Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Flash Fiction Interlude: Commitment

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This Three Word Wednesday story is a prequel to my other Vince Mott stories. Here we meet him as a teenager, about to make a decision that will shape his life in interesting ways, although not in the way his parents would've hoped. You can read more about Vince by following the tag at the bottom of the post or by reading the January posts of Diana's Diary.

Vince ambled down the hospital corridor, trying to act like this was a perfectly normal place for a guy hang out. A pretty nurse caught his eye, but he didn't stop to chat her up. He was seventeen and she was at least thirty-five, but his real reason for not pursuing her lay in the room at the end of the hall.

Outside the door he brushed street dust off his jeans and straightened his jacket. He shook his hair out of his eyes and went inside. The sound of wheezing filled the room and a man plucked with bony fingers at a threadbare cotton blanket. Vince approached the bed. "Hey, Dad."

The man's eyelids fluttered and he reached out a trembling hand.

Vince wondered how this man who had fought the Chinese in the Resource Wars and survived the grueling winter of the Alberta Campaign could've gone downhill so quickly. "Sorry I'm late. I stayed after school to get a little extra help from my teacher."

The older man's lips twitched in a faint smile. "Don't lie."

Vince pulled up a chair and sat down. Even near death, his old man couldn't be fooled. Vince hadn't been to school in years, although he had an affair with a pretty teacher last spring.

"You'll stay out of trouble when I'm gone."

It wasn't a question.

"You don't want your mother to judge you from Heaven."

To avoid having to speak, Vince pulled a ring out of a pocket and toyed with it, wondering how much Cabezón at the pawn shop would give him for it.

"And Sara..."

Vince snapped his head up.

"You'll take care of her. You're all she has now."

"Of course I'll take care of her. I do already." Vince wondered if he should mention what he had done to the freak who had grabbed Sara's ass on a crowded street two days ago. No one disrespected Vince's little sister and got away with it.

The man coughed. "I mean money," he said, as if reading Vince's thoughts. "She's not like you; she has ambition. She should go to college."

Vince sat back, startled. Where was he supposed to get money to send Sara to college? Although he was a decent gambler, it would be years if not decades before he had the skill of a real pro. His thieving was only slightly better. He glanced at the cheap ring he had stolen. He'd be lucky if Cabezón didn't insist on giving him federal dollars for this thing. Vince would have to up his game considerably before he could consider sending his sister to college.

"Promise me." The old man fumbled for his hand.

Vince shoved the stolen ring in his pocket. He had always been lucky, so maybe this was the incentive he needed to aim for higher stakes. "I'll send her to college," he promised. "Sara will have everything she needs."

His father nodded, reassured.

Later that night as he left the hospital, Vince pondered the enormity of what he had promised. He would love and cherish Sara, of course. That he would protect her from the thugs and assholes of the world was a given. But college? He stopped under a defunct streetlight and gazed up at the sliver of night moon hanging over the city.

After a few minutes he dug in his pocket and took out the ring. It was too late to see what Cabezón would give him for it, but perhaps he could trade it for a drink at Las Cariñosas and watch the pretty girls instead. He could forget for a little while that his mother was dead, his father dying, and he had taken on the biggest commitment of his life. For the next couple of hours, at least, he could pretend nothing had changed.

With an air of satisfaction, he headed down the street.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Flash Fiction Interlude: Normal Annoyances

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story was written for Sunday Scribblings and features Vince Mott, a character from Diana's Diary, which is part of my Will and Diana series. You can read more about Vince by following the tag at the bottom of the post.

Vince paid the bar tab and motioned to the pretty girl on the stool beside him. "Come on, I know where we can go."

As he led her outside, he tried to remember what she said her name was - Lori, Lauren, Lorelei? It hardly mattered. She was one of the prettiest girls he had ever seen at Chico's Bar, although that wasn't saying much. Too bad she had such expensive taste in liquor and lived with her mother. Having paid her bill, Vince now couldn't afford to take her to a hotel. Her home, of course, was out of the question.

"Where are we going?" Laura asked.

"A place I know. Don't worry - it's safe and we won't be bothered."

Vince and his gang were currently squatting in an old warehouse, but as their leader, Vince had a private office which he also used as sleeping quarters. He nodded at the guard as they entered the run-down building. "Things been quiet tonight?"

The correct answer, of course, was "yes" but Xerox was a newcomer to Vince's shady operations and didn't pick up on the obvious clues. "Speedball is missing, boss."

"So what's new?" Vince tried to steer Lori toward his office.

"Ozone says there's something wrong with the radio, and Peru has been throwing up for the last half hour."

Vince shrugged. "Keep up the good work."

As they made their way to the office, Lorelei whispered, "Shouldn't you do something?"

"About what?" He opened the door to his office, ushered her inside and closed it behind them. "It's always something with them. They'll figure it out."

She appeared skeptical, but accepted Vince's kisses. He backed her against his desk and was fumbling with the buttons on her shirt when there was a knock at the door.

"Go away!"

"I need to talk to you."

"Tell me in the morning, Gitana."

Silence, then more knocking. "It's important!"

With a sigh of frustration, Vince went to the door. "What?"

Gitana brushed her dark curls out of her eyes and gave him a doe-eyed look. "Um..."


"I thought you should know Peru is sick." She tried to glance around him at the girl sitting on the desk.

"I already know, thanks." He made to shut the door.


"Enough. Go away." Vince slammed the door and turned around. "Sorry about that."

"Hey, if you have other commitments..."

Vince cupped Lauren's chin in his hand. "Nothing is more important than you."

Nothing, it seemed, except the urgent knock on the door two minutes later.

"What now?"

Ozone answered through the door. "Speedball's back. He's cut up pretty bad."

"Send for my sister. She'll bandage him up."

"There's no one to send. Gitana was pissed about something and left."

"You go, then. Do I have to think of everything?"

In the silence that followed, Vince turned back to Laurie. "If it wasn't for me, these guys wouldn't be able to figure out how to drink water."

She nodded and finished unbuttoning her blouse herself. "Seems like a big job."

"Not as big as what I've got for you, baby." He gestured toward the mattress on the floor. "Let's get a little more comfortable."

He had almost gotten Laurel undressed and was enjoying the fluttering of her fingers as she fumbled to undo his belt when there came another knock at the door.

"Goddamn it." He raised himself on one elbow. "Unless the building is on fire, go away!"

"Quix is here, boss." It was Fausto. "He says he knows it's kind of last minute, but one of his partners is a no-show and he needs a couple guys, fast, to help close a deal tonight."

Vince met Lorena's eyes.

"You have to take this one, don't you?" she asked.

He nodded in resignation, stood up and began straightening his clothes. "Send him back here."

A few minutes later Lorinda was neatly dressed and sitting in one of Vince's chairs. Vince was in his patched leather executive's chair, tapping impatiently on the desk. He got up and extended a hand when Quix walked in, but didn't offer his usual boisterous greetings.

Quix darted a glance at the girl, then sat down. "I hope I'm not ruining your evening, but I need a couple guys I can count on and I know how you're always ready to make a buck."

"Yeah." Vince covered for his annoyance by taking a bottle of whiskey out of a desk drawer and pouring them each a glass.

Quix accepted the whiskey and took a sip. "Anything the matter, man? You seem a little off."

Vince shot back his whiskey and poured another glass. He could refuse this deal, of course, but it wasn't wise to turn down an opportunity to do a favor for a fellow gang leader. Besides, the way this night was going it didn't look like he going to get very far with Loretta, if that was even her name. "Nothing's wrong other than the usual, friend. Just another normal night around this place."