Welcome back everyone. I’m happy to see you! Thanks for all your positive feedback about the prologue to this novel, The Guitar Mancer.
I have a confession to make… I’m still not over my angst. I’m worried that the novel pace will be too slow for a sort-of-serial. But it’s a novel, broken into segments, which I’m sharing here. Okay. I’ll hush my whining about that and get on with it. Today the setting and characters move away from the villain’s prologue and to Nashville, Tennessee. You will meet the heroine of the novel. But first…
This Week’s Featured Bloggers — 2 Barbaras
Barbara (aka Ghostmmnc)
Barbara at Teleporting Weena gave us lovely things. I was able to use Screaming Yellow Zonkers (stay tuned for a recipe!) and Flower Power sticker. Click over to her blog where, as Barbara describes it, she tries all forms of the written word, including fan fiction, original short fiction, and poetry.
About This Episode
You may have seen me mention my “Manuscripts Lost” (click here to learn about that disaster). Oh yes… two novels that were at least 3/4ths finished, and a fantasy-romance that was half done, all accidentally thrown into the trash. The latter was the first version of The Guitar Mancer.
Yes, I said fantasy-romance. It became obvious to me that I can’t write romance. However, the mythology of the magic I created for that story, the villain, the hero and heroine (Tam and Darla), and her animal companion all stuck with me more than a decade later. I brought them and their “mancer” magic back and finished the book for a National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
Also, when I took out the “romance” category I added more characters, plus Route 66 with its own mythology, and changed some important names. Most notably, “Darla” became Luci. (I let Darla become her mother’s name.)
If you missed the Prologue, which was the first installment of this novel, you’ll find it here. Now, Episode-1 introduces Carolina Lucille Harper, sometimes called Wee Mouse, mostly called Luci.
Episode 1 — Luci
Luci slowed the Malibu as she approached the end of the onramp. There was a good opening in traffic. A light touch of the gas pedal revved the V-8 engine and the Chevrolet sped onto the freeway. Gray leafless trees blurred on the roadside. She reached toward the dash where she’d put a flower power sticker, and adjusted the heater.
New Year’s Eve, 1969 — it seemed like an odd day to have a job interview. Luci figured it would either end the year with a fire cracker-like bang, or a fizzling flop. She took a deep breath and shifted her shoulders, trying to relieve tension. She hoped to land her first real bookkeeping job since getting her associate degree.
Jobs weren’t as plentiful as they’d been when she started earning her degree in 1967. Things had looked positive all that year. Then it seemed to happen so suddenly — at the end of 1969 the country was in a recession.
Her dad had been the one to push her toward the bookkeeping profession. Just push, mind you, he did not insist. Grover said that no matter what else was going on in the world, good or bad, people would always need bookkeepers. Or at least they would as long as there were taxes — and only two things were sure in life, death and taxes. And as long as there were taxes there would be bookkeepers.
She hoped he was right, but she hadn’t had anywhere near the number of job offers the school had promised. In fact she’d only had three interviews in as many months, and no job offers at all. It was quite a contradiction to what the school described. To hear them tell it, businesses would be knocking down her door to give her a high-paying job.
Her dad seemed apprehensive about this interview, though she couldn’t put her finger on why. He was always supportive and encouraging. Grover Harper even did pretend interviews with her, similar to the ones the Careers Services woman had done with her at school. However, this time there was an undertone of worry in his manner. Luci passed it off as a twinge of overprotectiveness on his part. Her dad was pretty easy going, but now and then Grover got a little overprotective.
Luci sighed, stretched her neck from side to side, rolled her shoulders and mentally walked through some of the questions they were likely to ask her. Then a sign on the embankment beside the interstate distracted her.
Every week there were more billboards, she thought as she glanced at the latest one. She did a double take, thinking the new one was downright lewd. It depicted a woman holding volleyballs in strategic places instead of wearing clothes. Luci gasped when she read the sign. “Party-gras — Nude Volleyball!”
“Oh my God!” she cried aloud. “No wonder I didn’t get the other jobs. No wonder they gave me such funny looks!”
Her last job had been working part time at a coat check booth at a dinner club with the same name. The club had closed down. It would only be temporary, the manager promised her. She had a job there any time, as soon as they were able to open the doors again, he’d said. Luci had no idea that they’d reopen as the kind of place that featured nude volleyball, for heaven’s sake.
So there she was, on the way to another interview and that billboard sent her confidence right to the floorboard of the old Chevy Malibu. Luci had eaten Ramen Noodles and Screaming Yellow Zonkers at lunch for weeks to help offset the price of the resumes she’d had professionally printed. Now what was she supposed to do? Party-gras was in big bold print on her expensive resumes. Apparently she’d been the only one in Nashville who didn’t know her former employer transformed form a dinner club to a nudie bar!
Luci wished she had a car phone so she could just pick up the receiver and call her dad to ask what she should do about the resume and Party-gras. The only person she had known who had a car phone was Garry Hatfield back at the business college.
The mobile phone was mounted to his car, just under the dashboard, on the hump in the floor between the driver and passenger sides. It had a rotary dial and a receiver, just like an ordinary phone, but there was also another area, just as big, with two rows of buttons.
