Tag Archives: writing

The billionaire’s gambit

Susannah Fontaine-Williams lay on the prow of a strange man’s  yacht propped back on her elbows, wishing she had her wide-brimmed floppy hat to shade her from the hot sun. The fast boat etched a creamy V through the Aegean Sea at nearly 50 knots.

She had already bought her ferry tickets to the Island of Delos when a man who introduced himself as Tassos offered to speed her there personally on his yacht. It was the kind of opportunity that presented itself to her frequently when she traveled alone, and the sort of offer she rarely refused. Who would? It didn’t hurt that he was striking.

But she hesitated an instant, perhaps because he had one blue eye and one brown one. In that moment between yes and no, Tassos convinced her, explaining that he had made his fortune in shipping which allowed him to indulge his interest in archaeology. “I will be your personal guide on ancient Delos. I can show you things you could not possibly discover on the tour.”

Before boarding the 60-foot craft, she’d said, “I thought you said you had a yacht.” She had then taken a look around to see if there might be someone else with a larger boat waiting to whisk her away.

She reached into her bag hoping that maybe she had stuffed a hat in at some point but knowing she hadn’t. Her hand felt something smooth and cold and pulled out an ivory-handled dagger with a leather blade cover. She gasped, not with surprise, but at the knife’s intricate beauty. She turned it over, unsheathed it, rubbed her thumb along the blade.  “Sharp,” she thought. It had the symbol of the ankh delicately carved on the fat part of the blade on both sides.

She tucked it back in the bag, remembering where so she could study it later at her leisure. She rooted around some more and pulled out an unfamiliar floppy sun hat which she placed upon her head. It fit perfectly and the wind did not blow it off.

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The view from the deck of The Gambit as it approaches Delos.

 

White out

A long time ago my people would correct errors in any number of ways. For large or infuriating mistakes, we liked to rip a page from the typewriter, crumple it, and toss it into a wastebasket. For smaller mistakes, we would turn the platen to easily get to the line in question, then apply whiteout, a product used to obscure letters and words, then turn the platen back to the original position and resume typing.

The editorial committee have determined (or is it has determined?) that the last chapter, The Hyphen Backstory, is a catastrophic error and in fact doesn't work for the overall storyline we've got going. I do happen to be in Greece and I was swept up in the moment and thought wouldn't SFW not only travel to Athens but in reality have a secret family? This is, of course, completely ludicrous. Nonetheless, I swore a solemn oath not to delete any more posts in the SFW adventure and so I must ask the both of you to disregard the last post. Consider it a dream or a fantasy, possibly even an hallucination. While there may or may not prove to be a Bob Williams there certainly can be no triplets.

I apologize for any inconvenience, but I really can see no way to resolve the story if the previous chaper is not disregarded. I'm open to suggestions, however. Anyway, thanks for your time. If anyone needs anything, please feel free to comment or drop me a line. Thanks.

The hyphen backstory

 No one asked Susannah Fontaine-Williams about her hyphenation. She didn't avoid talking about Bob Williams, it just didn't seem to come up. They'd married on the Greek island of Phraxos when she was just 20 or 23, depending on whose story you believed, produced an adorable set of triplets, then went their separate ways. Still deeply in love they recoupled several times yearly usually with the changing of the seasons. For those brief, blissful periods, mostly spent somewhere in the Mediterranean, they seemed to be nothing more than a passionate young couple traveling with overachieving triplets (more about them later).

She always brought something exotic for Bob and their threesome so most times, she'd check an enormous bag and despite her frequent traveler status, have to pay for the extra weight. But not this time. She whistled as she breezed by curbside check-in at JFK and straight to the TSA pre-screened line with nothing but a carry-on suitcase and a stylish handbag created by a mostly unknown designer.

Macallan finds nothing in SFW’s stylish, yet functional bag

The head of security at Neiman’s, Macallan, saw what he saw in the monitor and radio’d the doormen to stop the blond talk show host as she left the building. The man everyone called  Single Malt very much liked Susannah Fontaine-Williams. They’d met a few times in the massive department store and she chatted with him as if they were old grade school buddies who’d somehow lost track of each other over the years. She remembered his wife’s name and how old his kids were. He made a point to DVR her show though he seldom had a chance to watch it, what with the crazy hours and the side jobs.

