Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Reviving the Unfinished Novel

It's true to say Reportage is a bit of a mess. Today I finally went back to it after a long time away and tried to make some sense of it. One reporter was working on an incident of police brutality. The other human trafficking in Cambodia. It probably needs some pixie dust sprinkled on it. That or a little less reality. There were chapters in various takes that seem to overlap. There are people doing unexplained things because the chapter that gives it context has disappeared and I don't even like the working title. By the time I finish it the newspaper industry may be ancient history.

Or perhaps not.

After I copied and pasted sections, I found I had almost reached 50,000 words. So only 50,000 more to go. I should be able to crank that out at Starbucks one lunch time. At least I'm back on the train and not hanging out drinking beer in the unpleasant station cafe.



Here's the prologue.

Laurent Bourgonville closed the curtains earlier in the day even though sunlight was still barreling down the street. Linda was ill again and being unbearable in the way only Linda could be when she was ill. He finally sat down in the pleasant semi-darkness and sunk into the old sofa when he heard her hollering again from upstairs, her voice sounding like one of the sirens he heard on the ships in his navy days.

“Lori, Lori. Where’s that damned herbal tea?”

A spasm of pain shot down Laurent’s leg as he stood up and hit his head on an ornamental owl on the shelf above him. He silently cursed Tracy and her barn owl fetish.

“Good God I’m coming woman.”

He shuffled through to the kitchen and momentarily considered the tea would be enhanced with a well-aimed globule of spit, just a small, neatly crafted one lovingly swilled around his mouth that blended in with the greenish murk.

He was standing on the bottom stair when Linda ordered him to stop in his ponderous tracks. “Lori. What’s going on outside?”

“I’m not a clairvoyant. Do you want your tea first or do you want me to look out of the window?” He knew the real answer would be both simultaneously, but even Linda wasn’t going to articulate that thought.

“Look out of the window, quick.”

He felt like telling her he didn’t do anything quickly at the age of 78, but he moved to the window and tugged on the carpet. “Good Lord.”

“What is it, Lori? What is it?” her voice had risen about 10 octaves like a miner bird’s, and he wanted to torture her then. The best he could do was slow delivery.

“It’s a few police cars.”

“We don’t have those on Beaumont Avenue.”

“Well, we do today?”


“What was that Lori?”
“I was saying there are quite a lot.” He counted six cars and a large truck that had the words “Mobile Command Unit” on the side.

There were flashing lights from ambulances too, and the street was cordoned off with yellow tape. Laurent had driven past many scenes like this in Chicago but never here on his street. 

It felt like another city had been transplanted to this respectable street in Seatown.

“I think I see body bags Linda.”

“Aww no not for dead people, surely.”

Laurent wondered if the cops had one to spare.

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