In my April 21st post, I told you about an exercise my writer’s group was working on. Each of us offered up an opening to a story. Then, at our next meeting we shuffled up the openings and passed them out so that everyone had someone elses opening to work from. We were given 30 minutes to finish the scene/story as best we could while trying to maintain the essence of the opening. I will begin by repeating my opening and then show you how my fellow writer and blogger Scott Weber (with his permission) finished the scene. He went places I did not have in mind when I started. But having read my work, he certainly kept the spirit going. Thanks, Scott.
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.”
Scott Finishes the scene:
“Kind of a funny place for a family reunion” he said with a smile. He probably thought he was being clever. I was in no mood for clever.
“Have you seen her” I said.
“Maybe I have, and maybe I haven’t. What’s it worth to you?”
“If it’s something I believe, it’s worth 5 silver.”
“What if you don’t believe it?”
“Then I leave…..but maybe that spell you’re using on the girls upstairs happens to fail. Be a shame if those miners realize exactly who their spending their paychecks on.” The barkeep got a sour look on his face. Maybe he was thinking another clever comment. Maybe he was thinking of spell. I pulled aside my coat and showed him the Glock in my shoulder holster. “Do you really think you can get another spell going faster than I can draw this and pull the trigger? From this distance I won’t even have to aim…” The little barkeep weighed his options. He came to the most logical conclusion.
“Lets see some silver.”
I put five silvers down on the bar. “So, you seen her or not?”
“Yeah, I seen her. Hard to forget that mark on her neck. Most women it would make them cheaper, but on her it really worked. Called herself Chessie, after something called a Cheshire cat she told me. Whatever that is. That had to be three years ago, though.”
“Where’d she go?”
“How the hell should I know? She was always disappearing then coming back whenever the hell she wanted to. I do recall that she took off for good right after them elves opened up that gamblin place up Nevada way.”
“Vegas?” I said dumbfounded. “You’re tellin me she went to Vegas?”
“All I know is that one day the story is in the paper and she is all excited about it. The nest day she was gone.”
I picked up two of the silvers from the bar and headed for the door. “Hey, you said five silvers!”
“That was before you said Vegas.”
In the parking lot I started up the trike and put on my goggles. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Best place to hide was in plain sight, right next to whose looking for you. She could blend there being part elf and an illusionist. How could she possibly hide the stone though? It would practically scream it’s presence to the elven mages. Have to figure that out later I guess. Vegas was maybe 600 miles and I was running out of time.
**Next time I’ll post the opening that I worked with and the way I chose to finish it.