Your Tuesday Outtake

This outtake used to be a lot longer, Then I cut it down. Now it’s out. I don’t think we’re gonna miss it since (a) it’s not very good writing and (b) it’s kind of all over the place. So 6500 words down (I cut some other stuff besides this), 8500 to go on Act Two. (Acts One, Three, and Four are done). Argh.

Nick opened the door to Rich’s cabin and let Nita go in before he flipped on the light switch by the door
The cabin sprang into sharp focus, which did it no favors, and Nick went over to the desk in the middle of the room and sat down.

Richiel was obviously not a demon of order. The desk was a mess of file folders, papers, ledgers, a couple of old paper coffee cups from Sandy’s, half a violently-colored jam pastry, and, as Nick sorted through the papers and dumped the cups and the pastry in the trash, underneath it all, a handgun.

“He wouldn’t keep anything important here,” Nita said. “This is public. He’d put whatever was evidence someplace private.” She opened a door in the back wall. “Like in here.”

Nick looked past her and saw an unmade bed and a table with a beer can on it. “Fine. You look in there.”

She disappeared into the bedroom, and Nick turned back to the papers and the ledgers and continued to sort things, which felt familiar and right and unemotional. He’d just about finished organizing everything including the contents of the desk, when he heard Nita call his name.

He went into the bedroom and found her on the floor by the bed, one arm reaching under it.

“I found an acamas box,” she said, so he stretched out on the floor beside her to see underneath the bed.
The box was there, just out of her reach.

“Hold on,” he said, and reached for it. He could touch it, but he couldn’t get a grip on it, so he rolled up on one elbow and bent to see better and found himself leaning over her.

And froze.

I’ve been here before, he thought. But not with her. Not with those dark eyes looking up at him and–

“Can you get it?” She looked up to see him staring down at her. “What? What’s wrong?”

“This seems . . . familiar.”

“You looking down on a woman lying beside you?” Nita rolled her eyes. “Given that you were a rich, pretty, immoral playboy in the 1500s, I imagine it is.” She went up on one elbow, too, so their faces were level, noses almost touching. “You’re dead now, New Guy. Get the box.”

“Right,” Nick said, staring at her.

Her mouth was right there. It had always been right there, under her nose, the logical part of his brain said, sneering at him, but there was another part of his brain, a part he was pretty sure had been asleep for five hundred years, lurking beneath the surface, waking up now and saying, That mouth is yours, take it.

“What?” she said again.

“I’m losing my mind.”

“There’s a lot of that going around.” Nita looked back under the bed. “Can you get the box?”

Screw the box, his lizard brain said. Get her.

He bent closer to her, and her eyes widened, and then the door to the cabin opened and he heard Rab say, “Nick? You in here?”

Go away, or I will smite you.

He could hear Rab crossing the floor in the office, saying “Tell me Nita is, too, so we don’t have to put this baph in . . .”

Rab’s voice trailed off and Nick looked over his shoulder to see Rab staring at them from the doorway.

“We got the baph,” Rab said, sounding a little faint, and then Jeo showed up behind him and looked equally startled.

Nick got to his feet and dusted off his hands. “Richiel’s acamas box is under that bed. Get it out, please.”

He headed back into the office, not looking to see if Nita was following, and heard Rab whisper to Jeo, “Did he just say ‘please’?”

I really am losing my mind, he thought, and then felt a cold draft. He looked up to see a ninety-pound baph in the open doorway, looking as if it had been doped with not quite enough tranquilizer.

This never happens to me in Hell. It might be time to go back–

That mouth, his lizard brain said.

“Shut up,” he said to his lizard brain and went to pull the baph inside.

#

Nita followed the boys out of the bedroom, trying to make sense of what had just happened, and stopped when she saw a baph stuck in the doorway, its horns jammed between the frame.

“Knife,” Nick said to Rab.

Rab got out his pocket knife.

Nita went closer. “You are not going to sacrifice that goat.”

“I am not going to sacrifice that goat,” Nick said, taking the knife. “Flame.”

Rab handed him a lighter.

