Tuesday, 28 December 2010
TIES - the novel. Free Intro chapter
Its funny how someone can learn so much about themselves from telling someone else. You start to talk and you start creating a person who you want to exist. You begin by making things up. Then the way you tell the story means that it really does become true. The person you are talking about becomes the one you want to be. Love has a funny effect on everything
He picked up the tie and ran its softness through his fingers. Silky, smooth and such a contrast to the haze of colours that seemed almost deliberate in their sensual assault. He would never have worn this tie in any other situation but the one he was about to become a willing part of. For so many years now he had worn the easy forgotten but nonetheless declaration ties. Crisp and unaccentuated. Eyes were drawn to them but did not linger. Nothing there to draw conclusions from except the quality, the very essence of a wearer who didn’t need to try. The few times he had stepped away from this notion of the inscrutable he had been acutely, irrevocably embarrassed. Not just for himself but also for all the eyes that had rested on the affirmation round his neck and moved on rapidly in case they were forced to learn much more than they wanted to know. But now the tie was finally resurrected because it was time to meet its maker.
He had never even once considered throwing this tie away. Many other experiments, gifts and novelties had been discarded or disposed of when they became splattered with the residues of a great night out. Some had been used to tie the tops of rubbish sacks closed that had been filled with worn out shirts and trousers. Some had never even shared the wrinkled privileges of his neck. Yet this one tie had survived all the style rebellions, even if its place had slowly been re-ordered like layers on a computer graphics program or the objects in a PowerPoint presentation. The thought made him think that metaphor was good. Some computer presentations looked lean and right, others were cluttered with detail that distracted and diminished. Too much business, too much of everything. A lot of ties seemed to have the same effect. But this only made him worry was he talking metaphors or similes? Never sure but always worried. Worry seemed to hang from him, dripped down his carefully ironed shirt front, left him bathed in the sweat of regret.
Still this tie was so many things to him. Yes, it reminded him of some bitter memories from a time in his life when he felt uncertain about certainties, uncommitted to his commitments. Had there been another time like that? When had he ever felt so powerless and yet so totally involved? She had let him believe the impossible; she had encouraged dreams that wouldn’t last half a minute in the cold light of a New Cross sunset or the warm haze of a Nyanga daybreak. Yet she never lied. She talked to him of Chris, she told the fluid stories that made up the cold river of her life. She told him what Chris was and who he was and what he could do in anger or in sorrow. Or in both.
She had sought out his new; uncluttered and genuine warmth but never made him warm. She had brokered sympathy and affection, shown it but never let it move on. He could accuse her of nothing. She had always told the truth however much it hurt him. She needed somewhere to hide, someone to hide her. She asked for his help and he had given her everything, always knowing it would never be enough. He was compensation and he compensated for what she missed but he never once replaced or completed. She loved him honestly. She treated him to honesty but it was never enough for him. He showed what he felt but always held that final passion in check. Her need was not the same as his. He could satisfy hers, while she would never do the same for him.
She told him how much she loved Chris while living in his bed. She let him touch her, caress her and care for her but never let it slide down the wet and oily slope to more. She never allowed him into the silky forest of her desires. He was grateful for her bounty and her beauty. He knew if they were ever found together in this innocence they would not be understood. He knew that Chris would take him to blame, would turn his fierce cruelty on him first and her continuously and forever. The fragile structure of his care would be ripped beyond repair. Because although she had to now, for the present she could never really get away. Neither did she want to. His softness and kindness was just an interlude, a brief escape from what she really needed. However hard he tried to show that warmth and love was a better way to live, she still yearned for Chris’ hardness, his jagged steel, his rough demanding ego. His strength, his lack of care that seemed to make her feel she was all he needed.
But she had made him this tie. He hadn’t known of its existence until it was completely formed. He hadn’t seen the gradual steps to completion while she lived and ate and slept with him. He found it only after her departure, with a note that said simply thank you. She left his enveloping arms, his too enthusiastic caring and went back to someone who never showed he cared but seemed to have everything she wanted if never what she needed.
The note admitted nothing. The tie had said it all. Somehow she had quickly come to realise that he was not the free unfettered spirit he wanted to be. She knew his life would take a different turn. Would grow the heavy layers that would hide his secret desires and ambitions. She had been right. As always.
So here he was, finding the tie that she had known he would still possess. Finding a shirt that didn’t scream for separation from the delicate shades of this so soft thing. This was the first time he had heard from her directly in what? Twenty years? He had seen her briefly in strange and awkward situations. He had touched her once as they passed each other in a room full of people he was supposed to know better than her. People who he shared ideas and theories and visions with. But none had touched him in the way she had. They had exchanged startled looks, had stopped but had found the present movement of their lives had been just too strong to hang the moment on. The cold river moved on, shivering gently all the corpses buried too deep to rescue. The current was still so strong, entering that torrent again was what he wanted but he no longer had the strength to brave it. He could never carry them both again. Too many rivers had carried him; too many waters had kept him afloat. He longed to jump in but caution was finally too strong even for someone who felt he had passed again the one who had completed his soul. And torn it apart.
He was changed; he no longer hankered after someone from another life. But he had made some promises and he would keep them. Perhaps that man was here again. 50 years of birthdays had brought him 50 little people to share his life with. Every one of them demanded his attention. Every one of them was there. Every one had fought the long battle to work out who he was but every one was different.
His life had changed. He was now a man who earnt his living by making money for others. All the great ideals of 20 years ago were buried and forgotten. All the aching need for music and art had slipped away, just like she did. In the night. Across the river. Breaking ties.
And now it was nighttime again. And he was back at the river. She wanted him to sort it out for her like he had that time before. This time it wasn’t just one man coming back to get her. This time it would be all of them. All the vicious, the unkind, the cold, the grabbers and the takers. The people who never took their turn in the queue for loving kindness. The people who saw other people as unnecessary accessories, as extras, as cold meat. No man is an island but plenty become a fortress and love to watch the shattered bodies on the rocks below. Why did they seem alluring? Why did these men who never showed the beat of human kindness offer strange attraction? Chris was one of them, but she was his.
This time he would be fighting for real. He had never struck out in violence before. Words had always been the answer but these people weren’t reasoners, weren’t the rational, weren’t family men. But they were the Family. This time he had to do it for real. No game. No songs, no poetry.
Life itself had come back to haunt him. The little man he was all those years ago was still there, still inside him. But he would do it. For her. Ties? For real.