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misbeliever - chapter 1

by eanna 

Posted: 04 October 2005
Word Count: 2010
Summary: There is no way back. All that there is, is this life. We become the sun, and with the sun we become the stars, never ever again to be the same whole beings. There is no heaven, no hell, no nothing. We are the entire universe at once, and nothing, forever.

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Chapter 1
Obsequium funeris ~ Decus

At a funeral it is completely possible to look both pathetic and noble at the same time. In fact, it serves as an unexceptional rule.

In a field full of crosses, the rain soaking and the wind whipping, the best clothes of all were muddy and dishevelled. In situations such as this self inflicted gender-programming sets the faces of the men to hard and the faces of the women to soft and tear stained.
Today’s gathering was typical to these policies of behaviour. They cared about their mortality in a way they could never allow during their normal explainable weekday mornings. In this case however, the mourners also cared about other things, interested parties; Reporters.
Outside the Cemetery gates these squinting creatures stand in wait with cameras and pads, with lists of names and targets. They braved the rain and the soggy discomfort, because being there meant a lot of things.

Jacob felt his head, running his fingers through the gel and rainwater. Why the hell had he dolled himself up so? Now his forehead was getting sticky and it was only a matter of time until he forget himself and wiped an eye with the sticky fingers he’d just cover in fashionable glue. There were hundreds of leeches here today and Jacob hated the whole thing, the whole stupid cemetery service show. What was it for? Who was it for? It was indeed a show and nothing more. He was sure of that.
Jacob felt the grinding fist strangling his stomach. He felt that he was no better than any one of these scrambling attention seekers. He did not believe in this sort of ceremony and yet, he was here, for vanity.

The previous morning he’d arrived at his Dublin home tipped his taxi driver and entered the cold empty apartment flicking automatically at his answering machine as he passed it in the hall. The squeaking voice message from his PR watchdog Janice had very nearly knocked him off his feet, such dreadful news it reported.

‘Hi Jacob, welcome back, only one message today. That Italian writer… eh, Candelli croaked it yesterday evening. You’d better go to the funeral… looks like you’re the big cheese now, eh!’
‘Yeah sure,’ said Jacob, answering the machine. He couldn’t be dead. It couldn’t be true.

But Daniel Candelli was dead indeed. Dead. Dead. Dead. Candelli was a good friend to Jacob and much more than the “Pompous old pain in the arse” Jacob had always called him. Hero; would have been a better description.

Daniel Candelli was a writer too. Actually, he was the only real writer of the two. Daniel wrote books that sold millions of copies, as did Jacob. Yet he also received a regular dose of plaudits and awards, while Jacob received none.
A few years ago Candelli had even received a lifetime achievement award from Noble’s Gunpowder Company. And, it was not long after its presentation that he had disappeared.
It had been three years at least. Off the face of the earth wouldn’t have been an accurate term, mind you, Candelli was around somewhere. But the Italian did disappear out of Jacob’s world, a world of book signings, launches, and movie premiers. In empty cocktails parties with empty heads making empty conversation, he was nowhere to be found. Of the many disappointingly fruitless dinners with unpleasantly narcissistic whiners, Candelli attended none. Jacob could say he hadn’t really noticed but there had been extra sales, which meant money and Jacob always noticed money. And without a Candelli novel in three years a host of other writers typed frantically to fill the void.

In the Cemetery of the Most Holy Saint Peter amongst the hills of suburban Rome, the Padre invoked the Latin lines. They were well-rehearsed and spoken as such for hundreds of years.
Jacob thought about them as he always did. Who made them up? Ashes to ashes etc… Who actually sat down and worked it out, Jesus? Jacob never read the bible but he was pretty sure that Jesus didn’t actually write any of it himself. So, somebody else must have.

Daniel always took care to tell Jacob how much he liked him. Jacob used to say that he would hate the old man if he weren’t such a good cook. They had a bantering relationship. Mostly because Jacob couldn’t have any other sort of relationship with another man and luckily Candelli knew this and treated Jacob as an old retired schoolteacher might cajole a former favourite pupil.
But Jacob did hate the man too, in a way. Daniel was better than he and Jacob knew it. Not just as a writer, that was blatantly obvious, but as a man too. The Italian author wrote from the heart, or seemed to, which was much more potent. Jacob wrote from between the legs, spitting his attitude at people, selling more books with his energy than with his talent. He even managed once or twice to get his horrifically unphotogenic face into movies based on his bland thrillers. He was young and he wrote for himself, fitting perfectly into his own fantasies. While the movies made from Candelli’s work were timeless epics frequently associated with the golden grimace of a certain blind statuette.
Still Jacob loved, had loved, the elderly scholar. Daniel understood the power they had. No matter which of them was the more talented, the Italian understood the reason they were as popular as they were.
People believed them, believed in them. In fiction or in non-fiction, the people who read their respective books believed what they read for as long as it took to tell a story. And whether the writing style was smooth and perfectly executed or just thrown onto the page. When you read their work, you believed it. Not many writers could lay claim to literary charisma like it. That was something special, something they shared. It drew them together and bonded them. Now Daniel Candelli, the one that had fully realised their talent was dead.

