[We originally conceived of “Hot Rod” as a one-off hentai (or, 18+) manga for release on something like the Fakku website. Then, of course, I started writing…and writing. Suddenly, I’d enough material for at least three volumes; as is my wont, I just kept finding out more interesting things about these new characters! About this time, I attended a couple of panels about ‘Webcomics’ at a local animecon. If we released two pages a week…well, then I’ve already enough material for months! I can stop now!
Of course, I didn’t. I wanted to know more about Rod Blaine, 19-years old, seven months away from getting his welding certificate from a local vo-tech at a little city in the US Midwest. He lives with his step-mother and step-sister…how’d that come about? I wondered how an 18-year old girl like Vanessa Holt developed such an aggressive personality…because she’s only 4’10”? Able to swing from a punching-rage to cuddly in seconds…why?
Mr. Deonne is preoccupied with some other projects right now, so I see this as an exercise for me to re-learn how to write in a non-visual novel style.
The excerpt below the fold takes place in the Spring on a late Saturday morning. After their karate class, Vanessa wanted to see Rod’s place, so she followed him home. Note that this is likely PG…although I’d no problems if one of my kids read it]
Pulling off the two-lane road to the right into the complex’s parking lot, Rod eases his battered motorbike into its usual spot. While taking off his goggles and running a hand through his dark brown hair to steady it, he sees Vanessa’s late-model Civic pull in two spots to his right. Vanessa gets out, pushing her sunglasses up onto her head. Still wearing her white gi pants and black tank top from the dojo, she stretches. He tries not to gape. Her bright green eyes flash as she smiles.
“You’re so obvious!” Vanessa says. “You like me that much?”
“Y…yes!” Rod replies, stuttering a bit.
She tilts her head, sending her long, auburn ponytail into a loop. “How’s a vo-tech student rate a flat like this?” She gestures at the apartment complex to their west.
Rod’s smile falters. “Oh. I live here with my mother and sister. It’s their place.”
“Now why,” he thinks, “did I not say “step-” right now?”
Vanessa strides over towards him in her usual resolute manner. “No matter! Let’s…”
With a whoosh followed by a loud “Yip!” something large and brown passes between them. They turn to see a faun colored Boxer, about fifty pounds, a couple of yards away. Its stub of a tail wags furiously, while a leash hangs uselessly from its collar. Before Rod can act, Vanessa is already a few steps toward the dog.
“Hey, there, puppy!” She squats down. “There, there! Why don’t you come over here – yikes!” With a playful “Woof!” the dog bounds right at, then over, her, running east across the road into the recently plowed field across the street.
Her gentle smile is instantly replaced by a scowl. “Come on, Rod!”
He doesn’t move. “Huh? Why…?”
Looking sharply over her shoulder at him, she replies, “I said come on! Now!” She trots across the road towards the dog.
“Sheesh, fine.” Rod says to himself. “Just like in the dojo: when her temper snaps, she’s as mean as a snake….” Still, he quickly follows her.
A few feet from the roadside, the dog stands still, its tail still wagging, obviously expecting more playtime. Vanessa moves slowly off to the right.
“Rod, walk slowly and start talking to the dog!” She calls out. “I’m gonna try to get the leash!”
Plastering what he hopes is a ‘dog-friendly’ grin on his face, Rod advances slowly.
“Hey, there! Good boy…er, or good girl?” He takes another small step. “Good doggie… nice doggie…”
“Heee-YAH!” As Vanessa launches herself at the leash. The Boxer shies away, but she just grasps it! Her knees in mud, she loops it around her wrist and stands. “Great! Now let’s go find—”
“Woof!” With a sudden pull, the dog takes off further into the field. Vanessa tries as best she can to stay upright.
Running after them, Rod yells, “Let go! Let go of the leash!”
“Never! I…” at this, she stumbles.
Face first through the field, the Boxer pulls her another couple of yards. With a small whine, it comes over to Vanessa and sniffs at her. Rod comes to her side and kneels down.
