Saturday Sample # 3
By Jeff Salter
This third excerpt picks up near the end of Chapter 1 and includes the very beginning of Chapter 2. Kristen has been 'rescued' -- let out of the fund-raising jail -- in the pitch dark of the armory ... but she still has not seen the tall man who released her. As this portion begins, they've blindly made their way from the wooden cage (actually where equipment was usually stored) across the cluttered floor of the vehicle bay. Still in the dark ... and they both need a restroom!
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My eyeballs were sloshing as I groped for the light switch.
He did too, around to my left. “Okay, I’m in the doorway. Where’s the light?”
“Can’t be far. One side or the other.” I felt his hands on my left arm as we both groped blindly for the switch.
“Okay. No sweat.” I lied. His touch was electric. I wanted to think about it some more, but my kidneys had short-circuited my brain. “Switches are about chest high on me.”
I heard one of his hands whap against the wall as the fingers of his other hand grazed my bustier. Yep, that’s chest high. “Hey, buddy!” As I spoke I found the switch and flipped it vigorously. It was just for the entryway but the bright light immediately
overhead made both of us shut our eyes reflexively.
His must have opened first. “Uh, you’re a witch!” He gasped as though that notion actually frightened him.
When I opened my eyes, he was staring at my décolletage goose-pimples. “Well, you’re…” It took me a second to identify someone in a brightly striped shirt, breeches with a sash, a toy dagger tucked in his waistband, and a disheveled headscarf. Plus, a black eye patch dangled from his left ear by a strand of cheap elastic.“…you’re a pirate!”
“Aarrgghh.” He dashed away toward the nearest buccaneer’s room.
After I’d dealt with my primary emergency, I looked into the mirror. Hmm. This witch costume did reveal a good bit of flesh. I made some quick adjustments to the girls. Still a punishing outfit. For a moment I fritzed with my short hair before I realized it was
beyond hope. Also, my eye makeup had streaked. What a mess. I exited the restroom and stood at the corner of the intersecting hallways.
“Oh, I thought you’d gone.” The brigand approached from the direction of the men’s room door.
I finally got a good look at his face. Nice — under the greasepaint beard and overdone eye makeup someone likely copied from a bad pirate movie. Strong jaw, Roman nose, steel gray eyes. He was probably about six-two. The gaudy horizontal stripes of his tight shirt revealed an expansive chest. Not like a competitive body-builder, but a man who’d been physically fit most of his life. Hmm. Wondered how old he was. Hard to tell with buccaneers. Maybe a hair over thirty.
“Guess I’m heading out. Which way is the parking lot?”
I pointed over my right shoulder. “The main lot’s out there. Feeds into a ginormous overhead door they used to need for the trucks that pulled in the big space.”
The pirate rubbed his head and likely just then realized he still wore the scarf. He grinned as he pulled it off. His movement also dislodged the thin elastic strand from his ear and the eye patch fell to the thick tile.
I wondered why he hadn’t seen that in the mirror. Maybe he hadn’t even looked. Some
guys don’t. Nice smile. Not movie star caliber, but just right for a real man. “You said it was your first time at the Halloween Festival. So how’d you get left here?”
“I’m still wondering that myself.” He shook his head.
Whatever. “So why'd it take you so long to come help me get out?”
“First time I heard your voice, I thought I was still asleep and just dreaming or something. My head hurt. What’d they put in that punch? I drank a lot more than I usually do. Got real tired and just kind of slumped against the wall off in a corner ... not too far from where you were, apparently.” He rubbed the back of his neck.
I liked the way his mouth moved when he spoke. A bit like Sean Connery when much younger —extra mobility in his lips.
He continued.“Well, anyway, I tried to make my way over to your voice, but I couldn’t see so it took a while to reach you.”
“Why didn’t you say something?”
“I didn’t know who you were. Plus, you’d threatened to shoot me!” He groaned. “You’d think people cleaning up would’ve noticed at least one of us.”
“I was on the committee and everybody said the county jail convicts would clean up Monday morning. No need to do anything but turn out the lights and leave, which apparently is just what they did.” Would’ve been nice if they’d checked for live bodies first.
The buccaneer shrugged and headed toward the door. “Okay. Guess I’m outta here.”
“Hold on. You said you were new in town. Who are you anyway?”
“Just your run-of-the-mill pirate.” He grinned. “Who are you?”
“A witch who puts nasty spells on rude pirates.” I didn’t grin. Why’d he dodge my question?
He turned again to leave.
“Hey, I’m not staying here by myself.” I’d had my quota of being alone in large dark buildings near Halloween.
“Might be chilly outside in a witch costume.”
My leather jacket was something else I’d left locked in the car. I sighed heavily and followed him toward the door. It seemed like I was forgetting something...
“It’s been…interesting.” He winked clumsily and pushed open the heavy door.
Brisk night air swirled into the wide hallway and I shivered.
The newcomer stepped outside and clasped his arms around his chest; I stayed pretty close so he could be a windbreak of sorts. Right as I heard the massive door slam behind us I remembered my purse was still tucked under the bench inside the wooden cage. “My keys! My purse!” I tried the door. Locked tighter than my Aunt Tilly’s coin pouch.
Before I could nod my head, I started sniffling. The new guy stepped closer, tentatively, but stopped short of hugging me. You can’t let a strange swashbuckler embrace you even if he is compassionate enough. As I shivered from the cold breeze, it made my sniffles sound even worse.
“Uh, is there something I can do to help?” He shivered also.
I’d spent the last thirty minutes being strong. “Not unless,” I sobbed, “you have a key to the armory.”
He shook his head. “But I guess I could give you a ride.” He didn’t sound like he wanted to.
And I wasn’t certain it would be a good idea anyhow. “Don’t ride with strangers” had been ingrained in me since kindergarten.
Vehicle brakes squealed in the parking lot and we both turned just as a piercing bright light temporarily blinded me. “Stop right there! Verdeville Police! Hands in the air and don’t move too fast.”
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For a look at my first two excerpts, please scroll down to my posts for Nov. 16th and Nov. 2nd.