Thursday, October 18, 2007

[Fiction] Friday #25

What happens when a character, while cleaning out a house before moving out, finds a roll of film?
Jack was sitting in the Kings Head reading the Tribune, a paper to which he is employed as a sports writer, when he got a call on his cell from Brian. "Hey Man, I thought you were in Toronto," he said.
"Jack I need to talk to you about Julia! Where are you?" Brian exclaimed.
"I'm at the Kings Head having lunch. Why don't you come here, I'm free for the day" he said. Brian hung up without responding and Jack put away his cell and ordered a Pitcher of beer and an extra glass. Jack and Brian have been friends since grade school. They attended University together where Brian met Julia, in fact it was Jack who introduced her to him. Jack and Julia were in the same faculty, majoring in English Lit. He had taken her out a couple of times to some plays at the theatre centre, but once she met Brian it was love at first sight for the both of them. They first met here at the Kings Head, she was a tall, leggy blond, in a tan suede skirt and buckskin boots and him, a big brawny Irish boy with black curly hair, dark brown eyes and a smile that got him any woman he wanted. Brian was in Engineering hoping to specialise in mining. It's funny how things work out thought Jack. Juliapursued a career in broadcasting, He became a writer for a local paper and Brian turned his back on Engineering shortly after graduating and opted for a more adventurist career as a photojournalist. Jack came hurtling back to reality when he saw Brian enter the pub. He looked like a man at the tail end of a weekend bender, bleary eyed, unkempt,unshaven and disheveled. "Christ you look like you have seen a ghost!" You are going to need something stronger then beer," Jack said and signaled the bartender to bring two double whiskeys. "What the hell is wrong Brian, did something happen to Julia?" Jack asked.
"Julia's fine Jack, She has acquired her dream job as co-anchor of a National News show. She's on top of the world, it's me who is rolling around in Hell." Brian said. "I've been packing up all our belongings so when we take possession of the new house in Guelph it will all be ready to be shipped. We don't take possession until the fall so I've been taking my time with it. Do you remember that Japanese puzzle box that you gave Julia as a wedding present? I found it in the bottom drawer of her dresser, she must have missed it when she packed her things. When I picked it up I could feel something rolling around in it, so I tried to see if I could figure out how to open it. It's a masterful piece of engineering and art. There is no sign of where the lid is or how it opens. It took me days to find the secret. There are ten pieces of marqutrey that slide out and/or down that have to be performed in the proper sequence before the secret is revealed. It's amazing! I solved it last night and I curse the fact that I did. It has two compartments. In the first there was a bundle of letters tied up in red ribbon with a pretty bow. In the second compartment was a roll of undeveloped film. I was trapped like the monkey that got his fist caught in a coconut shell because he couldn't let go of his prize. I have sat there all night staring at first the letters which I can not untie because I could never tie the same bow and then there was the film that I could easily take to my darkroom and develope and probably discover the author of the letters. Again I can't develope the film because Julia would know and that would be the end between us and I don't want that to happen. The only thing I know is Julia has written the dates of the letters on the back of the envelopes. They are all around 1994/95 the time I was stationed in England and flying in and out of Bosnia. Jack you have to help me. What should I do?" Brian was close to tears and leaned his head back and stared at the tinplate ceiling hoping that it would stop the tears as if they were a bleeding nose.
Jack finished his whiskey and signaled for another, then stared at the table and walls of the pub trying to avoid any eye contact with his friend. The kings Head was a typical English style pub with a picture of the Queen and Premier League football scarves adorning the mahoganey colored beams and dark green walls. "Which scarf is your contribution?" Jack asked.
Brian stopped staring at the ceiling and looked around the room. "The Man U scarf over the bar and the autographed picture of George Best on the wall. I picked up the picture at a flea market when I was in London" he said. "I sent them to Julia and asked her to drop them off here for me." "Why do you ask?"
"No special reason. I remembered it was around the same time that you were a War correspondent for the London Times." Jack replied. "you were away for most of the year at that time, were you not?" Jack asked. Actually if I remember correctly you have been travelling from one conflict to another for the better part of your marriage to Julia. If any thing happened, it could have been because she was lonely and vulnerable, not knowing if you would be shot or killed. People under stress do strange things, things that they would not normally do. What you have to ask yourself is Do you love Julia enough to allow her to have a life of her own. It may threaten your ego but you have to allow her to have one because it's part of her life's experience. What you have to remember is she chose to stay with you. Do you love her enough to put everything back in the box as you found it and forget that you ever opened it, because if you don't you may very well find that you have opened a pandora's box of events that will change your life forever."
"Of course I still love her, in fact if at all possible I love her more now then ever because she has become my sucuor in the sea of pain and Death that my life was immersed in for all those years. Now is the happiest time of our marriage. We are finally able to spend time together. I have accepted a position as a Teacher in residence at Ryerson school of Journalisim and can finally spend my life at home with her in Toronto. We are both starting a new chapter of our life together and I knowthat she is as excited as I am." Brian looked into Jack's eyes with such intensity that it caused Jack to shiver.
"Well My advice to you is to remember that she chose to stay with you and now you must make a choice to stay with her." Jack said. 'A Pity beyond all telling is hid in the heart of Love' thought Jack as he turned and looked out the window. When did the day become so cloudy and overcast, it was a sunny day a few hours ago.


Square1 October 19, 2007 at 7:38 AM  

I'm not sure if the hanging ending was intentional here. It left me a little unsatisfied, but otherwise the piece is well constructed and well written.

The Alchemist October 19, 2007 at 10:09 AM  

I see what you mean. I wanted to leave the piece hanging a little bit and I wanted to imply that Jack was the author of the letters but couldn't manage creating the proper tension throughout the meeting. Thanks for the comment.

Pen and the Sword October 19, 2007 at 10:14 AM  

Good advice. Love how it leaves the reader to make assumptions. Good job ;o)

gautami tripathy October 19, 2007 at 11:58 AM  

I like such endings. It is not hanging for me, thanks!

pjd October 19, 2007 at 4:18 PM  

I thought it obvious Jack was the author of the letters. I love the puzzle box. I also love the double meaning in this sentence: "... you have been travelling from one conflict to another for the better part of your marriage to Julia...."

Says a lot. Well done. A bit wordy and long on background, but well done.

paisley October 19, 2007 at 5:11 PM  

i say what are best friends for.. after all he didn't rub his nose in it,, and his advise was stellar... excellent writing!!!!

~willow~ October 19, 2007 at 5:25 PM  

I figured Jack was the author of the letters, but was glad that you never came out and said it, it gives this piece ambiguity, and Jack is then playing the role of concerned friend without the "stigma" of "covering his ass" to affect our reading. Does that make sense? :p Loved it, btw, got goosebumps :-) Care to guess what's on "my" roll of film? ;-)

Jodi Cleghorn October 20, 2007 at 7:16 AM  

This is my favourite this week ... and of course Jack was the author of the letters (but I did have to think about it a bit) - why else would he gift a puzzle box that was all but impossible to open.

Did Brian suspect Jack though?

The Alchemist October 20, 2007 at 11:40 AM  

Thanks Jodi. Yes I think Brian suspected Jack not because of the puzzle box but because of the dates on the letters. I think that he knew that Jack and Julia still met for drinks and the theatre.

Josie Two Shoes October 23, 2007 at 4:48 PM  

I did pick up on Jack being the author of the letters, and I found myself wondering at the end, what I would do if faced with this situation. I don't think that I'd be noble enough to just put things back into the box and pretend that I never saw them. Curiousity would get the best of me. Good story, Webster!