A Writing Workshop Writing Sample (Right!?!)
(NOTE: Scary Writing Samples is a series of excerpts created by me and others for use in writing workshops. I needed excerpts that weren’t by “real people” so participants would feel free to say what they really thought. If you wish to use any of these as a sample in a writing workshop or other creative endeavor, please contact me first! This one in particular was for training contest judges.)
It was official. Hallie Jenkins had hit the single girl’s rock bottom. Not to be confused with an expanding bottom, a different sort of nightmare. She’d finally let her sister Serena convince her to accept a blind date with a guy “who’d be perfect for if she’d just give him a chance.”
An emphasis on the “give him a chance”. Hallie knew what that meant. She could picture this guy, this Rafael D’arngel, as clearly as if she’d taken his snapshot for one of the company’s calendars. Defying his exotic name, he’d be about five eight, not much hair, made up for it in belly. Either painfully shy or a social mutant who thought everybody appreciated his jokes about politics or quantum physics. I mean, the guy was in computers, and instead of phoning her to arrange the details, he’d sent an email with a detailed itinerary, response requested for approval.
Why, why, why had she done this to herself?
Oh yeah. Serena had agreed to pose as Miss September in the “Babes in Body Armor” calendar, saving Hallie from the unpleasant task of interviewing models yet again when the previous Miss September came up with an unsightly rash. Why did models think they were too good to be Miss September, anyway?
Most of the time Hallie loved her job as the photoshoot coordinator cum assistant artistic director at Kooky Calendars, a small company that created–you guessed it–offbeat calendars, address books, mousepads and the like. Kooky specialized in unique themes and did their own camera work instead of buying stock photography and slapping it on 8×10 glossies.
Not that there was a lot of ready made stock of attractive women wearing chain mail, Kevlar vests and various sections of plate. And that was just the current project. She was also simultaneously working on “Space Pets: The New Breed”, “Men Who Love Cheese,” “This Ain’t Yo Momma’s Momma”, “Landfill Heaven” and…what was that other one Marketing just tossed out…”Gothic House Beautiful.” It was a great job, if a hassle, but she liked to keep busy.
Too busy to date or think about the fact she didn’t have any dates. At least, not until Serena sucker-punched her with Rafael D’arngel. And what a name, anyway. Hallie wasn’t ready to go on this date, not mentally, but she was dressed and her purse lay on the foyer table along with her coat. According to the date itinerary, Rafael was arriving at approximately 7:00 pm, and here it was 6:53. She wasn’t taking any chances of letting this guy loose in her home while she scrabbled under her bed for her other black sandal.
Hallie knocked back a shot of Dutch courage, otherwise known as whiskey, brushing her teeth in case Rafael was a teetotaler and the smell of Jack on her breath offended him. 6:59. Peeking out the three staggered glass windows in her front door, she checked to see if any cars had pulled up while she was in the kitchen. Nothing.
Hallie counted the cash in her purse–enough to catch a cab from downtown plus tip. She checked her teeth in the foyer mirror–no lipstick. The itinerary indicated a meal from 7:20 until 8:45, a movie at the Crispen art theatre from 9:10 until 11:00 and a moonlit drive down the coast until 12:15, at which point they would be arriving at her doorstep, date completed.
7:03, still no unfamiliar cars. Hallie leaned against the door, sighing. The central heat and air clicked on, loud in the otherwise silent house, and in the background she heard the neighbor’s dog bark.
It had been a long week, and she wasn’t as peppy as she used to be. She glanced longingly at the cushy leather sofa in her den, quickly deciding against it.
7:12 pm. Was Rafael the Nerd Standing her up on her very first blind date ever?
No such luck. Making her stomach plummet, the doorbell rang. She exhaled a careful breath to see if she smelled Jack before unlocking her front door.
No nerd stood there. She couldn’t have been more wrong about Rafael D’arngel. On her doorstep stood a tall, swarthy man with a rakish grin who could easily have posed for their “Would You Like Fries With That?” hunk calendar.
“Hallie?” he said, his voice like an aural massage with a slight, Continental accent. “I’m Rafael, your sister’s acquaintance. I apologize for my lateness. We had some unexpected complications with a new project.” He checked his watch, a large silver affair with a raised face. “Our reservations are for….”
