Here’s the first part of a short story I started writing that I turned into an entry for August’s Five Word Challenge (FWC).
If anyone has any better ideas for a title please let me know. Those are always the parts I struggle with most.
Also if you have any tips or suggestions on which direction to take the story or just general improvements let me know. All are greatly appreciated.
The words in August’s Five Word Challenge are:
‘Danny boy!’ Tim called out in his usual enthusiastic tone as he entered the pub and saw Dan sat at one of the small tables tucked away in the corner. ‘How’s it going mate’ he continued as he walked over to Dan and held at his hand. ‘I ain’t seen you in a while, been busy working?’ He asked as Dan stood up and shook his outstretched hand and gestured for him to sit in the vacant seat opposite.
‘Yeah. Well trying to at least’ Dan answered as they both sat down and Tim looked at him quizzically. Seeing the confused look on his friends face Dan continued ‘I’m working on a new book that my publishers want me to write after the success of the first one and. And it’s, it’s just not if I’m honest’ gesturing to the pad of paper in front of him that had “IDEAS” written at the top of the page in some lovely neat writing accompanied by some rather detailed doodles. The rest of the page however was blank.
‘Is that page 2 of your ideas page and I arrived just as you switched pages?’ Tim asked rather nervously already knowing the answer, which his friend confirmed with a small shake of his head. ‘Ah. That is not good’ Tim said sounding sympathetic to his friend’s plight. ‘Let me just get a drink and I’ll see what I can conjure up’.
With that Tim got up and went to the bar. Dan just sat staring at his notepad looking as if he thought if he stared hard enough or long enough at it words would magically begin appearing on the page and give him an idea.
‘Staring a bit intently there aren’t ya?’ Tim asked returning to the table with his pint and sitting down. ‘Now where should we start?’ He asked taking a sip of his drink.
‘I often find the beginning is a good place to start‘ Dan replied looking up from his notepad and at his friend slightly annoyed with him. Tim’s ability to always remain calm and relaxed, or appear so at least, had bugged Dan ever since he had known, mainly because he envied it and wished he could be calmer when things weren’t going his way. Instead his default position seemed to be to panic and let everything overwhelm him.
‘And where has that got you my friend?’ Tim asked smiling, his voice filled with cheery optimism. A cheery optimism that Dan recognised all too well. And one that bugged him. It was the tone Tim used whenever he thought he had just come up with a brilliant idea. Such ideas were rarely ever brilliant. In fact most of them tended to end quite badly, quite often with someone, usually Dan, getting hurt and requiring a short trip to A&E.
‘Don’t start at the beginning’ Tim went on getting progressively more excited. ‘No. What you want to do is like start with the end. Or maybe even the middle. You know, like Tarantino does?’ he finished looking pleased with himself as he took a sip of his pint.
‘Good idea Tim’ Dan said trying not to discourage his friend. ‘If I actually had an idea that would be a great way of fleshing it out or developing it. Start at the beginning of nothing and you have nothing. Start at the end of nothing and you still have nothing’ Dan moaned as he had a sip of the pint he had been nursing for the past hour.
‘Oh. Yeah. I can see the problem there’ Tim said sounding deflated. For the next couple of minutes they sat in awkward silence, staring at their pints and taking the occasional sip. ‘What was your last book about again?’ Tim asking breaking the silence.
‘Survival story set shortly after an apocalypse’ Dan answered not looking up from his drink. ‘I gave you a copy remember? You even asked me to sign it. Haven’t you read it?’ he asked his friend?
‘Oh yeah. Er I keep meaning to but I haven’t gotten round to it yet’ Tim stammered. ‘I like having it on display on the self in my living room so when people come over I can point to it and say my best mate wrote that’ Tim said with a small smile, Dan couldn’t help but smile back touched that his friend was so proud of him. ‘No chance of a sequel?’ Tim asked.
‘Nah. When I wrote it I did it in such a way to block out any chance of a sequel. It seemed like a good idea at the time’ Dan said sighing as he prodded at his pen hoping it would come to life and begin write for him.
‘Good. I can’t stand those stupid ambiguous endings where they are clearly leaving it open for a sequel should it prove popular but don’t want to commit to a series from the start’ Tim complained as he finished off his pint. ‘One or the other people. One or the other. Don’t try to have your cake and eat it too. Although that’s a really bad expression, what else are you gonna do with the cake?’ Tim continued as he slammed his glass down on the table. ‘I know’ he exclaimed suddenly standing up ‘write a book on me’.
‘You want me to base my book on you?’ Dan asked confused as to where Tim was going with this. Tim just continued to stand looking down on his friend, grinning as he did so. ‘Doing what exactly?’ was all Dan could think to say.
‘I dunno’ Tim said shrugging his shoulders.
‘Okaaay. When’s the last time you did something exciting?’ Dan asked hoping more than expecting a proper answer from Tim.
‘I dunno’ was Tim’s reply as he shrugged his shoulders again and sat down.
