I have started writing a novel and I will post the chapters of my first draft as I write them. They will not be perfect, but they will not be horribly sloppy either. There is a fair bit of swearing in the first chapter and this is not an indication of what the book is going to sound like; it is only Jamie who swears – it fits with his character, as will be revealed later on.
I will sometimes make notes in the text as I go. These are highlighted in orange, like here.
If you have any comments or advice, PLEASE comment in the box at the bottom of the page.
All the shouting and throwing up had given Jamie a sore throat and he was pissed off about it. His eyes followed the sound of the footsteps moving around upstairs and he could hear a man’s voice but he couldn’t make out what he was saying. He needed to pee.
‘Hey,’ he shouted at the ceiling again. ‘Hello? Hey, I know you can hear me! Goddammit, get your arse in here!’
This time the sounds upstairs stopped abruptly, like someone had finally heard him and was waiting and listening. Jamie also waited and listened, trying to picture the scene upstairs. Had his shout interrupted the man in the middle of doing something? Did he have a bag of dogfood suspended in mid-air, just about to scoop out beef and carrot flavoured chewy chunks for medium breeds? Or was he doing a crossword or some other crap like that? Or maybe he was a pansy like Mr Henderson next door and he was busy arranging lilies into a vase. The thought of Mr Henderson briefly distracted him and he spent a few pleasant minutes picturing himself slowly squeezing the life out of that useless old bastard. Then he remembered the task at hand.
‘Hey’, he shouted again, ‘are you deaf? I’m talking to you!’
After a rather long time he heard muffled shuffling and a key rattled in the door above him and a shaft of warm light framed a silhouette at the top of the stairs. Jamie squinted into the light while the woman eased herself gingerly down the stairs, balancing a tray in both hands and breathing loudly. She put the tray down on a little table against the opposite wall, all the while looking at him like one might look at an animal that could attack at any moment. The smell of warm gingerbread reminded his stomach that he was hungry.
(Were you expecting to see a man and were surprised when a woman entered the room? Good, that was the idea.)
‘Hello Jamie, I brought you some tea and biscuits’, she said, ‘and here’s some water. Drink, it will make you feel better.’ She tossed a small bottle over to him and backed away from the table. Jamie watched her in silence. His senses hadn’t yet figured out what was going on and in the absence of meaning, he sat and did nothing.
‘They’re homemade, you’ll like them,’ she said, pointing at the table.
‘I need to pee.’
‘You can use that bucket, and there’s toilet paper on the shelf up there.’
‘You expect me to pee in there? It’s full of sick.’
‘It’s the best I can offer you, I’m afraid.’
He pushed himself up from the chair and peed into the bucket before bending over it and throwing up again.
‘The nausea will wear off, it’s just an after-effect of the tranquiliser,’ the woman said.
He drank half the water. She was right; he did feel better. He turned to look at her. ‘What’s going on? What’s this all about?’ he asked, waving his hand at the room and rattling the chain around his left leg.
Instead of saying, ‘Jamie was tied to the wall by a chain around his leg’ I casually brought it up as part of the narrative. Show don’t tell…
The woman leaned back in the chair and squinted at him without saying anything. It was an unfamiliar experience for Jamie to be the one feeling uncomfortable in the presence of a woman and he started picking at the fabric of the chair with a fingernail. Finally, as if she were speaking more to herself than to him, she said, ‘What’s going on is that you are a danger to society and we need to see if we can fix you.’
‘What?’ Her comment had come so completely out of left field that he couldn’t think of anything more coherent to say.
‘We need to discuss a few things about your life and your behaviour and I need to ask you some questions. Based on your replies, we’ll decide if we think treatment can improve you.’
She spoke in an everyday, normal sounding voice which somehow unnerved Jamie. Maybe it was because women mostly used their frightened voices around him.
‘Lady, what the fuck are you talking about? And get me off this damn chain,’ he said, shaking his ankle again.
‘Alright then, you seem to have woken up nicely so we may as well get right to the point as we haven’t much time. Tell me about the day you tried to kill your little sister when you were seven years old.
Jamie stopped pulling at the chain and looked at her.
‘You know what I’m talking about. Nine years ago you tried to drown Sarah in her little splash pool in your backyard while your parents were both inside the house. She was practically dead by the time the next door neighbour came to the rescue and she spent a week in hospital. I want to hear your version of what happened that day.’
‘I don’t need to tell you anything. Are you some sort of sick weirdo? Do you get off on kidnapping people and sticking them into your basement and watching them piss into a bucket? What the fuck?’ With that, Jamie jumped off his chair and grabbed the bucket.
‘Jamie, stop right there!’ The woman scrambled out of her chair and scuttled over to the far side of the basement. ‘If you throw that at me, I won’t let you watch TV later on,’ she said, watching his hands carefully while at the same time pointing at the TV mounted on the wall. ‘When we’re not in session there will be nothing else to do in here so it will become boring without something to watch.’
Jamie stopped and looked up at the TV. Then he looked at the bucket. He lowered it back onto the floor.
‘Good, now can we get back to talking about Sarah? I know it was a long time ago, but I also know you can remember every detail of that day and that you think about it all the time.’
Jamie sat down on the edge of the chair.
‘How did you know I was going the throw that at you?’ he asked.
‘You wouldn’t be the first one and I’m not keen on having to mop this place all the time. So keep it clean and the TV can stay.’
‘The first one? What do you mean the first one? The first one what?’
‘We’ll come to that a bit later on. For now I just want to finish our conversation.’
‘I’m not doing anything till you tell me what’s going on here. I’m minding my own goddam business and next thing I know I wake up chained to a wall in a basement and I can’t stop puking and some bird dodders in and tells me to eat ginger fucking biscuits and talk about my sister. You can fuck off is what you can do.’ He gave the chain an almighty heave but it didn’t move a hair away from the wall, no matter how hard he yanked at it. The woman watched him. Her calmness and the fact that she didn’t do anything to stop him unsettled him even more and that pissed him off even more.
This time the woman was too slow and the bucket hit her square in the chest. The few seconds it took for her to register surprise were enough for Jamie to regroup his thoughts and by the time she finally made it out of the chair, the tea that followed had washed some of the vomit and urine off her. A steady stream of ginger biscuits and profanity followed her up the stairs.
For the first time since regaining consciousness, Jamie finally felt in control. He had marked his territory and the brief show of fear in the woman had been enough to re-establish the pecking-order. He watched her close the door behind herself and his smile made its way almost all the way up to his eyes.
‘Well now’, he said to himself, ‘this is going to be fun’.