Monday, 29 August 2011

My new novel

So I was working on this just now, its very raw (probably to the point of spelling errors...), but it's the prologue to what might potentially become a novel.  Or not.  We shall see.

It's (hopefully) funny, but also quite dark, and features prolific swearing, but if that doesn't put you off you're clearly bored enough to keep reading, so go on.  Feel free to let me know what you think, even if you don't make it the whole way through.

“Yeah, but I didn’t steal them.  I was just walking down High Street, you know, and then someone came out of the shop, it was this girl, she was like five foot tall, quite chubby, still fit though, and she was carrying this bag, like a handbag, and then she started running and these two guys came out, from security, and they were chasing her, so she suddenly lobbed them at me, and I didn’t even know what it was to be honest, but I caught them, and suddenly these guys were on me, and like they must have seen me catch them cos they were quite close, and one of them tried to deck me but he missed and then they pushed me over and ripped them off me, so I just lay there.  I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty fucking scary, cos I’ve never been in trouble before, and I didn’t want my mum to find out, cos she reckons my girlfriend’s been a bad influence on me and she ain’t, but its not like she believes that… So yeah, I didn’t do it, so like, I don’t even know why I’m here, do you know what I mean?”

The balding, tubby, broad faced cop looked across the table.  For a minute he just stared blankly, with the dead expression of an insomniac watching late night television.  Then his left eyebrow slowly curved itself and climbed his glistening forehead.

“That is literally bollocks.”

His junior partner just barely held back a snort, before almost instantly rearranging his facial features to the mirror image of a concern and responsibility.  Kevin started to open his mouth, but the tubby cop interrupted.

“That is fecking ridiculous.”  (He wasn’t Irish, but like many Englishmen he sometimes forgot that in tense situations.)  “You went into the shop, you picked up the sweets, you shoved it in your pocket, you walked out...”

“…No but you didn’t see that girl…”

“That girl? Of course I didn’t see that girl! Noone outside of the chubby chaser porn you watched this morning before breakfast saw that fecking girl!  You took the ipod…”

“No but they punched me, and that’s definitely not…”

“Punched you? They asked you to stop for a second and you told them you had a fecking gun.”

“Yeah but I didn’t.”

“And I honestly don’t know if that’s because you’re a liar or because you’re genuinely stupid enough to believe it.”

An awkward silence ensued.  The edges of the junior partner’s mouth demonstrated admirable resilience.  The tubby cop sighed, the length of the release of air showing he was making full use of his expansive torso.

“Unfortunately,” (and it was quite clear he meant every syllable of the word) “policy dictates that we aren’t to charge minors for stealing confectionary.  Even if it’s,” (he looked at his notes carefully) “thirteen packets of polos…” (back to the notes) “and a mars bar.”

Kevin’s face brightened.  “Does that mean I can go?”

Another majestic sigh.

“Yes.  Yes it does.”


*   *   *

“So I think I’ve invented this new religion.”

Jack stopped and looked at him.  “You what?”

“No seriously.  Like I was thinking earlier when they pulled me over, and like I was so sure they were gonna shoot me.”

“Why would you be sure of that?  They were shop security.  What, do you think they carry bazookas?”

“Well like I don’t know man, but no, like, I was so sure they were gonna shoot me, and I was just lying there waiting to die, and then I suddenly heard this voice, and it just said ‘bang!’”

A long pause, possibly out of respect for this religious experience.



“Like a gunshot?”

“Nah, just like this voice, saying ‘bang’, you know?”

Another pause.

“What the fuck man?”

No listen, seriously.  So like, I was about to get shot, and then there’s this voice, and then everything kept going, just like normal, you know?”

“Right.  So your religion is a voice that says ‘bang’ and does fuck all else?  You know I think that is new.”

“No man, listen.  So like, I was thinking, what if that was actually me getting shot?  And like, whenever you get killed, there’s no heaven or shit, you just hear like a voice, and then your life keeps going, except for everyone else you die… Do you know what I mean?”

“No.  No, no I don’t.  I have literally no fucking idea what the fuck you’re talking about.  What the fuck man.”

“No but like, think about it, why couldn’t it be true?”

“Why would it be true?”

“What do you mean?”

“Why would it be true?”

“No but, you know…”

“Why the fuck would that ever happen?”

