Tuesday, December 06, 2016

A Rough Draft

The women gathered at twilight, driving into town from neighborhoods around Fallbrook. They parked on Hillcrest, the steep street in front of the auditor's offices: SUV's, a Porsche, one Corvette, and a Nissan. She pulled into the last street spot open, parked and turned her wheels to the curb. Slinging her heavy purse over her shoulder, she scooped up the iPad, a can of nuts and a bottle of wine, cradling them in her arms while she locked the car. Carefully she crossed the street, looking closely both ways. As she didn't hear well and only out of one side, she had to be very alert. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see a faint yellow light shining through the front window of the gallery across the street. The faint light stirred something in her and she looked more closely. The eclectic owner was likely working late on one of his stories; she noticed his beautiful wife, owner of the shop next door, pushing in the wheeled racks of sale clothing kept out on the sidewalk during the day. She'd always thought the dramatic couple would be potential protagonists in the story she herself planned to pen one fine day. 

As usual, this part of Main Avenue was almost deserted except for one block down where the village pub was coming alive and slowly filling up with marines, young girls and the grizzled regulars who moved from the coffee shop seats during the day to the pub booths at sunset. Lattes were for daytime; draft beer for night. She shuddered thinking about the last time she went into the pub finding the heavy atmosphere fraught with tension and a palpable lingering disappointment—a "morning-after" aura. The bald bartender served her pint with noticeable disdain. She'd drunk half of it quietly and left quickly, feeling a huge relief as the door slammed behind her and she stepped back into the sunshine. 

The light was fading fast, shadows deepening. She walked past the wedding cake store with the unchanging display—a dusty three-tier cake resting on a lace doily in the window. A 1950's plastic bride and groom sat on top, broad smiles frozen on their faces. The clatter and chatter of a printer emitted from behind the accountant's office door, where they were still working late every evening, processing late tax returns and payment extensions. 

The auditor's office was upstairs over a craft brewery where the brewers made ale on the women's meeting nights. The smell of hops, fermentation and stale beer wafted up and curled in through the windows leaving a slightly cheesy aroma in the air. In the small back alley behind the office next door, the miserable dog was chained for the night again and the women could hear the mutt whine, belying his heart-wrenching loneliness. B had suggested once that they kill the negligent dog owner but the group reminded her that their goals were bigger than that.

As she stepped inside the door, six faces looked up and smiling, everyone greeted her. Three open wine bottles were lined up along the glass conference table. Bags of nuts and chips were opened and being passed. She settled down at her usual place at the head of the table so she could turn her hearing ear toward the group. Ah, she thought to herself...here were the Queens of Quiet Harrassment. 

B opened the meeting, as usual, by reading reports about local arrests reported the month prior. Two were placed on the list without further discussion. The total of pending cases to consider was six. P, our lawyer, glanced over the report and updated everyone as to legal status of the accused and the victims. K reported a big success during the last month scoring several hits against the perp we laughingly called Micky Spillane.  As we operated under the cover of a book club, it amused us to assign character's names to our intended victims. Whenever she saw his car, K would trip and accidentally spill her drink on the passenger window and door. There were chalk marks all over his tires. Advertising flyers from the supermarket were scattered across his trunk. Chewing gum had been pushed into his...........

The storyteller, feeling stiff and blocked, got up from his computer, stretched and walked over to the window, looking up at the light in the auditor's office across the street. He contemplated the seven women's heads which he could just make out. He stood for a while, tapping his foot, scratching his head.

"Nah"...he said to himself as he sat back down, pressed delete and started again.The women gathered at twilight.  The seven women gathered monthly for a book club meeting but he suspected it was a cover-up for another activity, far less benign........

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:26 AM

    Helen This is a great story and a great idea for future book club meetings....
    Beth C