Friday, July 5, 2013

Hot Chips and Sand 200-205 Draft Comparison

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

Chapter 13Thirteen

Saturday rained[M1] . Vickie packed, then wandered around her apartment that rainy Saturday, putting the finishing touches on the generic furnishings. Without her things around, it looked like a hotel suite, blank and without character.  Tabula rasa, thought Vickie, ‘just like myher future. A clean slate, ready to be rewritten. She changed into her robe and slippers, feeling like aas frumpy hausfrau.  The as the dreary day outside complemented her mood.  ‘Tea usually makes me feel better,’ she thought.  ‘I’ll nuke some water. She unpacked her teapot and watch the news, fall asleep in front of the tube and feel better in the morning.’

She had just put the honey back in the cabinet and waskettle on her way to sit when the doorbell rang.

Vickie opened the door. John and Tess stood outside in the rain, looking awkward, sheepish and concerned. “May we come in?” asked John. “It’s a little on the humid side out here.”

“Thanks, Vickie, I’d like some,” said John.  “And stop“Stop acting like we’re company, It’s only us, remember?”

“John and I have been talking about, well, you know, Cliff and you.  We understand why you’re upset, and want you to know that’s okay with us.”

“Your breaking up with Cliff doesn’t bother us,” Tess added.[M2] 

“You love me anyway, huh,” Vickie attempted to smile.

“IJohn nodded. “Although we think you’re both acting like fools.”

Now Vickie did smile. “Don’t beat around the bush, John. Why don’t you come out and say what you really mean.”

John crossed his arms over his chest. “For smart managementexecutives, neither of you is being too smart about your personal life. personally. Why don’t you wait for him to come back, Vickie, so you canwant talk this thing out?”

Vickie sighed. “I don’t think so.  I don’t think it would change anything.”   The telephoneVickie’s phone rang.  Tess answered it.  “Yes, yes.  I’ll

“Aren’t you going to get her.  Vickie, it’s for you.”that?”

“I rather doubt it would be for anyone else, unless you’ve been followed.  This is my apartment, after all.  At least for a while.”Vickie“I suppose.” She took the phone. her phone from her jeans pocket and hit connect. “Hello, Vickie Johnston.”

Vickie leaned against the wall, wondering who would be call ing her today, of all days.  “Hello?”[M3] 

“Ms. Johnston, this is Hannah, Cliff’s cook. We’ve never met, but Cliff has told metalked a lot about you.  I talked to A lot.”

Her cheeks heated. She wondered what Cliff had said.

John the other day, and he tells me you’re planning to leave.”

“Yes, uhum, Hannah.” How bizarre. Was even Cliff’s cook ganging up on her? “I’m done with the project, after all.”

“Look, Ms. Johnston, I don’t want to look like I’m interfering. And I know that what Ireally don’t want to tell you will sound like I’m trying to take advantage of you. come off as manipulative. But you should know—Cliff hasn’t done this since his dad, Colonel Hawkesclyffe, was killed.”

“Done what, Hannah?”

“Well, the night beforeVickie’s forehead hurt. “I don’t understand.”

“Before he left for the Middle East, Cliff took dinner in his room, didn’t come down to the kitchen like he usually does.  I brought eat. I took up a tray and left it by the door, knocking and telling him it was there.  Well, when. But I went up to bed, the tray was still there, untouched. And you know how Cliffhe eats.”


“Oh, maybe“Was he was just a little ill.  sick?”

“No.” Hannah’s voice went flat with emotion. “He was crying.”

“I…I’m sorry for him.”, what?”


“That’s not all, Ms. Johnston.  When I went past, I heard him crying.  That’s what he “He hasn’t done that for over twenty years, ma’am.  Ms. Johnston?”.”

Vickie started out of her thoughts.  Cliff, that big bucket of testosterone, crying? “Why?”

“I think you know why. He was miserable you two fought. Which is why I think you need to stay, until he gets back. Hear him out.”

Did heCliff care about her that much?  “Oh, um, well, I don’t know what to say.  Uh, thanks for the information.  “Well. Thanks for calling to tell me.”

“You’ll stay?”

Put pointblank like that, did she have a choice? “Yes.  YesAll right, I’ll waitstay at least to seehear him again.  Thanks.  Good‑bye.”

“Who was that, Vickie?” asked Tess.

“Hannah, Cliff’s cook. As if you didn’t know. Okay, if everyone’s going to gang up on me, I’ll wait until Cliff comes back to make my final decision.”

John and Tess looked at each other.  and some tension went out of their stances. John said, “Thanks. But you should also know that we’re not all ganging up on you.  WeYes, we talked to Hannah, but her calling was her own idea, not ours. . Tess, maybe we should go now, and let Vickie think. Or rest. Or, whatever.”


