Meet Scott, hiding naked (and fictional, thank goodness).

About Honestly, Scott

Not-quite-starving sculptor Scott Ruggles is about to lose his girlfriend. But all is not lost – so he has more to lose: the support of his chief patron (a.k.a., Verna, his mother), the job he performs halfheartedly, the driver’s license he hasn’t used responsibly. What’s a down-on-his-luck artist to do but take the advice of a troubled friend and sell his soul to Ad Land – at least until his next one-man show, provided he can scrounge enough scrap cardboard to sculpt with. What follows are the novel’s opening paragraphs.

- 1 -

The perils of pantomime

I crack open my door, see it’s safe to emerge, and step out into the hallway, pulling the door handle behind me until the tumbler clicks. My face is painted white; my upper and lower eyelids are adorned with black accents; my lips are colored bright red. I have on a tight-fitting black-and-white striped long-sleeved shirt. On my head sits a battered black opera hat, jauntily canted, with a long-stemmed red paper carnation drooping from its band. Altogether I’m a reasonable facsimile of Marcel Marceau. Assuming Marceau ever pranced around in the half-altogether: I’m au naturel from the waist down but for a fetching, color-coordinated accessory—a red novelty condom.

It’s Saturday morning. Darra is expecting my knock on her door at any moment. She’s in the front apartment; I’m in the back one. Our apartments comprise the second floor of Alphas and Carl Moon’s weathered red-brick Victorian in Richmond’s Fan District. Darra and I are into casual sex with a role-playing twist. Completely her idea, this silly getup; I agreed the moment she suggested it. I mean, if you’re a woman of average good looks who says to me, “Scott, I’ll have sex with you if you dress up like the Easter Bunny,” I’m on my way to Premier Costumes on Cary Street with only the dollar amount left to fill in on the check. Glad she came along as my personal wardrobe consultant; she saved me the rental on those white pants Marceau wore. “We won’t need those,” she told the sales clerk. “He’ll be only half a mime.”

As I tiptoe by the hallway closet Alphas keeps the cleaning stuff in, the ding-dong, ding-dong of the doorbell below freezes me in place like that time in t’ai chi class I forgot what came after “Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg.”

Back to my apartment? Yes! No! Maybe?

My door sits on the landing in clear view of the foyer. Ding-dong, ding-dong. The foyer where Alphas has just said “Hello” to someone. Too late. They’d see my fleeing fanny.

And as the dong of the last ding-dong dies, mine dies along with it.

I peek over the landing railing—and jerk back. Shit almighty! Alphas, speaking to a redheaded woman at the foot of the stairs, has a hand on the banister, half turned in an about-to-ascend-the-stairs pose. No way will Darra open her door quick enough to let me in. That’s not the way we play it. I have to scratch the door first and hear her say, “Who’s there?” I scratch again and she says, “Is it someone who cannot speak?” Scratch. Scratch. “Is it a horny mime?” Scratch. Scratch. Scratch. Only then does she open the door and, with hands to mouth in mock astonishment, say, “Goodness me, it’s a colorful, horny mime. Come in. Come into me.” Silly double entendre? No question. But when my Saturday is about to kick off with a bang, it hardly matters.

“Let’s go up,” Alphas says to the woman.

Cleaning closet, here I come! Several frantic tiptoes and I’m at the door, yanking it open, hopping inside, and pulling it to within an inch of shut, slowing till it stops softly against the jamb and I feel the latch slip into place. I lift my hand off the doorknob. Is there a deadbolt? No! Damn! Every closet should have a deadbolt inside the door. Stupid Victorians.

Is the novel complete?

In my dreams, yes, I’ve finished it, landed an agent, and the manuscript’s been auctioned to a major publishing house (and so forth and so on). In reality, I’m revising the umpty-ump draft, after which I’ll impose the manuscript on as many beta-reader friends as I can cajole or trick into reading it, revising here and there based on their advice, and then dispatching suffered-over query letters posthaste to some literary agents I’ve met and some I haven’t. At that point, I’ll sit by my phone and computer for days and nights to patiently await word on the fate of my words. Not 24/7, though; there’s no kitchen or bathroom in my office.