Friday, February 3, 2012
A Brief Commercial Interruption
There will be a few more posts exploring Hillman’s crucial question, What does the soul want? But first, I want to offer another excerpt from my new novel, Fiesta of Smoke. In this snippet you are introduced to the first of three main protagonists, Calypso Searcy, the love interest of two fascinating men, Javier Carteña and an international newsman named Hill.
For those who might have missed them, a synopsis of Fiesta of Smoke can be found on the Thursday, January 5, 2012 post and the Prologue, on Sunday, January 8. I’m working hard on the final chapters of Fiesta of Smoke, which currently numbers 768 pages! I’ve just climbed out of the deep well in time that goes clear back to the Egypt of the pharaohs. Writing is always an act of discovery: the research for this portion has been very interesting and the characters, as is their wont, have been telling me that my ideas for the story weren’t nearly as fascinating as what they, themselves, experienced! So I’ve been listening very carefully to what they have to say, since they’re the ones who really know.
I hope you enjoy!
Concentration keeps down the fear. She focuses on the tattoo of her orange snake pumps -- the heel striking minutely before the tap of the sole -- a rhythm difficult to maintain on the uneven cobbles of the quai. She manages it because she concentrates so fiercely. The full skirt of her yellow dress wraps into her legs and flows out behind her, as she faces into the afternoon river wind. Walking quickly and confidently, it is her intention to look both purposeful and carefree.
She can’t hear the following footfalls. In her peripheral vision she has seen the man as she hesitated, half-turned, before a shop window. He has dark hair under a fedora, a medium build, a gray, nondescript suit. She couldn’t make out features.
She first became aware of him when she turned away from the bustle of Rue Jacob into the tiny alleyway that cuts through toward the Seine. It is her habit when leaving the library at the Sorbonne to pass that way, coming out near Pont Neuf. She always enjoys standing in one of the rounded bays, mid-span, leaning on the ornate railing, seeing nothing after so many hours of reading but the glossy water flowing silently down toward the sea.
Because of the follower she has deviated from her accustomed route. She turns instead onto Quai des Augustins, with the Île de la Cité on her left, across the river channel. There are always police there, around the Palais de Justice, even this late in the day. She can cross by Pont St. Michel. . .
But she does not. She continues on down the quais, hyperalert to the presence of the stalker behind her. She has no plan, only the effortless calm she wears instinctually. She strides on, her yellow skirt billowing around her calves in the autumnal river wind, until she arrives at Pont Saint-Louis, finally having formulated a plan.
Calypso remembers the story of a friend who, while on safari in Africa, had been charged by a rhino while taking the morning air, completely unarmed. It is impossible to outrun a galloping rhino and there was no cover anywhere near. In desperation, he had defended himself with the unexpected -- he bent at the waist and observed his careening challenger upside-down, through his knees. This posture so confused the issue that the rhino had applied the brakes and bolted away in alarm. It is so improbable that she thinks it must have been true.
She slows her stride as she steps onto Pont Saint-Louis, that homely old pedestrian bridge so startlingly banal here in the luscious heart of Paris, and strolls out to mid-span. Casually, she drops her bag onto the pavement by the railing and, slipping her fox jacket, afire in the late afternoon sun, from her shoulders, drops it onto her bag. Then, with studied calm and elegance born of many hours at the ballet barre, she turns to the railing and performs a perfect developpé.
. . . .