Thursday, February 23, 2012

Taking Musical Notes (Writing Sample)

Hey there everyone! :) 
Since I shared with everyone an example of non-fiction writing, I thought I would share with everyone an example of my fiction writing. This is the first chapter of my unfinished book "Taking Musical Notes". It's told from the POV of my character Gordon, who is a young musician. I know my accents are off but oh well....
Please give me feedback! :)

 “Gordon, you’re so fuckin’ useless, get out and find a job!” 
My father’s shouting rouses me out of a relatively peaceful sleep. I peek out from under my covers and stare at his tall figure looming over me, creeping out from the nighttime darkness. Everyday my father and I have the same argument; lately he’s found the most creative ways to ambush me with his point.
“Every fuckin’ day I get up before the fuckin’ sun, to provide for this shit family. You need to fuckin’ contribute!”
“…T-that’s just not me da, it just not…” I mumble, sleep still heavy in my voice.
My words frustrate him to no end, and when he turns to leave I’m stunned. I was excepting him to drag me out of bed and knock me about a few times; a repeat scene of our kitchen spat last week, without all the broken glass.
“You’re a shit guitarist, and you couldn’t hold a fuckin’ tune even if you had a bleeding bucket!” He shouts slamming the door behind him. 
The walls shake and I’m sure the resulting noise has woken the rest of the family, if not the whole neighborhood.  I stare into the darkness of my bedroom listening as my father has a duplicate tantrum with the front door. He slams that in a repeat fashion, before starting up his truck and heading down to his job at the mine.  With a yawn I roll over and return to my world of sleep.
Eight hours later I stir again, the midday sunlight beaming through my cracked bedroom window.  I strain my eyes to see the wristwatch thrown on my desk, 12:43 the second hand ticks by slowly, as I ease my way into awaking up. I push back the covers and sit up only to realize my room is very cold. The heater must be out again, I wonder.  I slink out of the room and down the hall to the cramped bathroom. Standing over the dripping sink, I try not to stare at my battered reflection.  My blond hair hangs wildly over my head, hiding my gray eyes that are still filled with sleep. With a yawn, I splash some water on my face, before changing into my jeans and sweater. I walk downstairs, the wooden stairs creaking with my every step.
“Gordon? Are you up?” my mother Sandra shouts in her broken Irish accent.
“Aye, Mum.  Is there toast on the counter?” I question, my stomach heaving in hunger.
“Aye, there is, and tea on the stove.”  
Although I’m out of school, and jobless, my mother has seemed to enjoy my company. She no longer has to spend the majority of her day at home alone while my sisters and I are off to class, and my father is off to work. Unlike my father and I, we never argue. My mother has always been a saint to me. She joins me at the kitchen table, taking out her hair curlers, while reveling about her daytime TV, some of which the BBC has started broadcasting in colour. 
“Are you goin’ down to that bar tonight? She asks.
“Yeah, the owner lets me play after sets if there’s time, and I love watching the other guys play.”
“Aye, aye, But Gordon, you know your father doesn’t like that. He wants you to work. Not fantasize about being a music man,”
“Music is work,” I reply, wiping toast crumbs from my mouth. 
After another cup of tea, mother heads out the shop, while I wander to the back room where my guitar is resting against the chair.
I had to be around 11 when I laid eyes on my first guitar. In Durkhim music shop, in the window hung a red, steel stringed, early model Kelar. Not an instrument of quality it must be said, but the object of my affections. On the way home from school, I would drag my best friend Peter with me. There we stood dressed in our short pants, book bags slung carelessly on the dirty ground, gawking at the musical wet dream.
“Gordon, no one can afford that thing!”  Peter exclaimed, removing his face from the foggy glass.
I turned to my pale haired friend, a wicked smile plastered across my face. “…Peter that will be mine someday.”
“Yeah right. Next thing you’re gonna tell me how in 5 years time you’ll be the next bloody Keith Richards!”  
“Maybe…” I shrug.
In a month’s time that guitar is in my hands, and I’m almost pissing myself with excitement. My gift for passing the private school entry exams, the only smart thing I’ve ever done.  My mother wins the argument with my father on getting me a gift. The next afternoon he’s waiting on me in the school parking lot.  I’m bursting with excitement walking alongside my father, while he bristles over wasting his “hard earned money” on my little heart desire. Peter is the only one I let play my guitar. I watch as he plinks the strings creating loud noise, feelings of envy crawling under the surface. He begs his parents to buy him one as well.  But unlike mine, his parent’s have no reason to; he didn’t pass the private school exams.  After that summer I hardly ever see Peter anymore. The change in schools has built an unseen wall between us. We never speak to each other, red faced and frustrated I decide to avoid him.
Things at the new school are bad. I don’t fit in with the rich students; and I’ve hit a growth spurt, tall and awkward I stick out like a sore thumb. An easy target for the older kids who find it necessary to bully me, as if my face shoved down in the grass is proving their prowess. Lonely and frustrated, the guitar helps me transform into an introvert. I’d sit in my desk, ignorant to the instructor’s lesson, lost in thoughts about what note come after the third verse of “She Loves Me”. I’d run home from school, only to lock myself away with my only friend. Mum’s record player would sit on my bed, the same songs playing on repeat, in a dizzying fashion, over and over again as I attempted to learn the chords. She’ll  often find me passed out at night, guitar on my lap. She still doesn’t understand my determination but her mind is more open to the idea, than my father who rues the day he bought the guitar.
Besides music everything falls by the wayside. School, friendships, girls, all become meaningless and this is the way things remain today. I’m inspired by the numerous rock bands on “Top of the Pops” each week, who happen to be creating the soundtrack, or more of a standard of living for every young person in the country. The radio stars with the radical clothes and overtly sexual songs that make my parents cringe. Every Thursday night at 6 while my parents yell at each other in the back ground, I’d sit stony faced in front of the TV with my sisters Hannah and Tabitha, watching the musicians display this amazing talent. That was me, the person who I wanted to be. The hellish backdrop of a home life my parents have created is not what I want. 

