Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Kindle Book Preview: Average Joe and the Extraordinaires

Home Sweet Clock Tower

The drive there went quickly enough.  It was even easier getting into the tower at this time of night.  The only company that the three of them had was a blinking traffic light and that was a mile down.

Joe brought the girls in from the back entrance.  He couldn’t tell one from the other thanks to the bundle of stuff each held in front of them.  Only when their heads poked out to the side to see where they were walking did Joe see who was who.  He decided to help lighten their loads once they reached the stairs.  He took the sleeping bag from Melissa and had her carry the folded blankets as he had originally intended before the girl declined.  She was adamant about pulling her own weight, a virtue that was taught to her from her dad, by her telling.  That was all fine and dandy, but Joe didn’t want her to trip and break a leg.  He wouldn’t have that at all.  He liked the little girl.  She was very sweet.

Melissa looked up at the long stretch of stairs going towards the rooftop, and Joe followed her gaze.  He could see nothing but black after the halfway point.

Melissa: “Wow, it looks much bigger inside than outside.”

Joe had always thought that too, especially when he walked the winding steps.  The climb had always taken so long and his thighs would always burn, and his ankles were seldom not sore once he reached the top.  Outside the tower didn’t look very tall at all, despite that.

Joe: “Maybe there are double the stairs.”

Melissa giggled at that and Dahlila shook her head in disapproval.  They weren’t going to go up the stairs tonight, however.  It was much too dark for that and Joe was getting sleepy.

Joe: “The room you gals will be at is through this door here, so we’ll skip the stairs for now.”

They walked through the small single door and into a room that was nothing but shadow and moonlight.  Joe was used to daytime strolls here.  It had been quite some years since he had seen the inside of the tower at night, and it was very striking to see.  Pale blue light poured in over the long oaken benches that sat, black as night, near the front of the hall.  The light came from the five large windows that surrounded the room.  The windows were set high up, unreachable by unaided human hands.  There was mostly empty space, especially if you discounted the benches.  A large ornate tapestry that strongly smelled of dust took up most of the room’s space.  The tapestry had some sort of coat of arms on it, with a spear, vines, and that thing that Julius Caesar and the Little Caesar guy wear on their heads, Joe had concluded.  The girls looked to and fro, surveying their new digs.

Joe: “There’s a lot of space here as you can see.  That’s why I figure it’d be a good spot to sleep. Plus, there’s no wind.”

Melissa: “But it’s so cold in here.”

Joe couldn’t disagree with that.  It was always colder inside the tower than outside it for some odd reason.

Joe: “Yeah, it’s always like that.  Sorry.”

They put their sleeping equipment on the floor and Joe continued the tour.  He pointed up to the front, where an altar sat with a woman’s face on it.  They all walked towards it.

Joe: “I think this used to be a church or something.  There’s a statue of some famous wise woman up there.  I never figured out who she was, but the description under the altar says that she brings out the potential in men and helps them reclaim their destinies.”

Dahlila: “She looks tough.”

Melissa: “And beautiful.”

Joe nodded his head in agreement with both accounts, and continued on.  He led them to the front hallway, near the front door, along with the coat closet.  He warned the girls never to use the front door.

Joe: “If you have to leave, use the back door.  You don’t want to be seen in here, and the front door leads right to the streets.”

He then walked them through the tiny kitchen where the slivers of moonlight filtered through an overhead vent.  The kitchen was still very dark regardless of the moonlight, and Joe loudly called himself stupid for forgetting to bring any flashlights.

Melissa: “I still have mine!”

Dahlila looked over the old appliances and wiped dust off the stove and blew it from her fingers and off into the air.

Dahlila: “Does any of this work?”

Joe: “I doubt it.  The tower doesn’t get power, and I’m sure they turned the gas off too.”

Dahlila made a face as if she smelled something rotten.

Dahlila: “I guess beggars can’t be choosers.  Draft up the papers, we’ll take it!”

All three of them laughed at that.  Afterwards Joe felt a yawn trying to escape.

Joe: “Well, this is it for now, I guess.  It’s not the best, but it’s peaceful here.  That’s why me and Mod like it, but we’ve never slept here overnight.”

Melissa: “What about the top?  You haven’t shown us what the view looks like yet.”

Another yawn crept up, and this time Joe couldn’t stifle it.

Dahlila: “He can do it some other time.  Come on, let’s set everything up for bed.”

The little girl looked as disappointed as Joe had ever seen her look.  She didn’t look sad per se, just a little less happy.

Joe: “No, it’s okay.  I don’t mind, Dahlila.  Come on, follow me.”

That perked Melissa right up.  She gave Joe her flashlight and he led the sortie up the winding staircase, with both girls not far behind.  Once they neared the halfway point, he looked back after he heard Dahlila say something to Melissa.

Dahlila: “Why’d you lug that up with you?”

Melissa: “Oh, I forgot that I had it in my hands.”

Dahlila eyed her suspiciously.

Dahlila: “Mmhm.”

At the halfway point Melissa spotted an open window that was just beyond her reach.  Joe turned down her request to be lifted into the large windowsill because he felt it was too dangerous.  Dahlila seconded his decision.

Joe: “I promise you’ll have an even better view at the top.”

They continued on to the top, and once more — like before — his thighs burned, but this time his ankles didn’t hurt quite so much.  It was here that Joe lost the attention of both girls.  They gaped up at the insides of the four pale blue clock faces that glowed with the moon’s light.  Their own faces glowed with that same light.  After that, Melissa inspected the other gears and machinery.  He figured she’d have long enough to do that later though.  He wanted to get to the coup de grace.  He needed sleep sooner rather than later.

Joe: “Okay, gals, this way please.”

Melissa smiled up at him, obviously excited by all the mechanical wonders around her, and took Joe’s hand.  He led her up one more level of stairs to the southern clock face and they looked out of it.  The wind was blowing coolly, just as Joe had said, though it wasn’t even half as chilly as the altar room downstairs.  It was a nice night.

Melissa wanted to climb a little higher, and this time Joe obliged her.  This windowsill was much bigger than the one below, and there was enough space for her to stand on the inside.  She stood transfixed by the goings on outside and below, and then by the stars.

Melissa: “I think I’m going to sleep up here.”

Dahlila sighed.

Dahlila: “You knew you were going to sleep up here, you little sneak.”

Melissa smiled and shrugged while Joe laughed.

Dahlila: “Greeeaat!  Now I have to go get my sleeping bag.”