So where am I taking you today? Back up to North Chicago where I actually lived when… well, I was in the USN and my eldest, now age 27, wasn’t even a thought yet. The building above is where I lived in with my now ex, and it was just like I describe in Cleaning House, faded Art Deco with crummy apartments and marble hallways (or it was at the time… I have no idea what the interior is like now). Prostitutes did indeed sit in the doorway and the surrounding streets were certainly not safe to navigate alone, especially after dark. The only noticeable change between what I remember and this Google Maps screenshot from 2017 is the restaurant next door. When I lived there, it was a Kentucky Fried Chicken, now it’s a fish and chips kinda joint by their signage.
I thought seeing the actual location I’m detailing in this #WIPpet might interest readers. Today I’m posting again from Cleaning House. The manuscript is in back edits at present. Yep, that means back-to-front reading, which I loathe, but it’s a necessary evil, especially since it helps me see a lot of issues I wouldn’t otherwise. After back edits, the manuscript goes off to my betas *smiles hopefully at fellow author Debbi McGowan* If the offer is still open, I’d love your input.
Here’s my WIPpet math for 1/10/2018 10 + (8-2-1) = 15 paragraphs from Cleaning House… if my math isn’t incorrect, so be it. I was an English major for good reason.
The Setup: We’re still in North Chicago (at the location in the image above) and Cent and Betty are having an, er, intense conversation concerning Betty’s phone chat with Aunt Tess and Aubrey.
Betty speaks first in this WIPpet.
“My cousin, why?”
“He got on the phone for a moment after your Aunt Tess.” Betty waved her cigarette Cent’s direction. “Now, I could understand him some. Educated like you, but still with the same accent. Cute, I bet. Is he?”
“Oh, good grief.” Cent slid down to sit on the floor in the kitchen doorway. “What’d he tell you?”
“Same thing your Aunt Tess did. They need you to come home.” Betty stared at Cent. “They need your help.”
Cent shook her head and slumped over her water bottle. “If I go home I’ll have to deal with my mama.”
“Yes, Tess mentioned her, said she was the whole reason you left there to begin with.”
“Her and a lot of other people in the area.”
“Haters are everywhere, baby doll.” Betty reached out with her toes to lift Cent’s chin. “But family isn’t.”
“Yeah, but you’re family too.”
“That’s nice.” Betty dropped her leg and reached back to flick more ashes out the window. “But it isn’t reality.” She stood so fast her nightgown swirled around her calves. “We’re friends because we’re both queer, and that’s the only reason.”
“The only reason? I thought we had a connection, a…”
“If we did it ends right now.” Betty tossed her cigarette out the open window and slammed it closed before spinning around to loom over Cent again. “Go home, country cuttah’. This isn’t the place for you, and I’m not your friend.”
“But I’ve lived in Chicago for over a decade. You know this.” Cent sat tall when Betty drew her mouth into a snarl. “I’ve been to five continents. I—”
“And now your sorry ass is trying to scratch together a living outside the Great Lakes naval base.” Betty jerked Cent to a stand and pressed a delicately painted fingernail into her chest. “That stink you always complain about? That’s the pharmaceutical plant across the road and the fish stand next door. It’s the smell of run-down, molding, festering nothing. It’s a pisser of a hell hole. It’s Nowheresville. Go home, little girl.” She pushed Cent back with the heel of her palm. “Go. Home!”
Read more #WIPpet Wednesday posts from Cleaning House HERE.
*WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by Emily Wrayburn wherein writers share excerpts of their latest WIP. All genres and levels of accomplishment are welcome. The only stipulation is that the excerpt must coincide with the date in some manner. For example, on 10/8/14 you might share 10 lines from page 8, 8 paragraphs from chapter 14, or perhaps 18 sentences by doing WIPpet math and adding the day to the month. We’re flexible like that.