In this painting, the observer is the driver of a truck looking into a rearview mirror. There are three images: the ground and the top and bottom views of a Class A mirror.
If I painted something like this again, I would make some changes. I would blur the ground to add depth. I would add a high horizon line as I did in the sketch. I would make the bottom mirror convex. I would also use a color pallet that matches the mood of the story.
Melissa Taylor walked purposefully down Washington’s 14th Street North West wearing business attire to blend in with early morning commuters. Once she was across the street from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, she stopped walking and pretended to type out a message on her phone. Her true purpose for stopping was to become more familiar with the public facing security of the facility.
Melissa planned to steal items from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for a foreign collector. She planned to go in through a back door either exploiting a weakness in their physical security or personnel or both. She also planned to pick up some things for herself along the way to help maintain her very high standard of living.
As Melissa observed the building, she noticed a person staring at her from across the street. The person wore plain casual clothing: sneakers, jeans, and a hoodie that concealed a face in shadow. Yesterday’s word of the day, caliginous, came to her mind. Her best guess from the overall look of the person’s body was that the person was a male.
In Melissa’s mind, her only option was to confront him. She had a natural tendency to want to dominate others. She put her phone down and glared at him. His response was to raise his right arm from his side to bring forward his gloved hand with the palm up.
Melissa interpreted his gesture as a challenge. She made her posture even more defiant and exaggerated so he could see it from across the wide street. She placed her left hand on her hip, positioned her head above her right shoulder, and with her right hand extended dared him with her own gesture to go to her and get her.
He immediately began to walk toward Melissa. Without looking in either direction, he stepped off of the sidewalk and into the street. Automobile tires screeched to avoid hitting him. A van stopped too late. It rammed him and sent him flying forward onto the asphalt. He hit it with a thud and his body rolled to a stop. Melissa watched the accident in astonishment.
The driver of the van checked on his passengers. Then, he opened his door and stepped out to check on the man. The man stood up and began walking toward Melissa.
“Are you OK, sir?” the driver called out to him. “Don’t try to walk, sir. You may fall.” The man ignored the driver of the van.
Melissa realized she was not being threatened by an ordinary man. She pulled herself out of her shock and walked briskly up the street. She looked for options to get away. There were not enough pedestrians out for her to disappear into a crowd. She could run, try to catch a passing cab, or lose him in the subway.
Melissa looked behind her. The man continued to follow. There was no cab in sight. Around a corner about fifty yards ahead of her was a subway entrance. She was far enough ahead of him that she could turn the corner and descend into the subway without him seeing her do it. He would need to guess whether she went down the street and into an alley, into a building, or into the subway.
Melissa walked faster. She turned the corner and then walked quickly down the escalator to the subway tunnel. She had a monthly pass, so she went through the gate quickly as she heard a train approaching the platform. She had to travel another 25 yards and go down another set of escalators to catch that train. She took off her heels and began to run. At the top of the escalator, she heard the train’s warning chime that the doors were about to close. She descended as fast as she could; but, as she reached the bottom step, the doors closed and it departed.
Melissa looked back. The man was walking down the escalator and would surely intercept her if she tried to leave the station. The other end of the platform was a dead end for subway passengers, but she thought she might find a way to escape through the maintenance corridors.
Melissa looked back again as she ran. The man extended his gloved hand with its palm up. He asked her to give it to him. She realized what he wanted. The only thing that would interest such a creature was the white jewel. She was not going to give it to him.
When Melissa looked forward again, she ran into a pole that displayed subway maps. She hit it so hard she bounced back and fell to the ground. When she looked up, he stood over her. She could not see his face. ‘Caliginous,’ she thought. That is what she decided to name him.
Caliginous extended his gloved hand, and Melissa slapped it away. A black blade shot out from his wrist. He stabbed her with it. She had been stabbed before and had adapted to it. She screamed both from the pain and as a battle cry. She kicked Caliginous’ feet out from under him. The blade exited her as he fell to the ground face down. She moved quickly onto him as he was in a vulnerable position. Then, she placed him in a chokehold.
