Friday, June 17, 2011

Duet - in the key of C

A Duet in the Key of C
~ By Absolutely*Kate and Kevin J. Mackey

"Steve. Steve." 

Steven Bradford turned in his chair at the sound of his name, and stood. Tony Callini was bearing down on him, but it was the woman with Tony that drew Steven from his seat. 

She was tall, would be even without heels. Her eyes, the clearest shade of blue Steven had ever seen, seemed to be dancing with some private amusement. The same amusement was playing on lips coated a very pale pink. 

An asymmetric gown, midnight blue and baring one shoulder, hugged her figure. It covered everything and hid little. 

"This is --" Tony began. 

"Carolina," she said. Smooth, open vowels and Steven caught just the hint of the "r" in her name. 

Carolina offered her hand, slim and warm in white elbow gloves. She offered it, fingers together, arching downwards. Steven had to fight the urge to touch his lips to them. He looked up and caught another hint of amusement. 

"So, that's it then," Tony said. "I've done my part, yes?" 

Carolina turned her head to him, her hand still in Steven's. He felt her fingers tighten a shade more, ensuring he still held her hand. 

"Yes," she said, "you're finished now, darling Tony." Carolina turned back to Steven. 

Steven blinked at the most complete dismissal he had ever heard, and then shook himself. 

"Forgive me," he said, "I've forgotten my manners. I'm Steven, Steven Bradford." 

Her smile flashed, a row of neat, white teeth on display for an instant.

"Carolina, as I said. Carolina Beatrice Templeton." She smiled again and shrugged slightly. Steven's eyes drifted over the light dusting of freckles on her bare right shoulder before being captured again by her eyes.

"An old family," she said, "fond of inflicting dignified names on wayward children."

Steven smiled in return. "Oh I am sure you are very dignified."

Her smile just broadened. 

"Steve?" Alice, Steve's date for the evening,  joined them. Steven released Carolina's hand, noticing as he did so a slight reluctance. He turned to Alice.

"Alice," he said, a shade too brightly. "This is Carolina, Carolina Templeton. A friend . . . of Tony's." 

It seemed to Steven, reflecting later, that the temperature around their little group dropped.

"Alice," Carolina said, "so pleased to make your acquaintance." 
"Likewise, I'm sure," Alice replied. 

Steven noticed neither woman moved to touch the other. 

Alice took Steven's arm in hers. 

"Steve," she said, "we really must go and say 'hello' to Sandra and her husband." 

Steven looked at Alice and then back to Carolina. 

"Steven," Carolina said, "you mustn't let me keep you from enjoying yourself." She paused a moment and then looked directly into his eyes. "I hope you will allow me to call on you sometime. Tony has told me so much about your work." 

"Certainly," Steven said, and felt Alice's fingers digging into his arm. "Call me anytime."

Carolina smiled. "I may call on you anytime?"

Steven kept his face straight even though Alice was beginning to leave marks on his arm. "Yes," he said, "please do." 

"Gift for gift," Carolina mused, her voice soft. She smiled again. "Well then, I will leave you two lovely people to enjoy yourselves." 

She smiled again at Steven and nodded to Alice. Then, turning on her heel, she made her way gracefully across the room. As she walked, Steven was captivated by the gentle swaying of her hips. 

"Steve," Alice said in a loud whisper, "stop staring at her. Who is she anyway?" 

Steven tore his gaze away from Carolina just as she left the room. He turned to Alice. 

"Just a friend of Tony's," he said, "like I told you." 

"A friend of Tony's," Alice said, her mouth drawn into a thin line. "So, where is he then, Tony?

Steven looked around the room. Tony was not to be seen. He smiled and guided Alice towards Sandra and her husband. "He stepped out shortly before you arrived. I'm sure Carolina's gone to find him." 

Alice's reply was unconvinced, but she allowed herself to be steered towards her friend, Sandra. It was, after all, in the opposite direction to the one Carolina had taken. 
 ~ ~ ~

There were actually many opposite directions steered into when folks first made the acquaintance of Carolina Beatrice Templeton. Something about a nature that daunts always veers it so. The Templetons of Montgomery came from old money, dusty money, the kind of money not to shake a stick at, though few ever considered that. The Templetons were seen to be held in the highest regard -- from their open doors on every side of the wide-planked veranda on Magnolia Lane which welcomed friend and stranger alike right on into an iced pitcher of mint juleps, to the family trait of dancing eyes. Oh how the Templeton's eyes danced, waltzed, even tangoed. Midst amusement never veiled and down right chortling guffaws, the Templetons' family tree rollicked all its branches with the good humour that glided them in good stead through conference rooms and dance floors.
Carolina Beatrice Templeton was a gliding light on the dance floor this night, changing partners left and right. 