Vickie’stube, but her thoughts were turned inward. Her eyes focused onbarely registered the television.  The talking head was saying something and, a map was over his shoulder.  Something

Then something about the outline caught Vickie’s attention and she dug a little into her memory.  “That looks . It looked like— “That’s Middle Yemen.  Just a minute, guys, don’t go yet.” Tess, John. Wait.” Vickie increased the volume as John and Tess looked back.

“…are still unclear, but it appears that the counter‑coupcountercoup was successful, and that. Prince Kulinahr has been confirmed as the legitimate leader of Middle Yemen by theits Parliamentary Council.  in a unanimous vote. The whereabouts of Colonel Hafez Fahrrad are still unknown.”

Vickie let out a whoop of joy, and almost missed what came next.

“In a related story, Sir Humphrey Hawkesclyffe, founder and owner of Hawkesclyffe Computers, has been reported missing in the street fighting and confusion in Middle Yemen. Sir Hawkesclyffe was apparently involved in some business in the country and may have been caught up in the fighting. for business. The government of Middle Yemen has assured both the British and American ambassadors that Sir Hawkesclyffe’s safe return is a top priority.”

Vickie stared at the television, stunned.  ‘Oh, shit. “Crap. He’s gone and put Kulinahr back in power.  That’s what he was doing?” Was that waswhat he’d been so secret.’  “John, Tess, dosecretive about? “Do you realize what this means?”

“Yeah, it,” John said. “It means he’s missing. I’ll get in touch with our Washington people right now.”  John movedHe started toward the door.


“No, no not that.  The big secret.   Cliff’s gone and Cliff had put Kulinahr back in power.”  . He iswas perfect.  PerfectAnd perfect for me.’  “It’s too much of a coincidence that he’s there just when Kulinahr throws a counter‑coup.  Look, you her. “You guys can call me the biggest fool in history. And thanks for talking me into staying. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here for this.”


“For what?  Vickie, you’re not making any sense,” John said cautiously.



John “We don’t know that,” Tess said. “We don’t know he’s behind the countercoup.”

“Actually, we do.” John turned the tube down.  “Yes, it is.  Vickie, I’m going“Time to come clean. Cliff and I were planningplanned this all along, since Fahrrad overtooktook the country.”

“You knew! You rat, John!  I could have!” She could’ve missed a heck of a lot of heartache if you had told me before this.”he’d trusted her with the information.


“Calm down, Vickie.” “I couldn’t tell you.” John ran his hand back through his hair. “Cliff would havewould’ve killed me if I’d gotten you involved.  This is aFahrrad’s dangerous business, at best.  And now it looks like Fahrrad has. He kidnapped Cliff, and it’s become deadly.”you, remember?”


That set“That’s right.” Tess snapped her fingers. “And now Cliff is missing. Do you think he’s kidnapped Cliff?”

Both Vickie and Tess both back.  “How do you figure, John?”  Tess asked.   stared at her. John groaned. “Damn. You could be right.”

“In“No. Only Fahrrad has the codes to the new defense system. But in order to get Kulinahr back in the country, the new defense system Cliff had to be overridden.  The only people who could do that are Fahrrad and Cliff.  Cliff knows the override it. He went in through a back door toin the system.  So, the fact that Cliff has come up missing , one he’d left himself.”[M6] 

“He gave himself away?”

“Yes, but worse. He’d be the only one who can only mean thatfix it. Even if Fahrrad has him.  Don’t mistake, Fahrrad’s hasn’t figured that out, clever.  And and desperate. The world is changing around him; he hasn’t many places to go.  I just know that he’s going toHe’ll try to use Cliff as insurance.”

Tess clutched John’s hand. “He caught Cliff as a hostage?”

“But Cliff has never been caught before,” Vickie said in a small voice.

“Cliff has never let himself get caught before,” John musedsaid.

Vickie did not voice her fear.  This time, maybe he felt like she’d swallowed ice. Maybe Cliff hadn’t wanted to escape. After the way she had treated him, after he hadhe’d trusted her, kissed her…more…maybe he could have wanted to get caught. Or maybe he just didn’t care.  Oh, dear God, please let him be okay.

 [M1]Putting the time first, especially at the start of the chapter, serves to ground the reader.
 [M2]Dialog must sound realistic but shouldn't be everyday stuff. Cut out the pleasantries and get to the meat.
 [M3]A lot of expressly saying things that can be much better shown by a few deft actions or words.
 [M4]Yeah yeah, wonderful guy--we've heard this only a couple dozen times before. Get on with the story, already :)
 [M5]I say the same thing maybe three times. Sometimes I write around the idea instead of writing the idea itself. That's fine in draft, but editing is for finding and writing the real nugget.
 [M6]This may change.

No comments:

Post a Comment