Instead of Caliginous, Melissa was the one who began to choke. There was no air in the tunnel. She let him go as she gasped for air. While he got up, her body adapted to the lack of oxygen, and she functioned as a facultative anaerobe. He attacked her as she recovered, but she was able to fight back. She dodged his blade and struck him. Her body burned from the buildup of lactic acid, but she defended herself as he assaulted her.
Caliginous stepped back and out of Melissa’s reach. She watched him to anticipate his next move, but her head began to hurt. It felt just like the first time she had been stabbed, lost a lot of blood, and her brain began to die. She felt the desperation of it again trying to keep itself alive. The pain intensified as she felt like the fluids were being squeezed out of her head.
Melissa could not stand what she felt. She grabbed a chain around her neck and pulled it until it broke. It was the necklace she used to keep the white jewel close. She threw it to Caliginous’ feet.
The pain stopped. Melissa gasped as the air returning to the tunnel filled her lungs. She kneeled on the floor as Caliginous walked away. She looked at her hands and watched as they aged. Her eyesight became blurry. She felt her lower back spasm.
Melissa was intelligent. She always figured out a way to get what she wanted. That time, Caliginous had caught her by surprise. In the future, she would be prepared for him. In fact; she planned to hunt him, get her jewel back, and make him pay for the pain she had felt.
I painted Brian to illustrate Finding the Gray Living Jewel. I wanted to convey his pleasure about his newfound strength, but I don’t think I succeeded. His face is too serious. I don’t even remember how I messed up his right eye.
I was excited about creating this illustration. I thought I was going to enjoy drawing a muscular guy throwing a rock. I was going to make the action dramatic. Instead, I struggled through some sketches, got a little frustrated, and settled for this.
I think I was in too much of a hurry. I will try to slow down in the future. Perhaps taking a break from a project if I’m struggling will help me reset.
Thank you for stopping by. If you are interested in reading the Living Jewel Series, the hyperlink will take you to my short stories. You can also find the link to the Living Jewel Series under Categories.
At the neglected parking lot of an abandoned shopping center, one man handed a car key to another and said, “You have enough explosives in that trunk to collapse the entire opening to the mountain. Remember, all of the workers leave for lunch at the same time per their Union’s contract. Blow it then, and they’ll be too scared to come back to work. That’ll give you some breathing room to set up to tie the company up in court. No one will be putting radioactive waste in your backyard for a long time.”
Las Vegas, Nevada
“Look at this,” Brian Wilson said gesturing toward the beautiful art on display, the lavish food and drink being served, and the high-class guests conversing with each other. “It isn’t fair.”
“Your parents do love you, Brian,” Helen said.
“If they loved me, they would help me,” Brian said. He unbuttoned his suit jacket and leaned back in the chair. “They just invite me to these things so they can shove their wealth in my face.”
“Your parents hosted this party to support local artists,” Helen said. “I grew up with your parents, as you know, and they have never shoved their wealth in anyone’s face.”
“Well, they do in mine,” Brian said.
“They invited you because they wanted to see you,” Helen said.
“That’s not their only reason. They have a specific purpose for everything,” Brian said. “I bet they hoped I would network.”
“It is a good opportunity. Everyone here is interested in art, and you are a wonderful artist,” Helen said.
“I’m not an artist anymore,” Brian said. “I’m just an iron worker thanks to them.”
“Your parents want you to own your achievements. You must be both an artist and a businessman if you want wealth,” Helen said. “They want you to learn tenacity and build what you have from your own hard work.”
“Structural steel work is hard work,” Brian said. “And what has it gotten me? While they’re in museums having champagne, I’m sweating under a mountain. They’re building art collections as I’m building a waste storage facility.”
Helen leaned toward Brian. “Is the company you work for building the radioactive waste repository?” she asked.
