Sunday, July 12, 2015

GRAVITY (A short story)

He had walked into trouble, Jeffery King could sense it before he had taken a step into his hotel room after he secured the door.  He clicked the wall light switch on and looked around.  The queen size bed was undisturbed, as was his bulky hooded jacket on a hanger and his suitcase he had stashed under a oak wood table.  There were no visual cues things were amiss, but the warning klaxon in his mind did not abate.  It got louder.

Jeffery frowned as he turned to the light switch.  As he did so, realization struck like a sledgehammer's blunt head swung into an old brick wall of a building under renovation.  He had left the light on when he had departed to attend the dinner/writer's conference event in one of the hotel's pavilions hours before, because he knew it would be dark by the time he returned.

There was a giggle just before a young woman strolled out of his bathroom to stand in front of him.  Her golden blonde hair had been separated into double ponytails that ended at her tanned, slender waist that was exposed by a bright yellow cropped-in-half shirt.  She hooked her thumbs on her black yoga pants and smiled up at him.  Her cornflower blue eyes sparkled.

"Hi," she said with a drawl.  "I'm Alexis.  Alexis from Texas."

The young woman briefly covered a sun tattoo that encircled her navel with both palms as she giggled again.

"Um, hello, Alexis.  I'm Jeffery.  Can you tell me why you're in my room, please?"

"Sure, honey," she replied as she hugged him.  "I just knew you would be a sweet heart from reading your book.  Mark let me in.  He works here."

A huge man who looked capable of holding his own against the entire Houston Texan offensive line walked out of the bathroom and glared at Jeffery as he spoke.  A diagonal scar under his dark brown right eye twitched while his mouth moved.

"Well, King, I hope you enjoyed your hug from the honey.  You and I have an appointment with my employer after we have ourselves some business.  You're outta here, babe."

"But--but you said I could talk to him.  I like him," Alexis protested.

"You did talk to him.  Now you're leaving.  Go hug a stray puppy or something.  Make like a tree and vamoose."

Mark turned his glare on her.

"Whatever," she snapped as she opened the door.  "It's 'make like a tree and leave,' by the way."

Alexis displayed her temper with a slam as she exited the room.

Jeffery's heart pounded, but there was no way he was about to give some hired thug the satisfaction of knowing that.

"Your employer is that chemical research conglomerate that's not happy with the article I wrote making folks aware it's negligently dumping toxins in Oregon's Willamette River, a policy they're continuing after doing the same thing in the Colorado and Hudson."  The writer grinned at his nonplussed antagonist.  "And I'd venture to guess your name's not really Mark, either."

Taken aback by an assignment so far out of alignment with how they routinely evolved, the goon took a few seconds to respond.

"No," he admitted.  "I got a passkey with no problem from some dude even smaller than you, but that Alexis dame saw me at your door.  The next thing I know she's yammering on about how she's some super-fan of yours and wanted to surprise you.  To shut her up, I let her in.  I've had jobs get screwed up worse.  Damn, she's fine."  He smirked.  "Too bad you'll never find that out like I did, King."

"Before we handle the business you mentioned, I'd like to respectfully ask a favor," Jeffery said, and beckoned the goon as they walked to the sliding glass doors at the opposite end of the room.  "I've never been this far from my hometown before, and I'd really like to look up into the night sky with a breeze in my face as a visitor of a city I won't see again."  He spread his hands out from his sides and pivoted to gesture around them.  "Look, we're fifteen floors above the street, you've got more than 80 pounds on me, I'm not armed with so much as a fingernail clipper, and you're right here.  What am I gonna do?"

"That sign says to stay off the balcony."

"Dude, they put that up to keep kids inside and lawsuits to a minimum.  Come on, man, you and I are adults."

Jeffery opened his room's glass door.

"Whoa there, bitch," the goon warned.  "I'm going out first.  You're not gonna swing balcony to balcony like some chimp and get away.  I saw those movies, too.  I'm not stupid."

He stepped outside.

The balsa wood splintered immediately under his weight, and the hired muscle plummeted as he shrieked like a mule entangled in barbed wire.

"Nope," Jeffery agreed.  "You're abysmally stupid."

His entrance door was flung open, and hotel security charged in, followed by Alexis.

"Where's that asshole Mark?" she asked her favorite author.

"He tested gravity," he replied.  "I'd say the poor ape failed in a spectacular fashion."

"Good riddance."  She embraced Jeffery again as she gazed up into his hazel eyes.  "Let's get better acquainted, word man."

"I'm definitely in favor of that."

"Sorry about your trouble here tonight, Mister King," one of the security officers said.  "I hope the rest of your evening is more pleasant."

"Oh, I'd say it's going in that direction.  Thanks, guys."

The door clicked shut behind them.

"Now, where were we, your majesty?" Alexis from Texas purred.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Opening Remarks

Well, here it is, the first entry in my own blog.  I'd say the odds are great that there are those authors who can rival Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Junior, Helen Keller, or any other respected historical figure when it comes to profound words to use in this medium, but I'm simply not in such a league as they are.  I'm just one of many data entry operators employed by the Oregon Department of Transportation who happens to have an imagination that shouts Squirrel! inside my head, then goes bounding through the forest of my brain like a Labrador Retriever with its tongue lolling out, getting slobber all over the crab grass and ferns.

I can't get too wordy tonight, because I have the type of job that:

A)  Requires attention to detail (and by that, I mean if one character of entered information isn't accurate, whoops, uh-oh, guess what, that's the wrong record, ace)
B)  Requires a login time of 8:00 am PST

Nevertheless, before I call it quits with my first blog, I have to express my anticipation and excitement about three major writing endeavors I've engaged myself in.  I've submitted my first novel, "Resolve And Retribution", to the Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards Contest, I've submitted a 5,000-word story entitled "Details, Details" to Amazon Kindle Publications for their consideration, and, less than a week ago, entered the 84th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition with my short story (1,900 words) entitled "Bob, the Beauty, and the Buick".  Four weeks ago today, AKP sent me an email confirming they had received "Details, Details" successfully, and it could take up to six weeks for them to send me their decision about whether or not they would accept my story to be sold on their site.  As for the Writer's Digest competitions, well, I'll find out how my entries fared in their respective categories sometime this coming October.

But, to be honest, I truly don't have time to fret or get antsy awaiting those decisions.  Not while working for a state agency in the middle of its busiest season, and not while writing Chapter 2 of the adult science fiction thriller novel I'm writing now called "Escalation".

I suppose I'll wrap this up for tonight.  Yes, tomorrow is Friday, but, the thing is, I'm part of the Customer Database Unit crew which will be working overtime on Saturday as well.  That kind of attention to details I mentioned earlier demands sufficient rest, and it's not as if I'm in my twenties anymore, when I would have scoffed at the concept of "sleep".

The following will be my routine sign-off:

Never give up.
Never back down.
Never lose faith.

(That's from Facing the Giants)