Here is an excerpt from a novel that I am still currently writing. It is a crime fiction/thriller novel and it is my second in that genre. This is still very much a first draft and I haven’t checked through this section – so please, go easy on me!
But, as always, all feedback is greatly appreciated and I hope you enjoy:
Part One: A Collection of Desires
December 31st 11:50PM
The continuous ticking of the clock was messing with his mind. But then again, what didn’t mess with his mind these days? The darkness did. The exploding fireworks did. And that reverberating sound of the ticking clock certainly did. In his dark, empty home, the only thing that was to be heard apart from explosions and ticking, was silence. Was nothingness, and he wasn’t sure whether or not the sound of the silence made him prefer the clocks ticking.
Speaking of the clock, he was out of time. Well and truly out of time. He was supposed to show his face at his grandma’s annual New Year’s Eve gathering over an hour ago. To hell with that, he thought, I’d rather be dead than at that gathering of self-proclaimed rich pretentious assholes. Said assholes being the members of his family, but still, that didn’t mean that they weren’t assholes. And pretentious because they are rich – each and every single one of them.
Ever since his dad struck gold in the stock exchange markets, the whole family were pretty much set. But despite their new-found richness, he hated his life even more than he already had. At school, he went from regular dweeb to rich dweeb – and that was just as hellish as it sounded. The wedgies doubled, the beatings multiplied and swirlies were even introduced to the regimen. He could still remember thinking after the first time that they’d given him one: I thought they only existed in the movies, he had thought afterwards. But the pissy scent of his wet hair said otherwise.
It had been a lonely life for him before the money and it was still just as lonely a life when it arrived. Not that it bothered him. Unlike the rest of the family, he wasn’t one for buying friends. I’d much rather be lonely than surrounded by people who are only out for your money. Why would you want fake friends? But as he looked around his empty bedroom, he sort of knew the answer. I need to stretch my legs. Need to get out of this cramped bedroom and explore.
At this point, any normal teenager would be picking up their phone and dialling their friends and then telling their friends to dial their friends and so on. Then once they had amassed a large enough number of friends and mutual friends, would invite them all over to host the house party of the century. But instead, Tim Meadows opted for simply seeing more of his home than he was used to. He jumped to his feet and started towards the door which led out into the long upstairs corridor. He walked along to the open-plan staircase and began making his way down to the ground floor, one lonely step at a time.
Tim froze two steps from the bottom. What was that noise? Where had it come from? It sounded almost like a bomb exploding. Then a second explosion, but this one wasn’t as loud. Wasn’t as close. They were only fireworks, Tim knew that. But they had sounded so close, more like they were going off in his kitchen than outside. He couldn’t help it, the feeling would not subside. He felt it often when he was alone: felt as though something was wrong. As if he wasn’t alone. Usually he just assumed it was because of the sheer size of his house and how it felt that much bigger when he was inside it alone. But tonight it felt different, tonight it felt true. He took the final two steps and headed through the grand hallway and into the living room. Nothing seemed out of place. He hadn’t seen anything out of the ordinary. It was just a firework, he thought, resting his mind again and pretty soon the banging stopped completely and the lonely silence filled the air once more.
He took a seat on the couch and searched for the TV remote. The thought hit him as he looked: instead of making his way over to his grans house through the empty streets at 10:30PM – just as he’d told his mom he would – Tim opted to stay at home, wallowing in the brilliance of being a teen in a free house – or a free mansion, as his new life would dictate. Have I been a little harsh on them?
But little did Tim Meadows know that only a few minutes from now, the last thing that he’d be doing would be wallowing. The only form that would be taking place in that mansion in the next twenty minutes would be the wallowing of the man who was currently outside in the pitch-blackness, scouting the grounds of his home. He would be wallowing in the boy’s blood. His warm, not-yet-coagulated, blood.
12 days earlier.
Fucking rent. Anthony Higgins tore the letter in half and threw it into his pot of bubbling tomato soup. When life gives you lemons, or in this case, bills – you fucking eat them. He wasn’t angry, but rather, accepting. Rent, electric, TV bills, parking fines, speeding tickets – you name it, Anthony Higgins owned it. Debt was his new best friend. It was his only fucking friend. Not that he needed friends. He was a lone wolf. Always had been. Always will be.
He stirred the letter-contaminated pot of soup a further few times before ladling himself a bowl, making sure not to get any paper in his portion. Then it was back to the arm chair. Back to spending his days as he always spent them: sitting watching shit TV and looking out of the window at the even shitter people. Why do I even bother? Anthony thought. Why do I sit here day after day wasting my life away? Why am I stuck in a dead-end job? Why am I such a failure? And why am I sitting here wondering instead of getting out there and fucking doing something about it?
And then he remembered, fucking parole. That was why. He was restricted by the foolish actions of his past-self. He couldn’t leave the house at certain times and if he was found out and about without proper reason, he could be sent back to prison and that was even fucking worse than sitting watching the shit TV and the even shitter people.
Anthony took his seat. And speaking of shitter people, there he was, right on time. Old man Johnston, the miserable old bastard who lived in one of the apartments across the street. He was shaking his way down the street looking like he was going to stumble with every staggered step. Anthony didn’t really get on with him. He was the type of old man who would shout across the street, yelling at you to “Keep quiet!” when all you had done was fucking sneeze. Then after he had learning that the guy who was moving in across the street was someone who was on parole, he had even more of a grudge with Anthony than he did with the rest of the younger generation. Anthony watched the old bastard edging his way down the street, hoping with every step that he would fall and break his fucking hip.
