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?

Friday, 25 May 2012

"A CRACK IN A PATH" CHAPTER 6: A TWISTED KEY - PART 1 (a.k.a. A Promise Honoured)

Hullo all,

Now this will need some explaining.
As part of my final Major Project (that's the Creative Writing degree's equivalent to a dissertation), I had to write 11,000 words of a novel. My idea was an ambitious one: to write a novel of two parallel narratives, both featuring the same main character. I called it "A Crack in a Path", the story of an angry young man named David Rivers who gets embroiled in two sides of a local crime.
After creating a mutual introduction to set up David's character and the titular fulcrum of the story, I separated the narratives into Path A and Path B.
In Path A, David discovers the handbag of an elderly neighbour and in an act of kindness goes to her house to return it to her. When he arrives he discovers the house broken into and the old woman dead. After calling the police, he starts to obsess over her death and eventually aims to discover just who did it, for himself. In short, David becomes a very amateur but rather observant sleuth.
In Path B, David comes across a local thief down by the local canal and accidentally gets into a fight with him. In the heat of the moment, David pushes the young hoodlum into the water only to discover that he cannot swim. Still in a state of shock, David watches helplessly as the thief drowns. Returning home, he swiftly sinks into a guilt-ridden depression. In short, David becomes an accidental murderer and extremely-paranoid fugitive.
Although I have long since finished with the Major Project, I have carried on with the novel; writing two new chapters, under the same title of "Chapter 6: A Twisted Key". For your reading pleasure, here they are in their current drafted form. Well, here's the Path A chapter anyway; the Path B version will get its own post following this one. Nevertheless, enjoy...

Chapter 6 – A Twisted Key (PATH A)

            I’m just glad the bus shelter’s back up. Whilst this spot’s been ‘undergoing reconstruction’, I’ve had to use that weedy little temporary stop sign, a yard or so down the hill. Months, it’s been. Three or four fucking rainy months. It’s pissing it down today too but at least I’m covered.

            The tatty old ‘bag for life’ rustles against the hem of my coat. Shopping on my own. Again. Why they decided to hold the funeral this late is beyond me. Took the old woman’s daughter long enough to get her shit together. What is it with gap years and Africa? Wouldn’t it be more productive to keep to the West? Maybe even find a fucking job. Christ knows.

            I suppose I shouldn’t mouth off. Nasty business, wills and wakes. I even got an invite. Turned it down, of course. It’s an open casket.

            Where’s this fucking bus? The hems of my jeans are soaked through. This was only supposed to be a quick trip. Eggs, cereal, a few cans of beans. I shouldn’t even be out here. The doctor said plenty of rest. Then again, that was a week or so ago.

            ‘84 – BLACKLOCK PARK’. Thank fuck.

            I climb up and mumble, “Hopper Road, please.”

            Is this driver a man or a woman? Can’t tell with the short spiky hair, the scowl. High cheekbones, mind. I drop the money onto the little counter. He/she swipes it and grunts. Too guttural to be a woman.

I shuffle forward; plonk down on a side seat. Look at the grimy corners on that far window. Bloody disgusting. Pity the rain’s on the outside.

            “Sorry.” A feminine voice, out of breath.

My eyes flick back to front of the bus. I catch the outline of a woman’s profile. Young. Thin. Short black hair. Oh shit. It’s her. I pull out my phone, stare hard at it.

            She’s swung onto the seat next to me. The bus is in motion. Can’t escape now.

            She goes first. “Hello again.”

            I suppose I have to look up. “Hi.”

            “Out for a spot of shopping?” She nods at the bag.



            “Err, White Glade Mall. On Hopper Road.”

            “Oh. Well, I’m just heading into town for the day.”

            “Oh.” Should really add something else here. “Cool.” I wince. What am I? Some kind of bloody hipster?

            She turns to gaze out of the window too. The rain drops are pelting now. I hate it when there’s no particular rhythm.

Just look at her. I bet she thinks she looks very bohemian in that green woollen beret. I quite like the toggle coat though. Makes her look a little awkward, the way it’s not fully closed. Either way, red looks surprisingly good on her. The less said about her gay little umbrella, the better.

Her head snaps back towards me. “By the way, I don’t suppose you still have those earrings? Sorry about before. I wasn’t having a very good day, I’m afraid.”

“Um,” I start digging around in my coat pockets. “I think they’re...”

“Don’t worry if they’re not on you. My boyfriend’s bought a new pair already.”

“No, no. I’m sure they’re...” I yank them out. “Here! Oh.” The metal frames have completely bent out of shape now. I really should have taken them out sooner.

“That’s quite alright.” She plucks them from my palm, barely touching the skin. “Thank you very much, anyway.”

She swings her little bag onto her lap and pulls it open with one movement. Just like that. Her fingers must be ridiculously strong. Look at them rummaging around inside. They’re so pale and thin but quick and precise too. I watch her purple painted fingernails shimmer in the murky daylight. Dainty but exact. I think I may have a new fetish. Huh.

They pull out a set of keys. One of them, the longest and sharpest-looking, is bent at the middle. Strange: it looks to be made of a sturdy metal. Nice and thick; probably the heaviest of the lot. And that tip seems deadly, far more jagged than any of the other keys. The fingers clamp shut around them.

“Oh yes. That’s one of my main errands today.” She pulls out the twisted key and looks at it closely. “Off to the locksmith. I honestly don’t know how he managed to break it so quickly.”


            “My boyfriend.” She smiles faintly. “He’s usually clumsy. Still, he’s never bent a key before; not since I’ve known him anyway. It’s a shame really. It was new.”


“Our first flat key.”

I stare at her, eyebrow twitching.

She gazes back and laughs. “Our first flat.”

I really don’t know what to say. That key is pretty sharp. Could do some damage. Could even stab someone with it. Maybe in the torso.

Except the wound was big. Too big to be done by one little key. And wouldn’t there be dried blood on it? Not if he cleaned it. I dunno: he didn’t look that smart, let alone careful.

“Did he tell you how it broke?”
            She blinks at me, probably surprised to hear a full sentence for the first time. “He got drunk with the lads. Apparently he kept missing the lock, smashing it into the door frame instead.” She chuckles. “It doesn’t surprise me.”

Me neither. I can see him smashing them from between his white-knuckled fingers. Except there’s no thudding sound of metal hitting metal, just a muffled thrust. Maybe a slight squishing sound.

My eyes squint. “Weren’t you in then? At the time?”

“Unfortunately I was out. When I got back he was actually pacing. It took a while to get him to calm down.”  Her thumb gently pushes the key back down into place. “We’ve been using the spare ever since.”

“Since when?”

“Well, it has been a few weeks now. I suppose we’ve just been putting it off.”

A few weeks? More like two.

“My stop.” I reach for the bell. “I’ll, uh, I’ll see you around.”

I feel her eyes stare at me with mild surprise but I’m out of there before she can ask any questions.

That bus was musty. It’s engine was humming too loud. I need space. I need to be able to actually hear myself. Anyway, I can’t be that far from the shopping centre now.

I look up at the bus stop sign. ‘DEMMER LANE’. Shit. That’s a good fifteen minute walk. In the rain. Ah well, at least I have time and fresh air. I yank up my hood. This better be just a hunch.

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