Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Starting my first novella . . .

I've finally started it.  My very first novella.  It's called 'JASON DEAN'.  I haven't planned it, as such, just got a vague idea of where it's going and started writing.  Just thought I'd share Chapter One, to see if I'm on the right track.
Hope you enjoy it - although, as ever, 'enjoy' really does seem the wrong word . . .

Look after yourselves.

Warmest regards,

'Sometimes a Great Notion' – what a book that is. Ken Kesey. Everyone knows Kesey from 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' – those what've read it, that is. And if you ain't read it, I fully advise you to do so. It's a fuckin cracker. R.P. McMurphy – Jack Nicholson in the film – he's some character, he is. Switched on, but sort of sad. Empty. Like there's a whole world of pain he ain't got words for. Yeah, he's a great character, fuckin funny, but complex with it, you know. Just how I like em. And that bit in the book where the Indian lifts up that sink, that big old fuckin sink and . . . Shit. I've gone and spoiled it for you now, ain't I? The Indian liftin up the sink. Still, hard fuckin luck. You should have read it in the first place.

My name is Jason Dean. And I'm lyin in bed. Beth, that’s the missus, she’s lyin next to me, far away as she can get, snorin gentle like a baby. Love watchin her sleep, I do. Even though she hates me fuckin guts.

Can't stand this time of the mornin, just before the sun comes up. Fuckin hate it. It's like the end of an endless night, that tension where you know everything what you've known all your life is gonna change in an instant and never come back. When the sun comes up, it's a whole new fuckin world. Me, I'd rather live in the dark. 

For the likes of me, it's as good as it gets.

Best get the kettle on, I'm fuckin parched. Always am when I get up. Sleepin with your mouth open does that to a fella. Beth has a go at me all the time about it. Used to, anyway. Like I says, she don't have nothing to do with me no more.

I climb out my side of the bed, knowin it's gonna creak. Can't help that, though, can I? Geezer like me with fifteen stone on him's gonna creak a bed when he gets out. Can't be helped. Beth snuffles round a bit, but she's back breathin heavy right away.

I get me dressin gown off the hook behind the door and slip it round me. Never thought I'd be a dressin gown bloke, but there ain't nothing like it of a mornin to keep the chill off. Bit of luxury, you know. Again, I know the door's gonna creak when I open it – been meanin to sort it for ages, but what with one thing and another it ain't really been on me mind. I open it slow like that'll stop the creak. But it don't. Just makes it louder.

A draft comes off the landin like the wind off the ocean. Beth always leaves the doors and windows open wide at night, other than our bedroom. I won't have that. I poke me head round into Sophie's room, then head downstairs.

Hate goin downstairs on me own in the dark. But I do it every mornin. Force meself, you know. Goin down each step, not even seein me hand in front of me face, it's like I've jumped into the inside of meself cos I been droppin blind into the darkness for fuckin ages. Least goin down the stairs I got the stair rail and the wall to hang onto. Inside, I ain't got nothing.

There's a street lamp comin through the glass in the top of the front door when I get to the bottom. But I close me eyes to that. And I keep em closed, feelin along the walls and through the passage till I get to the kitchen. The kitchen looks out onto the garden. The garden's shit. Just a jungle of weeds and grass a foot high. I open me eyes to breathe in the last of the moonlight seepin through the kitchen window, and I turn the cold tap on and splash me face all over. And I stay there, leanin over the sink, water drippin off me face, starin at me reflection in the window. Fuck me. I look awful in the mornin. I know I've let meself go. But in me head, it ain't easy keepin things straight. I got me job to take care of, there's Beth, and Sophie, me darlin little Sophie, she ain't ever out me head.

There's a fox screeches somewhere in the dark. Then another one. Talkin, probably. If foxes talk. Sounds like they're havin some sort of tiff or something cos it don't come across too fuckin pleasant. You pick them sort of things up, them sort of dulcet fuckin tones of the female kind, when you been on the wrong end of em for years like I have.

I dry me face with a tea-towel, and fold it back up nice in the drawer so Beth don't notice. She hates me dryin me face on the tea-towels.

I get a couple of mugs out and fill the kettle up. Beth ain't gonna be up before I'm gone, and she wouldn't take a drink off me anyway cos, like I said, she fuckin hates me, but just seein two mugs sittin there side by side, sort of steadies me a bit. Takes me back to better times, when it was just me and Beth. Every mornin we'd have a cuppa in bed, cuddle up, talk about the world, each other, sometimes just lay there sippin and thinkin how fuckin beautiful the world is. Then Sophie come along and it was like we both found something we loved more than each other.

Maybe that's why I leave that empty mug sittin on the side – makes sense of the hurtin, you know.

Kettle's whistlin and that bloody fox out there starts screechin again, sets a moggie off, and the sound of a proverbial fuckin dustbin lid comes crashin out of nowhere. It's like the whole fuckin word's tellin me to keep the fuckin noise down. I pour the hot water out the kettle and into the mug, but me hand is shakin from the fox screechin and the moggie squealin and the dustbin lid crashin, and I'm pourin scaldin hot water all out the top of the mug and all over the counter. Bollocks. Beth's gonna go mental she sees this.

