Monday 29 September 2008

Stranger than fiction

Oi Arian!

Brilliant! Courses didn't take off just yet, but already I've met the protagonist of both elaborate novel concepts I've thought up the last couple of years. I had no idea these were one and the same character at different ages, until my classmate Andrada and I ran into him at the Arts Centre. His name's Freddie, and he grew up in London the tough way. He's a nineteen year old fresher in aerospace engineering, who grafted his arse off for a year to get his family out of financial trouble. We had lunch together while watching a duck race at the park in front of the Lecture Centre, and exchanged phone numbers when he had to leave for his induction. That night I invited him for a kitchen party, but he was already back in Central London, where he lives with his dad. The three of us met again Saturday night, to have one drink at the Hub and one at Loco's. We were running short of dosh, so when Andrada went home early because she had to pick up her luggage the next day, we left campus to find cheaper booze. In vain, but that didn't matter in the least.
We spent the whole night walking and talking, and though we were as sober as Putin after half a bottle of Russian White Gold, we climbed a tree and called each other a Cool Cucumber. On a though branch we looked each other in the eye and knew not what to say. I'd swear those children's voices in my head were so loud that he could hear them sing out of my ears: “Deborah and Freddie, sitting in a tree...” (But no, we didn't.) And eventually we ended up in my kitchen Sunday morning, contemplating veggie Sunday roast while he was doing my dishes. (But really, we didn't.)

I could hardly believe it. The more he told me about his life, the more I recognized my main characters, from the fact that he's planning to squat an abandoned building in the neighbourhood (working title: "Fabrica d'Amor") to the detail that he used to roam the streets at night with his little brother when he was only eleven years old (working title: "the night that shook the earth"). He's a good boy, though. He's seen a lot of shit, and been through things worse than I can imagine, but he wouldn't kill a mosquito (“the worst that could happen is that you get an itchy bump”). Moreover, he's saved money to go to college and climb upward in society, so that eventually he can buy an orphanage and a farm to take care of the helpless. One needs ideals to live up to, right?
Honestly, he made no attempt whatsoever to take advantage of me, and I didn't think he would. There's just one thing about him, that keeps me thinking of Moenen and his inflamed eye. He's got this weird twitch – not a very regular one, I believe I've seen it twice in all these hours I spent with him – and it frightens the wit out of me. Completely unexpected, his face folds deftly in an aggressive grimace, and slides back into a to a shy though friendly smile after only a second. I don't think I was able to hide my fright, but we talked over it as if it didn't happen. It made my hair stand on end, and I find myself fascinated, captivated by this mysterious trifle. It reminds me of Alex' quirk, albeit the violent rather than the vulnerable version. Could it be the aftermath of too much weed in the early youth? Or is it something darker, a nature undeniably sinister, no matter how many herbicides and kind ideals applied?

As you can see, I've found myself a little research project. So how's your novel working out?

Take care!


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