“Yes,” Brian answered. “I’m not even contributing to anything anyone will ever see. After we’ve finished, they’ll fill it with waste. No human will go near it for hundreds of thousands of years.”
“Hundreds of thousands of years?” Helen whispered to herself. Brian stood up and buttoned his suit jacket.
“It was nice seeing you again, Helen,” Brian said as he leaned down to embrace her.
“Please wait for a moment, Brian,” Helen said. Brian sat back down at the edge of his seat and observed Helen’s face. She was the same age as his parents, but her face was younger. Her clothing and makeup encouraged observers to estimate her age to be nearer to that of his parents. “I need to ask something of you.”
“Anything I can do,” Brian said.
Helen looked around the room, lowered her voice, and said, “I need you to bury something in that facility for me.”
“What is it?” Brian asked after leaning closer to Helen.
“Nothing at all to anyone, but me,” Helen said. “It’s just something in a little jewelry box I don’t want anyone to find. Ever. I want you to bury it in that facility.”
“Certainly, Helen,” Brian said. “I can pick it up tomorrow on my way back to the valley.”
“No need for you to go out of your way,” Helen said. “I have it with me.” She opened her purse and took out a small jewelry box. She paused to look at it, took a deep breath, and offered it to Brian. He took the box from her and tried to open it. “I’ve sealed it shut. Kindly do not open it.” He watched her and waited for more information. “Allow an old woman her secrets, Brian. Would you please do this for me?”
“Consider it done,” Brian said.
Amargosa Valley, Nevada
On Monday, Brian took Helen’s jewelry box with him to work. He kept it in his pocket. All morning, he noted places where he might hide the box when his coworkers were not looking. His best idea was to tuck the box in a gap between the steel reinforcement he had installed and the wall. Later, it would be sealed in with concrete. No one would ever find it.
“You better not be workin’ overtime!” the worker joked.
“Who, me?” Brian shouted. “I just need to put my tools away so I don’t lose them again!”
Brian gathered and arranged his tools as workers made their way out of the facility for their lunch break. Once everyone was out of sight, he took the jewelry box out of his pocket. He tried to shove it into the largest gap he had found, but the box was too wide. He pulled a knife out of his tool belt and tried to cut the glue that kept the box closed, but Helen had done a thorough job sealing it. He then tried to force the box open with a screwdriver. He broke the hinges, but opened the box.
Inside the box, there was a gray gemstone. It was the size and shape of a small piece of chocolate, but as smooth as glass. Brian tried to grasp it, but his work gloves were too thick. He tipped the box over so the jewel would fall out and into his hand, but it would not. So, he took his gloves off and grasped the stone with his fingers. It took a lot of finger force, but he was able to pinch it out.
As Brian looked closely at the stone, he heard an explosion at the entrance to the facility. He dropped to the ground and covered his face as a cloud of dust rushed toward him. He could not see, but he heard the side of the mountain crumble down.
Brian stayed on the ground until the rumbling sound stopped and the cloud of dust cleared. The generators near him worked, so he was able to see around him. Everything by the entrance was destroyed, so the front of the facility was obscured by darkness.
Brian stood up. He walked carefully toward the entrance. The further he was from the light, the slower he walked. He continued forward until he stepped on stone and debris. He saw the entrance collapsed. He was trapped.
“Help!” Brian yelled. The sound of his voice was swallowed by the rubble and a faint echo mocked him from the deeper parts of the cavernous facility. He growled and kicked a nearby boulder with his steel toed boot. The stone flew as if was hit by a sledgehammer. He wrinkled his brow, tucked his head back, and asked himself, “What?”
Brian looked into his hand as if he did not remember what he was clutching. He saw that he had held the jewel since the explosion. He put it in his pocket to free his hands. Then, he scanned the rubble until he found a stone similar in size to the one he had kicked. He bent down to pick up the stone, and found that it was quite heavy. He dropped it on the ground, wrinkled his brow, and stared at it.
