A periodic look at some of the passages and lines I’m most proud of. For this one, a passage from the forthcoming Prelude to Hellion. This is another one I get pretty chuffed over every time I read it.
“Hey, lady!” Angelo bellowed through the unlit cigar clutched between his yellowed teeth. “Can’t ya read the damn sign?!”
Josef, who had begun putting chairs upside down on top of the tables and sweeping the floor, tightened his grip on his broom. Something told him smashing it against the side of Angelo’s head wouldn’t be good for him—no matter how tempting it was. Josef still wasn’t clear on what rent was, but Pamela insisted having a job was key in making it.
“This is my friend, Pamela,” Josef introduced instead.
Angelo’s bushy eyebrows shot skyward, and he nodded once as his lips puckered around the cigar. “Friend, eh?” He backed away and ducked his head. “My apologies, miss. Welcome to Angelo’s.” Shaking his head, Angelo turned and stomped up the stairwell in the back. “Don’t forget to lock up, Joey! And no funny business!”
Josef frowned and shook his head as Pamela approached. “I am afraid I only understand half of what Angelo says sometimes.”
Pamela cringed and lifted her purse over her shoulder. “Probably for the best.”
“What are you doing here?” The crease in Josef’s brow disappeared and he slipped behind the bar to put away the broom. “Did you want some pizza?”
“Nah, I already ate. Besides…” Pamela glanced at the stairwell before taking a seat at the bar, shaking her head, leaning forward on her elbows, and whispering conspiratorially, “Angelo’s on Broadway is better.”
Wiping the marble surface of the bar, Josef frowned again. “Then why…?”
“Because we haven’t seen each other much lately. With you working and me going to summer school to catch up, we don’t cross paths all that often.” Pamela shrugged and stared out at the street. Even at this late hour, the traffic was nuts. One of this city’s many charms. “Just wanna see how you’re doing.”
“You know,” Josef said, pausing to lean against the counter, “in a place like this, I see things aren’t that different from my day. The technology is…frighteningly advanced, and there are still a lot of things I do not know. But I see people come in here, and all they want after a hard day is a hot meal, a cold drink, and perhaps some friendly company.”
Pamela smiled, resting her chin in her hand. “Like taverns back in your time?”
“But cleaner.” Josef chuckled. “No plague. Indoor plumbing.”