Month: June 2012

Random Conversation #1

“Does your child know how to swim?”

“I don’t know.”

“How can you not know? That is a matter of life and death. What if he falls into a river? He could drown.”

“There are no rivers nearby.”

“Or a pool.”

“We have no pool.”

“There are pools everywhere. He could be invited by one of his schoolmates, say, to a pool birthday party. You know how long it takes for your lungs to get filled by water? Seconds. And you are still conscious for a couple of minutes, so you are aware you are dying.”

“He is only six months old, Frank. He can worry about drowning later on. Though, not if it involves drowning by vomit, of course.”

Ghost

I wrote this story for MoJo’s Group Creativity Experiment by fellow tweep writer @MoriahJovan. I can’t remember the exact date it was, but remember how much I enjoyed that experiment and wish it happened again. ;)

For more on Moriah Jovan please visit her blog.

For that week Moriah picked the song ‘Asking us to Dance’ by Kathy Mattea. Watch the video here.

And this was my entry:

Moonlight illuminated the darkened sky, accompanied only by a few shy stars. A soft, cold wind caressed your face and then mine. I inhaled your scent and felt alive again.

I watched you from a distance, silently waiting for you to complete your duty. As you held the rifle between your hands, I walked on the edge of the building. You concentrated on your target, I concentrated on your big brown eyes.

You moved slightly, crawling closer to the edge. I ran to kneel by your side and get a glimpse of whom you were about to shoot, but my hands strayed to your back and the tips of my fingers touched you slightly, sending a shiver down your spine.

Oh how I wished we could…

Your body stiffening stopped my thoughts. Your target was in sight and it was no moment for romancing as your finger pulled the trigger. A perfect shot.

You turned your eyes to the black sky above and whispered: “That one was for you, Vivienne. Wherever you are, I swear I won’t sleep until I kill them all.”

Oh how I wished you knew I was there, watching you, listening to you whisper to the air. I wished you could see me like I could see you and not just feel my ghostly presence by your side.

You picked up your bags, dried the tears in your eyes and headed for the stairs.

I stared down at the street to watch you go, while the cold wind caught me in its arms and swept me off.

Escape From The Tower of Babel

This one’s for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge at Terribleminds. There were six different settings to choose from and I really liked them all, but had to pick one, so I chose ‘The Tower of Babel’.

