The potentially neverending story where YOU help write the action!
Chapter One (by Vic Hansen)
It had been a bad night. I woke up feeling cold and found that I was sleeping on the floor in the bathroom. Fortunately there was a carpet - a hideous grey-green shag pile - and I had pulled a towel over myself. A jackhammer was pounding and I wondered who could be at work so early. Then I realised that it was inside my head.
From the feel of my stomach I could tell that someone had been trying to poison me. I remembered vaguely that it had been me. Equally vaguely I could remember crawling upstairs to Dave's spare bedroom and then an urgent need to find a toilet. I guessed that I had just fallen asleep with my arms around it.
I staggered downstairs for a cup of coffee. No sign of Dave but the empty whisky bottle was on the table and so were the wine bottles. That was the mistake. Never mix the grain and the grape. I really needed something solid to settle my stomach and I hacked off a slice of bread, but before I could eat it I had to run upstairs to the toilet. This time I was seriously ill and I got rid of the coffee and half a pint of other, acid tasting, unmentionable.
Still. I looked round the door into Dave's room. He was sleeping the sleep of the drunk and the damned. I looked at the time. Quarter to ten. My God! I had to be in the office for ten, to meet the woman who called for an appointment. At least I didn't need to get dressed. No time for a shave so I slipped on my shoes and picked up my car keys. I was probably still as drunk as a skunk, but I had to risk it. Business had been terrible and the prospect of missing my first client in two weeks was unthinkable.
Four red lights and an illegal parking later, I found myself at the dilapidated block where I rent an office. The elevator was out of order. Again. So I flung myself up the stairs. It was just coming up to a quarter past ten. I stopped on the landing below the fourth floor to catch my breath. I could hear someone pacing outside my office.
She was wearing sandals with a slim strap across the toes and another around the ankle. The stiletto heels were low and as she turned to walk back past the staircase I could see, through the gap under the guard rail, that she was wearing a patterned, grey, calf length skirt. I wished I was wearing a tie. I keep a clip-on in the drawer of my desk and I wondered if there was any way I could get to it before meeting her.
Chapter Two (M. A. Clark)
As I walked into the office, I saw I was in luck. She was in the restroom, so I grabbed the tie and hastily put it on. Then she came out.
"What are you doing here?" I asked in shock.
"Hello Jack. Business. What else?" Ellsie gave me a sly grin and sat down in a chair.
'Listen, I paid the alimony. What did you come here for?"
"Like I said, Mr. Ballows, to do business. I need to get out of the country. Do you have any real estate that your selling outside of the U. S.?" she asked me.
"Why are you wanting out? So you can ditch Derrick like you did me?"
"Jack, leave Derrick out of this. Besides, Mortimer didn't like him. Something came up and we have to get out of here soon!"
I looked sullen. My son was named Mortimer. That was one of the things that always got me about her. She insisted we name him the stupidest name possible. Why couldn't he have had a normal name like Ed or Larry. Even his middle name was strange. Edawler. Mortimer Edwaler Ballows. Poor kid.
"Well, yeah, I have some stuff out of the U. S. It's up in Canada. But why do you want out of this country?" I asked her.
Ellsie pulled out a cigarette and lit up. "Listen Ballows, that really isn't any of your business. So butt out! What info do you have on this property?"
"Elsie, this is my son too! I have a right to now what you're gonna do to him! Come on, what gives?" I asked.
At a whiff of my breath, she said "You've been drinking again, haven't you? You and that freak brother of yours Dave! I'm glad you didn't get custody of Mortimer!" she said.
"Well, at least Dave is still married to your sister! They at least have some ounce of happiness to stick it out! My God, Elsie did you not think I'd ever find out about you? About all those men you cheated with? Why did you do that to 'im? You can cause me all the hell you want too, but don't do that to our son. He's just seven. My God, what do you think this is going to do to him?" I asked angily.
She gave me one of her looks, and then put out her cigarette. She drew in a breath and spoke again harshly. "Right Jack. Let's put him over in your custody where he can see Daddy get drunk every night. No, I don't think so!"
I stared at her, having memories of what she did in the court case. "Oh Judge Moor, I don't want our poor son seeing his Daddy drunk every night" I said in a mock voice. "I have never been drunk around him, and you know it! You commited perjury! You lied at the trial!" I exclaimed angrily.
"Let's just call it creative bending of the truth!" she said.
"Its still perjury! And you know it. My dad was a drunk and he beat us. I swore I would never do that to my kids! And you know it! Newman, I swear you're just like your father ...."
At this she slapped me. "How dare you profane the memory of my father!"
I looked at her whimsically. "Yeah, I guess it would be profaning his memory comparing him next to you!"
"Listen Jack Ballows, you're lucky to have a red cent --"
At this I broke it off. I didn't want to get into this again. It would be best to attend to business so she could get out of here. We talked a while about the real estate. I had her fill out some paper work. The signature read "Elsie Newman". Newman was her maiden name. Sad, so sad. Then she pulled out her wallet and I saw several large bills.
"Ok Elsie, seriously, whats up? Why are you wanting to move out of the U. S.? And give me a reason too. I want to know for Jacksie's sake. [Jacksie was a nickname I had for him. I liked it much better than Mortimer]."
"Ok Ballows, if it will put your mind at ease, I'll tell you. At least I'll have you off my back!" I thought sarcastically, "she's always considerate." Then Elsie lit up another cigerette and began the whole twisted and sordid story. Into her life went I once more.