Sunday, November 04, 2007

An excerpt

Hey, whatever happened to NaDruWriNi? They had it last year, and the year before that, and the year before that ... but when I Googled to find out the date for it this year, it's ... gone. No National Drunken Writing Night 2007 to be found. I want a refund!

Anyhow, some of us (a/k/a "asshats") peer-pressured Randal over at L'ennui-Melodieux to share some of his writing with us, which he agreed to do, as long as we did the same.

Okay, here is an excerpt from my not-quite-finished mystery novel, Gino's Law: For Every Action, There's An Overreaction. As far I can remember, this scene was not written while drunk, alas, but it is one of my favorites. Gino is attending his neighbor Howard's annual Summer Solstice party (Howard is the gay astrologer who lives across the street.)

A little background info: Gino and Howard have just hired a lawyer to help them fight another neighbor, attorney Sam Simms, self-styled Champeen Rattlesnake Wrangler (if I can wrangle rattlesnakes, I can git you ever single dollar that's comin to ya from the insurance company), who wants to rezone and tear down their neighborhood to put up an office tower complex. Later in the evening, Simms will be found murdered, and Gino is framed for it.

Howard joined them in the kitchen. "Gino, did Arthur call you today to schedule our meeting?"

"With our own damned lawyer? Yeah. Tomorrow afternoon, he said."

"She's here tonight. I'll introduce you later."

"She? I like the sound of that."

"She's married."

"Nobody's perfect."

"In love married."

"Oh. Too bad. Can she handle the Champeen Snake Wrangler?"

"Scorpio with Capricorn rising. Not a problem. I wish I had Simms' chart data, though. The man's demented."

"The man's dangerous, Howard. He's got to be stopped."

"Who's dangerous, Sweetie?" Maud-Ann Patton drawled in her Georgia accent as she entered the kitchen. She slipped her arm through Howard's while murmuring "How're you, Hon?" to Gino.

"Good to see you again, Maud-Ann. Seems that Sam Simms, Esquirt, wants to tear this whole block down and put up an office tower-plaza-something."

Maud-Ann's beautifully arched brows shot up. "That little pissant on television? You cannot be serious!"

"He's been all around the neighborhood telling us he's going to make us rich," said Howard.

Gino couldn't help but throw his head back and roar his trademark laugh.

Maud-Ann looked alarmed. "Surely not as rich as I?"

"Oh heavens no, Maud-Ann," said Howard.

"Howard says my chart shows even more money for Lewis and me this year, isn't that exciting?" She squeezed Howard's arm. "Oooh, now Howard, you may have to let me have this." She stroked the pashmina shoulders of his midnight blue cape. Zodiac signs were worked in silver embroidery throughout the garment.

"Maud-Ann, this is mine. When Lewis gets back in town, bat those brown eyes at him, and he'll buy you one."

"It will have to be at least as soft as this." Maud-Ann still stroked the cloth.

"If that's what you want, then it'll be as soft as a baby angel's butt with the feathers still on it."

Gino's eyes widened. "They're born with feathered butts?"

"Yes. Astrologers know about these things," said Howard. He sipped more mimosa.

Wheep! Wheep! Wheep! The high-pitched sound carried over the noise of the party.

"Oh, dear," said Howard. "Someone set off the pig."

They turned to look at the guest standing in front of the refrigerator, a bearded young man who was putting his wine offering inside.

He returned their stares. "What?"

"It's okay, Danny," said Howard. "It's just that whenever someone opens the 'fridge, Miss Piggy thinks she's going to get lettuce."

"Miss Piggy?" The man looked bewildered.

Maud-Ann said, "C'mon, you simply must meet Miss Piggy." She and Gino led the young man into the breakfast room. Howard wandered off to join other guests.

"What is your name, Sweetie?" She offered the fingertips of her bejeweled hand.

"Danny Ainsworth." He bowed and kissed the air above her fingers.

"I'm Maud-Ann Patton, and this is Gino Gibaldi."

"Hello." They shook hands.

"And here is the divine Miss Piggy," said Maud-Ann. Inside a large waterless aquarium was what looked like a mop in curlers. "Miss Piggy, this is Mr. Danny Ainsworth."

"Um, charmed." Danny made a little bow to the brown and white creature. It stood against the glass on its hind legs and wheeped as he drew closer. Peering in, Danny said, "Is that – is that a Guinea Pig?"

"You are correct, sir," said Gino. "Miss Piggy is a pedigreed long-haired Peruvian Guinea Pig."

"She's a show pig," said Maud-Ann. "That's why her hair is in wrappers, to keep it out of the cedar chips."

"Ah!" said Danny. "I knew there must be a reason for that."

"Maud-Ann and I had the singular honor of accompanying Howard and Miss Piggy to the St. Louis Guinea Pig Show last year," said Gino. "See, here's her blue ribbon for Best-in-Class – "

"Wow," said Danny.

" - and here are her papers." He pointed to the framed documents over the glass cage. "This certifies her lineage. You will note that Miss Piggy is out of Empress, by Warlord."

"The Warlord?"

"Oh, you are a delight, Danny!" Maud-Ann exclaimed. "I haven't seen you here before. Are you a new client of Howard's?"

"Yes. How long have you known him?"

"Oh, forever. What do you do?"

"I'm editor of The Dangling Participle."

"The what, Dear?"

"That's the local anti-establishment newspaper, Maud-Ann," said Gino.