06 January 2008

a new life - part 2


When he awoke the screaming had stopped. Mid-afternoon sun slanted in at his high, square window and a faint smell of missed lunch hung in the air. A dream vaguely about fat wads of banknotes slid away. The day had a different feel now. Gone was his early morning optimism, replaced by a mild defeatism. This was his pattern.

What is the point in trying, whined his inner voice, the usual sign he was spiralling. People don't notice, they don’t even remember what you say, so shut your mouth and speak only when spoken to. Keep your observations to yourself. Don’t make plans or develop a schedule. You’ll be the only one doggedly sticking to it. So loneliness had become his companion.

He caught himself thinking about the safety and dependability of numbers and lists. Comfort came to him in strange forms these days. But when it did his mind played video clips of a tidy office desk with sharpened pencils and impeccably stocked drawers. Today there was audio too, a hum of official sounding conversation, punctuated by phones ringing and the click and gush of a coffee dispenser.

Francis rolled on his back and stared at the ceiling. If your desk was amongst others then you weren’t a manager. Low level, that’s what you were, low level. In truth he had already remembered this but had kept the thought from taking full shape because it upset him. As a youngster his family and friends respected his intellect and were sure he was destined for high things. Oh, what happened to that bright, confident and alert boy?

Why had he made the crazy choice to suffocate his youthful exuberance counting other people’s money? He didn’t know any more but it had signalled the end of his development. No, he had never been destined for the top. Sure, he wore sharp blue suits and walked the walk but inside he was living a lie. He simply hadn’t believed in what he was doing. You were a square peg in a round hole and you hadn't the guts to get out. He felt he was better than most people but that had never been recognized. It made him introspective and frustrated. His ludicrously high standards were met only by himself.

The floodgates were wide open now and a swirling torrent of negativity filled his mind: stupid obsessions, sadness, bitter regret and crushed ambitions. Well, there’s no denying it now, you’re remembering stuff. Blurred images of an unfulfilled life swam in and out of focus. Can you remember now how you survived all those years? What your crutch was? He knew the answer precisely but refused to let the voice give it headroom. His mouth was dry.

Francis conceded there was more than one man in his head. While the bitter, angry one thrashed around then wallowed in self pity, a calm, quiet one was hatching plans for him, almost unobserved. He knew he was making a conscious effort to keep his quiet voice under the radar because thinking openly might jeopardise his progress. The angry voice would hear and scupper the plans. He needed to keep angry voice in the dark until quiet voice grew strong enough to survive another fight.

This time he was aware of a third voice, a referee to see fair play. There had been no referee four months ago, the day he had walked out on his job and ended his old life.

8 comments:

fathorse said...

good to see the words flowing PV, and such lovely words. Well maybe lovely is the wrong word. Hmmm, but they are lovely...Always good reading my virgo.

Queen Neetee said...

Excellent writing! Real. A Methodic painful truth.
I ached when I read this. The cage of 'self' that Francis is in is so suffocatingly vivid.
I wanted so much to be the 4th voice, to tell him to simple step away - if only one foot - just away from where he has planted himself.

I will be back to read more, you can count on that.

cocaine jesus said...

less of a chapter2 but really still part of chapter one. and yes, it would make a good novel. as for the size of the novel, who says it has to have 300 pages?
i have just read a russian novel by someone incredible. cannot remember the authors name nor the book title! but it is one of the best storys i have ever read. it has one all the majot literary prizes (i will dig out the book and let you know). the book can only be 150 pages long.
also, during my mate charles dickens times, novels were first published in episodic volumes in magazines.
so come on fella...publish that book.

cocaine jesus said...

that should be WON and NOT one. hmmmmm
:(

Perfect Virgo said...

FH - lovely is a fine word Steph. Thanks for your kind other words too and I look forward to more prose from your Devonian pen soon.

Neetee - I know this had a painful effect on you but let me reassure you this theme is not the mainstay of the story, just a symptom of our hero's current frame of mind. I am very pleased to know you are reading and thanks for your very valuable involvement.

CJ - your mate Charles! I love that. I guess you remember the comparison I drew between you and he a few weeks ago. Yep, I sure do know about his serialisation.

Do please drop me a note of that book title. And I agree, who is to say what is an appropriate length? I too have read several full and rivetting books that didn't even get close to 200 pages.

And as to your last words, I'm working on it!

Michelle Dawn said...

As someone who has worked in nursing homes and a mental institution for several years I have to say you have been able to capture this environment with infrequent, but perfect references.

"From somewhere deep in the building a man's voice wailed, winding up like a banshee. He couldn't make out the words, he didn't need to. The sound was unmistakable, despair. He rolled over and put his ears under the pillow."

"Mid-afternoon sun slanted in at his high, square window and a faint smell of missed lunch hung in the air."

boulies said...

Wow! Great writing! It felt like true mental chatter of the meaningful kind. I think anyone could relate to this character, who's felt trapped emotionally or bound by outside circumstances or both as you character here has. Really interesting set up, and now I'm hooked!

Perfect Virgo said...

Boulies - after a great deal of figurative writing I have decided to try some realism.