Enjoy!

~~~~~~

I was aroused from my sleep in the middle of the night by Enzo’s grave voice shouting “Che cosa?!”, followed by his hand shaking me to attention.

Non capisco!” He handed me his mobile.

I tried to shake the sleep off me before speaking, “Hello?”

Cynthia? Es Alfonso.” His voice quivered. “Hay un problema. Uno muy grave.

What? A problem? A grave one? My mind was still half asleep, my thoughts mixed with the leftovers of the dream I was awoken from.

Che cosa sta succedendo?” Enzo turned on the light, making me wince, and started pacing around the room.

I covered my eyes with my hand, trying to concentrate on all the channels that were suddenly open in my head. Enzo was waiting for an answer, so I switched to Spanish and asked Alfonso –in the softest way I could– what was the problem.

Tenemos una rata en el barco. Creemos que es Fabien.

Oh fuck, someone had filtered information and they were blaming the French dude. Alfonso proceeded to tell me how the police had arrived at the dock when they were about to unload the shipload of cocaine we were waiting for.

WE. That was a funny thing to say. I’d been with Enzo for what? Six months. And this was suddenly a ‘we’ enterprise.

Who am I, you may ask? I’m a translator. I wanted to work with the United Nations and had applied there some weeks before a friend hooked me up with a gig. Sure, some freelancing never hurt anyone. Then I learned the venue was a nightclub and that I had to sign a confidentiality agreement before even meeting with my client. I signed, I needed the money. That’s how I ended up translating a whole drug deal between members of a Spanish mafia and Enzo, the leader of an Italian cartel.

How I ended up in bed with Enzo that same night is another story that, right now, doesn’t even matter. What mattered then was that I had Alfonso in the line and I could tell he was trembling with fear at how Enzo would react.

Problemi con la spedizione, Enzo.” A problem, yeah, that was a pretty general concept.

Che tipo di problema?

I took a deep breath before saying, “Un informatore.

Enzo paused, his eyes bulging like I had never seen them before. Someone had coughed. There was a traitor among us.

Alfonso, ¿sigues ahí?” I needed to know if Alfonso was still with me.

Sí.” He was. Trembling, but he was there. So I pushed him on telling me the details of what happened.

Apparently, the police were waiting nearby until they could get them with their hands literally on the merchandise. Sneaky fuckers appeared out of nowhere and surrounded them. Alfonso sprinted towards the darkness of the trees around the beach and managed to escape, unlike the rest.

Chi?” Enzo pressed for a name.

“Fabien.”

Merda!

Oooooh, he was mad now. Throwing stuff around the room and cussing loudly.

I whispered into the phone to ask Alfonso if he knew any other name.

No.” He breathed.

I said I’ll call him back, that he get himself somewhere safe and call back if anything else came up.

That was when he said the thing that made my blood run cold: that Fabien, the supposed snitch, was on his way to Enzo’s flat with a whole entourage of police officers.

FUCK.

I hung up the call and turned to the frenzied Enzo.

Siate tranquilo, Enzo.” He listened to me, his heavy breathing subsiding as his hands held on to the curtains.

“What else did he tell you?” He changed to English as the anger slowly made its way out of his system.

It is human nature that our brains switch to our native tongues when we are in stress situations. I understood this, since I had seen it many times before. Enzo and his men were from different nationalities and, at times, it felt like I was living inside the Tower of Babel. That was the nickname I used for his place, since it was where they would all come together and fret over deals and such.

A knock on the door startled us both.

“Police! Open the door.”

“Fuck.” I breathed, running around the bed to collect some clothes to dress myself.

Enzo stood in place, as if frozen.

“Enzo!” I shouted at him. “Come on!”

More knocking, more telling it was the police. I needed to get dressed, quick.

Enzo just ran his fingers through his hair.

The front door exploded into a million wooden splinters as I jumped into a pair of jeans and threw a T-shirt over my head.

They wouldn’t get me. No, sir. Not me. I was innocent, I was clean.

I gave Enzo one last glance, he nodded towards the window. I opened it, climbed out of the flat and landed on the cool metal surface of the fire escape in time to hear an officer shout “Enzo Macini! You’re under arrest!”

I ran down the ladder as fast as I could without looking back.

Chaos broke loose inside the flat and I could hear the gunshots getting farther as I took off towards the main street.

“Maybe the UN still has an opening for a translator,” I thought as I hailed a cab.

And that was the day I made it out of the Tower of Babel.

Convergencia Mediática, el FanFiction y la Remediación

This is an article I wrote for a class, it was published in a blog and now republished by the university’s digital newspaper (that’s why it’s in Spanish).

Convergencia Mediática, el FanFiction y la Remediación.

Google Translate link:

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=auto&tl=en&u=dialogodigital.com%2Findex.php%2FConvergencia-Mediatica-el-FanFiction-y-la-Remediacion.html

The Caregiver’s Playlist

Music is an intricate part of my creative process and The Caregiver was one of those stories I couldn’t have possibly written without a good deal of music playing in the background, inadvertently cheering me on, helping me nail the feelings/mood of a certain character, and setting the pace for many scenes. I can’t even think of writing fight scenes without a track playing through my speakers, giving me the beat to set every shot, punch, or stab.

So, here are the YouTube versions of the songs in the playlist for the first book:

The song that started it all: The Postmarks – No One Said That This Would be Easy

(The Casino Royale credits mashup version)

The Guess Who – Undun

The Clash – Death or Glory

The Smiths – The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

The Strokes – New York City Cops

The Clash – Guns of Brixton

The Box Tops – The Letter

The Who – Baba O’Reily

The Jam – Eton Rifles

The Yardbirds – Heart Full of Soul

The Killers – Mr. Brightside

The Zombies – Time of the Season

On how Scarlett learnt about her mission (The Caregiver Series vignette #1):

In my first novella, The Caregiver, we follow Interpol agent Scarlett Lang through what would be the most important mission in her career so far: pose as caregiver for London’s biggest drug-lord, Armand Sayer. This vignette is about the day she was assigned the mission, days before the story on the book starts. Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was morning. A cold, gray London morning to be precise. I was crossing Lambeth Bridge to meet Ferdinand at the Albert Embankment. I remember how I had studied every possible map before coming here, anxious to start working in the field again…

