Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WIP Wednesday

This week marks the beginning of chapter three in my, as of yet, untitled story. With the beginning of a new chapter comes the introduction of my second main character in the story, Joseph Johnson.

I will admit now that what you are about to read is a draft in its purest form. I would normally think a scene like this would work, but this scene will require some major rewriting. I'm posting only so you can meet Joe, and get a feel for what kind of person he is.

Some major flaws I've noticed while giving this a quick read include:
  1. I've not yet reached the depth of character I would like with Joe.
  2. This introductory scene seems to have a lot of telling as apposed to showing.
  3. I'm not getting a sense of urgency while reading this scene.
Tell me if there are other things that you notice.


Joseph Johnson slid the pocket door open and walked out of the tiny booth into the afternoon heat, as a car squeaked to a stop at the gate. Joe knew the occupant sitting in the car, but asked for his identification anyway. The man inside the car pulled an identification card out of his shirt pocket and handed it to Joe. The man was Joe's supervisor, Jeff Tucker, but he still compared the photo on the identification card to Mr. Tucker's face—he always followed proper protocol.
"Joe, would you stop by my office after your shift tonight?" Mr. Tucker took his identification card back from Joe and slid it back into his shirt pocket.
"Sure thing, boss," Joe answered, as Mr. Tucker drove away. He gave a theatrical wave as he turned to see his shift partner, Ray, snickering from inside the guard shack.
"What was that all about?" Ray opened the door for Joe as he stepped into the small shack. "You think it's the cutbacks people been talking about?"
"I don't know." Joe scooted in front of the small window air conditioning unit, the feeling of the cool air sending a chill through his sweat-soaked shirt. Although his skin felt cool, Joe felt heat rising in his core. He couldn't afford to lose his job. He'd just started working at the plant a year ago, back when he was fresh out of the Army, and caring for his mother through her battle with cancer. He looked at Ray, but did not answer.
"Well, what do think?" Ray finally said, apparently unable to handle the silence.
"I think I'll find out in a few minutes," Joe answered. He spent last few minutes of his shift looking out window of the guard shack. Whatever it was about, he just wanted to get it over with. Joe simply opened the door and squeezed himself out of the small shack when his replacement showed up.
"Good luck," Ray said, giving Joe a mock salute as the door shut.
"Thanks," was all Joe could think to say. He walked, as quickly as he could, through the parking lot, reaching the cool air of the employee break room within a few short seconds of leaving his post at the guard shack.
Joe found his time card among the hundred or so others and shoved it into the slot on the front of the machine until the unit jumped, before pulling out and putting back in its spot on the wall. He walked to the employee locker room to change out of his blue security guard uniform and into blue jeans, a tank tee shirt, and a loose fitting polo before venturing up the stairs to his supervisor's office. He knocked on the door, and waited until he was told to enter. Mr. Tucker was sitting behind his desk as Joe walked in the room.
"Have a seat, Mr. Johnson." Mr. Tucker leaned forward in his leather office chair, and shuffled papers nervously on his desk.
Joe took the chair directly in front of the desk and crossed one leg over the other, trying to appear confident, unshaken by the sudden summons to his boss's office. He had a good idea why his boss called him in, and the thought made him wish he'd gone directly to his truck instead of to the office.
"I don't how to say this, Joseph." Mr. Tucker stared at an open file on his desk as he spoke. "You know I personally think you've been doing a great job here, and--"
"Just tell me," Joe blurted out. He didn't really want to hear it, but wanted to get it over with. He felt heat rising in his face. He could not decipher the mix of emotions coursing through his mind. He wasn't sure whether he was about to fall into a violent fit, or tear up and have a little emotional meltdown in front of his boss.
Life was so much easier in combat.
He missed his life as a covert operator, and it was things like this that made him long for when his only decisions were to run or shoot. Instead, he suffered through the emotional hell of remaining calm while some pencil-necked geek spat shallow compliments at him while he fired him. Although his mind was moving at a hundred miles an hour, he simply sat motionless, staring at Mr. Tucker.
"Look," Mr. Tucker finally said. "I know you've got a perfect attendance record here. You're always on time, and willing to make suggestions to better our procedures, but I have to be fair ..."
"Just spill it," Joe said. "Are you firing me or not?"
Joe watched his boss's reaction. Mr. Tucker tensed noticeably, his lips nearly parting. Joe could not tell whether he was just nervous or if he genuinely thought he might come over his desk at any moment and strangle him. Joe maintained his cool front, but on the inside, he was giving serious consideration to jumping over the boss's desk.
"We're not firing you, Joseph," Mr. Tucker finally said. "We're just laying you off until we can afford to hire you back."
"Either way, I'm not getting a paycheck." Joe stood and turned to leave.
"Wait, Joseph," Mr. Tucker yelled. "I didn't want to do this."
Joe didn't stop, or even turn to look back, but his boss continue anyway.
"You know we've had to cut our workforce down to two shifts. We just can't support the security staff. We'll bring you back as soon ..."
Joe could still hear his former boss yelling as the office door shut behind him, trying to convince him he wasn't being fired.
A blast of hot humid air washed over him, like the exhaust from a jet engine, as he left the huge industrial building, and walked through the vast blacktop parking lot to his truck. He turned the ignition key, bringing the truck to life, then cranked the air conditioning up until cool air blasted from the vents, making the hairs on his arms dance. As the air in the truck cooled, he reached under his seat and retrieved a Glock 26. A thin smile grew across his face as he inserted the magazine into the grip and pulled the receiver back, chambering a round. He liked the weight of it in his hands. The grip fit nicely into his right hand. It was a light, convenient handgun he often used as a backup on missions when he was in the Army. He pulled a concealment holster from under his seat, slipped it into the back of his pants, and pushed the small pistol securely into it. He pulled his shirt over it before driving his truck through the maze of cars in the parking lot, out the gate, and toward the bond office.
The sun was sinking below the horizon by the time Joe pulled up in front of the bail bondsman's office. It was that time in the early evening when things were still quiet. There was little activity at the police station across the street, but that would change by the end of the night. As soon as the door closed behind him, Jake motioned him to come beyond the front counter.
"Got a new skip for you, Joe." Jake Ballinger stood up and moved around his desk, waving for Joe to come to the counter.

I hope you enjoyed this scene introducing Joseph Johnson. This is the chapter where strange things start to happen, and I think that you, my fine readers, will be pleased at how the relationship between Joe and Lexi grows. Of course, I won't be giving away all the secrets in these weekly postings. If you want the complete story, you'll just have to get the novel when it is finished.

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