The ringing sound of his phone interrupted his mid-morning thoughts and Anthony Higgins set aside a brief second to appreciate just how beautiful the morning was. The sky was dark and gloomy – an incomparable grey, the rain was spiralling in a downpour like a fallen aircraft and there wasn’t a single song being sung by the songbirds. Blissful. He thought. Simply blissful. The voice on the other end of the line blasted into his ear and echoed around his skull. It was his old cellmate – Trevor Bronson. And still, debt was his only fucking friend.
“Trevor.” Anthony said as he picked up. It was a statement, not a question. And it had the sigh to match.
“Yo’ Anth, what’s happening homie?”
“Cut the bullshit Trevor. Whatever ingenious plan you have devised to get us out of this hellhole this time, I want no part in it. And for Christ sakes, stop speaking in that pseudo black-man lingo. You’re from the suburbs of North Carolina, not Detroit fucking Michigan.” Anthony slammed the phone back into its holster, though in a rather relaxed manner.
The last thing that he needed in his life right now was Trevor fucking Bronson – which by the way wasn’t part of his birth name, just an apt word to fit in between. Trevor was nothing but trouble, always had been, always will be.
During their stint at the Arkansas Department of Correction – or plainly, ‘The shithole’ as the inmates called it – Trevor was always coming up with deceitful plots and schemes. Most of which (in Trevor’s head) were their ticket to freedom. And most of which (in reality) just had an opposite effect – often resulting in the lengthening of their sentences or declined parole trials. And sometimes even beatings, depending on which asshole guard was on duty and how pissed off they were at the time. But that was more of a rarity and Anthony was thankful for that. And he was even more thankful for the fact that Arkansas was well and truly behind him and he now had the privilege of spending his parole in Sunset Park, in Brooklyn, New York.
The phone began ringing again and this time Anthony couldn’t stifle his rage. “Fuck off!” He bellowed down the line with enough venom to make a black widow jealous.
The voice on the other end of the line was one of both innocence and confusion. “Anthony, is that you? Now that’s no way to address your mother now is it?” It was as if she was still speaking to her ten year old kid, not her thirty-three year old man.
“Sorry maw.” Anthony replied, in the voice of his ten year old self. Trevor Bronson and his fucking ingenious plans. Even when Anthony Higgins declined, they still brought him trouble. “I was expecting someone else. I’ve been getting PPI calls all morning and they’re driving me up the wall.” Anthony didn’t want to admit to his mother that it had been Trevor on the phone, that would only make her madder.
“It’s okay Anthony, I understand. Have you found a different job yet?”
“We’ve been through this maw, there are no jobs. I’m stuck with what I’ve got. Especially given my circumstances.”
“Well you had better find one. I’m not getting off of your back until you do.” He could hear the tutting after every sentence.
“Well you’re going to be on there for some time in that case then.”
“That’s totally fine by me. Now remember to lock your door. You never know what could happen in that dodgy neighbourhood of yours. Goodbye Anthony. Get looking for those jobs.”
“Yes maw, I will. Goodb…” But the line went dead before he could finish. Doesn’t she know that I’m the reason that the neighbourhood is dodgy?
Anthony felt the silence in his living room. He preferred the sound of nothing to the sound of most things – but especially to the sound of Trevor Bronson’s voice. And his mom’s too come to think of it. Trevor sat back in his recliner and grabbed a fistful of the Butterkist popcorn out of the bag that he had left there the previous night. He could still see out of the window. He could still see the beautifully dull skies and lack of sunlight. Isn’t parole the fucking greatest? Anthony asked himself. The song that played through his TV as he turned it on answered the question for him. “I’m on a highway to hell.” Brian Johnson’s voice echoed around his living room. You can fucking say that again, Anthony’s brain replied. So he did, only this time, the realisation had hit him even harder.
Trevor Bronson found himself sitting in front of the hot fire in his living room, staring at his cell phone. The one that his old pal Anthony had only just insulted him, but also, rejected him through – and Trevor didn’t know which of the two hurt him most. Trevor was a simple man. That is, if the dictionaries new definition of simple was: ‘Totally fucking brain-dead. Unable to distinguish between real-life and fantasy, especially when it comes to making crucial decisions. A real, A-grade fucking moron.’ But that seemed unlikely.
Although a simpleton, Trevor was also incredibly persistent, but there was probably a very strong link between the two. It was the tool that he had always used to make Anthony crack, especially in their old days at the shithole. All it would take to get his old pal in on a plan would be some firm persuasion and a lot of continuous effort. And Trevor wasn’t prepared to let his old ways – and subsequently, his dreams – die. Not quite yet.
Trevor picked his cell phone back up and clicked on Anthony’s name. He looked at the clock before dialling, watching the second hand ticking around incredibly slowly. It’s been five minutes, Trevor thought – usually enough time to avoid having Anth screaming at yo’ ass down the phone. It rang three times and then Anthony picked up.
“Yes maw, I’ll make sure to remember to lock the door before I go to bed tonight. You’ve already told me.” His voice was almost one continuous sigh.
“What the fuck…” Trevor said. “What the hell are you talking about? And did you just call me maw?”
“Shit. I just got off the phone with my mom. She always calls back and repeats herself, so I assumed it was her again.” Anthony chuckled, looking out the window at the gloomy morning again. Forgetting for a split-second the reasons behind Trevor’s second call of the day.
“Forget about that bullshit dawg. I have bagged us the sting of the cen–“ The line went dead, cutting Trevor off. He was left listening to the low-pitched buzzing sound of the disconnected line.
Fuck. So Anth is playing hard to get? Don’t sweat it Trev, you got dis’. You just gotta’ think. What can I offer Anth that he won’t be able to resist? And then as the clock struck midday and the sun actually crept out from behind the greyness, the idea hit him. Almost as hard as that asshole guard McDonald had back in the shithole.
I hope that you enjoyed that and as always:
Happy writing folks!