Today I am guesting at two blogs – imagine that! Pepper and I have swapped appearances today, so I am on her Pepperwords site, and I am also over at Jeff Horton’s A Novel Perspective.
Today my guest for the Blogger Book Fair is M Pepper Langlinais. Best known for her Sherlock Holmes stories, she is also the author of “St. Peter in Chains” and “The K-Pro.” She is a active playwright, and her short play “Warm Bodies” has been produced at two separate festivals and will soon be published by the Northwest Playwrights Alliance in their annual anthology. The following is an excerpt from her novel The K-Pro. This morning we will have tea and crumpets. It just seems like that kind of day. Enjoy.
Across the wide green at the side of the house was a garden, in full bloom in early June. Andra and David walked toward it in silence, side by side, though Andra noticed David was careful not to walk near enough to even accidentally brush or touch her. The closer they came to the colorful jumble of plants, the stronger the smell of them became, the breeze off the ocean below only managing to blow around the hot air and heavy perfume of flowers.
“It’s just a bay,” David said, unprompted, just for something to say. “An inlet, really.”
Andra nodded as if this were an interesting and important fact.
“You see how the land gives way . . .” David gestured to the far side of the garden, which was bordered by a short wall of piled stones. It didn’t look to Andra like it would stop anyone from falling; on the contrary, Andra thought someone might be just as likely to trip on it and go flying out into the open air.
As if reading the direction of her thoughts, David said, “It’s not that long a way down.”
There had been no path on the lawn, and there wasn’t one in the garden, either, only grass between the flowerbeds, though the landscapers had left plenty of space. Andra guessed four people could walk shoulder to shoulder between the plantings. Or, in their case, it was just enough room for her and David to maintain a comfortable distance from one another. Now they meandered past hot pink somethings (Andra was terrible at gardening, though she could identify roses and tulips pretty definitely), and yellow other things, and some whites and purples, steadily making their way toward the wall.
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” Andra quoted.
“What?” asked David, sounding yet again as if he’d only just arrived from somewhere else. Andra wondered where he went when inside his mind.
“Robert Frost,” she said. “The poet?” When David only continued to stare blankly, Andra added, “You probably don’t have to learn him over here.”
“We’ve got plenty of our own,” said David as he picked his way through some yellows that lined the wall, presumably planted there to keep people away from it, though David’s long legs allowed him to get over them with relative ease. He took a seat on the uneven pile, and Andra blanched as one of the flat, smooth stones shifted beneath him.
“What’s wrong?” David asked.
“That’s not . . . really very safe, is it?”
David glanced over his shoulder. “It’s fine. It doesn’t drop straight to the water, you see? Kind of like a ha-ha. But without the cows.”
Andra didn’t know what a ha-ha was, or what cows had to do with anything, nor could she see what David meant from where she stood, and she didn’t want to. Something panicky fluttered in her chest. “The stones are loose,” she pointed out. “They’re just piled, not, you know, stuck together or anything.”
David cocked his bright eyes at her, and in that moment Andra saw just why they were the subject of so much Internet fan-girl chatter. The brilliant sunlight only served to make them clearer, so that they rivaled the sky for color. All at once Andra felt like she were falling forward and found herself thankful she wasn’t anywhere near the open drop. Reflexively, she dug the heels of her sandals into the grass as if to ground herself, and David’s eyes traveled away from Andra’s face to her feet, restoring her to rational thinking.
“You should sit,” said David, “if your feet are bothering you.”
“They’re not . . .” Andra began, but there was no good way to explain what had just happened.
“Anyway, you shouldn’t be sitting there. Look, you’re stepping all over the whatever-they-ares.”
“Am I?” David leaned a little forward to look past his own knees while simultaneously lifting his feet, and the rocks beneath him teetered.
A fresh wellspring of panic bubbled inside Andra. “Please,” she said, no longer caring that she sounded whiny and childish.
“Narcissi,” David mused.
Stung by what she thought was an insult, Andra retorted, “Fine, go ahead and fall if you’re going to be that way about it.”
David lifted his head—too quickly, as it turned out, the momentum of his movement causing the rocks he was perched on to finally give way. They slipped out from under him like a deck of cards fanning and sliding, and David fell backward, head and shoulders first in an ungraceful somersault.
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