“Yeah but you can say that but like, it could be…”

“So you could be dead?”


“Do you think you’re dead?”



“Well, like…”

“You think you’re dead?  You think I’m part of heaven?  You think the best thing that’s gonna happen to your dead soul is that it’s gonna walk down Nelson Street with some crazy bitch screaming in her shitty little flat, and I’m gonna be next to you, and I’m gonna punch your dead little face?”

“But you aren’t punching…”

Kevin spoke too soon. And ahead the other half of Jack’s description of nirvana had already come into being: a high pitched voice was shrieking out from a fourth floor window up ahead.  Jack glared at the offending noise.

“She sounds bloody mental.”

Kevin stopped from his esoteric pondering to look up.  A second strain of screaming had emerged, harmonising appallingly.  This new voice sounded decidedly younger.

“Kids,” muttered the seventeen year-old.

“I know right,” said Kevin. 

Suddenly a figure emerged at the window.  It was a woman, she must have been in her mid-twenties, she was wearing a dirt-grey jumper and a shapeless skirt.  She was carrying a wailing child.  She was thrusting the child out of window.

“What the fuck,” said Jack, his voice rising.  “What the fuck is she doing?”

The woman looked down at them, smiling calmly, seemingly unaware of the screeching mass in her hands.  She looked Kevin in the eye and stuck out her tongue.

“What are you doing?  What the fuck are you doing?”  Jack screamed at her.  Kevin wanted to join him, but instead of words his mouth filled with the sharp flavour of vomit.  His mouth opened and closed noiselessly.

The woman seemed to speak, but her words were blocked out by the screaming child.  She continued, her smile never leaving, her eyes fixed on Kevin.  

“Stop!  You’re fucking mental!”  Kevin couldn’t disagree with his friend’s sentiment, but he did wonder if it was the best time to be taking that tone.

She stopped talking.  The baby stopped screaming.  In the distance a car alarm was sounding, probably because it had detected the threat of a falling leaf.  

And then she threw it.  Not straight down, but up into the air, almost as if her motherly pride had convinced her she’d produced the first infant capable of spontaneous flight.  Like many parental hopes, it was quickly disappointed. 

Jack froze, rooted to the spot.  To his side he felt Kevin move, but his eyes were on the child.  He was just conscious that time had not mysteriously slowed down, that the baby was hurtling towards the concrete at speed when its flight was intercepted by a person.  Kevin.

His extended arms crumpled and he fell to earth.  There was blood.  There was no noise.  Fuck. 

Jack suddenly found his legs and sprinted over.  Kevin lay on the concrete, his face bloodied, his arms full.

“Oh shit, oh shit.”

Jack wanted to turn his friend over, but he could not bring himself to look.  Like his friend a moment before he felt warm vomit rise up his throat, and this time it didn’t stop.  Wretching, crying, choking, he moved his arms to wipe his eyes, and brought himself to look.

The baby was alive.

Not in the best state, one would have to admit.  There was blood flowing from its head, and its legs were twisted at an angle that threatened to restart the nausea.  But there was movement, there was noise.  Not screaming.  Whimpering.

Jack’s hand went to his pocket, his sticky fingers suddenly clumsy, numb.  He pulled out his phone, barely even glanced at the picture of his girlfriend, and (at the second attempt) stabbed in 999.  

“Hello?  Police, shit no, ambulance, fuck I don’t know… There’s a baby, she chucked it out of the window, from the flats… No it’s alive, I think… Yeah… The flats?  The ones on Nelson Street, near the druggy park?  Yeah… Fucking hurry yeah?... Jack.  Jack Roberts…”

The first Kevin heard of the conversation was his friend’s name.  What a dick, he thought, it was me that did it.  He faded back out of consciousness, his head feeling like it weighed a million stone.  A siren in the distance reawakened him, and he opened his eyes slowly.  He slowly became aware noone was looking at him, and torturously twisted his neck to see his friend cradling a still child.  Shit.

Jack looked back at him, his face pale, his lips slightly bloodied.

“Is it dead?”

“She’s alive, she’s fucking bad though.”  An ambulance pulled up, green paramedics rushed out, two middle aged men.  Nothing like Casualty. 

“You’re a fucking hero Kev.  How did you know what to do?”

