Friday, February 1, 2013

Hot Chips and Sand 91-95 Draft Comparison

Hot Chips and Sand
Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved

“At any rate,” John broke into her thoughts, “he kept up with the physical training afterwards. Said he’d decided it was important to have strength as well as brains, but I think it was to keep up with me. I was the champion wrestler in my weight division at the time, you know. Although by the time he got his full strength, he was well out of my weight class.”

            “And “So, a spy and a geek—how did you actuallytwo even meet[MH1] ?”

            “Oh, I was filling out some requisitions for equipment for this kid’s undercover assignment. I took one look at his record, and I knew he’d be toastedtoast[MH2]  without a littlelot of help. Who do you think helped him build his work‑outworkout program?” John smiled proudly at the memory[MH3] .
At that point the waitress interrupted them to ask for their dessert orders. John didn’t even need to see a menu. “Hot fudge sundae for me. You should try itone, Vickie. They have the best hot fudge in the city.”
“Sounds delicious. Make it two.” [MH4] Vickie toldwaited until the waitress to make it two, and had gone, then went back to the topic she was pretending not to be interested in. “So when Cliff started his computer company…”—”

            “…I was the first one he hired. In the beginning, he paid me with pizza and beer.  Later on I got a salary better than any I’d ever had.  Now I have part share in the business. Since his mom died, I think I’m closer to Cliff than anyone.” John took a sip of his drink, then smiled. “Which is great. I get the fallout of love‑sicklovesick women.” He winked again and .
Vickie shuddered. contained an embarrassed shudder. She was not, by anyone’s definition, fallout. Certainly not love‑sick. lovesick. She was successfully running one of the biggest development operations of the yearher life, not mooning about after the man who hadwho’d left her in charge. Not love‑sicklovesick at all. “I suppose Cliff had explained why I’m here before he left?”
“Sure.”  HeJohn shrugged. “I was in on the investigation from the start.”
“You don’t think Cliff hires people blind, do you?  CliffHe doesn’t do anything without a great deal of thought and research, and believe me, he looked into your background as thoroughly as the F.B.I. Or maybe more thoroughly. The Brits taught him quite a bit.”

            ‘I just bet,’ she thought, reflecting on. She remembered the night in Middle Yemen.
The waitress returned with their sundaes then. . John dug into his with a passion she had only seen on some of the hotter soap operas.
Vickie picked up her spoon as she considered the tulip glass in front of her. Rich brown, glossy She took a tentative spoonful.  The rich, creamy fudge melted rivulets in the snowy ice cream. She took a tentative spoonful.  into rivulets whichBoth ice cream and fudge ran sweetly down her throat.  Heavenly!She closed her eyes and savored.
She was feeling a littlebit more kindly toward John a bit later, after he had finished hiswhen she surfaced from her sundae and she was [MH5] half‑wayhalfway through hers.  . He’d already finished his.
He wiped his mouth on his paper napkin and pushed the empty dish away.

            “So anyway“Anyway, Cliff knew he needed someone to meld the team, and we had narrowed it down to three people. Then something happened, and suddenly you were it. He had to have you.” John’s eyes narrowed. eyebrow raised in an unspoken question. “You wouldn’t happen to know what it was that made up his mind up, do you?”

            “Whyever should I?”  she attempted“Me?” She tried a wide‑eyed, innocent look, but John just snorted. “Oh, okay. Though I really don’t know. When was this?”
“A little over two months ago. Cliff was globe‑trotting again.”
So her hire did have to do with that episode in Middle Yemen. What about it had convinced him, though? Her artful escape planning? Yeah, sure. Maybe it was the lacy nightie. She thought of the beautiful woman at the restaurant and decided that wasn’t it, either.  Well what?  John might know, but how much could she tell him about the night Cliff had rescued her?

            “You know Cliffhim better than I do, John. . What would absolutely convince him onea person was right for a job?”
John nodded. “So you do know, but you’re not telling. All right. The thing that would convince Cliff to trust someone would be to work with that person under pressure. He says he can tell more about a person in five minutes of a crisis than in five years of day‑to‑day business.”  He sipped his drink, but looked over the glass at her.  Well, if he didn’t know, perhaps she shouldn’t tell him.  Perhaps the less he knew of his employer’s illicit business affairs, the better. John didn’t strike her as someone who would take betrayal of his country lightly.

