Friday, 21 October 2011
Author Spotlight - Excerpt from Talk of The Town
Enjoy this excerpt from Talk of The Town. Leave a comment on this post today, Saturday and Sunday and I'll pick a name out of a hat on Monday for one lucky commenter to win a copy of Barbara's latest release. Thanks so much for supporting Barbara this week.
It wasn’t the end of the world, just close to it.
Max rapped the empty can on the counter trying to shake enough grounds loose to squeeze out a cup of the vital fluid. No luck. He squinted at the clock. 4:45. His neighbor George would kill him if he came begging at his back stairs for java at this predawn hour.
With the crumpled rejects of his last five cartoons littering the floor and deadline looming, Max had no other choice. He’d have to siphon his bankroll for enough cash to spring a can from the Spee-dee Mart 24 on the corner.
Max raked his fingers through his smashed-flat hair. He cursed the four hours of sleep he’d snatched, slouched on the sofa. The TV with its monotone delivery of the all-night news was the wrong choice to keep him awake and alert through the wee hours. His ancient, ghost-ridden set blinked and wavered from its place on the window sill, antenna straining through the blinds to gather in the signal. On screen, angel-faced street reporter, Kari Bryan bubbled about the rescue of a scraggly cat from a house fire. Max shrugged and jammed his feet into his knotted hi-tops. If Kari Bryan could be chipper at this ungodly hour, Max Dawson could too, damn it.
The sultry night greeted him with a wet kiss fogging his glasses. He grabbed them off and shoved them into his pocket. The sweating street looked better hazed in the soft blur of his nearsightedness. At the corner, Spee-dee Mart’s neon spelled out a tentative welcome, minus the burnt out M. SPEE-DEE ART. Max wished the sign could be an omen for the cartoons he had to finish for his ten o’clock meeting with his agent. God, how he hated deadlines.
The "24" promised in Spee-dee Mart’s name did not come without effort on the customers’ part. Or the owners’. Harold and LaVonda Peebles struggled to keep their tiny store staffed through the graveyard shift. More often than not, their wayward clerks would plead the stomach flu, or a death in the family, or the cat having kittens to get out of working the scary, lonely hours between midnight and dawn. Then, Harold or LaVonda or both would man the store, double locking the door against shady characters, but allowing entry to their well-known neighbors, less shady only by virtue of their familiarity.
With his rumpled hair and stubbly chin, Max expected he’d have to shout his identity to Harold or LaVonda as they blinked at him like owls through the grimy windows. He was surprised to find the door hanging open, a greasy rag shoved against the hinge. He stepped into the shop which throbbed with heat like a pizza oven. Mrs. Peebles, bent and thin as a twig, stood behind the counter, beads of sweat clustered on her mahogany brow.
"Whew, AC out again, Mrs. Peebles? The open door isn’t helping. You need to get a fan."
"And you need to say your prayers, sucker," a voice growled from behind him.
Max started to turn and felt the nudge of something hard against his ribs.
"Don’t look. Put your wallet and your car keys on the counter."