It’s early in the writing, yet, so all of this is subject to change, but I’ll share the (unedited) opening scene to my current active WiP, Weekend at Bigfoot’s. I’ve I’m not even completely done with chapter 1, yet, but I’ve already got a tentative blurb:
Chapter 1: Look on the Bright Side
Maybe Wilson Banks should have twigged to the life-changing aspect of his new assignment when Jerry first mentioned it to him. Life view changing, anyway.
No, it was ultimately life changing. Or both.
Regardless, he’d never considered things like extra-sensory perception to be true any more than he’d believed in the reality of many of the stories he reported. To Wilson, this story was an annoyance to be ducked in favor of something…anything that wasn’t such typical tabloid fodder.
“Come on, Jerry, I froze my ass off chasing quotes for that Yeti story eight months ago.” Wilson pulled out the pencil he had tucked behind his ear and pointed it at the Sensational News’ (Never Fake! We Swear!) features editor. “Can’t you give me something else?”
“You want to interview all the victims of the chimney shitter in Boise?”
Wilson slumped. On the plus side—depending on your perspective—at least that story might be true. Bigfoot? Not so much. Considering the speculation about the sample one of the recipients of the malodorous deposits had saved (“There’ll be DNA in those droppings!”), he cringed at the thought of chasing down the chimney shitter story.
He let out a long sigh. “How far back in the boonies is this hillbilly that says he trapped Bigfoot?”
“Nah, you’ll still be in civilization. It’s a quaint tourist trap in Northern California. I’ll put you up in a nice little B&B.”
Wilson shifted, pushing back in his chair. One of these days he was going to get into this office when Jerry wasn’t around and check out these damned chairs. It felt like Jerry had shaved down the length of the front legs to deliberately make reporters slither forward on the seat. The better to get them to agree to anything and rush them quickly out of there?
“Besides.” Jerry tapped his middle finger on his desk calendar. “There’ve been multiple sightings over the years. Track them down, sweet talk them, and get me some good soundbites and maybe a fuzzy picture or two.”
“A bed and breakfast, eh?” That did sound relaxing. He could deal with another round of interviewing loonies…er…confused people who apparently couldn’t recognize a bear for what it was if it happened to stand, in exchange for a little R&R in a pleasant setting during his down time.
Jerry bounced back and forth against the tilt mechanism in the top-quality leather office chair he had his own rear parked in. A slow grin spread across his face. “In an updated Victorian with all the amenities.”
Wilson grimaced as his butt slipped forward again. “Fine. Give me the Sasquatch story.”
It was doubtful he’d come up with images fuzzy enough to make a black bear look like Bigfoot—he shivered at the thought of getting close enough to snap a picture anyway—and he wasn’t going to fabricate one. He had his standards. But maybe he could find a nice footprint? If nothing else he could photograph a few witnesses.
“Great.” Jerry was all business, sliding a slim manila envelope across the desk before turning to his computer. “See Mark on your way out. He’s got your itinerary.”
Wilson let out a long breath and heaved out of the chair. If Mark had his itinerary then his travel and lodging reservations had already been made. He hadn’t really had the option of talking Jerry into giving him something less deceptive. Less…quintessentially low-brow sensationalism.
Not that it mattered. It all paid the same.
Mark’s face twitched like he was trying to suppress a smirk when Wilson approached his desk. Wilson narrowed his eyes. His ex liked to find little ways to screw with him when making his travel arrangements. Like on that long flight to Alaska. “Oh, you wanted an aisle seat? I would have sworn you preferred window.”
Wilson pasted on a smile. He could deal with whatever Mark had done. Keep it professional—which, he obviously should have done in the first place by resisting Mark’s flirtatious overtures last year. “Jerry said you have something for me?”
“Right.” Mark swiveled in his seat and took his time flipping through files standing in a sorter on his desk. Wilson stifled a desire to tap his foot. He wouldn’t give Mark the satisfaction. Mark selected a file and handed it over with an affected cheery grin. “Here you go. Your flight’s in four hours, so you might want to hurry home to pack.”
“Four—” Wilson cut himself off and opened the folder. It was Friday afternoon. Jerry hadn’t said anything about working the weekend.
He frowned at the airline trip summary staring back at him. Sure enough, his flight out was this evening. He flipped through the pages, and he had a late check-in set up at a B&B in—he suppressed a snort—a town named Tallbear.
No doubt Mark would have some excuse about a cheaper flight time, or the accommodations all being booked by business travelers during the week. If he asked. Which he wouldn’t.
Wilson gritted his teeth. “Thanks.” On the plus side, maybe he’d be more likely to find random people available to talk to him on a weekend. Hopefully they’d be out and about doing whatever there was to do in a small town.
He turned and strode to the elevator. It took every ounce of restraint he could muster to not power punch the down button. Once inside, Wilson closed his eyes and rolled his shoulders, willing the tension to ease out of his neck muscles. After a final cleansing breath, he reopened his eyes and pulled out his phone to check the weather forecast for his weekend destination.
An hour later, Wilson had crammed a couple day’s worth of clothing suitable for layering to accommodate Northern California autumn climate into his carryon bag and stood in his tiny kitchen, wolfing down a sandwich.
His gaze landed on one of a pair of dish towels his mother had given him. She’d stitched one of her favorite sayings onto them. One towel proclaimed when it rains look for rainbows, and the other said when it’s dark look for stars.
Was there a saying for when your boss sends you on a wild goose chase looking for Bigfoot during what was supposed to be your days off? But he couldn’t help smiling. Mom’s attitude had rubbed off on him. Wilson placed his plate in the sink and hefted his suitcase. He’d already started thinking of this trip as a kind of working vacation with all expenses paid. Because why not? He enjoyed chatting up people. That was part of what made him good at this job.
And in other news 😁… The Best-Laid Plans made it into the book of the week poll over at Love Bytes Reviews 🎉. So if you’ve chanced to read it (and hopefully enjoyed it), perhaps you’d consider heading that way to see how you’d like to vote? ❤️