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of portraits and men and silliness

by hawk

This is almost purely quotation, due to my lack of using the damn thing. Slightly Hemingway inspired, which makes it readable and simple. I'm completely new to this type of writing, so tell me what you guys think.

We walked along the street and Bill bought a paper and coffee at a stand, the coffee was very hot and the morning was very cold and it seemed to suit. We saw Keith with his wife Mary-Louise, I think her name was, and walked a bit, he was saying how Partrige’s company is going bad and how the industry was headed down stream.

“So you had your baby then?” I asked.

“Oh yes, a boy. It’s wonderful now we have a playmate for George. We named him Harry, and he has the biggest blue eyes I have ever seen on a baby.”

I could tell Keith’s wife was very happy, and Keith took off his hat and chuckled. Then they got talking about blue eyes in the family and Mary-Louise remembered they had an appointment so they left.

“They’re lovely people, don’t you think, Bill?” I said, handing him a cigarette.

Bill took it and the lighter.

“I think Keith needs a real job, too much sea gets to ones head. Let me tell you, Jerry, I used to work on a dock and for months I could hear the sea though I weren’t in hearing of it. Terrible thing, the sea.”

“I quite fancy the sea. I think Ishmael and I have that in common, we take to the sea whenever it is a dark November in my mind.”

“Shuttup Jerry,” Bill laughed.

Bill sat down on the park bench and started to read the newspaper, I sat down too and pulled out my pen and my leather-bound book, then began to write. There were children flying a yellow and blue kite in the sky, wrapped up thick in overcoats and scarves. An old man was feeding pigeons on the footpath and some children were watching him, I’d seen him before but I didn’t know his name. He looked poor, with his clothes patched and worn, but I didn’t pity him, he seemed to be enjoying his own company, my father taught me to admire that.

We met Thomas and his wife Kate, and another woman I used to know quite well. Her name was Suzan, and her hair was quite lovely.

“You have nice hair, Susan,” Bill said. She was a pretty woman. Her hair was thick and in a bob, a chocolate brown colour, and her skin was slightly bronze. I remembered her mother was from the Caribbean, and she smiled when I said so. She had a beautiful smile, I had forgotten that, and Bill I could tell was quite taken with her.

“I’ve been reading your book, Jerry,” she said..


“I’m quite taken with it, and I say, I don’t read that much, not so much as I used to.”

“I’m glad you liked it. Bill thought it was a piece of shit.”

Susan looked at Bill, her eyebrows raised in amusement, and he did not so much as blush.

“We were drunk, and if I recall you informed me I was a bum and living off some stupid investment that wasn’t going anywhere-”

“I was telling the truth,” I cut him off.

“Yes but your awfully rue about it when you’re tight, Jerry. You are a good drunk though. Are you a good drunk Susan?”

“I wouldn’t know?”

“Is she a good drunk, Jerry?” He himself was acting like he needed a drink, so I walked them down to the liquor store and bought some wine. Susan wouldn’t drink; she said it was too early.

“Nonsense,” Bill declared.

“Yes, Susan, absolute rot.”

She took a swig and Bill smiled. She was looking most radiant, and Bill wanted to have a coffee. I was sick of walking though, and handed the bottle to Bill.

“I’m going to see Paul,” I said as we crossed the street, and Susan turned to me.

“Before you go, I’ve got an old typewriter. I would you my grandfather used to write for the newspaper, so wont you pick it up some time, I’m throwing everything out before I move.”

“You’re moving?” Bill said. “What rotten luck.”

“Only down the street,” she turned to Bill. “A nice big apartment in Bayside Cliff. I get a view of the moat and it’s quite lovely. You both should drop by when I’m settled.”

I nodded and checked my wristwatch.

“I’ll drop by after lunch to pick it up, is that alright?”

“Fine. Have lunch with us, Thomas and Kate are coming over, and Bryan, you remember Bryan?”

It was more of a statement, so I nodded though I didn’t know anyone called Bryan in London.

“See you two then,” I said.

I lit a cigarette as I crossed the road, and waved to an old man leaning against the barbers. He called out to me in French but I waved him away, I could see Paul smoking outside the book store.

“Jerry!” he called out as he saw me. He was wearing a thick cashmere jacket, light bronze against the tan of his skin. His parents were Spanish and lovely folk, we visited them in Estrumadura when we went there for the Festival four summers past. I smiled as we shook hands, and Paul I saw was in sorts over something, though he had been quiet about it. I could tell he did not want to talk about it either, which was fine because he knew I was not the one who would listen. We were old friends, too old for new troubles.

“How have you been Jerry?” He took a drag from his cigarette, and I realized he was occupied with this more than I thought.

“Fine. Fine always, work is better though.”

He made a noise as if in disagree.

“Europe is better, I say. Better than mournful old London,” he sighed.

“What say we head off for Nantes for the weekend?” he said, holding his hand out and his cigarette upside down. I looked at it and smiled.

“And you?” I looked at his face and he sighed again.

