Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Monday, May 5, 2014

The rest of chapter one...

I cut it down by 8 pages, total...and could probably cut one more. The stuff I cut may wind up sprinkled  through the rest of the book...maybe...


I took a deep breath. “So?”

“I do not know why. He will not tell me. I only learned of this in spite of him, and when your father becomes this secretive, it worries me. Especially as regards his dealings with your family. I think, if you stay in America, something will happen to you. And you are better protected in Denmark.”

“Tone wasn’t.”

“He is an easier target.”

No argument there. “But why do you think this concerns me?”

“Why would you not think it does? As your father tells the story, he and your mother hate each other. Is there any other reason she would call him, except about you?”

Phone call, huh? Yeah, I’d learned how to pinch pennies from my mom, so for her to spring for an overseas call to a man she despised almost as much as I did, instead of popping off an e-mail...well, that was a big deal.

“Neither one’s even tried to get hold of me, and they both know how.” I smirked. “Maybe mom’s askin’ dad for money.”

Mira rolled her eyes at that. I had to shrug in agreement. Mom was what Gramma'd referred to as, "Independent to a fault." Meaning neither ask for nor give favors. So why would she have called him? They’d been divorced for fifteen years, and it was not a nice one. Thanks to Texas' laws, Dad’s lawyers cut mom completely out of his fortune -- something she’d never forgiven him for. Oh, she’d wound up with her condo and a decent cash settlement, and child support till I was eighteen. But that ended about six months before I was kicked into the street by them both. Nearly ten years ago; so far as I knew they hadn’t spoken since.

"How'd you find out she called?" I asked.

"Do you know your father's assistant, Kazeem?" I nodded. "I know his wife, and he keeps no secrets from her. She and I are close friends."

I had to chuckle at that explanation; never try to keep secrets from your wife. But talk about raising a thousand other questions.

"Don't make sense to me," I said, finishing off my meal. "So far as my mother's concerned, I am not her son. And so far as my father's concerned, I was never born. Christian and Islamic intolerance, together. That's what I get for being gay."

"You father does not truly feel such hatred for you."

"He does so long as I stick with Tone. And I'm stickin'."

Mira just gave me a nod, in response. She had no more questions and neither of us had any answers, plus I had to head back to the airport for my plane, so we left it at that. But while waiting to board under that sweeping non-stop glass everything that made Terminal 2 stifling hot, even on a cool day, I did some research via my phone...and came up zeroes. Nothing about my mom and dad being connected in any way, anymore. It wasn’t till I got to Copenhagen that I caught an idea of what it was all about.

Since I was over there so much, I'd kept our apartment. It had a great view of Koege Bay and was close to a train line that took me straight to Ari's office. And since I'd only recently become a citizen of Denmark, it also kept me as a legitimate resident. Our landlady, Mrs. Honingen, lived downstairs and kept the place clean, and she always put our mail on the table right by the front door. The perfect setup.

Man, I loved that place. Yeah, it was furnished by Ikea, but it worked. Vaulted ceilings. Perfect kitchen. A balcony big enough for two chairs and a table. Tone and I would sit out there and just watch the ships go by. Or I'd sketch as he read a book, neither of us saying a word for hours. Those eight months together gave me back all the confidence I’d lost in the previous three years. Rebuilt my meaning and reality. Made me easy, again.

Things’d been so smooth, we’d gotten so close, we could lie in bed, side by side, all day long, completely at peace because the other one was there. Or sit on the couch, one of my arms over his shoulders, him leaning against me, just watching a video. It was like home.

It helped that my artwork was kicking ass with Uncle Ari’s agency, and a graphic novel I was working on was slowly coming together. Tone paid his way by teaching tennis and English, and he already spoke enough Danish to make getting around simple. We were together and making it. God, I wanted us back to that, again.

Mrs. Honingen wasn't home so I just grabbed the stack of mail and sat on the balcony to go through it. Mainly the usual bills and sales crap, but mixed in were a couple of envelopes from my Uncle Owen, in Palm Springs. Owen Taylor. He’s mom’s half-brother, from Gramma’s second marriage. One was a month old -- must've come just after I left, the last time -- and all it had was a note that said, “Jake, I need to see you, ASAP. Don’t call. Please e-mail me. O.” The other was postmarked two months earlier but must have arrived late, and in it was what looked like a house key and a printout of a note that read – “Dear Jake, You’ll need this when you come. O. #4865*”

Dear Jake? He never addressed me like that. And what’s this “when I come” crap?

I tried to call him, but his phone went to voice mail then disconnected because it was too full to accept more messages. And an e-mail I sent bounced back to me. I contacted the service and found out his in-box was too full of unread messages for it to accept any more. Man, did I start getting a bad feeling...

Then I got a text from Mira. My father told her mom called because no one had seen or heard from my uncle for three months, and she wanted him to use his influence to kick-start an investigation into it. Which was bullshit.

What Mira didn’t know was, Uncle Owen’s gay, too, and had been cut off from most of the family for twenty years. The only reason I knew him was through Gramma; she’d figured out early on that it’d be good to have him available for questions once I started asking them. Which I did just after I turned fifteen. Then he and Gramma’d been the only ones who backed me up once I got kicked out. And wound up in jail. And finally got released on probation. He knew me too damn well to call me Dear Jake.

Which meant he was in trouble.

Which meant soon as I was done at Uncle Ari’s, I was headed for a talk with my mother. Something I hadn’t done in years.

Shit, I’d sooner be back in jail.


Michael said...

Very well written and I'm certainly intrigued.

JamTheCat said...

Thanks. Now comes finishing it...