Novel 3: Act I, Chapter 6, Scene 6b

TOC page here.

And finally, we end this loooong chapter with a shaggy-dog story. Keep in mind that in the final version the chaptering will be considerably different: some chapters I tend to underwrite and others make too long. We get a peek into Fiona’s life:

After both [pie and whiskey] were consumed, Fiona said, “Funniest story from clubland this week?”

“Let me guess: pop star or celebrity has to go undercover?”

“Eh. Those aren’t usually all that funny. Last Saturday night, I’m up in the private club—my private club, not the one people can rent out.”

“Which is different from the regular VIP room, right?” Getting pregnant at nineteen might have made Diana miss out on the nightclub years, something she rarely regretted, but she was a good listener.

“Yep. But it has one-way mirrors that look out onto both of them.”

“Did I know that?”

“Maybe. They’re usually covered with curtains on my side. So Severin and I and some other people are enjoying ourselves with certain enhancements, and watching some wannabe ballers in the regular VIP and in the other private room. People who will pay $600 for bottle service, which it is not my job to understand, but merely to provide. First one is a B-list rapper, second is some sportsball person and his entourage. A white sports person, which is unusual in that white sports people are usually country, not disco. The topic at hand was given the wide variety of furry costumes I have managed to acquire over the years, which one of the ballers belonged in which furry costume.”

She read Diana’s expression. “No, this is not the funny part. This was just a bunch of jaded people amusing themselves. The funny part is that suddenly I’m starving, like I could really go for some barbecue—no idea why. And these enhancements? Are the sort that generally suppress the appetite. I mention this and everyone agrees. We were on the verge of ordering out for dinner at half past midnight. Only then does Severin pick up on the fact that he’s hungry because he can smell barbecue, and we all sit there and start sniffing, to make sure that were not just having some kind of group olfactory hallucination.”

Diana said, “That would have been funnier if y’all were wearing the furry animal costumes.”

“Ooh, you’re right. But we all agree that yes, we can definitely smell barbecue. But from where? Only after a long and tedious discussion about how the HVAC in the club works, does it occur to someone to open the curtains to the other private club, and there framed perfectly in the window is the sportsball guy and his best pal, and they are grilling steaks. Yes. They somehow smuggled a hibachi, charcoal and meat past my security.”

“And these are the drag queens on the door.”

“Of course they were. So I end up having to go in there, and they’re very sweet, but just imagine the hurt look on the fire marshal’s face–”

Diana’s phone beeped three times. “That’s Dispatch.”

“Oh, but I haven’t got to the–”

Diana held up a finger. “Siddal.”

Marlene from Dispatch said, “Detective, I’m patching through a unit from Zone Four, says they have info for you.”

A woman’s voice came on the line. “Detective Siddal? This is Melody Slaughter. Sergeant Brown and I stopped by the camp under the bridge? The highway bridge, where I-20 crosses the Connector? Some of the guys there were saying that a man in a white van was there earlier. Something about the Dread Man. And yes, it was the kind of van y’all are looking for.”

“Thanks for calling, Officer. I’m going to get in the car now: meet me… right by Peachtree-Pine? I’ll square it with Dispatch. Give me ten minutes.” She rang off, grabbed her bag and sidearm. To Fiona, “Got to run. Probably a false alarm.”

“But you haven’t heard about the octopus yet.”

This is mostly just fun. Fiona runs a nightclub, gets to do whatever she wants, but is outdone by someone else who really doesn’t care what other people think. Who’s Severin? We don’t know. Why does Fiona have furry animal costumes? Because she can. What “enhancements” are they on? Doesn’t matter. Adding in details like this and then not referencing them gives the appearance of deep background in Diana’s and Fiona’s relationship; which of course there is deep background there, but it would be intrusive to give it here because it would require one to tell the other things they already knew.

And then we break for the end of the chapter with the actual plot. A van with the Dread Man? Let’s go. Now we’ll move to the final chapter in the act, which will contain a lot of action and adventure and leave little room for conversation.

We will never get to hear about the octopus.

On to Chapter 7.

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