Indie Author Answers #8: Reading Work Aloud

Tip of the Week:

have your book read to you! It’s built in to the Mac OS, and probably on Windows too, or you can find plenty of apps out there to do this. Reading your work aloud helps, but not nearly as much as having someone else read it to you.


The Problematic Virtue Chapter 8:

8: Alex


Brian had been upset for a few days now, and Alex had successfully minded his own business, for the most part. When Brian got the news that this Wiles person was inside waiting for him, Brian’s mood seemed to intensify. The episode on the steps of the dorm two days before remained unexplained, and Alex had not known what he should or should not say about that. Hard to know where the line was with a new friend.

After Brian left the two of them standing in the back yard, Alex and Heather endured a small eternity of awkward silence. Tall and slender, she had grey eyes that were so deep they almost looked purple. Brian was not a bad-looking guy, but this girl was an Eight, whereas it seemed Brain was more suited to landing Sixes, or on his best day, a Seven. Maybe he has a gigantic dick.

His curiosity overcame him. “How did you and Brian hook up?”

“I’d have to think about it. I don’t know, I guess. We had a class together freshman year, and then one day I saw him playing his guitar outside the dorm. I stopped to talk to him, and he played some songs for me. He was just, like, really cute, singing and playing like that. He’s very sweet.”

He thought he should say something else before she caught him staring. “Does Brian seem okay to you tonight?”

“What do you mean?” she said.

“I don’t know, he’s just off. Like something’s bothering him.”

“Is he being all brooding, and quiet… like that?” she said.

“Yeah. That’s how he’s acting.”

“That’s pretty much regular Brian. Sometimes, he’s all, like, trying to figure out how the world’s vibrations work or something like that. When he gets like that, there’s not a whole lot you can do. I just wait until he’s done.”

“Oh, I see,” Alex said. “Do you have a, um, major?”

“Now, there’s a good line. Art History, what about you?”

Alex shrugged. “I don’t know yet. Brian said not to worry about it; I have enough gen-ed classes to keep me busy for now. But I’d like to do something real, ya know? Not some lame-ass degree like Philosophy. Maybe Business or Economics.”

“Wall Street guy?”

“Hells yeah. I’m going to get mine. I’m not going to be some chump working all his life.”

“Wow, so you’re like, pretty confident.”

“I don’t know; I do okay. Who’s that Wiles guy Brian went to see?” he said.

“Wiles? Derek Wiles? Thug-boy?”

“I guess.”

“That’s Brian’s A-Number-One running buddy. But actually he’s a number one dick-face.” Heather found her sudden wit hilarious and laughed so hard she toppled backwards, meeting the ground and sending a torrent of beer all over herself. Alex dropped to one knee to help her.

“Holy shit,” Heather said, struggling to get back to her feet. “What the hell just happened? Did you see that? The ground just came out of nowhere. One second I was just standing there, and the next second the ground was pow smacking me in the ass.”

“Yeah, tricky stuff, that ground.” As Alex helped lift her, her breasts brushed up against his arm, and blood rushed to his crotch. He immediately thought of Brian, and experienced a pang of guilt for lusting after his woman. Alex retrieved Heather’s empty beer cup from the grass and held it for her.

“Thanks,” she said. “It looks like I need a new beer.”

The sound of a sharp whistle interrupted their conversation. On the back porch appeared the guitar-playing smooth operator himself, Brian Connelly. Brian waved at Alex and Heather to come to the house.

They joined Brian inside to find a circle of people lining the edges of the living room, and two men in the center facing each other, in some kind of disagreement. Both were yelling, with livid fingers pointed in each other’s chests. The living room onlookers remained captivated; their chatter halted. Alex had seen this before. The two at the center were about to throw down.

One of the two was pale, thick and meaty, with a generous head and chunky arms. He looked nervous, but unwilling to back down. The other guy was darker, short but stocky and maybe muscular, although his clothes were too baggy to tell for sure. The dark one seemed confident but also had a lazy swagger about him. Three feet apart, chests puffed up, shoulders back, and fists balled. The fat one was in the middle of a rant: “Stop lying, Wiles. You’re the only guy in town with a blue Jeep with Ground Effects, it had to be you!”

This is Wiles. The image Alex had formed based on Heather’s description seemed accurate, given what was now in front of him. The A-Number-One Dick-Hole did indeed look the part.

“You better back the hell up, Tyson,” Wiles said. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. I wasn’t anywhere near your piece of shit car that night. I’ve had about enough of your mouth.”

“I saw the dent in your bumper, jerk-off, I know it was you. Mike Schultz saw your blue Jeep on the Hill that night, an hour before my car was hit. You want me to see if I can scrape some damn paint off your bumper?”

“Listen, son, I’m getting tired of this shit. Are you going to do something, or are you going to stand there and bark at me?” Wiles pushed up his sleeves. Heather grabbed Brian’s arm and squeezed it.

Wiles took a step towards Tyson, but Tyson stood his ground. Neither wanted to make the first move. Their eyes locked. The onlookers waited.

Tyson lingered in the tension a moment before giving his answer. “Suck my dick,” he said.

Wiles sneered at him. “All right then, let’s do this.”

Before the inevitable could happen, the front door opened, and there emerged the biggest Hispanic man Alex had ever seen. Either of his arms had more girth than one of Alex’s thighs. In each hand, the giant held a bag of ice. He seemed surprised by the melodrama occurring in the living room. After dropping the bags onto the floor, he stormed right into the middle of the confrontation.

“Just what the hell is going on here?” the colossal Hispanic said.

“Who is this dude?” Alex whispered to Brian.

“That,” Brian answered with a smile, “is Miguel.”