Tuesday, November 16, 2004

An oh so special treat!

Seeing as the original point of this blog was to be about my atempts at writing and drawing and as I teased with the news that Simian was briefly posted here I thought I'd post a short story I'm working on.
Reader beware! This is not only unfinished it is also a first draft so don't judge it too harshly just yet, rather read it and wait until the next update. Hopefully it'll prove interesting seeing how a story changes from first to second draft, you never know, what seems duff now might prove to be slightly better later.

The Perfect Christmas Present
Paul Harrison-Davies

With nowhere else to go and very little to do Raymond Gaines circumstances allowed him ample opportunity to think. Naturally enough Gaines thoughts turned towards his son. The irony was neither appreciated by Gaines nor was it noticed, the truth was that up until recently he had never really thought about his son; if he had perhaps he would not be in his current predicament.
Thoughts of his son led Gaines back to the previous week, to the start of his story.
It was Christmas Eve and Raymond Gaines was cursing loudly in the safety of his car at a young woman trying to vacate her parking space. Slowly slowly the woman tried to manoeuvre her car out of the tight space. It never occurred to Gaines that it was the close proximity of his car to the woman’s car that was makings things so difficult, just as it never occurred to him to move. Impatient and demanding to a fault Gaines saw no reason to move car back out of the way thereby, in his mind, relinquishing his claim on the vacant spot to be.
Scowling in reply to the young woman’s apologetic and embarrassed smile as she finally escaped from her parking prison Gaines pressed firmly down on the accelerator and his car lurched forward into the parking place with an angry growl from the engine and an angry scream from the car bumper.
Taking no responsibility for damaging his own car Gaines stormed away from the car park regretting that he had not had time to get the registration number of the young woman who made him bash his car bumper.
Last minute shoppers filled the city centre to a surprising degree and Gaines marvelled that people could leave their Christmas shopping so late. Of course Gaines himself was doing his own last minute shopping and had no call to criticise the shopping habits of anyone else. Raymond Gaines was the head of a successful business, a business that he had taken over from his father when it was left to him. This was not the case of a spoilt child inheriting an easy ride, this was the case of a spoilt child inheriting a small dying business. Hard work, and an ability to crush anyone in his path with the ease of the truly amoral had seen the business grow into a big business and had seen not grow as a person at all. Normally a member of staff, an elderly woman who had been in his employ as a personal assistant for more years than Gaines could remember, would buy presents for Gaines’ wife, mother or son, unfortunately he had fired the member of staff in question two weeks previous and had neglected to check that the Christmas shopping had been done. Earlier on Christmas Eve Gaines had realised that he had no presents to give his family.
Buying present for his wife and mother was relatively easy, Gaines simply went into the first clothes shop he saw and bought several items of their most expensive clothes guessing the sizes (being careful to err on the small size imagining that if the clothes did not fit then at least it was a flattering mistake) He had no idea if they were good choices but felt sure that if they were not then his wife or Mother would simply exchange the clothes feeling flattered by the size and happy about the price.
Looking at his watch Gaines began to feel frustration, time was short and his son’s present would have to be a little more thoughtful than the purchases he had made for his wife and mother. Gaines had no idea what kind of gift he should get his son because he knew very little about about nine year old boys in general and his son in particular. That the chosen gift had to be the right gift was of great importance, and it was here that Gaines was stabbed with a slight pang of regret at his hasty firing of the old woman. With a mental shrug the pang regret was cast aside, the woman was far to old and her recent bout of ill health made it necessary to get rid of her, simple nostalgia was no reason to keep the failing assistant in his employ and if the fabrication of missing reports and files had to used to allow him to legally fire her then he felt no guilt in fabricating them. No guilt at all. But the problem was that the woman, who clearly had no son of her own, had paid particular attention to the presents