That’s right everyone, after two and a half days of serious noveling, I am ready to let you see the first page or so of my book, “A Day in the Live(s) of Whitaker Riley”. Hope you enjoy it!
A tall man in a dark cloak stood pressed up against the wall, breathing heavily. The gun in his hands shook ever so slightly, but his face showed a fierce determination. Slowly, he leaned around the corner. The other man was still out there, still standing right in the center of the alleyway, but this time his back was to the man in the cloak. A glow of triumph began to rise on the gunman’s face, and he lowered his weapon until it was aimed perfectly at the base of the other man’s skull.
In one instant, everything changed. The other man spun around to reveal that he was not a man, but a woman. The gunman was too late to change his mind, and he finished pulling the trigger, sending a bullet straight into the woman’s neck. The force of the impact sent her stumbling backwards, and the gunman ran forward to survey the damages. Surprisingly, the woman was still on her feet when the gunman reached her, but she was bent over double, clutching at her throat.
“Who are you?” The gunman demanded, placing his hand on the woman’s shoulder. It felt incredibly hard, like her arm was solid bone, or…
“She’s not who you’re looking for,” said a voice from behind the gunman. He tried to turn around, to raise his weapon, but somehow the woman reached out, fast as lightning, and held his hand in an iron grip. The best the gunman could do was turn his head for a look at the speaker’s face. He saw the end of a pistol. The other man smiled. “Endgame.”
The gunshot echoed off of the alley walls, masking the thump that the gunman’s body made on the ground. The woman stood up slowly, mechanically, a crumpled bullet falling dramatically from her hands, and asked the other man, “What are your directives for me now?”
“You saved my life,” the other man whispered, choking up. Then he regained his composure. “How could I ask any more of you. You are free to go.”
A hint of a smile played on the robot woman’s lips. “Thank you. I’ll see you again, Robert.”
“I hope so,” Robert replied softly.
Then the credits rolled. That’s right about when I thought, “Shoot, I’m late!”
I rushed out of theater 12 and grabbed the nearest trash can, adjusted my hat and took up my stance near the door, just in time to greet the first couple as they left the movie.
“Have a nice night.”
About twenty-eight have-a-nice-night’s later, I was very sick of smiling. The last guy to leave had stayed for all of the credits, just to see if there was bonus footage at the end. There wasn’t. He got a “have a nice night” like everyone else, but the look of disgust on my face must have given me away, because he just grunted and kept walking.
After sweeping out the theater and mopping up several soda spills, I made my way to theater 1, all the way over in the other wing of the building. One of the half a dozen new chick flicks was playing in theater 1, so I had no trouble staying outside the room with my trash can until the movie was over.
When I opened the door, I was greeted by a stream of pop music, teary-eyed women, and a few very bored young men, hoping that the dinner half of dinner and a movie would be a bit more fun.
“Have a nice night.”
‘Cause I’m sure not, I thought as I scraped a piece of gum off of the theater floor. If someone had offered me another job, any job, at that moment I would have said yes in a heartbeat. That’s usually how I felt around 9:00. I checked my watch. 8:30. This was going to be a long night.
As I walked past the concession stand on my way to theater 14, I heard Andy call out to me. “Hey, Riley!” Everybody called me by my last name. I guess it’s easier to say than Whitaker, and Whit just sounds cut short, like you were going to say something and thought better of it.
“Hey, Andy,” I responded, trying to move quickly enough that I’d be out of his area of conversation before we really got talking.
“You look tired. Do you need a drink or something?” he asked. I couldn’t tell if he was genuinely concerned or if he just needed to sell more products to look busy.
“I’m a coworker, Andy, not a customer,” I responded, guessing his intentions to be the latter. “Find some hapless moviegoer to pawn your pop on.”
“Actually, I was going to offer to buy you something,” he said hesitantly.
I turned around and looked him in the eyes. I saw friendliness, a genuine concern for a thirsty workmate. I stood there for a moment, uncertain. One more step would take me out of the conversation, which was getting a little awkward. Then again, it’s not every day someone offers you a free coke.
I checked my watch. 8:35. “Superhero Party” ended in five minutes all the way over in theater 14, and I had to be there to bid everyone goodnight. With a hint of regret, I stepped away from Andy, back toward my incredibly boring job. “Not tonight,” I answered, then turned around.
My tongue burned with more words, a thank you or a compliment, but I was too far away now. The warm feeling that Andy’s friendliness had given me was already slipping away. I took up my position like a battle-weary soldier, pasted the obligatory smile on my face, and opened the theater doors.
“Have a nice night.”
Finally, after another hour and a half of sweeping, mopping, scraping and have-a-nice-nighting, it was time to clock out. By now, the regular 10:00 numbness had already claimed my personality and fine motor functions, so when I passed Andy on the way out, I only half-heartedly returned his enthusiastic wave.
“See you tomorrow, Riley,” he called.
Anyone who can put together that coherent of a sentence after their shift at the theater is a weirdo, no doubt about it. I left free-pop Andy to finish cleaning his work station, wondering what it was about his concessions job that made him so happy. He wasn’t lazy, he worked harder than most of the staff combined. Always neatly groomed, his bright red polo shirt straight and clean, his “Hi, my name is Andy and I’m here to help you” nametag shiny and clearly visible, like it wanted to be read. Yes, there was something very different about Andy, and I didn’t have the attention span to try and figure it out right then. Maybe tomorrow.