Nick opened the knife and ran the lighter up and down over the blade. Then he handed the lighter back and looked at the doped-up baph. “Sorry about this.” He took Nita’s left hand, slashed the knife across her palm as she screamed, and then smeared her bleeding palm down the forehead of the baph.

“Was that only way to get blood?” Nita said, holding her hand.

“I have disinfectant,” Rab said.

“There’s not enough Neosporin in the world.” Nita looked at the now bloody and confused baph. “Who knows where that goat has been?”

“Move,” Nick said to Rab, and when Rab stepped aside, he opened a hellgate into Niflheim in the doorframe and pushed the goat through backward.

“That hurt, you bastard,” Nita called through the door, but she didn’t sound that angry. “So is this going to make me warm now?”

“That’s the idea,” Jeo said, and then Thanatos appeared in the gate after the goat had gone through, thin and grey-green and ghostly as ever.

“I told you no more,” he began and then stopped. “Oh. Hello, Nick.”

“We need to talk about your business with Richiel,” Nick said, and Thanatos sighed.

“Hi, Grandpa.” Nita was still holding her bloody hand, but she smiled at Thanatos now.

“Amanita?” Thanatos blinked. “How nice to see you again.”

“You can see him?” Jeo said.

“Of course,” Nita said. “He’s right there. Why wouldn’t I see him?”

Because humans can’t see Hell, Nick thought. Not even if they’re the great-great-granddaughter of a demon and the daughter of a Devil. And Hell had pulled her back there for equilibrium, not Earth.
They were missing something.

“Never mind,” Jeo was saying. “Of course, you can see him.”

“So how’s the family?” Thanatos was saying to Nita.

You’re part of Rich’s demon exploitation, Nick thought. Don’t think you’re going to distract me from that.

“They’re good, good,” Nita was saying.

“Do you have pictures?” Thanatos said.

“Uh, sure.” Nita cupped her hand to stomach and fished her billfold out of her bag.

“Bandage her, Rab,” Nick said, but Nita stepped through the doorway into Hell first and took two photos out of her billfold, careful not to get blood on them. “This is Mitzi, my mother, your granddaughter. And this is Keres, my big sister. She’s wonderful.”

“Oh.” Thanatos held the photos carefully. “They look like good people.”

“They’re the best.” Nita hesitated. “Would you like to keep the pictures?”

“Yes,” Thanatos said, still looking at them. “Do you have others? Of the others? In my family?”

“I’ll get you some.” Nita went up on her toes to kiss his cheek. “It’s nice to see you again, Grandpa.”

Thanatos looked surprised and then he smiled.

In all the years Nick had known the old demon, he’d never seen him smile.

“Nita,” Nick said. “Get out of Hell, please. Thanatos, stay there. I want to know why you thought it was all right to exploit demons.”

“I didn’t exploit demons,” Thanatos said, his smile disappearing. “I would never do that.”

“And there goes a nice moment,” Rab said, frowning at Nick.

“I don’t do nice moments,” Nick said, feeling like himself again. “I’m dead.”

“Not as dead as you used to be,” Rab said, but he said it under his breath, so Nick ignored him and went into Hell.

At least in Hell, he wouldn’t lose his mind and lunge for Nita.

He looked at Nita as she passed him, smiling back at her demon grandpa.

I’m really not as dead as I used to be, he thought and went to yell at Thanatos.

26 thoughts on “Your Tuesday Outtake

  1. Thank you very much. I’ll look forward to next Tuesday. Tuesday’s were always sort of blah, now I have something good to look forward to. Please imagine if grin!!

    8+
    1. I kind of throw them up whenever there’s a blank post and I have a chunk of text that will never be seen again.
      I’m really hoping this sucker is out the door by next Tuesday. Sorry!

      16+
      1. I love the excerpt! Thank you for sharing! While we may not get other cuttings, it sounds like we’ll get the whole book soon? #fingerscrossed

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  2. This is much cleaner, more direct writing than i’ve been reading recently (except for rereading Maybe This Time). Thanks for showing me the difference.