After a minute, Brian pulled the jewel out of his pocket. He transferred it from his right hand to his left hand and held it. Then, he bent down and picked up the rock he had dropped. It was much lighter. He studied it, and then crushed it with his hand like it was just a cracker. He picked up another large stone and threw it as if it weighed nothing. Then he picked up and threw another and another and another. He began to laugh as he did it.
Brian walked up to a boulder larger than the grasp of his hand. He looked at the jewel in his hand and, after some hesitation, put it into his mouth. He bent down to pick up a boulder the size of a backpack. As he applied force to lift it, the muscles in his arms and core grew larger. He dropped the rock and examined his muscles. After the shock diminished, he approached a boulder that was the size of a large suitcase. When he applied force to lift it, the muscles he used grew. His clothing ripped around his arms and other places where the muscles grew. He picked up the boulder and threw it easily.
Brian cheered and began to dig his way out of the cave. Then, he stopped. He spit the jewel out of his mouth and into his hand. When he placed it in his pocket, his muscles became normal. He walked back to the light. As he walked, he picked up tools and other things that would be useful if someone were going to wait a long time to be rescued.
This is the full painting of Amanda and Smell. I cropped the illustration for my short story, Finding the Purple Living Jewel. I took some notes after painting Amanda.
Color sketches save time and frustration. If I hadn’t done them, I would have used some wild colors.
Start with fresh paint when creating color. I tried to darken the paint I used for Kevin’s skin color and the paint turned gray.
Wet-on-wet is great for shadows.
Until I understand where shadows fall, use a model.
Use very light pencil for the structural drawing. Even though I drew lightly, I still had trouble erasing the pencil marks.
Be patient and wait until the painting dries before erasing pencil marks. I ruined Amanda’s lips by erasing too soon.
The combination of painting a person looking up and conveying the act of smelling challenged me. I did not think it was going to work. In the end, I was satisfied by the result.
Thank you for stopping by. If you are interested in reading the Living Jewel Series, the hyperlink will take you to my published short stories. You can also find the link to the Living Jewel Series under Categories.
I wanted to capture some notes about painting Kevin in Trouble. I hope reflecting on the project will help me become a better painter.
First, I used a sketch to create a structural drawing for the painting. I blogged about the sketch for this project in, Sketch of Kevin. I adjusted the position of the collar and the width of the left arm. I felt the figure was improved, but I’m still stretching my ability to draw in perspective. I need to remember to use lighter pencil marks because I’m finding it harder to erase them at the end when the painting is dry.
Second, I selected colors and painted flat areas. I tried this approach last week and liked the control it gave me. It allowed me to focus on having a good foundation to build upon. I chose warm colors to evoke a feeling of distress. I showed the colors to my wife, and she told me they reminded her of fall and were comforting. I should do thumbnail color sketches next time to find the right combination of colors.
After the watercolors dried, I added form. I moved the source of the light to the other side of the room. That wasn’t my original plan. My reason for moving it was that the best model I could find had the light coming from that side. It wasn’t the bravest move, but I’m not comfortable imagining lighting yet.
“C’mon, it’s easy money,” Emily said. She looked tired of giving Michelle, one of the most attractive girls in her network, reasons to take a job she offered. She found a gap between throw pillows that hid the age of Michelle’s couch and carefully sat down. She crossed her ankles, leaned forward, and rested her forearms on top of her thighs. She fiddled with the cap of her empty water bottle as she waited for Michelle to come up with another reason not to take the job.
“You call that easy money?” Michelle asked. “Because I don’t call it easy money.” Michelle stood across the small room, turned toward a mirror, and checked her hair and face casually. She smoothed out her dress with her delicate hands and frowned at some lint on her dress that no one would ever notice. “Besides, I don’t want to do that anymore. I’m focusing on my acting fulltime now.”
