Wednesday, August 26, 2020

A Teaser

     [Apologies, Gentle Reader. The outrages have overwhelmed me. I simply can’t bear to write about politics or current events just now. For the present, I’ll leave that chore to others of stouter constitutions. Instead, have a snippet from my novel-under-construction, to be titled Love in the Time of Capitalism. If you’ve read this short story, you already know a bit about two of the Marquee characters. — FWP]

     They say that hope is the most fragile of reeds, the slenderest of threads. That it’s not something you could rely on when hanging off the edge of a cliff. But to one who’s been parted from the only thing that matters to him, hope can seem unbreakable.
     I wasn’t yet at the pinnacle of entertainment journalism, but I was considered a rising star. I could get to see most entertainers I might take an interest in. The really big ones might resist, but the open secret of their industry, if you can call it that, is that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Anyone who can get them a little more popular attention is an asset—and even when I was a stripling with nothing but a steno pad and a brassy attitude, I was able to get them more than a little.
     Still, I expected an entertainer who’s also a partner in a major venture capital firm to be a different breed of creature. I expected her to decline, especially given recent events. That she didn’t was only a prelude to the surprises that awaited me.
     I didn’t expect her to answer the door herself, but she did. I didn’t expect her to delay her breakfast for me, or to invite me to join her, but she did. I certainly didn’t expect her to make and serve me eggs Benedict with candied yams, but she did. There were no servants anywhere. She seemed light years off the norm for an owner of a multibillion-dollar firm. Not that I’d known any others. I certainly couldn’t name any others who were also fashion-magazine-cover subjects and widely admired musicians.
     “Nice breakfast,” I said as I unfolded my napkin.
     She smiled. “Nice to have company to eat it with. Besides, I’m trying to keep my hand in. Coffee?”
     “Of course.”
     She poured for us both. I was about to pick up my fork and dig in when I noticed that she’d bowed her head over her folded hands. I immediately did the same.
     “Father, bless this repast,” she intoned, “and sustain us in our faith and our love, that our trust in You and our hope of Your mercy might never falter. In Christ our Lord, Amen.”
     “Amen,” I said. I looked up and found her regarding me with a hint of curiosity.
     “Which denomination?” she said.
     “I was raised Catholic.”
     “Ah. Mine as well.”
     “I know.”
     We set to our breakfasts.
     “I was surprised you agreed to be interviewed,” I said between bites.
     “I wasn’t sure I would,” she said. “Things are a little strange at the moment.”
     I snorted. “Now there’s an understatement. But haven’t they been strange for some time now?”
     “You could say so.” She sipped at her coffee. “The escape of the most famous political prisoner in history, the president publicly vowing vengeance against the owner of Mankind’s first space habitat—”
     “Which your company helped to fund.”
     She nodded. “The first war to be fought in orbit, and of course the death of the president under the most mysterious imaginable circumstances. ‘Strange’ might not quite cover it.”
     “A lot of people think your firm was involved,” I said.
     “I know.” She forked up the last of her eggs.
     “Well? Were you?”
     Her gaze was gently sardonic.
     “If we were, do you really think I’d admit it?”
     I shrugged. “Sorry. I did have to ask.”
     She chuckled. “No you didn’t. But I knew you would.”
     We finished our breakfasts in silence. She took the dishes to the sink, rinsed them, and gestured to me with the coffee carafe. I shook my head and fished my recorder out of my purse. She noted it and smiled.
     “Those must be a great blessing in your trade.”
     “No argument. It’s worth ten times its price for the time-stamping and security features alone.” I unwrapped and thumb-printed a fresh memory cartridge and inserted it into the recorder. “Shall we get started?”
     She nodded, and I pressed the Start key.
     “The question I’ve most wanted to ask since this all started probably isn’t the one you expect me to lead off with,” I said. “But it’s the one that’s uppermost in my mind. Do you think you’ll ever see him again?”
     She nodded. “I’m sure of it.”


Glen Filthie said...

Okay. You gotta finish that one FP....

Francis W. Porretto said...

(chuckle) I'm working as fast as I can, Glen. I hope to have it in Margaret's and Linda's hands before Hallowe'en, but we shall see.

Linda Fox said...

Goody, goody! I'll be looking forward to it.
That gives me some incentive to speed up the latest work - Pruning the Planet - bioterrorism novel. I made some good progress while out of town. It's more than 60% done, and I've roughed out the chapter outlines.
Cross your fingers that I don't run into problems, personal or professional.

Manu said...

Stay safe, Francis. Things are going nuts out there...