Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Excerpt: Vince and the Riot

NOTE: Since Alice Audrey has kindly given a shout-out to Vince at The Serialists, I've posted an outtake about him from Diana's Diary (Day 31 if you want to read more).

In the excerpt below, Diana is at the hospital with Vince's sister Sara while a riot sweeps the city. Vince went to see what he could get out of the chaos but promised he would return at eight o'clock to walk Sara home.


Eight-thirty, and we tried not to let on what we were feeling. I kept reading, no longer with any idea what words were coming out of my mouth. Sara fidgeted, jumped out of her chair, looked out the window and sat back down, only to start squirming again. We were both at about the limits of our endurance, each afraid to meet each others’ eyes and ask the question on our minds, when we heard new footsteps in the hallway.

We looked up together as Vince strode in, grimy and smelling of smoke. Sara flung her arms around his neck.

“Here,” he said, handing her a bag. “I got you some stuff.”

Her shoulders slumped, and all her previous worry and sympathy vanished. “Why did you do that? I told you—”

“Let me take you home, and if you still want to fuss at me, you can do it there.”

He looked at me. “Come on, let’s take my ungrateful sister home.”

The dormitory was so close I wondered if Vince’s concern wasn’t a little excessive, but when we got outside and I saw the people camped in rings around the hospital, I understood. These people had been burnt out of their homes with nothing in the world but what they could carry on their backs or in a bag. Even though there was extra hospital security tonight, some of the characters in the crowd looked tough and wily. Vince and I kept our hands on our weapons and moved Sara quickly through the crowd to the door of her building.

“Want to come up?” she said.

“No, you look tired.” He gave her a peck on the cheek. “Someone will be here tomorrow to walk you to work. Don’t go alone, all right?”

She brushed a lock of hair out of her eyes. “You worry too much, but okay.”

After she went inside, Vince gave a jerk of his head. “I need a drink. Want to come?”

We went to a bar he knew—a dark, smoky place lit by candles and oil lamps. It was populated by hardened street types in leather and expensive-looking jewelry that they guarded with the guns and knives on their hips. Vince ordered us some vodka and we took our glasses to a corner table. I sipped my drink, watching the people in the room and waiting for Vince to speak.

“It was hell,” he finally said, as if I had asked a question only a moment ago, and out loud.

“Were any of our people hurt?”

“No, and we did really well.” He took a big gulp of his vodka. “But whenever ordinary civilians get mixed up in these things. . .”

I knew exactly what he was talking about. “It’s one thing to see dead and wounded combatants, but when it’s old men, women and kids. . .”

“There’s some really sick motherfuckers in this world, you know that?” He slammed back the rest of his drink, waved a waitress over and ordered another one. “No, wait. Bring two more. Let's not waste time.”

We talked for what seemed a long time. I tried not to pry, and gradually the whole ugly story came out. “We scored pretty good off the deal,” he finally said.

I wasn’t sure it was anything to brag about, but someone would’ve ended up with the goods and I suppose it might as well be Vince and his gang as anyone else. Better than everything ending up in the hands of the people who started all the trouble, at least.

“What are you going to do with it all?” I asked.

“Piss it away drinking and gambling. Give some of it away in impulsive gifts and charity. If there’s anything left over, I'll buy a little food and maybe pay off a creditor or two.” He grabbed my hand across the table. “I’ve got a present for you. Finish your drink, and we’ll go someplace I can give it to you without everyone watching.”

You can find more stories about Vince by following the tag below or by reading Diana's Diary, Days 22-33 under January: Urban Adventures


Alice Audrey said...

Ok, now I want to read the next installment just to see what the present is.

Old Egg said...

I truly admire your writing where you can seamlessly mix both the horror of rioting with such sensitive posts as Diana's Diary. As Alice has said there is need after reading any of your work to move on, read more, be captivated again by the well made world you have created.