Shafts of Grace, Part 1

Margo lets a sigh of exasperation escape her scarlet lips. 

She gets up and walks to the credenza in the corner where an array of crystal liquor bottles wait, the reflected lamplight flashing from their beveled edges invitingly.  She pours a healthy portion of Tanqueray into the mixing glass, adds a couple of drops of vermouth and several ice cubes from the bucket nearby.  Taking the long crystal stirring wand, she swirls the elixir round and round until she can see the icy film start to form on the outside of the beaker.  Dumping the ice chilling her glass, she replaces it with the strained martini.  As she drops in a couple of olives, she wonders, how is it even possible?

How can a wordsmith, a builder of fantastical planets and forbidden palaces using nothing but the various rearrangements of 26 bits on a page, be so incapable of using those same constructions to actually have a simple conversation?  Talking to him is an exercise in frustration. 

Margo turns to look over at him, takes a sip of the cool drink, and says, “You know better than anyone, Richard, that occasionally, I have a thought worth expressing. Just maybe, strange as it may seem, there are some people who would actually be interested in what I have to say.”

Though she is making a real effort to keep her tone even, she can taste the sarcasm coating her words like blackstrap.

Margo walks back to the damask sofa and sits.  She takes another sip of her drink and carefully sets the glass down on the coffee table, fighting the temptation to toss its contents into his expressionless face instead.

“It’s always something, Richard. It always has been,” she says. 

Across from her, the firelight flickering on his handsome face, Richard turns his face away from the fireplace and toward her.  He asks in a tired voice, “What do you want from me, Margo?”

Margo looks at him for a long moment, and then gulps down the rest of her drink.  It’s useless, she thinks.

“We’re going to be late.  Let's go,” she says as she stands.  “The limo is probably waiting downstairs.”


Richard and Margo walk into the lobby, and pause just inside, the rearing dinosaur skeleton looming into the rotunda above them.  The hall is so different at night.  Soft lighting gives it a glow that is reflected off the jewelry complementing the evening gowns worn by the women scattered around the dinosaur.  The tuxedo-clad men fade almost into invisibility next to their brilliance.  The soft notes of a jazz combo create a backdrop to the low hum of the mingling guests.  An occasional laugh punctuates their conversation.

As Richard and Margo enter, conversation tapers off and the eyes of the room turn toward them.  Margo knows she and Richard present an elegant if misleading picture.  

And there is not a man in the room who can hold a candle to Richard when it comes to elegance.  His Bond Street tux fits as though it were made for his long, lean frame, which, of course, it was. He looks like he’s just stepped down from the stage of a Noel Coward play.

At his side, she is dressed simply, her black velvet gown draped softly around the voluptuous curves of her slim figure.  Never one for plumage, she wears only a single diamond, hanging from a platinum chain.  It glitters as it catches the light, drawing the eye to the décolletage created by the cut of the gown.

There is a smattering of applause as they walk into the hall.  Margo smiles, and wishes she were anywhere else. 

At first, these events were tremendously exciting, a culmination of everything he –no, they– had worked for.  After years of listening to him pound away on the keyboard, years of the foul moods that came with each rejection letter, and years of working her tail off to help him pursue his dream, she had been thrilled when Richard finally sold the first book.  With each subsequent novel, his continued success has seemingly become assured. 

As the old cliché her Gran had loved so much predicted, practice makes perfect.  Each book is better than the last.  No one is surprised at the meteoric success of the most recent. Especially not Margo.

And what a success it is.  This reception celebrates Shafts of Grace, and the Pulitzer it has just been awarded.

~ to be continued 



  1. Such good reading.......such good writing! Definitely intrigued!

  2. You create an entire world here, Patti. One foreign to my experience, but I enjoy it vicariously through your words.

  3. Please tell me this is a period piece. I just had a feeling of 30's or 40's opulence and it's quite delicious.

  4. I'm hooked! Please give us the next installment soon.

  5. Look forward to the next installment. :-)

    Here is something that might be of interest to you and your daughter, Patti:

  6. The title is as incongruous as their relationship. I love this beginning. I love your writing.

  7. Sweet start. Love how your alcoholism sneaks out in the opening paragraphs. Heheheh.


  8. I love the word credenza. Looking forward to the next chapter...


Thoughts? I would love to hear from you.