I have written and re-written this introduction to Stroud and John many times and I have liked each one at the time and then not liked each one the next time I edit. With that in mind, here is another introduction to Stroud and John. 🙂
“I’ll be there in a few,” John said. Closing the call with a swipe, he turned his attention to another screen, Fucking bills,” with an angry clench of his fist John closed the holo-monitor.
Snatching his brown jacket off a coat rack near the door, John stepped out onto the streets of Lower Stroud. Heat and humidity smacked John hard, his face covered in a thin sheen of moisture before the door closed. He looked across the three lane street and nodded at three members of the Mechanics, a local gang, attempting to look tough not bored leaning against the walls of the “stop-n-rob.” One of them nodded back. Shouldering his jacket, John walked down the street taking in the City.
Old model ground cars lined both sides of the street, those that could not move tagged by gangs and artists. Those that could move in no better condition. Garbage everywhere; city services rarely reached his corner of the City. Stepping over another pile, John admired the artwork on a car; a black and gold fish with large flowing fins. Remembering where he was, John scanned the street again; other than the Mechanics no signs of life. Double-checking the shadows created by the working street lights, all clear. John glanced at his skin watch; sun should be out; in Lower Stroud sunlight only reached the ground on perfect days. Today was not a perfect day.
John looked up, nothing but concrete, glass, conduits, walkways, and elevated highways as far as the eye can see and ever present Cloud. The Cloud, a collision of weather and pollution separating Lower Stroud from Upper Stroud, blocked out the sun. Several flying cars, lights on, passed overhead; probably off to work, John thought. Work, he hoped Larry had a job for him.
Rounding the corner, John hopped back from the street as a sixteen-wheel cargo hauler rumbled past splashing water everywhere. Spotting his car at the end of the block, John put on his jacket. Work, not wishing, key to moving his office and life from Lower Stroud to higher up. Pulling his wraparound smart glasses out of an interior pocket, John scanned the street for trouble one last time. Nothing. Nothing at all.