Deep POV: Confessions of a Christian Writer

The ramblings of an emergent-realistic-edgy-working-for-God-and-the-pay-isn’t-that-great-sometimes-confused-christian-fiction writer (uh, that would be me).

Sunday, October 16, 2005

An Excerpt from my Novel, "Unseen"

Dee Stewart, who's hosting the October Celebration of New Christian fiction, had a great idea. She asked people to post something of their work, a short story, an excerpt from a novel, anything like that. Here's mine. :-)

The following is from a novel entitled Unseen. This is chapter one, scene one. I like to give each chapter a title even if I don't use them in the final book because it helps me remember what's going on. This chapter is entitled "A Good Person." Since I do not write for the CBA, there is some language in the scene, but I edited out the one word I thought might be offensive to some! Enjoy!
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A Good Person


“No, I’m not crazy, I did see something!”

Tapping on the brakes, Jon rubbed his fogged up windscreen, watching as someone struggled in the SUV up ahead, someone constrained by a rather large man, someone fighting like mad to get free. He strained forward, trying to see through a hard rain that had been falling ever since he left the house. No, it wasn’t his imagination or the effects of the damn drugs. Someone needed help.

Bloody hell. Already, I’m in trouble.

Against strict orders, he’d abandoned his flat on the beach house’s third floor, though he didn’t blame Parker for imposing such rules. When you’d tried to kill yourself less than a week ago, it made perfect sense that your brother would want you near, especially after he’d trekked all the way to London to snatch you from the jaws of death. Given that, the sleeping pills and tranquilizers that Elisabeth provided—kept under lock and key by a very jittery Parker—made perfect sense too. Still, even while doped up, he’d been climbing the walls and didn’t think a quick trip to the sweet shop for a Crunchie would do any harm. That had led him to abandon not only his flat, but his two o’clock dosage as well.

Parker’s going to be furious.

At the next stop sign, he knew he ought to turn right and go to the shop a few miles up the road then get back to the house before his brother finished his Christmas shopping. He steeled himself to make the turn, to be sensible, the sadder-but-wiser plonker who’d given up melodrama in search of inner tranquility. After all, he owed Parker that, didn’t he?

Jon watched as the SUV went straight, debated two seconds and then followed.

Such impulsive behavior often got him in trouble, but what if someone in that car had been kidnapped and he’d ignored it? God knows, he’d be dead right now if people hadn’t cared enough to follow him. And, yes, as long as he was making comparisons, a stranger had helped him too, had in fact walked right into Act Three of his little tragedy, and given him reason to live.

In the middle of the next block, the SUV’s taillights flickered a few times, then came on for good. Jon slowed too, watching the boy inside—and he believed that it was a boy—jerk against the arm that held him. Father and son having a row? Quite possibly, but something about the quality of the boy’s efforts to free himself told him otherwise.

Just then, the SUV’s passenger door flew open and a boy, maybe twelve or thirteen, shot out of the car. Jon caught a glimpse of terror in dark eyes and knew he’d been right. The driver’s door slammed open at almost the same moment and a large man in a brown pinstripe suit followed, yelling something Jon could not make out.

Bloody hell!

Jon set the car in neutral. He grabbed his mobile, flung open the door, and leapt out, following them. As rained pelted him in the face, he dialed 999. “Hey! Stop!”

Up ahead, the man caught up with the boy and grabbed him by the arm, spinning him around. He backhanded him so hard the boy crumpled at his feet.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Jon shouted in fury, images from his own recent problems imprinted suddenly onto the frightening scene.

The man jerked around to stare at him, his face contorted with a rage that seemed almost maniacal. “Get away! This is between me and the whore!”

He remembered right then that people often die when they put themselves in the middle of domestic disputes. This exceedingly pissed off man looked to be around six-two, which gave him a two-inch and perhaps fifty-pound advantage. Damn, what was he thinking? How ironic it would be to die on the streets of Redondo Beach when he’d failed to do the job in England.

Then he had another thought. Muddled as he was, thanks to the pills and every bloody thing in his life, he’d dialed the wrong emergency number. In the States, it was 911, not 999. The phone still as his ear, he heard nothing except a static hiss. Which made him an absolute washout as a superhero.

Bracing himself against a sudden fit of trembling, Jon looked the other man in the eye. “Yes,” he said in a loud voice to the imaginary person who’d suddenly come onto the line, “I need help. I’m at Bettencourt and Diamond. There’s a man here attacking a boy.” He listened with complete attention to his make-believe rescuer. “No, I don’t know anything except he’s dangerous.” Like a soap opera star, he looked down the street with grave intensity, hoping the man bought his act. “They’re only three blocks away? Yes, please, would you send them over straight away? Thanks.” He folded the mobile and dropped it into his pocket.

With a curse, the man turned, sprinting for his car. Jon watched as he slipped once, made it back to the SUV, and, wheels spinning, took off in a shower of water.

Relieved, Jon went to where the boy knelt on the soggy ground. Wiping the rain from his eyes, he crouched next to him. “Are you all right?”

A boy with a cherubic face raised his head to stare at Jon, sodden brown curls framing finely drawn features, skin the color of almonds, long, wet eyelashes, a spattering of freckles—well, damn, he’d jumped straight out of a Botticelli painting. “Yeah, I’m fine,” this angelic child said in a hesitant whisper

“You’re just a baby. Was he trying to abduct you?”

“I’m fifteen.”

“You couldn’t possibly be.”

“I am. I just look young.”

“You’ve been hurt.” Jon pointed to the corner of his mouth, where a stream of pinkish blood, diluted by the rain, ran down his chin.

The boy touched the spot. “I’m okay.”

“You keep saying that, but it’s not true.” He’d lied so often himself he could see it easily in others. “I could take you to the emergency room. It’s just around—”

“No.” The boy seemed to make an effort to rouse himself. “Did you … was that real, about the police?”

“You’re sharp. No, just an improvisation.”

“Oh.”

Jon helped him stand and could feel how he trembled. “It’s miserable out here. Can I drop you somewhere?”

The boy looked right to left before his gaze returned to Jon. “No, thanks. That’s okay.”

“What’s your name?”

“Dante.”

Yes, definitely Botticelli. “Dante, you look quite shaken. I’m not a doctor, but I think you need to get warm, right away. You’re probably suffering from shock. Do you have somewhere to go or someone to pick you up? A parent, for instance?”

“No parent.” Dante studied the ground under him as if the pavement needed his personal inspection. “I can’t go back to where I was. Not right now.”

A cold trickle of water trailed down Jon’s back. He shivered, mind made up, then he pointed west. “See that gray, three-story beach house? I live there in a flat on the third floor. Why don’t you come with me and get dried off?”

Dante looked him over as if a second attack might be eminent. “You didn’t tell me your name.”

“It’s Jon Girard. Sorry. I’m a bit rattled, which makes me believe you must be too.”

“Why’d you do it?”

“Help you out? Well, what was I supposed to do? Drive away?”

“Lots of people would’ve.”

Jon blew out air. “I see your point. Well, I’m not a saint, but I certainly won’t hurt you either. In fact, I’m only about six years older than you although it seems like it should be ten.”

Dante looked down at his soggy clothes. “Okay, but your car’ll get wet.”

“I’ll risk it.”

“Okay.”

With great relief, Jon escorted Dante back to his car. He’d somehow managed to stay alive and still behave like a good person, a rare victory. Maybe things would turn around just as everyone kept saying. Maybe life would be worth living.

Maybe.