“CHANGING MENTAL CHANNELS (So You Don’t End Up in Podunk When You Wanted Emerald City)”
by Glenn Younger
Creating a story from reader’s input—rough first draft.
Chapter 4: Hurricane Edwina.
Shock registers on Karl’s face when his eyes move past the vision of Edwina who’s wearing a murderous expression and covered in technicolor pattern from head to toe, before they rest on Tandy. Sun glints off blonde hair giving her a golden halo. She’s dressed for their reunion in his favorite blue dress. It’s the one that’s tight enough to show off delectable curves, but not so tight that he’d be embarrassed to walk with her on his arm into a public restaurant filled with potential clients. She looks magnificent.
Their eyes meet. He tries to read her facial expression, but comes up short. He never could read her face as well as he could her body in bed.
Damn, he thinks. The shit’s going to hit the fan. Do something. Think.
His mind races for an explanation he can give her, one that will keep his good thing going. Rebecca isn’t his wife, per se, but she is the mother of his newborn son. He’s got to keep the two of them apart. At all costs. In lieu of a good excuse, it all comes down to two choices: Fight or flight?
“C’mon,” he says to Rebecca as he wheels the baby carriage around in an abrupt turn, and takes off at full speed. “I’m late for that business meeting. Tokyo will be calling and I need to be ready.”
“Be careful of the baby,” Rebecca protests as she totters behind him, trying to keep up on high heels made more for standing at a cocktail party than a quick sprint through Central Park chasing her man and a baby carriage.
“Edwina!” Tandy hisses as she scampers to catch up without breaking into a trot. “Stop!”
“The people have a right to know,” Edwina says over her shoulder without breaking stride. “And YOU’RE my people. Remember?”
“You’re embarrassing me.”
“HE should be the one who’s embarrassed.” She cups her hands and calls out in Karl’s direction. “HEY! YOU!”
“Oh my God,” Tandy whispers a heartfelt prayer to the God of Sunday School days, one that falls on deaf ears. “Please no.” She wants to turn tail and run in the opposite direction, but fear of what Edwina will do chains her to the role of unwilling participant.
“MISTER CRAMER!” Edwina breaks into a run, red flowered purse banging against striped stockings. “WAIT UP!
“Karl honey!” Rebecca calls out to a second set of deaf ears. “Someone’s calling you.”
The baby carriage Karl is wheeling totters dangerously over a small pot hole in the path. He slows down just enough to keep the baby safe, and hopefully deter Tandy and the crazy woman from catching up. Can he hail a cab; get Rebecca, the baby, and the carriage all loaded before it’s too late? He steals a quick glance over his shoulder and almost runs into a jogger coming the other way.
“Yo! Watch out, buddy!” The jogger veers at the last minute, flips him a finger, and keeps running.
This gives Edwina the edge she needs. “MISTER CRAMER! STOP! WE NEED TO TALK!”
Karl sees a gaggle of Japanese tourists up ahead. His mind races in quick calculation. Can he navigate through them? Maybe he could if…. Ah shit! They’re parking an old man in a wheelchair right in the middle of the pathway for a group photo. Game’s up.
With a resigned sigh, he stops to face the music. When he turns the carriage around, he knocks it into Rebecca who stumbles.
“Son of a bitch!” Rebecca’s voice flares into a screech. “You broke my heel. What the hell are you thinking?”
The baby starts crying. His brain is running a hundred miles an hour, and he doesn’t know which way to turn. Help Rebecca? The baby? Run for his life, and never look back? Damn, brokering billion dollar business deals is easier than facing three women at the same time. Rebecca breaks his indecision by taking the baby out of the carriage and holding him in her arms. Good. Two down. Two to go. Two minutes left in the game.
He sees that Tandy is holding back. She’s a class act through and through. I’ll somehow explain it all to her. She’ll understand. I could make it out of this after all. I’ve got to. What will I do without her? Rebecca will take my son far, far away if she finds out about Tandy, though. Think, man, think!
Edwina catches up, gasping for breath. “Mister Cramer,” she says between deep gulps of air. “You’re Karl Cramer.” She drops her head and puts her hands on her knees to stop the vertigo from her quick and unexpected sprint. “Right?”
“Yes.” Karl answers with the facade of practiced calm that only comes from a lot of late night poker games and international business deals where he’s either calling someone’s bluff or is bluffing on his own. “May I help you? Make it quick. I’m late for a meeting.”
“I’m Tandy (gasp for air) Johnson’s (gasp for air) assistant. I just need to confirm the address of the apartment that—” Edwina forces herself to stand up straight and pushes down on a stitch in her side before she drops her bomb, “—you two are moving into the day after tomorrow. I need to know where to send the boxes of her personal belongings.”
All parties react and then freeze in shock.
Rebecca’s perfectly arched eyebrows shoot up towards her hairline. They look like the after-effects of an overworked facelift. Edwina’s jaw sticks out in stubborn defiance. Tandy’s hand flies up to cover her mouth in horror. A different kind horror briefly flits across Karl’s eyes before they narrow in determination. Game over. Time to make his choice.
“You’re mistaken.” With an imperceptible tilt to his head, a small flicker of regret crosses his face as he locks eyes with Tandy. “I’m not the Karl Cramer you think I am.” He turns to Rebecca. With a brusque tone, he says, “Put our son in the carriage. We need to go. I’m late.”
COMMENTS are open for business. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and ideas. Or just cheer me on in this NaNoWriMo challenge of getting a rough draft of a new novel finished by November 30.
**Not sure if this chapter should be part of Chapter 3. What do you think? Talka-to-me!
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