Switching tracks this week by posting the first little bit I’ve written for A Blue Jay on Friday, the sequel to The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller.
Simeon didn’t even look over when the paper fluttered to his desk, landing not far from where his elbow winged out unnaturally while he typed. He was used to things being tossed at him, stuff to type or file or have Mr. Stoller sign. He’d get to it when he was bloody well ready, but as slow as he was at typing, it was going to be a while.
Clack. Simeon squinted at the paper to be sure it was the correct letter then began the hunt for the next one.
Simeon hopped in his chair with surprise and turned to see Peter Stoller standing at his shoulder. The man was unnaturally quiet. Brought a whole new level to the term “spook.”
Peter nodded at the paper on the desk, and Simeon transferred his attention to it. Not a full-sized sheet, but slim and—
“An airline ticket?” Simeon asked. “Who for?”
Simeon’s dark eyes went back to Peter.
“You don’t want to spend the whole of your career as an assistant, do you?” Peter asked. He nodded at the ticket envelope again. “Go on.”
Simeon put his hand out and let it hover over the desktop. “You’re sending me somewhere.”
Peter’s tiny sigh struck Simeon like a dart. His boss was fair but difficult to please, and Simeon knew he was often a disappointment. The problem was, Simeon wasn’t always clear on what exactly he said or did that was so disappointing. So he didn’t know how to fix himself.
“Very good, Mr. Martin. You’ve cracked the case.”
Simeon squinted up at his boss. Everything Peter said came out in more or less the same tone, so Simeon couldn’t always tell when he was joking. “Alone?” he asked.
Peter blanched. “Of course not.”
Then Simeon blanched. “With you?”
Peter looked at Simeon as if he’d spoken one of the maybe four languages Peter didn’t know. “No. Woodall will accompany you. He’ll brief you, too. I suggest you go over there now.”
Pleased at the very least to be relieved from typing, Simeon pushed back in his chair, taking care not to roll over Peter’s feet. As he stood, Peter said, “You haven’t even looked at it.”
Simeon froze, not wanting to give away he didn’t know what Peter was talking about.
“Aren’t you curious?” Peter went on.
Still not daring to move, Simeon stared at him blankly.
“Oh!” Simeon snatched it off the desktop. “Right.”
Another sigh, this one not so small as before. “Don’t make me sorry for giving you this assignment, Mr. Martin.”
“Yes, sir. I mean . . . No?” Simeon mentally combed through Peter’s words in an attempt to work out the correct way to answer. But Peter’s office door was already closing behind him.
As you can see, this book is meant to be from Simeon’s point of view. The book title is derived from an old superstition that on Fridays blue jays fly to Hell to tell the devil everyone’s misdeeds. Some say the jay brings a grain of sand to Hell each Friday to make sure the fires keep burning. But a final legend tells of how the jays tried to trick the devil, and then devil tried to catch and burn the jays’ souls, too, and they put his eyes out and now they no longer go to Hell on Fridays but instead all go picnic together.