Nodding in commiseration to Sandra's story about the gardener mistaking the potato patch for placement of the daylily bulbs, Alice's peripheral vision caught flash after flash of midnight blue. Much to her chagrin, Steven, who could care less about potato patches gone askew, was sporting a new level of intensity in his own regard for that vivid flash of midnight blue.
Bristling but a bit, Alice bolstered, rebuking herself to be a far better champ at holding her own. "Excuse us Sandra," she smiled. "Steven, I dare say this is our song. Shall we? Shall we dance?"
Strains of Some Enchanted Evening swirled the perfumed air, the evening's mood and the soft gliding collision of what dancers had on their minds in the New York minutes of a sultry Saturday night.
Carolina Beatrice Templeton had plenty on hers. And how convenient, she noticed, that the malice of Alice would bring her honey directly to the bait. The white gloved fingers of her right hand stroked tenderly the back of the neck of the broad suited shoulders who happened to be her current dance partner. Her throat arched back with a tinkling of musical laughter to something dashing or distinguished he'd just said. What was his name again? Tom? Dick? Harry?

 ~ ~ ~
There I was, with a great character, a great setup, and then...nothing. "Go," said I, "do something. I promise to record it faithfully."

Carolina glanced at me over one bare shoulder, sniffed and began tapping one delicate foot, all the while examining a spot two deliberate inches above my head.

Happily, the Universe reached out, tapped Absolutely*Kate on the shoulder and whispered, "I wouldn't ask usually, but he's stranded and seriously in need of help. A duet, perhaps?"

Mercifully, dropping as the gentle rain from Heaven, she consented. And Carolina and crew took to dancing while we chase madly after them, scribbling.

The above two stanzas of the duet are a sneak preview of whatever-this-is. The year is '76 (19, that is), the place New York (though Carolina's not from there). It's a messy political, financial world (is "messy" redundant there?).

We are hosting this preview on both of our blogs - here and at At The Bijou where *Kate features terrific writing (much of it hers), popcorn for all and wonderful call-outs from the Great American Songbook. Go there, and be wowed.

Also (there's more?), we wondered if you have ideas for the fun and games our characters might indulge in...

Enjoy - and thanks!


  1. Ah, what a vicious character. In it for the victory and that alone.

    I'd like to see Alice come out on top, with a (dignified) revenge

  2. Caroline is a captivating character. Makes me wonder what her game is. I could think of all sorts of fun & games for her to engage in, from sci-fi (alien overlords) to horror (vampire) to mystery (investigating a… not a murder, maybe an embezzlement case, or insurance fraud on behalf of her family business). In all of them, Steve is a stepping stone that takes her to her true target. Alice could be anything from a savior to interference that nearly kills the case.

  3. Well gosh darn, Mr Mackey ~ Mz splendid Mazzzzz-in-Leeds sees into the hearts of both mattering dames! This is quit promising for our premise.

    And *YIKES* baby ~ FARfetched is feelin' the groove too! (Yippee that) ... Uh, Shall we leave the alien overlords and vampiric undertones to those of that talented craft and potentially dabble into the embezzlement angle -- Yes, oh yes, what Carolina Beatrice Templeton will do for Family. Damn, FARfetched is seeing into Steven and zenning Alice as well.

    (Ah, but wait til they get a load of what Tony is up to!)

    Alive our characters be,
    and *blush*, teal heel toe scuff ~
    "Mighty nice stuff you said 'bout me ... Somethings, like duets in the key of C, are just meant to be."

    Thanks all for excellent input and merci beaucoup Monsieur Mackey,

    ~ Absolutely*Kate, sensing a Carolina sultry wink your way ... certainly

  4. @Mazzz - 'Vicious' - perhaps, 'Ruthless', certainly. And 'Victory' - always believed to be sweet. Let us see how Alice fares as things unfold. Many thanks for your thoughts.

    @FARfetched - Glad you enjoyed the intro - and you seem to have seen a lot into the trio. Thank you so much for taking the time.

    *Kate - This feels like the right thing to have done - no surprise, 'twas your suggestion. As to the mighty nice stuff...if you must know, I understated! :)

    Thanks for being my partner in this dance the characters are taking us on. There's fun to be had.

  5. Caroline is a fun vicious character! She could be anything - vampire, a voodoo queen, a spy! alice could be heroine who saves the day or spy or something else altogether. the guy, i don't know, seems like someone who would get killed in the first act. a lot of possibilities here.

  6. @storytreasure - Carolina is fun, of that we are certain. Alice may indeed save something, possibly Steven (I don't think we want to kill him off too quickly - but, if Carolina wants it done, it will be done.)

    Thanks you for your comment.

  7. Yes, methinks Alice has plenty to be nervous about, even if she's looking at it all wrong. ;) (I'm sure it's worse than she suspects - far beyond the reaches of petty jealousy)
    You and *Kate make a fabulous duo!

  8. Me thinks Ms Eno is the coolest cat slinkin' round WritersWorlds . . . Me thinks she's sensin' past Alice's sensin' and I for one of the authors watchin' these characters boss us around (they do y'know - but so splendidly so that Kevin keeps pouring them brandy - I kid you not) -- I'm doin' that kind of sensin' too.

    Hey there storytreasury ~ I just love it when "fun vicious" is used in the same context. You're most def on to something there!

