Stumbling With Style
Thursday, May 30, 2013 - 12:00 PM
Last December, Linda Brewer, an administrator at a skin cancer lab in Tucson, resolved to write a short story every month in 2013. By year’s end she hopes to have them published.
I've always been fascinated with the idea of Northwest Coast tribes' potlatches and how they might play out in our time. I have family in Bellingham, a beautiful town, and wanted to put that in. I think the story needs work, of course, but later ... I just am not very good at straight-ahead thinking, and tend to work my way from one image to the next, stumbling in between. It's fun.
I emailed a fan letter to Sue Grafton and she e-mailed me back, which was really nice of her.
Here is the opening scene from this month's story, “Potlatch:”
Past the water cooler in the corner past the poster at the end of the hall that urged him to Seek, Strive, Succeed, Richard was almost out the door when his father-in-law launched a command like an assegai and brought him down. “Come in here a minute.” Richard pressed his hand to his side against a sudden cramp. Psychosomatic, he knew, but it still hurt.
Back down the hall to the paneled room. He said, “Good morning, Lamont,” and glanced at his watch to indicate his burning desire to get out there and get to work.
“I’ve got a present for you,” Lamont said.
“You don’t have to--” Richard began.
“Catch.” Lamont pulled a set of keys from his shirt pocket and tossed them across the desk. Richard made a grab, too late, and they bounced on the carpet at his feet. He leaned over and picked them up.
“What do these go to?”
“The fireweed house. Might be just the right place for you.
“Thanks for the tip,” Richard said, thinking screw you, you fat toad. He left the office and went out into the sunny, humid July day, the keys pulling at his shirt pocket like a lead sinker. He smiled for the benefit of Steve, the new guy, who was just pulling into the parking lot. Richard unlocked his car, still smiling, and got in and put on his sunglasses. Three deep breaths, four, and the cramp in his side began to relax. He pulled out onto Lakeview Way and discarded the smile. The fireweed house had been on the market since before he’d become a realtor. He’d attempted to look at it once, on a winter day, and got stuck in snow halfway up the road. He’d come home as if from an Arctic adventure and taken refuge in his wife’s exasperated embrace. He wondered if Lamont had ever even seen it. He was probably laughing about it with Steve right now.