It doesn't have a title at the moment. I'm calling it Brotherly Love as a working title, just so I can keep track of it, but I doubt that will survive as the title. Mainly because I don't like it.
And when I say it's personal, I don't mean deeply painful or anything. I mean the lead character in this story is pretty much me. In another life, I could be this person. It's a shame he's such an arse.
So anyway, this is a very small tease of the story. You get a feel for the style and perspective. I let my brother read it, since it's based on him as well as me. He liked it. It's told from his point of view, and he ends up with this utter imbecile of a brother living with him, driving him slowly to despair...
The usual crowd were there, and we all greeted each other warmly. We got on well and everyone was really nice. Dave kept quiet, which surprised me. I suppose I should have been suspicious but at the time I thought maybe he was just shy around groups of people or maybe, just maybe, he was actually in an environment where he would he would behave himself.
He actually seemed introverted. He didn’t push himself to be introduced and although he attracted a few curious glances from the class I didn’t push him forward, partly out of consideration for him but mainly out of dread.
Geoff, who led the class, came breezing through the door, all chirpy and excited as usual. He was an English teacher and somewhat excitable. There seemed to be fireworks going off in his head all the time, if you know what I mean. He never looked anything but scruffy and always wore the same olive green tweed jacket.
“Evening, evening,” he said to the class. He sounded as enthusiastic as ever; I think he genuinely enjoyed running the course. “How is everyone tonight?” We murmured our replies back as he sat on his desk, crossing his legs and clasping his hands on his knee.
“So class, the theme for today was revenge. Who wants to go first and tell us what they have got?”
Dave stood up instantly. I inwardly shuddered. Oh God please no, I thought.
“Ah…” said Geoff, leaping forward and proffering a hand out to Dave. “I don’t believe we’ve met.”
“We haven’t,” Dave said in his usual dry tone. “I’m Martin’s brother.”
“Oh, excellent, excellent,” Geoff beamed. “How lovely. I didn’t realise Martin had a brother...” He left a pause, waiting for Dave to offer his name. Dave smiled.
“Gunter,” he said. A flicker of surprise ran over Geoff’s face, but he quickly replaced it with a broad smile.
“Welcome to the group, Gunter,” he said warmly. “I’m guessing you don’t have anything prepared...”
“Oh, no, I do,” Dave answered. “Martin told me about it so I came up with something.” That was an utter lie. I had deliberately said nothing about what we had been asked to do precisely to avoid this sort of thing. It seemed to have made no difference.
“That’s wonderful,” Geoff said, clearly excited to have such an enthusiastic new member in his group. “Would you like to tell us what you have?”
“Sure, replied Dave. “My story is about a child seeking revenge on the father who sexually abuses him.” Geoff nodded in appreciation.
“A powerful subject matter, he said. “ What made you choose that?”
“I dunno,” Dave answered. “I thought it was funny.”
“Funny?” Geoff asked, his chirpiness dipping down a level. “You wrote it as a comedy?”
“Yeah, there’s not enough paedophile based comedy out there if you ask me.”
“Most people don’t find it that funny, Gunter,” Geoff remarked. The warmth had evaporated from his voice. I could feel everyone in the room looking between me and Dave with disapproving glares. I stared intently at the end of my pen wishing the moment would end.
“I like to see the positives in every situation,” Dave carried on blithely.
“Right…” Geoff said, looking to me. “Martin, why don’t you tell us what you have?”
“Don’t you want to know what happens?” Dave asked bluntly.
“I’m not sure it’s something we need to share right now,” Geoff answered slightly tersely. Dave completely ignored him and started to talk, obviously enjoying the attention. He looked around as he talked, making sure he took in everyone’s reaction.
“The boy has been abused for years, as long as he can remember. He’s living a nightmare; he can’t remember the last night he slept through the night without the fear of waking as his dad sneaks into his room to slip him his pork sword.” A communal intake of breath sounded around the room. I couldn’t look but I knew everyone was appalled. I closed my eyes, feeling my face burn. I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me up. Instant death would have been welcome at that moment, but it steadfastly refused to put in an appearance.
“Okay, thanks Gunter,” Geoff said, trying to stop him but Dave ploughed on regardless.
“Then one day, he snaps and shoots his dad dead with a pistol.” There was silence from the group for a moment, the Maggie, a middle aged bank clerk, raises her hand.
“Where did he get the gun from?” she asked Dave. Don’t bloody encourage him! I screamed at her in my head, but it was too late. Dave was clearly on a roll.
“eBay,” he replied, happy at getting a reaction.
“Oh, Jesus,” I breathed.
“Thank you, Gunter, it’s certainly creative,” Geoff said, bravely trying to stop him. Once again it went over Dave’s head.
“I came up with a couple of titles,” he continued, looking at Geoff. Geoff paused. I knew he was deciding if it was worth asking.
“What are they?” he said warily, after a few seconds. He had obviously decided that it would be easier to see the moment through and get it over with.
“The first one was ‘The Face in the Mirror’”, Dave said. After a second’s consideration I sensed a ripple of consent around the room. The group seemed to think that that was actually quite a good title. Dave picked up on this and continued. “It refers to the times when he would be in the bathroom and he could see his dad in the mirror watching him and lusting after him, and the fear that would induce.”
“Okay, that’s not a bad title really,” Geoff said, echoing the sentiment around the room.
“I prefer the other one myself,” Dave said. Like a fool, Geoff asked “And what is that one?”
“‘Daddy Kept Fucking Me So I Shot Him’”
“Why?” I said to Dave angrily as we walked down the steps of the library. “What makes do this stuff?” Dave laughed to himself.
“Did you see their faces?” he said, ignoring my question. “I wish I’d had a camera.”
“Dave, they were appalled. I was appalled. I can’t believe I agreed to take you. I must be the first person to ever be thrown out of a creative writing class.”
“Second,” Dave pointed out. “Gunter was the first.”