My regular writer’s group decided on an interesting writing exercise. Each of us is to prepare a ~250 word opening scene to a story. the next time we meet the scenes will be shuffled and handed out so that no writer gets their own story. The task will be to continue the story. Whether you finish the story or not is your choice. We will then critique each “Complete” story. What follows is my entry to the opening scenes. I hope to share both the final version of this story and the story that I complete. We’ll see if the other writers are willing to share.
The stench of stale beer and bad cigar smoke burned my nose and stung my eyes as I entered waterfront dive called the Broken Tankard. Tears filled my eyes from the smokey irritation. I blinked several times before the room came into focus.
A swirl of faces turned in my direction and quickly returned to the interests at hand. I walked toward the dark stained bar that ran along the back wall. My boots stuck to the floor as I picked my way through the jungle of tables and occupied chairs. Stains from semi-dried beer, blood, and other noxious fluids covered the floor. I tried to step around the worst of it. But, there were few dry spots to find. Two women stood on the stairs that led to the second floor. Wearing little more than undergarments, they tried to catch the eye of the patrons.
I continued to the bar but refrained from touching it as it was no cleaner than the floor.
“What do you want?” asked a small wiry man from behind the bar. His beady eyes never left mine as he carefully replaced a bottle beneath the bar.
Through the stench of the smoke and beer, I smelled the distinct chocolate aroma of magic coming from the man behind the bar.
“I’m looking for this woman,” I said as I handed him a faded photograph. “I was told she used to work here.”
The man looked at the picture of young woman wearing a wedding dress. She had a crescent-shaped birthmark on her neck. He glanced to the women on the stairs and then handed the picture back to me.
“Maybe I have seen her. Why are you looking for her?”
I stuffed the picture into my shirt pocket and said, “She’s my mother.”