Friday, November 30, 2007

Fiction Friday: and Abby met Jamie

What throws your characters off their game? For example, if she’s a shameless flirt, what makes her awkward and shy?

This is the scene I've been dying to write the whole of NaNo, but written at possibly the lowest point of NaNo I'm not sure how it came off. The new character is in the VERY early stages of development and it turned out completely differently to how I intended it to be played out. Those dratted characters doing their do without my consent yet again :o)


The (main street) of Newtown was bustling with the late Saturday morning coffee crowd. Laughter and conversation drifted on a warm summer breeze, that cut through the humidity that compressed the city back in on itself. Walking slowly, he felt as though his head would explode. Another late night, another round of meaningless conversation and drinking had come on the heels of yet another difficult week. He knew he looked rough – rougher than usual. His dark hair should have been concealed under a cap, but as usual he couldn’t find it. He ran a hand casually through the mess, but didn’t bother too much. If he was concerned he would have made a pit stop at the mirror on the way out. He tied the checkered shirt around his waist. The morning was far warmer than he’d thought.

He crossed again the traffic lights, moving with an unusual agility. Every cell in his body screamed out for coffee. He had the Moose Expresso bar in his sights. A group of rowdy uni students gathered around a small table on the footpath. A tassel haired blonde, shook her mane as she laughed hoarsely, then inhaled in a whine reminiscent of Sybil Fawlty. He shook his head and died a miserable social death for the girl – who seemed oblivious of her grating social disability.

Despite his pounding, restricted head, he made an effort to keep from making eye contact with anyone. This morning he felt the need for anonymity more than usual.

“Hello hello hello Jamie,” boisterously greeted Tara, the buxom and cheerful waitress. “And how are we this morning darling boy?”
Jamie just shook his head and knew she’d tone it done.
“It’s like that is it. Double long black to go then.”
“Yea. Cheers Tara.”

He looked around the tiny inside of the expresso bar and the collection of shabby retro furniture. The small tables running down the left hand wall looked like the kitchen table his grandparents had had in their small unit when he was a kid. And the great saggy grey vinyl couch in the front was a deadringer for the divan that they had had in their caravan annex.

He was lost reminiscing about the couch and easy, lazy days of surfing and reading as a teenage boy and it didn’t immediately register that someone was sitting on the couch. There was something familiar about the woman who was awkwardly crouched over the table, furiously writing in a battered spiral bound book.

Handing over the five dollar note, he attempted to get a better look at her, though she had her back to him. With his large coffee in hand, he walked slowly to the door.

The woman wore crumpled sage green fisherman pants. One bare foot was casually tucked under her bottom – a pair of well worn Burkenstocks were kicked untidyily under the table. A very fine white cheese cloth shirt covered a skimpy white singlet. A pair of sunglasses caught and pushed her henna rich hair back from her forehead. It was only then that he recognised exactly who she was and at that same moment she looked up, staring him straight in the eye.

It took a moment for the recognition to register and then the colour drained from her tanned face. Feeling as though he had been caught out centre stage, butt naked infront of a hostile audience he shifted his weight from one foot to another trying to find something non offensive to say to her.

“There’s no cameras,” he finally blurted out. “Do you come here often?”

She continued to stare at him, but a sense of bemusement began to creep into her features and finally she smiled. He noticed the difference in her smile, it was calm and relaxed – natural?
“No, this is my first time,” she replied eventually, taking a small amount of cruel enjoyment in his obvious discomfort. It was in such contrast to his onscreen alter ego that she found it almost endearing.
“Can I buy you a coffee?”
“You could buy me dinner down the road at the African restaurant tonight – if you’re free,” she added, taken aback by her forwardness. Was she flirting?
“I’m pre coffee,” he apologised, holding up the virgin coffee.
“I understand. How do you go with the cross word pre coffee?”
“I’m prepared to give it a go, as I drink my coffee.”

He motioned for him to take a set opposite her.
“I’m hoping you don’t have rabbies,” she joked, closing up the spiral bound book.
“I’ve been accused of being many things, but having rabbies is definitely a new one.”
He sat down on the stool opposite her.

