The following is the scene into which I inserted Nicky. He'll be edited out of the final version of this, but I was a little stuck for inspiration and writing about Nicky gave me my 1670 words for the day. Please note, because this is Nano, this was written quickly with my internal editor shut off. I have spell checked it, though.
Mia looked at the man, appalled. He was about 5’3” and very heavy. Fat actually. There was no other way to describe him. She guessed he weighed in around two hundred to two hundred and ten pounds, and it didn’t look like muscle. He was wearing dirty jeans, a black long sleeved t-shirt with an AC/DC logo on it and white high top sneakers. His scraggly, longish, dark brown hair looked like it hadn’t been washed in days, and his goatee had food crumbs in it. His skin, what little she could see of it, was pale like he didn’t get out in the sun much.
Jack pushed the door open, forcing the guy backwards. “Come on,” he said to Mia.
Mia crouched and ran through the door and slammed it shut behind her. “I didn’t hear any more shots. Did you?” she asked Jack.
“No,” he said. “Just the three.”
“Shots? What shots?” the guy who had answered the door said.
Mia looked around the room they were now in. It appeared to be a living room, with a sofa and a recliner and a TV that looked older than she was. There was also a set of stairs leading down to a basement. The overhead lights were on, but since the curtains were pulled, the room was dim. It smelled of cigarette smoke and urine. Lovely. Still it was better than outside at the moment.
“What’s your name?” Jack asked the guy.
“Nickolaus. Who are you?”
Jack tucked his gun into his jacket pocket. “OK, Nickolaus, we need to use a phone.”
“What the hell is going on?” Nickolaus looked confused. “Why do you have a gun? You can’t be shooting at people here, you know, mister.”
“We weren’t doing the shooting,” Mia said. “Somebody was shooting at us.”
“What shooting?” Nickolaus plopped his oversized butt down on the sofa. “I didn’t hear anything. I’m so confused.” He picked up a can of Coors Light from the coffee table and took a big swallow, leaving a nasty film on his already filthy goatee.
Mia suppressed a shudder. She turned to Jack. “You’re calling the police?”
“I thought you wanted to keep a low profile, not let anyone know we’re in town.”
“I do. I’ll file the report under—“ he broke off and looked at Nickolaus who was still collapsed on the sofa, shaking his head and muttering to himself. “I’ll use the fake ID’s,” he whispered to her.
“Gotcha,” Mia said. “So, Nickolaus, do you have a phone we could use?”
Nickolaus stopped muttering. “Um, well, I guess you could use the one on the motel office. But you’ll have to wait until Granny gets back.”
“Granny?” Mia asked.
“Probably the woman who just checked me in,” Jack said to Mia. “She’d be about the right age. Where did she go, Nick? She was here just a moment ago.”
“Dunno.” Nickolaus took another swig of beer. “She just got a call and left. Told me not to touch anything. Stupid bitch.”
“You talk about your grandmother that way?” Mia asked. She knew that not everyone had good family relations, but she still didn’t like to hear this dirty little guy say things like that.
“Yeah. So?” Nickolaus stood up and puffed out his chest. “I live downstairs in the basement, and I help her out all the time. She couldn’t get by without me. And what does she do? She takes away my Internet connection and makes me get my own phone line.”
“That’s too bad,” Jack said with false sympathy.
“Yeah, the cow,” Nickolaus said. “The whole thing wasn’t my fault, you know. I was just standing up for my writing. Then those stupid assholes started prank calling here. Waking up Granny at all hours. It’s elder abuse, I tell you.”
“I’m lost,” Mia said. “I almost hate to ask. What writing? What are you talking about?”
“I’m an infamous horror writer. I’m very well respected in the small press market and I’m not afraid to tell people to piss off. I have a right to be published after all. Those assholes have no right to say my writing sucks.”
“What assholes?” Mia said.
“Those assholes at SA and others, and on Amazon, and they posted libelous tags about my books.”
“SA? Huh?” Mia said.
Nickolaus nodded. “And I’ll give a big fat middle finger to anyone who disrespects what I’ve done.”
Mia looked at Nickolaus’s hands and decided that fat was an apt description for his fingers. She sighed. Another nutcase.
“Look,” Jack said, obviously as tired of Nick as she was, “we just need to use a phone.”
“Granny locked the one up front. But you can use the one in my apartment. It’ll cost you ten bucks, though.”
“Yeah, down there.” Nickolaus pointed down the stairs. “It’s pretty cool. It’s got two kitchens.”
