The first draft of Eddie Daley, Skip Tracer is officially complete. It’s just north of 90,000 words. I’d hoped to bring it in at 80K originally, but wanted to get sufficient space for the romantic subplot. Once I decided that, I targeted 90,000 words and finished about 0.1% over. Not bad.
I won’t be doing anything with it for a few months, which will feel strange, since my brain isn’t finished with those characters yet. However, I do need to switch to the next book. Maybe in the interim I can come up with a better title. Eddie Daley, Skip Tracer has the pulp fiction feel I want, but it’s pretty lame.
For those who read the web serial, here is an excerpt from Eddie’s time in Brooklyn, the setting for most of the book. Here, Eddie is spending one of his first evenings with his girl, Mina, and her sister, Kari.
Mina and Kari flew home after midnight on the wings of too little dinner and way too many drinks. I was watching Bogart as usual. This time it was “To Have and Have Not.” Bogie inspired me when I had a case I couldn’t solve. Bacall’s presence was purely for joy. I’d only seen it ten times, so it hadn’t gotten stale yet. The townhouse was dark and cozy, the only light coming from the large TV. I was on my fourth Guinness, the result of not being able to put the pieces of the Fadil puzzle together or put the puzzle box away. A few tall, thick glasses of stout and Bogie were the perfect solution.
I didn’t hear the girls come in, and they did their best to startle me. Without warning, I felt soft hands around my eyes. “Guess who,” she said, her voice deep and tinged with alcohol.
“Hi Kari. Feeling better?”
“How’d you know it was me?” She slumped on the big sofa in front of me, looking glassy eyed and disappointed.
“Yeah, and how come you knew it was me on Kari’s phone?” Mina asked.
“I can always tell you apart. You forget, I met Mina first. By the time I met you, Kari, I already knew her voice and all her little quirks.”
“I don’t have quirks,” Mina claimed. She sat behind me and put her feet against my back. “Rub my feet. Men have been dancing on them.”
Kari leaned around me and laughed at her. “Dude. That’s totally a quirk.” Mina and she laughed hysterically. I didn’t get the joke. Kari stopped laughing and looked serious. For a moment, I thought the pain of our earlier discovery was coming back. Instead, she leaned over and kissed me. This time, however, I wasn’t as surprised as when Katherine did it, so I didn’t kiss back.
“You shouldn’t tell us apart. It’s rude. We’re iden … identypical, you know,” she said.
“Atypical,” Mina corrected.
“That’s what I said. We’re identical.”
“Not completely. You have freckles in different places.” I wasn’t going to mention one had a fatter face.
“Cheater!” Kari said, jabbing a finger at me. You’re not allowed to count freckles. She looked positively livid; her eyes narrowed and the bridge of her nose was furrowed with wrinkles. Naturally, she leaned over and kissed me again. Mina was still seated behind me, dancing on my back, giggling. My lips remained faithful to the dancer behind me.
Kari leaned back and frowned again. “Nothing,” she said.
“Why are you doing that?” I asked.
“I’ve been wondering if I’d like it.” She’d made her voice absurdly low; her sentence ended in laughter.
“What’s funny?” Mina slurred.
“I’m trying to make out with your husband,” Kari answered.
“Isn’t he a good kisser?”
“I don’t know yet. He won’t help.”
She kissed me a third time, and this time, I gave her a little kiss back, mainly so she’d stop it.
“It’s even better when you help,” she said, again with the deep voice. She pinned her chin to her chest and lifted her eyes. It was The Look, Bacall’s look. Quiet, serious Kari had been acting out the love scene from my favorite movie. I didn’t know she’d even noticed it was on.
“You’re a Bogart fan?” I asked, excited. Mina was Bogart neutral.
“I like Bogart, but I love Bacall. You blew your line. I’m gonna need a new leading man.” She stood up, pulled her sister’s arm, and stood her up. They wobbled there together, looking as if they were fighting a private hurricane. “We’re gonna change and then we’ll be back.”
It sounded like a threat to my buzzed mind.
“Hey! Were you making out with my boyfriend?” Mina asked, now frowning.
“That movie’s over. We have to go fix ourselves up. We’ll show this cheater who looks alike and who doesn’t.” They left to go upstairs, taking their bags. From the steps, I could hear Kari still fussing. “Bogie would have kissed me back.”
“That’s not Bogie,” Mina claimed, “that was Peter Lorre.” They both cackled.
Insulted, I decided to switch from Guinness to the cheap Vodka Kari stocked. In retrospect, it was a mistake. It was a mistake because beer and vodka don’t mix so well, and because two drunk sisters take way longer to do anything than you’d think. I believe a part of me didn’t want to be the only sober person in the house. The other part was just a guy in a house with two drunk, hot twins. If you’ve never been in that situation, trust me, drunk beats sober.