“7:20,” she breathed. Bless you, Serena.
“Right-o. Shall we?” He smiled, exposing very white teeth, and anything else she’d been about to foolishly babble, like “Is this a joke?” caught in her throat.
She grabbed her purse and light jacket and Rafael stood back to allow her to exit and lock her door. She smelled something like cologne, but also a little like electricity.
A sleek silver sports car with tinted windows idled behind her Toyota on the street. He opened her door first before walking around the car and sliding into the black leather seats.
“Nice car,” she said as he was pulling away from the curb.
He shrugged. “It suits my purposes.” Something high and tight started whining through the car’s speakers and he quickly adjusted a knob on a black box on the console like a taxi meter.
“What’s that?” she asked. “Old-style radar detector?”
Rafael quirked a sexy black eyebrow. “Not exactly.”
He didn’t say anything else, and neither did she. His eyes were twitching between the busy road and the little black box, no longer making noise but flashing numbers and symbols on a small read-out on the front.
“Is it a taxi meter?” she asked jokingly. “To make sure I pay for my share of the gas?”
Frowning, Rafael adjusted another knob on the small machine’s face. “Certainly not.”
Well, that joke had gone over like a pin-up calendar at a Baptist revival. Though the baby soft bucket seat was the height of luxury, Hallie soon found herself fidgeting when the silence grew oppressive. She’d never been on a blind date before, but she’d been dates back in the day, and only when she or her date had been sulking had there been such a long hush. Surely a man who looked like Rafael wasn’t shy?
“Are you looking forward to the movie,” she asked.
“Of course.” His hands were on the steering wheel in perfect ten and two o’clock position as they followed along behind a black SUV down the coastal highway east of Biloxi.
She nibbled on a nail. “Where are we going to dinner?”
Rafael waited a long moment before finally speaking. Hallie wondered if he had a quota of words and had to figure out the best way not to exceed it. “That’s a surprise.”
Mr. Talkative he was not. Her thrill of Rafael’s gorgeous appearance gave way to the urge to yank out her cellophone and call up her sister for a little talk. Maybe she hadn’t had a date since her break-up with Jonathan Ives–of the Massachusetts Ives–but these painful ten minutes were proving to her there was a great reason for that.
Finally Hallie could stand it no longer. There was no reason to be miserable for a while night, no matter that the guy making her miserable looked like Daniel Day Lewis in LAST OF THE MOHICANS. “Look, if you don’t want to have dinner with me, let’s not.”
“Why would you…” he began before his little magic box started emitting staticky sounds and the read-out flashing in frantic way. Rafael tensed, checking the traffic around them quickly, and pressed harder on the gas pedal.
“If it’s a radar detector, why are you speeding up?” Hallie, staring at the cars around them, noticed a preponderance of black SUVs. Gas guzzlers, she thought. “Isn’t the point to avoid the notice of the cops?”
“It’s not a radar detector.” Rafael swung into the passing lane, jetting around the SUV in front of them. Hallie glanced at the driver, noticing he was wearing dark sunglasses at night, as did his companion, and both of them were staring at her. It was a muggy night, and the windows of the SUV were down. The breeze didn’t ruffle the two men’s gelled hair.
The guy in the passenger’s seat shifted, aiming some kind of weapon that looked like a crossbow straight at her. Or was he aiming it at Rafael?
“That guy has crossbow!” she shrieked, ducking. “What the hell is he doing?”
“Blast!” Cursing, Rafael accelerated even more, weaving in and out of traffic as they drew closer and closer to the center of town. Hallie tried controlling her racing heartbeat. Biloxi was a midsize Mississippi town, nothing like New Orleans, but sometimes the gambling attracted an unsavory element.
Something popped into her window and cracked it but didn’t shatter the glass.
“He shot your car!” Hallie screamed. “Rafael, what the hell?”
“I did not anticipate the Hunters would locate me so soon,” he said. “Please be patient, Miss Jenkins. All will be revealed to you when we reach Sanctuary.”
Hallie had no idea what this guy was talking about, but she was definitely calling Stephanie to come get her as soon as her life was no longer in immediate danger.
© 2005 Jody Wallace