Hey...what's going on guys? I hope everyone is having a great week so far. I promised to start updating the blog more regularly again so here I am...updating the blog. Right now, finishing up "Love in the City" is eating up most of my time so I haven't been able to create any short stories to post here to entertain you guys but that doesn't mean I don't plan on sharing. Here's the raw, unedited opening scene from "Love in the City." Enjoy and feel free to leave comments or email me with your feedback.
Stuck on Repeat
He looked up from the notebooks he had been scribbling in for most of the morning for a split second, just long enough to notice her as she strolled through the glass doors of the coffee shop, bringing with her the noise from the busy street outside momentarily. Against his will, he became stuck, the way he always became stuck whenever an interesting woman caught his attention. Max wasn’t a creep, and he rarely ogled women but there were rare, magical moments when he found that he couldn’t take his eyes off of certain ones and the tall, well-dressed woman who had just walked in was exactly the type that he tended to stare at. The expression on her face was mean but Max guessed that the seriousness she wore like a mask was probably just a well-practiced defense mechanism to deter men from frivolously flirting with her which was completely understandable. The way her grey dress slacks hugged her hips and showed off her shape, she probably couldn’t walk ten feet without being approached by some guy who would’ve loved to get her out of all her clothes. Her skin was dark brown and as smooth as the hot chocolate he had been sipping as he attempted to get something significant written in his notebooks aside from the random ramblings that he kept writing over and over. He kept his eyes on the dark-skinned beauty until she sat down at the counter and crossed her legs as she waited for someone to take her order. He smiled a little as he admired her before he turned his attention back to his work. In his mind, he had no doubt that she was something special.
Ruthie Pantsy sighed and smiled as she inhaled deeply to take in the wonderful smell of the coffee shop. The exotic roasts and blends gave her life as she sat her weary body down and crossed her legs on a day when she would’ve preferred to stay home in bed. Unlike most people, she hated Fridays for a few very good reasons. As the owner of her own construction company, the weekends weren’t really weekends for her. She found that she was often out supervising her work crews, seven days a week. In fact, on most days she wore work boots, jeans, kept her hair tied up in a neat bun underneath a dusty bandanna and got her hands dirty right alongside the crude, sometimes crass, fellas that worked for her. Fridays were the only days when she dressed up because it was payday for her workers and she needed to remind them that she was the boss as she signed and handed out their paychecks.
She was a good boss, or at least she tried her best to be. Later on that morning, she planned to stop at one of the more generic, mainstream doughnut shops to buy pastries and coffee for her employees but for herself, she was in the mood for something more exotic, less franchised, more authentic and much more expensive. She deserved it after a long week of dealing with demanding clients and frustrated workers who had done their very best to help her meet those impossible demands.
That early in the morning, most of the people who came to get their coffee from that particular shop were stylish hipsters quickly placed the orders and were in and out. They were all busy people, always on the move and always on their way to do something important. Ruthie looked around the tiny coffee shop and noticed that the only person besides herself, who didn’t seem to be in an extreme hurry was the man sat at one of the three tables with his nose buried in the notebooks spread out in front of him. His fitted, faded, blue Yankees cap was pulled down low enough to almost completely conceal his eyes beneath the deep shadows cast by the crooked, bent brim. The scruffy beard that wildly covered his cheeks was bushy enough to hide some of his features but, Ruthie recognized him just the same. She had seen his face in black and white on the back covers of at least a dozen of her favorite novels. Her heart skipped a beat and she felt giddy, like a young groupie backstage at a concert who found herself within arms-reach of her favorite band. She had always promised herself that she would make it to one of his book signings but had never found the time. Ruthie almost wanted to pinch herself to make sure that she wasn’t dreaming when she realized that she was in the same quaint coffee shop as her favorite author, Maxwell Michael Morgan.
Max heard when the chair on the opposite side of the table where he was working slid across the floor and tried to ignore the person would Ruthie sat down in it without an invitation until he heard her voice.
“Mr. Morgan,” a melodic feminine voice greeted him politely.
