Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Opening Doors"

This poem fills a square on my second card for the [community profile] cottoncandy_bingo fest. This fest encourages people to create and share material focused on what is variously called fluff, schmoop, gentle fiction, light reading, comfort reading, positive thinking, chicken soup for the soul, or anything else that offers a fun alternative to usual run of sex, violence, and angst of modern media. I'm hoping to attract some new readers for my writing.

The following poem belongs to my P.I.E. series, which you can explore further on the Serial Poetry page. Brenda Cochlain, Private Investigator Extraordinaire, deals with the really  weird cases. She also happens to use a wheelchair; and she can kill with guns, blades, or her bare hands if necessary.   She's interested in Darrel Finn, an undercover cop. He thinks that smart, tough women are hot. This puts him ahead of Nate, a lawyer; and Rick, a construction boss -- the other two guys interested in her.

Fandom: Original (P.I.E.)
Prompt: Meeting the Parents
Medium: Poetry
Summary: Brenda and Darrel discuss relatives, work, and other weirdness.
Content Notes: Flangst.  Food.  Acceptance and rejection.  That moment when you realize: oh yikes, she comes by it naturally.

"Opening Doors"

They were sitting in Brenda's office
going over paperwork for Darrel's latest case --
something to do with money laundering and
falsified expenses in gourmet restaurants --
when Brenda asked,
"So when do I get to meet your parents?"

"Never, if I have my way,"
Darrel said grimly.
Brenda narrowed her eyes at him.
"What, I'm not good enough to take home?"
she asked, her fingernails clicking ominously
against the frame of her wheelchair.

"Quite the opposite," Darrel said.
"I love them, you know?
Because they're my parents?
But they're kind of horrific people
with a lot of ugly prejudices.
I try to avoid inflicting them
on anyone I actually care about."

"In that case," Brenda said,
"how would you like to meet my parents?"
"I'd be delighted," Darrel said.
"Good, then I think we'd make excellent camouflage
for you to case this restaurant," Brenda said,
tapping a finger on one page.

So it was agreed,
and the arrangements made.

Darrel cleaned up handsomely,
the usual scruff of his undercover work swept away
to reveal a sweet face framed by soft waves of hair,
his trim body clad in an immaculate heather-gray suit.

Brenda wore a dress of sleek green cashmere
and a tsavorite pendant nestled in the hollow of her throat.
Her hair was piled atop her head and held there
by rows of glinting combs and hidden pins.
She handled her everyday wheelchair with casual grace.

Brenda's parents greeted Darrel with cool civility.
They hadn't liked either Nate or Rick --
both of whom they'd met in passing --
and clearly had high standards in mind
for those keeping company with their daughter.

When Darrel let Brenda get ahead of him
at the threshold, Brenda's father asked sharply,
"Why didn't you open the door?"
"Because she hates that," Darrel said,
"and I don't want her to shoot me."

Just like that, Brenda's father thawed a few degrees
and favored Darrel with a warm smile.
"I'm glad someone finally noticed," he said,
following Darrel into the restaurant.

Darrel deftly moved one of the elegant wooden chairs
so Brenda could park herself at the table.
With their backs to the wall, they both had
an excellent view of the room.

Brenda's mother said to Darrel,
"Surely you don't think she'd really shoot you."
Darrel looked at Brenda.
"Of course I told them about the case at the club,"
she said, "minus the confidential details.
Mom just has a tendency to underestimate me --
her temper runs hotter than mine, so."

Darrel looked at Brenda's mother
and shrank an inch lower in his seat.
"Don't worry, I'll protect you,"
Brenda said to Darrel.

Darrel ordered rack of lamb.
Brenda ordered filet mignon --
"Rare, and if it's overcooked I will send it back."
They were looking for places the chef
might be cutting corners.
Brenda's mother, fortuitously, wanted lobster
while her father chose duck.

They chatted casually until the food arrived,
with Brenda's parents discreetly grilling Darrel
and Darrel trying to hold his own
with occasional assistance from Brenda.

The filet mignon was indeed rare,
but failed to yield to the side of a fork.
Brenda poked it pointedly with her knife
and Darrel acknowledged her verdict with a tiny nod.
Darrel's rack of lamb was on the large side
and leaning toward "mutton" in age.

"I've had better lobster," Brenda's mother remarked,
"though at least the silver and crystal are real."
Brenda's eyebrows went up. She checked
the little caddy on the table and said,
"The butter and honey are also genuine,
and you don't see that much anymore."

Nobody ordered dessert.
The waiter winced a bit at that.
Brenda's mother gave him a heartlessly brilliant smile.
"I hope there won't be any argument over the check,"
Brenda's father said.
"Of course not," Brenda said
as she snagged it from the waiter.
"Darrel can pay next time."

As they left, Darrel murmured to Brenda,
"I don't think everything supposedly spent on food
is actually hitting the plates."

"Agreed," she said. "I think they have a faery
in charge of the money laundering.
What could be simpler than changing money
into other money?
Switch the serial numbers, age the paper,
maybe remove incriminating ink ..."

"No wonder we couldn't pin it down,"
Darrel said. "At least I have some ideas
for closer surveillance now, though."
"Don't worry about capturing the faery,"
Brenda advised. "Enough iron will drive it away --
and they'd have a very hard time finding another."

Darrel grinned. "A night well spent,"
he said, bowing a little over Brenda's hand,
"and I believe it's opened some new doors."

"You played up the intimidated boyfriend act perfectly,"
Brenda said to him with a wink.
Darrel looked at her mother's shark-white smile
and said, "What act?"

Brenda clucked her tongue at him.
"Don't be silly, Darrel," she said.
"Mom and Dad like you."
"What makes you think that?" he asked.
"Everyone else, they've scared off in less than an hour."

* * * 


Tsavorite is a fancy type of green garnet.
Tags: event, fantasy, fiction, humor, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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