“You need to eat until you land that big part, don’t you?” Emily said. “Look – all you need to do is wear a flirty uniform, serve drinks, and be friendly.”
“Oh yea? Just friendly, huh? And who am I going to be friendly to? Whose party is it going to be?” Michelle asked.
“George Brown’s,” Emily answered.
“Are you kidding me?” Michelle said. “No way I’m going near that guy.”
“What do you have against George Brown?” Emily asked.
“Oh, I’ve got plenty against George Brown,” Michelle said. She sat down in a chair that was next to the sofa where Emily sat. “Two weeks ago, I was on a yacht with Joshua Davis.”
“The Joshua?” Emily asked.
“Yes, the Joshua,” Michelle answered. “I was on his yacht making some of that easy money you’re talking about. We were inside having drinks because we were in the middle of some storm. The ocean was choppy, but everyone was having a good time.”
“So it wasn’t a big party?” Emily asked.
“Nah. It was more of a weekend getaway with his friends and me and some girls,” Michelle answered. “The yacht was big though: it had a crew. Really fancy. So, everyone was laughing about how sick some celebrity got on Joshua’s jet. Then Joshua just told one of his guys to sit down.”
“One of his friends?” Emily asked.
“Hard to tell. He was a quiet type. Didn’t speak unless spoken to. Looked like he could be a body guard or something,” Michelle answered. “And so everyone stopped laughing. It was like we were listening to canned laughter and somebody turned off the TV. Joshua then asked, ‘Kevin, where’s that blue rock I gave you?’ And then no one made a sound. Even I knew to hold my breath. All I heard was white noise outside from the rain and the yacht’s hull slapping the occasional wave.”
“What did the guy say?” asked Emily.
“He swallowed hard and took a while to answer,” Michelle said. “It was like he wasn’t too bright. Like he was really thinking about it. Then he said, ‘I sold it to George Brown so I could retire someday.’ The room was so quiet. Nobody looked at Joshua, but everyone looked at Joshua: you know what I mean? I was really getting scared, but I couldn’t go anywhere. The room had this weight in it. It felt like I would die if I moved without Joshua saying I could.”
“Wow,” Emily said.
“Yeah, I didn’t know someone could do that to a room,” Michelle said. “So then Joshua said, ‘Who said you could retire?’ Kevin’s face turned white. Joshua started laughing and looked around the room at the other guys. So we all started laughing. I mean; it wasn’t really funny, but I was just so scared. You know?”
“You poor girl,” Emily said.
“Then Joshua stood up, grabbed Kevin by the collar, and pulled him up and out of his chair,” Michelle said. “He dragged the guy across the room and through the door leading out onto the deck of the yacht. When Joshua opened the door, the sound of the rain outside drowned out every sound inside. It looked pitch black outside to me. It was just crazy for him to go out there and drag Kevin out there too as the boat heaved and waves crashed onto the deck from the storm. Then one of the guys tried to say to another without me hearing, ‘Did I just see Joshua drag Kevin out?’ And the other guy was like, ‘I wouldn’t believe it if I wasn’t right here.’ I didn’t know what was going on. I just tried not to cry.”
“Where were the other girls?” Emily asked.
“They were with some guys on the other side of the yacht,” Michelle answered. “Joshua liked me, so he kept me around most of the time. I thought that was great since he was paying the bill, you know? But I didn’t want to be there right then. I asked one of Joshua’s friends if I could go be with the other girls, but he just shook his head. He was probably right. No one moved from where they were – not even to close the door. Then Joshua emerged from the dark and walked back into the room. He was soaked, of course. He grabbed an ice bucket where we’d had a champagne bottle earlier and stuck one of his hands in it. He told us to have a good time, and then went to his room. I didn’t see him again the rest of the trip: not even when we got back to port.”
“I still haven’t heard what you’ve got against George Brown,” Emily said.