‘Yeah. See. I need a bit more than that’ Dan said sullenly. ‘Every idea has been done. It’s hopeless’.
‘Hmm’ Tim murmured. ‘Wait here I have an idea’ and with that Tim jumped up and ran out of the pub leaving Dan sat with the blank sheet of paper that was really beginning to torture him now.
A couple of minutes later Tim returned carrying a stack of newspapers, both national and local. Throwing them onto the table in front of Dan he said ‘we’ll just look through the papers and see what jumps out at us. Start with the local papers though. Go for the lost and found or personals. Those sort of things’. With that Tim sat down, picked up one of the locals and got busy scanning it.
‘Okaaay’ Dan said slightly bewildered but picking up one of the local paper nonetheless. ‘I understand the concept of reading through the paper looking for inspiration, but why the lost and found and personal sections?’
‘No real reason, I just enjoy ’em’ Tim replied as he casually looked through the paper. ‘Besides you can meet some really interesting people through the personal’s and I’m always curious about the sort of things people lose and where’.
‘Well aren’t you just full of surprises’ Dan remarked as he stared at his friend. In all the years that Dan had known him, Tim had never really struck him as the sort of person who took such interest in the lives of strangers. ‘Has this been a hobby of yours for long?’ Dab asked interested to learn more about his friends hobby.
‘Uh-huh’ Tim replied only half listening as he continued to scan the paper. ‘I’ve been doing it for many years. I even use their onlines sites and stuff like Craigslist’.
‘Really? To meet people?’ Dan asked a little surprised.
‘Uh-huh’ was Tim’s reply again as he was still only half listening. ‘Not just for a quick roll in the hay. Although that did literally happen one time. Some people just want someone to talk to. Or advice. Or someone to go to a museum with. Some have irregular jobs they need doing or that they offer. Some are looking to buy or sell crap’ he finished before looking up at Dan who was staring at him. ‘What?’
‘I’m just surprised by it all’ Dan answered trying not to sound judgemental.
‘Oh. Right.’ Tim said shrugging his shoulders and going back to his paper. ‘You can meet some really nice and really interesting people this way. Find some really good bargains. Or some really cool parties’.
‘Yeah I’m not sure I want to go to some party we learn about in the personal’s section of a local paper’ Dan said nervously. ‘That sounds like a recipe for disaster. Some real clandestine stuff’.
‘Don’t worry I’m not looking for a party’ Tim replied. ‘No. I’m looking for something much more interesting. Much more exciting’.
‘See that just sounds worse’ Dan said sounding rather more nervous than before.
‘Relax. You worry far too much. Besides this will help you write your new book‘ Tim said as he handed Dan the newspaper and pointed at an advert. ‘I think I’ve found just the one’.
Dan took the paper and read the advert Tim was pointing at.
“Has anyone else seen or heard the strange large animal that has been lurking around the fields near Elm Garden’s the last two nights? It has terrified my cat so much that she now refuses to go out.
If you have any information at all about this please contact me by e-mail immediately”
‘You can’t be serious’ Dan said putting the paper down and looking at his friend who was busy typing away on his phone.
‘I am. I’m just e-mailing her now asking her if we can meet later tonight to discuss it’ Tim as he tapped away on his phone.
‘What!?’ Dan said alarmed. ‘She sounds like a proper headcase. Besides why would she want to meet us?’
‘Maybe she is. Maybe she isn’t’ Tim replied as he hit send on the e-mail he was typing. ‘Maybe she’s telling the truth. And maybe she’s not. Either way its a great life experience to help you write your book‘.
‘How?’ Dan asked staring at his friend somewhat annoyed by the recent turn of events.
‘No idea’ Tim answered shrugging his shoulders again. ‘You’re the writer. Maybe there is a mysterious beast lurking in a green area of a London suburb. Maybe it’s a werewolf. Maybe there’s a crazy lady who likes luring people to an unexpected demise. She could be the werewolf and that’s how she feeds. Or maybe it’s a romantic comedy where two people meet in a bizarre way before falling in love’. Tim gave another shrug. ‘Like I said you’re the writer. I’m just trying to help’.
Dan sat speechless for a minute trying to think of something, anything, to say to his friend but he kept coming up empty. The silence was broken by a “PING2 from Tim’s phone.
‘Ah excellent she’s replied’ Tim said smiling as he pulled out his phone and began reading the e-mail. ‘Right, we’re on. She’s agreed to meet us later tonight and discuss what she saw’ Tim said as he typed back a quick reply confirming the meeting. ‘That gives us a couple of hours to kill before the meeting. How about we grab something to eat? I’m suddenly craving a milkshake‘.
With that Dan packed up his notepad and all the newspapers into his bag and he and Tim left the pub to go and get something to eat before their meeting later that night.
The end. For now.
I’ll continue this story over the next couple of months and see where it goes. Remember to leave any suggestions in the comments.