Then I was sent to an office, filling forms and filing papers.

Fuck yeah, the Interpol agent life!

I pushed my gloved hands further into the pockets of my leather jacket, feeling the gun concealed inside, praying it wouldn’t turn into an ice cube. Thing is, I grew up in Miami, spent summers in the Caribbean or Southern Spain. Nothing as cold as this. Nothing.

I got off the bridge and turned right on Albert Embankment, down the steps, and soon enough Ferdinand’s smile came to sight. Always bright, always inviting. I often found myself dodging it as if it were throwing daggers at me.

“Scarlett.” He kissed my cheek and offered his arm to me.

“Fer.” I nodded. “I’m freezing.”

“Oh come on! You’ve been living here for how long?”

“The two most boring years of my fucking life.”

He sighed. “Let’s walk.”

So we did. I walked on his left, thinking that maybe, if things got funny, I could just push him into the water and make a run for it.

“Did anyone follow you here?” He was eyeing me out of the corner of his eye.

“Nope. Nobody.”

“Good.”

“You said you needed to talk to me. I don’t have all day. I have papers to file.”

“Moretti asked me to call you.”

“Moretti? He sees me every day at the office. Barking orders and making me brew his coffee.”

“Have you been in contact with Cisneros lately?”

I waited until a man jogged past us to answer that, taking my time.

“Maybe.”

They often tell you not to stay friends with your ex-boyfriends. But Ferdinand was my colleague and his ranking was higher than mine so, yeah, I was stuck with this one.

“Every time they use a sniper to kill some drug dealer I pray it wasn’t you. Then I dig up the details and see your name all over it.”

He didn’t mean that literally, of course. I knew how to do my job. In and out, quick, nothing that could be traced back to me. Then I was back to kicking the copy machine and dragging my boots on the rug, just so I could give someone a nice jolt.

“You gonna turn me in?”

“You know I won’t.”

“Then?”

“Are you hungry?”

“Starving.”

“Let’s go grab a bite.” There it was again, the smile under those gleaming brown eyes. Ugh.

He liked the pub on the corner of Tinworth Street, so we went there and, to my dismay, sat at one of the tables outside.

“Tell me when my nose falls off because I won’t be able to.”

“I don’t want anyone eavesdropping on us.”

A waiter gave us the menus and I asked for a cup of coffee. Really hot coffee.

“It’ll ruin your appetite.” Ferdinand said, matter-of-factly.

“Better for me, maybe I’ll lose some weight. I should, really, I can’t carry a gun between my thighs since they rub together. There are some agents that have this huge thigh gap. One could stick an Uzi between their legs.”

He chuckled. He knew it was true. Fer never bullshitted me. I was no femme fatale, no eye candy. That’s how I liked it, though. I was a Plain Jane. I’d blend in without any difficulty.

And I wasn’t asked to fuck anyone either.

The waiter brought me a steaming cup of coffee. I took off my gloves and held it as if it was a baby chick, feeling the relief of warmth in my hands, at last. I inhaled its aroma and forgot where I was while Ferdinand ordered food for both.

“I was talking to Romulus,” he brought me back as soon as the waiter was out of sight, “we’re giving you another chance.”

“That’s very kind of you.”

“I’m being serious, Scarlett. We’ve decided to give you the Sayer mission.”

Oh. My. Fucking. God.

I had to set the cup back on the table gently. “You’re not kidding?”

“I’m not kidding. He was attacked, a single gunman surprised him as he was leaving a restaurant with his wife. Two shots to his left leg, another one to his right arm. He’s house-bound, recovering, and his sister is looking for a caregiver. It’s not just because you actually went to nursing school. She’s looking for someone that can act as a bodyguard in case anything unusual happens.”

“Aaaaand?” Something in the way he drawled on the last sentence made me think there was more to it.

“She wants someone that wouldn’t cause too much of a stir, if you know what I mean.”

Ha ha! Being the Plain Jane does pay.

“When do I start?”

“You’ll meet with his sister, Helga, tomorrow at Cisneros’s place. He’s recommending you. They’re friends.”

I picked up the coffee cup again even though I didn’t think I needed it anymore. I was going to the field again, and with no one else but Armand Sayer, London’s number-one drug lord.

“Oh,” I breathed, trying to suppress the giddy smile from my face.

“Now, Scarlett, I must warn you–”

“Here we go.” I rolled my eyes. Fer was always lecturing me. “That I better not fuck it up this time?”

“Yes.”

“I haven’t fucked anything up. The Gibraltar mission was a fail because Cisneros couldn’t stand his ground. That deal went sour the moment we stepped out of that plane.”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Neither do I.” I sipped the hot liquid, wishing now it was whiskey or something set aflame.

“What about the wife?”

“Rumor is she left. He’s alone.” He was looking at me from under his eyebrows.

“Who do you take me for?”

“You keep yourself safe, you hear me?”

His bare hand reached out for mine over the table. I set mine in his and let him squeeze it.

“I will.” I grinned, letting some of my excitement out.

Then the waiter brought our food and I tried to indulge on the flood of emotions going through my system. It had been too long since my last mission and, truth be told, there was no other place I felt more like myself than out there with my gun or my rifle aiming at a nice head, and then watching it blow up.

We wrestled for the bill and I let him win, or he’d never let it go.

“I’ll send you the details later.” He waited for me to put on my gloves, “please, be careful.”

“I always am.” His sly smile told how little he believed that. Really, who did he take me for? “Love turns people so bloody soft.”

He hugged me tight. I wrapped my arms around him, not too tight, and held still until he released me.

“Don’t fuck it.” He pointed a finger at me and gave me a peck on the lips before turning to cross the street.

Bastard.

How could I fuck what could be the most important mission in my entire career?, I thought as I threaded my way in opposite direction, towards Spring Gardens.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Liked this vignette? Then you’ll love the book!

Check out Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Or buy it, it’s only 99¢ (£0.77, €0.89)!

The Caregiver book cover

Available here: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.es, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel