[This scene was written in response to the Stink Bug Writing Challenge over on the RocNaNo blog. It was written pretty quickly, but I kind of like it seeing as how I managed to incorporate elements from my current WIP, the challenge, Reynard (one of my most difficult characters to write), lines from Meatloaf’s You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) and Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad, Manfred Mann’s Questions, the Declaration of Independence, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Gee! Is there anything original in here at all?]
“On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?”
Meatloaf’s song fit the evening perfectly. It was a hot summer night, and Patton could hear the wolves howling at his door. He was working on a spreadsheet, trying to figure out what he could do without in order to make the next mortgage payment, and his concentration was being distracted by assorted bugs that had gotten into the house and were drawn to the computer screen as the only light in the place. He figured that working in the dark was one tiny way he could save some money. Yeah, right. As if that would make any difference.
His thoughts were wandering, as they always did when faced with a distasteful task that required accuracy but no imagination, and when he looked up to check the formula he was entering he realized it was in the wrong cell. Damn! His pinky darted to the escape key to correct his mistake, but something was in the way!
Unnoticed, a stink bug had settled in the corner of his keyboard, blocking his escape. Irritated, Patton started to flick it off but a voice interrupted him.
“You don’t want to do that.”
He looked around and didn’t see anyone, but then a fox wearing a hat rose up on his hind legs in the darkness. Reynard!
“I won’t bother asking how you got in here. In fact, I suspect you’re the one who let all the bugs in. Why?”
“Your luck’s about to change, and you’re going to meet an old acquaintance of mine who will present you with new options. You must choose, but choose wisely.”
Patton was shocked. Reynard was speaking plainly! He usually answered his questions with questions and pointed him into the night. To be actually hearing answers from the wily fox was unheard of! Patton’s suspicions were immediately aroused.
“What are you up to?”
“Is it not enough that I speak plainly? Must I have an ulterior motive?”
“It defies both your reputation and past experience. What’s this choice you mentioned?”
“You will be given a gift as payment for services rendered. How you choose to use it will affect your life, your fortune, and your sacred honor. Many options, many outcomes, many types of misery. Positive for up to two, but not for all the three.” Reynard was clearly having a hard time talking plainly, and drifting back to his old habits of questions and riddles. Patton knew his headache would only grow as the conversation went on. Best to wrap things up quickly.
“Thank you for the warning. I’ll try to keep it in mind.” Patton turned back to his computer, to see that the stink bug had gone elsewhere. It occurred to him that Reynard hadn’t told him why he shouldn’t flick the bug. He shook his head in frustration, hit the escape key, and let out a sigh as he switched his thoughts back to his sorry finances.
Reynard wasn’t quite done with him, apparently. “Now don’t be sad.”
“Because?” asked Patton without turning around.
“‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad.”
Patton looked up at that, but the fox in the hat had disappeared back into the darkness, leaving only the annoying insects behind.