I've discovered this wonderful writing blog The Chrysalis Experiment and decided to participate in the writing exercises . A different prompt is posted every week . This week is prompt no. #11 .
For more info go to http://www.chrysalisexperiment.blogspot.com
IF I KEEP YOUR SECRET , WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME ?
Lee Lombard looked forward to another exciting weekend . It would be the usual routine of sun ,surf , throw in a girl and a beer , and you had a winner !
The thought of his earlier conversation with his mother , was the only dampening factor in the whole equation .
“So what are your intentions ?” she had enquired .
“What do you mean , my intentions ?” he knew exactly what she meant . Being deliberately obtuse was second nature to him . Especially when it came to his mother’s ‘lectures’ (as he referred to the ever-increasing advice she felt compelled to impart on a daily basis ) .
“Well , I’ve noticed a rather disturbing pattern that has evolved . A predictable path that your life seems to have taken .” She stood in that characteristic ‘lecture’ pose , hands on hip , no-nonsense tone of voice .
The scary thing was ~ she had a valid point !
“I’m ONLY 25 years old . There’s plenty of time for me to do the ‘ultra~responsible~thingiemajiggie’ that you are always on about !” his quotation-mark fingers remained in mid-air .
His mother served this particular “meal of responsibility” , three times a day , for breakfast , lunch and supper ; nag ! nag ! nag ! Settle down , work hard , focus on your career !
“All in good time , mum ! All in good time !”
And she had given him that look …the one that said , this isn’t over yet … one of these days , my boy …. He knew it sooo well !
The place was overflowing when the two friends made an appearance . It was 10.30 p.m. Perfect timing . In true Lee~and~Colin~style , their grand entrance was equivalent to a Hollywood red carpet event . It drew the attention of almost every female in the house . Heads turned . Girls giggled . Whispered comments passed back and forth . Ripples of conversation centred around the two who had just entered .
And the two recipients milked it for all it was worth . They turned on the charm , full force .
Since their town was host to a 2-week art extravaganza , a large number of out-of-towners , had descended on the venue .
Once the two had completed their customary greetings and hugs , they scanned the interior .
At the far end of the rectangular bar counter , a dark-haired , striking girl gave the two a fleeting glance and then returned her attention to the menu .
She was definitely foreign , as in , from another country , maybe even a different planet ? Her distinct features , coupled with a gypsey skirt , peasant blouse and massive hooped earrings , hinted at gypsy origins …
She certainly didn’t appear to be your typical artsy-type .
Lee’s mind went into overdrive . He decided upon a course of action .After all , procrastination was not one of his weaknesses , especially when it concerned matters of the heart .
“I’d recommend the battered calamari rings ,” his opening line was full of conviction .
The gypsy turned to him , a half-smile hovered on her lips .
“Or you could go with the Mexican chicken strips . They’re just as good .”
“We’ve already placed an order , thank you ,” a clipped , decisive reply .
It was obvious . Gypsy girl was not interested in him or what he had to say . He did not really know how to deal with such a rebuff . The experience was disconcerting . Yet it was also oddly refreshing , in a frustrating sort of way .
He wondered if he was losing it ? Could this be a warning sign of things to come ?There was only one way to find out . He decided to play the persistent angle …
“May I buy you and your friend a drink ?” he was the epitome’ of charm .
“No thank you , we’re just fine ,” eyes remained glued to the menu .
“Actually , I was just about to grab a bite to eat . Do you ladies mind if I joined you ?” Smooth and suave were the operational words here .
“I don’t think that ————“
“Be our guest !” the blonde intervened sharply , affording gypsy girl no opportunity to object .
BINGO ! He suppressed the urge to grin .
But his excitement was short-lived .
Ambrosia remained aloof for most of the evening , while he endured the ramblings of Stacey , the blonde bombshell ! Not exactly what he had had in mind … Gypsy girl was an enigma . He couldn’t figure her out ! That alone was frustrating .
Two months later …
Four separate rejections …
His patience (a word that had never been part of his vocabulary) finally ran out .
He made a snap decision . He would follow her . See where she went to , what she was all about .
It was certainly out of character for him to pursue a female . It was normally the other way around . What he had in mind … well to put it quite bluntly , was tantamount to stalking !
He planned it carefully , with attention to detail . He had observed her comings and goings on the weekend . He knew the times she frequented the restaurant . He recalled the recent conversation with Colin , who was convinced that he had finally lost it .
“You’re no fun anymore !” Colin moaned . “What has happened to the Lee I know ? Where is he ? What have you done with him ?”
“He’s in here , somewhere . Give me some time . I really like this girl . Can’t seem to get her out of my mind . Hang in there , buddy . Let me work it out of my system .” He just couldn’t understand it , let alone explain it to Colin .
Colin shook his head . He couldn’t believe what he was hearing .
“What happened to ‘there’s plenty of fish in the sea’ ? You’ve been caught , hook , line and sinker ! Got no time to even notice other fish …” he teased .
“But this is not any fish , my friend . This is the Great White Shark .”
“Oh , is that so ? Well just be careful . The Great White is notorious for its killer instinct !”
Colin had a strange feeling about this “adventure” , as he referred to Lee’s obsessive behaviour .
His words now rang in Lee’s ears . An inexplicable shudder captured Lee for a brief moment . Then it was gone !