“I am terrible, everything is bullshit, Terry.” He said, but he smiled and ran his free fingers through his hair. He had lovely hair, soft and black, and I could tell he had not been to the barber in months.

“You need a haircut, old friend,” I said to him, lighting up another cigarette. I offered him one, but he shook his head, and didn’t reply.

“I’m grabbing a coffee, come with me.”

We walked along the street into Maverick’s. There were many people inside and nearly all were sitting, so we walked over and Jane said good morning to us both. She was wiping glasses far behind the counter and looked fresh. Paul and I agree that Jane always looked fresh before lunch, and calm by the afternoon.

“How was Naples?” she asked me, and Paul ordered two cappuccinos, no sugar.

“Sunny and temperamental, as always. Really Jane you should get away from London,” I said this as I lit up another cigarette, and Jane laughed.

“I’ve been trying since nineteen eighty nine.” I laughed at that and began to say something about her age but Paul had spilt the coffee. They mopped it up, and it wasn’t a great spill, but we left and I took him by the arm.

“Are you alright, Paul?” I said, holding the coffee as we walked. He looked the same as when he’d been standing outside the bookstore, and he sighed again and took his coffee.

“It’s Marlene,” he said after a while. “You know how it is,” he took a sip and ran his fingers through his hair again.

“I really do want to go to Europe, Jerry.”

“I know,” I replied, and I felt like shit then because I knew he had been wanting to go ever since we got back in the fall two years ago. He looked at me then and shook his head. “It’s all silliness. You know in the Festivals I really allowed myself to miss Spain, and I was too drunk to think about it. It’s all such silliness, Jerry. I wish we were speaking Spanish now.”

“But you are,” I said.

“No. I don’t know if I even can now, Bugger this, Jerry. I’m speaking Spanish now.”

“Be quiet,” I said, and we reached the book store. Marlene was by the entrance, and she seemed concerned. Paul did not go inside straight away, but folded his arms across his chest and stared out into the street. I smiled at Marlene and stood next to Paul for a while, trying to imagine what he was thinking about. Then I checked my watch and put my hand on Paul’s cheek.

“See you, old friend,” I said in Spanish.

“Adios buen amigo,” he smiled, and I left him there in front of the bookstore and closed my eyes before the sadness took me. It was upsetting so see an old friend like that, and more so one who was a Spaniard away from his Spain.

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404 Reviews

Points: 35611
Reviews: 404

Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:54 pm
EditorAndPerks wrote a review...

Hello there.

Popping in to give you a much-awaited review, even if it's been over a decade.

First off, I think that I'm in want of more information. Having the main character go meet all of these people out of the blue makes me wonder what the exact point of this was. I think the amount of people in a scene takes away from the dialogue because the reader has to pop back and forth between characters to follow their conversation.

In this sense, I kept confusing as to why Bill of all characters are with the narrator, as we're introduced to them as two people who just so happened to be hanging out. The way you introduced these new characters as they just happened to be here right where they were going turns me off a little at this story. Even setting a reason such as meeting for lunch can make this sound a lot more realistic without taking much away from the overall storyline.

A few parts of the dialogue seemed irrelevant, such as Bill asking Jerry if Susan was a good drunk. I don't really see that question appropriate, to begin with, as Jerry had just stated he didn't really know her, so yeah. I think taking out that portion and the very awkward interjections of "oh, let's just add another character" would do this story well.

Finally, I think that I just want an explanation on the relations between Bill and Jerry, as that's never really addressed.

Overall, I think this story isn't really that bad, but there are a few parts to edit.

That's all I've got, for now, I guess.

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21 Reviews

Points: 890
Reviews: 21

Fri Aug 08, 2008 10:54 am
dreamintechnicolour wrote a review...

I really enjoyed this. It's nice to take a break from the tense, high action plots which everyone seems to think equates to "good writing".

Only minor errors (mostly just tyops):
Suzan changes to Susan in the next line.

I would you my grandfather used to write for the newspaper,
from what i gather, the "I would you" isn't supposed to be there...

He made a noise as if in disagree.

in disagreement...?

Also, the character's name changed from Jerry to Terry.
“I am terrible, everything is bullshit, Terry.”
Only once as far as i can see.
Of course, unless I'm being overly analytical and it is actually done on purpose for effect (to show that Paul is distracted).

Otherwise, a really great piece of writing. Good job!

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Points: 890
Reviews: 1

Fri Jan 28, 2005 8:51 am
Greyjoy says...

This was well written. The dialog was great, as Brian said. Only thing I'd suggest is try and form a plot, perhaps, and keep going.

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1258 Reviews

Points: 6090
Reviews: 1258

Wed Jan 12, 2005 11:08 pm
Sam says...

I have to say I enjoyed it too. As with Brian, no criticism from me either. I really did love the last line...:D *sigh*

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122 Reviews

Points: 1115
Reviews: 122

Wed Jan 12, 2005 7:07 pm
Brian says...

I thought this was great. The characters were well thought out and I was able to manifest them in my mind quite easily. Plus the dialogue was done extraordinarily well.

I got no criticism.

"He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how."
— Fredrich Nietzche (Philosopher)