Tuesday, July 31, 2012


The hour in the hot tub on the balcony overlooking a snowy beach was one she knew she'd never forget. They talked about shared experiences and mutual friends, and they laughed a lot. Paul had more romance in him than she'd seen before. And she fully anticipated that this was leading to something even greater.

But when they went inside to order coffee and dessert, Paul said, "Hey, I hope you don't mind, but that friend of mine that told me about this place is bringin' his wife over tonight. Cool?"

"Tonight? Paul, it's nine o'clock already." She suddenly felt hurt.

"So, that's not so late. Come on, I've told 'em all about you. They're dyin' to meet you. We'll meet 'em down at the bar and just hang out for a little bit."

Monday, July 30, 2012


A valet driver met them at the entrance to the hotel. "Hi, welcome to the Rosita," he said, opening Emily's door with a smile.

Paul had reserved the largest room. Emily, having never known wealth, could hardly believe what she saw. Rose petals and lit candles adorned the room, and dinner waited, including an expensive champagne, in front of a giant window overlooking the snowy beach. An expensive-looking hot tub was waiting also, on a large balcony off the bedroom.

"I don't know what to say, Paul," said Emily. "This is like something out of a dream."

"I just wanted you to feel special."

"You..." She embraced him and buried her nose in his jacket lapel. "You certainly did that!"

Friday, July 27, 2012


The ground along the road was white with snow as Paul and Emily passed through Westerley, on the border between Connecticut and Rhode Island. Snow was still falling softly. It was just beginning to get dark, and they'd not yet had dinner. A few minutes later they crept up a hill with signs leading the way to a resort hotel. Emily grabbed Paul's hand.

"You booger! What is this place?"

"Welcome to Watch Hill, Rhode Island. A doctor friend of mine lives near here and told me about this place. It sounded perfect."

"Is that a beach down there? Only you'd wanna go to a beach resort in February. Oh, hon, I'm just kiddin'. I love it. Thank you so much."

Thursday, July 26, 2012


"Yeah, I wish I had, too." Brady paid the cashier and they walked back out into the sunshine. This was a relatively peaceful part of town that resembled American suburbs. "Funny how getting shot can make you forget about doing your job."

"Don't take it personally, Brady." Aggie had to shield her eyes to look around despite her sunglasses. "I'm not blaming you. Don't feel bad about it."

"Well, I don't." He took his pills there in the parking lot and then started walking as Aggie followed. "On a side note, how awesome is this weather? I heard it's s'posed to snow in New York today."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


The bus carrying Aggie and Brady stopped at a shopping center in west Santa Tecla. Aggie had come here to capture some of the culture outside of the downtown area and to hopefully get her mind off the young man who had taken a bullet for their safety.

Brady donned his sunglasses as they stepped off the bus. "Can we get some bottled water real quick? I need to take some more pain meds." They entered a market, and while she waited in the simple grocery store she finally thought of an angle for her story.

"It's San Salvador's quiet sister..."

Brady, in line for the cash register, turned around. "Huh?"

She looked back at him. "...Attached at the hip and happy not to be noticed, but every once in a while she has a crazy day. Go there to see the real El Salvador, but be ready for anything. Brady, I sure wish you'd gotten some shots of that gang fight!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Brian and Andy walked back toward their section of the office. Brian was smiling.

"Well, that went well. I was actually a little worried. Not that I've been doing bad work, but that something was going on with the business."

"Yeah, I didn't know what was happenin'," Andy said. "That was out of the blue, man."

"Man, what is up with Jason lately?"

"Aw, he's just bein' a character." Andy flopped into his desk chair and Brian followed him into his cubicle.

"Naw, I'm thinkin' we should stage an intervention or somethin'. Though I'm not sure what specifically needs to be addressed."

"Maybe the trip to Syria'll be good for 'im. Some nice desert air."

"I dunno, he travels all the time. Wouldn't think this time would be any different." Brian sat in his own chair and roused his computer.

Monday, July 23, 2012


But at that moment a friend of Dave's entered the restaurant, and the meeting was suspended. Dave introduced the three of them as his team and invited the man to dine with them. The younger men finished their lunch mostly in silence as Dave chatted with his friend, who was in the publishing business. Andy felt relieved that he may not be required to answer Dave's questions after all. Jason, on the other hand, planned to tell Dave later what changes to the company he would recommend.

A light snow was falling as they briskly walked back to the office, the vapor from their breath looking like smoke from three steam engines. Dave apologized. "Sorry our lunch was interrupted, guys. It was fun, though. I'll keep what you said in mind." They thanked him for lunch, and the four of them discussed the previous weekend's Super Bowl until they reached the Simon and Schuster building. Jason said goodbye and continued walking, and the others returned to the sixth floor to resume their work.

Friday, July 20, 2012


"A monthly movie, ok," Dave said. "Could be good. Inspirational, maybe."

"Yeah, that's the idea."

"Jason, what about you?"

Unlike Brian and Andy, Jason didn't really want to be there. But he didn't want to put unnecessary strain on his relationship with Dave, so he played along. "Well," he began as swirled his drink, "like Brian, I like working for a successful publication. It presents many opportunities. I think you're doing a great job running things."

