Wednesday, September 3, 2008


The baby, a 7 pound 15 ounce boy, was born on Monday. YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Big Announcement!

No, the baby hasn't arrived yet.

"The Surprising Life and Death of Diggory Franklin" is moving to a new site. Here's the link:

All new chapters will be posted there. In collaboration with MeiLin Miranda of "The Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom" fame, I've opened my own website, so that I can run ads and control the layout much more than I can on blogger. I kind of like Wordpress a little better, but it doesn't let me use ads at all. And, the bonus of the new site is that I can set up forums and have all my stories in one place. Hope you all enjoy the new digs. :)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Chapter Thirty-Seven: Cops on our Tail

I composed myself and walked casually into triage.

“Everything okay?” Calla asked.

“Yeah, that was just Matt, letting me know that he survived, like all cockroaches.”

“He’s your friend?” Bianca asked.

“Yeah, why?”

“Well, a) you called him a cockroach, and b) he hit on me after I saw him hitting on a waitress at the gallery last week. He’s kind of slimy.”

“Well, I’m glad you think so. He wants me to put in a good word, and that saves me the trouble.” I sat down.

“Ewwwwwww,” Bianca scrunched up her nose. “Matt’s so dirty. Even his cousin Sheila thinks so.”

“She’s a snob,” I said.

“You don’t have a high opinion of people, do you?” Bianca asked.

“Not when I’m tired. What’s the point of lying to you? Sheila only let you and your classmates use her gallery to score points with her clients, and look all humanitarian. It was self-serving. Matt hits on any girl that walks by. He might be a loyal friend, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a pig. If I pretend with you, sooner or later you’ll find out and then you won’t let me talk to Calla.”

“Let you?” Calla bristled. “Bianca is not my mother.”

“Then maybe you had better take that up with her, she thinks she can decide whether we’re friends or not,” I said, grinning.

“That’s not what I said,” Bianca sputtered. “I said I’d kill you if you hurt her.”

“So you say,” I shrugged. “Still sounds like you’re making decisions on her behalf. Maybe you should let her speak for herself.”

“I think you’re trying to get a rise out of me,” Bianca stuck out her tongue.

“I think you’re both being silly,” Calla declared. “Bianca just wants to be a good friend, and Diggory, that won’t change the fact that I’m going out with you tomorrow night. Now, is that settled?”

I shrugged and Bianca nodded. “Good,” Calla said. “Now, what I want to know, is what the two of you were doing together this afternoon, that caused you to go to Diggory’s work.”

I blinked. I had forgotten all about that.

“Diggory wanted to talk to you. You weren’t home,” Bianca started. “He said something funny…”

“Yeah, it wasn’t a big deal,” I interrupted. “I was just trying to prove to Bianca that I had your best interests in mind.”

Calla turned to her friend, “But why would you need to go to his office for that?”

I screamed at Bianca telepathically, and tried to mouth the words “Not now!” to her urgently, widening my eyes. I didn’t need Bianca discussing my theory that Calla was crazy. For one thing, I didn’t want to insult the girl, and for another, I didn’t want her thinking that I was nuts.

For once, telepathy might have worked. Bianca raised her eyebrow and then spoke to Calla.

“Oh, I just thought it would be better for us to get to know each other off my home turf. I mean, you were coming home soon, after all. I didn’t have a lot of time to interrogate the man. Away from the house, I could find out more and then we could come back.”

I was impressed with Bianca’s ability to improvise. I smiled and mouthed “Thank you.”

“And the building blew up before she could get much out of me,” I said. “So that’s how we got here.”

“I see,” Calla said. “Weird day.”

“Very weird.” I nodded.

A pair of police officers entered the ER through the outer doors. They glanced around and one of them pointed in our direction.

“That’s him,” one said.

The pair came over. I had a grim feeling that my day was about to get weirder.

“Diggory Franklin?” One asked. I nodded. “Could you come with us, sir? We need you to come down to the precinct to answer some questions.”

Friday, August 15, 2008

Chapter Thirty-Six: Alive on Arrival

We were still waiting in triage when Calla came into the ER. I was getting a water bottle from a vending machine, so she saw Bianca first. She rushed over to give her roomie a hug.

“Are you okay? What the hell happened?” Calla said.

Simultaneously, Bianca cringed in pain as her friend shifted her sore collarbone, “Ouch!”

“I’m so sorry! Oh no!”

“It’s her clavicle. I think I broke it,” I offered quietly from the side.

“Diggory!” Calla said, turning to me. “No, Bianca told me you saved her life. Thank you!”

“Well, aside from the fact she wouldn’t have needed saving if I hadn’t dragged her along with me, you’re welcome.”

“Stop saying that,” Bianca slapped my arm with a smile. “You’re a hero.”

“Yeah, right.”

“Have you heard from anyone? What happened?” Calla asked.

