Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Worlds Apart - Excerpt 4 - Alex 's day tanks


Previously on Worlds Apart -- Maverick is an intensely macho cop taking no guff from anyone, currently consigned to writing traffic tickets.... Alex is a mile-mannered guy who seems to get guff from everyone, currently hoping that today, his birthday, will see his life turn around...


Note to agents & publishers: this humorous SF/fantasy novel is looking for representation and publication! I am excerpting only a little of it... Kyle Crocco is a talented writer whose 1st two novels (look 'em up!) have a loyal following. YOU can be the one to re-discover this gem of a funny guy!


Worlds Apart

by Kyle Crocco

4.

“… you’ve been nothing but a disappointment to me …”


If having to climb out of the back window of his car in the rain wasn’t a bad enough sign that things were going wrong for Alex, then everyone looking away from him as he walked in certainly was. No one would meet his gaze. Not even Carol, the front desk receptionist, whose usual smile and warm hello always made the beginning of Alex’s day that much more bearable. Instead, she looked down and away.

“What is it?” Alex asked. “Did I make a mistake on the report?”

Carol looked up. “I’m so sorry.”

The intercom buzzed and Alex heard his father’s voice say, “Send him in.”

“Yes, El Capitan,” Carol said, because everyone addressed his father as El Capitan. Even his mother.

“He says—”

“I heard,” Alex said. “What’s this about. I saw Clark had a desk and—”

“I can’t say,” Carol said. “I’m sorry.”

“Just a hint?” Alex asked.

Carol grimaced and shifted the glasses on her nose.

Alex sighed and walked slowly to his father’s office, his wet shoes squishing on the carpet, and he paused at the door. He said to himself, this isn’t as bad as it seems. This is just a bad start to what will later turn out to be his day of all days. This was the day he was going to get his reward. This was the day he was going to be a partner, become part of the team, and be recognized for all his hard work.

The door flung open and his father, otherwise known as El Capitan, looked him up and down and then stared past him and said, “I told you to get in here.”

“I was just—”

“Sit down,” his father said, gesturing to a fold up chair, and then stalked over to the window. El Capitan paced back and forth in front of the glass, his arms behind his back, while Alex slowly unfolded the chair. He father didn’t even glance out at the wonderful view of the fog moving in over the dark waters of the Puget Sound. Instead, his father’s face was focused downward, mumbling something.

Alex sat there, trying to figure out what exactly had gone wrong between the time he had woken up and the time he had arrived at work, in order for him to deserve this cold reception. He thought he heard his father say something and he asked, “What was that?”

“Late again,” El Capitan muttered.

Alex lifted a hand as if he was in school. “Actually, this is my first—”

El Capitan held up his hand to indicate he didn’t want to hear it. “Late, late, late.”

“But Clark blocked me—”

El Capitan pointed an accusing finger. “What was that? Did I hear an excuse?”

“Uh,” Alex tried to think of the right answer. Was it, “No?”

“Good, because there are no excuses, Alex. Only—”

“—losers who complain,” Alex finished. “I know. You told me that every time my T-ball team lost when I was in kindergarten.”

El Capitan went on. “The fact is Clark was on time when I asked him to be and you weren’t. That’s why I’m going to make him partner and not—”

“Me?”

“You.”

“But we had a plan,” Alex said, standing up. “I’m your only son.”

“And if I could change that, believe me, I would,” El Capitan said. “You’ve been nothing but a disappointment to me for the past forty years.”

“I’m only thirty.”

“Well, it feels like forty,” El Capitan said.

“But you said on my thirtieth birthday that you would make me a partner. We would be a team. You had a photo on your desk. The two of us—” Alex suddenly noticed the photo was gone, replaced by a new one, featuring El Capitan and Clark with their arms hanging loosely over each other’s shoulder, their faces grinning, while they posed in front of a ranch style home next to a sign that said, Another World Wide Homes SOLD.

