Monday, March 15, 2010

The Red Scorpion

SHORT STORY MONDAY

When I wrote The Red Scorpion it had three sections. This was the middle section at the time. I wrote it in first person, then wrote it as a journal. Finally, I re-wrote it in the third person so as to correspond with the rest of the book. Each form has its advantages and limitations, and unique challenges. This is the first half of chapter nine.



THE RED SCORPION
-9-

The Minneapolis bus station was unusually crowded. As he got off the bus he immediately began looking for a space to avoid the press of the crowd while awaiting his wife. A small, compact woman with a round face, blue eyes and a tight mouth filled with glistening teeth, she moved through the station with a soldier's determination, brushing past the slow moving masses, eyes darting here and there as she found the seams in the crowd. At last she found him. He was standing alongside the pay phones near the far wall.

Dr. Comstock took the keys from her hand as he finished loading the trunk. "How did things go with the family from Grand Forks?"

"Good. Good." Frieda Comstock replied. After a pause she added, "We have a gentleman from Thunder Bay staying with us now."

"How long has he been a guest?" Dr. Comstock said, not concealing his annoyance.

"Since Tuesday."

"You mean yesterday?"

"Oh," she sighed. "Yes, since yesterday. Is it only Wednesday?" Her hand rubbed the side of her face. "I just can't believe...." But her words trickled off.

"Is he here on business?"

"He's a troubled man," Frieda began. "I don't like him at all. This morning I asked if he would like coffee and he said no, but he wanted to sit so we could talk. I got the impression he was lonely. Pretty quick he opened up and told how the banks were after him, that he had gotten into some kind of financial trouble and was worried for his wife. She's some kind of invalid and so all the burden is on his shoulders, but it's more than he can take sometimes. His eyes twitched the whole time we talked. Made me uncomfortable to look at him."

"It's hard times all over, I suppose," the professor said, attempting sympathy. He'd hoped Frieda would ask about his trip. In the end he simply put it out there. She had never taken an interest in his work and he didn't expect her to understand the significance of his find. Even he was not certain of it's value, but he had a sense of it, distorted somewhat by his enormous appetite for fame.

"It's snowed since I left." he observed.

"Several times." Frieda wondered at his absent expression. "The man's name is James Porter. I've been calling him James."

"Sounds like a butler. I'll call him Mister Porter."

"He asked that I call him James."

CONTINUED

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