I've started posting the chapters of Resolution 786. I'll post each successive chapter roughly every 3 or 4 days. Here's Chapter 13. Chapter 13 is the first chapter of Act II of the novel:
Act II Incidents of Heart
“I liked your poems.” Rebecca Gowetski’s words rang through the phone line like playful school bells. “I’m surprised to see interesting poetry come out of the Engineering Department.”
“Thanks,” said Adam Hueghlomm.
She waited for more. Nothing. She wondered if she might have somehow insulted him with her comment about the Engineering Department. She cleared her throat. “Yeah…I’d like to run both of them in the Spring issue of Focus. Can I get your permission?”
“OK.” She waited a few moments to let him speak. He didn’t. “Thank you,” she said. Realizing that it was all business, her words lost some of their playfulness. “Your last name’s unique. Let’s confirm the spelling: h-u-e-g-h-l-o-m-m. Yes?”
“What kind of name is that?”
“Well, I’m a Po-Wop,” she said.
“Half Polish, half Italian. That’s what my Mum-mum used to call me…her little Po-Wop.”
“Oh,” he said.
“Do you really wish you had Marilyn Monroe’s legs?” she asked suddenly.
He hesitated a moment, caught off guard, then realized that she had recited a line in one of his poems. “Eh…no…no, it was just an image,” he replied.
“Well, why? I mean, do you think it’d make you look sexy?” Her voice had recaptured its pogo stick bounce, teasing him.
“Um…no…eh…loveable,” he said.
Her riotous laugh reverberated through the phone line. “To each his own,” she said, still chuckling.
“Thank you for paying attention…to the words,” he said.
“I’d be one lousy editor if I didn’t, huh?” she ribbed.
Both fell quiet.
She pulled them out of silence. “What year are you?”
“I’m finishing up my doctorate. I work for the Army, a civilian research engineer. They sent me back for my third degree. Third and last.”
“I bet that’s exciting,” she said, suddenly matter-of-fact. Unlike many other college students, she sounded wholly unimpressed with the prospect of a Ph.D.
Adam became curious. “How about you?”
“Masters student. Education. Minor in literature.”
Again, she led. “I felt a lot moving underneath your words. Your poems are like cooling lava. Interesting stuff, but you wonder what else might be churning in the volcano.” She paused. “Something eating at you?”
For the second time in their first conversation, she had caught him off guard. “What do you mean?” he asked.
“The second poem. Blame, blame, blame.”
She filled the silence, backtracking, trying to create a comfortable escape for him. “I mean, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. I like it and all…” She stumbled about, trying to find the right words. “It’s powerful and you really make some thought-provoking points. I was just wondering — what kind of answer do you really expect from your Alpha, your Omega?”
“I don’t think it’s a question that can be answered.” His voice softened, becoming introspective. “But that doesn’t mean that it’s a question that shouldn’t be asked,” he added, a far-away tone. His mind left and wandered the cold stars. His eyes blinked and he suddenly remembered that she existed.
“Thank you for paying attention,” he said. His words had lost their machined edges.
She smiled, surprised by his softening tone, his dropping guard. “Do you like coffee, Mr.…” she groped for the proper pronunciation of his last name. “Huge-loam? Hug-lum?”
“Hue-lum,” he said. “Silent g, silent h. Do you go by ‘Po-Wop’?”
“No.” Her laugh was hearty and full of mischief. “I like ‘Becca.’”
They both stopped talking, stillness soaked in a silk, pulsing hum.
She led them softly, out of the silence. “Well, Mr. Silent G, Silent H, would you like to have coffee sometime?”
“Umm...sure…I mean, yes.”
“OK. You have something to write with?” She could hear him over the telephone. He was rustling around ineptly for a pen or a pencil. She chuckled, covering her mouth with her hand, tilting the phone away.
“OK.” He was back on the line, slightly flustered and a little out of breath. “Got it.”
“Take this number down,” she said. “Call me when you’re ready.”