Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Looks like I'm back in Epic novel territory with OT. Here's the freshened up opening that leads into what looks like will be 135K in wordage. Tolstoy, c'est moi.

“Why do you stay with Tone?”

It was my stepmother, Mira, asking me. She’d heard I was headed for Copenhagen to meet with my Uncle Ari, and she’d all but begged me to swing by Paris, this time, instead of going through Amsterdam. I wasn’t crazy about it because it costs more and wouldn’t give me time enough to pop out to see my brothers and sisters, but she’s been a really good ally against my dad, so I couldn’t say no. Her office is in St. Denis, just a half-hour from De Gaulle Airport, so I set up a connecting flight for four, and we met for lunch at the terminal. Of course, I knew something was up – she’d never been so insistent, before -- but not for a second did I think this would be the beginning of a trip to hell.

Now Mira’d hinted at wanting to know my reasons for sticking with Tone, before, but I’d ignored her; I don’t answer half-questions. This time she asked it straight out. In English. To make it clear she wanted a real answer. Of course, what she actually said was, “Iacob, what is your loyalty with this Antony?”

She was being careful with her words. Nobody but me calls Antony “Tone”; nobody but her calls me by the Persian version of my name, since I’m only half-that and the rest is all-American mutt. But whenever she does it, I know she’s edging into a totally different question and wants to set the groundwork, first.

I knew it wasn’t about the trouble Tone and I’d had in Texas, a couple years ago. He’d filled her in on that, though not in the extreme detail he normally uses. I don’t think she’d have wanted to meet me, if he had – at least, not till her psychiatrist brain had picked his apart to see what was inside. As if anybody ever could know why he does the things he does. Even I didn’t, half the time, and I’m closer to him than anybody. But he’s got these pockets of secrets locked away in his crazy-assed brain that he won’t let you see till he’s damn good and ready. Hell, he didn’t even let me know they’d talked till I was about to head into the airport.

He’d gripped my arm, tight, as he told me all about it. “I wanted her to understand – what happened was all on me.” He was sneaking into one of his shaking fits, he was so scared of how I’d react. We’d agreed not to explain the fucked up situation to anybody, but then he’d gone and done his usual Tone thing – jump first, fuck the consequences. “So I got her number from Ari. I – I didn’t want her to hear about it from anybody else. You know how the press makes shit up and people lie -- .”

I’d just held him close and let him take his time calming down. I’ve never known anybody who could work himself up like he could. My big bad Tone. Well...he thought he was big and bad. And considering some of the shit he’d pulled, I could see how people would agree. Because he can get this focus going that’s so damned intense, he forgets everything else and, to use his own phrase, he goes batshit-crazy.

For a long time, it looked like he had control of it. He’d found this guy in Austin who knows how to talk to him. So once a week he’d borrow his dad’s Chrysler, zip up there and unload for an hour, then have a bite to eat and book it on home. The routine made him easy as aces.

But the last few months, if he had to give me news he didn’t think I’d like, he’d start shivering like a Chihuahua and his words would stumble out and I’d have to reassure him that everything’d be fine. I had a pretty good idea what was causing it; he had a new probation officer, who’d arranged for his every-other-week meetings to fall on the same day as his therapy. And apparently he was a bigger dick than any of the assholes I’d had to deal with. It read like a stupid piece of control-mongering meant to smack Tone around with the understanding that this cool and fantastic therapist is required to give the fucked-up state of Texas steady progress reports on his behavior. When I had to go pick him up a second time because he was too freaked out to drive, I went up with him on those days and sketched while I waited through both appointments. Then when he left the asshole’s office, I’d put my arms ‘round him and hold him till he was just my Tone, again.

Just my Tone. A little bit taller than me, a little bit slimmer than me, a lean face under a mop of brown hair and wary eyes that all but scream, “Be careful; I’ll hurt you.” And a hell of a lot crazier than me. The second I saw him, I knew he needed someone to protect him...usually from himself, which he proved by almost getting himself killed after jumping into some shit he couldn’t handle. Twice.

I never knew what went on in his therapy sessions. Didn’t want to, and I made damn sure he understood it. I don’t want him to hold back anything for fear it might freak me out. And that was working fine. It’s like we were almost back to being a couple, again instead of just two guys who support each other.

But lately, it’s like he can’t believe I’m okay with what happened, that I don’t think less of him or won’t leave him. The one thing about me he can’t seem to get through his thick skull is, I know how people are. I’ve been in a state prison. I’ve seen how guards can be no better than jackals and convicted killers can wind up on God’s side. A lifetime of learning jammed into a year and a half. Hell, I’d done things in there that I’d never thought I was even capable of doing, and I was halfway to being a hard-ass when I was sent in. So I knew without question that nobody, absolutely nobody, has the right to judge anybody else.

Anyway, we’d stand there for as long as he wanted. Then his shaking’d go away and he’d kiss my neck to let me know he was back, and we’d have a slop of greasy Tex-Mex and a Margarita and drive home.

It bugged me that things were getting harsher, between us. When we lived together in Copenhagen, he’d been so happy and I’d felt easy. We got to where we could almost read each other’s minds, we were so close. And man -- when Tone gets close to you -- and turns his focus on you -- it makes you feel like you’re the only guy in the world. That you’re all that matters. He’s granite under your feet, he locks in on you so tight. Those months gave me back all the confidence I’d lost in the previous three years. Rebuilt my meaning and reality, and more than made up for his recent freak-outs.

That's why I was willing to live in Texas, again, as much as I fucking hate that fucking state.

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