He was completely unprepared to be sitting opposite her, minus her trade mark red and purple suits. It was as though he had stumbled over her twin sister – though which one was the evil one, he was yet to find out.
“I expected a tongue lashing from you.”
“We’re out of school aren’t we,” she replied breezily. “I’d be a prime candidate for a heart attack if I carried around my Canberra personae every day of the week. Though what you guys did was pretty low.”

“It wasn’t my idea,” he defended, realising that he sounded ridiculously like a seven year old boy who’d just been found out.
“My six year old does it far more convincingly.”
“He probably doesn’t get about on a Saturday morning with a god awful hangover.”
“No sympathy – obviously self inflicted.”
“No sympathy required, some asprin wouldn’t go astray.”
“Best I can offer is lavender oil, however you don’t quite look the type. I haven’t had painkillers since before Wil was born.”
“So you really are a hippy at heart,”

She gave herself a once over and laughed.
“Alternate I believe is the politically correct terminology – unless you are my sister and then I’m just feral. Even though I’m now an upstanding member of Parliament.”
He gave a quiet chuckle.

“I have to be somewhere, but I was serious about tonight. I guess that if you were willing to buy me a coffee it must be your shout for dinner.”
“Sure,” he agreed. “Though I’m sure you could always bill it to the taxpayer.”
“And have my travel rout splashed about on the TV Wednesday night. I think I’ll pass. There’s been enough scandal and innuendo on my part for a while I think.”

She picked up her notebook and pen, and dropped them into a small canvas satchel.
“I prefer a late booking,” she stated, standing up.
“Shall I drop over to get you.”
“That’s cute. I might want to keep my enemies close, but I’m not handing out my silent number.”
She winked at him and walked out.

Once out in the street she stopped to look back at him sitting there at the droopy uncomfortable couch sipping his take out coffee. Inside she was screaming ‘FUCK!” but somehow on the outside she had remained cool, calm and flirtaeous.

Grabbing her phone out of her pocket as she strode up the street, she deftly punched out a quick text message to her soul sister in Cairns.
I’ve just chased the Chaser. Two to one xxx

Her reaction to Jamie’s presence had not only surprised, it had knocked her for a six. A month ago when the scandal with Hux finally broke, the he had been there, with one of his mates at Canberra airport waiting for her as she flew in from Brisbane. She was harried and had been anything but a good sport about it. The 30 seconds on the Chaser were the highlight of the torrid week, which had included a press conference calling for the Director of Public Prosecutions in Queensland to look into the relationship and decide if there were charges to answer. The broadsheets had been less kind – but she had cut and pasted each of the editorials damning her and her appropriateness for public office into her growing collection of scrap books.

Cal like the stoic and emotionally blank wives of the British sex scandals had stood by her. He had said nothing until they were offered a joint interview with Womans Weekly to tell their story. She hadn’t wanted to talk to one of the airbrushed journalists from Womans Weekly but they decided as a couple that it would allow the greatest exposure of the truth. The money they were paid went straight to the Midwive’s Community Legal Fund.

And now, having just ridden the tempest and landed relatively unscathed back on the beach she was creating a whole new scandal by going out to dinner with him. The weekend in Sydney was about some time out, away from the scrutiny of the media and some chill out time alone. She shook her head, unable to understand herself at times and walked further up the street realising she’d need a new dress to wear if she was going out to dinner. She hadn’t packed for company.


PI said...

Hi Jodi! I enjoyed reading that. I was confused at first to hear Sybil Fawlty's name bandied about thinking I was in USA but then realised it was Australia. It had the feel of an American thriller to start with. Nothing wrong with that
'A tassel haired blonde, shook her mane as she laughed hoarsely, then inhaled in a whine.'
That sentence amused me. It was well written, bar the odd typo, and made one curious about the characters. And I still haven't had breakfast.
Michele says hi and thank you for sharing.

gautami tripathy said...

Very beautifully written. Your story holds interest.


Anonymous said...

As usual, you leave me wanting more. Another peice well done. I hope to be able to read the whole thing togethere some day when it's done.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Excellent fiction, Jodi!

Michele sent me here.

rashbre said...

Well written, I'm glad you survived to the end of the Nano thingy. I also had another bash this year (my third go). I'm determined to one day get something from it, however I really enjoy the (warped) experience too!