Thursday, February 8, 2007

License - Chapter One

She’d decided to smoke, cupping her hand around my lighter, crouched down near the exhaust pipe of the cop car. The exhale billowed into the air in front of her, a light grey cloud, and then it disappeared in the wind. She was shivering, a knowing kind of shiver, squinting at me impatiently, the butt of her cigarette handily near her face. She turned to it for a drag. The cigarette cannot be moved.

I had to take the gloves off. The screwdriver was unwieldy in them. I hoped that she wouldn’t look at my hands, dry and prematurely wrinkling. I felt like I should moisturize them sometimes, but stopped short. That’s what my mother would do. I thought about asking her to hold them, but it would only mean more impatient shivering, the squinting deeper, a more responsible squint. I dropped the gloves between two grey icebergs of slush instead. She sighed and picked them up.

I'd gotten the top two screws out, they and their washers rolling on the ground, but the bottom left one was rusty. There was something about the rusty metal holding this salt-caked license plate that disgusted me. I tried to work faster, reminding myself to catch it before it hits the ground. She probably will, I thought, with the hand that’s holding the gloves. Her reflexes amaze me.

We’d spent the week planning this. We write covert emails with code names in .gif format. One will read: “Friday we fight the system with the use of string and a suction cup.” It will be answered with: “Devious. The cup will latch itself to the very core of corruption!” Then: “It will be a fine, strong suction cup attached to fishing line and will be shot with a sling.” Then: “This is clearly the way.” Then: “We will hide our visages in shrubbery and shoot when the enemy is sighted.” Then: “The whites of their eyes. It is poetry.” Then: “Every can of Red Bull will be launched from the hand of the innocent. It will be tossed thusly into an unsightly pile so that it may be revealed for the capitalist gouge that it has brought to the people!”


She reached her hand, the one with the gloves, between my legs to receive the license plate. The third screw and washer were finally convinced by almighty torsion to release. I tried not to notice her hand, but I could feel it there. It felt like adrenaline.

The door to the 711 opened and I heard the white noise punctured by pips of grumbled words of one of their walkie-talkies. We couldn’t move. A glance at her confirmed that the only option was to work faster. The car doors opened with a squeak and more radio. The car had been left running. The screwdriver slipped and she caught it and put it back in my hand. The trunk bounced when the two cops got in the car. I found the screw again with the slam of their doors. It was almost all the way out but wouldn’t drop. I took it between my fingers, her fingers dangling below, and twisted it frantically, finally impatiently returning to the screwdriver. I had to get it. If I didn’t, she would never love me. The cigarette was done, burnt down to the filter, the only evidence of its former being showing in brown around the edges of the filter paper. She didn’t drop it, but left it there, shivering, now a panic shiver.

The car began to move away. It left behind a screw, dangling from the magnetized end of a screwdriver, and a pleased girl, holding my gloves and a salty license plate in one hand, an inch and a quarter of cotton wrapped in paper in the other. She smiled.

“It is done,” she said.


canopygrape said...

Wow. This is just impeccable. Your writing is not only innovative but your imagery is simply flawless. It's like looking at some dappled, water color painting—I can see everything happening vividly but it's rash, abrupt pace keeps the story very hazy. Also, your great sense of flow and rhythm accentuates greatly on all that.

The story is also masterfully wrought. I feel like you're explaining so much about what 'he' feels towards Emma (and explaining it with such percision) and just about whht they're doing in general, yet by the end of the chapter I still feel like there's so much more left to be told. And "Wheeee!" spelled out in light bulbs? Inspired.

Cliff notes version? Do not ever stop writing this. Or you know what? Just don’t stop writing. Period.

Droplet said...

Canopygrape, you've made my day, month, um, life.