Every Wednesday from now until the end of the world, or the blog, I’m going to post a random bit of writing: a rhyme, something from an old folder or a work in progress, or if all else fails whatever random thing I scribbled down during the free-write warm up of my Tuesday Night Writers Club.
Yesterday, the writers club held what the volunteer ringleader called a “Free-Writing Frenzy!”, in which we were encouraged to “self-indulgently luxuriate” in “only the loosest of writing objectives” which we were invited to ignore if we wanted. Hard sell. I followed the instructions (when I remembered to) and ended up with one continuing story which emerged from the three prompts provided… and here they are/it is:
Standing on the corner of the street, far below the third storey overhang, there was no more than eleven inches of truly dry side-walk for Marcus to wait in. The stray droplets scattered across the unofficial threshold with mathematical randomness, infrequent enough for a band of speckled tan to persevere between the rough, brown brick of the wall and the glossed, slicked paving between him and the street.
Marcus was more than eleven inches across, make no never-mind how he chose to stand. Back to the wall, his chest protruded not just over his slacks and between the wings of his suit jacket, but also over that boundary of shelter, the blue cotton spotting as though with sweat. Until he turned side on — or “side out”, really — and gave one broad shoulder to the rain, not just the occasional splash but right into the sheets of it. He felt the material (he thought of it as canvas, but it wasn’t, of course) get heavy with water, felt it get chill rather than damp, at first. And always turning to the left, always the other shoulder out in the downpour, because he needed to see the window across the junction, and turning to the right meant showing his back to it, which would defeat the point of standing here, getting wet, wouldn’t it?
So instead, before his jacket arm saturated to the point where his shirt sleeve soaked through anyway, he’d turn back, back to the front, and see how long he could tolerate his lovely blue shirt being rained on directly before turning again.
-Back to front,- he thought. His eyes glazed over for a moment, not seeing the unlit window, just picturing an oddity. Then, feeling self-conscious — something he’d never experienced on a working situation before — he shrugged off the jacket and turned it around against his chest, slipped his right arm into the dry left sleeve and vice versa, feeling the clamminess of the rain-wet side balanced one side and the other. The back of the jacket lay taught across his chest and belly, the collar uncomfortably high under his chin — but his shirt was protected from the spatter, and if he pushed himself right back against the wall there was no reason to think he couldn’t stay like this all night, if he had to. Looking stupid, yes, but dry.
Several Hours Earlier…
Marcus stood at the edge of the room, one of many. All the personal security were lined up the same, a shared non-indignity, since professionalism dictated you do exactly what a client demands of you — until the point at which those orders conflict with keeping that client in one piece, of course.
So, when The Hostess announced that everybody’s muscle should go strike a pose by the wall while the brains have fun, he’d done as he was instructed by The Client, just like all the others had been by theirs. If he was the game-playing type, he might have speculated about which piece of dumb killer muscle was accompanying which delicate, important piece of brain… but he wasn’t.
Before them, and slightly below (in a “conversation pit” so expansive it was more accurate to say that he and the other bodyguards were standing on a ledge than the actual floor level), the party-goers laughed and drank and danced and mingled, their masks shiny and feathered and all mic’d up, so they could hear each other over the music pulsing in their ear-buds. All of them were shouting over non-existent music (from Marcus’s point of view), their Bluetooths (Blueteeth?) set to fade transmitted volume according to distance and line-of-sight. A “silent cocktail party”, the invite had called it — he’d seen the words when he handed over The Client’s at the door — though there wasn’t much silent about it.
He tuned out the cacophony as much as possible and scanned the party, his primary focus on The Client, but professionalism compelling him to treat all the other grinning bobbing heads as a potential threat. He didn’t think, -Ridiculous.
A loud peel of laughter drew the attention of all the bodyguards simultaneously, their heads turning, owl-like atop statuesque suited stillness, then all but two swivelled back to parade rest. Marcus took note: the shapely female in floor-length blue, and the short burly male in the crested bird mask — and their protection, now identified by their watchfulness, in both cases very impressive specimens. Their clients had not just wealth, but power too.
He looked back to The Client, and tensed — he was leaning in close to the shoulder of The Hostess, no less, a stage whisper carrying clear as a bell over no music:
“I accept, you filthy girl,” he crowed. “My place, or shall we do it right here?”
The Hostess keyed her Bluetooth to address the crowd equally, lamenting the end of a fabulous evening and sending them on their way.
Twenty minutes later, the room was empty — and Marcus was dismissed. Sent home.
Or, at least, to stand in the rain.
And several hours later again…
Marcus stood at the corner of the wardrobe, one arm against the bedroom wall, one uncomfortably exposed — or so he felt it, even in near total dark.
Not near total quiet, though. The enthusiastic grunting and lip-smacking, and the spring-shifting of a large, expensive bed, filled the room, had masked the tiny sounds of his picking the lock to the apartment and sneaking through into the room itself, though he’d need not have worried: they were evidently still wearing their masks from the silent party, to judge by the loud encouragement they periodically called out to each other.
“Can you change the track?” The Client bellowed into the dark, despite being locked in close proximity to The Hostess.
“No,” she shouted back, “it’s playing on the lounge system.”
“Let’s get these stupid things off then!”
Marcus heard a snap of elastic, then something moved fast through the air and he froze, on the alert, a split-second before something lightly bounced off his shoulder.
“The damn thing is stuck in my hair,” cried The Hostess.
“Damn,” The Client said, “no need to shout. Just turn on the light.”
There was a fumbling, the clatter of things knocked upon a bedside table, then the lights came on. At Marcus’s feet lay The Client’s absurd mask, emitting a hint of tinny music. Marcus eased his thumb off the trigger.
On the bed, the two lovers stared at him, mouths open.