Sunday Story Segment, writing

Asena; Chapter 1

Welcome to Sunday Segment. Each week, I will post another chapter from the ongoing novel. If you have an idea, story prompt, question, or direction you’d love to see the story go, either comment or send me a message using my contact page and I’ll see what I can do.

Today you’ll meet Asena, a 23 year old PI. Let me know what you think.

grayscale photography of person with knit pompom cap sits in front turned on light post at night
Photo by David Bartus on Pexels.com

The snow was cold, the wind biting, and the frostbite a little too close for comfort. I wiggled my fingers deeper into my pockets as I scanned the sidewalks around me. I desperately wanted to enter the coffee shop just a block away, heat and steam rushing out the door every time someone entered.
But, I knew that for a meeting to be clandestine, it couldn’t have a dozen nosy college students listening in to every word in a desperate attempt to avoid studying. Instead, I waited on the bench which opened into Milmones Park, a small patch of land in the middle of the city.
I hated winter in this business. Anyone who wanted to talk to you would want to meet outside where the wind would rip the words away before anyone might overhear. Or being forced to hunker down in a dozen blankets in the front seat of your car because you needed that photo but turning your car on would send up a literal smoke signal to the guy you were tailing.
The guy I was meeting was an informant for the most part, though he’d call himself a friend. He had sold pot to afford his schooling when I was at college and after I tipped him off that the cops were on to him, he’s owed me ever since. You’d think with studying Criminal Justice for four years, my morals would stop me from helping the criminal, but unfortunately, my dad’s lessons ran too deep.
I saw him long before he saw me. He had his head down, avoiding the light snow that was blowing. He walked down the street, busy with cars but barely another person in sight. His jacket was thick and reminded me of a gray Michelin Man. His face wasn’t covered, which I thought was ridiculous. My face was covered with a scarf all the way up to my eyeballs and a hat shoved down so nothing was exposed but my eyes, which I had covered with a pair of bulbous sunglasses to stop the glare coming off the snow.
He was handsome, stupid, and annoyingly good with information. People tended to tell him things, which he took to be part of his charm and I took to be part of the job. It’s a lot easier to get info from someone who’s stoned than someone who’s on their guard.
He stopped at the corner and looked around, his shaggy brown hair standing up as the wind got a hold of it. He saw me and I raised my mittened hand for just a second before he started hustling over.
“Damn, couldn’t we have met in there?” he said, gesturing with his head to the coffee shop.
“You really wanna talk about your clients in there?” I asked, pulling my scarf down to reveal my lips.
“Hey, the government’s making it so things are legal, Asena. I won’t need your protection much longer,” he said, rubbing his face.
“Well, Emmett,” I replied, “when you start telling the government about your business, we’ll talk. Until then, you should be a lot nicer to me.”
He laughed and his dimples showed. I gritted my teeth. “You sure are one feisty lady,” he said. “Bad guys don’t know what to think when you show up, do they?” His teasing annoyed me, since I knew that he was right. As a five foot four woman, most criminals didn’t think twice when I pulled up and explained they would be going to jail. It was beyond obvious I wasn’t a cop, from the ease which I picked locks to the way I had no problem breaking a guy’s finger if he tried to get fresh. But, I had a degree and a PI license which meant I was a problem, even if they didn’t know it yet.
“Shut up,” I snapped. “I need to know about the robbery on thirtieth street two days ago. Have you heard anything?”
“Well isn’t that vague.”
“C’mon, the Pembrook case. Thieves stole a couple hundred in cash, some family jewelry, it’s been all over the news,” I answered. I crossed my arms over my chest, but I knew it simply made me look cold rather than intimidating.
“Oh that one,” he said. “So what? Pretty straight forward, shouldn’t the cops be able to handle this without you?”
“One of those jewels was stolen fifteen years ago from an antiques dealer,” I replied. “Whoever took it seems to know a lot about my client.” His eyes widened.
“Well, I may have heard something,” he drawled. He stuck out his lip, giving me that perfected puppy dog pout.
“The cops have been watching eighth and Broadway, they think there’s been somebody making deals there,” I offered the information I had overheard last time I had been at the precinct. My dealing with the cops put Emmett in a precarious situation. He knew that the moment someone overdosed or got hurt from his dealings, I would become his worst nightmare. But until then, I was his best chance of staying out of jail. So he kept meeting me and letting me know what was going on in our city’s seedy underworld.
“I don’t think you want to get involved in this one,” he said, shrugging.
“I’m already hired,” I retorted. He gave a deep sigh as if to say ‘I warned you.’
“The guy’s name is Francis, I don’t know the last name. But he hangs around the Blue Benjo.” I narrowed my eyes at him. This was specific and very helpful, neither of which Emmett tended to be.
“Someone hired him and he made a good chunk of change off this. He’s tight-lipped about the who, but he showed up at the Benjo a few days ago, talking about this job he pulled and how he’s got a stack of unmarked bills now burning a hole in his pocket. Bit of a creep though, he kept feeling up his waitress. She finally smashed his hand with an empty bottle. Nothing broken, just some bruising but should help you spot him.” He smiled wolfishly and I could tell he was happy the guy had got what was coming to him. I knew he had a little sister and tended to get protective, a feeling I had for years done my best to dodge every time it was focused on me. “But, this guy he’s working for, he’s bad news. Francis won’t say a word. I thought he was just trying to keep the cash cow for himself, but he’s scared. And he’s too stupid to be scared by anything small.”
“So someone is pulling the strings?” I mused. “I hope Francis is as stupid as you say. I’d love to get this wrapped up before the holidays.”
“Asena, this isn’t a joke. This guy is dangerous,” he said, staring at me with a seriousness I hadn’t seen before.
“I’ll be fine,” I answered, smiling and patting his arm. “I’ve dealt with worse, trust me.”
“I’m not so sure. I’ve seen some scum around this city, but nothing that could scare someone like Francis this much. He was drunk and not saying a word.” He stood up, rubbing the tips of his ears to regain some warmth. “That’s all I know. Stay safe out there, Asena.” He gave me a roguish grin, but I could still see the edge of worry.
I watched him walk away, giving him a few minutes before I decided to walk into the coffee shop to unthaw and figure out how to best to become friends with Francis.