A few evenings later , Lee left the restaurant and travelled for about 10 minutes , to an unknown location , on the outskirts of town . He stopped his vehicle a few metres away from the spot where she had disappeared . It revealed a dusty track which appeared deserted . He made a quick decision , left the vehicle and proceeded on foot .
The track was bumpy and uneven , filled with potholes .
The night air was thick and humid . A solitary bead of perspiration trickled down the back of his neck . He caught a whiff of salty air – was he close to the sea ?
Up ahead , the track opened into a clearing . He saw a quaint structure . As he got closer , he realised it was a log cabin . He was baffled . What on earth was she doing here ? Did she live here ?
The side of the cabin revealed two evenly-spaced windows . Pressing his eyes to the second window-pane , afforded him a clear view of what seemed to be a multi-purpose room . The phrase kitchen-cum-study-cum-work station entered his mind .
His eyes zoomed in to study the contents of this peculiar room . On one side was a set of shelves which displayed bottles/containers in various shapes and sizes . A huge square-shaped bottle contained creatures that resembled lizards/geckoes ? Another round transparent container housed what looked like fingers ? Aargh ! He shuddered at his train of thought . It reminded him of a make shift laboratory .
But what if he was right ? A cold sensation gripped him .
Against the opposite wall , filled to the brim with books , paperbacks and magazines , stood an old bookcase .
A small , round table occupied the left-hand corner . On it , stood a round glass object . It looked like … no , it WAS a crystal ball ?
Stirrings of unease lingered on the edges of his mind . Added to it , was the thought that he had stalked somebody . Now trespassing and snooping around could be added to the list . Who was Ambrosia ? An ordinary , quiet girl ? A temptress ? A gypsy ? A witch ? The thought of these possibilities added a touch of dangerous intrigue . But the pull was irresistible ! He knew , deep down , that there was no turning back !
The humidity had intensified .
The night sky hid half the moon . It cast a peculiar shadow on the ground . He sensed it before he heard it . Somebody behind him . Watching him .
“Well , well , well ~ and what do we have here ?”
The voice was soft and menacing . He jumped .
“Don’t you know that it’s rude to creep up on people like that ? You scared the hell out of me ! I could have had a heart attack or something…Where on earth did you materialize from , anyway ? I hope you don’t think that I was spying on you . I just wanted to find out where you stay —————“ the avalanche burst forth , in an awkward attempt to justify and simultaneously apologise for his behaviour .
“The infamous , smooth operator , Mr Lee Lombard , in person . Not only a player , but also a …,” she paused , rubbed her hands together , squinted her eyes , as if attempting to find the correct word , “ … a pursuer of the female species ? No pun intended !!” It was a mixture of humour and sarcasm , followed by a short , forced laugh .
He felt like the kid who had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar ! One word came to mind ~~ BUSTED ! !
The moon seemed to have disappeared completely . A far-off rumble signalled the approach of a storm .
“What are we going to do about it ?” She shook her head and a tsk tsk tsk accompanied a pouty expression .
A strange thought crossed his mind . He felt as if he were a character on a stage . He also felt cornered .
“The aloof and stuck up Ambrosia , in person . Not only a cold temptress but also a …,” he paused , mimicked her earlier mannerisms , right down to the hands and eyes ,” … a gypsy ? An undercover witch ? Who knows what else ?” The retaliation was swift and cutting .
A brief silence settled between them .
They were both oblivious to the light rain that fell steadily from above .
What on earth was the matter with him ? What had possessed him to utter those words ? The word ‘slanderer’ could now be added to the list of charges against him .
“Touche’ !” the same half-smile from before , hovered on her lips .
He delivered a small , dramatic bow . It was a feeble attempt to lessen the severity of the moment .
“I wonder what all your adoring fans would say if they could see you now ,” she added thoughtfully . “Mmmm , I wonder what else you have to hide ?” It was soft and saccharine , delivered with a hint of a threat.
“I could say the same of you ,” he attempted to regain his composure . He had to get the upper hand .
The tension was palpable …
Before she could say anything further , the light drops fell harder .
The sky opened , without warning , and a sudden downpour followed . It was intense and unrelenting , soaking them in a matter of seconds .
She made an auomatic bee-line for the front door . He was close on her heels . They burst through the front door . He noticed that they were in a small entrance-like room . Ambrosia disappeared behind the first door to the left , and re-appeared with two towels .
“What creatures are you storing in those bottles and containers ?” He was totally out of line . He was desperate too . “There’s certainly something fishy going on here !” he clutched at straws , in his attempt to save himself from the pit that he had fallen into .
The funny thing was , it only seemed to get worse .
“The only thing that is fishy around here , is your behaviour !”
He decided that attack was the best form of defence . “ If I keep your secret , what's in it for me ?"
“My secret ? What secret do I have ? You have a damn cheek and the audacity to talk about secrets ! You don’t even know me , You haven’t a clue about who I am or what I’m about !”
He was dumb-founded . He had now earned the title of ‘blackmailer’ , and could add it to the list .
She continued with barely a pause . “And who’s going to believe you anyway ? What do you have as proof ? I have enough evidence of your “fishy behaviour” . Do you know that I have a state-of-the-art surveillance system on my property ?”
His heart sank . He knew without a shadow of a doubt , that he had been played .
She delivered the knockout punch . “You have nothing . Zilch . Nada . I , on the other hand , know everything there is to know about you ! So , cocky , arrogant , smug , Mr. Smoothie Lombard . I return the question : If I keep YOUR secret , what’s in it for me ?”