This is a small section of my novel that I’d like to share. It’s about three or four chapters into the book and I think it sets the tone and gives a good idea of what my writing is like. I really hope it’s a good read and will get some of you excited to see the finished product. First, a quick synopsis of the first few chapters:
Eddie Andrews is a school teacher who is forced to move to a new town after it is found out that he has been having sexual relations with one of his students. His old friend Richard Stack has managed to get Eddie a job at the school where he works and now Eddie is trying to re-establish a life for himself in this new town. He fears stories of his exploits at his last job will follow him here.
Oh and please excuse the formatting. I’d manually change it if I thought it really mattered.
Eddie was in the car with Stack on the way over to John O’Dowd’s house for the poker game; a game which neither of them had really played since college. Eddie was driving.
“Who all’s going to be here, then?” he asked.
Stack shrugged and flicked his cigarette out the window. “Dunno. The usual I guess.”
“Who’s the usual?”
“Lyons, Mulvey, andO’Dowd, of course, and maybe some of their friends.”
Eddie didn’t respond for a while. He kept his eyes on the road, diming his lights when other cars were coming and keeping his wipers going to allow him to see past the rain.
“I hope this rain clears up,” said Stack. “O’Dowd said he was going to have a barbeque and I haven’t eaten much so I could make room.”
“I don’t think these guys like me,” Eddie said, ignoring Stack’s comment on the rain. “I’ve a feeling they know about Loli.”
Stack rolled his eyes. “Eddie, they’re just a couple of guys asking you around for a game of poker. You should be happy that they even thought of you.”
Eddie rolled his eyes now.
“And besides, how would they know about Lolita? Who would’ve told them?”
“I dunno, maybe that chick, what’s her name?”
Stack looked at him blankly and shook his head slightly.
“You know the one, the one that was at my interview.”
“Oh Julie Lennon?”
“Yes, that one. She’d tell all, I’d say.”
“Well maybe she did. Who cares?”
Eddie looked at him now, shocked. “What the fuck do you mean, ‘who cares?’? Everybody cares about this shit. I’ll be run out of this town too, wait’ll you see.”
“Here,” said Stack. “Take this right. O’Dowd’s house is right at the top of that hill.”
Eddie indicated and pulled the car up the hill to the house. There were small black lamps lining the gravelled driveway and when Eddie stopped in front of the grand house he expected a boy in a suit to come meet him and park his car amongst the Porsches and Lamborghinis. Fortunately there was no vallet nor elaborate expensive cars so he didn’t have to suffer that embarrassment. He parked his small Fiat around the side of the house, the right wheel almost nudging a small dog kennel. The kennel was so small Eddie wondered if it were for a cat or a dog.
Stack grabbed the plastic bag that held their beer from between his feet and pulled himself out of the car and into the rain. Eddie followed. Standing side by side under the cover of the porch they rang the doorbell and waited. John O’Dowd answered, swinging the door open wide and standing back with his free arm outstretched.
“Hello, hello, hello,” he said around the large cigar clenched between his teeth. “Come in, come in, come in.” He had a habit of saying everything three times; something he was completely unaware of. Eddie had met him a few times since he had taken over his job. John had called him frequently asking if there was anything he needed. He was like a mother who was after trusting her child in the hands of another woman for a week.
“Hey, John,” Eddie said.
“O’Dowd,” Stack smiled and then shook his hand and clapped him on the back. “Got any more of those cigars?”
The laughter of the other men came floating out of a room at the back and Eddie steeled himself against joining them.
“Of course there is, Rickie,” John said. “Just go on through the kitchen there. The game room is in the back.” He turned to Eddie. “Here let me take your coat.”
He stood behind him and reached over his shoulder to grab the lapels of his cotton jacket, now bristled with raindrops, and peeled it off his shoulders. Stack didn’t have a jacket so he moved into the game room, leaving John and Eddie alone in the hallway.
“How’re you, Eddie?” John asked after hanging Eddie’s jacket up in the small closet by the door. Eddie’s response was cut short by a loud barking behind him. He turned around to see what he was sure was the smallest dog to have ever lived. The little ball of fluff was holding its ground a foot or two from Eddie, the hackles on its back rising with each bark. It looked determined and unmovable for such a small thing.
“Now, now, Ruby,” John said in tones that said he was sternly disappointment but still couldn’t get over how cute Ruby was. “You play nice with daddy’s guests.”
If Eddie hadn’t known already he’d now known for sure that John O’Dowd was gay. When he had first met the man he had looked him up and down and decided he wasn’t attractive. With his quite large nose and eyes that were both too far apart and too close together at once, John O’Dowd was not particularly a catch. Just because he was gay did not really change Eddie’s view, although he did see him as more available.
The dog did not listen to John O’Dowd’s instructions and continued to bark and warn Eddie. Eddie, being the animal lover that he was, assured John that it was okay; he could handle Ruby.
“I don’t know, said John, bending down to the dog and making kissy faces. “She’s a feisty wee thing. Aren’t you? Aren’t you? Yes you are.”
Ruby growled up at her master, who back away from her, and watched Eddie closely as he bent down on his haunches and tried to soothe the dog with cooing noises; he oohed and aahed at her while he slowly, inch by inch, reached his hand out to her, with the aim of setting it gently on her nose and then up her face where it would rest on her head and she’d then know he was no threat to her. He had done this countless times before, most memorably with his sister’s Rottweiler who would not let anyone approach it until Eddie came along. Because of that Eddie now thought he was an expert at soothing angry dogs, as if he understood exactly what they were going through.
“Sshhh, sshhh, it’s all right,” he told Ruby. “No one’s going to hurt you.” They locked eyes. Ruby’s growl was deepening, coming from somewhere inside that tiny body. John O’Dowd stood behind Eddie with his hands clasped together, warily watching this unfold.