“Plans change, Alex.”

“But.”

“You have to be able to adapt in a changing economy.”

“But I thought—”

“You think too much, Alex.”

“What’s wrong with thinking, Dad?”

“You watch your mouth.”

“I mean, what’s wrong with thinking, El Capitan? I thought you liked my accounting skills?”

“In this life, you have to go by your gut, Alex. You have to take action when you see it. You have to take what you want if you want to get it. You can’t always be waiting for people to hand things to you just because it’s your thirtieth birthday. Just because they were promised to you when someone was drinking a little too much one afternoon and was feeling sorry for himself because he was going through male menopause.”

“But you promised that if I worked—”

El Capitan yelled, “What was that?”

Alex cringed and muttered, “Nothing.”

“And Clark,” El Capitan said. “Now that boy is the son I always wanted.”

“But … but I’m your son,” Alex said.

“Don’t remind me.” El Capitan waved his hand dismissively.

“And … and he lies,” Alex said.

“What?”

“He lies to his clients, Da … El Capitan.”

El Capitan shook his head. “Jealously is an ugly trait, Alex. Clark doesn’t lie, he just knows how to present things. He’s outsold everyone in this agency. That guy has been on a winning streak for months. And did he kick back? Take a rest. Ask, why don’t you give me a partnership just because you made the mistake of not wearing protection thirty years ago when you got your mother drunk? No. The boy takes it up a notch. He’s working non-stop. Night and day. Day and night. Like he’s on drugs or something. And he doesn’t stop to think, or plan, or ask for gifts. He just sells. He’s an example of why winners win and losers—”

“Complain, I know,” Alex said.

“No, lose,” El Capitan said. “And that’s why he’s going to be my partner. Not that I owe you an explanation, but there it is. The lawyer came in last night and we signed the papers.”

“But I thought you said this was because I was late today.”

“There you go thinking again. Besides, you were always late.”

“This was the first time—”

“Always behind the curve.”

“But—”

“Two steps behind.”

“That’s—”

“Always looking before you were leaping.”

“Now—”

“You even were born late. God bless your mother’s soul.”

“Mother is alive.”

“And god bless her soul,” El Capitan said. “You should go to church more. Clark does.”
“Clark!” Alex could imagine Clark many places—many deep, dark places, without windows, and covered with leeches—but none of these places remotely resembled a church. He suggested: “There was probably a bingo game. Maybe he was stealing from the collection?”

El Capitan continued on as if Alex had said nothing. “He was coming out of a service on a weekday—a weekday, no less! The boy has time for the Lord even when he’s working. I’m just so happy that I have a male heir to carry on the business name.”

“I’m a male,” Alex said. “Your first born and only son, Dad.”

“I told you not to call me that to my face. Now go and do that paperwork you’re so fond of. I left a pile of it on your desk.”

Alex stared, wide-eyed at his father.

El Capitan turned and seemed surprised to still see Alex standing there by the unfolded chair. He waved his hand. “Run along now. Shoo, shoo.”

Alex jumped forward and throttled his father, his fingers digging into the flesh of his father’s throat. “You were never a father to me. Do you hear me? Never. I did all the work for this business. All the planning. All the thinking. All the paperwork. And for what? The promise of being partner, being part of a team, to be part of something and be needed. And now you take that away from me? I don’t think so. Now admit that you need me. Admit it. Admit it.” He banged his father’s head repeatedly on the shiny desk, beneath the wall of framed and gilded awards for salesperson of the year, until blood spurted between his knuckles.

Or so Alex imagined later … much later. Instead, he turned meekly around, and said, “Okay, I’ll be in my office.” Alex turned to walk down the hall to the senior offices.

El Capitan motioned with his hand. “Other way.”

Alex pointed. “What? My office is that way.”

El Capitan shook his head. “Not anymore.”

Then El Capitan closed the door firmly in Alex’s face.

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