As I regained consciousness I realized that I was no longer in the Jeep. My vision was blurry but I could tell that I was lying on a sofa. While I blinked in an attempt to sharpen up the images around me, I became aware of the intoxicating aroma of freshly brewed coffee. The first image to penetrate my drowsy eyes was the head of a moose mounted on the wall above the sofa. My attention returned to the aroma of the coffee as I tried to get my bearings.
“How’s the headache?” I heard her ask.
“Uhm, not too bad,” I mumbled.
“I’m sorry about that…a necessary precaution, but you’ll feel fine shortly,” she consoled me as she entered the room with a cup of coffee in hand.
I was relieved to find that I wasn’t tied up or handcuffed and I was even more relieved that the cup of coffee was for me. I felt a bit dizzy as I sat up but I steadied myself by grabbing the coffee mug with both hands. Just inhaling the vapour rising from the mug cleared my head a great deal as I asked, “So you knocked me out?”
“Again, I’m sorry, but as I said, a necessary precaution.”
“Let me guess; you hit me on the head with the butt of a gun?”
“No, that doesn’t really work without doing a lot of damage.”
“Trade secret,” she said with a smirk.
“So you’re some sort of spy?”
She burst into laughter and then abruptly stopped and said, “No.”
“Where are we?”
“In a cabin at a lake,” she explained, “No one comes up here this time of year, but we’re only ninety miles from a decent sized town. Your car is out front and your keys are back in your coat pocket. You can leave anytime you wish.”
I walked to the patio doors and parted the vertical blinds to peak out. My car was parked in front of another cabin on the other side of heavy snow drifts that mostly obscured the road. I sipped on my coffee as I tried to clear my mind enough to understand the situation. I had obviously been moved to the sofa and there was no way that she had done that alone. Her accomplice must have followed us in my car. The jagged pine trees indicated that we had traveled at least a few hundred miles north.
I spotted my coat hanging by the patio doors and I confirmed that my keys were in fact back where I usually kept them. I looked back at her and she seemed to be taking great amusement in watching me regain my bearings.
“Where is your partner?” I asked.
“Partner?” she said, obviously confused.
“Whoever drove my car and helped you move me to the sofa.”
“Ahh. No partner.”
“Well there’s no way that you carried me in here.”
“True. ‘Dragged’ would be a better word. You might have some bruises on your left side from when I dropped you on the door jam coming in.”
My left ribs were a bit sore, but I had to ask, “And my car?”
“That’s how we got here. I have to admit though that getting you into your car was a lot harder than dragging you into the cabin.”
I peaked back through the blinds and surveyed the surrounding cabins unable to spot her Jeep. She was tiny and I just couldn’t believe that she had moved me into the cabin, let alone from one vehicle to another.
“How will you get back to town if I take off in my car?” I asked.
“I have other arrangements,” she explained, “I planned this quite some time ago.”
“So our meeting in the alley wasn’t by chance then?”
“I wouldn’t say that. I had been watching you for quite some time. Your chance encounter with our mutual friend just gave me an opportunity to introduce myself.”
“You were watching me?”
“I was trying to figure out how to approach you – about writing my story.”
“I’ve read some of your stuff. I like your style.”
“So you rescued me from that psycho to convince me to write your story? Why not write it yourself?”
“I think once you’ve heard it you’ll understand. The deal comes with a healthy advance,” she said as she slid an envelope across the table, “and I bought you a present. The laptop over there is top notch. You can use it to take notes and there’s a program to record our sessions. Stay until you’ve heard me out and you can keep it. I promise it won’t take more than three days.”
I cautiously pulled the envelope towards me. Inside was a sum of money that I would rather not disclose for income tax reasons. The laptop was a nice shiny prize as well. With some trepidation I asked, “What if I can’t get it published?”
“Who cares,” she chuckled, “just post it on the internet. Inquiring minds want to know. I do want you to submit it for publication though; that’s why I need you. Either way, I would venture to say the advance is likely more than you’ve made on any of your other books.”
I hated admitting that she was right. The desperate state of my writing career was likely more appealing to her than my style. I wasn’t in any position to turn her down and she knew it. “So how do you want to go about this? Should I ask questions, like an interview?”
“Not really,” she answered, “I’d prefer to just tell the relevant parts in my own way. You can ask questions when you feel that something needs to be more specific. I guess I’d also like you to provide the names of the characters, starting with me.”
“You want me to name you?”
“Yeah. What’s my name?”
“How about Zoey?”