Dave made no response.

"I'm not crazy about the mental and social strains of the job. I know that's part of it; that goes with being a travel writer. But if we could hire a few more writers or take on more freelancers, it would take some of the strain off all the writers."

Andy felt that Jason was beginning to relax a little, and that was helping him relax, too.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


"Um, not enough parties? Just kidding, we party all the time." Brian was even more nervous than Andy. It was silly for them to feel this way, but Andy couldn't seem to shake it, and he could tell Brian felt the same way. As exciting as this lunch was, he would be relieved to be back in the office working at his desk. Jason, however, seemed detached.

Brian tried again. "My least favorite part is having to deal with freelancers that don't understand what goes into making a monthly. Some of them are a little self-important. I don't think there's anything that can be done about that, but that's my answer."

Dave still didn't speak, but at least he turned his gaze from Brian for a moment, as if pondering his words. Brian continued, "And something to improve, how 'bout an open bar? Kidding again. Uh, what about a Friday monthly movie?"

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Dave took Andy, Jason and Brian to a Brazilian/Portuguese restaurant on 46th Street called Ipanema. All three of them remarked that they'd never been there before. The host greeted Dave by name ("Mr. Pike") and led them to a table. Dave ordered a bottle of wine for the table, and then Jason ordered a glass of scotch. Andy wondered what in the world was wrong with him. 

Once they ordered their meals, Dave got down to business quickly. "Ok, guys. I want some honest opinions. We're all friends here, so no holding back. I want each of you to tell me, one, your favorite thing about working at Bold Traveler, two, your least favorite thing, and three, what we could do to improve things. Brian, go." 

 So this was the purpose of the lunch. Brian paused to think. He didn't look like he was about to address a friend. Though Andy couldn't imagine a better boss, Dave was definitely an authority figure, and it was hard to feel completely at ease around him. 

 "Ok, favorite thing," Brian began. "I like that our readership is still growing, that we're winning awards, and that I get to put the rag together every month. It's an awesome job." He looked at Dave to be sure that was an acceptable answer. Dave just stared back. "So, least favorite thing..." He looked at Andy as if he was sharing a thought with him, but Andy wasn't receiving it, and he wasn't sure what Brian would say.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


On a bus ride to the west side of Santa Tecla, Brady asked a question of his own.

"So what kind of angle are you pursuing in your story?"

Aggie continued checking her email as she answered. "Um, I'm really not sure yet. Have any ideas?"

"No. I was just trying to figure out why you wanted to talk to all those guys in the jail. We've never done anything like that before."

"Well, we've never been through anything like a gang fight before."

Brady thought about the time when they were nearly trampled by protesters in Cairo nearly a year prior. Aggie had written an award-winning story without interviewing a single protester. He was perplexed but decided not to pursue the subject any further.

"They wouldn't even let me take pictures." He sighed and looked out the window.

Monday, July 16, 2012


After talking with the surprisingly cooperative gangsters for a few minutes about their lives and situation, Aggie finally felt comfortable asking the lieutenant about the one she was secretly seeking. "Officer, what about the ones who were injured in the fighting? There was one who helped us..."

"The injured go to a hospital. If they ok enough, they go to same prison where these boys go. Maybe tonight, maybe later."

"I see. Do you know what hospital?" Brady looked at her.

"No, and if I know, I not tell you, señorita," the lieutenant said, smiling graciously. "Sorry, I hope you get enough for story."

"Oh, more than enough. Gracias, señor."

They left the station with a lunch recommendation from the lieutenant and set out for another part of town.

Friday, July 13, 2012


On the trip to the lobby, Dave seemed to be the only one who was completely sure of himself. Brian admired his experience and confidence and deeply desired to follow in his footsteps. He looked at Andy, usually so cool, now so uncomfortable! He smiled to himself. Then there was Jason, who used to be ok to hang around with, but what was going on with him lately? Whatever it was, Brian was glad it led to him meeting Heather the previous night. What a blast that was, and what a cute chick!

The elevator doors opened, they walked past the security guards and outside, and suddenly all three of the younger men had renewed confidence, walking down 6th Avenue on a chilly Saturday with their fearless leader. Wow, Brian thought, I'm really goin' places now.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


"'Kay, guys, ready?" Dave was waiting for Andy and Brian outside their cubicles. He hadn't mentioned where they would be having lunch, and they couldn't guess.

"Alright," Andy said. "Good to go."

The three of them headed toward the elevator. As they waited, Jason emerged from one of the shafts. "Hey, man," Dave said. "What are you up to?" It was unusual for a writer to be at the office on a weekend, since they could work anywhere.

"Hey, I left my phone here yesterday."

"Run and get it, and let's do lunch." Jason disappeared into the office with a strange look on his face. Brian and Andy exchanged glances again.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


There was nothing Brady could do. As he stood in the jail wearing his big hat and cargo shorts, watching her talk to the gang members in Spanish, he had to admit to himself that after traveling the world with Aggie for three years, he was very much in love with her.