I shrugged. “The cops took a statement at the scene, but we couldn’t tell them much. The building exploded near the top somewhere. They didn’t share information with us, so if they know anything more, they’re keeping it to themselves.”

“I wonder if it was terrorists,” Bianca said. “Everyone is scared of terrorists.”

“They are in the business of terrifying people,” Calla said with a smile in the corner of her mouth. “But that’s a little random. Why would they target Diggory’s work? It’s not a government building.”

“It could just be something normal, like faulty mechanics or a gas line, then,” Bianca said.

“I think we should let the experts figure it out,” I suggested. “You need to sit down and rest. They’ll probably call you in any minute.”

We all sat down. My cell phone started to ring.

“Would you ladies excuse me?” I took it out of my pocket and wandered a few feet away around the corner into the corridor adjacent to triage. “Hello?”

“Dude, are you okay?” Matt the Pimp’s familiar voice came over the phone. “I’m at a pay phone, I had to borrow some quarters. Thank God you’re alive!”

“Matt, what the hell happened? Are you okay? I haven’t seen anyone else here at the hospital.”

“I went out for lunch with that cute girl from accounting, and when I got back the building was on fire! Paper and shit all over the street. The cops wouldn’t let us get anywhere close, and I left my phone inside. I haven’t seen anyone else either. Why are you at the hospital? Did you get hurt?”

“No, I was just coming back from lunch myself. Sort of. I went to see Calla.”

“Ah,” Matt said, and I knew he was grinning, “For lunch. I see!”

“No, you don’t. She wasn’t home. I spoke with her roommate, Bianca, and she came with me to our building. Just as we arrived, it exploded. I pushed her back into our cab and jumped on top to protect her, like an ass. We think I broke her collarbone. She’s pretty sore.”

“Way to go, champ! You’re a regular Clark Kent!”

“It wasn’t a big deal,” I shrugged, tired of hearing it.

“Hey, she’s hot. Put in a good word for me, will you?”

“I’ll call you when we’re done here. Good-bye, Matt.” I hung up.

I turned to go back to triage. From the corner I could hear Calla and Bianca softly murmuring. On a terrible, sneaky impulse, I stopped to listen.

“So are you going to get more serious with him, or not? Because if you don’t jump his bones, I will,” Bianca said.

“Are you kidding?”

“He’s hot! Plus, he’s kind of heroic and noble. I don’t usually go for that, but you should have seen him! The building went up and he just instinctively knew what to do, jumping on top of me instead of panicking. I totally froze! He’s tough: I straight up yelled at him, playing the over-protective roomie, and he stood up to me. You’ve never had him lying on top of you, trust me, it’s an experience worth repeating.”

“He broke your clavicle!”

“Totally worth it.”

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Chapter Thirty-Five: This is the Best Day Ever

I sat with Bianca in the emergency room while she waited for x-rays. It seemed that I may have sprained or even broken her collarbone when I tackled her into the cab earlier. I felt bad about that, and apologized at every opportunity.

“Seriously, Diggory, don’t worry about it. You probably saved my life,” she would say each time, and give me another pat on the arm.

“I know. I just feel bad.”

“You’re probably still in shock and dwelling on minute details to keep your mind off the bigger picture. I know I would,” Bianca said.

The ER was crowded with people from the business district who had been hit by shards of glass, or inhaled too much smoke. I had yet to find anyone from my office, but then, they could have been diverted to another hospital. I hoped no one was hurt. It was taking ages for them to get to Bianca, but then, her injuries probably seemed minor.

Once she realized we’d be there for longer than she’d hoped, Bianca got out her cell phone.

“I think I’d better tell Calla where we are,” she said. I nodded.

“I’m going to call my parents’ place, see if my mother knows anything. She’s probably out of her mind with worry.”

We stood outside the emergency bay, calling our respective numbers. I wondered how real the warning was about using cellular phones inside the hospital. It was damned annoying. I waited while it rang.

“Hello?” My mother’s voice answered after several rings.

“Hi, Mother. It’s me.”

“Good afternoon, Diggory darling. How are you, dear? So unexpected to hear from you. Are you coming to my party tomorrow?”

I stopped short and stared at the phone in my hand. My mother’s voice sounded slurred.

“Mother, are you okay?”

“Of course, darling. Why wouldn’t I be?” She actually giggled. My mother had been drinking in the middle of the afternoon.

“Um, okay… Have you been watching the news?”

“Well, dear, I just woke up from my afternoon nap, so I’ve been dead to the world. Why, is something the matter?”

“Maybe you had better find a news channel. There was an explosion at work, and I’m in the hospital. I’m fine!” I added hastily. “A friend just needs x-rays.”

“Oh dear! I do hope everyone is all right. Have you heard from your father?”

“I was hoping that he had called you by now. I’ll try his cell number. I’ll call you back, Mother.”

“Take care, darling.”

I hung up and shook my head. Then I called my father’s personal cell phone number, and got no answer. I told myself there could be a million reasons for that. It could be off. It could have been damaged. He could have lost it while leaving the building. He might have left it in the office or at home.

