An excerpt from CommWealth:
Allan parked the Maserati on Walnut Street and slammed the door with what he hoped was appropriate showdown force. A few customers on the patio looked up, then went back to their beers and chessmen. Allan sprang over the bushes onto the concrete patio. A lovely young woman gave him a sidelong glance, then snickered to her friends.
“Xander, man, we need to talk,” Allan said, moving towards Xander’s usual table. Xander’s back was to him, his ragged dark hair below his collar, his beer mug gleaming in the afternoon sun.
Chunky Darco Stevens raised his own mug. Plater Hampton squinted beneath his thunderhead of wiry gray hair. “Allan, man!” Plater said. “We’re on our fifth pitcher, man!”
“Xander, we need to talk,” Allan repeated.
Xander slowly turned. “Make it quick, buddy, I’m a busy man these days.”
Allan took the empty chair to Xander’s right. “Pour me a beer, man,” he ordered Plater.
Time to reassert a little authority. These twits have been screwing Forensic Squad from the beginning. Dammit, I used to have the upper hand with these guys! Now they sass me! All they ever do is sit here at Lastor’s and guzzle beer! They aren’t actors! They aren’t artists! How’d I ever get mixed up with these jerks?
Plater shrugged. “Don’t got no empty mug, man. Ask goddamn Suzy.”
Allan spotted Suzy across the patio. “Hey, Suzy, I need a mug!”
Suzy grimaced, balancing ten mugs on a tray. “Hold your damn horses, for Chrissakes.”
Well, at least she’s got that low cut German thing on today. Nice.
Allan turned to Xander. “Man, why’d you pull this crap with Richard’s writing?”
Xander leaned back. He had a compact, powerful body on a medium frame, a long, handsome, but carelessly-shaven and asymmetrical face, and eyes so dark they seemed to be giant black orbs. He wore a tight, oil-streaked blue T-shirt and his usual reckless sneer, and regarded Allan with half-closed eyes. “Man, the work needs to be published, that’s all. It’s obvious Richard’s just Hoarding it. The world needs it. You told me that yourself.”
“Christ, man, I never said anything about ripping it off like this!”
“Man, we gotta have it. Hiding the Hitler alone would be worth the effort—but I imagine there’s all sorts of genius there. And didn’t you tell me he’s got those nude shots of his girlfriend? Man, I forgot to ask for those!”
“Damn, did I tell you that, too?”
God, I was so bombed Saturday! Of course I told him about the photos! God, I’m an idiot! What else did I tell him?
“Hey, no problem, I’ll ask for ’em,” Darco put in. “I wanna get in that chick’s pants pretty bad.”
“Yeah, then we’ll publish those as a book, too,” Xander said.
God! The photos! Will Richard really let me have Erica? Now that he’s got Jill? What if me and Richard and Erica are like getting drunk in their living room and suddenly Erica says, like, hey Richard, me and Allan are going into the bedroom for a while? And Richard just nods, because he has—more important things on his mind, like—like—
God! Like having all his writing stolen by—
Don’t think it, damn you!
“Jesus, Xander, what do you expect to get out of this? You’re gonna publish this stuff as The Stapke Intimacies, not under your own name? What’s the point?”
“The point is to bring this man’s genius to the attention of the world and all,” Xander intoned. He drained his beer. “Suzy! Need another pitcher!”
Suzy was instantly at his side with a fresh pitcher. “Here you go, hon!”
“Thanks, sweetiekins.” Xander patted her rear.
“Hey, where’s my mug?” Allan said.
“Oh, yeah,” Suzy said, spotting a filthy mug on another table and bringing it over. “Nobody’s used this one, I don’t think.” Allan opened his mouth, but she was gone.
“Aw, piss…” he muttered, pouring beer. “This is all a damn nightmare!”
copyright 2015 by Michael D. Smith