Friday, February 8, 2013

Hot Chips and Sand 96-100 Draft Comparison

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

She must have said it out loud, because Tess, who was wash ingwashing her hands at the next sink, said, “Who’s on your mind? , John?” She gave a dreamy sigh. “He is handsome, isn’t he?”

            DearIf Tess.  If only she knew. “He sure is.”
Tess looked sidelong at her.  “Of course, sincewas silent as she finished rinsing. Then, as Vickie finished up, she blurted, “Of course, you get first dibs. Since he’s your secretary, you get first dibs.”
What…?  Then Vickie smiled.  “Don’t tell me you’ve gotturned to Tess with a grin. “You have a crush on himJohn?”
Tess blushed, something Vickie had never seen.
On her do before. “`it looked cute. Vickie’s grin widened. “Well?”
“‘Crush.’  What an adolescent term, Vickie.  .” She popped the button on the hand drier. Shouted over the roar, “Of course I don’t have a crush on him.”  She grinned ruefully and
Which only made Vickie grin harder. “Of course not,” she shouted back.
Tess cast a sidelong glance at her friend, and stifled a return grin.

            “Of course not.”  Nor are you love‑sick. lovesick. Vickie bitdidn’t say that back. out loud. She waited until Tess’s drier had finished and said in a normal tone, “Does he know?”

            “I…“No.” Tess dug in her purse for a slim lipstick and twirled it up. “I’ve sort of been waiting for the right time to tell him.” She slicked on a coat.
Vickie could sympathize with that. Only for Cliff, the right time was never. “Well, I certainly wouldn’t want to stand in my friend’syour way. John’s all yours. Although, as long as I’ve known you, Tess, you’ve never been afraid of coming straight to the point. What’s gotten into you?”

            “Oh, Vickie, this is different.  Tess stopped mid-swipe and turned to her, surprise clear on her face. “This isn’t business, this is romance. Failure is so much more, well, personal.”

            It echoed in Vickie’s head. Cliff had kissed her silly, argued stridently with her, then run off. If it had just been about the job, it wouldn’t have felt so much like desertion.
Tess went back to slicking her lips in the mirror. “Anyway, John has doesn’t even notice me, with all those women he has around him all the time. I guess I’ll just wait until he’s old and ugly, and needs me.”
“Tess, don’t be ridiculous. You’re a wonderful person in your own right. . If John can’t see that, can’t see you, well, then, he doesn’t deserve you.”
“Yeah, that’s what my mother always said, too. I have personality, I don’t know, Vickie. need looks. Bull hockey. If I’mI was so wonderful, how comewouldn’t John isn’tbe crawling all over me?”
Vickie opened her mouth. Closed it and shook her head. This was too near what she felt to her feelings about Cliff for her to offer any constructive suggestions to her friend. perspective. “Sometimes guys are shizzola.”
“You can say that again.”
They left the bathroom together, each sunk deep in her own thoughts.
When sheVickie got home to her rental apartment that evening, the landline phone was ringing.  Vickie went to pick it up.

            “Hello?”  She waited forFor a moment, but all she heard was static. “If this is a robocall—”
“Hello?  Is anyone…”

            “Hello?” ?” The voice interrupted. It sounded far away, and tentative, like the caller couldn’t hear her.
“Who is this…” she began again when the same voice interrupted. —”
“May I speak with Victoria Johnston, please?”  Then moreMore static.

            “Speaking.” “This is Vickie.” She waited, pretty sure now someone was calling from a long ways away. The pause before the speaker answered confirmed it.
“Please hold.”
Now what?
“Vickie? Vickie, don’t say anything, especially not my name. I am visiting your area soon, and I’d like to stop by. What days will you be home this week?”
Prince Kulinahr. Cautious old buzzard, not mentioning his name, or pinning down when he’d be in. Or where he was calling from, although it certainly with that delay wasn’t Canada.
And smart to call the apartment’s landline. That meant he knew where she was. “I’ll be home every night this week.”
Another pause, although shorter this time. “Excellent. I will see you.” The click on the line told her he had hung up. She wondered how good tracking equipment was these days. He certainly had made it a short call.