“Vanessa! Are you alright?!”
Slowly, she turns her scratched and muddy face towards him.
Rod does, steadying himself in case the dog tries to run off again. With his left arm he slowly helps her up.
“That…sucked,” she says, wiping at the mud around her mouth. Then she brightens. “But we got her!”
“Her?” He asks. When did she found that out?
She looks up the fourteen inches separating their eyes, as the light returns to hers. “From the angle I was just at, it’s obvious.”
Oh. “Let’s go back. Hold onto me, Vee. You…look kind of unsteady right now.” She nods. With Vanessa on his left and the bouncing dog on his right, they make their way back to, then across, the road.
“I wonder where…” Rod starts, only to immediately be cut off.
“Daisy! Daisy, there you are!” An older man, perhaps in his mid-sixties, neatly dressed, walks towards them from the north. “Thank you both so much, oh! Young lady, are you alright? I’m so sorry…!”
Vanessa makes a small, dismissive wave with her left hand. “No worries. I’ve got dogs at home, so I know what it’s like when they get loose.”
“Yes,” the older man replies, “I’m watching her for my daughter, but when we went for a walk, her strength surprised me!”
“Me, too.” Rod hears Vanessa mutter. The man takes a business card from he coat pocket and hands it to Rod, then carefully takes the dog from him.
“If you ever need anything, please contact me! Thank you again!” With both hands on the leash, he slowly starts back to the houses north of the apartment complex. Rod hears Vanessa sigh next to him.
“Hey, you need me to carry you?” He asks.
She gets a small gleam in her eye, thinking back to what they did at the dojo’s locker room on Wednesday. “Not now, dirty boy!”
“Heh, you’re the dirty one! Come on, let’s get you cleaned up!” As they slowly walk towards his ground-floor apartment, he says, “You were really something, there.”
She shrugs. “Like I told the old guy, we’ve always had dogs. It’s awful when one gets loose…”
Rod unlocks the door to 103 and they enter. Vanessa immediately kicks off her sandals.
“This isn’t the dojo, you know.” Rod says. In a second, her smile drops to a frown.
“You want me to track all the mud into your place?” She asks coldly.
“No…no….” He looks at the state of his shoes: as bad as hers. I would have walked right in, he thinks.
“Let’s see to you and your clothes. The utility room is upstairs on the right; the bathroom is just off it.”
Her smile returns. “You want me to go first, just so you can look at my butt? Fine!”
“No! I…” She just walks away, laughing.
Upstairs next to the washer and dryer, she quite unselfconsciously strips and tosses her clothes into the machine. Rod freezes.
“What?” She asks, with her characteristic head-tilt. He wonders if she gets that gesture from her dogs.
“Nothing, nothing! The bath and shower are through that accordion door, please help yourself! ‘Mi casa, su casa,’ as they say!” He manages to say this mostly keeping his eyes fixed on her emerald orbs. Mostly.
She gets an impish grin. “I’ll take a bath, then! That’s funny: ‘Mi-kasa…!’” She folds the door shut behind her. Rod hears water running. With a shudder and a sigh, he starts the washing machine.
“Hey!” He shouts though the partition. “Is there anything I can get you?”
“Dehydrated!” She yells back.
“Be right back!”
Downstairs in the kitchen, Rod pours some juice into a plastic cup.
“This is so awesome!” He thinks, his hands shaking slightly from excitement. “The girl of my dreams is upstairs in the tub right now…!”
As he walks over to the stairs, he pauses a second.
“Well, maybe not girl of my dreams…she has that shocking temper…and can be so pushy…” He shakes his head and starts up. Just outside the utility room, he stops again.
“And honestly,” his thoughts continue, “even with what we’ve…done, we know almost nothing about each other….” He nods to himself. “Let’s work on that over lunch!”
Yelling though the light partition, Rod asks, “Shall I set your juice out here, or—”
“Don’t be an idiot, Rod!” Vanessa calls back. “Get in here and take your clothes off!”