Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday Tales #4 - Marching Band

This is my fourth Tuesday Tales, where writers are invited to create a story based on a prompt. This week's prompt is "marching band". My Tuesday Tales are part of a serial I've entitled "The Artifact". It's romantic adventure. Make sure to read all back issues before reading this one. Below is my list of previous Tuesday Tales.  Enjoy!

The Artifact
By Elizabeth Black

Chapter Three - Marching Band

Victoria raced down the crowded street in a futile effort to keep up with Julian. She shoved her way past vendors seeking to lure her towards cowrie and leather chokers she would have bought had she not been distracted by a particular missing statue of Aphrodite. The Goombay Festival was in full swing, with vibrant dancers, jaunty marching bands, tourists eager to part with their money for a taste of tropical delight, marauding packs of children, and street vendors selling jewelry, brightly-colored caftans, guava pastries and drinks, and bottles of suntan lotion for the pasty visitors from America and Europe. 

Julian plowed ahead of her, ignoring her cries to slow down. She found herself trapped behind a local marching band, horns blaring in her ears, whoops of pleasure erupting from the dancers in flouncing skirts and feathered headdresses. Heart pounding in her chest, she panicked as she watched Julian's form become smaller and smaller as he disappeared ahead of her, deep in the marching band amid the crowd.

"Dance with me, lovely lady." A band member dressed in bright reds and oranges grasped her around the waist and lifted her high in the air. Annoyed, she struggled but the man must have been used to women trying to free themselves from his enticing grip. "Ah, don't struggle, you beautiful creature. This is the Goombay Festival. Live life to the fullest!"

"I'd love to but I'm in the middle of an important search..." She twisted in his grip as he twirled her in a dizzying circle. "... and if I don't find what I'm looking for, it'll be my head on a platter."

"You must mean the Aphrodite of Rhodes, Miss Victoria Crenshaw."

She squeezed his upper arms so hard her fingernails dug half moons into his skin. He winced in pain, trying to pull away, but now she held the upper hand and gave him a good, hard shake. "So you know me. Do you know where that statue is? If you do, tell me now!"

"I only know what Kwame tells me, and he boasts he has a valuable statue but no one believes him because he is... well... Kwame."

"Where may I find this Kwame?"

He pointed down the street, through the burgeoning crowd and the fast-moving marching bands that swung their instruments over their heads in a frenzied dance of pleasure. "Down past the Bahamian Kitchen, a block past the plumeria shrubs, and across from Miss Nguyen's herb stand. You'll know the store by the bad smell and the riff raff loitering at the front door. Even the plumeria can't overpower that smell."

She raced down the street, not bothering to ask how he knew about the statue since there was no time. How many others knew that statue was coming to Nassau? It would fetch a hefty sum from a private buyer on the black market. As she shoved her way past men and women blowing trumpets in her ears and laughing as she winced, she spied Julian running past a copse of plumeria bushes. She kept him in her line of vision and shoved her way through the thickening crowd until she found Miss Nguyen's herb stand.

The man with the trumpet was right. The store next to that herb stand stunk to high heaven. Julian was already halfway inside as Victoria, who ignored the loiterers who groped at her slacks, followed close behind. 

"Where is it?" Julian leaned over a cluttered desk so close to a smaller, dark-skinned man he spat in his face as he shouted.

"I don't know what you mean."

He pounded the desk, causing a bottle of rum to rattle against the glass. "The Aphrodite of Rhodes! Did you sell her already?"

"No! No! If you want her she's yours but what do I do about my client?"

"Your client can go to hell." Victoria stood next to him, blocking him from escaping and leaving him trapped in his flimsy chair, cowering before her and Julian. "You must be Kwame. Give Aphrodite to me and maybe I won't turn you over to the authorities."

Julian looked surprised. "How do you know his name?"

She ignored him. "Give that statue to me. Now!" She gripped the front of Kwame's shirt and would have pulled him from his chair if the little rat of a man didn't reach for the safe beneath his desk.

"It's here. Don't hurt me!" He opened the safe, pulled out the statue wrapped in a dirty burlap bag, and handed it to her. "Please don't call the police. I'm already in enough trouble."

"Too late for that." She stalked off with Julian on her heels.

"But you said you wouldn't turn me over to the authorities!"

"I said maybe."

She and Julian raced to his jeep and soon found themselves back at the museum. She stormed into the building, fuming at his stupidity and her own. Now to get this statue on her pedestal where she belongs. Good thing there is an alarm system around the display so no one else can walk off with her. 

"All that excitement gave me an appetite." Julian followed her down the meandering hallways on their way to her office. Angry, she did not reply.

"Aren't you hungry, Vic? Please let me make it up to you. Let me take you out to lunch. No strings attached. Just us, some fried grouper, conch fritters, and fried plantain."

She remembered his kiss, feeling enraged over how he took advantage of her while at the same time... she remembered his kiss, how passionate and fevered it felt. How her pulse raced in her veins when he wrapped his arms around her. She wanted the excitement of lust but not the annoyances that go with it. What is it with men? Why do they think they can do whatever they want with me? Don expects me to come and go at his whim. We've been dating for only three months, and the sex isn't even all that great. We'd might as well not have sex at all. Julian comes back into my life and turns it upside-down. I think I'd be better off without either one of them in my life! 

But she remembered Julian's kiss...

"You've given me enough excitement for the day." She kept a few paces ahead of him, grateful for the distance. "Now that I have Aphrodite back, I don't need you anymore. Please leave me alone."

"You don't mean that."

She wondered if he knew her better than she knew herself. Conflicted, she wanted to feel his lips on hers again but was the aggravation worth the pleasure? Lost in thought, she turned her key in her lock and entered her office.

"Vicky, I'm so sorry about that way I acted before you left. Can I make it up to -- who's this?"

Victoria's eyes widened with shock and embarrassment at the sight of the person standing before her. What's he doing here? And why did he have to show up now of all times?

"How'd you get into my office?"

"Rod let me in. Mind telling me who this is?"

Victoria let out an exasperated sigh. "Don, this is Julian Archer, my ex-husband. Julian, this is Donovan Fleming, my boyfriend."


For more stories from other authors, please visit the Tuesday Tales web site. Next week's prompt is "boyfriend". Look for "The Artifact" to continue in the next installment.


  1. Now THAT's awkward! LOL. Great hook!

  2. Thanks! Wait until next week. Think things are awkward now? :)