Monday, January 14, 2013

Story Beginning: Way Past Boston

The guy walked right up to Brooke and thrust his head forward and down, but his eyes were turned to the side, somewhere beyond her left ear. “Are you Emily?” he demanded. The toes of his sneakers nearly touched the toes of her hiking boots.

She looked up at him. “No, I’m Brooke.”

“Oh.” He swung his head to glance over his right shoulder, then jerked it back. “I could have sworn you were Emily. Are you sure you’re not Emily?”

“I’m sure.”

He just stood there for a second and wiggled his lips, then shrugged, “Well, I guess you can’t help that. What’s your name?”


“Oh. I’m Franklin.”

“Nice to meet you, Franklin.”

He smiled at that, as though she had said something very kind, and suddenly shouted, “Thus saith the Lord!” Then in a regular tone, he asked, “Did you know that?” He was still staring past her left ear.

Brooke nodded. It was because of guys like this that she hadn't wanted to come to Penn Station in the middle of the night. But at least he seemed to be harmless, so far.

He put his right hand up, fingers and thumb upturned together, raised his face to the ceiling and said, “I mean, it’s all connected, you know what I mean?”

Brooke nodded again. “Sure. I can agree with that. It is all connected.”

He turned his face down again, let his hand come down, too, and grabbed one of the buttons on the front of her coat. "Why do you have buttons on your coat?" he asked.

"You need to let go of that," Brooke warned.

"Most coats have zippers," he persisted, still holding the button. "Why does - "

"Let go of my button," she interrupted, louder this time.

He didn't let go. "I don't think coats should have buttons," he said.

Another second and she would have had him on the floor, wondering what had hit him. Fortunately for him, his odd behavior had attracted attention, and a distinguished-looking man in a dark wool dress coat and bright red scarf was on his way over. Maybe Franklin the button-phobe would listen to the man, and she wouldn't have to hit him.

"You didn't answer my question," said Franklin.

"Because putting buttons on coats is a Belgian tradition," Brooke improvved, to buy a little time. "It's for good luck."

"Are you Belgian?" he asked, still clutching the button.

"Excuse me," said the man, reaching them and grabbing Franklin's arm. "You need to move on now." He didn't stop walking, and Franklin had no choice but to join him, or maybe fight him. Brooke stayed alert, ready to intervene if he chose the latter option.

He didn't. He let go of the button and the two men walked about thirty feet away. After that, Franklin kept going and the man in the red scarf came back. A woman stood nearby.

"You okay?" he asked.

"Yes, thank you," Brooke smiled. "That was very nice of you. He's probably harmless, but you never know."

"That's just it," the man agreed. "You can't wait to find out. I'm Bill Perelli and this is my wife Charlotte."

"Nice to meet you, Bill, Charlotte. I'm Brooke." She shook hands with each of them.

"Are you waiting for someone?" Charlotte asked. "We're waiting for our daughter. Her train was delayed due to mechanical problems. She's coming in from Washington."

"No, I came here to take a train. I hope your daughter makes it okay."

"Oh, yes, it's all fixed now; we're expecting her in a few minutes."

"That's good. Have you been waiting long?"

"Not really waiting, no. She's been texting us. We went out to eat; it was very nice."

Brooke nodded and tried to think of something else to say. She was exhausted.

Bill broke the awkward pause. "Where are you traveling to, if you don't mind my asking?"

"New Hampshire."

"Oh, you have family there?" from Charlotte.

"Yes, I live there; I'm going home."

"What time does your train leave?" Bill asked. "I'd like to see you safely off. Pardon me for saying so, but Penn Station is no place for a young lady alone, especially at night."

"It looks like I'm not actually going to be taking a train tonight," Brooke admitted.

"Always a good idea to check the schedule beforehand," Bill chided gently.

"My car broke down," Brooke blurted. "It's done for; it can't be fixed, not for what it's worth. I was able to get it towed away for free, but that took all day; everyone wanted to charge me. Then I came here and thought I'd take a train home but I had no idea it would cost so much."

What next? I'll go on with this story but I wanted to open it up to all you writers out there. What would you do with it? What would happen next? What genre is "Way Past Boston"? Is it a short story, a novella or a novel? Feel free to finish it, your way; just please be sure to give me credit for the beginning. And if you send me what you come up with, I'd like to consider posting it on this site.

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