In an unprecedented decision, I’m opting to share the beginning of my story written yesterday. The following is around 570 words, so don’t feel obligated to read the entirety. It does include mild profanity (the… uh… opposite of heaven mentioned twice in the first sentence). Hope you’re having a good Friday!
“Lita, where the hell have you been? Why the hell are you limping?”
“Nice language, Ben. Here’s your beer,” I said, plunking the six pack on his kitchen table. “I think I sprained my ankle.”
“You’re such a klutz.”
“Yeah. Maybe.” I waved a backhand over my pained leg. “But this wouldn’t have happened if you had come to my house like I wanted. The fridge is stocked with all the beer you can drink.”
“I’ve told you before, Lee. I’m more comfortable in my own place.”
He still didn’t honor my request for even so simple a thing as not using that stupid nickname. I shook my head and closed my eyes. This rundown apartment in a smelly tenement was all he could afford. The clutter could be helped but he junked his place up the second I finished tidying. He cracked open his third or fourth can of Bock.
“Besides,” he continued, “nobody told you to walk to the store.”
“It’s around the block, Ben. For crying out loud. And I wanted to clear my head.”
The man had the nerve to snort. I could almost hear his standard joke about there being nothing in my head to start. Purse in hand, I pulled out my car keys. He blinked at my hobble toward the door.
“Where are you going?”
“Where I’m more comfortable.”
“Where’s that? Your fancy house in the country?”
“Anyplace you aren’t, Ben. I’m done.”
At least he had the grace to gawk. I shut the door on his fat grimace.
Not for the first time, I found myself grateful for never having given him a key. Of course I had his inferiority complex to thank in part.
“Funny,” I muttered to the worn stair treads, “he never minds me earning more money when it comes time to pay the liquor bill.”
Ascending to the ground floor hallway, I looked up in surprise. An aged woman stood with a little dog at her feet, clapping her hands. The light smacks wouldn’t carry far. Her bright smile would show on satellite.
“It’s about time you left that no good bum. You ever notice that he only drinks the cheap stuff when you’re not around?”
I blinked at her. She had a point.
“You deserve someone who doesn’t take you for granted.”
“Thank you. I agree.”
“Good luck, my dear. I hope to see you around sometime. Now go find a good man. Or woman. Maybe a parakeet. Anything would be better than Ben Transon.”
In my mind I pictured the attractive fellow who caused my misstep leaving the market. He didn’t so much as glance in my clumsy self’s direction but I saw the way he looked at a woman who might have been his grandmother. He held her bagged groceries while she got situated on her powered wheelchair, then he secured them in the attached basket and made sure she crossed the street safe before going on his way.
Ben couldn’t be bothered to carry his own booze. On that note, what was I going to do with all that beer I’d bought in an attempt to lure him over? Over every season, Bock came out with some limited edition brew. A summer shandy took up refrigerator shelf space next to this autumn’s pumpkin spice.
Reaching my car, a solution occurred to me. Of course! My friend Nan invited me to her neighborhood block party.
Those were always BYOB affairs.
I’m always curious as to whether the occasional use of italics, especially in dialog, is distracting or useful. I guess you can tell which way my opinion leans.
What do you think?