Books are a uniquely portable magic. ~ Stephen King

Friday, April 16, 2010

Marnie's Rung

Fiction Friday

This is the next chapter of the novel (or project, as I continue to insist on calling it) that I wrote for NaNoWriMo. It's sat dormant long enough - time for me to take another look at it - and to give you a peek at it as well.

In case you missed something:

Chapter 1: Josh's Table

Chapter 2: The Vista

Cal’s bike had started this incarnation of its life as a bike in a box. Andy had been helping someone move and had found it in the garage. He asked what to do with it and the owner told him to pitch it. They didn’t know what they had. Lucky for Cal, Andy did. He took the box as well as the frame and wheels back to his shop and the next day he showed it to Cal. Cal’s eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas morning. “Is this what I think it is?” Andy nodded. “Can you help me with it?” Another nod. “Can we work on it here?”

“I insist.”


They’d worked all winter and by spring – the unofficial start of riding season – Cal had a serviceable road bike. It wasn’t much to look at, but it ran great. Over the course of the next couple years they’d cleaned it up and done a lot of customization. It was unique and it was gorgeous. Cal’s pride in it was not misplaced.

Cal hopped on and got it started. He put on a helmet and handed one to Marnie. He always kept a spare bungeed behind his seat. She strapped it on and swung her leg over the bike to take her place behind Cal. He didn’t have a back rest on the bike, so, even though she was not an experienced rider, this was easy. Cal turned around and yelled, “You okay?” Marnie didn’t really hear him, but she knew what he’d said. She nodded. “Hang on!” Cal said, as he pulled away from the curb.

Marnie put her arms around his waist. She had pulled her hands up into the sleeves of his jacket in an attempt to keep them warm. It wasn’t working very well. Cal didn’t seem to be affected. He kept turning around to smile at her. The overall effect was completely disarming. His smile, the way his hair curled under the back of his helmet, her arms around his waist, her body pressed into his, the power of the bike itself – it was all so overwhelming that she barely noticed the cold air stinging her face. They arrived at The Vista way too soon for her tastes. She could’ve ridden with Cal all night.

She swung her leg over the back of the bike and whipped her helmet off in one swift motion. Cal did the same. “You’re a natural!” he said.

“A natural? I didn’t do anything.”

“Seriously. Not everyone is a good passenger. Some people fight the curves and turns, but you leaned right into them with me.”

“And that’s good?” Marnie asked, not adding, “I would’ve probably leaned into hell with you…”

“That’s very good.”


The Vista was a bar on the edge of town with a dance floor. They had a great outdoor patio, too, but in the colder months that was just used by smokers since the smoking ban in public places had been enacted. It was a popular destination on Friday and Saturday nights, as they usually had a live band. People from every walk of life showed up at The Vista. It was almost never dull.

Tonight seemed to be hopping. The parking lot was full and they could feel the throb of the bass before they even got close to the door. “Who’s playing?” Marnie asked, handing Cal’s jacket back to him and shivering.

“I can’t remember. Someone told me, but I’d never heard of them before.”

Cal opened the heavy wooden door and held it for Marnie. She smiled and thanked him. Josh never did shit like this. Cal was a class act. An unemployed recently dumped class act, she reminded herself. A very vulnerable class act. Tread carefully. An unemployed recently dumped insanely good looking vulnerable class act. Oh boy.

Cal headed to the bar to buy them a couple beers and Marnie worked her way through the crowd towards the dance floor, greeting people – mostly casual acquaintances – along the way. She’d buy the next round. She knew it was wrong to let Cal pay for her drinks when he was out of work and she was quite gainfully employed. She also knew that his ego would never recover if she said or even implied anything like that. She’d let him get the first round, then she’d just grab the next couple.

It didn’t take long at all for him to catch her eye across the crowded bar. He raised the bottles over his head and smiled at her like he hadn’t seen her in a year. His teeth were so straight and white and his smile was so genuine. Marnie was coming undone, and the feeling wasn’t even remotely unpleasant. “God help us all”, she thought. Women turned their heads, trying and failing to look casual, when Cal walked past them. They knew he looked good on the approach and wanted to watch the departure, as well. Their appreciative glances and nudges to their girlfriends proved that they were not disappointed. Marnie couldn’t blame them. Cal didn’t notice. He handed Marnie her beer and they clinked their bottles together before taking a drink. Good God, he was charming.

