This post has come about from a talk with a friend about how writing allows you to shape your own world and create fictional people in your life who you can end up feeling quite attached to.
Thanks to a certain someone, they reminded me of some people who came into existence near the end of my University career, from a need to write something that wasn’t analysing Psychological journals in endless essays. So I have read through the first few chapters of the 1/4 of a novel I once wrote in the hope that inspiration will strike and allow me to finish it.
And so it is I present the beginning of Beyond:
Scott threw the curtains aside, flooding the room with a light that illuminated the dust particles that floated lazily down to the floor. Eager for the day’s adventures to start, Scott began rifling through his sock drawer. Today he predicted that any adventures that lay in wait for him would be rather low key. His years as an elementary school teacher taught him that the weekends needed to be savoured, if nothing else but to preserve his sanity. He had long since perfected the art of relaxation, whilst keeping his guilt about the stack of un-graded papers in his briefcase to a minimum. Continuing his clothing hunt, he pulled open the wardrobe, took out an Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirt and pulled it over his toned torso. He slipped into a pair of jeans, a pair with a slight rip above the right knee that Ben had repeatedly told him to replace. Regardless of Scott’s protest that ‘ripped jeans are timeless and never out of style’ always prompted Ben’s retort ‘Out of what style? Homeless chic?’ This regular banter originated from one of their earliest of dates. After slipping into his running shoes, Scott shuffled out of the bedroom and into the lounge, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Scott sat on the sofa and began arranging cushions that he and Ben had left scattered across the sofa whilst watching television the night before.
He picked up the remote from the sofa and with the press of a button brought the television to life. Scott listened as the stunning newscaster warned viewers of the plummeting stock of a company he had never heard of. He glanced above the screen and his eyes came to rest on the holiday photo sat on the television set. The photo showed him and Ben, an arm around the other’s waist, sat on the hood of their Pontiac with the red and orange glow of the desert behind them. Scott’s smile betrayed his attraction to Ben’s strong jaw line and broad, muscular shoulders. Hiding his physique under expensive Italian suits had left Scott feeling an injustice was being perpetrated. Of course the partners at Steadman and Burke would not appreciate a lawyer of theirs attempting to battle a sexual harassment dressed only in a Speedo. Scott suspected the jury would be less sympathetic for the plight of their aggrieved client and far too distracted to deliberate.
Nestled in the sofa cushions, Scott yawned, stretched out his arms and rested his legs on the coffee table. Running his fingers through his dark hair he knew that it required taming with one of the many styling products in the bathroom so that people would not mistake him for his caveman like ancestors. Scott walked through the lounge and stepped up to the open plan kitchen that overlooked the lounge. Opening the refrigerator and retrieving a bottle of water, Scott’s mind began to wonder through his options for the day. With Ben fighting the righteous battle for his defendants in court, Scott reserved himself to the dull notion that today’s adventure would most likely be a solitary one. He thought perhaps of going for a run or a work out at the gym. Before reaching a decision, a familiar ringing drew Scott out of the kitchen and towards the cordless telephone nestled somewhere within the cushions of the sofa. Scott placed the receiver to his ear and feeling cheeky announced to the caller “Unless this is my devilishly handsome boyfriend, I’m afraid Scott can’t come to the phone right now”. His smile quickly departed. Listening to the familiar voice on the other end of the line, he suddenly found it hard to draw breath, his knees weakened and he held onto the sofa to steady himself. Scott ended the call and dropped the phone to the floor. A second later, he snatched up his coat and keys from the coffee table, tore open the door and sprinted along the corridor. Through the open door to Scott’s apartment, a special news bulletin flashed onto the television set, one of nightmarish proportion.
The piercing wail of sirens told Scott that he was rapidly approaching his destination. The warm summer breeze blew through his hair as he tore along the streets of the city, narrowly avoiding collisions with other vehicles. Scott was greeted by the sight of a mass crowd outside the courthouse lit by blue and red flashing lights. The sight of police and paramedic vehicles at the road side sent a stabbing pain through his stomach. Screeching to a halt behind a police car, Scott sprang from his car, leaving the door of the Pontiac open. Bracing himself against the crowd of onlookers he hurriedly pushed against the tide. Entering the pandemonium of people before him, Scott struggled past reporters busily interviewing bystanders. A number of cameras pointed at familiar people grasping microphones. As he made his way through the crowd Scott could hear the reporter’s sensational stories;
“….there has been no formal identification of the hostages held inside”
“the harrowing sound of gunshots echoed inside the courthouse…”
“.. and the police are urging the public to remain calm and assure us that the situation is under control”.
