Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

In "The Lyons' Den"

The journey to madness begins with this -- After Tad's talked him into rewriting 8 lousy scripts, Daniel is being driven up to Bradleyville to do his writing instead of driving himself.  His driver is an intern named Paul, who thinks he's certifiable.


The 6 turned into the 17 and we drove through an area of hills and twists and turns and construction as occasional signs read, “Future 86.” Which reminded my guy of what they say in restaurants when they’ve run out of something. Which reminded him he’d had to wait tables while in college. Which he hated. Which sent him on a spiral into thinking it was an omen of how things would turn out in regards to the deal because he was probably 86’ing his future and on and on. I finally had to remind him he had some “Nine Inch Nails” on his iPod (which he’d just bought recently, and then only because he had some left over from the ten-K Tad paid for the option to my books -- okay, OUR books) so he pumped up “Closer To God” and we rocked along.

Okay, so maybe the idea of a gay man singing “I wanna fuck you like an animal” in a car driven though a snowstorm by a very nervous straight kid from Wisconsin isn’t what you’d call the perfect situation, but sometimes you just have to make do.

We finally got off 17 onto a two-lane road that was dark and damn near deserted and the snow kept snowing and the trees got thicker and even more foreboding and the sky looked blacker than black...until we passed over a hilltop -- and down in a picturesque valley of bleak, snow-covered fields twinkled the tender lights of Bradleyville, New York. And lemme tell you, the second I saw it, I knew this was the kind of place that...well, while the chamber of commerce may say it’s cozy and quaint, kids that live there probably see it as “the hell I wanna get the hell away from,” it’s so terminally cute. And charming...and messy in its layout -- just your typical New England style village.

Somehow Dan-O (naw, better just call him Daniel, from now on, just for clarity’s sake) anyway, Daniel lost his pissy edge and helped Paul find this late-night diner just off the main drag; that’s where Tad said the caretaker’d meet us. We parked and walked inside to enjoy the blast of warm air (with Paul three steps behind my guy and still deep into wariness mode but obviously relieved to be around human beings, again).

The diner was long, shabby and nicely cozy with a few folksy patrons and a cook-slash-waiter in a white chef’s hat. It was all SOOOO clich├ęd, there was even a slice of apple pie sitting on a pie tray screaming at my guy, “I do a great a la mode with coffee.” Okay, let’s test out your hypothesis, little piece of pie, thought my guy as he removed his gloves but --

“You that fool friend of Mr. Bentley’s, come up here?” sliced through the air in a fingernails-on-a-chalkboard screech.

All three of us jumped around to see a five-foot gnome dressed in a massive green parka, thick gloves and a muffler, atop two spindly legs that were wrapped in tan ski-pants that then vanished into a pair of the biggest snow boots ever seen, giving the impression of an olive about to go in a martini. Seriously, all you could see of the person inside were two beady eyes that could easily be a hundred years old.

My guy nodded and asked, “Are you Mr. Serff?”

“Do I look like Mr. Serff?” the voice snapped.

Well, YEAH, in that get-up.

The olive just kept on with, ”He’s in Boston. I’m the Missus. An’ you’re late.”

“Uh, sorry, we got turned around. It -- it’s nice to meet you. I’m Daniel Bettancourt.”

I couldn’t resist adding, “Sancho Panza to the great and glorious Ace Shostakovich!” To which Daniel rolled his eyes, not in the snotty way Tad does but like he just plain can’t believe I said that.

The old bat noticed said rolling of eyes and glared at him, thinking he meant her, then snapped “And who else might ya be? Up here, this time of year at this time of night? All the best skiin’s to the North. C’mon, let’s get this done with.” And she headed out, muttering, “Little fool.”

Daniel blinked and followed her. “So...I take it Tad explained -- ?”

“Tad?” she snapped, all but kicking open the door. “That what he goes by, now? I knew him when he was just ‘Master’ Theodore James Bentley, the Third, an’ made me use every fool bit of that fool name.”

Wow...looked like he’d always been a dick.

“An’ yes, he did call,” she snarled. “Couple hours ago., ‘told’ me to get the place ready for ya. Got pretty high-handed with it, too, like I’s his employee. Like his poppa don’t treat me all right and proper. Like I’m a fool. I’d of told him where he could go, but ya were already comin’ an’ t’ain’t my way to let people die from exposure. Not ‘round my parcel of the woods, anyhow. T’ain’t polite.”

And I swear, she really DID say “t’ain’t” -- twice!

We were back out to the snow before she even seemed to notice Paul and snorted, “You the driver?” The kid’s eyes got bigger (if that was possible) and he nodded.

Daniel jumped and said, “Sorry, this is -- .”

She cut him off with a wave of her hand and focused on the kid. “You’re set up at Bradleyville Inn, down the end of the street. Tell ‘em Wendy sent ya.”

“I didn’t bring any clothes or stuff and -- ,” Paul said.

“They got a laundry.”

“I don’t have any money.”

The gnome glared at my guy. “Give the kid a couple bills.”

“Me?!” Daniel yelped.

“He brought ya up, didn’t he?”

Dan-O snarled then forced himself to pull a twenty out of his wallet. “Keep receipts,” he said as he slapped it in the kid’s hand. “I’ll take it out of Tad’s hide.”

Yeah, just try and get it back from Mr. Moneybags. Half the reason he’s got such a nice bank balance is he never spends any of his own.

“Now get your things,” Mrs. Serff snapped, cutting my thoughts off, “an’ toss ‘em in the back, here.” Then she climbed into a four-by-four that would’ve been the perfect car-crusher at a monster truck rally, especially with this massive snowplow for a front bumper. Seriously, it even had fold-out steps going up to the sideboards so the old bat could reach the cab.

“Paul, will you be okay here?” Daniel asked, eyeing the truck with what did NOT amount to certainty.

“I’m not staying the night,” he snapped as he got behind the wheel.

“Ya are if ya don’t want to get snowbound halfway back t’ th’ city!” said the old bat as she settled in behind the wheel. “They’re expectin’ four feet. Now let’s get goin’. It’s cold!”

Daniel reluctantly pulled his satchel and bag of groceries from the SUV and climbed aboard as Paul huffed and looked around and tossed out a few “dammits”...and finally aimed the Cadillac up the street, headed for the inn. Well...away we went in the other direction, tires spitting snow with abandon, and I have to say -- while I may’ve thought my guy was getting into something out of control before, now I knew it for a fact.

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