bought for Gaines' young boy. Every Christmas and every birthday the boy unwrapped a present that gave great joy and delight, at the time it had been greatly appreciated by Gaines as the boy was normally sullen and uncommunicative, although this behaviour was only in evidence to his father, everyone else found the boy to be bright attentive and just a little melancholy, as benefits one who is in need of fatherly support but who receives nothing but cold disinterest. Gaines’ son hung on to the hope that his father did indeed love him as evidenced by the gifts he sometimes received, for the gifts were not just expensive they were thoughtful and interesting. That these gifts seemed to undo the damage, however briefly, that Gaines was thoughtlessly causing was apparent even to Gaines himself.
Shoppers did there best to walk past Gaines as he stood in the middle of the pavement waiting for inspiration, inevitably the would bump into him and he would curse loudly at them. Some apologised, most ignored the man and a select few surprised themselves by not hitting him, something about Gaines high handed arrogant manner seemed to cause even the most aggressive man to shrink back. raymond Gaines had long been a master of intimidation.
Time was running out so Gaines fell back upon one of his usual techniques, the exploitation of others. A brisk walk further up the street and over a zebra crossing led him into one of the city’s shopping centres. Grey and ugly with scant regard for aesthetic pleasure the centre looked like any other. Inside the shopping centre was a large department store it was here that Gaines hoped to find some sort of acceptable gift for his son.
Moving swiftly through the several floors of clothing, kitchen utensils and appliances, televisions, stereos, garden furniture and equipment, household furniture and ornaments,stationary, jewellery and perfumes Gaines finally found an area given over to children’s toys.
Alarmingly short of customers Gaines knew time was short and the store would soon be closing, he needed to find a shop assistant someone who he could transfer the responsibility of choosing his son’s present onto. Seeing the red polo shirted uniform of the store assistant Gaines made haste.
“You there,” bellowed Gaines unnecessarily, “I need assistance.”
The short hunched figure turned round revealing himself to be a man well past middle age with a full head of hair which had grown thin and wispy so that in it’s length it floated in the slightest breeze undulating as if it was some strange exotic underwater plant swaying with the ebb and flow of the sea. Beneath the almost hypnotic hair shone a pair of eyes that held Gaines with a piercing clarity that they gave him the impression that he was being appraised in such a complete and total manner that he felt a dread wave of nausea and a weakening of the knees. Shaking off the alien and invasive feeling Gaines once again attempted to gain the upper hand.
“I am short of time and must have a suitable gift for my son.”
“Of course Sir,” replied the elderly assistant, “and what can you tell me of your son?”
It was an simple question, and given the circumstances more than appropriate, it was also spoken with polite courtesy yet it seemed to Gaines that the man was mocking him, it seemed that implicit with every carefully chosen word the man was slapping Gaines whom he saw as so much dirt to be scraped from his shoe.
‘I.... He is, is a normal average young boy of nine.”
Once again the frank stare of the old man seemed to appraising Gaines’ words and once again it seem that as the man spoke he was judging Gaines and that once again that judgement was damning.
“An average normal boy?”

......and there we take our leave of this 'macabre' tale, if you want to find out how it ends keep dropping by.


paul said...

HEY! What's this cliff-hanger ending shit... give me more...

It's good mister HD. I though it was a little terse in places (particularly the first paragraph), but that's first drafts for you. A little fleshing out here and there and a little whittling and refining in other places (there's the standard few typos) and it should be a fine tale.

I muchly like the evil theory of clothes buying for family members. Nice.

paulhd said...

Sorry about the cliffhanger Paul, I've written a bit more but not enought to make it worthwhile posting just yet, you'll just have to wait a while longer.
Funny you should mention 'terse', I actually like terse strong sentences being a fan of hard boiled crime, but I also like long descriptive sentences such as you'd find in M R James or Poe, any other obvious influence on 'Pefect Christmas Present'. When I write I tend to slip from one style to another and have to go back and adjust accordingly.
Anyway, glad you're liking it so far.