Original Work, writing

Footprints

Characters:

Mallory-waitress at Hal’s Diner
Paul- Mallory’s eight year old son
Ron- Paul’s friend
George- Paul’s imaginary friend
Reggie- waiter at Hal’s Diner

Setting:
Winter. A block in a small town. A street with fresh snow on it. Stage left is the street corner. The street goes through center stage. Stage right is Hal’s Diner. Inside Hal’s Diner, booths and tables are spaced around, with one long bar going around with trendy decor. Behind the bar is a door into the kitchen. Mallory is wiping off one of the tables. Reggie is cleaning nearby. Paul and George are sitting across from each other in a booth. Paul is coloring in a coloring book. Ron and a few other boys are sitting at a table across the diner.

Scene:

Paul: Look George, isn’t it pretty? (holds up coloring book)
George: (nods) Its very pretty.
Paul: (sets down coloring book) Do you want to draw some too?
George: (smiles) No thanks. I like seeing yours.
Paul: Okay. (continues to color)
(Mallory walks over to the booth her son is sitting in. She doesn’t look at George.)
Mallory: Paul, don’t you want to go sit with your friends? (gestures towards the table of boys)
Paul: (stops coloring and sets down his Crayon) Mom, I’m sitting with George. (points at George who smiles)
Mallory: (looks blankly at where George is sitting. Can’t see him. Looks back at Paul.)
Honey, he’s imaginary. Don’t you want to go play with those boys?
Paul: (upset) George isn’t imaginary. You just can’t see him because he don’t want you to.
Mallory: (sounding concerned) Pack your things. My shift ends in a few minutes and we’re going home. (walks away)
(Mallory-exits through kitchen door)
Paul: (looks at George) Don’t worry, I know you’re real.
George: (pats his hand) I know you do pal.
(Ron walks over)
Ron: Paul, do you want to come play? We’re going to go sledding.
Paul: No, I have to go home with my mom and George.
Ron: (shrugs) Oh, okay. Tell George hi. (walks back to his table)
Paul: (lifts a backpack up and puts his crayons and coloring book in it) Do you want to go sledding, George?
George: Do you?
Paul: (shakes his head) Ya. It could be fun.
George: How about you go? You need to start doing stuff with your other friends too. I’m just here when you need another friend, not to be your only friend. So you go sledding and we’ll hang out later. Sound good?
Paul: (smiles) Ya, I’ll go ask mom.
(Mallory-enters though kitchen door. Walks up to Paul’s table with a jacket in hand)
Mallory: Come on Paul, time to go home.
Paul: (stands up) Mom, can I go sledding with Ron?
Mallory: (her eyes widen) I thought you didn’t want to.
Paul: No, I do want to. (shakes his head to make his point)
Mallory: (smiles) Of course. What about George? (frowns slightly)
Paul: (shrugs) He told me to go, but he doesn’t want to go.
Mallory: (voice slightly suspicious) George wants you to go by yourself?
Paul: He says I should spend time with my other friends too. He’s doesn’t want to be my only friend.
Mallory: (surprised) Oh.
George: When will she realize I’m only helping? (smiles at Paul)
Paul: (laughs)
Mallory: (suspiciously) What’s so funny?
Paul: George wants to know when you’ll figure out he’s just trying to help.
Mallory: (ignores the remark) Why don’t you go tell Ron you’re going. Then we can head home and you can get your snow stuff.
Paul: Okay. (Hops up and goes to Ron. Talks to him for a few seconds. Lots of nodding. Comes back to the table) Ready to go.
Mallory: Okay, let’s go. (They walk to the door. George follows. Mallory opens the door.)
Reggie: (Wipes a table and turns) Mallory, wait! (Walks up to her)
Mallory: (Stops and looks back) You can go on ahead, Paul. Wait for me at the corner.
Paul: (grabs George’s hand) Okay. (heads out the door and down the street They stop at the corner and Paul starts talking to George)
Reggie: Can you switch me shifts tomorrow?
Mallory: Sure but you’ll owe me. (turns around. Looks down the street.)
Reggie: Deal. Thanks (turns around)
Mallory: Reggie, look at this. (grabs his shirt. He turns around. She points at the snow leading up to where Paul is standing.)
Reggie: (looks at her hand on his shirt and then at where she’s pointing, annoyed) What is it?
Mallory: (lets go of Reggie’s shirt) Look, there’s two sets of footprints. No one else has been out yer. It’s like someone was walking with Paul. But,no one…(trails off)
Reggie: (frowns) That’s strange.
Mallory: (looks at him) Do you believe in imaginary friends?
Reggie: (laughs) Ya, when I was eight. (walks away and starts cleaning another table)
Mallory: (looks back at Paul who is chattering away, seemingly all alone. quietly) I think I do now.
(Lights go out. Curtain closes)