Chapter 10 – The Only Civilized Place in the World (Excerpt from Chicago Time)

My novel CHICAGO TIME will be available for purchase from Amazon.com and Smashwords tomorrow, Monday, April 2. Meanwhile, you can enjoy one final excerpt: Chapter Ten. You can read more about the novel here. You can read previous chapters here: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine.

10 – The Only Civilized Place in the World

Elise and her friend Jennifer Shapiro were sharing pints of Bass Ale together at the bar of the Duke of Perth in celebration of Jennifer’s recent engagement to her long-time boyfriend Jay. Elise and Jen had been friends since they were sophomores at Augustana College. Jen had studied for a semester at the University of Glasgow and the Duke of Perth reminded her of the pubs in Scotland.

“So you met two guys today who think Paris isn’t the only civilized place in the world,” said Jen.

Elise thought it barely civilized, bearing only the marks of civilization but not enough of its charms. “It’s not that Chicago isn’t civilized. I’ve told you before–”

I have my life planned,” said Jen, mockingly, “And Chicago isn’t part of it. I don’t want to be one of those people who dreams of living in Paris and doesn’t do it. The funny thing is, you already did it.”

“And it was ended for me.”

“You did it to yourself.”

“Nevermind. I’m not going to make those same mistakes again.”

Jennifer set her beer down on the bar. “So let me get this straight. You’re choosing no job in Paris versus a good shot at a job that’s perfect for you right here?”

Jen worked as a law librarian for the firm Carrasquel, Aparicio, and Guillen. She was thirty years old, like Elise. But unlike Elise, and like most of their friends, Jen had a career; a job where she had progressed through training and experience to a level of expertise, and was paid well for it. Elise was still carving out an existence, under-employed with a Masters in French Literature. Did she want to get a doctorate? Find a way to get paid to study French literature and culture? That would require returning to school. Would she carve out an existence in Paris? Or would she rather attempt to become an expert about the language and culture she loved so much and gain a profession in the process? Julian Foster, who was only three or four years older than her, was a law partner. What had she accomplished? Once in Paris, what would she accomplish?

“I’ve been planning this ever since the day I came back to the States,” said Elise.

Jennifer curled her lips in and nodded slowly twice. “I know. But you should at least consider it. Maybe talk to the people at the school.”

Elise’s body was turned toward Jennifer, but her head faced her beer set on the bar. With her right hand she held onto the handle of the glass. A few tiny bubbles floated up in a single stream through the amber liquid to the surface. “I’ve been very careful not to take on anything permanent, like a job like that or even a boyfriend. I have to get back to Paris. I haven’t let anything get in the way of my plans. And I’m not about to start now. Besides, there’s nothing keeping me here in Chicago.”

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