    Thanks you guys ... A curtsey to Mr Mackey, and I'm out the swingin' door ~ Absolutely*Kate

  9. Carolina is some character for sure. I'd love to see how this plays out, and I'm intrigued to learn why she's so interested in Steven. Or rather, what would he have to offer her?

  10. Interesting character is Carolina, the girls love to hate her and the men would love to love her. What's Carolina's angle here? Maybe she's the front to some underworld gang that lures unsuspecting men into their grasp, gets them to invest in some bogus plan. Or Maybe she is a predator, waiting to sink her teeth into her victims.......

    Helen from helen-scribbles.

  11. Carolina scares me. I'd go somewhere dark and disturbing with her if I were you.


  12. I'm as intrigued in Carolina's veiled motives as you are non-contrary Mari. Steven may not know himself what Carolina 'needs' him for.

    Helen, as usual your insight sights potential turns around varied bends. Ahhh, but we shall see what we shall see, all of us, it seems.

    Yikes! Who woulda thunk we'd be scarin' up Jai Joshi, Mr Mackey? I don't find Carolina really disturbing, just an empowered super-serene lady with secrets yet unfurled, (well, to us, it seems).

    With the esteemed Duet-Man, I thank you good fellow authors for how you too are reading into our characters. This has been rewarding in echoes . . .

    ~ Absolutely*Kate, going to peek in on Alice, meet up with Carolina and try to decipher what I sense Tony and Steven are mumbling about. Of this I can assure you ~ One of them is most definitely up to something.

    ( smile )

  13. So how did you write the dialogue section? Kate as one mouth, Kevin as the other?

  14. DEAR JOHN ~

    I have loved each and every time I've "watched your mind read, nay read-into" a piece, by following you into Commentary'Door. At those instances it has been in a collaborative duo, I marvel (as I do at the intricacies which make your voices and thoughts appear woven as one so intricately that a reader can not tell where one began - the thought or the voice - and the other trailed or taled off) at how you perceive and discern.

    UPON THIS PIECE, well now into several "stanzas" from each of us, as Mr Mackey is fond to say . . . Kevin literally had the first segment, introducing four characters at hand, inspired I believe he told me from a Karen from Mentor piece a time ago. I did come tap, tap, tapping at his shoulder and door for a duet, as, in getting to know the rich fibres of so varied many of our exquisite #FridayFlashing band, his dancing eloquence intrigued a mesh with lit and wit and I felt quite comfortably at home and enlivened there ~ as in a wingback by the architectural window where the brocade curtain is drawn, and the light cascades. Kevin sent me his first part, with the dynamic kickback line of: "An old family," she said, "fond of inflicting dignified names on wayward children." Solidly, I was hooked and respected this gentleman so much as to not leave the story he wished to take on vivid life sit on any shelf.

    So, we 'changed dance partners' so to speak ... Successively, we take on another scene, stirring forth juices of the other, though BEHIND THE SCENES, so very much enriching back and forth is going on between us -- We are zenning and *feeling* our protagonists and getting into muses and motives. -- We find ourselves MORE in sync each time we 'reinforce our inherent knowings'. At one point in our writing, I had to attend my love's end of the year faculty dinner dance bash, and Kevin "sent me out on a research romp" to do a little Carolina Beatrice Templeton'ing midst the mingled masses.

    And ~ Oh I did!
    John, I wrote the segment which gains momentum from Kevin's clever setting, setting up and instilling the beginning of our beguine . . .We established place and era as we worked, sent each other 'background', and our heads nodded across mere miles as our keyboards smiled.

    Thanks John,
    for I wanted to say this
    and give tribute to dear Kevin and ALL the ways as writers we are spurred on, one by the other.

    Humbly Honoured
    ~ Absolutely*Kate

  15. Helen, Jai, John, thank you all for your comments.

    Any tribute due me - liberally lavished by *Kate - is appreciated but I would be churlish to not honor that other writer that is *Kate who has taken these characters and raced gleefully about with them - and Carolina's musical laughter can be heard clear across the dance floor.

  16. (( Here I thought that was the waiter with the tippling toppling tray of fine Waterford ))

  17. I kinda want Caroline to trip on her gown - does that make me a bad person? Great lingering conversaion, there...

  18. >>does that make me a bad person?

    Oh yes, and wondrously so! :-) But, I'm afraid Carolina is far to sure-footed for that. Thank you for stopping by.

  19. Oh you bad darkanddemure (kudos on such a memorable nom de plume) ~ Carolina would eat you up for breakfast and sprinkle you like croissant crumbs . . .

    . . . and then carefully lick her fingertips.

    Smiling, and most definitely letting YOU know when the full book releases with aplomb -- THE 1976 SOCIETY book which the savvy Mr Mackey and I are delightedly "watching" happen. (Our characters speak so fluently, we kinda try to catch up on the keyboard - at the speed of enlightenment)

    ~ Absolutely*Kate,
    Believing in Believers ... and Carolina Beatrice Templeton