Unfinished Works 2
Here's an alternative first chapter to my unfinished novel that I recently tweaked for readability etc, so here on 01 November 2006, I've unleashed it for people to enjoy...
Chapter 1 (part)
“You up yet?”
“No…” yawned Mark. Just got that bit of sleep on the eyes, you know. Just can’t open them.. that’s better !”
“Hadn’t you better get a move on - it’s a quarter to eight? You know how bad it is getting into town from here..”
“Oh fuck, yeah. Don’t remind me.”
Mark gave another yawn and half heartedly headed to the bathroom, his face replenished with stubble from a day of no shaving. He looked at his face in the mirror and just gave a sigh. Usual daily routine, on with the electric razor, buzz buzz buzz, two minutes later stubble off (well, almost) and then a quick splash of water and some soap on the face. Done.
“See you’re up to your usual standards then!” grinned Adam. “You want a lift into work then?”
“Yeah, sure. You know, I was thinking last night in bed..”
“What, apart from sex?”
“Well, it seems strange this, but don’t you find that if a female is your friend you’re really comfortable with them and feel no pressure, yet the pressure’s on you to create a relationship if you’re out on the pull? Maybe we should find some more female friends and then one day they’d like us enough.”
“Anyone in there? People do that all the time now anyway you know, well some of them do.”
“Oh, so they do. It’s no longer the When Harry Met Sally thing then, the whole men and women cannot be friends because sex gets in the way blah blah blah, rihgt? ”
“God you were thinking a bit profound. Is your head okay?” Adam joked, “You know, you can get analysed for that sort of thing if you’re not careful.”
“Haha.” Mark grinned. “I guess we should be thankful though.” His voice changed tone. “At least we’re not being dragged through the shit like Andrea is right now. Wish we could do something more for her you know.”
In the car, the slow painful drive to Manchester city centre resulted in many a driver error and plenty of angry scenes. Over the years Mark had learned that going down Wilmslow Road was a complete major no-no especially when the mass population of students were in town hogging the buses and making everyone’s life a lot slower. Instead, he’d cut onto Kingsway and down Birchfields Road, Anson Road and Upper Brook Street into the centre. Still not brilliant but at least the traffic moves a bit more..
“Look at that silly cow”, yelled Adam to Mark as the car turned onto Oxford Road heading into town, “hogging the bus lane just to save some time.”
“She’ll come unstuck” said Mark. “Wait till she gets to that Spar and will have to pull out into the second lane to avoid the usual car that’s always parked there.” And sure enough, his words came true. This did not please her, especially as Mark gave her a wry grin as he drove past to say “well, you will drive down the bus lane”. Still, the traffic drew to its usual crawl as St Peter’s Square loomed in the distance.
“It’s lucky we don’t work that far from a good car park eh?” said Adam as he turned towards G-Mex. “Shouting distance from your car is not that bad in town and all that. And you don’t look awake at all Mark - what’s up?”
“Don’t know.. just thinking, you know. I wonder how it would be to really have that feeling when you wake up in the morning knowing you’re seeing someone in the evening. Yeah, I’m wishing, I know. Just found it strange last night we were both going through the partners section of the paper, even though we wouldn’t resort to that - or would we? But then again on the other hand, is it worth the hassle?”
“My, you have got all deep and meaningful!” quipped Adam, with a slight grin appearing on his face like a little child getting their favourite Christmas toy. “Careful now. Very careful. You're starting to scare me! ” He grinned. He knew he was being sarcastic and that it was his way of dealing with things. Right at that point the CD hit the end of the track, namely Muse's Stockholm Syndrome, and as the lights turned red they had time for a quick headbang to the ending before the lights changed.
Work was for them just another part of their lives. A nine to five job so they could afford where they lived, and of course the stresses of working that go with it. They both worked in different offices with a strange (well it was to them anyway) bunch of people that either really were just oddball or not their sort of personality. And mostly dominated by women who were all either spoken for or too old for them. But they enjoyed their work and thankfully there was always email in quiet periods so that they could keep in touch with anything interesting going on.
Today was such a day. One of Mark’s colleagues announced that he was leaving his position and was going to down south, primarily as his fiancee lived there and he wanted to find a job nearer than her and he did. Mark thought subconsciously that it was a rather stupid thing to do, after all, why would you bother if you’re going to get dumped sooner or later and then have to really be stuck down there without anyone to be with or anything to do, when all your life is up north? However he didn’t let his feelings go and gave his colleague a good firm handshake.
“Well Geoff, that’s you off to the land of expense, then.”
“Sure is. I had to do the maths the other day and worked out just how dear it is. And how much earlier I have to get up to try and avoid the gridlock on the M25 too.”
