Friday, March 18, 2011

The Favor

Today's theme for the Red Dress Club is "Detour."

I'm sharing a scene with the characters from my current novel. This scene appeared in the very first draft, but was cut when I later decided that it just didn't fit. I now look at it as more of a character development exercise.

You can give some constructive criticism if you'd like, but be aware that this is a very rough draft and I'm aware there are quite a few flaws. Just wanted to share it for fun.


The cell phone screamed while the traffic refused to move on the 101. I jammed the blue tooth in my ear and punched a button.

“Jason?”

My heart skipped. It was Holly. I tried to play it cool. “How’s Oklahoma?”

I could hear her eyes rolling. “If one more person shoves a plate of fried anything in front of me, I’m going to scream. Promise when I get back that we'll go to that sushi place.”

“Of course.”

“Hey, listen, I only have a minute because I have a meeting, but can you do me a favor?”

“Anything,” I said, and meant it.

“Can you run over to my place and pick up a file? I forgot to pack it and the girls in the LA office are useless. I need it faxed if you can.”

“No problem. When do you need it?”

“Yesterday.”

As I inched along the freeway, I eyed the southbound side where vehicles were actually moving. “Within the hour work for you?”

“You are the best, Jason! I could just kiss you right now.” If only. “I’ll text you the number. Thank you so much. You’re saving my life.”

I squeezed across two lanes crowded lanes to jumped off at the next exit and head the other way, which normally would have come to a screeching halt just because I was in a hurry. This morning, though, the fates smiled on me. It didn't even matter that I would be incredibly late to work. I was on a mission for Holly.

I let myself into the condo with a spare key. The place was quiet, and I remembered the roommate wasn't an early riser. Holly's bedroom was meticulous. The queen-sized bed boasted hospital corners, the duvet falling perfectly at the edges. The DVDs and books were organized neatly on shelves, alphabetized and categorized. I think she might have opted to be a librarian if she had not had such a keen interest in spending as much time as possible outside.

The file sat at the edge of the desk and I snatched it without lingering, then clicked through my phone for the nearest copy center and hoping they would have a fax.

The cross town freeway was too far away, so I inched through street traffic. The school zones were crowded as the schools welcomed a plethora of last minute stragglers.

It took thirty minutes to get to the copy center and I cursed the clock the entire way, hoping the boss hadn't yet noticed I wasn't at my desk.

I pulled into the Kinko's lot, dashed inside and ran to the counter, slamming the file down. The tattooed, pierced college student behind the counter stared at the pages for a second. “We charge four bucks per page, man.”

“Fine,” I said with a glance at the clock on the wall. This should have been done 30 minutes ago.

"It’s $12.80.”

“Twelve eighty? Where’d the eighty come from?”

“Plus tax.”

“Whatever. Fine.” I threw a twenty down on the counter and drummed my fingers. The kid counted change back slowly before turning his attention to the pages and the fax machine. Could he dial the number any slower?

He shoved a page into the feeder. Then the next. Then he slammed against the side and swore loudly. “Jammed,” was his only explanation.

Great. Just great. Holly hadn't called back yet. I hoped that was a sign her meeting had been delayed. I checked my phone again, just to be sure while the kid at the counter beat the fax machine without mercy.

“Oh, there it goes,” he said. “It was dialing.”

It felt like another twenty minutes before I blinked back into the sun and jabbed a number on the phone. Holly answered midway through the second ring and sounded surprised.

“Hey, I’m just getting out of a meeting. What’s up?” She sounded chipper, and I relaxed a bit, after bracing to be told off for the delay.

“Just wanted you to know that fax was sent. Did you get it yet?”

There was a pause.

“Oh yeah, someone is just handing it to me right now. Thanks. You didn’t have to do that. One of the girls in the office came through after all. I hope this wasn’t too much trouble.”

I squeezed the steering wheel until my knuckles turned white. "No," I said. "No problem."

When I arrived at work two hours later, no one noticed.

7 comments:

MrsJenB said...

Oh no!

Well, I definitely want to know more about these characters - what's their relationship, their history. So that should tell you something!

Valerie said...

Poor Jason! First he went to all that trouble for nothing-and then no one even notices that he is too hours late for work.

He can do better that Holly!

(See-you made me care about this character!)

Heather H said...

Is this part of an ongoing story? I want to read more about these characters!

Galit Breen said...

Well done, lady! I love that you're sharing some of your other work and that it connects to this writing- that's perfect!

Poor Jason, huh? :)

Renee said...

This is great!
Poor Jason. And this could so happen.
Is there some more of this?

The mad woman behind the blog said...

Neat story.
My first thought was "Wow, this guy has an amazing attention to detail, how unlike most men I know." and then it occurred to me that he would be attentive to the details of the woman he clearly idolized/loved.
So yeah, that attention to detail...wow, with the contrast to him going unnoticed. Good stuff.

Pam said...

Poor guy! Why can't *I* meet someone like that! I love your characters, love your voice, and look forward to seeing more from you!