“No one calls me Mr. Morgan,” Max answered without looking up from his notebooks. He did not want to be distracted.
“I hope I’m not disturbing you but, I’m a huge fan of your books,” Ruthie continued.
“I figured that when you called me Mr. Morgan. Only my readers do that,” he answered and as soon as the words left his mouth, he realized how asshole-ish he sounded, although that was not his intention. He was just frustrated that he couldn’t get any type of rhythm going with his writing and the woman who had invited herself to sit down at his table and engage in conversation was an unwelcome distraction. On the same, he always did his best to not be a complete jerk. His grandmother had always preached to treat others the way you would like to be treated and he lived by that, whenever possible. “I’m sorry. Good morning Miss. I didn’t mean to be rude,” he apologized. “It’s just that I’m trying to work. I’m stuck…and I’m not quite sure how to write my way out of it,” he tried to explain.
“Well what are you working on?” Ruthie asked as she boldly grabbed one of his notebooks to see what he had been feverishly scribbling down.
Max didn’t quite know what to say when she snatched his notebook away and he couldn’t find words when he looked up and saw that it was the same woman who had caught his attention before when she had strolled through the doors. That close to him, just on the opposite side of the small wooden table, Max got a good look at her light brown eyes, an usual feature for a woman of her complexion. The early morning sunlight that poured in from the front windows of the coffee shop highlighted them and made them even prettier. He stared without meaning to stare and got lost in her features. She had a broad nose that perfectly suited the shape of her face and her big, juicy lips looked soft enough to share many blissful kisses. Aside from a little eyeshadow, her skin was free of makeup but still glowed naturally and magically, no doubt the result of the God-given gift of extra melanin. As he studied her, Max suddenly felt very shallow. If a less attractive and much less alluring woman had snatched his notebook, he would’ve been furious but instead, he calmly allowed her to read his mad ramblings without protest or complaint.
Ruthie flipped through seven pages in the notebook and every line was filled with the same sentences, repeated over and over again in Max’s handwriting. Aside from our excitement about stumbling across her favorite author in a coffee shop she frequented, Ruthie became a cyclone of swirling emotions. She was caught somewhere between fascinated and frightened. She had heard stories about how odd creative people could be but what she read on those pages seem like some obsessive psychosis.
“Excuse me. I’m sorry,” she apologized as she closed notebook and carefully slid it back across the table. She felt as if she had just impolitely peered into his mind and inadvertently discovered something that was deeply private.
“I’m not crazy,” Max tried to reassure her when he noticed her confused, nervous expression. “Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m a writer so I am a little crazy. Honestly, I think that’s part of the job requirement…at least if you expect to be any good at it anyway. But, I assure you that I am by no means a maniac or serial killer kind of crazy. I prefer to say I’m eccentric. It sounds sexier and rolls off the tongue much more smoothly than crazy,” he joked. Then, Max smiled when he saw her body language shift as she relaxed just a little bit.
“I didn’t mean to grab your notebook like that. I don’t know what got into me,” she tried to explain. Ruthie still couldn’t believe that she had been so forward with someone that she held in such high esteem. On many occasions, while reading his novels, she had felt as if his words inked on those pages spoke directly to her soul. The secrets he shared seemed like they were somehow hers as well. That was why she loved every single one of his books. She was quite embarrassed by how pushy and overbearing she must’ve seemed to him.
“It’s fine,” he told her and watched her let out a slight sigh of relief as she relaxed a little bit more.
As Ruthie fumbled around in her head for what she should say next, there was a brief, awkward silence between them that quickly became an even more comfortable moment than when she had snatched the writer’s notebook without permission. Before Ruthie could figure out what to say next, Max spoke up and kept the conversation between strangers going.
“You’re wondering what I’m working on…and why I’ve been scribbling those same phrases over and over again right?” he asked.
