Sup. Today we finally round out Elmore Leonard’s 10 rules of writing.
And now, here it is, your moment of read-along fiction:
Wiles stepped out of his Jeep and set the cups of coffee on his hood so he could adjust the gun in his waistband. He told himself– for the thousandth time– that he should buy a shoulder holster. The waistband of sagging jeans was a poor choice to hold an implement of destruction.
Wiles knocked on Connelly’s door, and forced the corners of his lips into a smile. He shifted the toothpick from one side of this mouth to the other.
Connelly, wearing only a towel, rubbed his eyes. Wiles extended one cup of coffee to him. “Morning,” Wiles said. “Coffee’s from Buchanan’s. It’s the good stuff.”
“What time is it?” Connelly said, wincing at the bright light outside.
“Almost seven. Let’s go on a walk. First, take this coffee.”
Connelly reached out and took the warm paper cup. “I’m not even dressed.”
“That’s alright,” Wiles said, “just a quick one around the yard. We need to talk. Just come outside with me.”
“Wait here,” Connelly said and disappeared while Wiles waited in the doorway. Wiles readjusted the pistol.
In a few minutes, Connelly reappeared, fully dressed. They walked down the stairs and into the breezeway between buildings. Walkways, stairwells, all devoid of people at this early hour. “I heard about your ex, Heather,” Wiles said. “Britton told me last night. That’s a shame. That girl always did do everything to extremes, right?”
No response. Wiles wondered if Connelly ever realized that his ex was Wiles’ fuck-buddy for almost two years. Maybe, maybe not. Connelly had always kept many things to himself over the few years they’d been associated. Not like the strong-silent type, but maybe more comparable to the tortured-artist style.
Wiles continued. “Okay, I can see you’re not in the mood for small talk. I can respect that. I’ll get right to it then, because I’ve got kind of a situation, Brian.”
Connelly maintained his silence. They stepped out into the courtyard in the middle of a cluster of apartments. Connelly kept that look of wariness on his face.
“What you told me that day, about being worried about Britton, I’ve been thinking a lot about it, and I took it to heart. Some guys can handle their stuff, and some guys can’t, and I’m starting to see that Britton is just the kind of guy who shouldn’t be around all this stuff. the kid needs some help. I’ve been doing all I can, but now I need your help, too.”
Despite his former resolve, Connelly’s interest seemed piqued, perhaps a little. “What exactly do you need from me?”
“I just got one last thing for you to do, and then I won’t bug you anymore. There are some people that Britton is supposed to meet, but I don’t think it’s safe for him to go there. It’s kind of a long story and I don’t really have time to go into all of it. Nothing dangerous about this place, it’s just a meet up spot, and nothing dangerous about these people, it’s just that Britton shouldn’t go there tonight, so I need somebody else to go in his place.”
“I don’t understand. Alex pissed off some drug dealer so you want me to go in his place. How does that help him?”
“Oh, no, no”, Wiles said, waving his hands. “I didn’t explain myself right. Nobody’s pissed off. It’s not like that. I’ve been trying to keep Britton off the speed, but I’m pretty sure he’s getting it on the side from these guys. It would just be better if he stayed away from these people completely, know what I’m saying?”
Wiles could tell that Connelly was tempted, almost as if he had thought of this plan himself. “Then why can’t you go? Why should I believe any of this?”
Wiles frowned and put out his best look of offense. “I don’t get what all your attitude is about lately.” Connelly said nothing. “I have to be in Colorado Springs tonight,” Wiles said. “I can’t get out of it. I don’t have anyone else to do this. I need you. Anything you want. Anything, just tell me.” Wiles held out a wad of cash. “All you have to do is sit in your car; wait in the parking lot behind 24-hour Fitness at about nine o’clock tonight, and when these guys come, give ‘em the cash. They give you a small bag. I’ll come by tomorrow afternoon and pick it up. No drama. Really, that’s all it is.”
Connelly did not immediately answer. Then his face lit up. “If I do this for you, I want you to do something for me. For Alex, really. Keeping him away from meth isn’t good enough. I want you to help me get Alex into some kind of treatment program. Inpatient, maybe out of state, or something like that.”
Wiles had to respect Connelly for negotiating, something he probably wouldn’t have done a few years ago. Showed heart. Wiles nodded and Connelly accepted the bills, still with a bit of wariness in his eyes.
Wiles clapped his hands together to seal the deal. “Done. I’ve been thinking the same thing, actually. You’re absolutely right; that kid parties way too much and I do worry about him sometimes. We’ll get him the help he needs.”
“You have to convince him to go, too. He probably won’t want to. You have to make him do it.”
Wiles offered his hand. Connelly reluctantly took it.