            “Well, if he didn’t know about Middle Yemen and Fahrrad, perhaps she shouldn’t tell him. Perhaps the less he knew of his employer’s illicit business affairs, the better. John didn’t strike her as someone who would take betrayal of his country lightly.that  “That explains it then. I was going through a crisis on the job then. Overworked.” She smiled awkwardly, cursing mentally. She never had gotten the knack of lying.

            John nodded.  [MH6] “Yeah, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that.” John’s single eyebrow, curled into a disbelieving “S”, told her he’d seen her lie but wasn’t going to call her on it. Yet. “The project is going very well. You really don’t need to put in these 18 hour days any more. You have people working for you, you know. people following your lead.” He put a hand on hers. “Relax, Vickie. You’re doing a great job.”
“Cliff could do better, I’m certainsure.”
John looked thoughtful. made a pfft[MH7] . “No, I’ve never seen the employees so enthusiastic. he couldn’t. Cliff is a great boss, but he’s somewhat aloof, you know? . You get down in the trenches beside us. I really like your style of running this show.  So many of the places I’ve worked have been after the sizzle instead of that.” He picked up his spoon and scraped industriously at the steak.”  He cocked his head.

            “My fatherfilm of fudge in his tulip glass. “Although my dad simply could not believe I was wearing blue jeans to the office. Scandalized.  But I know.” He licked the spoon. “But I’m doing better work because I’m more relaxed. Cliff would never have come up with that idea on his own.”
“Sure he would have. He’s a genius, after all.”

            “Genius“Hardware genius, yes, but to be honest. Personally, I just think his head is all in that hardware.  He he’s part machine. He sure drives himself like his machines, and some times, forone. For all that he is a great guy, sometimes he treats his people the same way.”

            “Really?  Of course, I wouldn’t know,” she added a bitsaid pointedly. “I haven’t worked with him at all.”

            “And“Not to mention how he can be quite difficult withtreats people who don’trefuse to think,” heJohn continued, ignoring as if he hadn’t heard her tone. . “You know, the ones who recite what they learned in school, but never know why? He’s constantly prodding people, mentally, and they resent it.  But you.”
Vickie sighed. “If you’re trying to tell me something, just spit it out.”
“You just have to know how to handle him. When he irritates me, I simply grin.” He demonstrated, mouth curving in that easy smile she now knew so well. “That annoys him. We work well together.”
Vickie laughed. She enjoyed John’s company, enjoyed being with all the people on the HCC300 project. She felt as though they were family, as though she belonged. If only she could feel that way about the man who was HCC. If only she could feel easy about Cliff.


            * * * * *
The phone rang and the man started forward in the chair. It was somewhat earlier in the day than usual. “Yes?”
“It’s me.”
“Is there trouble?”
“Some. The key personnel were all eliminated. I’m having to train themnew ones from the ground up.”
“How does that look for the schedule?”
There was some static, and the man had to ask the question again. Finally the reply was clear. “Not good.  EstimateI estimate we’re three weeks behind. How’s it going there?”
“She’s brought a new meaning to the word efficient. We’re two weeks ahead.”
A sightight silence from the other end. Then, “Can’t be helped. Send the next shipment…and a standard contract.”
“Contract? It’s gone that far?”
            “No, not“Not yet. But I can use negotiations as a cover. He’s practically slavering to make a deal.”
“She won’t care forlike [MH8] it.”
Another burst of static obscured the reply on the other end. The man grinned to himself, thinking it was just as well. When he could hear again, the other man was saying, “I’ll take care of her when I get back.”

            “Sure“I’m sure you will.” But he didn’t say it very loud, and the connection was almost immediately severed.
The man sat back in the chair with a sigh. grin. This could prove to be very, very interesting.


 [MH1]The original seemed to come out of nowhere. A few words give the question context, why she's asking.

 [MH2]Tiny example how slang changes over the decades.

 [MH3]Obvious from context what he's smiling at. Trust your reader.

 [MH4]Any time you have something like "Vickie told the waitress" in an action scene, you have the opportunity to actually have Vickie talking--Vickie told is obvious telling. "Make it two" is showing her in action.

 [MH5]"she surfaced" strikes a stronger image than "she was"

 [MH6]I try (but don't always succeed :) to replace generic sighs, smiles, and nods with character-specific actions.

 [MH7]Show vs. tell. Words like looked, told, etc. are filter words They can either be cut or substituted with actual action.

 [MH8]won't like it is much stronger than care for, and in this context creates more tension.

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