Don’t have time to write a lot of new blog content right now, because I’m in the thick of novel-writing. I’m adding to my novel from last year, so far titled Dr. Miracle’s Medicine Show. It was missing entire scenes, though in some cases, I needed to completely rewrite scenes. It’s historical fantasy, set in the American West. Our hero is named Slim Holloway. Well, hero is definitely overstating it, but the plan is for the guy to become a better human being eventually.
So, for better or worse, here’s a chunk of first-draftiness from an early scene. Be kind, please!
A portentous cigar…
Slim wondered why the congressman seemed so interested in hiring him. The only thing he could think of was that moment, back at the poker table, when he had looked at the congressman’s cards, using his Gift. The change in Routledge’s eyes had been chilling.
If he was wrong, he might kick himself for it later. On the other hand, how would he ever know? He decided to go with his gut. “Gus, I hate to drink a man’s bourbon and then have to tell him no, but I just don’t see myself in politics.”
“Slim, I’m the one in politics. You wouldn’t have to do much as far as that goes. I have a lot of other business, too.”
That statement really didn’t ring true. Routledge might well have other interests, but why would he try so hard to hire Slim, who was clearly uninterested in a huge part of his work? He hadn’t even said anything along the lines of “how do you know until you try it?”
Slim went from considering to fully decided. “I thank you, sir, but no. Now, I’d better get to bed. As I said, I want to be rested in time for the stage tomorrow.”
Routledge’s hand tightened around his glass, and his smile once again didn’t reach his eyes. “Well, if you’re sure.”
“I am, sir.”
“You’re staying at the rooming house by the stage depot?” Routledge asked.
It wasn’t as if there was much of anyplace else to stay in this benighted spot. “Yes, sir, I am.”
“I’m headed in that direction myself.” Routledge bolted the rest of his drink.
Slim stifled a sigh, and stood up. It would be too pointed altogether to refuse to walk with the man. He waited as Routledge put some cash on the bar. The bodyguard stood at the door. After looking at the street outside, he held the door open and nodded to Routledge.
“After you, Slim,” said Routledge.
Slim entered the street. The sun had set while they were inside. The night would come on in the slow way of early summer. For now, there was enough light to see their way to the rooming house. The townsfolk all appeared to be inside, most likely at their suppers. A few parlor lamps were lit. Fish Creek clearly closed down as early as most villages of its type.
Routledge joined Slim on the wooden sidewalk. “I do like the quiet of early evening, don’t you?”
“It’s peaceful,” said Slim, just to be agreeable. In truth, little places like this reminded him of the River Glen, the town he’d grown up in. Since he’d left that town as soon as he was old enough, it was unlikely he’d find any other place that resembled it to be at all enticing. Fish Creek didn’t even have the rosy memories of early youth to cast a pleasant glow in Slim’s mind.
“I don’t suppose there’s any way you’ll reconsider my offer?” said Routledge.
Slim had known this was coming, and was ready for it. “No, sir, but I thank you. Of course, if I were to change my mind, you’d be easy to find, being a public figure and all.”
“True enough,” Routledge chuckled.
He took a cigar case from his pocket, opened it, and offered a cigar to Slim. Slim shook his head. He’d tried cigars when he was younger, and had grown violently ill from his first experience. Other boys had tried again, and had come to like them, but once was enough for Slim. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he’d prefer not to take anything else from Routledge since he wasn’t accepting his offer of employment.
Routledge stopped and felt for something else in his pockets, finally producing a box of lucifer matches. He struck one on his boot sole, and lit his cigar. Slim heard something behind him—sudden footsteps. As he turned to look, he caught a glimpse of Routledge’s big bodyguard, Jensen. The man had something in his hand, which he raised towards Slim’s skull.
Slim sidestepped, and eluded most of the blow. Still, his ears rang and he had to fight to keep his footing. Jensen was caught off-balance as well. He went a step past Slim and spun around.
Slim backed up and was just able to see Routledge’s face. No longer jovial, the congressman had set his jaw. Slim had no idea why Routledge had ordered Jensen to attack, but it was obvious that he had. Slim reached for his pistol. He pointed it at Jensen, but when he spoke, he addressed both men. “I don’t know what you want from me, but that’s no way to go about it.”
“I’m sure Mr. Jensen was mistaken about something, Slim,” said Routledge. His customary smile was back. “Maybe he thought you were about to attack me.”
“I’m sure he didn’t,” Slim said. “I think your lighting the cigar was a signal. I wouldn’t move, Mr. Jensen.”
“You want me to shoot him?” Jensen already had his gun out. It was probably what he’d used to hit Slim.
“No, Mr. Jensen,” said Routledge. “Mr. Holloway won’t shoot either of us. He knows how stupid that would be.”
True enough. Even if he were able to get off two lucky shots, the noise would bring attention. And even if he were able to get away after that, enough people had seen him talking with Routledge. The bartender had seen Slim leaving the saloon with him. He’d have to hide the rest of his life, which likely wouldn’t be long.
“What is it you want?” he asked Routledge.
“I’ve told you, Slim. I’d like to employ you. There are young men who’d give their eye teeth for such an opportunity. If you don’t like it, you can always quit.”
“How long do you want me to try it out?”
“I think a month might be fair, don’t you?”
Slim thought he’d rather sleep with a bed full of rattlesnakes than work for Routledge even one day, but if agreement was what it took to get out of this pickle, he’d say whatever the congressman wanted to hear. Once Routledge trusted him, he would find it easier to slip away.
“Seems reasonable,” Slim said.
“Good. Why don’t you put the gun away, son?” said Routledge.
Jensen’s hand still held the pistol even as he put it in his holster. Slim looked at Jensen, and then at Routledge.
“Stand down, Jensen,” Routledge said.
Jensen took his hand away from his Colt.
Slim holstered his own pistol.
“That’s better.” Routledge put his cigar back in his mouth and puffed contentedly. “Look at it this way, Slim. You’ll get to travel, and you’ll save on stagecoach fare.”