I’ve been working on a novel. I hope to have the first draft finished and off to editors in early September. It is an expansion of the Tucker, Maddy, David, and Rashid tales in my book of short stories I published a month ago. The novel follows Tucker and Maddy’s journey through Baltimore as they struggle to raise kids, work with at risk teens, and help homeless addicts enter recovery. I’m writing it in five acts. Here is a scene from the middle of act one. It is the first time Maddy encounters a homeless man named Lefty. The story is rough and unedited; but I had fun writing it, so I thought I’d share.
Maddy’s blood boiled. This kind of thing enraged her. She couldn’t stand it. “HEY! HEY YOU TWO! THERE ARE KIDS ON THIS BLOCK!” Maddy yelled straining to get the attention of the couple down the street.
The dealer was a twenty-something year old whose jeans hung closer to his knees than his waist. He wore a black t-shirt with a gangster looking Tweety-bird on the front. His boxers were red and white striped. The buyer was a woman in a ratty blue tank top, no bra, and worn-out grey sweat pants. She looked like she hadn’t had a shower in a year. Her face was weathered from drugs, so it was impossible to guess at her age. She could have been twenty-five, forty-five, or anywhere in between. The two of them were debating price. Neither of them paid any attention to Maddy.
Maddy pushed the double stroller up the hill faster, hoping to get close enough for the pair to hear her. She and the kids were walking to the church from Riverside Park. They had come downtown to join some neighborhood moms and kids for a playdate. Jack, the four-year-old was sweaty, red faced, and struggling to keep up. Hannah, the two-year old, and Beret, the baby, were unconscious in the stroller.
Maddy yelled again, “HEY YOU! YOU TWO WITH THE DRUGS! CUT IT OUT!”
The dealer looked up from counting his cash and glared down the hill at Maddy. Unimpressed, he laughed to himself, shook his head in disbelief, and went back to counting the cash.
His response was gasoline on Maddy’s fire. She reached into her purse which hung on the back of the stroller and pulled out her cell phone. Still pushing the stroller toward the couple with one hand, she waved the phone high in the air and screamed with all her might, “I’M CALLING THE COPS! I’M CALLING THE COPS RIGHT NOW!”
That got the dealer’s attention. He looked up with frustrated confusion and made eye contact with Maddy.
“THAT’S RIGHT! I’M CALLING THEM RIGHT NOW! RIGHT NOW! 911!” Maddy had to stop walking to dial. She held the phone out in front of her and exaggerated her movements, making sure the dealer saw what she was doing.
“Mommy,” Jack said softly. “That man doesn’t look happy.”
“Good,” Maddy replied bending down to Jack’s level. “Give Mommy a second while she takes care of this.”
“Please hold for the next operator,” the voice on the other end of the phone said in Maddy’s ear.
Maddy pretended like she hadn’t heard it and screamed for all to hear, “Hello! Yes! I would like to report A CRIME IN PROGRESS! On the CORNER OF FORT AND RIVERSIDE! THE SUSPECT IS A SIX FOOT TALL, EXTREMELY THIN, THUG WANNA-BE DRESSED IN A CHEAP T-SHIRT FROM WALMART!”
Upset by her description of him, the dealer looked up at Maddy again. He stuffed the money in his pocket, passed something to the woman, then he turned to fully face Maddy and flipped her the middle finger with both hands. Finally, he whispered to his client and hustled away. The woman seemed surprised the transaction was over. Clutching her new stash in her right hand, she slank away in the opposite direction.
“THAT’S RIGHT! YOU BETTER RUN!” Maddy shouted. Beret stirred in his seat. She rubbed his head and said softly, “Go back to sleep big boy.”
“Hello. 911. What’s your emergency?” Maddy was surprised by the voice in her ear.
“Never mind,” Maddy said irritated. Adrenaline was still surging through her blood. She hung up the phone, jammed it back into her purse, and began up the hill again. She walked the rest of the block in silence, forcing deep breaths, trying to calm down.
“You’re goin’ get yourself shot,” said a deep voice from behind her.
Maddy jumped and spun to see who was sneaking up on her. “Lefty, right?” she asked after getting a good look at the voice. Lefty was lounging on the front steps of a rowhome. With her blood boiling, Maddy must have walked right past him. He wore a baggy black t-shirt and blue jean shorts. His Mission name tag hung from his neck.
“That’s right,” Lefty replied impressed. “You’re the Wizard’s wife, right?”
“My name’s Maddy,” she said extending her hand.
Lefty shook it and rubbed Jack’s head with his other hand. “Who are these guys?” he asked.
The thin African-American man made Maddy nervous. She stepped closer to Jack. “This is Jack. In the stroller is Hannah and Beret. Do you have any kids?” Maddy asked.
Lefty laughed. “Oh I’m sure I do, but I’ve never met any of ‘em.”
“How don’t you know your kids?” Jack asked with sweet curiosity.
Lefty laughed and replied, “Ask your Daddy.” Then he looked to Maddy and said, “You need to be more careful. You’re gonna get shot yellin’ at boys like that.”
His big smile reignited Maddy’s anger. “Oh! And where were you? I could have used a little help.” Then regaining her composer, she said with sarcasm, “God forbid you have to get up off your stoop and do something useful. Don’t worry. I’ve got it. Me and kids will clean up the streets. You just sit there and relax.”
Lefty laughed harder. “Next time,” he said. “You want me to walk you the rest of the way to the church? I assume that’s where you’re headed.”
“No, thank you,” Maddy replied. She didn’t feel right around him. Something about him made her skin itch. “I’m enjoying the work out.”
“Alright,” Lefty said. He stood and walked in the opposite direction, waving goodbye. “See you Sunday.”
Maddy started walking toward the church again.
“That man made me feel funny,” Jack said after a few steps of silence. “How doesn’t he know his kids?”
“He made me feel funny too, Bud,” Maddy replied. “What do you say we hurry up and find Daddy. Maybe he can break away and take us to get a drink. What do you think?”
Jack smiled. “Yeah!” he said and ran ahead.