12,251

That number is my word count for the day.

No, I have no idea what sparked that, outside of a desire to get this story to THE END. My total word count is over 100k. This is a still of my progress graph. Can you tell when I got copy edits, had an 8 year-old’s birthday with two parties, and then got galleys? I bet you can.

I can feel the Big Climax coming up around the corner, but it’s still coming up slow. I bet this goes to 120-130k as a first draft, and YES it needs some editing. Anyway. It’s coming along. It’s also a shitload of fun.

Oh what the hell, let’s end with a teaser, and then I need to go do dishes and fold clothes. Let’s see, what to post? Karaoke to Lady Gaga? The demon statue and his strained fig leaf? You are not, alas, getting the best stuff I wrote today, which featured four naked men. Oh, okay. You get shopping and Sheep Launcher, and Randy who always feels the need to "help" when men go to try on clothes.

*
But to his surprise, Sam bore himself pretty well. Randy had been bracing, Ethan knew, for another meltdown, and even when one didn’t happen it was clear that Ethan was still ready for it, whenever it should hit. But it didn’t. Sam was very quiet, and he wiped tears away every now and again, and he leaned on Randy as he drove them all back through town. But he didn’t melt down.

“Well,” Randy said at last, a little too brightly, “what will we do with our day, boys? Still want to go to Zion, Sam?”

Sam shook his head and leaned harder into Randy. Randy, in turn, looked slightly panicked, and turned to Ethan.

“I still need to go shopping,” Ethan said.

Randy seized on the idea. “Yes. Shopping. I forgot. Okay. So. Where are we going? Forum Shops? Miracle Mile again?”

“I don’t want to go to the Forum Shops,” Sam said, rousing himself to object.

“Sure. No problem. We can go anywhere. What about Fashion Show?”

Sam seemed to consider this. “The Apple store is there, right?” From the look on Randy’s face, Ethan suspected if there wasn’t, he’d try to quickly get one built while Sam used the restroom. But Sam saved him by pulling out his iPhone and hitting several buttons. “Yes,” he said, after a few more taps. Then he turned to Ethan. “That okay? Fashion Show?”

Ethan was assuming this wasn’t actually a fashion show, but a place. “Sure.” He nodded at Sam’s iPhone. “May I see that? Because a phone is one of the first things I need to get.”

“No problem,” Sam said, passing it over. “I love it. Mitch has one, too.”

Ethan turned the device over a few times in his hand, then started tapping buttons. It was surprisingly easy to use, and user-friendly. “I had a Blackberry before, which I’d just assumed I’d get again. But maybe it’s time for something new.”

“The games are great.” Sam sat up and leaned over towards Ethan. “Here. You need Sheep Launcher.”

“Sheep Launcher?” Ethan repeated, dubious.

“Yeah. It’s a free app, though I splurged and spent a dollar [check price] to get the full version. See this sheep?” He pointed to an animated fluffy white beast with an aviator cap on sitting at the bottom of a carnival game, the type where a mallet is meant to swing down and slam the great red button. “Hit the button, and he’ll fly up. Keep tapping on him so he doesn’t fall, and he’ll just keep going and going and going.”

Ethan seriously doubted the utility of this action, but decided he would play along for Sam’s sake. So he hit the sheep, watched him fly up, then saw him falling and failed to tap him before the screen announced that his game was over.

“Try again,” Sam urged.

Ethan did. And then tried again, and then again, and then his sheep was seriously airborne, and he lost track of how many times he’d kept it going, and then it was actually in outer space. When the truck stopped, Randy’s call of “all right” distracted him, otherwise he would have made it all the way to the moon, he was sure of it. Ethan looked up at Sam, a little surprised to find that he was not animated and bouncing on a white pillow.

“I’m getting an iPhone,” he said, and Sam beamed at him.

The Fashion Show was actually a mall, and a high end one at that. It was as Vegas as everything else, full of lights and display and a show on every corner. Though Ethan noticed the thing it was not full of was people. They practically had the place to themselves.

“This is bad,” Randy said, grimacing as he scanned the empty concourse. “Of course, as usual, this city is a metaphor for the country. We didn’t just bring everybody in to gamble: we brought them in to eat in fancy restaurants and shop in fancy malls, and go to expensive shows. And now we’re the playground of kings and queens in a country full of overnight paupers and those who are afraid—and probably rightly so—that they’re next.”

And I’m going to resurrect a casino in the middle of this. Ethan smiled grimly and slapped Randy a little too hard on his shoulder. “Thanks for the pep talk, Ace.”

“Anytime, Slick. You want your iPhone first, or are we hungry? Because I haven’t had sushi in awhile, and RA is just around the corner.”

“Apple store.” Sam was punching at the face of his iPhone again, then looked up and pointed down the concourse. “This way.”

Ethan ended up getting himself a laptop as well as an iPhone, and since he was already spending so much money he tossed on a set of casino and card games as well. They hung out in the store awhile, Sam gushing over everything Mac. He also sent several texts to Mitch, and at Randy’s urging they sent him video as well of them stuffing sushi into one another’s faces, because that was where Randy dragged them after. Then they trolled for some more clothes for Ethan, some casual, some extraordinarily fancy, but at Ethan’s insistence, highly conservative.

“When I’m at work, I like to be inconspicuous,” he said, when Randy tried to push him into wilder shirts and ties.

“But you want to stand out a little, too,” Randy argued, not backing down. He handed Ethan a shirt that was traditionally structured but tinted lavender, and when you came close, hinted slightly at paisley. “You aren’t an investment broker anymore. You’re a mob man. Dress the part.”
“I thought you said the best mobsters were invisible,” Ethan said.

“I said you they were anyonymous. I didn’t say they dressed so dully that they put nuns to sleep. Here.” He handed him a stack of shirts. “Go put these on under your suit and then try and tell me I’m not right.”

Ethan arched his eyebrow as he took the clothes from him. “What, you aren’t going to come ogle me while I change?”

That made Sam smile, and Randy held up his hands in mock surrender.

“Well if you’re going to insist, I suppose I must,” he agreed, and they all went back into the changing rooms.

*
And now I really should probably go to sleep. Right after the dishes . . . .

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