This is my first draft for NaNoWriMo 2016 novel Write What You Know. It's only a rough draft with very minimal editing and will, more than likely, contain, typos, grammatical errors, plot holes, or conflicting descriptions. It also includes notes to myself and excerpts from the novel the MC is writing that I try to indicate through various formatting that doesn't always translate well with my limited html skills. Furthermore, this particular novel is... there's no delicate way to put this... this novel is fucked up. So, especially in this rough draft crazed sort of NaNoWriMo way of writing, it may be difficult to read or follow. I'm still posting it here because I want to shed more light on the process of writing to encourage and inspire other writers or readers who are interested. To learn more about this project, or my daily NaNoWriMo postings, please read Day 1-7.
Write What You Know, Part 11
By Stephanie Thompson, 1,537 words
Read: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10
She took the elevator up ten floors to a bar that was nicer than any of the places she’d been outside the hotel for awhile. There was a shiny black grand piano on one side of the room near the a wall of windows and spectacular view of midtown (or wherever this place is). A lady in a tux tinkled the ivories and a hundred flickering candlelights shone like captured stars all around her. Her blonde hair was sleeked back in a bun but a few strands wafted in the air conditioned air. She was the first person Cassandra saw and she was perfect.
She’d never been happier to have no other options.
Christie pulled the door back and it wasn’t who she was expecting. It should have been Stella. She would have looked through peephole if Nikki wasn’t wholly convinced it was Stella.
If we look we won’t see anything, she said, because she’ll be on her knees begging. Just open the door.
Then again, what else should she expect from an idea of Nikki’s? In fact, a detective is exactly what she should have been expecting behind the door of one of Nikki’s schemes. But as it was she opened the door and was surprised.
“I’m Detective Wesley O’Ryan, I was hoping I could ask you a few questions, if you had a few minutes?”
“Um, I’m not sure. I mean,” she stumbled across her words. She looked at herself and sort of indicated at the room as if to say ‘Well isn’t this a state I’m in, dressed like I went to bed three days ago and didn’t get dressed again, and the room looks like a a palace devoted to New York’s various take out restaurants and who doesn’t love being questioned by the police.’ But without actually saying any words and instead gave the impression that she meant “Please come in” because that’s exactly what Detective Wesley O’Ryan did, no more words necessary.
Helen saw a man hit by a car once when she was little. She was downtown, probably somewhere in the midwest. She didn’t know where exactly because she rarely knew where she was or how she got there and no one ever wanted to tell. She assumed it was the midwest though because it was one of those downtowns with wide streets and no traffic horns or taxis and no one was double parked. The buildings were tall but not skyscraper tall and everything was clean. So, it was either the midwest or D.C. Or something she saw on tv.
So she didn’t know where they were or where they going. She was little and holding a grown-ups hand, waiting to cross the street. There were a few other people waiting too and a homeless man. Likely a homeless man. With a mid-length gray, coarse beard and wearing two knit caps. He had fingerless gloves and dirty fingernails. He murmured to himself when everyone else was relatively silent. (She remembers it being pretty quiet overall, another reason why this is the midwest or tv).
The man made her nervous. Not for any reason in particular. He wasn’t raving or bothering anyone or begging or violent. He just spoke softly to himself, rocking on the curb, or kind of pacing on the sidewalk. Still, she was anxious. It didn’t take much.
To this day, she doesn’t know why she noticed him. Why he stood out to her. No one else on the street looked in his direction, not even to avoid him or look at him with disgust. Her grown up didn’t hold her closer or pull her away. It was like no one else in the world saw this man except for Helen. They existed alone in this bubble where time slowed down or else this nameless, quiet, midwestern city had the longest wait for a crossing light along with it’s very clean streets.
Sometime before this she had read a book. She couldn’t remember what it was but she did remember a phrase ‘tumbledown house’. That stuck in her head because it sounded funny, not funny ha-ha but funny cute. Like odd-ball and faerie kisses. She knew what it meant because there was a little illustration to. A cartoon dilapidated, ramshackle house. A place where no stick figure family lived and the stick-figure neighborhood kids were afraid to walk past after school. Even after all these years, when the details of story erased from her memory, she still pictures that cartoon illustration when she thinks of abandoned or condemned houses. And that’s what that man was. A tumbledown house.
Except he wasn’t a house obviously. He was a tumbledown man. A tumbledown man with a tumbledown brain. That’s what was wrong with him, why he was talking to himself in public. His brain was all tumbledown, collapsed in on itself like the little cartoon house. She was very sorry for him, even before the van hit him, because of his tumble down brain.
The accident was scary but boring from objective point of view. She doesn’t know if the crosswalk light had changed, she couldn’t see it, and the car driver decided to run a red light or if the homeless man decided to cross while the traffic light was still green. Either way, the van wasn’t going very fast when it hit the man. A light shattered but the fender didn’t dent. The tires only squealed for a second. There wasn’t blood or guts or anything gory. The man went a few feet down the middle of the road in a sort of drunken half formed series of cartwheels. Tumbling.
The tumbledown man with the tumbledown brain is tumbling down the street, she thought. And she wanted to laugh. Not a funny haha laugh but a giggle. She watched a man get hit with a van and she wanted to giggle. That’s when she got really scared. What if anyone should know that? Find it out? Surely it was a nasty thought and whoever could read her mind in that moment would think she was a nasty, mean little girl. And she really didn’t want anyone to think bad of her.
An ambulance came for the tumbledown man with the tumbledown brain, even though he was sitting up and talking to himself again by the time Helen and her grown up finally crossed the street. (Quick ambulance, by the way, another reason to suspect it was in the midwest or on tv.) She didn’t know what happened to him but she was still thinking of him that night and for the rest of the week.
Every time she closed her eyes she saw him careening, flying, tumbling (the tumbledown man with the tumbledown brain tumbled down the street) like he was performing a poor and never ending gymnastic routine in the middle of the street. And every time she had the same thought (the tumbledown man with the tumbledown brain tumbled down the street) and she still wanted to laugh. And she was still afraid someone find out that she had wanted to laugh. And she still felt guilty about being so mean and nasty (even though she wasn’t really, she didn’t laugh, and she didn’t think it was funny). And eventually the anxiety and guilt over the ridiculous thought that nobody knew or heard built up to such an overwhelming degree that Helen retreated into her own tumbledown brain and rarely came out at all after that.
“Sure, come in,” she said, while the door closed. She wouldn’t normally be sarcastic with an authority figure like a cop but she was tired and annoyed and anxiety hadn’t flooded her brain yet but it it did shortly after that. Not just about the cop but about all of it. She’d quit her job today. Or rather Nikki quit her job for her and she would, very shortly probably be kicked out (maybe even make the news, maybe even boost sales) of this respectable mid-price hotel (for a middling author) and have to find her own way home on her residual income alone and then find lawyers for the inevitable breach of contract suit and refund her advance and meanwhile there was a fucking cop in her hotel room there to question her about a murder (
So she was sarcastic for a moment and then after that she couldn’t open her mouth to say another thing, lockjaw via adrenaline rush due to panic attack. There was an odd moment of the two of them standing in the room. He, looking around critically perhaps with mild curiosity maybe with an investigatory eye more likely. She watching him, seeing what he would do, wondering what he he could possibly want from her.
“Do you mind if I sit down?”
He startled her when he spoke for two reason. One because his voice sounded normal, like he was just coming over for a cup of coffee and a chat. Ad he sounded so normal when she first opened the door? How could she know that was a lifetime ago?
The Novel continues in Part 12. Thanks for Reading!