That night I swing my guitar case back and forth as I walk down to Desmond’s Pub. The soothing yellowing light reflects into the street, paired with the sound of pints being passed and music being played, I’m always beckoned inside.  When not hiding away in my room I spend most of my time in places like this, huddled in my jacket perched up at various bars, guitar case resting at my feet. Unlike the rest of these poor sods, the seductive hand of the frothy pint doesn’t really appeal to me. I’m here to watch the musicians the faithful Madonna’s who lord over their interments, gracing the drunken masses with sweet melodies that I could only dream of creating.  I inhale frothy menthol while spinning an idealist future in my head, a musically funded escape from this insignificant place, this dot on the earth’s surface. It’s a sad, empty place. With the boarded up windows and the constantly cloudy skies; it seems like gods having a bit of a laugh on all of us here. The industry all dried up, the jobs all gone. These factory workers, the ones I bump elbows with, sit with sunken faces and fill these and other places like it. They flush away their life’s savings by swelling their guts with beer, to then go home to beat on their wives’ and do it again the next day.  Not my life’s ambition I’m desperate for my escape. 
“Gordon, you playing tonight?”  Desmond, the bar’s namesake and bartender asks as he pours another drink, snapping me down, out of my thoughts and back down into my seat.
                “Maybe, if there’s any time left at the end of their set.” I’m talking about the trio of guys all dressed in matching pinstriped suits, filling our ears with a bit of Rogers and Hammerstein, of all things. 
A half an hour passes, before the group takes their bows and graces, and there’s just enough time left for me to perform. I take to the stage guitar in hand, and like always the feeling remains the same. Whiskers of goosebumps run up my arms as I take my place before the microphone. With a deep breath I run my fingers over the fret board, before beginning to sing. Despite what I’m doing these people aren’t paying me any attention, they’re too lost, drifting aimlessly in a sea of depression.  I could be playing anything from Samba to African drum beats and they still wouldn’t grant me a second glance.
After a second song, I gather my deflated ego and skulk off the stage. It’s times like this when I wonder if my father is right about me. I go to pack up my guitar only to be met by a man who looks off colour to say the least. Faded tweed jacket, scuffed steel toe boots, and a horrid version of the bowl cut atop his head. This guys looking like a mis-matched gangster, who would get his ass kicked by a real skin head.
                “Nice set,” he says, extending his cigarette free hand to me.
                “Thanks,” I mumble as we shake hands. 
                “I’m Harry Baker. You’re Gordon James right? I asked Desmond about you. Have you been playing guitar long?”
                “Eight years…Am I that bad?” I question feeling the blood rush to my face with each word.
                “Naw, you have a lovely singing voice, I just think you’re probably best suited for a different instrument.”
                I nod my head in reply.
                “So Gordon, do ya like a bit of jazz?”
                I smile as my new friend leads me over to the bar to engross me discussion about everything curtailing jazz to Broadway ballads.
I end up following Harry back to his apartment a couple of blocks away. The building once a set of offices now converted into apartments, sticks out with its depressingly chipped paint. The inside of his flat isn’t any better; things are tossed about in a mishmash of mess and pure oddity. Dirty cups cover the coffee table, weeks old laundry is tossed about, yet I notice with impeccable care countless paperbacks and albums have been organized with precision on the lone bookshelf in the corner.  I run my trainers through a pile of cigarette ash, near the couch before settling down near the least smelly pile of clothes.
                “Hey, jazz man, you’ll love this,” Harry tells me as he walks over and turns on his record player. The record is already placed, as if he was just waiting to show it off. He places the needle gracefully on the 45 and the room fills with the budding undertones of slowly building jazz. The trumpets give an overwhelming blare, leading the way as the strings follow behind, twanging in sweet harmony. Lastly the drums bring up the rear, pacing along steadily with an unsophisticated beat.  The music fills me, and it’s in these moments as the record spins that I truly connect with Harry. His understanding and appreciation for this foreign thing called music rivals my own, no longer am I alone.
“Real shite ya’ know?” he asks as the record slowly fades into static.
“Totally,” I reply.
Harry turns to me, a smile painted on his face like a demented Cheshire cat, “Man it just hit me! I fuckin’ knew it would!”  He bounds into another room, leaving me while he shuffles and cusses through his jungle of junk.  He returns a couple of minutes later, a dusty case in his hands.
                “Gordon, I knew it would hit me. For fucks sakes I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. This is your true calling.” He places the case in my lap, begging me to open it. I wrestle with the rusty latches, and a puff of dust flies into my face as it opens. 
                “Great isn’t it?” he questions, I look down at a battered, overplayed, paint chipped, bass guitar.
                “…Ok, but what do you want me to do with it?” I question.
                “Learn it, live it, you’ll be fantastic.”
                “You expect me to learn to play this thing?”
                Harry nods, and I’m astonished that my new friend trusts me enough to give me his bass, and expects me to be “fantastic” at it.
                “Er, Harry I don’t know… I can’t take this.”
                “Gordon, I see the spirit in you, the raw hunger. For fucks sake, do ya want to be like every other arsehole in this shitty town? Just dragging along until you’re fuckin’ dead?”
                Thoughts of dad appear in my head. “Hell no!”
                “Fine then,” Harry continues, lighting a cigarette, “Learn the fuckin’ thing, I’ll met up with you again. I have plans for you, Gordon James.”
                Harry sends me on my way, balancing two guitar cases, a new supposed destiny in my hands.  

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