The opening chapter of my current work-in-progress, called Duplicity.
I am ebullient about this one. It began over four years ago as a 2500 word uni assignment. I knew it had legs back then, even with my self-deprecating nature. One November, during NaNoWriMo, it grew from 2500 words to over 50k.
My goal now is to cut the poorly written parts, fix plot-holes, add to it, and of course, create an ending.
Still a long way to go, but this is what I’m working on…
Harry Morton was sitting on the train, squashed uncomfortably between the window and a fat woman.
He stared out of the window. He was bored with the article he was reading on his phone. Something about a woman suing her boss for sexual harassment. No, wait, he wasn’t bored. He was frustrated, angry. How many women these days who were scorned by an unrequited love, or hurt when an affair ended, turned to legal channels to act out their revenge. The world’s going straight to hell, Harry thought. Stupid bitches, they’re probably ugly as fuck too.
Harry shifted in his seat. The woman was taking up all the space. She smelled too. Like old potatoes left to rot in an airless plastic bag. This was one of the reasons he loathed public transport: large people with questionable hygiene could not be avoided.
He got off the train at Flagstaff. Coming out of the station and into La Trobe Street, he sniffed deeply, grateful for the city’s smog-chocked air. He took in the activity of the morning rush. People hurried in all directions. Women teetered on high heels, others in sneakers with their suits. Men strode purposefully, importantly. The homeless lay in their sleeping bags, set back from the footpath in alcoves or stairwells, cardboard as their mattress and their belongings bundled as a make-shift pillow. He glared downwards as he stepped over an unkempt, sleeping body then moved into the throng, almost carried to his office in Bourke Street.
Inside, Harry greeted the security guard at the front desk as he fumbled in his suit pocket for his ID card. He walked through the expansive foyer to the lifts for floors 29-45 and stood with others who were waiting. A chill descended in the air; he turned his head and noticed Marilyn, at the back of the crowd. He nodded his greeting. She glowered back.
‘Morning Marilyn,’ he taunted.
‘Harry,’ was all she could manage.
Harry smirked as the lift doors opened, and he motioned to let everyone else in first.
‘Aren’t you the gentleman?’ Marilyn snarled as she walked past.
Harry stood next to her as the lift doors closed. He stood close, too close, considering the lift wasn’t full. He could smell the green apple-fresh scent of Marilyn’s shampoo just before she tried to step aside. The lift shot quickly past the lower floors, before stopping to let out the workers assigned to the 29th floor; Marilyn amongst them. She sashayed towards the glass doors of her office. He knew what she looked like under those clothes.
She was fabulous, but Harry was growing bored with her. It had been two months since he got her in the sack, three since he began his pursuit. Time to ditch her, find a new one.
God, he is so infuriating. I get out of the lift at my floor and I can feel his eyes on me as I walk to the glass doors. I push them open and take my place at the reception desk, just on the other side of the doors, and I get ready for a busy day of answering phone calls, taking client enquiries, and listening to my colleague, Christiana, whinge about how much she hates her job. Get a new one. That’ll make us all happy. A win-win.
I place my handbag in the locker under the reception desk, and then walk to the kitchen to put my lunch in the fridge and make myself a peppermint tea. I find this calming. It stops me from wanting to punch Christiana, who makes up words like un-anonymous. Hot tea in hand, I hear the phone ringing and Christiana, true to form, ignores it, so I rush back to answer it.
‘Good morning, Camden and Co. This is Marilyn speaking, how may I direct your call?’
The person on the phone wants the big boss, who’s not even in yet. Not once has Mr Camden ever arrived before 10AM. I suppose it’s the right of the owner, isn’t it? They employ us little people and we’re always here, always able to mop up for them. I take a message and hang up. My mind wanders back to Harry.
We’ve been seeing each other for two months or so now. I didn’t want to get involved with him; I’d heard so much from the girls upstairs who work in his office. He’s a player, confident, been around. The gossip is he’s slept with over one hundred girls, and an indeterminate number of men too. Not my type at all. He wore me down with his interest, devout almost. I’d never had someone pay so much attention to me before, and it was nice, I have to admit. So I agreed to go to lunch with him, and that would be it. Before I knew it though, he’d arranged a dinner the following weekend. I slept with him that night and I was hooked from then on.
Sure, I’d been with men before. Clumsy I’d have to call them now. Now that my eyes have been opened. Harry is masterful, attentive and oh my god, the acts…well, I don’t want to kiss and tell. I’m sure you get the idea.
The phone rings again, and this time I glare at Christiana who takes the hint and does the answering. What was Harry playing at in the lift this morning, smelling my hair? I get the feeling he’s not into me anymore. That’s another rumour about him: he chases and chases and then he loses interest. I’m about to be next, I reckon. Maybe I should do something about that.