the check,” she says. “You can pay whenever you're ready.”
Not that he needs to worry about paying. It's theater for the masses. What Kayla cannot give him through her employee perks he wins with the Nuclear Sauce Challenge. He has won every time since the restaurant started the event, much to the dismay of the assistant store manager, Mark Preston. The same store manager that is making a bee line to his table right now.
“Manager Mark, you model of manliness, you paragon of promiscuity, how are you this glorious evening?” Cy slams his fist on the table emphatically. No one notices. They're lost in their own celebrations.
Mark tries and fails to force his expression to unphased neutrality, imitating British austerity. He appears more the butler than manager.
“Mr. Lekkas. How good to see you again. I had only seen you five times this week and I was beginning to worry,” Mark says, ignoring Cy's own salutation. Cy thinks the man should be happy to have such a loyal patron, but given how long it has been since last he paid, he understands the belligerence. “And how is your meal tonight, Mr. Lekkas?” he asks. He looks down his nose at Cy, making his long nose hairs particularly noticeable. Mark runs the multi-million dollar grossing franchise restaurant while Big Mike, the owner/store manager spends his time trying to shag the newest waitress. But his name tag still says, “Welcome to Weck-n-Wings, I'm M A R K
,” eliminating any sense of authority.
“Terrific as always, Manager Mark.” Cy licks between his fingers suggestively. Mark's face contorts, as if he had uncomfortable gas. “Terrific game, terrific chicken, terrific service. All in all, I'd say it was superlative.”
“I'm pleased to hear it.”
The two men pause, Cy waiting for Mark and Mark seemingly savoring some delicious bit of knowledge that he has yet to reveal. Cy dips a drummie in his extra sauce, then puts the whole thing into his mouth, pulling it in and out as he sucks it clean. Mark wrinkles his nose and begins to shift his weight from foot to foot.
“I have some news that I believe you'll find relevant, Mr. Lekkas,” Mark says.
“Yes, Manager Mark?” Cy says, extracting the bone and swallowing the chicken in one large, audible gulp.
“Please, it's just Mark. Or Mr. Preston.”
“And important information that was. I'll keep that in mind.” Cy looks to his table-mate only to find the man gone elsewhere. They hadn't actually eaten at the same table but only fell together during the reverie of the Cardinals' victory. The need to piss or some similar demand has drawn him away, leaving Cy alone to revel in his own juvenile humor.
“What? No, that's not what I— that is—”
“Oxygen, man!” Cy shouts, grabbing another wing. “Breathe.”
“Mr. Lekkas, I have received notice from Corporate that we are amending the Nuclear Sauce Challenge. Whereas previously you—any customer was entitled to a free meal if he could eat 18 Nuclear wings, a person is now entitled to only one complimentary meal a month.”
Cy nods, mouth full of chicken. He drinks from his tub of Nuclear Sauce like it was a beverage. Mark's eyes widen and his jaw works, bobbing up and down as he tries to speak.
“Th—this amendment, sir, was effective as of Monday, so you have already received your complimentary meal for the month. I hope it is not an inconvenience to you that you were not informed then.”
“Yes, Mr. Lekkas?”
“Did you really just say whereas? Whereas, Mark? Really?”
More chicken. More sauce. More jaw bobbing.
“If you are unable to pay for your meal today, sir, we can hold your bus pass or other form of identification while you visit an ATM.”
The insult is not missed. Cy can't help but smile. He's never gotten this much of a rise from Manager Mark before.
“No worries, Mark. Mrs. Poole at the corporate office sent me the notice too. My picture is in the lobby, you know, for having won the Challenge more than anyone else. Seems she's an admirer. She sent me a bunch of gift cards. More are on the way, too. I'm good.”
Cy stares at the jaw. The thing must be on a hinge the way it just moves up and down like that. It's like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. He wonders if Mark has an oil can in the back office.
Mark turns and walks away without saying anything else.
Cy smiles to himself. He shouldn't derive so much pleasure from haranguing Mark, but he does. And Mark took a jab at him. The man has a stick so far up his ass that he wouldn't take a jab at Evander Holyfield if the two were in a boxing ring.
“Did you see that?” Cy asks, seemingly to no one. The din of the crowd is loud enough that no one hears him or how his voice has changed. It sounds like metal feet of an imbalanced table rocking back and forth.
“I did,” Table answers. “You're taking a risk pushing him like that.” It has no lips, no mouth, no vocal cords, but it Speaks, and Cy understands it. Understands it and Speaks its language.
A fan standing near the table looks over his shoulder. Seeing nothing but Cy sitting covered with Nuclear sauce, he turns back to his party. “This isn't just about you, you know,” Table says.
Cy takes a chicken drummie and swirls it in his extra sauce, placing the mess in his mouth. The hair on his arms stands up as energy courses through his body. He doesn't just hear Table, he hears everything that Speaks in the restaurant. While the other tables, the ceiling, and the walls are all silent, the floor has a lot to say. None of it polite. Cy smiles and purposefully drips a little sauce on the floor.
“Oh, fuck you!” Floor bellows, its voice like squeaky shoes on a wet surface. Cy laughs.
“Antagonizing Manager Mark isn't enough?” says Table. “Now you have to piss off Floor too?”
“No worries. Everything will be okay.” Cy says. If you live long enough, everything is okay eventually.
“For you maybe. But Kayla won't be so fortunate.”
“What about Kayla?” For the first time in the conversation, Table truly has Cy's attention. He grips the side of the table and leans close to it, as if proximity might speed its response.
“Manager Mark was sitting at me yesterday after close. He was saying things. Saying things about Kayla.”
“Never a good sign, my man.” Cy's brother-in-Cardinal-Nation returns, falling back into his chair, knocking over the tub of extra sauce. He gives Cy a critical look, his eyes widening and narrowing as he tries to focus. “You gotta keep your head up or the waitress is gonna cut you off.”
“I'm not drunk,” Cy says irritably, sitting upright.
“No, of course not.” The man gives him a knowing wink. “Me either.”
Cy hears Floor sniggering at him.
“Shut up,” Cy says, sotto voce.
“Gazundtite,” the man says.