1. Write a story about a New Years Eve party that causes time to stop.
2. Use the following in your story: an undercover detective, the back of a converted van, and a box of Franzia (wine).
“Pssst, hey buddy,” a voice said from behind me. I turned and found a man in a red velvet tuxedo that had seen better years gesturing to me. I walked toward him and he handed me a note. “Make sure Almstedt gets that.”
“What? I don’t even know the man. Give it to him yourself.” But the man had slipped into crowd and was gone.
Being curious and not particularly fond of conspiracy, I unfolded the note and read it. It was a mathematical formula.
I grunted and tucked the note into my pocket. Crackpots, the lot of them. I turned my attention back to my wife’s conversation. She was must have been excited or angry about something because she was talking with her hands. Charles seemed to be agreeing with her, so I supposed she wasn’t angry. I listened in.
“I told him the very properties of the theory that made it unsuitable made it a promising candidate for our project. He finally agreed,” she said shaking her head. Charles nodded.
“You’ve always been very convincing,” he said and laid her arm around her shoulders in a way that made me look more closely at his body language. Was Corrine’s boss hitting on her? He was at least twice her age and she was married. To me. He caught me staring and smirked.
Luckily a waiter passed by with a tray of champagne right then, so I snagged two and interrupted Corrine mid-sentence to put a glass in both her and Charles’ hands.
“Have you guys heard this one?” I asked, being rude but it got Charles away from my wife, “What did the subatomic particle say to the duck?”
All members of the conversation turned to me and gave me varying degrees of evil eyes, including my wife.
One man tittered, and Corrine rolled her eyes at me, but took my arm and excused us, leading me toward the buffet line.
“Henry,” she started to explain in her patient-but-I’m-gonna-chew-you-a-new-one tone.
“Is your boss always so touchy with you?” I demanded.
That stopped her tirade. She blinked.
“Your boss was flirting with you.”
“You’re imagining things. Charles is happily married.”
“He put his arm around you.”
She paused, denial on her lips. “He did, didn’t he? How odd. I’m sure it didn’t mean anything.”
“If he does it again, I’m going to remind him that you’re married.”
She patted my arm and kissed my cheek, a small smile on her face.
We stood in line, holding hands, and I was content for the moment, until my other hand touched the paper in my pocket.
“Do you know what this means?” I handed her the mysterious note.
She glanced at it, and then stopped, causing a small tangle in the food line behind us.
“Where did you get this?”
“Some guy handed it to me to give to your Professor.”
She handed it back to me, “Then I guess you should do so.”
“But what does it mean?”
She titled her head to the side and then shook it slowly, which either indicated that she wasn’t sure or that I was an idiot.
“Come on,” she towed me out of line and toward the head table, where several high muckety-mucks were sitting.