“Be careful, Eddie,” he counselled.
“Sshhh, sshhh, sshhh, it’s gonna be all right.”
Ruby growled louder.
Eddie inched closer again.
“O’Dowd!” came Stack’s booming voice from the kitchen. “Your fridge is full. Where’ll I leave these beers?”
Both Eddie and John’s head jerked toward Stack’s voice and when the accompaning head popped out from around the corner Ruby took the opportunity to jump and clamp down her small sharp teeth on Eddie’s forgotten, out-stretched hand. Like needles they sunk into his flesh and gripped.
“Faaack!” Eddie cried out, jerking his hand back, but Ruby came with him, still growling. She started shaking her head which merely caused her behind to waggle. Eddie stood up a bit but sat back down when he realised Ruby was clamped on so hard she rose out of the air with his hand. “Shit. Get the little bitch off me.”
“Oh Ruby, oh Ruby, oh Ruby,” said John standing beside Eddie and frantically hoping from one foot to another and jiggling his hands as though he didn’t know where to put them.
“Hold on, Eddie,” shouted Stack and then disappeared behind the wall again. When he returned he was accompanied by two or three other men, all eager to see what was happening. Mark Lyons was the first one to start laughing when he saw Eddie’s pained face as he struggled to get his hand free of the tiny terror that was Ruby O’Dowd. Stack pushed past the men and ran to Eddie’s side.
“Sit still, ye little wench,” he told Ruby. He had a butter knife in his hand and, grabbing the dog with one arm, he slid it flat into the side of Ruby’s mouth and twisted it gently to pry her teeth out of Eddie’s hand.
Eddie pulled his hand out slowly, it was wet with blood and saliva, the teeth marks were not large but they were many. They ran from the base of his thumb in a semi-circle to the biggest knuckle on his index finger. The dog, having now caused enough of a commotion trotted away once Stack loosened his grip on her, confident she had asserted a dominant role in the house. John O’Dowd pranced after her, calling her name. Parental worry tinged his voice.
“C’mon,” said Stack. “You need to wash that hand quickly.” He led the angry and embarrassed Eddie past the jeering men and into the kitchen. At the sink he pulled the sleeve of Eddie’s arm up and ran his mangled hand under the cold water that looked almost white as it poured from the tap.
Eddie hissed quietly as the water bubbled over his wounds. He was pissed off that Lyons had seen that. He knew the man thought he was a joke already and now he was proven right. There was no coming back from this.
“Get well soon, Andrews,” Lyons shouted in the kitchen door as he as his friends moved back into the game room, all of them chuckling at Lyons supposedly hilarious comment; one of them even high-fived him.
John O’Dowd appeared in the kitchen now after putting the dog outside using the back door. He was slightly wet with rain because he had carried Ruby under his own jacket to her kennel around the side of the house and had stayed with her for a minute to soothe her.
“I am so sorry about that, Eddie,” he said. “Truly, truly, truly. She has never done anything like that before. I don’t know what’s gotten into her.”
“Forget about it, John, really,” Eddie replied. He stood still while Stack took care of him, feeling like what he supposed a child would feel like with one of their parents fretting over them. He had never experienced that so he was forced to assume.
“Got any bandages, O’Dowd?” Stack asked. “And maybe something stronger than beer.” He turned to Eddie. “You’ll need it after a shock like that.”
“It wasn’t a shock,” Eddie defended himself.
“Oh, it wasn’t? You expected the dog to bite you, then? If that’s true you’re stupider than I once thought.”
John O’Dowd came across the kitchen after retrieving some bandages from a press in his pantry. His house seemed to be full of little presses designed to hold specific things. In Eddie’s own house he just threw his belongings wherever was closest. This often caused confusion when he was looking for something and he was now considering John’s method of storage. Stack made him hold the end of the bandage to his wrist while he wound the rest of it around the wound and around his wrist. Once he deemed it tight enough he got a piece of sticky tape and secured the cloth.
“Flex your hand and see how that feels,” Stack said. Eddie did so, winching a little with the pain. He nodded that it was alright. “Good.”
John handed Eddie a tumbler with an inch of whiskey sitting in the bottom and indicated he drink it. “Drink it all at once.” Eddie did so, his face contorting once more. He shuddered and handed the class back to John.
“Cheers,” he said. They stood in the kitchen for a moment. None of them knew what to do next. “Where’s the beer then? We gonna play this game?” Eddie asked.
“Yes, yes, yes. The game,” said John O’Dowd. “Boys?” he called into the game room.
“Yeah?” came back Lyons voice.
“You all ready to start?”
“Whenever Mr Andrews feels up to it.” The men in the room burst out laughing again. Eddie was fuming now and his clenched fist was causing red flowers to bloom on his white bandage.
“Never mind them, Eddie,” Stack said. He opened the freezer where he had stashed the cans and pulled two off the ring of six and handed one to Eddie, who rolled it across his forehead. “C’mon.” He nudged him gently in the back and started walking toward the room. Eddie followed him. He pulled out a cigarette and lit it. Smoke danced from the tip and mingled with the clouds of cigar smoke that streamed from the heads of the men sitting at the round green felted table. Eddie knew three of them; Mark Lyons, the big construction teacher, sat beside his buddy and father of Barry Mulvey, Martin Mulvey and beside Martin was Robert Mahon. Mahon was a chunky man who owned a local newsagents in the town. He was also Lyons’ assistant coach for the under seventeen’s football team.
When Eddie entered the room they all called out congratulations to him and clapped a bit. Eddie just held up his bandaged hand and smiled. He could think of nothing clever to say and the men seemed disappointed. They turned back to the table and their beers.
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