I went back and forth on whether or not to post a creative work on the blog. I even made a Twitter poll, that resulted in almost an even divide whether to post a creative work on the blog. After mulling it over I have decided that I am going to take one of my unfinished works and post a chapter a week, this will serve two purposes. The first purpose, it will allow those who may be interested in my creative writing ability to see my work and secondly, it will force me to finish this work. If you are an agent reading this, I have several completed works that I do not have any intention of sharing online, those are for publishing. I welcome constructive criticism, but if you choose to offer advice, please keep in mind that you are only seeing one chapter at a time.
By: Jacqueline Thomas
“Jean did you have more potato salad? If not, I can run and grab some out of my fridge,” Laura said.
It was the annual block party for Lilac Lane. Normally Ben Carter tried to avoid these sort of gatherings. He wasn’t antisocial; this was just more of a family scene. He had never made time for the traditional set of a wife and kids; he was married to his job, a detective for the Chicago Police Department. Sure there had been women in the past, but none that had pulled him away from his true love, his work.
“Really, Laura this is more than enough.”
Ben stared down at the flimsy paper plate loaded with a small mountain of potato salad. Laura had given him more than two large servings. He knew she meant well. To Laura, being in his late thirties and single, was more of a malady than a choice. Occasionally, she’d she show up at his door with the excuse that she had made too much for one dinner or another excuse. Ben had tried his best to dissuade her, but she was sweet on him, and he knew it.
“Well if you are hungry, come get more okay?”
Ben smiled as he walked away looking for a spot to sit at one of the long tables down the middle of the street. He had made an appearance hoping to run into Rachel Lawson from across the street. She and her husband Rhett had divorced a few years ago. Ben thought that Rachel was beautiful and he felt like a teenager every time he talked to her, fumbling over his own words.
Ben found a seat next to her middle son Luke; he was six. Luke eagerly shoved a giant mouthful of jello salad into his mouth. At noticing Ben sit down next to him, Luke turned and smiled with whipped cream on his face. Ben handed Luke his napkin as the boy wiped the whipped cream off of his face.
“Mr. Carter, did you bring your gun today?” Luke asked, still chewing the jello salad.
“Not today, sport.”
“I like your gun; it’s really cool.”
“I like it too, but it isn’t a toy. It’s for grown-ups only, okay?”
“To shoot the bad guys, right?”
Ben looked up for Rachel; luckily she had joined the conversation.
“Why don’t you let Mr. Carter finish his mountain of potato salad? Besides, your brothers are waiting for you at the water gun station. You can practice wrangling bad guys there.”
Luke shot up from his seat, as Rachel gently grabbed his arm and wiped the last of the whipped cream from his face.
“Go get’em bud!” Rachel laughed.
Ben loved the sound of her laugh. She took Luke’s seat as she said it.
“Sorry about that, he is really into good guys and bad guys, as he calls it right now.”
“I was him at that age. Always on the move.”
“He’s happy, that’s all that matters to me. Hey, at the risk of getting jumped by Laura, would you like something else to eat? I mean something to go with your potato salad? I put a few burgers aside for the boys later. They probably won’t eat them.” Rachel said with a slight laugh. “No judgment though if you are really into that potato salad, though.”
“That would be great. I usually don’t come to these, I didn’t realize how hungry everyone is on this street, or I would’ve come earlier.”
Rachel laughed as her youngest son, Evan came and climbed up on her lap. He was four and looked just like Rachel. He was a quiet kid but smart.
“Sure, I’d love one.”
Rachel and Ben sat through most of the evening and talked as the block party wrapped up. Laura tried to join the conversation twice but was pulled away both times by other neighbors who wanted to chat. The rest of the time she pouted as she looked at Rachel and Ben. She wanted Ben for herself.
“Well Mr. Carter, it is getting late. I should get the boys home. It was nice to talk to you.”
“Please call me Ben, we’re neighbors. Can I help?”
“Um, sure, can you grab this chair? I will get the other one; these are mine. I also need to get my salad bowl off the buffet table. I will be right back.”
Rachel set her folding chair against the table as she walked over to the buffet. Ben was mesmerized by the way her body moved, it wasn’t overly sexy, but there was something very feminine to it that made his heart beat a little stronger when he watched her. He picked up both chairs as she came back to where he was standing. He smiled and followed her. She shouted to her boys that it was time to go in. They protested, but she held firm. She stopped just short of the steps to the front porch and turned to call again as all three boys came running up the front steps and into the house.
“They’ll leave a ring around the tub for sure tonight.” Rachel laughed.
“Ah, they’re only young once.”
“True, but I don’t feel like washing muddy footprints out of their bedsheets. It was nice to visit with you Mr. Carter; I mean Ben.”
He desperately wanted to ask her out on a date but choked at the last minute. Instead, he asked where she would like him to put her chairs.
“Just lean them against the house. I will put them away tomorrow. Good night, Ben.”
“Good night Rachel, please tell the boys I said goodbye too.”
Rachel walked into the house and shut the front door behind her. Ben leaned the chairs against the house. He felt like the entire street had watched their interaction. He turned to walk off the porch as he saw Laura walking his way. His phone rang at just in time to avoid having to decline a drink with her. He put the phone up to his ear and answered the phone loudly hoping it would deter Laura.
“Hello, this is Ben.”
“Hi Ben, it’s Jack. We found another one, the son of a bitch did it again.”
“Okay, I am on my way. Give me the address.”
To Read the next chapter click the link: https://jacquelinecthomas.com/chapter-2-mckinley-park/