OC Writers Guild prompt writing from before I started putting dates on things:
1. I had the plane ticket in my hand
2. She’d never let herself believe in anything so foolish before
3. They might think him crazy, but that’s only because they didn’t know the real story
Angela Tidbury was not one of those flighty females who take everything at face value only to learn from bitter experience that a person’s words are not always true. Actually, she was quite the opposite, and had been since she was born some eighty-five years earlier. You could ask anyone. Angela was as down-to-earth and Missouri “show-me” as anyone you could hope to meet.
Of course, this was all before she met Tom and me. We hadn’t really planned for Angela to be part of the scheme, but she just rather dropped into it direct from the penthouse suite to the garden cafe, in a private elevator, no less.
“Geez, look at that!” Tom told me as he peered over my shoulder. “There’s a woman—at least I think it’s a woman—coming out of that wall!”
“Are you nuts?” I turned to see what was causing his hallucination. What came to my eye was a tapestried panel sliding silently back into place, and in front of that a squat, frumpy figure covered with layers of what appeared to be bearskin rugs. The apparition moved toward us with sliding steps.
“I do hope I haven’t startled you,” she said. “Usually the place is empty when my elevator arrives.” She looked around at the empty tables with a sigh. “The cafe doesn’t do a very brisk business, I’m afraid.”
She—it was definitely a she—stared at us waiting for a reply. I recovered first.
“Well, we’re not really here for a meal,” I told her, feeling almost guilty about the peanut butter and liverwurst sandwich I’d eaten earlier. “We just needed a meeting place both of us knew.”
I glanced around the room. Sure enough, we were the only people in sight. Tom punched me gently on the arm and gave a little harrumph.
“We should be going, Shelby.”
The old lady plopped herself down at one of the little tables and patted the chair beside her.
“Nonsense. You’re here now, you might as well stay and get to know me. You might be pleased that you did.”
I didn’t know how to answer that, and apparently Tom didn’t either. Was this old broad going to mess up our plans? Everything so far was right on schedule and I had the plane ticket in my hand, hidden deep in my jacket pocket. Before I knew it, I was seated next to her and Tom, in a daze, was pulling up a chair across the table from us.
“There, that’s better. Let me get rid of a few of these furs and we’ll all get comfortable and get acquainted. By the way, I’m Angela Tidbury. I own this hotel, you know. Now, what’s this big project you had in mind?”
My mouth dropped open. How did she know, and what could she do to mess it up? Tom was taking it all in with much more calm that I could muster.
“It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Tidbury,” he said.
“Oh, no, it’s Miss Tidbury, dear. And you are…?”
Tom looked my way for a second.
“I’m Nelson Farragut, and this is my, uh, cousin Nellie Bly.” Well, that was embarrassing.
Remember, this is timed writing, so the story doesn’t finish, it just ends after 25 minutes. Maybe someday …