Thursday, May 03, 2007

King Leer: An Extract

Do you ever feel like there are too many words in the world? Writing a blog is like flushing so much effort down the drain. Each day requires more effort and at least one more chance to flush good words away. Which is why I’m working on my first novel set in the nightclubs of North Wales. These words are 'keepers' which means that they don't disappear to be immediately forgotten in the white noise of the blogosphere.

I’ve been struggling for a title but after yesterday’s English lesson, I came up with ‘King Leer’. You see how it’s a clever play on words?

This is an extract from the first draft and occurs early on in the story when my hero, Crispen Leer, meets a mysterious Romanian girl during an audition. It’s not based on real life events, nor is it biographical. It’s a novel of mystery and unhinged love. Think of it as ‘Blue Velvet’ but with more references to coal fields, Romanian midget smuggling, and thong adjustments. I hope it will be written, sold, and published in time for Christmas as I think it will be a perfect gift for all the family.


The girl was Romanian and try as he might, he could not overcome the great feeling of wanting to possess her; wholly, without compromise, from the yellowing top of her bleached blonde head to the cracked tips of her nicotine stained fingers.

Crispen leaned at the bar and washed the last of his ginger ale around the bottom of the bottle until the barman returned.

‘You’re in luck,’ said the man, slipping the notepaper back across the counter. He smiled a wide unpleasant smile as welcoming as a razor wound. ‘He said you should wait around. He’ll see you in half an hour.’

‘Does that mean I get an audition?’

The barman’s features collapsed. ‘Listen, I just deliver the message. It’s up to the gaffer if you do your thing.’

The edge of disgust in the man’s voice was hard to ignore but Crispen had lived long enough in the trade to know that not the moral life of a male stripper would never be the first thing any man would imagine. He shared the man’s apathy to the world. He shared his disgust with himself. There was really no reason no to.

He instead turned his attention back to the girl. She’d finished setting up her mike stand and had positioned a small cassette deck on a stool to her side.

She stood behind the microphone and waited as intro beats ticked off and the music began. He recognised it as a Depeche Mode song but couldn’t remember the title. When the girl started to sing, the lyrics didn’t help. They came out strung across a unrecognisable scale that wasn’t wholly melodic.

It took his ear a minute to understand the girl’s problem. Her voice was smoothed like brushed metal and emitted no warmth. Every note glided from her throat as though untouched by her being and the words held a natural pathos that froze on the ear. Studying her performance, Crispen wondered what it would be like to live without the constant rain of emotions. Rolling drops of sentiment came dripping from him when he performed but, with her, emotions existed without form and without function. They were as alien to the girl as the words she was struggling to pronounce. He slumped a little heavier against the bar. The girl’s failure only made his longing the greater and he immediately hated himself for feeling so drawn to her.

After three verses, she shook her head and pressed the stop button on the deck.

‘Not bad,’ said Crispen, stepping forward to the stage. ‘You have a natural gift.’

‘Do I?’ she asked, her voice as impassive in speaking as it had been in singing.

‘I think you phrase things wonderfully,’ he replied. The truth, he thought, was that she sang as impassionately as a cold front which descended on all who lay before it.

‘You can tell my English bad?’ A finger traced the line of her brow and pushed a tendril of blonde hair over her ear.

‘It gives you character,’ he said. ‘Can I buy you a drink?’

She looked to the microphone. ‘I should practice,’ she answered.

Crispen was relieved as soon as she declined his offer. Did he really want to know more? What was there to know except that he was looking for affirmation in any place which wasn’t of the ordinary?

She dug a packet of cigarettes from out of her bag and quickly lit one with a lighter she had hung around her neck on a chain. It was that kind of detail that made him go weak at the knees.

‘But you buy me double vodka and we have deal,’ she said, blowing a cloud of smoke over him. Its chill was beguiling.


Ms Baroque said...

Well? What happened next??

Chip Dale said...

Ms. Baroque, I'm surprised. I never expected anybody to care what happens next. It was just a bit of this great big unfunny novel that's taking up so much of my time.

So, what happens next? The way I've written it, his interview goes well, he gets the job, only to discover a severed hand in a box of thongs in the stock cupboard.