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An excerpt from a 2012 NaNoWriMo Novel, “Of Gray Steel & Broken Concrete”

She found me in the park at five am, hopped up on five dollar hooch, the brown kind. I was luxuriating half way under a park bench, having a conversation with some pigeons about some uncomfortable photos that had surfaced and recently came into my possession. It was not a good way to start off a first impression. The lamps around the park were not penetrating the pre-sunrise darkness, but I saw her only when she was above me, swinging a cup like the clapper of big ben. The sleeve of her black cashmere Rothschild’s coat made her hand the ghostly talon of some benevolent god, waving some elixir obviously brewed in the wide and deep saucer that once collected the saviors sanguine fluid. At the high end of the swing, I could see the breath of warmth teasing out over the edges and dancing in the chill air.

With the clatter, shatter, and clink of my discarded evenings companion, I fumbled the proffered cup to my lips and felt the edges of my current world force focus on the real world. She was a kind and decent woman, obviously from a long and noble line of saints, for she didn’t speak a word or turn her eye to me, until I had righted myself ON the bench. I sipped at the tongue burning black panacea, which was good enough that I was able to appreciate the crimson line made by her coat that wrapped around milky, long, smooth…

“If you are well enough to leer,” she said, “then you are good enough shape to listen.”

Her gentle whisper was The Brighton-Belle storming between my ears. My eyes slammed shut and watered at the misery of it all. My jaw fell open to release a silent whimper, as I couldn’t muster up a proper complaint. I settled on responding with a clever snails paced nod, which would have to satisfy her because there was nothing more I could offer.

The tack-tak of her voice continued, “I inquired at the Biltmore for a Mr. Spencer. The doorman, after giving me the up and down, twice I might add, said that I might be able to find you here. Furthermore that if I wanted to get anything useful out of you, that I should bring you the darkest foulest coffee that one could find at this time of night.”

To my delicate ears and brain, the velvet lining of her collar creaked and moaned like a sinking ship as she turned her head towards me.

She said “I am assuming that you are The Robert William Charles Spencer in question.”

Even with a voice like that and body to match, (I am really assuming her body matched the knee buckling nature of her voice. But from what I could see of the delicious lines that were peeking out from between the hem of her red red dress and the ultra-fashionable knee high feminine version of jackboots that have been all the rage these last few months) her dropping my full name like that caused the familiar rush that one gets when ones mother uses your name like that. But more specifically like when your mother screams out your full name at the top of her lungs, pausing between each syllable for emphasis, when she just found out that you had not only accidentally put a giant wad of gum in your older sisters waist length hair, on the day of her debutante presentation no less, but then you helped get it out with the kitchen shears it only made it worse. That kind of reaction.

I nodded the slushy gravel around behind my eyes in reply, and managed to choke out “Just Wil.”

The silk symphony of her voice came back and called out the sun from its slumber, “Well Mr. Spencer, apparently I need your help.”

We would see about that.

I raised my hand to stop her, with my head still down as if I was studying my shoes for some deep meaning.

Have you ever noticed that by the end of the day, you can’t seem to remember how you put your shoes on. Left or right one first. Were you sitting down, or did you slip your feet into them from a standing position. I mean you can guess, or try to replay it out, but you really just don’t know for sure.

I seriously contemplated this deep philosophical question, as one would ponder about if we had free will or not. You know, that whole dilemma of determinism thing. Because we really do not know if our actions are controlled by a causal chain of preceding, seemingly random, events, or if we are really and truly free agents making decisions of our own free will.

I must have been pondering for quite a bit of time there, because she gently cleared her throat as a song bird might exhale.

I nodded my head one more time and then I pounded back the liquid that had cooled and transformed into onyx bile that was once impersonating coffee.

In the most deadpan voice I could muster, I said, “You hating her voice is reason enough for her to be dead.”

Without missing a step in this little tango we were now about to engage in, she replied in a rehearsed yet natural tone, “Even to be killed by a shovel?”

Damn it. This might be legit. I countered “You know, in my dreams, I am afraid of falling.”

She tapped her left foot and then her right, one time each, “But Mr. Spencer, things will be just fine, as it is a very long way down… you’ll grow wings.”

I looked up at her and managed to keep a little of my dignity by not releasing the brown liquor back out into the wild. I sighed, “Well it looks like romance isn’t dead after all.”

She locked her saddle brown eyes on mine, and the bench tried to make a run for it, but somehow I managed to not get bucked off. She winked he left eye at me and I nearly dropped dead on the spot. Without so much as a smile she finished the dance with, “No Mr. Spencer, it’s just slightly out of tune.”

As she turned and walked briskly away, her perfect hand came out of her pocket and dropped a coin discreetly on the grass near my abandoned bottle shards. I waited until she had walked out of the park and the sun had decided to show its bossy gleaming face to sleeping city, then I slid to the end of the bench and looked down into the shards of the evenings high point. Among the glittery, foul smelling, glass lay a single antique coin. A very rare golden Vereinsthaler.

I guess the pictures and my descent into dipsomania were going have to wait for another day.

It was time to get to work.

.end