Mia looked at Jack. “After you,” she said, not liking the smell that was coming up from the basement.
“Wonderful.” Mia saw Jack roll his eyes. What the heck were they in for, she wondered.
They followed the bad smelling Nickolaus down the stairs and into what passed for his living space. It had a vinyl tile floor with the ugliest pattern Mia had ever seen. A pull-out sofa graced the far wall; the mattress was out and covered with mussed up dirty blankets, something that sort of looked like a sleeping bag and two pillows that she really hoped had not originally been white. There was another TV opposite the bed, and a small desk and bookshelf to the right. The desk was covered with papers, beer cans, an ashtray and two plates with sandwich crusts.
Nickolaus must have seen Mia looking at the desk because he said, “Cool, huh? That’s where I create all of my stories. That’s it. I have pictures of me writing. Do you want to see them?”
“Um, no,” Mia said. She turned to Jack. “Let’s just make the call and get out of here.”
Jack laughed, probably at her discomfort. He knew she was something of a neat freak. “Phone?” he said to the little troll.
“Over there.” Nick pointed towards the desk.
“Stay here. And don’t shoot any cockroaches,” Jack said to Mia.
“Ha ha. Very funny.” She scowled at him.
“I don’t have roaches.” Nickolaus said, sounding affronted.
Jack walked over and hesitated for a moment, then reached out and picked up a phone. Mia could tell from the way Jack held it that it wasn’t any cleaner than the rest of the basement. She figured she would just stay where she was by the foot of the stairs. She still had her gun, so shooting roaches was technically possible. Depending upon how big they were and how fast they were moving. She was a good shot after all. The concrete floor might cause the bullet to ricochet, though, and hit something she didn’t intend – like Jack.
She waited impatiently while Jack called the police. Nickolaus stood off to the side and shifted from foot to foot. He refused to look at her, almost as if he were afraid of her.
“Thanks,” Jack finally said into the phone and hung it up. A pile of papers slid off the desk and onto the floor. Under the papers was a gay porn magazine, flipped open to a picture of a very well endowed centerfold. Mia almost burst out laughing as Nickolaus scrambled to pick up the papers and cover up the magazine.
He turned very red. “That’s, um, that, um, I’m just holding that for a friend. I’m not gay. I’m a conservative. I’m a Republican. I voted for George Bush and I only date women who were born women.” The words fell out of him in a desperate rush.
Mia almost felt sorry for him. She had had a female friend when she was in the Navy who had turned out to be gay. The woman had been very afraid that she would be found out and booted from the Navy, which she really loved. Mia had been as supportive as she could, but she had lost track of the woman after she left the Navy herself after Dusty’s shooting.
“It’s alright,” Mia told him. “We’re not going to judge you.”
“I’m not gay!” Nickolaus shouted at her.
“Calm down,” Jack said.
“No,” Nickolaus shouted. “Get out. Out! I’m not gay. I’m not. I’m not. I’m not.” He collapsed onto the sofa bed, flipped the sleeping bag looking thing over him, curled up into the fetal position and began to shake all over.
That was not a normal reaction. “Do you suppose we should call someone?” Mia said.
A door slammed upstairs.
“Sounds like Granny is back,” Jack said. “We can tell her. Let’s get out of here.”
They went back upstairs and found the woman whom Jack had seen when he checked them in. She looked surprised to see them coming up from the basement.
“What’s that little trouble-maker done now?” she asked as she dropped bag of groceries on the coffee table.
“Nothing, ma’am,” Jack said. “We just needed to use the phone, and you were out. Your grandson let us use his.”
“You might want to check on him, too,” Mia said. “I don’t think he’s feeling well.” That was the kindest way Mia could think to put it.
“What else is new,” Granny said. “I’ll check on him, but I’m sure he’ll be fine. Why did you need to use the phone?”
“Why did you leave so suddenly?” Jack asked, ignoring her question.
“Had to run an errand. What business is it of yours?” She sounded suspicious of Jack.
“Uh huh,” Jack said. “Well, tell Nickolaus thanks for the phone. We’ll just go out the front.”
Mia followed him as he walked by the woman and out into the area behind the front desk. He looked cautiously out through the plate glass windows, but Mia didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. No bad guys toting guns around.
Just then a police cruiser pulled into the parking lot, and a deputy got out.
“Come on,” Jack said. “Follow my lead, Mrs. Sterling.”
“Of course, Mr. Sterling.”