“Really? Joshua Davis, George Brown, the Boogeyman – they kill people,” Michelle answered. “I’m not going anywhere near scary people anymore.” Michelle stood up and walked back to the mirror to look at herself. She combed through her hair with her hands and straightened a necklace she wore. “Do you think Joshua was mad about the blue rock or the guy wanting to retire?”
“Oh, he was mad about both,” Emily said. She leaned back into the couch letting the throw pillows gather around her as she sunk in. “He called it a rock, but it looks like raw benitoite.”
“Like what?” Michelle asked.
“It looks like a blue gemstone called buh – nee – toh – aight,” Emily said. “Look it up on your phone.”
“But it’s not a bunny toe thing?” Michelle asked. “What is it then? And how much was it worth that he got enough money to buy his way out of the bad business he was in?”
“Well, I heard it’s not just some fancy jewel,” Emily said.
“Go on,” Michelle said.
“I heard it has powers,” Emily said.
“Shut up!” Michelle said. “What powers?”
“You touch people and you get their strength,” Emily said.
“Like, where do you touch people?” Michelle asked. “Do you touch them with it? Or do you say some magic words?”
“I don’t know,” Emily said. “But it makes sense when you think about it, right? That guy Kevin was muscle for Joshua. And he always had that blue jewel with him. He had a reputation of being unstoppable. Tough and loyal, but not too bright. That’s probably why George Brown was able to get the jewel from him.”
“You heard all this where?” Michelle asked.
“Joshua Davis mentioned it when he, um…” Emily hesitated. She leaned her head back and looked up at the ceiling.
“When what, Emily?” Michelle asked. Emily swallowed and straightened her posture. She made eye contact with Michelle.
“When he told me to tell you to steal the jewel back from George Brown,” Emily said.
Mary sat at the conference table between space junk Wonder Boy and The expert on space weather. She wondered what she could possibly contribute to the efforts of this team. She could not remember half the names of the ten people in the room. She had not even introduced herself correctly. She thought she heard herself say her names was Murray.
“I would like gather a preliminary set of risks to our assets, and then…” said Michael as Mary’s attention wandered off. Mary made an effort to remember this person’s name because he was the facilitator. He had two other people with him. One was named Richard. She remembered his name because Dick is short for Richard. There was a Dick in her family. She could not remember the name of the other person even though she could not forget his face. She told herself to stop worrying about names and start paying attention. She missed a lot of what Michael said after assets.
“Murray, why don’t you start us off?” asked Michael. Everyone in the room looked at Mary. Adrenaline shot through her body. Her hand began to tremble. She felt her forehead moisten. Mary had to swallow before she could speak.
“It’s Mary,” she said.
“Sorry, I didn’t hear what you said,” said Michael.
“Cybersecurity,” said Mary. Richard typed the word into the notes page projected on the wall. Mary’s ears perceived each click of the keyboard like points being added next to her name on a scoreboard.
“Excellent,” said Michael. “Who would like to go next?” Mary did not hear what the next person said. She was too happy she had guessed correctly what to say. She had even contributed and there was a credit on her credibility ledger. She forced herself to pay attention so she would not be caught with her mind elsewhere again.
To keep herself engaged, Mary commented whenever someone else provided a good suggestion. Her strategy worked for the first half hour. She was feeling a connection between herself and the others in the room. She felt like she was a part of the group.
Richard stood up to let the other guy sit in his place and take notes. The room darkened a little as if clouds had rolled in. The lights flickered. ‘What the hell is that guy’s name,’ thought Mary. She stared at his face trying to remember. She thought his teeth were too big; especially his front teeth. His lips draped over his incisors like a miniskirt over butt cheeks of unusual size. His nostrils revealed an undergrowth of hair in his nose. He had eyes like a Chihuahua. His mother must have considered drowning him in the toilet.
“Did you say something, Murray?” asked the new note taker. He noticed her staring at him.
“It’s Mary,” she replied. “I was just thinking that we don’t have a good plan for disposal.” Michael nodded his head thoughtfully. A conversation began in the room. No one noticed the man had not typed in Mary’s suggestion.