1964 car phone users, USA: 1.5 million / 2017 (projected) mobile phone users USA: 266 million
Once Luci asked him to show her how it worked. However, Garry said he was in hot water with his dad for making too many calls. The service was really expensive. He’d be in big trouble if he made more than ten calls a month, and Garry said he’d already made eight.
“Someday everybody will have one,” Garry had said and Luci tried not to laugh at the ridiculous comment. “There are a million and a half mobile phone users in America now,” he’d added indignantly.
The disc jockey announced Country Joe and the Fish with “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag.” Luci turned up the radio’s volume, because after seeing the Party-gras billboard that was exactly how she felt.
The Malibu slowed because she was so deep in thought over the dreadful billboard. She didn’t realize her foot had stopped pressing the gas pedal. The loud honk of an eighteen-wheeler jolted Luci back to the task at hand — driving.
The big rig pulled alongside her Chevrolet Malibu and blasted the horn again. But that time the driver propped his arm in the open window and made a pumping motion with his fisted hand, inviting her to blow the horn back at him. It was generally considered harmless highway fun, or flirting.
Well, that’s a switch, Luci thought. Usually it’s people trying to get the truckers to blow their horn.
Good, at least he wasn’t mad at her for slowing him down. However, Luci was on the way to an interview. With what had just been revealed about her former employer, she wasn’t in the mood to flirt with the trucker or anybody else for that matter.
A glance at the eighteen wheeler showed the trucker was waiting expectantly. On an impish impulse she decided to give the trucker a little surprise. Recently Grover replaced the broken horn on her car. Luci’s father had inventive ways of looking after her. Nashville was a transportation hub. There were more eighteen-wheelers on the highways in Music City USA than there were in most other cities.
Grover had been in the car with her one day when they were unexpectedly surrounded. Left, right, front, and back, the huge trucks paced them. He was afraid it was making her nervous. However, Luci was really just being careful. Although she had to admit, it did feel a little claustrophobic being hemmed in by the big trucks.
One of the trucks had accidentally drifted a little too close for comfort and she blew her horn. With the noise of the trucks on every side, you could barely hear the Chevy’s warning blare. So when that horn wore out not too much later, Grover replaced it with the same kind of horn the big trucks had.
Luci turned and gave the trucker a wicked grin, and then gave a horn blast of her own from the Malibu. The truck driver’s eyes popped out and he was so surprised that the big rig swerved. Then he started laughing, waved and moved on down the highway.
Not quite flirting with the trucker caused her to not quite miss her exit. She took a quick glance down at the directions she wrote when the man called to set up the interview.
Her eyes darted quickly from the directions in the seat beside her to the exit ramp. Yes! That was it. She might have known she’d have to get across all those lanes — and in a hurry. However, luck was with her and she got across without missing her exit.
The directions turned out to be good. She had no trouble at all finding Blaylock Sound Magic Studio. On her dad’s advice she drove once around the parking lot paying attention to the cars. Grover said looking at the cars the staff drove would give her some advance idea of what to expect once she got inside.
The cars were a mix of old and new, from an old VW convertible to a brand spanking new Lincoln Continental. Or at least it looked brand new. It was black and so polished that if the sun hit it the wrong way it might blind somebody.
Next to the Lincoln was a vintage red Cadillac. It couldn’t have been more different, but it was in mint condition. Luci guessed the Cadillac was about a ’59. It had the rocket looking tail lights that were iconic not only for Cadillac, but the entire American auto industry during the jet inspired tail fin craze of that era.
She tilted the rearview mirror to check her make up. Luci always made her eyelashes as long, thick, and spiky as she could manage with just mascara. She wished for the thousandth time that she could master applying false eyelashes, but they usually ended up closer to her eyebrows that her lash line. Luci took the advice of the Career Services woman from college and used eye shadow in a barely noticeable color of beige, rather than the dramatic greens and blues that were so popular.
As she opened the Yardley of London “lip slicker” her mind flashed back to the “Nude Volleyball” billboard. The cosmetic clerk named the shade of lipstick Naughty Nearly Nude. Luci took a deep breath, and tried to put that thought out of her mind. With a last retouch of the pastel pink lipstick, she got of the car.
Her hair was pulled back in the center at her forehead, with a little bouffant and wispy ringlets framing each ear. It fell below her shoulders, with big loose curls, just at the ends.
Luci adjusted the wide red leather belt of her new coat. It was ivory with a red windowpane plaid design woven into the wool. She chose the coat carefully, even though she realized she’d probably remove it as soon as she got into the building. Under the coat she wore a gray flannel pleated skirt with a matching Eisenhower jacket and a short yellow silk scarf tied at her neck.
Fashionable, yet not too trendy, just like they said at Career Services, she thought as she caught her reflection in the Malibu’s window. Luci tucked the vinyl folder containing her resumes under her arm, but she stood beside her car as if rooted to the parking lot and looked at the building.
She headed toward the front door of the building. It was plain looking, with few windows. She guessed that helped keep out noise. There was a small window beside the door. On the windowsill was a lava lamp, with molten green flowing up and down. Watching it made her queasy.
Luci took a deep breath and focused on the positive. She forced her feet to move and put her hand on the studio’s door.
End Episode 1
I haven’t forgotten you foodies! Here’s a simple recipe for Screaming Yellow Zonkers at Top Secret Recipes.
Thanks for visiting. I hope to see you next time. Mega hugs and keep on truckin’!
Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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