Sunday, April 2, 2017

Sunday Snippet: Shine One On

Well, the beginning of April is here and I've been bitten by the spring cleaning bug. This is not a bad thing. House, garage, and computer files are getting spiffed up and decluttered.

The Walking Dead finale is tonight and I'll be there. Not sure I'll pay a lot of attention, but I can't not watch.

The Flash introduced an irritating villain. Can't say I'm sad to see him go. Also really frustrated with the whole Savitar storyline at this point. I'm ready for the final end game and season finale.

Legends of Tomorrow rewrote reality and kept me entertained. Looking forward to the season finale to see how they resolve everything. Mick remains one of my favorite characters and it better stay that way.

Arrow's deft mastery of weaving Oliver's past into his present life will be missed. This isn't to say the writers won't continue churning out excellent fare. In fact, I'm looking forward to seeing how the story continues. Something tells me Oliver's past will still come back to haunt him in many other ways.

Riverdale had a new episode and, wow, I wanted to get a better read on Alice Cooper… I got it. A little sad it's at the expense of Hal, but the interesting wrinkle might be worth it. FP's playing a sly game. He doesn't get near enough credit for being a true mastermind. Come on, people. He's Jughead's dad. The kid had to get his smarts from someone. Just saying.

I'm still binge-watching City Homicide, working my way through season three. The first season is probably my absolute favorite but I do enjoy the later seasons also.

That's it for television this week. Tonight's post is from Shine One On, a novella that got a writing community prompt start; prohibition, one character owns a speakeasy, one is the moonshine supplier. I decided to go urban noir with this and make it an alternative universe. I'm hoping for a twenties / thirties / forties feel with some nice twists.

Here's the mini-blurb:

Against state regulations, Maxine Wynne braves the revenuer to provide speakeasy owner, Drake Kestleman, enough moonshine to keep his customers happy. When Maxine is caught, Drake launches Operation Shine One On to get her out of danger and back in business.

And a preview snippet…

Maxine Wynne wiped down the kitchen counter and kept an eye on the oven. Dinner time would see seven hungry men climbing the stairs from her basement, ready to fill their bellies full of home-cooking. Not that Maxine cooked. She had a woman who prepped everything and left Maxine with the minimal responsibility of taking it out at a specified time.
Thank the world for small favors.
The phone rang right when Maxine put the last pan on the table, the clump of boots on the stairs right on cue.
She answered the line. "Wynne's Rooming House. You've got Maxine on the line." Waving for the guys to help themselves, she took the call into the front parlor for some quiet.
"Hey, Maxine." The whiskey smooth voice caressed her eardrums. "Let's shine one on, honey, say sometime on Wednesday, the twenty-seventh?" Drake Kestleman, her best and favorite customer, never failed to adhere to her carefully constructed code for placing an order.
Drake also never failed to make her pulse thrum, set her imagination on fire, and yearn for something she could never have.
A man in her life.
Never again.
Poking her head into the kitchen, she motioned for Beau Lamont, her right hand man, to join her. "Drake, love, you know I'll do anything to see to your needs. Let me check my calendar." Translation. She had to find if she could fill his order for premium alcohol. She quickly did a few calculations on the notepad on her side table then turned the page for Beau to read. He shook his head and held up two fingers. He'd need at least a couple of days to make a batch of premium moonshine, the only kind Drake bought.
Maxine purred into the phone. "But I'm sorry, hot stuff, I won't be free until Friday. Can you hold out that long, handsome?" She could barely keep up with orders, but Drake would definitely get his.
Drake sighed. "It'll be a rough wait, Maxine." He paused. "But only because you're my best girl."
Translation. He'd hold out for the good stuff. No one made better 'shine than Maxine.
She purred. "I'll make it worth your while, Drake." Meaning she'd provide a few extra cases of hooch, free of charge.
Drake played along and added a sexy hum of approval. "You never disappoint, Maxine. Until Friday." He cut his end of the call.
Maxine shook her head and handed the phone to Beau who returned the handset to the receiver.
Flirty banter with Drake always got her revved up. But the need for encoded conversations and constant vigilance required the subterfuge. They never knew when a revenuer agent might be listening in on the line. The revenue office liked to get their pound of flesh and didn't always use legal means to get their due. The nationwide ban on alcohol consumption and manufacture meant anyone caught paid hefty fines, legal fees, and usually bribes to stay out of jail.
Didn't help the hot and steamy images from filling Maxine's head though. Beau came back into the parlor and picked up a fan, waving it in front of her face.
He let out a low whistle. "Easy there, Maxie, or the booze will combust if you get too close."
Considering her production took place in the basement two buildings over, she didn't find his observation amusing.
But she ignored his teasing. Beau got away with things no one else did, like calling her Maxie. He came up with the idea of using her grandmother's recipe to supply the lower half of the state with moonshine.
She fronted the real moneymaker by turning the house, left by her not-so-dearly-departed husband, Ashford Wynne, into a room and board business. She didn't grieve the loss and she definitely never asked Beau if he'd forgotten to fix Ashford's car or if he purposefully left the brakes in terrible condition so Wynne could take his place in hell sooner rather than later.
She didn't care. Beau had her back. He always did, from the moment they'd landed in the same group home at age six. Raised like siblings, they left at sixteen and moved into a low-rent flophouse, making ends meet by running numbers. She dressed as a boy and together they set Beau's reputation on fire by claiming the most bets.
They had a great thing going until Ashford discovered her true identity. He put her to work as a hostess in his nightclub and tried to keep other men away from her.
At twenty, Beau had left for a stint upstate to handle a book maker's numbers. She'd married Ashford, even after Beau warned the smooth-talking racketeer reeked of ill intentions.
Beau snapped his fingers. "Maxie? Geez. Why don't relieve some of that tension with Kestleman?" His tone dropped, keeping the conversation between them.
Maxine quirked an eyebrow. "You know why. Drake is very easy on the eyes, but he's also a strong personality." She squared her shoulders. "I won't be under any man's thumb again." Or behind his fists or trampled by his wingtip shoes.
She's worked too hard to make her way on her terms to let her life and her money fall out of her grasp.
She didn't have to explain. Beau had nailed Ashford's character on the head. When Lamont returned from his sojourn he took one look at her bruises and set Ashford straight. If Wynne physically harmed Maxine again, Beau would make sure Ashford regretted the action. Within a month, her husband tested the boundaries and two weeks later he crashed going around Wylie's Run.
Beau shook his head. "I'm not saying you have to marry the guy. After your ass of a husband, no one would blame you from steering clear of matrimony." He lifted shoulder. "But Kestleman's a different breed, Maxie. He's straight and solid."
She'd love to go with Beau's instincts, but refused to take a chance. "You don't know that for a fact. You don't live with him." A lesson she learned the hard way with Ashford.
One she wouldn't forget.
Beau held up his hands. "Okay. Backing off and shutting up now." He waggled his eyebrows. "But you still need to get laid."
Maxine slugged his shoulder. "I thought you were shutting up now." She pushed him into the kitchen, waving off any more commentary.
She settled down onto the small wingback chair. Beau nailed her dilemma. She needed to blow off steam and wanted to get down and dirty to do it. Drake tempted her, seriously tugging at the demons she'd long thought buried. After her marriage, she withdrew from the seedy underworld of backroom trysts with nameless men.
She missed the powerful high of sexual release, never achieved anything close with Ashford. Every cell in her body screamed Drake Kestleman would be her undoing.
So… she'd stay firmly in supplier mode, thank-you-very-much-Beau.

Longer than usual preview. I'm hoping the scene flows as well for readers as it does in my head.

That's it for this week.



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