Welp, it’s Saturday and I’m sick again. That didn’t take long, did it? So it’s a good thing I got such a strong start on my NaNoWriMo goal, because today, I only managed about 300 words. Ugh. Four days in is way too early to start the slacking, but I spent a good six hours in front of this computer and those 300 lousy words felt like a damn marathon.
Also, kitten update! We are beginning the process of weaning, so with luck, no more milk-feedings once our present supply runs out. The two biggest are enthusiastic about this new thing called “food,” while the two smaller kittens are still suspicious, but all four are eating out of a dish now, so we can stop with the hand-feedings. The vet has given them her official stamp of approval, so we contacted our local rescue organization about adoption. They are going to put the kittens on their website, but have asked us to continue fostering them, as they are short on room onsite. This is fine with us, although I think all of us are quietly picturing still “fostering” them a year from now. And let me remind you all, our three one-cat households combined to become one three-cat household already. Throwing four kittens into the midst of them has not been fun for anyone except the kittens, who are too little to know what the feline stare of death looks like.
Anyhoo, it’s Saturday, which means it’s time for the next chapter of my FNAFiction, Everything Is All Right, Part Two: Mike Schmidt and the Long Night, so if you’ve been waiting all week with bated breath, bate no more!…okay, that sounded wrong, but head on over to fanfiction.net or archiveofourown.org to check out the new chapter. Have I got an excerpt, you ask? Why, yes!
The day passed in a roar of engines and exhaust and sweat and swearing—a good day. At five, some of the men went home to wives and suppers, while the rest, Ana included, tromped across the lot to Gallifrey’s and commandeered a table for rowdy talk and working-man meals. If Ana found herself the butt of more than her statistical fair share of the coarse humor, she took it without flinching and gave it back as good, and it was a fine time with actual human people. She’d kind of missed that.
But one by one, the men broke away and eventually, the last one left and it was just her and Big Paulie. Before she could flag Lucy Gallifrey down for a to-go box and excuse herself, Paulie said, “You done all right out there, kid.”
“Thanks,” said Ana, still trying to catch Lucy’s eye without actually standing up on the table and waving both arms.
“Don’t mistake me now. I know who you are and I won’t forget it just because you can drive a backhoe and do half a day’s work.”
“That’s all anyone can ask, I guess.”
“And I won’t be working with you tomorrow. I took you today as a courtesy, because I wouldn’t turn you out in front of the whole crew, but now you know my feelings on it and if you show up on my site again, I won’t hesitate.”
“Okay,” she said mildly.
He seemed to take her refusal to protest as a personal attack, scowling as he said, “I told Shelly he was a fool for taking you on and twice a fool for keeping you.”
“Any particular reason?” Ana asked, waving harder to absolutely no effect.
He cocked his head. “You say that like I got none.”
“Have I given you one?” she asked, genuinely curious.
He leaned across the table, jaw tight and eyes hard. “Joe Stark was my boy’s best friend, growing up. Little Paulie ate over at his house a hundred times, he ate at mine. They fell away some after he met Mellie, but we stayed close enough to nod at over the years. It’s hard to see any man come apart like that, and him, practically a son of mine. The way he ended up…you heard about that?”
Ana gave up on Lucy and pushed her plate to the edge of the table. “I heard he took a dive into the canyon a while back, but what exactly do you expect me to feel about it? I never even met him.”
He shook his head and had a long swallow of lemonade. “I don’t expect you to feel anything. The women of your line have always been hard-hearted.”
“The women, huh?” Ana snorted. “My mom was no prize and nobody knows that better than me, but at least she was there. My father drop-kicked me to the curb before I was out of the fucking womb. Sorry if he was a friend of yours, but in my book, that makes him the asshole.”
He studied her with something that was almost sympathy. “That’s how you see it, huh? Oh, the things I could tell you.”
Ana shrugged defiantly. “Go right ahead. I can almost guarantee I’ve heard it all before.”
“Your mother was a man-eater,” he said, not angrily, but as a matter of fact. “Her and Marion both, I’m sorry to say, nothing a pair of she-leeches with their mouths between their legs.”
“My, what a vivid image.”
“It’s the truth,” he said. “Bad blood will always show through, and Jesselyn Blaylock was rubbing up on boys before she was out of bobby socks. I’d have been ashamed to call her daughter and her kids should have been ashamed to call her mother, not that she stuck around long enough to hear it. No, she lit out and left the last of her brood when they were still in diapers. Lord alone knows where she ended up, but she’s dining with the Devil now, I’m sure.” Big Paulie paused to run an eye over Ana. “You’ve done that a time or two yourself, I should think.”
“A time or two,” said Ana, sitting at the table with him.