This installment of First Pages failed miserably. It was shot down by the entire group. Nobody liked it. It sucked. Epic fail.
I plan to redo and submit a revised version.
Troy Black sat behind the driver’s seat of his own Toyota Forerunner and watched countryside go by in the dusk. Quaint vineyards and green crops punctuated the otherwise unremarkable landscape alongside California State Highway 29. Troy had witnessed the view dozens of times before and so paid it only slight attention, but he needed to point his eyeballs at something and the passing scenery seemed least likely to object to his unsteady besotted gaze.
A full arm’s length away sat his visibly vexed girlfriend, Erin. A brief glance revealed she had her legs curled under her as she stared out the opposite window, the same position she had maintained for the past thirty miles.
Good times, thought Troy.
The atmosphere in the vehicle was strained; it was thick with tension and silence. No one had uttered a word since departing from Clear Lake forty minutes ago. Except for the occasional sigh or muffled cough, the vehicle’s four inhabitants had been careful not to produce any sound which might have been mistaken for speech. God forbid somebody be prompted to ask “did you say something?”
Troy had been the agent of the muted hostility, and he was painfully aware of it. His actions had been the catalyst and he the toxin, the disease. He was the cancer that had eaten away at the moods of the others; only stale animosity had survived.
Over the course of the day—fishing, swimming, and tanning his hide beneath late spring ultraviolet—he had sucked down an entire twelve-pack of warm bland American lager. Then, having insisted that he could return the rented boat on his own just fine, he had stopped at the bar by the dock where the rest of the foursome had eventually located him—five or six shots of tequila later.
So much for his original promise to take it slow this weekend.
Had Troy not consumed so much alcohol undoubtedly things would have gone differently; he would have drove, music would have played, and life would have glided along at its usual altitude of several degrees above sufferable. Instead, his best friend, Neil, had taken the wheel, they had left the lake hours later than originally planned, and Troy was relegated to the backseat of his battered sport utility vehicle where he was actively shunned by the others.
Could they keep up the silent treatment for another two hours, he wondered. Probably.