I really didn’t want to think about the alternative.

“Everything okay?” Bianca asked me.

“What? Oh, yeah, fine. My mother didn’t even realize anything was wrong, she was taking a nap.”

“I feel like I could use one. This has been an exhausting day.”

I shifted my feet and stared at them. “Yeah, I’m really sorry about that. You wouldn’t have been in harm’s way if you hadn’t come with me to work.”

“Diggory, stop blaming yourself. You couldn’t have known what was going to happen.”

I shrugged. “Yeah, predicting the future hasn’t been my strong suit lately.”

“Is it anyone’s?”

“Well, I usually have a long-term plan in mind. Things have been a little disrupted this week.”

“Because of Calla?” Bianca asked with a grin.

I blushed.

That was a loaded question I didn’t really want to answer.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Chapter Thirty-Four: Crash! Bang! Boom!

I sat in awkward silence with Bianca, Calla Wiley’s artsy roommate, while our cab weaved through traffic. It only had to go a few blocks to reach my work, but it seemed like everyone was out on the streets for lunch. We hit three red lights with bumper-to-bumper traffic.

As a result, our taxicab pulled up to my building just as lunch hour was finishing. People scurried along the street to return to their places of business, while I stepped out of the cab and offered a hand to Bianca. She accepted it with a soft smile, and I wondered if we were declaring a truce. I opened my mouth to say something.

And a deafening boom erupted overhead.

Acting purely on instinct, I shoved Bianca down and forward, knocking her into the backseat. I leapt in atop her, a human shield. A split second later the cab was hit by innumerable shards of glass, tinkling off the roof and windshield like hard rain. They hit with enough force to scratch the glass windows. The vehicle rocked for a moment and then settled back down. My ears were ringing from the explosion, but that shower of glass splinters had still sounded like a downpour or machine gun fire.

Bianca was trying to say something, but it seemed muffled. I wondered if I’d lost some hearing, or if my nervous system was just trying to deal with the shock. She hit my shoulder and I realized she was telling me to get off her. I got up slowly, tilting my body so she could sit up. I moved to the other side of the seat and looked out the open door.

People were running here and there, covering their heads. Some were cowering against walls. More than a few had lacerations from the glass. Papers blew all over, some of them smouldering. Smoke cast a pall over the air. I could barely make out the sound of sirens in the distance. I looked up.

My father’s building was burning. It looked like all the windows had been blown out about three quarters of the way up the building, and dark trails of smoke were still raining soot down on the city. I thought I caught glimpses of flames, and wondered what the firefighters would do when they got here.

I looked back at Bianca, whose eyes were wide with shock. She was staring upwards at the smoky destruction. The cabbie was shouting something, but I couldn’t make it out. The ringing in my ears was too much. My whole body felt like it was trembling, and I looked at my hands. They weren’t shaking, though it felt like it. It was as if the explosion had rocked my body, and not just my ears. I wondered dreamily if this was an adrenal reaction, and imagined my pulse must be racing.

Yet everything moved in slow motion.

Bianca exited the cab, looking upwards in awe. She put a hand on my arm. I looked down at it, surprised. I couldn’t tell if she was reaching out to steady herself or offer consolation. I was too numb to need it. I wondered how long that would last.

An eternity later, though it was probably only a few minutes, cops and firefighters were on the sidewalk, directing people and assessing damage. The activity made me dizzy, so I didn’t fight the paramedic who guided me to a nearby ambulance and made me sit down. Someone draped a blanket over Bianca and me, and we sat close like children while the world rushed around us.

I regained my hearing an octave at a time, it seemed. One moment there was only ringing, and then there were the high-pitched wails of sirens. I started snatching bits of words as people screamed or cried or yelled. Voices started to cut through the din.

I sat there, bewildered, as I relearned how to hear. I turned to look at Bianca. She gripped my hand in hers, interlocking our fingers. She gave a comforting squeeze.

“Can you hear me?” I asked.

She nodded. “You’re yelling.”

“Sorry,” I tried to soften my voice. “Is that better?”

“Much,” she grinned.

We sat there in silence for a bit longer, watching the police and emergency crews as they rushed back and forth. I wondered if anyone died. I wondered what had caused the explosion. I wondered where we would be working tomorrow.

“I guess we won’t be checking your messages, huh?” Bianca said.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Note from the Author: Anticipate Technical Difficulties

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you may or may not know, my wife is expecting our third child. Literally any day now. This is a cause for celebration, in general.

In the specific, it means that my update schedule is about to become extremely erratic. I promise you three updates a week, I will keep track. They might all end up on the same day. They will not be the usual Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday pattern.

My wife, who is hardcore, is coaching Special Olympics Soccer in a tournament this weekend and next as well, and I have to go with her in case of labour. And, labour is a possibility any day of the week at this point. Wish us luck, and I'll do my best to cram in writing between family responsibilities.