About three weeks ago I started pimping my project again on this blog, and the votes are in. You, my adoring public, want me to keep going on the book that was called “The Confraternity of Santo Discreto”. Right now it has the working title of “The Voyage of the Pink Snapper”, due to the results of some market research conducted on a Tuesday night at The Winking Lizard (a bar in Cleveland).
Previous chapters posted have introduced the guys, and in particular, the protagonist, Max. This chapter is intended to introduce you, the gentle reader, to the antagonist, Sofia. In earlier versions, she was introduced late, and finally revealed as the puppet master behind many things. On the sage advice of Mr. Albert Zuckerman*, author of “Writing the Blockbuster Novel”, I now introduce the antagonist early on, and then deftly…nay, masterfully, switch back and forth between protagonist and antagonist. The reader can see the impending conflict, and the tension slowly ratchets higher and higher, so you poor fuc7ers are left reading “just one more chapter” until 3 in the morning because you can’t put it down.
So anyway, here is the intentionally short chapter that is supposed to put the hook in you, make you want to find out what this broad is up to, and how her life is going to intersect with the dissolute yet somehow likable married guys who are chasing tail across the lovely suburbs of Youngstown, Ohio.
Feel free to offer comments of any depth, any positivity or negativity, anything that would be helpful in keeping a reader engaged.
*OK, a moment of honesty here. This sage advice was offered in the book, which I borrowed from the county library. I did intend to imply that Al pulled me aside at Thanksgiving to give me some personalized insights. However, we all know that did not happen.
Chapter 2 “One the Peninsula”
Former Special Agent Sofia Kaplan pulled the abaya tighter around her head as the car pulled up to the entrance to the Millennium Mall. “I’ll call the hotel when I’m done.” The driver nodded politely without making eye contact. A short Filipino man in a gaudy uniform opened the door, and she stepped out, carrying a bright red cloth shopping bag from Baptiste et Fils that drew the eye. Jesus Christ, he looks like the cover of the Sergeant Pepper album, she thought.
She leisurely pushed her way through the throng, dodging large Muslim families in traditional garb, Westerners, thousands of people out for the evening. It was Thursday night, and the weekend was in full swing.
She pretended to window shop for a while, yet the polished windows, marble fountains, intricate tile work, and gilt edges that advertised unspeakable wealth barely registered. She was only paying attention to people; specifically, making sure no one was following. She was on a mission. She ducked into a restroom at the food court, and entered the last stall. She took off her abaya as she pulled down her pants and sat on the toilet, stuffing it in the bag. Out came a tight hair cap and an expensive wig with long black hair. She caught her short blond hair in the cap, and pulled the wig into place. She quickly put in a pair of dark brown contact lenses and clipped special dental appliances to her upper teeth that made her cheeks fuller. She shucked her dark blue long-sleeve smock, added pads to her push-up bra, and put on a grey silk Armani t-shirt. Next she exchanged her jeans and sensible flats with black leggings and high heels. Using a hand-held mirror, she quickly put no-streak bronzer on her face and upper chest, then rubbed into onto her arms. She finished herself with bright red lipstick and gold hoop earrings. Satisfied, she turned the bright red bag inside out, revealing it’s everyday tan side, and dumped everything back in.
When she stopped to look at herself in the spotless mirror five minutes after entering, the demure and respectful mid-Western American girl was replaced by a self-confident and brash Lebanese woman. The smiled at her new self, and strode out into the mall, thinking Sometimes it’s great to be a woman in this place.
She palmed her phone to a young girl in line at Starbucks, recognizing her by her green “Kiss Me I’m Irish” t-shirt and orange purse. Then she strode out to the parking lot, clutching her venti mocha, and got into a black Mercedes. She drove carefully into the residential neighborhood just north of the mall.