As you know usually I have a best author featured on my blog on Fridays. Unfortunately things didn’t work according to plan and the writer who was supposed to post today couldn’t make it. I hope she’ll come for a visit soon.
Instead I’ve decided to share with you the beginning of a story I wrote some time ago that I’m revising. I haven’t decided what I’ll do with it, but could do with the opinions. If there’s interest I can always post a bit more of it in the future, and even consider publication…If not, it will go back to the drawer (or computer file to be more precise).
Here it is:
Family, Lust and Surveillance
The parcel was planted on my desk, brown and seemingly innocent. It had my name on it, my job denomination (Sub-Editor) and the office’s address. I picked it up, weighted it, shook it…It was too large for a CD. My heart started beating very fast, and my hands trembled. What I’d been fearing, had happened. Herman had finally got hold of me.
I jumped when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. It’s just…which one of these do you prefer?”
Matt, one of the graphic designers, had been working on the cover of the anthology we were getting ready.
“I…Which one do you prefer?”
“I’ve made them both. I don’t know.”
He looked at me. He was a short, funny looking guy, all head and eyes.
“Is that a CD?”
I was still holding the parcel in my right hand.
“No, a DVD.”
“I think it’s a family recording I’ve been waiting for. Do you know if any of the viewing cabins are free?”
“I don’t think there’s anybody there at all this morning. Which one…?”
“Oh…the designs…I like them both. Ask Alan. Or choose yourself. We can always use the other design when we publish another anthology.”
“OK. I hope you enjoy the movie.”
“I’m sure I will…”
He left and I added to myself “not”. I walked fast to one of the viewing cabins, the one on the further and more retired corner. I didn’t want to get interrupted or seen. I had to be completely sure. Once there, I opened the parcel. There was no note of any kind. Only a DVD. Blank cover. I switched the TV on and the DVD player. I watched the disc being swallowed by the machine. And after a few blank seconds, Herman appeared on screen. He looked thinner and paler than last time I had seen him, if that was possible. His hair was long, greasy, and he’d acquired some grey hairs. He looked tired but smiled, toothpaste-ad style.
“Hi, Pat. It’s been a long time since we last saw each other, hasn’t it? Over three years now. Of course, you’re the one seeing me though, I can’t see you. Not yet, anyhow. Or do you think I can?…It wasn’t in very good taste what you did to me. Pack your things and go when we were having such good fun. And send me an e-mail. So impersonal! ‘Don’t try to contact me. Leave me alone or…’ I’ve been wondering ‘or what?’ all these years. That’s not fair. I’ve been bored stiff all this time. Watching our last recording. Do you remember it? Here is a selection.”
The screen went blank for a minute and the next images were of a couple, naked in a narrow bed, having sex. Herman, the male in the tape, seemed to be performing for the camera, trying to make the action as visible as possible. Only when approaching the climax did he seem to lose the control and forget about the performance. The woman was hardly visible until the end, when Herman just laid down next to her, caressing her abdomen and kissing her nipples. Herman seemed to suddenly remember the camera and grabbing her face made her sit.
‘Smile at the camera.’
I looked at the blank screen. My image looking at myself from the gulf of three years made me blush and feel humiliated. But it hadn’t finished yet. Herman walked in front of the camera and sat down.
“I hope you enjoyed it. I did. You didn’t give me much of a chance to ask you, actually. But, I’ve been thinking of better angles for the camera. It would be more interesting if you were on top next time. I’ll phone you this morning. Just to discuss the details. Bye. I’m happy I’ve found you finally.”
I went back to my desk and sat down. I put the DVD on the top drawer, the one I could lock. The white phone looked harmless and pure. I could not think or do anything. I contemplated the possibility of leaving the office and going home. Maybe I should have emigrated. But I felt drained of all energy. I just waited for the phone to ring. And it did.
“Hi Pat. It’s Cal here. Are you busy tonight?”
“Tonight?…I don’t know. I’m waiting for a phone-call. I can’t tell you yet. What were you thinking of?”
“Intimate dinner, movie, sex…The usual.”
“I’ll give you a call when I know what I’m doing.”
“Are you all right? You sound a bit…strange.”
“I just feel a bit tired. I’ll be all right, Cal.”
“OK. Don’t forget to phone. You know I have many admirers cueing…”
“I’ll phone you later.”
“Pat…It was only a joke.”
“I know, darling, I know. Sorry, I’m just not myself today. Speak to you later. Thanks for phoning.”
Cal…he was such a sweet guy. How could I explain Herman to him? How could anybody explain Herman to anybody else? If he would just disappear…
The phone rang again. I let it ring a few times, until Tina, the girl in the contiguous office came in. Always fashionable clothes, impeccable make-up, carefully arranged hair…Heart of model.
“Oh, I thought you weren’t in. I was going to answer it…By the way, somebody phoned earlier. Herman…somebody or other. He said he’s your stepbrother. I didn’t know you had any family.”
“We haven’t talked to each other for a long time. I’ll tell you the story some other day.”
I picked up the phone and watched Tina leave.
“Hello. Pat McKenzie here.”
“Hi Pat. Herman Stenson here.”
I didn’t say anything. There wasn’t anything to say.
“How are you? Surprised?”
“Nothing you do surprises me, Herman.”
“You probably thought you had got away with it by now.”
“I didn’t think, I hoped and prayed. What do you want?”
“OK, forget about niceties, hey? It’s only me, it’s all in the family, I understand. What do you think I want?”
I didn’t answer. I wanted to put the phone down on him, but I knew that wouldn’t make any difference. I’d grown up with the bastard.
“I want you to come and see me, Pat. I’m living here too. I moved once I found your address. I’ll tell you where I live.”
“I don’t want to know.”
“I have a very nice place here.”
“Leave me alone.”
“Oh, come on, Pat, be fair now. Have I gone to all this bother to find you for nothing? You must come and see me. I must show you my new surveillance system, cameras…I can record anything now.”
“I don’t want to…”
“All right, I’m not going to carry on playing Mr. Nice Guy. If that’s the way you want it that’s the way it’ll be. You will come to see me or I’ll send a copy of our DVD to your boss and to your lovely Carl Tom…whatever.”
“Cal Tomlinson. What makes you think I’m bothered about that?”
“The sub-editor of a serious intellectual magazine, on educational matters, star of a porn movie. I’m not sure it quite goes with the job.”
“It isn’t a porn movie.”
“I know what it is, and you do too, but do you think anybody else knows? Nobody would understand that. And I’m sure Carl wouldn’t either.”
“I couldn’t care less what his name is. Unless he wants to star in the movie…although…no, let’s keep it as it was.”
“WHY DON’T YOU SIMPLY FIND SOMEBODY ELSE TO…” I suddenly dropped my voice because I realised that probably Tina and half of the office where hearing me by now. “…fuck?”
“It’s a little bit more than that, love. Come to see me and we’ll talk about it.”
I wrote down his address automatically and put the phone down.
Let me know what you think.
And I have two announcements. Next week, to make up, I have two guest authors. On Tuesday my blog will be part of Travis Luedke’s blog tour. We’ll here about his new novel in the series ‘The Nightlife’. If you like hot and sexy vampires…I wouldn’t miss it. And on Friday, Dan O’Brien will talk to us offering his advice on how to get your work in a magazine (in his role as an editor) and his writing. Good week coming.
And the second announcement. My Young Adult novella, ‘Twin Evils?‘ is going to be free, for one day only, on Friday the 1st March. I’ll remind you, but be prepared. It’s only one day. I leave you links to previous blogs where I offered samples of Twin Evils also…for inspiration.
Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!