It wasn't a situation he would've chosen for himself, a former frat boy at NYU who, at twenty-four years old, already had plenty of experience with women. During his internship at Bold Traveler three years prior, he'd been focused on the work, the adventure of traveling, and the single life in Manhattan. Aggie was only a year older, but at the time she seemed more like a boss than a partner. But over three years, his feelings had developed until, during his moments alone, he could think of little else but her. This was a new state of affairs for him.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


"You are in luck, señorita. They's kept here until tonight." The desk attendant, a roly-poly police lieutenant with a mustache and a big smile, led them down a hallway to a heavy door and unlocked it. "I caution you, señorita, the men in here can be very...impolite."

He opened the door and led them past a few cells. Each contained one to four prisoners, and all appeared to perk up at the sight of Aggie's pale, pink skin and curly, brown hair. She wanted to make eye contact to show that she was friendly, but she was afraid of the consequences. She preferred not to cause any more of a stir than necessary. But only a few seconds went by before the cell block became very loud with the inmates' catcalls. They proceeded to the last few cells, where eleven gang members were being held. They looked younger than they had yesterday, next to the older prisoners here.

"I stay here, ok?" the lieutenant said.

Aggie nodded. She pulled a notepad from her bag as she surveyed the cells for the young man with the injured leg. "Hola," she said to four of them in the cell nearest her.

Monday, July 9, 2012


"Hola, it is you again!" The desk attendant in Santa Tecla's downtown police station recognized Brady and Aggie immediately. "How is your arm, señor?"

"Uh, better, thanks. Just a flesh wound, really."

"Bueno, and what can I do for you today?"

Aggie flashed a charming smile. "We were wondering...you know we're journalists, and we were hoping to interview one of the gang members from that shootout yesterday. Do you know where they're being held?"

"Oh, señorita, gang fights happen all the time here. That was nothing special."

"Oh, I know, but we're not news journalists. We work for a travel magazine. So we want to write about our experiences here...like surviving a gang fight. And we just wanted to talk to one of the gang members and find out what they're like."

Friday, July 6, 2012


Brian and Andy were at their desks working away to the sounds of a new hip-hop album when Dave came by. He was wearing a long-sleeved polo tucked into his khakis, his typical weekend gear. "Hey guys, how's the new issue comin' along?"

Andy hurriedly turned the music down. "Oh hey, we didn't know you were here. We're right on schedule."

"Ahead of schedule," Brian said, stepping out of his cubicle. "We won't need to come in tomorrow."

"Great," said Dave. "Let's do lunch."

Brian and Andy glanced at each other. Dave had never invited them to lunch before. They tried to read in his face whether this invitation had positive or negative connotations, but to no avail.

"Yeah...absolutely," said Andy. "Um, I'm ready. Let's go."

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Jason sat on his couch answering emails on his laptop. The phone rang, and he let it go to voicemail. He listened to the message. It was Sherry.

"Hey. I wasn't gonna call you after you stood me up last night, but I thought maybe something happened, and I wanted to make sure you're ok. Call me."

He deleted the message and unplugged the phone. He walked onto his back porch and stood for a few minutes. Then he went inside, put his shoes on and left the apartment for the subway to 6th Avenue, the Simon & Schuster Building.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Emily sang along with the radio while gazing at the ocean from the passenger seat of Paul's Audi as they drove along Interstate 95 toward Stamford.

"We're so lucky," she said as the station went to a commercial.

"How do you mean?"

"Well, we have a car; we can just leave whenever. Most of my friends would have to take a bus out of town."

Paul just smiled, his thoughts hidden behind his sunglasses.

"Ok, I'm so lucky," she corrected herself. "I'm dating a CFO, with lots of money, who happens to the the best boyfriend ever!" She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "When are you gonna tell me where we're going?"

"You'll know when we get there."

"Poop head."

"You packed your swimsuit, right?"

"You only reminded me twelve times."

He made room for a comedic beat and asked, "So, you forgot it?" She stuck out her tongue and sang the last chorus again, though the song was long over.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Andy walked around to the cubicle's opening. Brian noticed his costly new sweater. Andy was smiling and shaking his head.

"Man, you missed out, dude. Jason blew chunks on the subway!"

Brian's eyes grew wide. "What? I thought he didn't drink very much."

"Brian, I kid...you not. I dunno what happened; I guess he was feeling guilty or scared or somethin'. We took him home. He was white as a ghost."

Brian was suppressing a grin, though he did feel badly for their friend. "That is unbelievable. We should think of a nickname."

"Like, um, Tube-Hurler?"

"How about Subway Ralph?"

Monday, July 2, 2012


Brian was busy at his desk creating the newest issue of Bold Traveler when Black Andy popped his head over the wall of his cubicle.

"Hey, little buddy," he said in the cartoon voice he knew could always brighten Brian's mood on a Saturday morning at the office.

"Look who finally showed up."

"I ain't got that much to do, and I have no plans later. So I wasn't in a big hurry to get here. Hey, thanks for makin' coffee, man."

"I made it for me, but you're welcome." Brian got to a stopping point and then asked, "So what happened last night?"