As he approached the police tape, Scott frantically scanned the men and women before him in navy blue uniforms. “Scott!” The shout drew his glance to the ex-college quarter back manoeuvring around his colleagues in an attempt to make his way over to the blue and white tape. Lee’s muscular frame and strong arms meant that his participation in college football had been predestined. He held himself as confidently as he had done when approaching the football field to the roar of an adoring crowd. Now, in another lifetime, Lee took hold of Scott’s left arm to steady him, aware of barrage of terrible images his best friend must be conjuring in his mind. It was something he had seen countless times on the job, and unfortunately people’s worst fears usually turned out to be the most accurate. “Lee, what on earth is happening, where is he?” The urgency in his plea to Lee told him that Scott would not be satisfied with the stock response of ‘there’s nothing to worry about sir, everything is under control’, the line he often fed the concerned or overly nosey members of the public or press.
Lee lifted up the police tape and guided Scott underneath. They walked over to one of the four huge pillars that stood supporting the roof of the courthouse. Scott realised that the spot on which they both stood was the only place in which they avoided the unforgiving stares of the news cameras and public spectators. He feared that Lee knew all to well the reaction to expect as he began explaining to Scott that the world as he knew it, would never quite be the same again.
The defendant sat motionless in the chair next to Ben’s. She had woken this morning with a familiar feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach. Her thoughts had been consumed by how the press would greet her on approach to the courtroom or the photo’s of her that would adorn the papers the following morning. She stood accused of causing death by dangerous driving, a charge made infinitely worse by the fact that it had been the life of her daughter that she was responsible for taking. Although her lawyer had tried to console her, Beth knew it was she and she alone who had sped along the road that day eager to get home, that it was she who did not see her little girl step out from between the parked cars to wave to her, and it was she who had been unable to stop in time. Had she known that today her husband would appear in the courtroom aiming the barrel of a handgun at her chest, she thought perhaps she needn’t have been concerned about how well she photographed today.
Ben rose from his seat behind the huge oak desk. “Take it easy buddy, believe me you don’t wanna do this” He was ever the voice of reason, able to talk Scott down from a ledge whenever the world seemed to be against him, or things simply weren’t going his way. If ever there was a point that Ben’s calming manor and soothing voice was required, this was certainly it. The man standing opposite him in a janitors smock shifted his weight from one foot to the next, over and over. It struck Ben that he resembled a caged animal, desperate to flee from its prison and dangerous as it would do anything to succeed in gaining freedom. The gun held by the man made him more dangerous than any animal Ben had ever faced off against. When Ben and Scott had previously discussed the merits of the people’s right to bear arms, Scott had always argued that people were only afraid of guns because they didn’t know how to use them. Scott would say that a gun is only a mess of metal and springs. At this point that thought did nothing to comfort Ben as he believed the man in front of them knew exactly what he was doing with the gun that shook in his unsteady hand.
Those in the public gallery cowered against each other as the man turned around slowly, pointing the gun at each of them in turn.
“Tony please, this isn’t going to bring her back” Ben’s client pleaded, her tears flowing uncontrollably.
“You don’t understand Beth, if I lose you, I’ll have nothing. I can’t lose you both, I’m not…I’m not strong enough”, his voice grew louder “I wont survive it.” The gun began to shake more violently in his hands. Ben took a step in front of his desk, squaring off with the gun man.
“Tony… right?” The man stared directly into Ben’s eyes. “Ok Tony, nothing has been decided yet. They aren’t taking Beth from you, this is a preliminary hearing. Do you understand?” Ben asked softly. Tony nodded his head ever so slightly, indicating to Ben that he could continue talking. “The best thing for everyone, including Beth, is if you place the gun on the floor and walk over to me”. Ben’s client had told him that her husband had yet to come to terms with their daughter’s tragic death and that his unstable psychiatric history could lead to, what was it she had said, complications? Well Ben had to admit, of all the possible complications in this case, this one took the biscuit.
He took a step closer to the armed man, eager to calm down the situation before Tony did anything they would all live to regret. The clerk seated just behind where the gunman stood started to rise from her chair, and Ben’s eyes widened. Her movement had gone unnoticed by the gunman and Ben silently pleaded with her to sit back down, to not aggravate the increasingly dangerous situation they were in. Her arm caught the laptop computer on which she was recording the proceedings, and sent it crashing to the floor. The startled gunman pulled the trigger and the noise of his gun firing reverberated off of the courtroom walls. Ben was thrown back and crashed into the hard edge of the desk behind him. He glanced down to the middle of his chest to see the red stain spreading out from the hole in the white shirt. The last thought to flash through Ben’s mind was that he hoped Scott wouldn’t be too furious that he’d borrowed his favourite shirt and that it had been ruined. He fell from against the desk, collapsing onto the floor. And then there was darkness.
The clerk stood paralysed in fear as her eyes focused on the body lying crumpled in front of the desk, a pool of dark red spreading across the courtroom floor. The gunman stared down at the man who had tried so hard to help him, despite the fact that he had pointed a gun at him. He screamed at the clerk “See what you’ve made me do”. Lowering his head to his chest he began whispering to himself, his words barely audible to the others in the room. “No, no… this isn’t happening. I can’t fix this, it’s over, I’ll never see her again”. Tony suddenly stopped muttering to himself and looked up from the floor. Staring straight into his wife’s eyes, he mouthed the words ‘I love you’ and turned the gun on himself.