I (sometimes) call myself Mr. Pondersome. I'm a rather wordy, weirdy person. I say hullo a lot. I write a lot more. While you're here, why not give some of it a read?

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The Courtesy 'I'm Back in Business' Blog (a.k.a. Me Showing Off What I've Been SO Busy Doing...)

Hullo all,

Remember me? I really can't blame you if you don't. Goodness knows, I've been away long enough. However now's the time to blow the dust off of the old creative blog and do something to reel what's left of my audience back in. And what better way than to showcase some of the work that's been keeping me so occupied?
"Kingsolver: In Ink and in Blood - Prologue" was originally part of my Novel module portfolio. It's my first jaunt into the crime thriller genre but I like to think that it's one of the current best examples of my writing capabilities. The squeamish need not ignore this one; there is a murder but it's hardly what I'd call gratuitous. I'd  quite like to try gratuitous one day though; it could become another potential notch on my slowly expanding belt.
You may recognise "Frank the Tranq" from an earlier post, but that was just the somewhat shaky start. Since then I've completed the story in all it's inevitable bumpiness and smoothed it down to a more acceptable state for my Tutorial Development Short Story module portfolio (by the way, these direct references to my course are largely for the benefit of my fellow Sheffield Hallam Creative Writers. Feel free to blank them out if you don't quite understand and/or care). This is only an introductory snippet, to give you a taste of the main character. Frank is one of my favourite first person maniacs to date and, hopefully, he'll become one of your favourites too.
On that subject, you'll probably notice a pattern growing between both main characters: childish disregard for conventionality. Whatever your view on the matter, I'm sure you'd agree that it's a whole lot of fun for you to read as it was for me to write.
Also, as an added bonus (gigantic bumper blog, here I come!), I thought I'd include the latest draft of a flash-fiction piece called "Innocence". Now, some literary types may argue that it's more of a vignette than a flash-fiction, but to them I say a hearty RASSSPPPPPPP!!! I'd like to see you try and write a suitably-coherent narrative within 50 words. I count it a mini-personal victory, either way.
Anyhoo, I'll shut up now and let you read the stuff itself. I hope you enjoy it and forgive me for my prolonged silence. Sorry - [insert cute puppy dog eyes] :(.