I chuck the tea down the sink, dig the teabag out with a spoon and flop it in the bin. I need to get out of here. Onto the streets while there's some dark left. I grab some clothes off the radiator and stick em on. They're still a bit damp, but that don't matter. Boots and jacket on, and I'm shuttin the front door behind me and lettin whatever dark there is left of another long night fold right round me and keep me safe from the day.

There's early mornin Old Bill sirens comin out the estate round the corner. Grew up there, I did. Monksfield House, fourteenth floor. Me mum and dad lived and died on that estate. Never set foot out of it all their lives. Neither one of em done a day's work, far as I remember, and we never had no holidays. I got out when I met Beth. Give me something, she did. A reason, you know. A reason to believe I was worth more than I ever fuckin dreamed.

A milk float crawls past. Don't see em round much nowadays, milk floats. Was always about when I was a kid. Was the only way you got your milk. Mum used to send me out runnin after em if the birds had got into the gold top. Bastards for doin that, birds. I'd peg it down the stairs cos the lifts was always broke, and I'd be so fucked by the time I reached the bottom I never had the legs to chase the one-legged geezer from across the hall, let alone a milk float goin two miles an hour. So I'd nab a pint off one of the other doorsteps. Never told Mum that's where I got the milk or she'd have done her pieces.

Had Mrs Corrigan, the old biddy from downstairs, bangin on our door one Saturday, sayin I'd nicked her milk. Mum told her to fuck off, and that her son wouldn't do no such thing. I was more scared of the back of me dad's hand not to do a bit of thievin here and there to feel too bad about Mrs Corrigan and her fuckin bleatin.

Fuck me, it's cold. Fancy a bacon sarnie and a decent cuppa. Pete's all nighter down by the old brewery, the best place in the world for both. Does his sarnies all thin white bread and loads of butter so the hot bacon melts it to grease and the grease gets all over your fingers and round your mouth. Lovely. The brewery, where Pete's got his gaff, was the heart and soul of round here when I was a kid. I'd wake up every Tuesday and the whole world would smell of Weetabix and hot milk where they'd be brewin the hops. Been shut down years though, it has, the brewery. Now it's just like the fuckin rest of us - a million empty shells, crumblin on the inside, waitin for the fuckin walls to cave in.

Like I said, Pete's got a diamond of a place for a sarnie and a cuppa, but it's an absolute shit-hole. The Environmental Health have shut him down twice already. But Pete, he don't give a fuck. He ain't into all the regulations and shit you gotta comply with nowadays. He reckons if he gets wind of em comin again, he'll burn the place down when they're in it and claim on the insurance. Mad bastard, he is. And when he tells me this there's this sort of uncontrolled smirk on his face that tells me he ain't fuckin jokin neither.


Lookin through the window, I can see Pete's place is half empty. Always is. And at this time of the mornin, the darkness before the dawn, as it were, there's just Pete havin a fag by the tea urn behind the counter and half a dozen vagrants of varyin degrees of filth, all sittin at separate tables foldin their broken hands round steamin mugs of cha to keep the frostbite out.

I open the door. The little bell tinkles. Pete looks up, and some ash from his ever diminishin fag drops on the counter. He nods at me, and more ash crumbles away.

'Tea and a bacon sarnie, please Pete,' I says, takin a seat at an empty table.

As I sit down, the life suddenly drops out of me and I want to lean forward and bury me head into the table and fall asleep for ever. Mind you, lookin at the state of it, all sticky mug rings and grease stains, I reckon it'd rip half me face off just trying to unstick meself.

Yep, Pete's place is a shit-hole. Fair play, though. He's a busy man.

None of these poor bastards at the other tables is goin nowhere for ages. They stick it out long as they can, gettin all the heat there is from Pete's tea. Pete never throws em out, they just go of their own accord. It's like they can't keep from the outdoors too long, like bein indoors does something to em, reminds em of where they once was. They was all kids once, see, all babies, probably loved and cuddled and talked about by those what loved em with glistenin eyes. But that was a long time ago for these lot, and there kind. Gets till the good stuff becomes painful and you surround yourself with cold and dark and pain so as you can pretend it's always been that way.

Pete comes over with me sarnie on a little plate and a steamin mug of tea. Puts it down, lights another fag and sits down opposite.

Asks me if I'm all right. Says I look like shit. I tell him I'm okay, just got a busy day ahead and a lot on me mind, that's all. Then I tell him I feel so tired, that sort of inside tiredness what makes the world all blurry.  Pete nods, like he knows what I'm sayin and I wonder when all this pain is gonna end.

I get a picture of Sophie in me head, of me and  her playing with her little bricks, makin things, buildin towers, knockin them over, and both of us gigglin like bein there in that moment, for both of us, is the best moment we'll ever know.

And I really have got a busy day. Two collections this mornin on the estate for Big Mickey Archer and then, after me lunch has gone down, I gotta go kill a geezer.

I take a slurp of tea and a bite of me bacon sarnie.



  1. Like the matter of fact way he talks about killing at the end. Suppose it's like swimming, you have to wait for your lunch to go down first.

  2. Cheers, Charlie. Cheers, Jools.

    Three chapters done now. Kicking on . . .