So here I am at my local diner, drinking coffee, eyeing the pie counter and living dangerously by uploading my newest chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything is All Right, Part One: Girl on the Edge of Nowhere over a public network. The beta-read of Part Two: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night has finished and I am hard at work writing Part Three: Children of Mammon. In order to put myself in the mood, I spent the morning watching documentaries on serial killers and child predators. Eesh. Then to cheer me up, my younger sister took me to see Florence Foster Jenkins.
Marvelous movie. I highly recommend it, but then, I’m biased. She’s always been a personal hero of mine, right up there with Batman.
Anyhoo, the new chapter is up and, as it is presently pouring buckets of rain and ripping up the heavens with lightning, I’d better get to the excerpt while I still have power. If you like what you see here, head on over to Fanfiction.net or Archiveofourown.org and check out the rest!
She sulked in the quiet room for a while, but now that she was awake and her head had somewhat cleared, the overwhelming stench and oppressive stuffiness soon drove her out. The dining room was no cooler, but it at least had a draft that kept the air circulating, which made it tolerable, if not comfortable. She reclaimed her bed of trash bags beneath the solitary table and watched the show, drinking her way steadily through her supply of warm water and wishing she had a burger, a joint, a beer or all three, preferably in an air-conditioned room somewhere far away from here. Between acts, Bonnie would come over and pace around the table where she had caved herself, but she ignored his stuttering invitations to come and play, and eventually he had to go back onstage.
The phone call came in the middle of his rendition of Everybunny Needs Somebunny, as he and Chica stuttered and limped their way through a song and dance act they had once performed as smoothly as Fred and Ginger. Ana answered without even looking to see who it was, her eyes never leaving Bonnie as he lifted Chica, twirled her around and dipped her over his arm. She had never seen anyone dance like that in real life. And she guessed she still hadn’t, this not being exactly as real as reality got, but it was still fascinating to watch. He was struggling, that much was clear, but his struggles only made it more obvious that it had once been easy.
Ana didn’t know how to dance, beyond a little club bump and grind, and that linedancing crap she’d had to learn to work at that soft-core strip club masquerading as a steakhouse. Fuck that job. It had more or less destroyed any youthful interest she’d ever had in the subject of rhythmic ass-shaking, and yet here she was, so absorbed in what was happening on that stage that she could almost feel her own feet moving through the steps.
These were her thoughts when the phone rang and they continued unabated when she took the call and thumbed it onto the speakers, expecting Rider because who else would it be?
“Hey,” she said, watching Chica clumsily twirl across the stage, guided by Bonnie’s hand on her waist. The flocking there had been worn away to bare plastic, polished to a shine by years of just this touch, that twirl. “What’s up?”
“May I speak to Anastasia Stark please?” said an unfamiliar voice. A man’s voice, the sort that put her in mind of ironed shirts and neckties that might be loosened, but never removed.
“You got her,” she said cautiously as Freddy, who had been watching her watch the show for the better part of a half-hour now, narrowed his eyes and came a little closer. “Who is this?”
“My name is Lem Schumacher. I’ve been retained on your behalf by our mutual friend, Robert Jakobson.”
Ana snorted through her bewilderment. It was always funny to hear Rider’s real name. “Robert,” she said. “So…wait, you’re the lawyer?”
“I am, for the present, your lawyer. Forgive me for taking so long to get back to you,” said the voice. “It’s been a day and a half, as they say. Now, I’ve been given the broad strokes of your situation, but if you don’t mind, I have a number of questions, Miss Stark. Is it Miss Stark? Or would you prefer Anastasia?”
“Ana is fine,” said Ana, squinting into space as if trying to bring the conversation into a tighter focus. “Um, what sort of questions?”
“Why don’t we start by having you tell me how you acquired the property? And please, Ana, remember that I am your lawyer and everything you say is confidential. If criminal acts need to be concealed, trust me to conceal them. I dare say I’m better at it than you are. So. Tell me everything.”
She did, making the long story as brief and emotionless as possible, too aware of Freddy listening in. Schumacher asked a number of questions, particularly about the fees she’d paid and the contact she’d had with representatives of the city since coming to Mammon. Her brief meeting with the sheriff somehow came out, as did the Title Company lady’s remark about her aunt fucking the devil and burning in hell with demonseed David.
“Excellent,” murmured Schumacher when she reached the rambling end of her tale. “I love it when people do my job for me. But before we get too carried away, a little perspective is in order. I’m told you have a considerable amount of experience in the business of renovating homes. In your professional opinion, and putting all sentiment aside, is the property in question habitable?”
“Yeah, actually, it is. It needs some work, and probably an exterminator, but most of the damage is all, like, cabinets and drywall. The supporting structure is in amazing condition, considering the size of the hoard that was in it. I mean, it’s ugly at the moment, I’m not going to lie, but anyone who knew what they were looking at could easily see it’s not about to fall down.”
“Good. Now. Ana. I am going to ask some very personal questions and it is absolutely imperative that you answer honestly and fully. Are you ready?”
“Are you presently involved in any illegal activities?”
“I bribed some city officials.”
“Not what I was expecting to hear,” the lawyer commented after a slight pause. “To do what?”
“Give me a burn permit and garbage service,” she said with a shrug. “Not exactly living the thug life, but—”
“But it qualifies,” the lawyer agreed, sounding as if he might be smiling. “I doubt they’ll be terribly eager to incriminate themselves, but thank you for telling me. Anything else?”
“I have some medication I don’t have prescriptions for,” said Ana, eyeing Freddy. “And I smoke a lot of pot.”
Freddy grunted, neither impressed nor surprised.
“Are you growing it?”
“No, but no one would ever believe that if they saw my stash,” Ana admitted. “I didn’t know how long I’d be here and I didn’t want the hassle of figuring out how to get more while I was here, so, you know, I packed heavy, but I swear it’s all mine.”
“Mm-hm. Would it all fit in a breadbox?”
“I’ve never actually seen a breadbox, but it all fits in a duffel bag.”
Freddy’s ears cocked. He looked over his shoulder at the East Hall, then narrowly back at her.
“Don’t judge me,” she said.