Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Day 3 - Detente

My writing process when it comes to these challenges (if you're interested) is as follows:

a. Ponder. I do this quite a bit. Spinning the word or phrase of the day's challenge in my head, and going through the various possibilities that suggest themselves to me.

b. Moment of vague revelation. It's rare (although it does happen) that I have a complete Eureka! moment; instead, it's more like I'm fishing and snag on something below the surface. Something that I tug at, but not too hard in case it all falls apart as I try to bring it to the surface. Eventually it emerges and I have the whole thing vaguely held in my head.

c. Writing. I try to write my stories in one go. This isn't always possible; today I wrote the first two paragraphs on the train on the way to work, and the rest of it on the way back (I was still trying to snag it fully during those first few paragraphs; just sounding it out and making sure it was what I thought). I edit as I go but, since speed is of the essence in being able to get these challenges out there, I only generally skim through it and spot the most obvious of obvious errors. I tend to view it almost as a live performance; sure I might hit one or two wrong notes along the way but that's less important than the grand scheme of things...

d. Post. Cut and paste. Try to find a picture that goes with it. Share the link. 

What I'm finding with the writing challenge thus far is that the ideas are already starting to come a little more easily, are already bubbling to the surface almost unbidden. I'm not sure an awful lot of people will ever read any of these, but that doesn't really matter as I'm having fun! 

* * *

Al’s Diner had seen much better days. Back in the 1950s it was the place to be; attracting a car park full of kids wanting to enjoy burgers, shakes, and Al’s famous cherry pie; but it was a different era now, an era of smashed avocado, lattes, and berry birchers. The world had moved on, and Al’s Diner had been left behind. Paint peeling, neon sign cracked and broken, it was a testament to a bygone age. It was also neutral territory.

They had booked out the restaurant for the night. No staff, no service. Paid Al Jr. enough for it that he wouldn’t need another paying customer this year. It was perfectly located; out of town and away from the highway. The perfect place for sensitive negotiations.

They collected the keys from Al Jr. and watched him drive away. He didn’t look back. He’d hardly been able to make eye contact with them from the moment they’d first walked in on him in his back office, poring over a set of invoices he couldn’t hope to pay. He’d be sensible enough to realise that he should take the money and not ask any questions. Finally, with the place to themselves, they did a thorough sweep. It was always better to be safe than sorry. Then they settled down for the arrival of the second party.

There were four of them waiting at the table. They rarely ever gathered in one place like this, but times were changing and they had decided that they needed to change with it. Even if that meant arranging a sit down with those who they had traditionally opposed.

“You really think this will work?” asked the largest of them, his black suit stretched tight over his bulging torso.

“It has to,” said the thin one with a scowl, his black eyes glittering in the dim light, “The alternative is unthinkable.”

“Been a long time since we’ve talked,” said the oldest of the four, absently stroking his chin with his thumb and forefingers. “Even longer since we could be on the same page.”

“Boys,” said the woman at the head of the table, and they all went silent in deference to her. “We’ll give this a chance. See if we can make it work. We don’t like it. They don’t like it. Hell, even trying to arrange something like this would have been blasphemy not so long ago. But, I have faith we can reach a compromise.”

White light outside heralded the arrival of the second party.

They were on time, as expected. They were rarely anything less than punctual. Sweeping into the car park in formation, several of them taking up station at key vantage points before giving the ok for the Boss to join them. He stepped forward, imposing as ever with his two most senior lieutenants at his side, and strode towards the diner’s open door.

“It has been a long time,” he said as he entered the room, ducking his head to avoid the door frame. “I have to say, I thought long and hard about whether I should take this meeting, or whether I should simply use this as an opportunity to finish you all.”

“You could try,” said the thin man, half getting out of his seat.

The woman waved him back in place. “Let’s skip the pleasantries shall we? We’ve agreed to meet here on neutral ground to see if there’s room for mutual cooperation, to see if we can put aside our differences to consider a greater threat.”

“You’re the one saying there’s a greater threat, I’m not convinced.”

“Oh, please,” said the woman scornfully. “Can you honestly say that either of us have the respect we once had? Are either of us feared as we were once feared? Do we exert the power we once exerted?”

“I still have power.”

“Really?” asked the woman. “Because what I see is lip service. The fact is, competitors have moved in. Our products are no longer in the demand they once were.”

The man’s face darkened, but he finally nodded. “True. So what exactly is it that you’re proposing?”

“That we put aside our feud for now, our existential differences. That we agree not to attempt to disrupt each other’s supply lines or product.”

“You ask a lot.”

“What’s the alternative, El? Our support is dwindling; we can pretend it’s all going to blow over but I think we know that it’s going to get a lot worse if we don’t do something. There’s a whole generation growing up with no respect for us; worse, they don’t even know we exist. How long before all we are is memories like those who went before us?”

The man sighed. “I hate it when you’re right, Lucy.”

“It’s why I left.”

“I thought today wasn’t about old conflicts?”

“It’s not. It’s about new beginnings, it’s about a temporary alliance until we deal with the threat to our existence.”

“We’ll try it,” said the man, finally, “We’ll try it and see if we can make it work. But it’s not a long term solution; there’s going to come a day when we’re not on the same side.”

“Oh, I’m certain. But that’s for another day, yes Elohim?”

“Indeed it is, Lucifer. Indeed it is.” said Elohim, standing up in tandem with his archangels. “But, for now though, we have a deal.”

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