I can’t speak for Eden, but I’m fairly confident that, like me, she finds that our collaboration continues to help us learn more about both our own writing and writing generally. This month it was my turn to write the opening and, having to include the seemingly unpromising prompt of ‘She found a diamond bracelet in the back of the car’, I really had no idea where to start, so, not even trying to guess where it would take us, I decided that the sentence suggested something about luck and took it from there. In fact, as you’ll see, the subject became something else altogether.
Prompt: ‘She found a diamond bracelet in the back of the car’
Parts 1 and 3 and title: Bill
Parts 2 and 4: Eden
* * *
Petey and Joe had been friends since Primary School and, even back then, it was Petey who had the girls and Joe who wondered why he didn’t. Neither was funny-looking, but Petey had the chat. He even used it to try to shift some of the girls’ attention to Joe. It sort of worked a bit but, in the end, it was always Petey they wanted to be with.
Up until they were both fifteen, it was OK, but when kissing and the other hormone stuff kicked in, Joe’s frustrations and envy began to show more openly and they spent less time in each other’s company. In one way that was good, because with Petey out of the picture, Joe got more female attention, but each missed the other and the rare times they were out together, they talked mainly about the pre-girl bits of the good old days.
One Saturday evening, though, the girl thing did come up.
“It’s just luck,” said Petey.
“Yeah, but it’s all one way,” said Joe. “Luck’s supposed to even out.”
Petey couldn’t argue with that and anyway, he was meeting Sally at ten, and so it was nearly time for him to go.
Joe had no interest in meeting Sally, but Petey insisted. The boys left the pub and walked toward where Petey had parked his car.
“Come on, you’ll like her. Besides, I’ll give you a ride home after I pick her up. You’re on the way.”
“Oh, where are you going?” Joe tilted his head in his friend’s direction.
“Umm … well …”
An uncomfortable silence filled the air. “Is it a secret?” Joe said.
Petey blew out a loud breath as if exhausted. “Of course not, don’t be daft. Sally wants me to see something at Colemans, that’s all.”
Joe screwed up his face. “You mean Colemans, the jewellery store? That Colemans?”
Petey nodded. “That’s the one.”
“It’s late, the store’s closed, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is, but she wants to show me something in the display window, been bugging me about it for weeks.” He raked his fingers across his hair. “I’ve put her off, but I can’t any longer. I’ve been meaning to tell you, but …”
Joe stopped mid stride. “Tell me what?”
Petey turned to him just as they arrived at his 1980 beat-up Ford Mustang. With a sheepish look, he said, “Sally and I are getting married.”
The silence as they drove was awkward, menacing. At Sally’s house, Joe, looking straight ahead, asked, “Why?”
“Dunno,” said Petey. “Love, I s’pose”.
“Yeah, right,” said Joe.
Sally was waiting for them. Joe moved from the front seat to the back. She took his place and kissed Petey, who jerked his head towards the back seat, said, “This is Joe” and drove off again. There was tension between them, an edge, and the silence stretched. At last, Joe’s voice, its pitch higher, came from the back seat.
“Better than your last… fiancée.”
The final word was a sneer. The silence returned, then Joe again.
“Daisy, was it? Debbie?… No wonder they put her away… Bloody liar… Just a slag… Said she found a diamond bracelet in the back of the car… a Rolex on a basin in the bathroom… that credit card on the pavement… Yeah, right.”
“Bloody chancer … She was anybody’s you know. All over Bennie every Friday night… it was his watch she nicked…”
Sally looked at Petey, who shrugged his shoulders.
There was the echo of a laugh and the silence fell again. Sally turned her head. Joe was crying.
Before the car came to a full stop, Joe opened the door.
“Hey!” Petey looked in the rearview mirror.
“Let me out!”
“What the—?” Petey hit the brake; the car lurched forward. Joe lost his balance and fell into his seat. The door slammed shut.
Petey immediately turned to Sally. “You okay? You hurt?”
“I’m fine … fine.” Sally smoothed down the front of her dress. “You weren’t going fast.”
“Yes,” she said, breathless.
Joe ran out of the car. Petey put the car in park and ran after him. Moments later, he grabbed Joe by the arm, swung him around, and punched him in the face.
Joe fell, blood flowing from his nose.
Petey stood over his friend, hands on hips. He appeared ready to kick Joe when Sally ran up behind him. “No!” she yelled. “He’s bleeding.”
“I don’t care! You shouldn’t be here. Get back in the car.”
Sally ignored him, knelt in front of Joe and handed him a tissue.
Joe wiped his nose. “I love Petey.”
“I know,” she said, in a voice filled with compassion. She took his bloodied hand and pulled it to her belly. “Maybe you can love Little Petey too.”
* * *
As usual, comments, critical or otherwise, are welcome.