Blow spotted the snowball tassel on Mary Lloyd's black knit cap bobbing at a table across the dining room. She was sitting alone, apparently studying a menu. Her gray overcoat and rainbow muffler lay draped over the back of an adjacent chair.
“There she is,” he said, and led Rose through the maze of tables, most already occupied. Blow recognized none of the other diners, and none seemed to recognize him or Rose. Mary's face lit up when she saw Blow approaching. When he introduced Rose, Mary's face went radiant with self-conscious excitement.
“Tracy Dickman, oh my god!” Rose gave her a quick grin and put her finger to her lips. She leaned toward Rose and whispered, “Incognito.” Mary nodded, face flushing, and lowered her voice. “Please excuse me if I make a fool of myself. I am such a fan. Oh my. If I'd known I was going to meet you here I'd have brought Profligate Cavalier for you to sign...”
Mary kept talking as Rose and Blow took their seats. She concluded her exuberance with the observation that “Tracy” looked younger than her photos. Rose, with a conspiratorial smile, tapped her hair and lipped, “Wig.”
The waitress normalized things by taking their lunch orders: house specialty Diggs Dynamite Chili for Blow and Rose, Caesar salad for Mary.
Mary laughed quietly after the waitress left to fetch their drinks. Turning to Rose she said, “The guard thought I was you when I handed him the pass. He seemed surprised when he read my name on it.”
Rose smiled. “We do look like we could be sisters. He might have seen a photo, but I didn't recognize him. I didn't meet any of the security people. I think most of them are part-time, anyway.”
“That was a great article you did on Motley. He really must have liked you...I mean, to give you such access.”
“Well, thank you, Mary, and thanks to Joe here, too. I think he might have put in a good word for me.” She winked at Blow, who Grouchoed his eyebrows.
After a quiet moment, Rose said to Blow, “Do you know if your client, former client, will be here? Mr. Bacon, I mean?”
Blow looked uncomfortable, reluctance in his voice. “I haven't heard from him. I didn't see anyone yet, but I suppose someone from the family will be here. We're a little early, I guess.”
Mary said, “I saw something in the Times-Dispatch awhile back. He's helping build houses with Habitat for Humanity.”
Blow compressed his lips, nodded minimally. “I wish him the best,” he murmured.
Something caught the waitress's eye as she returned with their drinks. “It's moving,” she said, setting the iced tea and water at their places. Mary noticed it then, too. Her chair faced the wall windows. “Looks like they're floating it out,” she said.
Blow and Rose, sitting across from each other, turned to see what was happening. They watched as a large metal framework, a square scaffolding with a plank platform midway up, drifted on pontoons slowly away from the pier where it had been tied. Blow saw what appeared to be two men on the platform fiddling with some equipment fastened to the scaffolding.
“They're starting a little early, aren't they?” Blow said, rising from his chair and craning to get a better view. Diners at several other tables were doing likewise.
“There's supposed to be a storm on the way,” Mary said. “Maybe they want to beat the rain.
“Or snow,” said Rose. “It's cold enough.”
Blow said, “That sky's sure not friendly. Gray as a battleship.”
Voices, one of them barking orders, drifted up from somewhere out of view. A number of diners, Blow, Mary, and Rose among them, left their tables and went to the windows. A short, chunky man with a blaze-orange vest over his insulated parka was the one giving orders. He in turn seemed to be getting instructions from a woman, a head taller than him, wearing a green insulated coat and black tights. The chunky man continued shouting. He was looking toward the restaurant, but whomever he was shouting at was out of sight.
A slender young woman appeared and stood next to the chunky man. She was holding what appeared to be a slate in a white frame with a hinged lever on its top. Blow could see white letters and a number written on the slate. The chunky man shouted what sounded like “CAMERA, aaaaaand ACTION!” The slender woman slapped the lever down on the slate and dashed to the side as the chunky man and the taller woman backed out of sight.
Within a minute Blow heard clip clopping and a peculiar mix of creaks and crunches, as if some large object, heavy and hard, was moving over the ground. Soon a rickety wooden wagon with rusted iron wheels carrying two men and drawn by a large gray horse came into view. The horse stopped at the water's edge and one of the men climbed out. Both were in drab colonial-looking clothes. There was something in the wagon with the other man, but Blow couldn't make it out.
The man on the ground led the horse alongside the riverbank until the wagon was next to an old wooden rowboat tied to a stump. The man on the ground removed the sideboard of the wagon nearest the boat. The man in the wagon removed a large piece of dark cloth revealing a bluish gray metallic object almost as long as the wagon bed and half as wide. Ambient light glinted off the object as both men worked together to transfer it to the boat. As they struggled, voices cursing, sharp with stress, the object seemed to resist their efforts. Finally they managed to wrestle it into the boat with a loud scraping thud. Then they climbed in and rowed out toward the floating platform.
“Bacon,” Rose said, to no one in particular.
“What was that?” Blow said.
“It's what they're calling it. Just Bacon.”
[read the whole thing, starting with Ch. 1, before I sell this to the movies!http://tinyurl.com/of4gfq5]