“You never know what’s comin’ for ya.”

It’s been a pretty ordinary handful of days lately. I decided a little while back to take this coming Monday off, so this has been a three-day weekend, and I still have tomorrow off. I’ll work from home on Tuesday, and then travel to a local campus on Wednesday, so hopefully it shouldn’t be too rough a week. The part of me that gets to sleep in a little late in the morning certainly doesn’t think so.

Last night, my parents and I went out to dinner for my upcoming birthday, and except for dessert, which was decent but unremarkable, it was a very lovely meal. I had duck gnocchi with wild mushrooms, pine nuts, golden raisins, and pancetta to start, and then possibly the best sea scallops I’ve ever tasted. (With roasted cauliflower, toasted almonds, and more golden raisins.) I was ridiculously stuffed afterward, but it was a very good meal.

This evening, I watched the first episode of the new Bates Motel television series, which wasn’t very good, and then later The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which surprised me because it was.

I think the AV Club is right about the series that “[t]he problem, then, is that Bates Motel is simply overburdened by the reason it exists.” It fails to work, at least in part, because it winds up having to be a Psycho prequel. (It’s the same thing I thought seeing the trailer for the upcoming Hannibal TV show. It looks strangely interesting; I just really, really wish it wasn’t an adaptation/prequel/remake of Manhunter/Silence of the Lambs.)

And earlier today, in my weekly writing group, I came up with this based on some prompts we picked out of Scientific American Mind magazine:

“I can kill you with my brain,” she said, “and with just a glance. But let’s pretend for a moment that we’re both civilized people and there’s maybe a better solution?”

He frowned, but then nodded, holstering his weapon, and sat in the wing chair opposite her. “Agreed,” he said — and she realized with a start that in all these years this was perhaps the first time she had actually heard his voice. And after he had killed how many of her sisters?

“So we are at an impasse,” she said. “I have no desire to kill you nor any desire to die, but that seems to be where fate has landed us.” She tried to smile; she would not betray herself with a showing of fear, not to this man, damn his eyes. “Tea?” she said, lifting the pot.

Again, the nod, and almost a hint of a smile himself. A trained killer, she thought, and completely ruthless, but not wholly above the social niceties. For just a moment she wondered which of them both she was thinking of.

“Two sugars,” he said. “No lemon.”

She poured the tea and handed him the cup. He let it cool for a moment in his hands, blew gently across its surface, but then drank the tea without hesitation. He knew you wouldn’t stoop to poison him, she thought, and then just as quickly regretted that she hadn’t. She sipped from her own cup and stared at him, letting the silence settle between them, counting up all the room’s exits in her head.

“What I propose is a bargain,” she said finally, returning her cup to the tray on the table in front of her. “Or perhaps more accurately a trade. My life — “

He stared, but said nothing, still sipping his tea.

“ — for information. I know things that you don’t, things even my sisters didn’t know. If you killed me now — or rather, if you tried to kill me now — that knowledge would die with me.”

He nodded — so calm, damn him, even now — and leaned forward in the chair to place his own, now empty cup upon the tray. Then he sat back, actually crossed his legs, and this time did smile. There was more good humor in that look than she would have thought possible; this was just a job to him, one he took great pleasure in, but he did not hate her. And suddenly she hated him all the more because of that.

“You have no information that I want or need,” he said, a great finality to his voice. Even seated, relaxed, almost laughing, she knew he could reach his gun before she could act. Only his own doubt of that had saved her this far. “You don’t know anything.”

“I know who sent you here,” she said. “I know your employers. And I know how to kill them.”

He stared for a very long minute, and she braced herself for the shot, that final bullet with her name on it, and then he said:

“All right. I’m listening.”

I dunno, I kind of like it.

And that’s been most of weekend. Still one day of it to go, however, thank goodness.

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