Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blog Chain: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night in Albuquerque

It's BLOG CHAIN TIME... again. Feels like I just did this, but it's a writing sample this time, so I hope you enjoy. :)

Christine picked the new topic. She says: 

"Since we are all writer's, I thought it was about time for us to stretch our creative muscles and do a little writing. So, take the following topic and go crazy! Show us what you've got. Your story can be as long or as short as you choose."

The topic: A dark and stormy night.

Le scene:

When the rain touched the desert sand, it sizzled. I kicked the side of the car until it left a satisfying dent the size of my boot. The pain was immediate. I shook my foot until it faded. Hiking boots would've been good about now, but no. I wore stiletto boots with a pointed toe that cut the circulation from my peripheral toes. There would be no dancing tonight.

"Did you just kick my car?" Jack finally got up out of the driver's seat, closing his jacket around his squirrely shoulders as the rain made blood-red splotches on the salmon-colored leather. As mercy dates went, this one could run for congress. 

His pistachio green "classic" car looked like a giant, faded vegetable... on a nice day. In the rain, the retro metal was even more pathetic. He bent to inspect his car's newest dent, then pursed his lips in my direction.

I folded my arms and stared down the dirt road until the night sky swallowed sight. If I held really still, I thought I could hear music coming from the distant red and yellow lights. Country music.

Jack coughed.

I watched him lean into the car and tap the gas gauge for the fiftieth time. 

A groan, the caliber of which usually followed lightning, rose from my chest. "No matter how many times you look, it's still going to say the same damn thing. Out of gas!"

"I'm sorry, Chelsea." Even his voice sounded squirrel-ish. It dinged like a tiny hammer against my Sympathy Center, just like it had when he'd asked me to this stupid square dance in the boondocks. It hadn't helped that Always-thinks-she's-right Meg, standing right beside me at school, had pretty much laughed in his face. I couldn't say no after that. 

But now there was mud on my stiletto boots. My feet ached. My hair lay completely flat. The only good thing that came from standing in the rain was that Jack's pink (Come on! Salmon is so not a real color!) leather jacket had turned a more masculine red in the deluge.

"Let's just go," I said, gesturing for him to join me on the road. We could walk to those distant lights if it took us all night. It would be better than sitting in that refrigerator of a jalopy for one more second.

Jack fished out his car keys and handed me my purse. I thanked God for inspiring me to bring my vinyl zip-up bag instead of something more permeable. At least my lipstick would make it through this unscathed. Jack didn't say anything for the first hundred feet, just stared at the gravel and broken asphalt that poked through the soaked dust.

"Are you cold?" He made like he was going to take off his jacket and offer it to me. I stopped him with a raised palm and a glare I really couldn't help sending his way.

A car zipped past, loosening rocks which sprang up at us like swarming insects. A few stung my thighs below my denim cut-offs. I threw my hands up and cursed loudly at the back of the vehicle. Then, to my horror, the white truck spun around and came back.

Jack took my hand so suddenly, I think my jaw actually dropped. A bouncer-sized guy in a wife-beater shirt hung out the truck's window as it screeched to a stop just beside us. "Did you need a ride?"

I shook my head, wondering where my voice had gone off to. Even in the dark, I could see the sheen of bald heads on every passenger. 

The one who'd invited me in took a cursory glance at my hand entwined with Jack's and chuckled under his breath. "This guy bothering you?" His smile only went up on one side, like he was too lazy to get the rest of it up. A scar the shape of the moon marred his square chin. But the spookiest thing about him was his eyes. There was too much white to them, like his eyelids didn't work properly. 

"I'm fine. Moonlit walk in the rain." I turned away, realizing with relief that my feet had started working again. I led Jack toward those promising lights and the hint of music. 

A rough hand jerked my shoulder back, breaking our handhold. "I think we can offer you a better time," insisted the skinhead. Damn, he moved fast.

Every nerve in my chest sent warning signals - to my heart, to my brain. I didn't even register the rain dripping off my nose. All I saw was the shiny white truck and the gleaming bald heads with eyes leering sickly. 

"Back off!" The voice was not mine. I did a double-take toward Jack before I realized he'd spoken. He sounded different: bold. Even his jaw looked a little stronger. Less... squirrel-esque.

The talkative skinhead with the moon-shaped scar took an earth-eating stride toward us. I backed away, but Jack stood firm, even leaning forward with his fists clenched at his sides.

Two doors opened, and three more skinheads got out of the truck. One had a tattoo snaking up his left arm. In the truck's headlights, I could see the grapevine swirls that ended not in grapes, but skulls. The other two had tattoos, as well, but they stood a foot behind the first two, making them hard to see. 

What did it matter? I'd be dead before I could describe them to a police sketch artist.

Jack stepped forward, putting himself within breath-sniffing distance of the talker. 

I shut my eyes as I heard the snickering men advance. The sound of blows and grunts filled my ears. I hugged myself, daring to open my eyes, to see if any of them were coming after me next. 

Now I know my jaw dropped. Groaning or unconscious skinheads littered the dusty shoulder. Jack stood dangling a silver skull keychain from his bloody fist. "Need a ride?" He smirked. 

I noticed for the first time that, behind his broken glasses, his eyes were a really pretty blue. As mercy dates go, this one could run for congress.

I'm not great at brevity. Sorry 'bout that! :) I'm sandwiched between Kate before me and Michelle H.  tomorrow. Start with Christine, if you want the whole group's dark, stormy scenes. :)


  1. Hah! What a great scene. I really love the image of a mercy date running for congress. Poor Chelsea, and poor Jack, too!

  2. This is fantastic! Looovved it!

    I want to say more, but that pretty much covers it ;p

  3. HAH. I love this. Go Jack! That closing line is fantastic. I totally want to read more about their hilariously awkward dates to come. :)

  4. Love the descriptions! And yes, I don't believe salmon is a color either.

  5. Hurray for Jack! It's good to see that a nice guy doesn't always finish last.

  6. Thanks for the comments, guys! I found a lot of typos and other junk when I reread it the next morning, but the exercise was definitely worthwhile. :) I had fun reading all of yours, too!

  7. This is great stuff. The ending was not what I expected, but I liked it a lot. Best of all, I like how well you solidified the characters for us. Very nicely done!

  8. lol very nice! I loved how the mercy date running for congress line repeated but meant something totally different at the end :D awesome job!

  9. Great scene! I love your details. NICE

  10. "Even his jaw looked a little stronger. Less... squirrel-esque."


    You did a wonderful job, Katrina.

  11. Wow I loved how this scene totally twisted around and went in a direction I didn't expect at all - great job!

  12. Awesome scene! Loved this line: "His smile only went up on one side, like he was too lazy to get the rest of it up." Great job! :)


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