Harold thumbed his cufflinks as he strode down the street corner. He made a habit of keeping his head down in public, in case anyone noticed and tried to stop him.
            “Hey, weren’t you in an episode of the Bill last year?” Why, yes I was. “Wait! I saw you in that sitcom last week! Crap show, but you were good! Who did you play again?” Thank you. I was Phil, the lecherous bar fly. “Hold on a sec! I recognise that voice! You read out a letter on that documentary on Friday, didn’t you? Fascinating, wasn’t it?” Yes, fascinating.
            Harold Falksworth. Actor. Local Celebrity. Voice of the people.
            Well, perhaps that’s going a bit too far. Yes, he had been in a few well-known TV shows filmed within the local area; and yes, he had been cast in an independent film as the grandfather to an uprising star, but he wasn’t really a star in his own right. Not yet. Stars were busy people and here he was traipsing down the modest streets of Holsgate one sunny afternoon. Then again, Harold had that thing that eludes most budding celebs: the common touch.
He raised his shades and glanced down to the end of the road. Empty. Good. Fans were always a distraction. He crossed to the other side.
            Yes, Harold had his fair share of the common touch, being born and bred here. He had lived in this city for nearly all his life. It was in Holsgate that he had first found work as a factory labourer, met his wife Moira and eventually discovered his one true calling.
            A sparkling shard of sunlight reflected off of the corner of his shades. Ah, acting. How did he live so long without it? The glitzy stardom, the silver-screen skylines. It all washed over him like a cool wave on some secluded Californian beach. Of course, he’d never actually been to California or indeed the good old ‘US of A’. Not as yet, but he was getting closer. Just a few more rungs of the ladder to climb and he’d be there with a scotch in hand.
            But first came local fame. Much as he loathed seeing them, these long and mucky streets had marks on them that would lead him somewhere. Humble beginnings are a must in this line of work. And nothing came to Harold's mind as being more humble than the bumpy flaked pavements of Mornwood Street. Not the best route, but the best way to avoid the centre and all those stampeding shoppers. It was quiet too. Delightfully quiet. All he could hear were the light clacks and crunches of his Cuban heel shoes.
Harold stopped and checked their soles. Just as he’d suspected; he’d stepped in chewing gum. Terrific. He really should have worn his old brown leathers. At least he could throw them out.
            “What a waste,” he mumbled, turning back onto the path. There would be an annoying limp to his walk now, but he didn’t have that far to go. The taxi would be picking him up shortly to take him to the audition.
            He’d been looking forward to this all morning. A big and rather prestigious part was coming his way, provided he played his cards right. Although he could not identify the show to others for professional reasons ("Hush, hush” they had told him), Harold was going to be involved with a certain high-rating TV crime drama in a role made especially for him.  ‘Man Who Gets Shot In Opening Sequence’. The character didn’t have a name as yet, but he was sure that he could wangle one out of the director. The lad was a nephew of an old friend.
            Harold adjusted his green silk tie and kept his chin raised. He could already hear the bullets thudding into his side, feel the feeble “Not now...” rising to his lips. He’d even prepared how he was going to fall. Yes, this ‘shindig’ was most definitely 'in the bag'.
            Harold lowered his gaze and glimpsed a man approaching him. Where did he come from? He wondered. Hmm. There must have been a blind spot. The sunshine. He couldn’t see much, but he reckoned that the man was slightly younger. He had a shoulder bag swinging pathetically by his side.
            “I’m sorry but are you Harold Falksworth?” He asked. Northern, though not exactly local.
            Oh cripes. Another one. Harold removed his shades and beamed. “Why, yes.”
            “Oh, brilliant! I’ve seen everything you’ve ever been in. I think you’re great.”
            “Thank you.”
            “I was wondering if I could maybe ask for your autograph?” The man removed a sheet of paper and a marker pen from his bag. “If that’s alright?” The fan smiled sheepishly.
            “Of course.” Harold plucked the pen from the fan’s fingertips and turned the sheet over. It was an old headshot from his early days. His blonde hair was fuller back then and his now distinctive grey sideburns were missing.  With a chortle he started signing it. “God, where did you dig up this antique?”
            “It's a hobby of mine.” The fan nodded as he watched Harold write. “I’ve tons all over the place at home.”
            “Not all of me, I hope.” Harold smiled.
            “No. Of course not.”
            “And who do I make this out to?”
            Harold looked up. “Your initials, eh?”
            " Another little quirk of mine.”
            “There you go,” Harold handed it back over to the fan. “A.R. Hope that’s alright.”
            “Should be.” The man gazed at the signed photo.
            Reaching for his shades, Harold’s hand froze. An explosive sting pierced his centre. His fingers wandered down to find where it was coming from and stopped again. It was getting deeper. It was in his chest.
Christ. He whispered in his head. It isn’t, is it? A heart attack. Harold’s father was almost finished off by one of them. Bloody better not be.
            The fan beamed at him. “Yeah, that’s great. Ta.”
            He moved away, and with him the pain seemed to follow. Now Harold felt free, almost refreshed. He took a deep breath in. He collapsed to the floor.
            His hand. It felt warm. The rest of his body was freezing. The fingers felt sticky. He looked at them. Red. Was that really blood? Couldn’t be.
            Harold rolled over onto his side and looked up at where he'd come from. Metres of crumbling tarmac and pot holes. The sign. MORNWOOD ST. It caught its own slice of sunshine and winked at him.
             Can’t be. It couldn’t be now. Not with so many more rungs to climb. Not without the Californian beach. Not without the scotch. Not now.
            He looked back up the street. There was one light left, a speck; but it was moving away in the hand of the fan. A wicked glint. A knife’s edge.
            Oh God please, not now...


