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12 November 2013

NaNoWriMo, Day 12: a quickie

This is a quickie because I'm packing for the Night of Writing Dangerously.

I'm packing for the Night of Writing Dangerously.


Anyway. I'm not done writing today, but I'm posting my excerpt now because I probably won't have time later. And, I may or may not write en route. I don't know yet.

So without further ado, today's excerpt:

Archer was enjoying a mid-afternoon beer at the hotel bar and contemplating the apartment above the cafe when he next saw the young man who had directed him to San Pedro’s Stable the other day. The youth – Peter, Archer recalled – sauntered in the front door, leaned across the bar, and beckoned for Flynn to come. The young man had a lot of nerve, it appeared. He had the look of a young officer, but none of the respect. Archer doubted the boy had ever done a lick of real work. Flynn had gone quickly enough to see to the boy’s needs, and now his gaze flickered in Archer’s direction, then back to the boy, who leaned back away from the bar looking smug. Archer frowned and took another swig from his beer. He pushed the barstool back and stood. Stein in hand, he walked over to Peter. Flynn seemed startled by Archer’s approach; Peter clearly disapproved.
“Gentlemen,” Archer said, nodding at each of the other men, “I wanted to thank you both for the good guidance you gave me. I found the most excellent horse at San Pedro’s, and for a fair price.”
“I was glad to hear of that, Mister Archer,” said Flynn.
Peter’s face flashed something – distaste, Archer thought – but the boy pasted a smile on and oozed charm like a sewer oozes stink. Archer smiled back at him.
“So pleased to be of service, Sir,” the boy practically cooed. “So I hear you’re a military man.”
Archer felt the hairs on his neck creeping up to his scalp. “Formerly. I’m retired.”
“Surely a man of your ability does not plan to be put to pasture?” the whelp asked, all innocence but for those conniving eyes.
Archer’s tension released a flow of energy limbs from his fingers to his toes; this was the type of warfare he knew, and this insolent brat was no match for him.
“Oh I think a pasture sounds refreshing, particularly if I can populate it with mares,” he rejoined. “But perhaps I shouldn’t speak so to children – I would be remiss if my poor, soldierly manners were to corrupt this fair town’s youth.”
Peter’s face burned and his lips pressed together into a thin red line. Flynn’s face was impassive, but Archer detected the faintest sparkle in the man’s pale eyes.
“I can see I’ve stolen your words, child,” Archer continued, “please, you came here with some curiosity about me, ask me your question and I shall try my utmost to answer it chivalrously.”
Peter sputtered, then raised his finger to Archer’s face. The boy was about to say something, but Archer didn’t wait to hear it – whatever it was, it would not have been congenial. Instead, he struck; between the boy’s intake of breath and the first word he might have said, Archer grabbed Peter’s pointing wrist and spun, bringing the boy across his own back and down. Peter found himself inexplicably on his back, on the floor, with his arm locked tight in the kneeling Archer’s grasp, and gasping for air like a fish out of water. The smattering of other patrons in the bar were whispering ferociously behind their hands.
“Young man,” Archer said to him, “I don’t have time for people with poor manners. Kindly keep your fingers out of my face.”
Peter nodded, dazed but certain that he didn’t want to remain in this position.
“Good then,” Archer said. “It’s always good to know one’s boundaries.” He smiled then, and released Peter, who scrambled to his feet.
Flynn cleared his throat. Archer glanced at the barkeep in acknowledgement but kept his attention focused on the boy dusting himself with shaking hands off a few feet away.
“It’s true, Sir, Peter did have a message for you,” Flynn said. “Might better deliver your message Peter.”
Peter glared at the barkeep and growled, “My father will meet with you now. He sent me to fetch you.”
“And your father would be?” Archer inquired.
“The Mayor,” Peter said, regaining enough composure to put a gloating smile on his face.
“Ah, so you’re just the errand boy, then?” Archer asked, goading the boy. “Will you lead the way? It just so happens that I was just wondering whom I should seek apology from for your rudeness.”
Peter’s face purpled; some of the other patrons had stepped forward to see better, but now they edged carefully backwards.
“We’ll have none of that, errand boy,” Archer said, gesturing to Peter’s holster. “You’ll be taking me to your father now.”
Peter’s hand dropped – he hadn’t been aware that he had been reaching for his pistol. Fuming, Peter stomped out of the bar. Archer smiled at Flynn and asked if he could pay for his beer when he returned. Flynn thought that would be just fine.
“I’ll put it on your tab, Mister Archer.”
“You do that, Flynn. Good to see you. I’ll be back soon enough, I’m sure.”

“Yes sir, Mister Archer.”

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:40

    Very visual. You've painted a clear scene and I like the momentum. There's no superfluous text or over explaining to bog down what you're showing. A really good excerpt. Keep it up!