Friday, April 5, 2013

Hot Chips and Sand 131-135 Draft Comparison

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

Chapter 9Nine

            On their way out of the building, Vickie’s phone chimed. She pulled it out. “I’ve got a voicemail.” She put it on speaker and played back the message.
It was Tess. “Hey Vickie and Cliff met Phil, coming in to check on a procedure run.  “Hi Vickie, Cliff.”  He stopped.  “Vickie, you’ll never guess what I just heard on [M1] the office grapevine.”  He grinned evilly at Cliff.  “. Not that I ever spread rumors, you understand.  Well, actually.” She chuckled evilly. “Since I talked togot this directly from Jerry, and I consider thatit fact, not rumor.”

            “What happened?”  Vickie was more hungry than interested.  in Jerry Fitzwater was not a good source of juicy gossip, even if he was president of their companyright then. But her ears perked up at Tess’s next words.

            “Mel Pinlow just got canned.  today. Not only did he screw up another big job, but he got a sexual discrimination suit filed against the company because of his idiotic behavior—remember how Iwe used to call him ‘His AssHoliness’?”

            Vickie blushed but. She felt the atavistic thrill of revenge[M2] Time wounds all heels, she thought.  “I feel sorry for him, although I can’t say I’m surprised.  I hateMel and hated to see it happen to anybody, but you and wasn’t totally surprised. Time wounds all heels. Tess and Phil had been covering for him too long.”.

            “You too, Vickie.  I heard“And when I thought about the number of times he cut into you andabout your professional conduct.  You, of all people.”  He…” Tess laughed.  “Well, I’d better get on this procedure so I can get home and monitor it with a glass of beer.  Nice seeing you Vickie, CliffI thought you’d like to hear about it.”

            Phil turned to go into the building.  Cliff stood for a moment, watching Vickie thoughtfully.  “Poor Mel.” Vickie ended the call and put away her phone.
“You feel sorry for that jerk Pinlow[M3] ?” Cliff said. “I’d have fired him long before now, or at least put him in rehab training. Or maybe I’d have fired him because he wasn’t very nice to you.”

            Now Vickie turned and stared.

            Cliff would have fired Mel long ago?  She had thoughtremembered thinking they were two peas in a pod, like‑minded to the point of being twins.

            The sudden incongruity between who Vickieshe’d thought Cliffhe was and how he was acting crashed into her like a slushball.  What was going on here?  Who was Cliff, really? slapped her like a laptop to the face. How had she missed this decisive manager, this supportive friend?

            AgainWell, maybe she remembered him in Middle Yemen, her night in shining armor.  Or black silk pants.  She blushed.

            Or was heconfused by all the man inother Cliffs she’d met. The sweet lover at the picnic. In the restaurant, the suave and cool and sophisticated?

            Or the man. The powerful president and CEO of a multi‑million dollar company, telling her on the car ride to his corporate head quarters in no uncertain terms that she couldn’t judge his dealing with a power‑mad dictator?. And of course in Middle Yemen, her night in shining armor—or black silk pants. She blushed.

            Or the casually‑dressed, muscular giant who had made love to her in the park?

            Her mind was whirling, off balance already from Cliff’s companionable attitude the past week, his statement about Mel only delivering another powerful blow[M4] .  IfAll those Cliffs…if she had been a computer system, she would have had a system overload/abort transaction message about now.

             As it was Vickie had to consciously reel herself back in.  She simply did not have enough information about him, and she couldn’t trust her fragile heart to anything less than certainty.

            And if Cliff was anything, he wasn’t a certainty.

            He was eyeing her strangely. Oh yes, and another Cliff, the astute human being. Vickie knew she had to say something. She remembered her own dismissal, after she couldn’t handle her breakup with Ron.  “Well, I don’t like to see anyone get fired, although in this case, I supposed it’s for the best all around. . Maybe Mel will learn something from it.”

            “I doubt it.  Egos like that seldom learn from experience.”

            This she could parry.  “Oh?  How did you learn so much, then?”

            “Repetition.” He smiled cryptically.  “Practice.”

            Vickie felt there was something underlying“What does that remark, but Cliff was headingmean?” She was speaking to his back. He’d headed toward yet another strange car. She ran to catch up.   “My“Let’s use my car this time, okay?”  
He smiled and followed her to her sedan.

            Vickie openedpopped the passenger side first, waited forlocks[M5] , watched him to fold his long frame into the car, and clicked the door shut.  Thenfanned herself, then she slid behind the steering wheel.  Her faithful sedan started up on the first crank, and she pulled smoothly out of the parking lot.

            Cliff amused himself by futzing with the stereo for a while. After he had rejected half a dozen or so stations, she took pity on him and showed him the presets.  He hit the first one, liked it, and settled back.

            She smiled, a bit ruefully, to herself.  Since the episode in the park, Cliff had been the perfect gentleman.  Gradually, her feeling of awkwardness around him was subsiding.  And without feeling obliged to remind him of his moral duties to Prince Kulinahr, she was really beginning to enjoy his company, to feel comfortable with him.  Every day it seemed they found more things they had in common.  Then why did she feel something vital was missing?
Then why did she feel something vital was missing?
             Something personal?
No. Personal was bad. She should be happy.  This was what she was trying to achieve, right?  Aa good professional relationship.  Then, atWhen the end,project was over they wouldcould part.  No with no regrets, no hurt on any side.
            The A pang hit her chest at the thought of parting withleaving Cliff brought a fierce pang in her middle. . No hurt indeed.