            I’m back at the client’s office and I’m thinking, ‘Just what is this guy’s thing with shadows?’ I mean, this room is always poorly-lit whenever I come in. Chrissakes, I know who he is and I know what he looks like.
            Here he comes. Yup, that’s him alright. That’s his face. I remember now. I can’t tell you though. He wouldn’t like it. Not one bit. As momma always says the customer is always right in whatever he says and does. Especially when he’s giving you $68,000 for something that’s already loads o’ fun.
            “He’s breathing.” His chair squeaks forward. “Just.”
             “Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have done it a second time. Mea culpa. Y’know, oopsies.”
            “In your resumé, you said nothing about an itchy trigger finger.”
            “Oh, relax, big guy! It was only 50ccs! The compound isn’t even that potent. Give him an oxygen mask, watch him closely and he’ll be fine. He will wake up with the mother of all headaches, yes, but that will be all.”
            “Frank, break with formality again and I’ll have to break off your legs.”
            “Understood, sir.” Yeesh. You give a guy some advice and this is how he treats you...
            “And on the subject of formality, your beard.”
“What about it?”
“If you’re going to grow a van dyke then let the whole damn thing grow. Keep shaving the right side of it off and the whole world will know you’re a freaking nutjob!”
“And the hair, sir?”
“That’s fine. But you could do something with it occasionally. If you’re out on the field you need to look the part! Like maybe...Damn it, Frank! I am not your personal stylist! I am trying to say something here!”
“Fine, sir. Shoot.”
            He throws some keys at me.
“You bought me a car?”
            “Look at the keys, idiot.”
            Not car keys, house keys.
“An apartment?”
“Yes, but it’s not yours. I want you to break in and take something.”
“But then I’m not breaking in.”
            “I’ve got the keys!” Jingle-jangle. “Won’t I need a battering ram or something? Y’know, something with a little bit more ka-pow?”
His half-obscured face groans and palms itself. “The keys will be fine. Like I said, I want you to take something. A box.”
"A box?"
He nods. "Consider this a continuance of your previous services. A related job." He leans back. Smug.
            “So I take any old box?” I need some cardboard ones...
            “No! A small blue metal box is what I want. When you’ve got it, guard it. You’re not to open it. Instead you will bring it to me and that will be all. Do all that and I’ll boost your pay to $80,000.”
            $80,000? With that I could buy a tanning bed! A really nice tanning bed! Nah, I’ll probably just spend it on some more root beers and Diphenhydramine. Y’know, the bare essentials.
            “So will there be anyone to tranq?”
            “No. Just a simple search and recover mission.”
            A search and recover mission? Aww! “Couldn’t you get somebody else to do it? Like, I dunno, one of the dudes outside? Every time I come here they always look so bored, just standing at the doors.”
            He’s smiling. “I’m sorry, I must be mistaken. Don’t you want an extra $12,000 in the bank?”
            “Course I do. I just don’t usually do jobs without the need of tranquilisers. Y’see, I get bored.”
            “And what if I could promise that you wouldn’t be bored? Would we have a deal?”
            He’s extended a hand. It’s unusually large for a man of his small stature. I don’t trust it.
            “Okay.” I reach out and grab it with my own. “But if the neighbours come snooping round, I will not be held responsible for their resuscitation.”
            “That’s fine.”
            Shake. He’s looking at me funny, crushing my hand. No matter what he says, I’m gonna tranq someone.

Walter extended a quivering palm. His hand, bare and empty as it ever was.
            Was it his? Really? Was now the time?
            Susan grabbed his fingers, squeezing them lightly together. She rested them on her bump. It was their child. Their’s. It would always be. That was enough for now.

And that's it for now. Except for a quick link, of course - http://www.shu.ac.uk/creativespark/winners-owen.html. All the details about my successful poem "That Spark, That Single Spark" are up along with a half-hearted 'natural' smile from yours truly (let's just say that the photographer caught me on a rather stressful day...). Feel free to rejoice in my victory or grumble about my incessant trumpet-blowing, or whatever it is you do when faced with such things.

Thanks for reading,

Mr. Pondersome