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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Writer's Life 2/21 - Present & Past

Here's an excerpt from my next novel, ninth book, which I hope to self-publish next January. Present and Past is the story of lifelong friends, a bartender and low-level gangster, whose personalities are very different, told from the point of view of the former. They evenutally embark on a cross-country automobile trek. The main theme is how the present and past often merge. In this scene, Freddie is working a popular Brooklyn pub on an off night:

  Time dragged, as few customers entered. His lethargy returned. He concentrated on a quiz program. There was a television set above each end of the bar, hooked to a satellite dish. He ignored the glare Dominick aimed at him.
  He mumbled answers aloud.
  "Is there anything you don't know?" said Timmy.
  "Yeah - how to land even a bit part in a movie."
  "Here comes your better half."
  Freddie walked to the opposite end. An attractive blond approached, removing her coat, revealing an apron underneath.
  "Hi, handsome."
  He smiled. "Hey, Deb. Early as usual. I didn't know you were working tonight."
  He took her coat and hung it in a closet beyond the end of the bar.
  "Looks like I won't have much to do. Maybe I'll get sent home early."
   "You look great, as usual." He sniffed. "And smell great."
   She looked concerned. "It's not too much, is it?"
   Freddie chuckled. "Of course not."
   "How'd the audition go?"
   He shrugged. "I feel like quitting."
   She waved skeptically. "I'm sure you'll change your mind tomorrow, but to tell you the truth, after all these years maybe you should think about givin' it up. Maybe it's time you settled down."
   He stared at her. She looked away, pained.
   "I hope I haven't deceived you," he said softly.
   "You haven't," she replied, avoiding eye contact, obviously miffed at herself. "You’re too much of a gentleman. I really don't understand you. You're the nicest guy I've ever met, and you're not married. You're one of the few bartenders I know who's not an alcoholic or a womanizer or a thief, or all three."
   "You wouldn't've said that if you'd known me a few years ago, at least not in regard to women."
   "But you grew out of it, not like most bartenders. It's a known fact that bartenders are the biggest cheats goin’, next to cops. "
   "That rumor has never been substantiated."
   The quip fell flat.
  "I could tell you stories about cops you wouldn't believe. And don't start makin' jokes to avoid the issue. I hate that."
   "So I have misled you?"
   She slapped at the bar in frustration. "No! I just don't want you to start to.”
   "I'm not ready to settle down, Deb."
   "When're you gonna be? You're thirty-six. I don't; care how young you look - the calendar doesn't lie."
   He hung his head. "Don't remind me."
   "As if I have to. You bring it up all the time. You're so vain about it. It's the only thing I don't like about you."
   "What can I say? You're right. It gives me the creeps to think I'll be in my sixties when my kids are in their twenties, if I ever have any, that is."
   "Then why don't you do somethin' about it?"
   "Because I'm not ready to give up acting."
   "I don't wanna hurt your feelings. You know how I feel about you. But after twelve years of tryin’ I'm thinkin' maybe you don't have what it takes."
    Stung, his eyes glazed. Still, he had to repress anger, as he knew the advice was sound, although self serving, and it merely reinforced his conviction that he should not wed. No wife should be expected to cope with a husband's failure at so distant a goal. He did not see himself giving up soon, as he'd invested so much time and energy in the struggle. He likened himself to someone who refused to relinquish shares in a plummeting stock.
   "I admire you for having the pits to say that. It's good to get an objective opinion once in a while because I feel I might not be looking at the situation realistically. But I do believe I have talent. I hope to prove you wrong." He straightened up. "Besides, tending bar's the only other type of work I enjoy, and bartenders have no business getting married."
   "Unless they're like you."
   "I'd love to play shortstop for the Mets, but I'm not good enough, and too old besides."
   She smirked. Lost in thought, he failed to notice.
   "God, I never thought I'd be too old to do something - not good enough, maybe, but never too old.  I'm older than eighty percent of the guys in the majors. I guess I really am gonna die someday."
   "I hope you never have any real problems, Freddie, I really do. I doubt you'd be able to handle them." She walked away.

My thanks to the kind folks who bought books today. All were in Russian. It was a session dominated by medical news: Barb on knee replacement, Shelley on her once narrow esophagus, Mikhail on the hospitalization of his wife, and Ed on the death of a friend. Rest in peace, A.W..
Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:
Read Vic's Stories, free:

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