Show Your Work

Hi guys!  I hope you had a great New Year.  I certainly did.  It was fun and relaxing, a little bit disco, a little bit rock and roll.

I can hardly believe it’s 2011–and what better way to kick off the New Year than a blogfest?!?  So this is my entry for the Show Me Yours Blogfest, where I post an excerpt from this year’s NaNo project.  You can go check out all the other entries here.

You may remember I posted my NaNo premise a few months ago.  As I shared during November, my novel meandered all over, and I struggled with the main action of the story.  The Daisy/Kodi scene below is one of the few between them I felt really started to capture what I was after.  Bottom line: I still have a lot of work to do.

A little set up for the excerpt: Daisy and Kodi are on the run and have been holed up in a hotel room for days with not much to do.  Their accomplice, Alfred, has just informed them that the authorities have turned their attention to the small town where the hotel is located.  In the previous scene, Kodi caught Daisy out smoking with a boy from the hotel–a development he is not thrilled about.  Enjoy!

     A faint knock came at the hotel door.  Kodi looked through the peephole to see if it was Daisy, then let her in.  He’d been sitting on the edge of the bed for twenty minutes, his eyes burning holes in the beige and yellow wallpaper, puzzling over what he was gonna say to her. 

     At first he’d been angry.  If Alfred was right, there was a cop on every street corner by now.  Taking a smoke break with some strange kid in broad daylight was just not smart.  But he quickly decided that showing his displeasure wouldn’t get him very far after the way she’d been acting the last few days.  And maybe the rules were different now.  She had a say in the matter, right?  It was, after all, her life too.
     Daisy skirted past him and sat down at the table, a determined smile playing on her lips.  Her clothes reeked of cigarette smoke.
     “I thought about saying: you had me worried sick,” Kodi said, trying to keep it light.  “But you probably knew that already.”
     “Yeah,” she replied.  “But I figured you could handle it.”  She reached up and untied the bandana wrapped around her head, this one painted in blue and grey flowers.  She wadded it up and placed it on the table in front of her.  No matter how many times Kodi saw Daisy without her bandana, the sight of the smooth clear skin of her scalp reflecting the lamplight still caught him by surprise.  She looked ten years older, and the egg-shaped curve of her skull made her look like, well, a cancer patient.  After all these years, he still struggled to reconcile her appearance with the image of a little girl–his little girl–that he carried around in his head.
     She gave her bandana a quick sniff and smelled the cigarette smoke too.  “We need to get some wash done, I think.”
     “Listen, I talked to Alfred–“
     “Our eyes and ears.”
     “Yeah, that’s right.  He says the town is crawling with cops, so we have to be careful.”
     “Careful like staying in our room?”
     “I wish you’d take this a little more seriously,” he said, then immediately wished he hadn’t.
     “Serious like what? Cancer?”
     Kodi shook his head, but refused to look away.  “Yeah, like cancer.”
     She went to the fridge, pulled a can of beer off the top shelf and sat back down.  She could feel his eyes on her, knew that he wouldn’t approve, but she wanted to show him she didn’t care what he thought.  She cracked the can and took a long sip, crinkling her nose up at the smell.
     “Yeah, well what do you know about it?” she said flatly, placing the can on the table, glaring back at him.
     “Daisy, this isn’t a game.  There’s a lot at stake here.  We can’t afford any mistakes.”
     She looked away, pretending to study the black and green abstract painting on the far wall, hanging over their two beds. 
     “I just had a few cigarettes with him, that’s all,” she said at last.
     “Yeah, I know.”
     “It’s the simplest thing in the world…just a couple cigarettes.”
     Kodi nodded his head.
     “Do you realize the last time I even talked to a boy, I, I—” her voice caught in her throat.  She stifled a breath, like the beginning of a sob and covered her mouth with one hand.  He waited for her to look up but she kept her eyes pinned on the far wall. 
     Kodi didn’t say a word.  He stood and went to the window, looked out through the crack in the curtains.  The parking lot was empty.  “Who was he?”  he said finally, his voice two notches above a whisper.
     “Just some kid,” she answered quickly, as if she hoped he would ask the question.  “Brandon’s his name.   He’s here visiting family for a few days.”
     “What did you tell him about us?”
     “We’re passing through, car broke down.”
     Kodi nodded his head and closed his eyes for a moment.  “Nice guy?”
     “Yeah,” she said.  “Nice as they come.”
     “Good,” he said.  “But here’s the thing.  You’ve had your fun–“
     “We’re going for ice cream tomorrow afternoon,” she said, somewhat proudly.
     Kodi shook his head.  “No,” he said, crossing to the table, swiping up the half-empty beer can and tossing it in the trash.  “Look, I know what this is all about.”
     “Oh yeah?”
     “I don’t think you know the first thing–“
     You just want to get back at me–“
     “This isn’t about you, Dad!” she said.
     “Dammit!  It’s not safe out there!”
     “All the news shows say they’re looking for a young girl and an older man, not two young kids having an ice cream cone.”
     “But your picture’s plastered all over the TV.”
     “A picture of me when I was eleven.  Besides, it’ll be suspicious when I don’t show up.  Brandon may start asking questions.”
     “And whose fault is that?”  He sat down on his bed again, flipped on the television and started pulling off his cowboy boots. 
     Daisy bounced up from the table and grabbed a bath towel.  “I’m gonna take a shower,” she said, disappearing into the bathroom.
     “I haven’t said yes, you know,” he hollered after her.
     She stuck her head out again.  “By the way, I told him my name is Megan, in case you run into him.” 
     “I ain’t going nowhere,” he said, as she ducked back in.  The shower came on.  He flipped channels and tried to focus on the television.  Leave it to Daisy to land a boyfriend while every cop in the state was looking for them.  Kodi shook his head.  Guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, he thought as he caught his reflection frowning back in the bathroom mirror.