“Could a competitor damage our assets?” Patricia asked.
“Good point, Patricia,” said Michael. “Please write that down, Logan.” Logan typed in a note summarizing her comment.
‘What the hell kind of name is Logan?’ thought Mary. She did not have a problem with the name; she had a problem with the person taking notes. She expected him to be named Beaver or Bug-Eye or Skid-Mark. Mary was determined not to break even or have a deficit in the esteem of her colleagues. She straightened her posture and cleared her throat.
“I’m sorry to press, but I still think we contribute to space junk without a proper disposal plan,” said Mary. “That adds to everyone’s risk.” She tried to make eye contact with Logan. She looked at his right eye, but it looked as if he was staring at Patricia. She looked at his other eye, it was looking at her. ‘Write it down, Skid-Mark,’ Mary thought. Mary could see in her periphery that other participants were nodding, but she stared at Logan’s eye and waited for him to enter the note.
‘What is your problem with me,‘ Mary thought. She guessed at why Logan wrote Patricia’s comment, but not hers. Patricia was a pretty blond. Her big innocent blue eyes made men’s intelligence plunge when she rested her gaze on them. ‘What do you think is going to happen with Patricia,’ Mary thought. ‘You think she wants the spawn of a walleyed Chihuahua?’
“Why don’t you write that down, Logan?” suggested Michael. Logan hesitated. Mary’s eye lids narrowed. Everyone in the room stopped moving and appeared to hold their breath. Then, Logan began to peck at the keyboard.
The sound of each keystroke tickled Mary. She won that fight. She scored that point with the experts behind her after she took a risk and asserted herself. Her idea was projected on the wall for everyone to see. There was so much to savor in that victory that she felt like she was floating. She was so excited she could pee herself.
‘Oh, crap!’ Mary thought to herself. ‘I think I just peed myself!’
Mary wore a skirt, so she could not look down to see if there was a visible wet spot. She had felt a tiny squirt. The volume of liquid felt like a cheap water gun had been fired from her body. She felt a warm sensation. Then, there was cooling.
There was no way Mary was going to leave the room without someone noticing a wet spot on the back of her skirt. Wonder Boy was a known butt ogler. There was an ongoing debate among the women: one side argued that he was an avid connoisseur of posteriors and the other side said his glances were hardwired and involuntary. Regardless, Mary was in danger of detection. She did not have anything with her to wrap around her waist. Even if she made it out of the room, she was not going to avoid being seen in the halls on the way back to her desk.
Since Mary did not want to be noticed, she received a lot of attention from the meeting participants. They rallied around her after the unprovoked attack. As the meeting wound down, small talk began and people asked her questions about herself. Had she not soiled herself, she would have basked in the attention. She would have lain on the table with her arms and legs spread out awkwardly and purred like a cat. She might have gotten down on her hands and knees and done a figure 8 around Michael’s legs. Instead, she wanted to crawl alongside the walls and find a hole in which to hide. She gave short answers to questions and diverted attention to others by asking questions about them as a part of her response.
Richard and Logan walked around the conference room and tidied up as Michael allowed the conversation to signal the conclusion of the meeting. Richard picked up extra copies of handouts on one side of the room, and Logan gathered the extra copies on the side where Mary sat. When Logan reached for the copies that were in front of Mary, he knocked over her coffee cup. The lid popped off of the cup. A tsunami of coffee poured across the table toward her. A waterfall went over the table. The liquid’s journey ended when a plunge pool of coffee found her lap. One of Logan’s eyes looked at Mary. He apologized with a note of insincerity in his voice.
“It’s one-hundred percent OK,” said Mary cheerfully. “I have a change of clothes in a drawer at my desk.” She was gracious and sincere. Logan looked hurt. He did not know he solved her peed skirt problem and gave her one more opportunity to be awesome. Mary purred as she left the room.