“Oh yes,” Mark grinned, “Know all about that from my father. He hates driving his lorry around there all the time as he knows of the perpetual delays all the time. What you can always do is be like one of those really terrible drivers from Police Camera Action or something, and drive down the hard shoulder..”
“And be caught by the police” smiled Geoff back, “No thanks!”
“So when are you stacking with your fiancee then?”
“Next week. I start to move all my stuff down. Good job she’s got room down there for us both.”
“Just remember to invite us if you get married. Sorry, I meant when of course.”
Of course, this was a perfect opportunity for Mark to email Adam, and so they could talk about it later in the car.
“Well, I wouldn’t have thought that Geoff would have trundled off to Surrey then.”
“Me neither, seemed so much to have his roots up here, especially with his folks and all”, replied Mark, “but I guess you have to move sooner rather than later if you want to get on the property ladder of infinite house rises and all.”
“You should patent that last remark - it could be used as a buzzword in their property market and have to give you royalties every time - now there is an idea. You could make money from it and be like those annoying property presenters on Channel 4.”
“You mean like that RS232 sketch on Spittting Image that only increased the popularity of such strange and obscure interface lead?”
“Got it in one. How the hell did we both remember that?”
“Hang on a second - what the hell’s going on with this traffic. Seems real bad tonight.”
“Sure does. Can’t see anything though - wonder what it is. There it is! I see now. Two cars have piled into each other up Hathersage Road. Any chance of a diversion..”
“Nope. No turn offs can get us through. Just got to sit it out. Damn! And I wanted to get home to watch the sport on TV too. Oh well, no worries. We’ll just have to crank on some music to pass this moment.”
On went another CD. It’d been one they made for last summer that they could play in the car really loud with the windows down. Of course, it’s a boyish thing to do, but then again who really grows up? The tape had mainly dance tunes on, which meant it annoyed the hell out of most stuck up going down to Wilmslow commuters. But they liked it, and that’s what mattered. Orbital’s Chime blasted out of the speakers and then their heads started to bop loudly, as if almost pre-rehearsed for when the tune was on. They knew it was going to be a long wait, and they needed something to pass the time.
After a small while, off they went on their way, blasting down Kingsway at record pace so they could try their most to get home earlier. Of course, Kingsway at rush hour is like any other major road at rush hour - completely choc full of drivers who seem to have forgotten ever taking their test. The usual rush hour laws apply, which is 1) the speed limit does not apply between 5 and 6pm; 2) you can overtake from the inside if there is room; 3) if the light is changing from amber to red and your car is half way through you can pass no problem; 4) going down the bus lane at Parrs Wood is a complete no-no; and 5) beeping at a woman driver is now considered passe.
So eventually after the usual ignorance of traffic drivers, it was a quarter to six and Adam and Mark had made it homeward.
“Was it me, or was it like dodgem cars out there tonight?” asked Mark.
“I know”, replied Adam, “Definitely not one for the faint hearted out there. You see that learner driver with the instructor? I felt really sorry for him in that carnage.”
“For sure. I bet the instructor was yelling at him too like they do. He looked a right old fogie who was born in the days of the old Ford Model T. Any colour as long as it’s black.” He grinned.
“Kind of reminds me of those really cheesy people that always seem to do your test, you know the ones. Trainspotter glasses, awful voice, all that sort of thing.”
“I know one thing. I’m starving. Shall I chuck this pepperoni pizza in the oven?”
“Yeah, 20 mins should do it.”
Waiting for a pizza to cook when it’s the first thing you’ve eaten for six hours is one long wait, it’s when you know you’re late and that bus you needed to catch just didn’t get there when you wanted to. Worst of all, Adam especially always ended up in the ‘are we nearly done yet?’ mode. His impatience with food was often the talk of any woman he dated.
“You may as well be in Est Est Est, the way you’re pacing up and down”, smiled Mark nonchalantly. “You’d think it was the last meal or something. You can imagine some women getting annoyed by that..”
“Unless they were worse than me!” giggled Adam. “You know the thing especially with some - it’s like they immediately try to give the waiter or waitress a hard time because their starter isn’t there in two minutes flat or something similar. Or even worse if you get put at a table near the front door and so all the breeze blows in, or if you're in a corner, which you might actually consider cosy but the other one just doesn't want to know..”
Eventually, the pizza was ready and Mark’s skill with a pizza cutter soon had it cut into six pieces - three each of course. Okay, so it starts out at three each, but Adam showed his usual panache and flair at eating pizza quickly and so had demolished the three slices very easily. Mark took his time but could only manage two and a half before feeling full, so Adam merrily decided to feast on the other half piece.
(and so on.. but I think the idea didn't take shape, and so if I aim to write a novel, it'll be from scratch..)