Two night later, Kulinahr appeared at her door two nights later, in the company of the same two men she had-in-black pair she’d met in Montreal. She was almost surprised they hadn’t tried to hustle the Prince in through a window.
“Vickie. I’m so glad to see you again.”  HeKulinahr shook her hand with warmth.
“Me, too.” She indicated that he should sit, and brought out some oolong tea and cookies she’d bought at the Chewy‑Good Cookie Store on the way home. She’d done that last night, too, so they’d be fresh, and—or at least that was mightilywhat she’d told herself. She was glad for her waistlinewaistline’s sake that he had arrived early in the week.
Vickie sat down opposite him, ignoring the security men. Even though she enjoyed seeing Kulinahr, she knew she hadn’t be come best buddiesbuds with a Middle‑East Prince overnight. She wondered why he was here.
Kulinahr picked up one of the cookies, then sighed and sat back with his tea. Almost as if he were echoing her thoughts he said, “Thank you for allowingmaking me to comewelcome, Vickie.  I’m afraid it is not the best of times for me.”

            “What’s wrong?”

            “Ah, friendsFriends do not always turn out to be friends when one is no longer in power. .”
“Your letters?”
“Yes. I did not get the best of responses from my letters.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”  But not surprised.  A lot ofShe poured him more tea. He had to be disappointed to find out how often people thoughtfelt business comescame before friendship.

            ““If I regain my throne, I will see people differently if I get back to my country. . I will not be so naïve. Ah, well, I guess I really didn’t expect anything else.” He looked even older than he had the last time she had seen him, sunk down in the couch, shoulders hunched.
“Isn’t anyone helping?” She dropped a handful of cookies on his plate and another on hers.
Kulinahr brightened a bit. “Yes, there is. One person.”
“That’s all?” Vickie, however, scowled.  “One person?   chomped cookie. “How much can one person do?”
“Quite a bit, actually, if they are smart. Which, tangentially, is why I’ve come to see you.”

            Ah ha, here it is.  I knewVickie chewed a cookie gone suddenly dry. She’d known this was no social call.
“You are acquainted with security technology? Computer controlled?”

            Vickie wondered what you called deja‑Déjà vier or déjà vu the fourth time around.  “Of course.  In fact, a “Sure. That’s the project I’m on right now involves security systems.”
“That is wonderful. I was hoping, with your computer back groundbackground, that you could provide for me a small computer with the capability of producing numbers. Ah, seven‑place numbers.”
“You mean all possible combinations of seven‑digit numbers? Piece of cake. How fast do you need them, and what kind of output do you want?”
“Pardon?” The sheikh looked puzzled.
Vickie blushed.  Had she been away fromcleared her throat. Baby users that long? , so cute. “I mean, do you want it on a hardcopy report, or do you need the numbers on tape[MH3] , or some other way?”digitally, or spewed to the cloud, or…?”
“Yes, I see. I need the numbers to feed into an electronic lock. Rather like dialing all possible phone numbers.”
“Hmm.” Vickie gotpicked up her tea and paced, thoughtful. sipped. “I’ll have to check with some of my people.  I’m not sure if there’s a standard interface with electronic locks or not.”

            “I can get detailed information about the lock itself later.“Actually, I just need the computer and the program. Ah, perhaps an HCC 200 computer with—er—parallelUSB ports?”

            Vickie abruptly stopped pacing.  Now, whereVickie’s cup clattered onto her saucer. [MH4] Where had Kulinahr come up with that?
He cleared his throat. “How soon do you think I could have it?”

            VickieShe grinned in spite of herself. The inevitable question. “Tomorrow. Do you think you can send one of your, um, men (and ”—it almost came out goons) —“to my office?”
“Of course.” Kulinahr looked relieved. “Thank you very much Vickie. I will not forget your friendship.” After a few more rushed pleasantries, Kulinahr and his party left.  She had no opportunity to ask theHer deeper questions this sub‑rosa visit had raisedremained unanswered.
The men were at her office at 8:00 a.m. the next morning. She politely shooed them out of her way until 9:30, which was the fastest she could find a free HCC 200 and put in a quick countingnumber generation program. She didn’t feel too guilty about giving away one of Cliff’s machines. In her opinion, he sort of owed it to Kulinahr.
Then the phone rang requesting her input atJohn knocked with a request she attend an emergency meeting, and Vickie grabbed up her paperstablet and forgot all about it.

            About two weeks later Vickie was reviewing expenditures with John, and she was hopping mad.

 [MH1]A specific action in the lavatory is more immediate and easier to picture than generic "finishing up".
 [MH2]I liked these internal monologs at the time. Now they make me cringe a little.
 [MH3]While some things are really still put on tape, it isn't the medium it once was...
 [MH4]Pacing is a decent visual, especially with our easily-riled redhead. But it's also a good idea to change up the senses you appeal to. I put in an aural cue for her agitation.

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