This is my writing blog, where I will be shamelessly posting my work. Poems, short stories, flash fiction, extracts from novels...they'll all be here. And if you don't like any of that, just play with the tiger.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

The other Tyrone

This is a snippet from the 'novel' I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year (see for details). Before reading, please be aware that there is a naughty word in there...I don't want to offend any delicate sensibilities. So - Tyrone:

A couple of hours into lessons, as Tyrone was industriously identifying himself with Hamlet, a worried-looking secretary poked her head round the door. She waited until Mr Delaware became aware of her presence, then tiptoed stagily in on her high heels. The two adults held a whispered conference, during which Mr Delaware’s usually florid face turned ashen and grey. His eyes swept the room, seeming unwilling to land on anyone in particular. The whole class was goggling; something was afoot evidently.
‘Mr Butler? A moment, please.’ Mr Delaware beckoned Tyrone with his entire arm.
A whisper hissed around the class. What had Tyrone done? What had been done to Tyrone? Was he going to get out of class?
Aware of the weight of eyes upon him, Tyrone felt a slight flush creep over his cheeks. The combined woe in the faces of Mr Delaware and the secretary told him that something enormous and unpleasant was about to be revealed to him. For a fraction of a second he was convinced that Miss Gottlieb had gone to the police and told them that he had violated her, but the thought died almost as soon as it was born. She wouldn’t do that to him. Not Miss Gottlieb. His shoes made a sucking noise as he walked to the front of the class in surreal slow motion.
The secretary and Mr Delaware each placed a hand on his shoulder and steered him out of the room. Tyrone was strangely aware of the school’s insistent, peculiar smell: poorly cooked burgers; gently spiced sweat; cheap deodorant.
‘Be brave, young man,’ said Mr Delaware, his gruff tones strangely hushed.
‘What? What is it?’ Tyrone was mildly freaked out by now.
The secretary stood square in front of him and put her hands on his shoulders. Her red lips wobbled as she tried to formulate words.
‘What?’ yelled Tyrone. ‘For Chrissake, what happened?’
‘We…we had a call from the fire department. There was an explosion or something in the block where you live and they wanted to check you were in school.’
Tyrone stared at her, noticing how the fine down on her upper lip was picked out by the sunlight streaming through the window opposite. Her breath smelled slightly of coffee. He slowly realised that he should say something. ‘A – an explosion? What happened?’
‘They’re not sure yet, but they think a gas leak. Looks like it started in your apartment.’ She swallowed a sudden sob. ‘I’m so sorry sweetheart – but your…your grandparents. They didn’t make it.’
Tyrone suddenly felt that either he was very big or the world was very small. Everything zoomed into minute focus. ‘Gramps and Grandma? No. No.’ He began to struggle in the secretary’s arms, and Mr Delaware reached out a restraining hand.
‘Easy, son,’ he said in almost a whisper. Tyrone collapsed against him, uttering nameless noises. ‘Easy. Easy, son.’

I make it to the bathroom just in time. As I kneel there disgorging horror into porcelain, Tyrone sidles in. He raises a laconic eyebrow.
‘Something you ate?’ he asks smoothly. ‘Or too much to drink?’
I stare at him before the back of the toilet bowl reclaims my attention. Tyrone eases himself down beside me and holds back my hair, showing no distaste.
O nce it’s over, I wipe my mouth on toilet paper and shrink away from him. ‘Your grandparents.’

‘Yeah. It was a shame.’
He helps me up even though I don’t want him to touch me. He looks quietly amused. I splash water on my face and in my mouth, then brush my teeth. Tyrone leans on the door frame and watches me. I am shaking everywhere in what feels like fifty directions at once.
‘A shame? Is that all you can say?’
He stares at me evenly.
‘You did it, didn’t you.’ It’s a statement, not a question. ‘You. The gas leak. Them having colds. Dirk’s pipe. You.’
‘Accident.’ He yawns and stretches. ‘The fire department said so. Old people just get forgetful. I guess Grandma never realised she’d put that pan of soup on the stove and not lit it properly. Everybody said it was a miracle I wasn’t there at the time.’ He leans right into me and I smell the JD on his breath. ‘A fucking miracle.’
The nausea returns, with force. Once I’m empty I turn back to him with tears in my eyes.
‘ You must admit it’s strange, Tyrone. All the people who you think have crossed you seem to wind up dead.’
He is holding my hair again, and he suddenly pulls it tight at the nape of my neck and coils it over his fist. In that quick movement I am made horribly, vulnerably aware of his strength. He pulls my head back so that my face is virtually in his.
‘That’s the thing with people, honey,’ he says quietly and evenly. ‘They all wind up dead, sooner or later.’


Anonymous said...

Way cool, can't wait for the finished novel!

Viki Lane said...

Thanks, Anon!

Grum said...

This has a very scary edge. Is this the next project after a bit of pampering in limbo?

Viki Lane said...

Yes; once I have sharpened my editing shears I'll get on with it. The basic story is there, though it's currently swamped by mobs of unruly adverbs.

With thanks to Graeme