So when Darrel’s voice came over the radio, “She’s here boss,” he felt more than a tinge of sadness as he made his way to the 52nd Street entrance. He found Susannah Fontaine-Williams and Darell talking  basketball. “If I was the NBA comissioner, Miss Fontaine-Williams…” “Please, Darrel, just call me Susannah already.”

Darrel continued, “…first thing we do is get rid of at least six, maybe eight teams. Talent’s too diluted.” She nodded appreciatively. “Then, I order the refs to start calling ‘traveling’ again. Anyone can make Top Ten if you can take four steps to the basket!”

“Mac!” SFW squealed. Macallan watched her face and body language and thought, wow, for someone caught shoplifting on camera she is one cool customer.

“Miss Fontaine-WIlliams,” he started. “I mean, Susannah, I hate to ask you this, but I need to have a look inside your bag.”

After shoplifting

Following the taping of SFW that afternoon, Susannah Fontaine-Williams accepted the invitation of one of her guests, the British  philosopher/astronomer Malcolm Norton-Hollings, for lunch and drinks at Fiorello’s. It was a gorgeous New York afternoon and they sat at a sidewalk table drinking something fizzy and critiquing the passersby. The bag lay at her feet and she checked it by rubbing her leg against it every few minutes. Still there. Norton-Hollings was her favorite (favourite) type of guest: intellectual, witty and tweedily good looking, there to talk up his latest book, generously dishing out the flirty banter. When Norton-Hollings excused himself to relieve himself of too much fizzy, she plopped the bag on her lap and reached inside to check on the contents. She had had no intention of taking more than one item, but once the Vera Wang had been gulped up into the bag’s void, there was the matter of the Dior, the so many things they brought her to try on that they couldn’t possibly keep count of what remained piled on the chairs and day lounge in the dressing room. The dresses were not there, nor were the shoes, nor anything else she had liberated from Neiman’s. She found, however, an envelope that she did not recall placing and pulled it out, did not look at it, and quickly tucked it back. Would it be, she wondered,  better to discuss the bag’s properties with Norton-Hollings before or after their upcoming tryst? As the distinguished scholar returned to the table squinting in the bright reflected sunlight, she thought also that it might be worthwhile to read the license agreement she had so eagerly signed.

The need to know

It didn’t take long before Susannah Fontaine-Williams began to wonder “just what this baby can do.” Would the bag, for instance, block the signal of an alarm tag on a Vera Wang? She felt like that time her producers put her in a formula one car on a closed track. Her guest, international formula one racing sensation Tony Almondswerth gave her a quick lesson. Then they zipped her into racing togs, popped a helmet on her head, aimed a small camera at her face – she thought she looked adorable and so did the audience.  “Take it nice and easy,” he advised. She thought, as did the audience, that he leered salaciously at her. No matter. She floored it, giggling all the while until she sideswiped the wall, emerging exhilarated and unscathed. “Yes,” she said out loud one morning while Antoine happily dozed next to her in bed. “I need to know what this bag can do for me.”

Item #37

Egberto leafed through the license agreement that Susannah Fontaine-Williams had left open on her nightstand. She was painting his toenails purple, not his favorite color, and he'd have to remind himself to pick up nail polish remover on the way home. He'd have to remind himself to remove the color before he went to the pool, not that anyone in New York pays attention to anyone's toenails. The chlorine would do the job if he forgot. Her polish application technique tickled so he wasn't really reading so much as trying to fend off the ticklishness. “Suze, listen to this,” he said. “Item 37: some objects not belonging to nor placed by licensee may periodically appear in bag from time to time.” SFW could not possibly take seriously a sentence with such a redundancy problem: periodically and from time to time. If an assistant brought her uneditd copy like that, she'd fire him on the spot. Or her. She concentrated on drawing a smooth edge on Egberto's big toe toenail while simultaneously tickling the bottom of his foot with the index finger of her left hand. “Hold still,” she said.