Saturday, 17 November 2007

Jane Part Two

I wasn't sure about continuing this but Shelagh has insisted. So you can blame her...

PART TWO

(Arthur has just thrown the postcard on the fire)


That’s when he heard Jane’s voice. It was almost as if she’d cried, ‘What did you do THAT for?’ And he lunged forward guiltily, grabbed the disintegrating card from the fire, burning his fingers.

Maybe this was a sign of some kind. Not that he believed in that sort of thing. Usually. He could just make out the couple’s address, but the code for the phone number had disappeared amongst the ashes. Just as well. He didn’t like phones anyway.

Sitting back carefully, avoiding the troublesome spring, he looked round the room wondering where this couple had sat when they visited. The chair he sat in was Jane’s. She’d always sat there, like royalty, when people visited and now he felt closer to her when he sat in her chair, even though she wouldn’t like it. ‘Sentimental old fool,’ he could hear her saying.

Pip and Pop. What stupid names. Like the bloody flowerpot men. But who were they? The husband was – what had she said? A sailor? Or a jeweller. Or something, perhaps both. He had a sexy voice, she’d said, and her voice lifted when she spoke of him. Sexy and well educated. The girl – woman – had lived in Fowey for a while – had escaped there when things got bad in her life. That’s what Jane did. Collected people in need of help. Gave them stimulating conversation and watery tea and Rich Tea biscuits and kippered them with her smoke.

Arthur got up, stretched his long legs and realised his feet were still cold. ‘Bloody house,’ he muttered and went next door to the tiny kitchen to fill the kettle. While he waited for it to boil, he remembered the first time he’d met Jane.

In London, at a party in the Kings Road. She’d worn a very short mini skirt, with a black and white miniscule top and her eyes were rimmed with khol, laced with clods of mascara. I monopolised her, Arthur thought, remembering the way he’d been drawn towards her boundless energy. When he heard her deep laugh – more of a man’s chuckle, that was it. I had to have her. Except, of course, that it took ages to get her into bed, he thought ruefully, pouring boiling water onto teabags. He added milk, stirred and took a couple of Rich Tea biscuits from the chipped porcelain barrel that Jane found washed up on the beach and kept her biscuits in. Always Rich Tea. And I don’t even like bloody Rich Tea, he thought, leaving the kitchen.

He poked the fire, choked at a billow of smoke and eyed his computer warily. The screensaver winked at him unflinchingly and he could hear his agent’s voice, rather like that of Vanessa Redgrave. ‘Come on darling. I need it by the first of December. I’m being hounded.’

Arthur sighed, sat down and looked at the screen. Chapter Fifteen it said at the top, but below that it was blank. Ever since I came here I’ve been blank, he realised. I’d thought it was the news that she’d died. That can knock the words out of you. But that was six months ago. The thought stabbed him like a wound, fresh and raw. No more Jane. Was it possible? Surely not. Here she was all around him, her spirit so close that often she whispered in his ear. He could still smell her cigarettes, caught a whiff of her Imperial Leather soap.

But I need more than that, he thought. I need another connection with her. If ever I’m going to write again, I need to make things right with Jane. And after the last time we saw each other, how do I do that? It’s too late.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN sat uncompromisingly at the top of the screen. Evidence of what he’d achieved so far. A jeering reminder that he was only half way through the book. Another 50,000 words to go. Dear God. And Rosemary wanted the entire manuscript on her desk in three weeks time. I shouldn’t have lied to her, thought Arthur wearily. Yet what else could I do? She hounds me, wretched woman. Won’t leave me alone.

He sighed and clicked on his emails, anything for distraction. He saw one from his daughter in France and scanned it idly, not taking it in. What the hell can I do with Peter (the charming but psychotic bank robber) who had got himself down a Cornish mine with the pertly pretty Patricia who had a degree in Psychology and a knife in her knickers. “God this is such crap!” cried Arthur.

He could just hear Rosemary's rich gravelly voice. “Nonsense, darling. It’s very bankable,’ she would say.

Arthur sipped his tea which was too hot. He heard a whisper in his right ear. A chuckle and a waft of French cigarettes. He smiled slowly, clicked on New Document and decided to write something completely different. To hell with Rosemary. He sniggered, crunched a Rich Tea and, with crumbs falling onto his keyboard, he started to write.

9 comments:

Crystal Jigsaw said...

"He heard a whisper in his right ear. A chuckle and a waft of French cigarettes"

I can't admit to the French cigarettes though! I'm really enjoying this, Flowerpot. Keep it coming.

Crystal xx

Totty Teabag said...

Rivetting stuff Flowerpot, and I'm also looking forward to seeing how Arthur gets PsycoPeter the bank robber and Patsy Toughgusset out of their dilemma...

elizabethm said...

I liked this a lot. Hope you won't leave us waiting too long.

Flowerpot said...

crystal - no I gave up smoking 11 years ago and can't STAND cigarettes. But Arthur loves them because of Jane. There's true love for you! Glad you're enjoying it. More tomorrow!

Totty - you might have to wait a bit for Psycho Peter and Patsy to sort our their dilemma. But we'll see. Once Arthur gets going he might sort them out. After all, they're good money...

Flowerpot said...

elizabethm - no you wil only have to wait till - er - till I've written the next bit! As soon as I can, promise...

Akelamalu said...

I am absolutely LOVING this Flowerpot, can't wait for tomorrow......

Flowerpot said...

ak - I'm delighted! tell your friends and spread teh word!

julia said...

'Gave them stimulating conversation and watery tea and Rich Tea biscuits and kippered them with her smoke.'

Love that! Thanks for posting your excerpt. (saluting creativity today)

Flowerpot said...

Julia - glad you're enjoying it!