            Vickie sighed.  Apparentlyclenched her eyes briefly. Hadn’t she hadn’t learned anything. ? Actions said it all. The way Cliff couldswitched turn his passion on and off like a switch should tell her he didn’twasn’t love her.  He was probably relieved not to have to make love to her.  Without having to become involved, he would get what the business needed from her. [M6] 

            He was happier . It might hurt in the short run but it was better this way.  She was happier this way.  Just enjoyEnjoy the time you havethey had together, Vickie, and then leave.  Good business.  No regrets.

            “Vickie?  Is somethingWhat’s wrong?”

            God, why did he have to be so perceptive?  When the Deity did not answer her, she said to Cliff, “Oh, I was just thinking.”  Then, attempting to side‑trackmade an attempt to sidetrack him, she added,. “Do you think John will ever notice Tess as more than just a friend?”  There.  Close Which was actually quite brilliant. It was close enough to theher own truth without revealing her own feelings.

            Cliff looked thoughtfully at her.  [M7] “You mean Tess likes John? Really?  She’d like to get involved with him?  Then whyWhy hasn’t she said soanything to him?”

            “Well, I…I guess I don’t know, but really,I’d guess she’s afraid to. John’s so attractive, he must have scores of women after him…” lovesickLovesick, one and all.  “I imagine Tess just doesn’t want to embarrass herself.”  ‘Too near your own truth, Vickie?’[M8] 

            “Scores“Sure, scores of women who aren’t Tess.  John would jump at the chance to date her.  He hasn’t asked her out because he says she always seems so aloof.”

            Not so near.  She had She’d never been aloof in Cliff’s arms.  Just then he turned toward her.

            “I’m surprised he hasn’t discussed it with you, Vickie.  You appear to beyou haven’t mentioned this to him. You’re close friends.”

            Close friends.  She and John had shared laughs, drinks, even sundaes.  But no one was closer to her now than the man at her side.  She would settle that right now.

            But… “Friends, yes.  But never…intimate…friends.”

            Cliff’s eyebrow went up. “I know.  John would have warned me if you two were intimateslovers.”

            “Great. So glad we had this little chat.” Did men share everything?  Was nothing sacred from locker-room discussions?  “Well, good.  That relieves my mind on that score,” she said wryly as
Then she turned onto the street for The Pizza Place and could practically smell the spicy sauce and melted mozzarella. As she pulled into a parking space.  She pushed the irritation, annoyance and doubts away, replacing them with the jettisoned in anticipation of a good dinner.  YouShe always feelfelt better on a full stomach.

            She leaped out of her car and hurried toward the restaurant. His reply, something about non‑competition, was lost to her as she got out offlung open the car.  She took a deep breath. door[M9] . The spicy scenttang of tomatoestomato and melted mozzarella luredoregano nearly knocked her forward.  Vickie off her feet. She left Cliffhim to plug the parking meter and beckoned to the hostess.
“Your regular table, Vickie?”
She and John and Tess and JuneBelva and the others had come often to this restaurant  to talk and relax after a long, hard day’s work. This was a safe place. Vickie smiled. “Yes.”

            This was a safe place.  Vickie felt her attitude strengthening and stabilizing.

            Inside, she beckoned to the hostess.  Cliff entered just in time to hear, “Your regular table, Vickie?” and receive a lingering once‑over from the hostess.  Then they were being led to a secluded booth with a window view of the local river.

            A waiter, college age, came over waiter zoomed up as they seated themselves.  “Stuffed spinach pizza and diet cola tonight, Vickie?” he asked.  ?”
Cliff rolled his eyes.  Before he could say somethingsnark, Vickie added, “And two orders of cheese garlic bread, Terry.”

            When the waiter had gone, Cliff waved at the walls.  “This is the real reason you’ve gained weight, isn’t it?  Trying to blame those innocent hot fudge sundaes.  Tsk, tsk.”  He shook his head slowly.

            Vickie primly unfolded her paper napkin and placed it on her lap.  “Nonsense.  The crust is whole wheat, spinach is a marvelous source of several vitamins and minerals, and cheese is a basic food in the milk group.”

            “And diet soda?”

            “That’s an essential component of a very necessary food group.”

            “Which is…?”

            “The diet food group.  So I can eat more hot fudge sundaes.”

            “And brownies.”

            “Ha.  Fat lot of them I get with you around.”

            “You had one just yesterday.”[M10] 

            “We ordered four.  I thought I was going toI’d have one for later, but you gobbled them up so fast, the one I did manage to grab I nearly got my fingers bitten off for the one I did grab.”

 [M1]This made no sense from two standpoints. First, as a senior manager Phil wouldn't have been gossiping. Second, he wouldn't have come in at 9 at night to check a process. These days the cool kids have VPNs and net in. So I changed from a face-to-face meeting with Phil to a phone message from Tess.
 [M2]Whether she would have felt the Schadenfreude or not, it doesn't make her a sympathetic character to admit it :)
 [M3]A recent round of Biting Love edits made me aware I use names in dialogue far too much. Thank you Christa :)
 [M4]Early on I showed something, and then just to be sure I got the point across, I explained it too. Both showing and telling are rarely needed.
 [M5]Ah, the days before keyless entry.
 [M6]I also re-explained the plot ad nauseum.
 [M7]While this is perfectly valid, I'm coming around to the idea that stuff like this is superfluous. Knowing looks, thoughtful looks, are all variations on the beat, and kinda worn. I'm deleting many these days. Next step is to come up with a fresh replacement :)
 [M8]again, repeating the obvious :)
 [M9]Again, one of my early problems was putting events in order. I knew what was about to happen and so it seemed perfectly logical for his reply to be lost to her AS SHE WALKS AWAY. But in reality that sentence is experiences as His reply is lost to her...what? WHY? Oh, yeah, she's walking away. The solution is simply to put the events in the order they occur. She walks away, so his reply is lost to her.
 [M10]But I did do some things right from the start! I luvs some nice banter :D

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