Monday November 30th, 2015

The exercise:

Write something that has to do with: under the table.

We've gone sailing past his third birthday and one of Max's favorite places remains under the table - whether we're at home or at our coffee shop. Only difference now is that he tends to hit his head more often.

Got some more wood to the house this morning as it was another frigid day. Things are expected to warm up to more reasonable temperatures by Wednesday or Thursday. Which I'm very much looking forward to.

Tonight's overnight low of -10? Less so.


The pub wasn't as busy as I'd hoped it would be, but I still figured it was noisy and crowded enough to serve my purpose. I found an empty booth along the wall opposite the entrance and slid onto my seat. A waitress materialized faster than I expected and I ordered a pitcher of their cheapest beer and two empty glasses to keep it company.

I took off my jacket, placed it on the bench beside me, and picked up a greasy menu to give my hands something to do while I waited. A quick glance at its contents confirmed that my decision to eat before arriving was a good one.

The beer and my guest arrived at the same time, which I'm certain was no coincidence. He gave her a big smile and an overly enthusiastic thank you (especially considering that he hadn't ordered, nor would he be paying for it) and she brushed him off with practiced ease.

"Evening Charlie," he said as he poured himself (and not me) a glass. "What do you want?"

"Hi Skip," I said, dropping my hands to my lap (let him have the swill). "The usual."

"You got the money?" he asked before taking a rather large sip. He made a pained face (that I found satisfying to an embarrassing degree) but said nothing about the beer. Instead: "Make it quick. I got places I need to be."

"Sure." I pulled a thick envelope from my jacket pocket then froze. I didn't make the rookie mistake of looking around to see if anyone was watching, but it was terribly tempting. "You came by yourself, right?"

"Don't be stupid," he said with a genuine look of disgust. "You know I don't have anybody to bring with me."

"Right," I said with an uneasy smile and stuffed the envelope back into the depths of my jacket. "My bad, my bad."

"What's the hold up, man?" I could practically feel his fingers grasping at the air under our table. "Hand it over so I can get out of here."

"Sorry, Skip." I scanned the room then, slowly (because screw him or her or whoever - they weren't getting anything from me that night). "Change of plans."


Greg said...

Sounds like it'll be all the blankets on the bed tonight then! That's definitely chilly weather you've got going on there, but it sounds invigorating. If you go out and chop wood in it you'll warm up in no time and you'll have wood for the fire later on too :-D
Hmm, you're definitely increasing the amount of detail you put into your tales at the moment: is this seasonal? It's appreciated though, definitely; the pub comes to life rather nicely (that menu sounds horrible, by the way) and the interaction between the characters has the right amount of tension. Of course, it needs continuing!
As for me... I'm going to steal the start of your story again because of a word choice you made that I think I can make humorous... :-P

Under the table
The pub wasn't as busy as I'd hoped it would be, but I still figured it was noisy and crowded enough to serve my purpose. I found an empty booth along the wall opposite the entrance and slid onto my seat. A waitress materialized faster than I expected and I ordered a pitcher of their cheapest beer and two glasses to keep it company. Empty glasses cost more than 'recycled' ones so I let the waitress bring over two random glasses from now-empty tables. One smelled like it had creme de menthe in it, and the other was half-full of better beer than I'd ordered. I knew this pub though; that beer would have been spat in, or worse. I poured the creme de menthe into the beer and swilled the now-empty glass out with the cheap beer and poured that into the other glass too. Then I settled down to drink and wait for Andrew.
He was late, but less late than he had been when he was a woman, Andrea. I considered telling him that the sex-change was having a good effect on him, but he's sensitive about that kind of thing, so I let it be. He sat down, squeezing his bulk in opposite me, and picked his glass up. He sipped it and made a face.
"You've got to stop ordering the Canadian beer," he said. "I swear I can taste mint in this; beats the bloody fruit, but still."
"I order what I can afford," I said placidly. I looked out of the window by the entrance door; I could just see the parking lot. There was snow mounded here and there still, but it was empty. "Did you walk?"
"Doctor said I should do more exercise." Andrew knocked the rest of the 'beer' back and poured himself a fresh one. "Cat's piss," he said.
"What's the job you've got for me then?"
"A little under-the-table work," said Andrew. He belched, and I turned my head away to avoid having to smell his breath. "We need you to infiltrate the subterranean gigolo society, the SGS. We think they're up to rather more than their mission statement suggests."
"Subterranean means underground, doesn't it?" I shifted in my seat, a little uneasy. I'm mildly claustrophobic, and Andrew knows this.
"It does, but it's a kind of euphemism." He refilled his glass again. "Their members spend the evening underneath the table attending to their partners' – ah, personal – needs."
"I'm not short enough, surely?"
"We have a surgeon on stand-by."
"Look, Andrew," I said, starting to regret having stiffed him on the drinks. "I don't thin–"
Andrew belched hugely again and slumped across the table, unconscious. I frowned, and then checked my watch. The timing was right if someone had dumped Rohypnol in one of the drinks... probably the creme de menthe. I offered up a tiny prayer of thanks to whatever god or goddess was watching over me, and fled the bar.

Marc said...

Greg - partially a seasonal thing I suppose. And also just generally feeling the itch to get into longer pieces of writing. Glad you like it so far!

I can see that you had great fun with the setting I provided :) Great back and forth, and I enjoyed all the additional details you slipped in as well.

The ending surprised me, only because I wasn't expecting you to let your narrator off the hook.