“I read this article… On the BBC…”

*   *   *

Tom was glad his boss wasn’t in today.  Normally she took the seat next to him, but in her absence he felt far more comfortable keeping up to date with the cricket score and simultaneously scanning ebay.  And working.  Obviously.

The presentation wasn’t due for another three days, and as it was ‘so important’, and ‘literally make-or-break for us’ he hadn’t been given anything else to distract him.  Except access to the entire internet.

He contemplated looking up Sarah’s Facebook again, but he resisted.  There was some pleasure in resisting, he thought, probably the same thing women got out of dieting.  I could look, but I won’t.  I’ll be a good husband.  He rewarded himself with a polo, still resting on the receipt.  He still wasn’t sure how that counted as work expensese, but hey, don’t argue with the system.

Tickets were appearing for a music festival back in his hometown.  He looked at the price and grimaced: clearly the touts had gotten in there early.  It was funny, back at school he’d never even thought it might have been expensive; his parents had gotten him tickets every year for his birthday.  Now he actually had money of his own, £250 to get high and see dodgy music didn’t seem that appealing.  

It had been there where he’d met Dani.  It had been there that he’d last fancied Dani, he reckoned.  Was that true?  It had been a great weekend, a year and a half ago now.  God she’d been beautiful.

It was funny, he’d always had a thing with songs.  Every song he liked reminded him of someone.  Most of them Dani, many newer ones (mostly horrible R&B, unfortunately) Sarah, but then loads of his friends back home, certain holidays, even his Dad dying was immortalised in cheesy pop lyrics.  He doubted his dad would have appreciated that particular gesture.

He snapped himself back into the moment.  Presentation.  ‘How to make social media work for us.’  People, he was good at people, people were fun.  People didn’t like a rich bank with a morally dubious reputation, but a couple of well placed tweets and a funny photo would change that.  People are stupid.

He flicked through the notes he’d made so far.  A sweet company that posted one-liners every week, normally to do with chocolate.  They had 14 million fans, apparently.  He looked them up, what was this humourous chocolate goldmine?

“Chocolate is not a matter of life and death - it's more important than that!”  Three hundred and seventy-eight likes.  Two hundred comments.  Tom stared at the screen, sure there must be a hidden punch-line somewhere.

“What the fuck.”

The phone rang, and he let out an audible groan.  It would be Amanda, checking how work was going.  He could tell her the joke?  Apparently three hundred people thought that was a good idea.

“Hello, NatBank Commercial Office, Tom Williams speaking?”

“Hello, Mr Williams?  This is Sergeant Eric Thompson, from Tream Valley Police, we need to speak to you.”

The police?  Why? “Sorry, what do you mean?”

“We need to speak to you about your daughter, Mr Williams.”

“Holly?  Shit, what’s happened?”

A pause.

“There’s been an incident.  Your daughter’s… she’s been quite seriously injured.”

Fuck.  The last thing he’d said in front of her was “Oh fuck off you cow.”  Fuck.

“What’s happened?  Is she ok?  What’s happened?”

Another pause. 

“We’d be very grateful if you could come down to the hospital Mr Williams.  We can explain everything when you get here, but she really needs you here as soon as possible.”

“Shit, what’s happened though?  Where’s Dani? Is Dani there?”

Another pause. 

“I really don’t think we can discuss this over the phone Mr Williams, could you please come down to the hospital?”

“What can’t we discuss?  Where’s Dani?  What’s happened to Holly?  Is she ok?”

“She’s in a critical condition Mr Williams, but she’s stable.  She’s… she had a fall.”

“A fall?  What do you mean?”

“She fell out of a window Mr Williams.”

“A window?  Fuck, the window?  We’re four fucking storeys up!”

“It seems that a passerby attempted to catch her Mr Williams.  There’s no doubt, if she pulls through this lad saved her life.”

“Fuck.  Where’s Dani?  What the fuck was she doing?  Wait, the window’s so high up, how the fuck did she fall?”

“We’re not totally certain Mr Williams.  But please, come down to the hospital.  Your daughter needs you.”

“Fuck, ok, shit, I’m on my way”.

He pushed his phone down, missing the socket by a distance.  He stood up, turned to leave, then stopped.  His head was spinning.  How could she have fallen out of the window?

He grabbed his car keys, considered and dismissed calling Amanda, and walked away from the chocolate jokes.

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