Outcome of the prologue’s Plot Hinge: Wiarton Willie did not see his shadow on Groundhog Day. As a result, the Man in Charge will not find any footprints in the snow leading to Tina’s house.
Will’s relief doubled when a police cruiser pulled up to the curb in front of his house. Peeking through the curtains in Tina’s living room, Will watched the cop get out and walk toward the Man in Charge.
“Oh, thank goodness,” Tina said, watching from the other end of the window. “Someone must have called the cops.”
The relief evaporated as quickly as it had materialized. Instead of putting his hands in the air, the Man in Charge merely jerked his thumb toward Will’s shattered front door. The officer walked up the front stoop and entered Will’s house. A moment later he emerged with a box of Will’s things which he placed in the back seat of the cruiser.
The three other goons followed shortly after with boxes of their own which they added to the cop car. Shaking the hand of one of the men, the officer got back in his car and drove off.
Two of the goons went back inside Will’s house while the third and the Man in Charge returned to their car and drove off in the opposite direction of the cop.
“So much for calling 911,” Tina said. “You want to explain to me what’s going on?”
Will slumped against the wall and slid to the floor. “I have no idea, Tina. Honest. This is crazy.”
Tina crouched next to him and put a hand on his knee. “You’d tell me if you were a top secret Russian spy, right?”
“I’m not a top secret anything,” Will replied, softly thumping his head against the wall.
“Whatever you say, comrade.” Tina stood back up and held out her hand. “C’mon. We need to find you a better place to lay low. It’s only a matter a time before those goons start going door-to-door.”
“Any suggestions?” Will asked.
Tina thought about it for a moment. “How about Dan’s? He’s an unemployed bum like you so at least you’ll have company while I try to figure out what kind of trouble you’ve gotten yourself into.”
“Ex-boyfriend,” Tina snapped back.
“Ex-boyfriend?” Will said as he pulled his shoes on. “When did that happen?”
“Really, Will? This is what you want to talk about?” Grabbing Will by the arm, Tina led him to the rear entrance that led out to the backyard. “Hop the fence, keep your hood up and meet me at Benny’s Diner. I’ll go out front and get the car.”
“We’re driving?” Will asked. Suddenly Will wondered if he might be better off taking his chances with the Man in Charge than getting in a car with a driver like Tina.
Tina pushed him outside without answering. Looking at the seven-foot wooden fence in front of him, Will shook his head. Hop the fence. Right. Because the past five years in a cubicle really prepared him for this kind of stuff.
35 minutes, a pulled groin from hopping the fence, and a death-defying car ride later, Will arrived white-knuckled outside Dan’s apartment complex. It took four tries before Dan answered Tina’s buzzes. A fresh and increasingly vulgar stream of obscenities came from Tina’s mouth after each failed attempt.
Finally, a groggy-voiced Dan picked up and buzzed them in.
If Will thought his own place had gotten messy since he lost his job, he had nothing on Dan. The small, dimly-lit, one-bedroom apartment was a disaster zone. Clothes, empty bottles and dirty dishes lay strewn in every direction. A hairy man in his underwear, snoring on the stained futon in the living room, completed the ambience.
How Tina ever dated this guy was beyond Will. The allure of a musician, he guessed. Will made a mental note to learn how to play guitar.
After a few brief, awkward pleasantries, Tina got to the point. “Can Will crash here for a while?”
Dan shrugged. “As long as he doesn’t mind bunking with Zeke.” Will most definitely did mind bunking with Dan’s hairy friend. Of course with the alternative being getting back in the car with Tina, Will decided Zeke was the lesser of two evils.
“Rock on, dude.” Without another question asked, Dan returned to his room and disappeared.
“Right… Rock on,” Will said.
Tina shook her head and spent a couple seconds scowling at Dan’s bedroom door, muttering more obscenities under her breath. Turning her attention back to Will, the two went to the kitchenette to chat. Twenty minutes later they were no further ahead in figuring out how to get Will out of this mess.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Will and Tina, a new complication was unfolding. Dan’s bedroom door was slightly ajar. Inside, the musician slob eavesdropped on his new houseguests. With rent overdue, and his latest CD, Bleeding to the Maxxx, not selling as he had hoped, Dan wondered if he could get a reward for turning this Will dude in.
On the other hand, Tina might not take him back if he ratted out her friend. On the other, other hand, Dan was getting sick of eating Mr. Noodles.
Plot Hinge: The Dan Mangan concert
Another musician named Dan is going to be this week’s plot hinge (Note: besides having the same name, this Dan shares very little in common with Tina’s ex). I’m going to Dan Mangan’s concert on February 3rd in Guelph, Ontario. In the weeks leading up to this concert I’ve been emailing Mr. Mangan, asking him to dedicate one of his songs to William Dalton (Will’s full name) at the show. Whether or not he does this will decide how Chapter 2 unfolds.
- If Dan Mangan accepts my request and dedicates a song to William Dalton during his concert on February 3rd, then Dan the Ex will not call the police (who are clearly connected to the Man in Charge).
- If Dan Mangan does not dedicate a song to William Dalton, then Dan the Ex will call the police who will come and find them at his apartment.
Chapter 2 goes live Thursday, February 9th.
What would have happened if Wiarton Willie did see his shadow and the Man in Charge found him at Tina’s house? Send me your Alternate Chapter and I’ll share some of them on the site. Click here for submission details.
Last week’s poll asked readers to vote on what character trait they wanted Will to have. Here are the voting results:
- Linguist: Knows 4 languages (26%)
- Computer whiz: a hacking hobbyist (35%)
- Runner: can run like the wind (39%)
Appropriately I suppose, given the title of this story is Run, the third option received the most votes. I’ll be weaving these results into a future chapter. Thanks for helping me shape Will’s character!
What do you think of the story so far? Post your comments below! And be sure to subscribe in the top right of the page to receive email notifications whenever a new chapter is posted.