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  3. This does feel a bit all over the place, but it has nuggets of gold. I hope the nuggets get reborn somewhere. My favourite line is “The cabin sprang into sharp focus, which did it no favors.” 🙂

    10+
  4. This, your outtake is interesting and made me think of a book I just finished and Hitchcock’s “life with the dull bits cut out” description of drama (and its Nita opposite).

    (I do know it’s not Good Book Thursday, but the world might end before then, so bear with me, argh!)

    I just finished reading Linda Holmes’ “Evvie Drake Starts Over.” There were long boring chunks where little happened and the characters just seemed stuck. But it’s also possible to write chunks when too much happens, which was my first impression reading your Nita outtake today. It’s exhausting and confusing (though still, oddly, fun).

    But I’m not in Nita criticism mode, just reader mode. You always seem to get the end result right and watching your process is enlightening and thought provoking, so back to Evvie and dull bits:

    I really wanted to like “Evvie Drake Starts Over” and sort of did (so much is right about it), but … I wish it had gone through another edit or a different editor. It’s filled with things that happen in the wrong sequence (and some very confusing sentences) that kept throwing me out of the story and wanting to rearrange the furniture, so to speak.

    The big stuff out of sequence made me want to take scissors to the manuscript. While reading the last half dozen chapters I kept thinking, some of this should have followed the opening scenes and incorporated all that middle stuff, which would have solved the boring-middle problem, not to mention given the characters and the story itself more depth. And why is the “starting over” part of the book left to the very end? Maybe it could have been many layered rather than relying almost solely on epiphany, which, unless you get the rest of the story and the character development right, is a risky approach.

    Writers get to write their stories in their own way – thank goodness for that. I guess I wanted Evvie Drake to be a “re-readable” book and it just isn’t. But it could have been – and maybe it was for you – and it is definitely readable and makes one look forward to more by Linda Holmes as her skills improve.

    2+
  5. Love it. Can’t wait to read the final edit. I can only read “Agnes and the Hitman” and “Maybe This Time” so many times 😉

    5+
  6. I cannot WAIT to read this book. This was the bad stuff? Be still my heart. So many good lines gone to limbo.
    Love this paragraph.
    Her mouth was right there. It had always been right there, under her nose, the logical part of his brain said, sneering at him, but there was another part of his brain, a part he was pretty sure had been asleep for five hundred years, lurking beneath the surface, waking up now and saying, That mouth is yours, take it.

    2+
  7. So if it’s out the door next week, any guesses on an ETA for when we’d be able to start plonking money down for it? Because you can bet anything that I’m pre-ordering this. I rarely pre-order books.

    2+
    1. Well, it depends.
      First we have to try to sell it. If somebody buys it, it’ll probably be in a year.
      If nobody buys it, we become self-publishers and then it’ll just depend on how long that takes. Not a year.
      A publishing career is so exciting.

      7+
    1. I OVERSLEPT. It was my birthday yesterday, it was one of those with the 0 on the end, I have issues.
      Today, I am amazing again. And Good Book Thursday is ready to post on time. :p

      6+
      1. Happy belated birthday! I have one ending in a 0 on the 26th. I’m trying to not tell anyone who doesn’t already know. I’ve also taken next week off work. I understand having issues. I am convinced I look younger than I am. I do not like working at a college. Damn students never age, while I and my coworkers keep getting older.

        2+
          1. I’m one day younger than you. And I hate being around when birthdays happen–so I took my family to Italy for this special x-zero one. Denial (used wisely) is a great tool I find. In this case it beat age and stage-4 breast cancer and its chemo effects.

            But I must say one of the best presents (some years ago now) was discovering you and your take-no-prisoners creative energy that crushed my image of Virgos as rigid, serving others (we make great mistresses apparently). Life is still about crazy wonderful discoveries. Thank you!

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        1. People keep taking pictures of me when I am not aware of it then when I see the photos I wonder who the fat old lady is.

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  8. Happy Birthday! The fact that you no longer have reason to believe that this might be your last one is really something to celebrate.

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