“Well…yeah,” she answered and blushed a little when she realized that his eyes had found their way to her cleavage. An extra button in her blouse had become undone, exposing a little more of the soft flesh of her breasts than she meant to show. She surprised herself when she didn’t make an attempt to cover up or say something to get him to raise his gaze, which is what she normally would’ve done. She wasn’t fond of men gawking at her breasts but, there was something different, something sexy about the way Max looked at her that she didn’t mind at all. Yes, he was staring at her body but there was something more than lust in his eyes. Ruthie even flirted with the idea of possibly being the inspiration for some female character he would create in one of his stories. She wondered what type of woman he would make her into and was curious about how close that character would be to who she truly was. She was even a little turned on by the thought of him writing about parts of her that not many people got a chance to see, not just physically or sexually but parts of her soul.
“To be honest with you, I’ve been writing these same lines over and over all morning because I’m stuck,” Max explained.
“You mean you have writer’s block?” she asked, full of curiosity. She had never had the opportunity to speak to any author about their writing process and words couldn’t express how blessed she suddenly felt to be having just such a discussion with a man whose work she cherished.
“First, the term writers block is taboo when speaking to a writer,” he said playfully. “And no, I wouldn’t say that I have writer’s block. I’m just stuck,” he answered vaguely and took his eyes off of her breasts and stared into her pretty face instead.
“Stuck how?” Ruthie asked and as she stared back at Max, she realized that he was one handsome in person than his black and white photos on the dust jackets of his hardcover books suggested. However, the sad, lonely and lost look in his eyes was the same.
“I’m trying to write a novel about love and I’m completely stuck,” he said before he took another sip of his hot chocolate. The marshmallows had already melted and dissolved into white swirls in his hot drink. The splash of cognac he had added had kicked in but he was only a little tipsy.
“That’s understandable. Love is complicated,” said Ruthie. She experienced her fair share of heartbreaks, just like most people.
“Indeed it is,” said Max. “And some loves are more complicated than others.”
“So, who is this magical woman that you can’t find words to describe?” Ruthie asked the words he had written over and over suggested that some woman had possessed his heart with her presence and occupied all of his thoughts.
“I don’t think it’s just one woman in particular. I’ve been thinking about all of them this morning,” Max answered.
“I guess there’ve been many,” said Ruthie.
“There’ve been a few,” he answered. “I’ve been struggling and trying to dig up my fondest memories of those encounters, relationships, entanglements and romantic associations because I fear that I’ve lost too much of my faith in love.”
“I’ve probably read all of your books. You write about love, and intimacy in a way that I’ve never read or experienced before so, I kinda find that hard to believe,” she said.
“But, it’s true sweetheart. I mean, I woke up full of enthusiasm, and optimism, and ideas for this new book I planned to work on right here at this table but, it all quickly went away…and all because I did something this morning that I usually don’t do,” he answered.
“What did you do?” Ruthie asked, anxious to see if maybe she could help him to get out of the funk he seemed to be trapped in if she knew what the source of his problem was.
“And I sat down at this charming little table to write, there was already a newspaper sitting here,” he started to explain as he shifted his notebooks to reveal the local newspaper that was hidden underneath them. “As I sipped my first cup of hot chocolate, my own curiosity got the better of me and I ended up reading it. I always try my best not to watch the news or read the papers. I know, a weird thing for a writer but I don’t trust the media and most of the news is always bad news. As I flipped through these flimsy pages and read the stories printed on this cheap paper, all I kept reading started to make me more and more depressed,” he told her before he picked up the paper angrily and started flipping through the pages until he found one article in particular. “How can I sit and write about love have to I’ve read about something as tragic and heinous as this?” He asked as he turned the paper to show her article that had so deeply disturbed him.
Ruthie’s stared at the headline which read: TEEN GIRL ON TRIAL FOR MURDER and as Ruthie read the article, she learned that the murder victim was the stepfather of the girl on trial. The article went on to state that the teen claimed that she acted in self-defense. According to her statement, her stepfather had been molesting her for years.
Copyright © 2017 Keith Kareem Williams
All rights reserved.
I hope you've enjoyed this sample from "Love in the City." In the coming weeks, I'll tease you with more. Remember to pre-order it. (I'm almost at the finish line)