Spit-shining a manuscript is not easy. In all honesty, it makes me want to claw my eyeballs out. I sat at a coffee shop today–a strange tinge of fall weather–unsettled and unstable–as the clouds rolled in, the sun cracked through, a vivid reminder of flow and read all 99,000+ words of my manuscript. I sifted through removing passages, tightening others, clarifing still more, and then called it done. For now. All of this in hopes of obtaining a literary agent. And then another process on the road to publication will begin.
Here’s an excerpt from “Unhinged” from my antagonist–and perhaps favorite character (at least according to my critique partner).
“Fragmented pieces of our life pass as we sip our wine. I wonder where her kids are, what she had to do to steal away. Briefly, I consider work and what may be going on there, if they need me. Attempts at small talk move in a stilted formation, unable to find a rhythm.
We had rhythm that night at my house. I shake loose the images of Beth walking those halls, painting those walls, hanging art; making it a home.
The flame glows orange and red, roaring and hissing as if speaking. The fire I have for Annie is insatiable. A tiny speck of the girl she used to be materializes before my eyes. I can’t believe we’ve come so far, yet so close to find each other again. Chicago-effing-land; the most backwards, deceitful city on the map; the politics all wonky and impure.
I am just playing the part. Only this is no game.
Most men identify an affair as a trivial, parting encounter. It’s like a temporary tattoo, cool for awhile but the novelty will wear off. Not with Annie. If I could, I’d tattoo her name across my forehead, shout it from the rooftops, plaster it on the side of a bus.
“I think you are the most fantastic woman I’ve ever met.”
“And how many woman have you said that to before?” she tilts her head. She’s playing me, pretending to be one of those women in the Cary Grant movies.
“If I were to go to the front desk and reserve a room, would you come upstairs with me?” my voice comes out all hoarse, streaked with anxiety.
“I think I ought to slap you for suggesting something like that,” she leans in, sips her wine, a hint of a smile on the corners of her mouth.
When she sets her glass down, I reach forward and stroke her hand, and notice her wedding ring has been replaced with a large silver-y stone.
Wear on the left hand to improve relationships. We lock eyes for a moment, as if she can sense me reading her mind.
I consider her decision, and then rise from the chair. “Give me two minutes.”
I walk the reception desk and lean on the wood worn counter. I whisper to the woman behind, “I need a room.”
She turns on her heel, her movements slow but deliberate. “Yes, sir. For just one night?”
“Yes, just tonight please.”
I don’t care how much it costs. It doesn’t even bother me that I won’t really stay overnight with Annie. A long mid-day love-making session will do the trick.
I slip her my AmEx and sign the proper paperwork, returning the pen with a nod and wink. The poor girl turns beet red.
When I return, I don’t mention the price, because it’s costly but worth every penny. I don’t say that we shouldn’t be doing this; because we both know deep down inside it’s wrong.
I extend a hand to Annie and say, “Follow me.”
She grins and sits her wine on the coffee table in front of her.
In the cramped, old-fashioned elevator, we press together, her back to the wall, my hands all over her body. My kisses come on strong, almost violent. We walk down the hall still kissing, bound to one another, knocking into the walls every few feet. The thrill of the chase, a momentum that pulls me to Annie like a magnet.
“You’re tipsy,” I tell her, and kiss her anyway, tasting the wine on her breath.
“Drunk on love,” she admits.
I unlock the door to room , and before it even clicks shut, I am lifting Annie by the backs of her thighs and up onto the bed, as if she weighs nothing. I slip her underwear off, and then lower her to the floor gently spreading her legs apart.”
[Writing image retrieved from rohan7things.wordpress.com on 10.05.13, 629 from hullnumber.com]