Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Excerpt from Novel #5

Below is a short passage from the next novel. In this scene, Johnny Murdock is having a beer with his pal Hermie Applong. They are both in the "investigations" business and are professionals from way back but with very different backgrounds.

My goal is put #5 up on in the next few months. Proofreading is next on the list. Thanks for reading and I hope you will find this interesting. The blogger won't support dialogue formatting so I'll try to make it readable.

Murdock caught up with Hermie Applong at a bar called the Lone Ranger, just inside the city limits but nestled between the Southern tracks and the city garage. The place consisted mostly of the bar that ran front to back and a the main room which was perhaps fifteen-feet wide. In the back was a oversized closet for cold storage and the john. The Long Ranger served three kinds of beer: cheap; really cheap; and rare. You just had to ask for the rare and from time to time, rare was non-existent. Eight stools and a promise is what the sign over the door said.

Murdock sat at the stool nearest the door. Hermie Applong perched on the next stool. Their coats were flared out at the hips giving them, from the back, the look of a pair of bears. Murdock had the more hair which wasn’t saying a lot.

“Yeah,” said Hermie Applong, “I know Dougie Whitmire. He threw a punch at me one time.”
“What’d you do?”

“Ducked. What was I supposed to do? Let ‘em hit me? I’m an old man, buddy. Got a wooden leg, you know.”

Folklore had it that Applong had lost his lower, left leg in the crash of his helicopter during the ill-fated attempt to rescue American hostages held by the student rebels in Tehran in1980. He’d been honorably discharged with a Purple Heart and twenty years worth of bonus pay for not writing a book about his involvement in the incident. To Murdock’s knowledge, no one doubted Hermie Applong’s story or bravery. Unknown, to both men, was their future dependency on each other.

“No, I mean,” said Murdock, “what caused Whitmire to take a swing.”

“He seemed to think that I wasn’t much of  hero since I got a Purple Heart and eight others died. Four of them in the chopper I piloted. Never mind I lost a leg. He was pretty angry at me.”

“He didn’t strike me as a guy who’d throw a punch.”

“I think his old man, who I did a lot of business with, until he died a few years, of course, entered into his thinking about me. Ronnie Whitmire was a upright kind of guy. Had a bit of a chip on shoulder about how minorities and poor folk were getting screwed constantly. But Dougie, was vehement about me getting a medal he thought I didn’t deserve. When his dad died, that part of my business dried up overnight.”

“Well,” said Murdock. Which was as far as he got.

A gust of wind, a shot of rain, a bolt of lightning, the front door opened almost by itself and banged against the hinges, away from the bare forearm and hand that tried to stop it, and despite the wind, a tiny voice, female, said a word her mother, Murdock’s mother, too, would not have approved of. And the long, bare arm attached to the bare hand, that ended in a red short-sleeved, blonde. A disheveled blonde, thanks to the wind and the rain.

“Hi, boys,” she said.

She had a big smile, wore a high-neck red dress (that was lower in the back by more than a way Murdock could describe it) that fit tight in all the wrong places and even tighter in all the right places, a nearly six-foot frame, helped along by red high heels. She had an angular face that paralleled her equally angular long, slender sides. Murdock and Applong were caught in mid hoist of their beers. Both men were elbows-on-the-table drinkers, at least at the Lone Ranger, and now with bottles half way to their mouths, they stared, with open mouths and open eyes, at the blonde in the door. She sashayed past them her hips swinging wide enough to cover a 7-10 split. As she flowed past Hermie Applong, Murdock watched her in the mirror, then saw himself watching, then saw Hermie’s reflection of him watching her, then the bartender’s eyes bugging out, and finally looked over Applong’s back to see her shimmy upon the Chosen One bar stool. Something only vaguely nearing a hush permeated the room. The front door was still open and the refrigerator kept on purring either waiting on them do do something and both singularly unimpressed by the blonde goddess. Hermie Applong broke the ice.

“Darlin’,” said Applong. He slid over from stool to stool tapping his left lower leg with his beer bottle making a clank sound. “You ever danced with a man with one leg?”

Blondie giggled a drunk giggle.

“No, honey,” she said in her best waitress voice, “I have not.”

She grinned from ear to ear. Wiggled on her stool. Twisted a curl or two but also now started to chew on her gum.

She had nice teeth, thought Murdock.

“Have you ever danced under the pale moon light,” said Applong.

Blondie knew the game. She smiled even more.

Very nice teeth, thought Murdock.

From when she made her grand entrance to when she smiled and flirted with Hermie Applong, Murdock’s beer hand and elbow had not moved.

“Now’s your chance,” said Applong. He grinned the grin of the Big Bad Wolf to little Red Riding Hood.

Blondie leaned back with a big smile and the happy look of woman who knew she’d just found an interesting man.