The band was good, but loud, so conversation was kept to a minimum. Hot bluesy guitar riffs, a cold bottle of beer, an amazing looking and attentive man by her side – man – it just didn’t get any better than this. The coke buzz was starting to wear off, but a nice mellow beer buzz was taking its place. The only thing that would make this night better would be - “You wanna dance?” Cal had interrupted her train of thoughts with – well – the only thing that would make this night better. She nodded her assent, put her empty beer bottle on a nearby table, and took the hand Cal had extended. He led her to the dance floor and she let the music take over. The guitar player was quite accomplished and his licks were hard and fast. Marnie’s head started moving first, then her shoulders and hips. Cal came up behind her and slipped his hands around her waist. He met her move for move. It was exhilarating. Marnie had never danced like this before. If it’s true what they say about the correlation between the way a guy behaves on the dance floor and the way he behaves in bed, well, maybe taking him home just this once wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

Of course she knew it still was. A bad idea. Still…

Marnie broke the spell by pointing to the bar. He nodded and they both made their way through the crowd once more. Cal had stopped to talk to a friend, so Marnie ordered two beers and a couple shots of tequila. By the time Cal made it to the bar, they were set.

“Dude! Seriously?”

Marnie nodded, licked the back of her hand between her thumb and pointer finger, and shook salt liberally over the wet area. She passed the salt shaker to Cal, who did the same thing.

“Cheers!” she said, quickly licking the salt from her hand, throwing back the shot, and grabbing one of the lime slices the bartender had put on a cocktail napkin next to the shot glasses. She sucked on the lime slice and grimaced, shaking her head. “Whoo!” She shook her head again and downed a long gulp of beer. “Hell yeah!”

They repeated this process several times – dance, panic, drink. Every drink made the panic less pronounced. Marnie leaned in closer and closer the longer they sat and talked. She had just let her hand find it’s way back to his knee, and he didn’t seem to have any objections.

“Hey, Marnie! Marnie Hammond! Is that you?”

Marnie turned around to see three girls she’d gone to high school with. “Oh, God”, she said, under her breath, then, “Mary! Katy! Julia! How the hell are ya?” Marnie couldn’t believe these three could still tolerate each other. They had been obnoxious little twits in high school and her quick perusal of them didn’t give her any reason to believe that much had changed.

“Julia’s getting married next weekend, if you can believe it”, Mary screamed over the music, “so we’re out celebrating her last weekend of freedom. Have a drink with us!”

“No more slutting around!” added Katy, slurring the words in a manner Marnie could tell she thought was charming and adorable, but in reality, was just the opposite. “Here’s to you, you, you, you slut puppy you!” shot glasses were raised and Marnie found one in her hand.

“Cheers!” she said, downing it in one gulp. “That was good! What was it?”

“A red-headed slut. Not unlike our Julia.”

The bride to be had made her way to a table top and was inviting bar patrons to take the life savers that had been stapled to her outfit – a thrift shop wedding gown – off with their teeth. Marnie thanked them for the shot and made her way back to Cal, who was watching from the bar with an amused expression on his face. “To Marnie!” Katy screamed, attempting another shot but getting more of it on her shirt than down her throat. “To Marnie-fucking-Hammond!”

“Friends of yours?” Cal asked.

“I went to high school with them. We were never what you might want to call friends. Stupid bitches.”

“Be nice.”

“Oh, I wasn’t being mean, necessarily. They’re stupid. And they’re bitches. Ask them – they probably won’t deny it.”

“I’ll take a pass.”

They both glanced back at the bachelorette party. Julia was dancing vigorously on the table and lifesavers were flying everywhere. Mary was sitting on some guys lap and kissing the top of his bald head. Katy was knocking back another shot. Lovely.

“You ready to get out of here?” Cal asked.

“Probably should. While I’m still ok to drive.”

“I’m not taking you home?”

“Not tonight, cowboy.” She was amazed at her own restraint, “Just back to my car.”

He took off his jacket and once again offered it to her. It was warm from his body heat. There was still time to change her mind…

She jumped on the bike and, once again, hardly noticed the cold. When they arrived at Josh’s house, all the lights were out. Sonya’s car was in the driveway. Marnie jumped off the bike and took off Cal’s helmet and jacket. She was surprised that he got off the bike as well. He helped her into her car and kissed her chastely before she sunk into her seat. He put his jacket back on and headed back to his bike. He thought the jacket smelled like Marnie’s shampoo. All the way home she felt the warm softness left behind by his lips. She wasn’t going to be able to resist this for long.

1 comment: