Thursday, November 15, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 15

There was a lull in the conversation. Gerald sidestepped, moving along to gaze at Miranda gazing across an ocean that was a surfer's dream. Stella followed, staying a few feet away from Gerald. The air was thick with tension, agonizing desire and self-consciousness. Gerald thought he was being stupid. He was supposed to be suave, the experienced gentleman. But his self-image was that of the bumbling nerd, the hero who prattles on when the scene demands a kiss. Better to stay quiet and let the scenario be dictated for him. That would be progress, maturity.


They both broke the silence, turning to each other simultaneously and muttering something, then both said, "Sorry. What were you saying?" Gerald raised his eyebrows attentively, a grin passing over his face.


"When I was younger, if my friends and I said the same thing at the same time, we'd try to be the first one to punch the other in the arm," Stella said. "But I don't know you, so you get the kid gloves treatment."


Stella made a fist and a tight, close-lipped smile, and tapped Gerald on the arm.


Gerald mocked a painful look, smiled again, and then asked, "What were you going to say?"


"I forget. Oh, wait. Now I remember. Are you somewhat familiar with the Pre-Raphaelite movement?" Stella asked.


"Somewhat. I know they did new things with subject placement and the way they colored them in art. Something about how they tried to supplant many of the strict rules placed on art since the Renaissance. Hence the Pre." Gerald said.


"Yes. That's more than most of my friends know. I got into the movement through the poetry of Dante Rosetti and Christina Rosetti. Of course, Waterhouse's art. I've always been a fan of mythology."


"And who is your favorite mythological figure?"


"Atalanta. She's pretty bad-ass. Not every woman would cut off one of their breasts to be a better archer. How about  you?"


Well... I'm not as well-versed in mythology, but I did see Clash of the Titans. And I know what we see as quaint stories, akin to the Aesop's Fables in the life lessons they teach, the Greeks and Romans revered as gods. The Oracle of Delphi, you know, what we call Google today, was consulted for serious matters of the state."


"So, you don't have a favorite figure?"


"Not really, but if I was hard-pressed for an answer, as I seem to be by the roving reporter, er communications major here, I'd have to say Hyacinth. Here is youthful promise and, if you can take the supposed pedophilia of Apollo, and see Hyacinth as more of a symbol of youth learning the wisdom of the elder, and then dying because of the vanity of his physical prowess with the discus. It is a very human story and says something about the cycles of nature. Also, a pretty flower, fragile, but ever being renewed."


Gerald once again grew embarassed, until he felt the flush of blood pass across his face. Looking away, he said, "And, of course, I've said too much."


"That's all right," Stella said. "I come from a family of stern Scandinavians. A man who knows his way with words, and has at least an inkling of an understanding about mythology is refreshing."


At this point, they had reached the other end of the gallery, a print of Thisbe standing near a wall, the last one near the door, as if she was listening for whoever would be walking through the door. Gerald, in spite of what Stella said, decided to resume his former resolve to be laconic. He rocked back and forth on his heels in anticipation of leaving the gallery. Although he had nowhere to go that night and planned to dine alone and return to his studies at Country Acres, he thought it presumptious to invite Stella out, even though he was enjoying her company and didn't want the moment to end. It would be better, he thought, to let the moment happen than to push for its creation.


Stella eventually broke the tension again.


"Well. Yeah. I just love Waterhouse's work. He lived a very anachronistic life. I guess he was a Johnny-come-lately to the Pre-Raphaelite scene. Wasn't he born around the time the movement was beginning to flourish?"


Gerald shook his head. He didn't know.


Stella continued, "I think that's right. Or at least he outlived them. Not too many people are interested in Waterhouse nowadays. Mythos and realism are a little outmoded, I guess. Now it seems I've said too much."


"Just enough. Don't worry." Gerald said.


The vibrating of a phone broke the silence. Stella reached into her pocket and pulled out the phone. "Oh, my. Look at the time? I've got to get to class."


Gerald reached out his hand. "It was a pleasure talking with you Ms. Stella Charles," he said.


"Likewise." she said. Their eyes locked for a moment longer than was customary. Then she turned in a sharp pivot to go, walked a few steps and turned back around. "Just so you know, I play piano in the main lounge area upstairs every Thursday and Friday afternoon. If you'd like, you can come hear me play sometime. We can talk art, music, literature, or whatever it is these crazy college kids are supposed to talk about these days."


"That would be nice. I will definitely see you around." Gerald made a slight bow, tilting his head downward. Stella pivoted once again, turned and walked away, walking quickly, plodding and heavy, intent to her next destination.


Gerald smiled and shook his head as he watched her go. Such fire, he thought. And he resolved to see her the next Friday. Thursday was out, of course. That would seem too desperate. He planned to play this one cool for once.


Chapter Eight


Thidodeaux looked around the locker room as the men in the task force suited up in kevlar and checked their equipment. He shook his head in disbelief. It had been months since the task force had gotten together and the men were fumbling to find all their equipment. Two of the men had outgrown their chest and belly protectors. There was an air of joviality in the room, none of the intensity and focus Thibodeaux would have liked. It was time to say something.


"Listen up, men, and listen good," he said in his most serious, stentorian voice. "Just because this is sleepy Bonneville, and just because we are going after someone with no priors and don't expect any trouble, and just because we haven't practiced any manuevers since July, doesn't mean this is a walk in the park.


"I want each of you to mentally detail the role you play in this mission." Thibodeaux paced about the room, making eye contact with every one of the 11 men on the task force. "And I want you to see your role in the overall mission. This isn't just a drug bust. This is community outreach. We are letting the citizens know that we are keeping their community safe. And we are putting on high alert every last scumbag who tries to bring bad business to this town. There's a price to pay if you want to deal in sleepy little po-dunk Bonneville, Illinois. And it can be pretty steep.


"Remember, officers, task force members, that you are professionals. Let's get out there and make a clean bust." Thibodeaux returned to his locker and forcefully donned his kevlar vest. The rest of the men returned to small talk and laughter. Thibodeaux frowned. He had a bad feeling about this -- call it intuition -- and he didn't know why. Not knowing, despite considering every contingency, ate away at him.


Across town, Tom Higgins was gearing up for a busy Friday night. He sat before a small desk in his room, a large paper bag at his side. He weighed out gram and two gram portions of crack cocaine and placed them in small ziplock bags. His phone buzzed every couple of minutes with customers looking to score for their night of partying, but he was busy, it was too early, they'd call again later, no doubt. He never returned phone calls. Never had to. The product sold itself. His customer base was steady and someone new, always a friend of a friend, credentialed through a byzantine network of connections, came into the scene as others moved on, got busted for minor crimes, or died.


Higgins never hung out and smoked with his customers. Get in, get out, get on was his motto. The frat brothers didn't like the extra traffic, but Higgins not only paid his dues but fronted many of the parties the frathouse was known for and, as a result, brought in regular dues-paying members. Higgins kept his dealings low key and hadn't brought any trouble, so the frat house president looked the other way.


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