Dead, and gone, well not technically gone, unless the coffin was empty he was right down their in front of them, in a needlessly expensive box, going off.

Daniel’s sister, Maria Candelli was looking at Jacob across the void. She Daniels Jacobs age but extremely pretty all the same. Was it wrong to think of her as he now did, younger, naked and sweating? This was a funeral after all and God could resent his lack of respect. Or maybe he would understand the basic animal nature he’d programmed into his arrogant monkeys.
Daniel used say that Jacob could marry Maria as soon as he became a real writer. Jacob used to say she was ugly and smelly and he’d never let a Candelli into his house unescorted. This was true, if she entered his house, Jacob would surely be following closely after, panting like a hound.

There were a dozen or so people encircling Daniel’s muddied hole. A publisher, A couple of relatives, his ex-wife avec daughter Madeleine, a very tasty young Venetian girl, only ten years younger than him and making eyes at the millionaire she saw across her father’s sodden box. Jacob looked down into the grave. Candelli was in there, in his box, probably getting soaked too. Jacob wondered if the funeral directors had put hair gel in the Italian’s expired curls.
Jacob was still staring at the mucky wood when he noticed the movement of the funeral party as they headed towards the cameras, duty fulfilled and with headshots in mind. Jacob hurried after for the same reason.

There was a group of clergymen hanging around behind the hearse at the bottom of the hill by the gate. Like corner boys in a schoolyard waiting for the bell to ring they stood waiting for him as he trailed after the other revellers. The comparison made him smile. Then, as he grew closer, Jacob likened them to a group of old experimental trees crossed with human DNA. One, two, three… eight of them stood there in total. Eight priests, or bishops, whatever they were, Jacob wasn’t known for his religious trivia. They should wear strips like in the army.

Their collars reminded him of Daniel again - it was his funeral - and that last telephone call three days ago.
‘Howdy Dan.’ Jacob had answered, ‘what’s your damage?’ Jacob was stoned, watching Star Trek Voyager and stealing character ideas.
‘Don’t do it’ Daniel rasped, ‘don’t let him come back.’
‘Of course not.’ Jacob replied smiling. ‘Never would I ever let him come back.’ Unfortunately his sluggish mind realised the tone of Candelli’s voice too late, stupid.
‘Dan… Daniel?’ he asked awakened by the wavering in the other’s voice, but the line was dead. Lots of things were dead now. Ideas.

The octo-clergical circle closed around Jacob as he exited the hallowed grounds. He began mentally compiling a list of adverbs for funeral use.
- Deadly, falsely, sexily, youthfully, finally, tightly, and pitifully -
- Terminally, murderously, depressingly, darkly, muddily and sadly -
The copse of clergy took turns shaking him by the hand and all eight congratulated him on ‘your last piece of work’. Jacob had no idea priests were allowed to read books like “Blood Suckers”. He was happy however when the first three rubbed their hands uncomfortably after he shook them.

How many priests does it take to wipe the hair gel from a wet man’s hand? Hilarious, he thought, one more adverb, you’re on thirteen.
‘Peacefully.’ He said.
‘Excuse me?’ asked the nearest grey willow.
‘I’m sorry,’ Jacob told the priest, ‘I’m a little preoccupied today.’ He shifted from one foot to the other uneasy under sixteen pious eyes.
‘Of course of course, young Jacob.’ This one spoke again with an Irish accent. The leader, Jacob thought, or a chosen friendly voice.
‘It’s a terrible day for literature.’
‘Yeah sure.’ Jacob said. ‘Listen, em?’
‘Archbishop Dillon.’
‘Fr Dillon, I’m really knackered… tired. I just want to go back to the hotel you know? Have a think and all that?’ He looked for an opening in the Holy Circle. There didn’t seem to be one.
For a moment Jacob was reminded of Red Rover, a game he used to play when he was a boy and wondered who was the weak link in this chain and what sort of reaction he’d receive if he burst unceremoniously through their ranks and dashed off down the road. It would really be sweet if the priests forgot themselves and gave chase and after being caught Jacob ended up at the bottom of a Catholic pile-up. Catholic pile-up, the reference led to a group of revolting images.


Fr Dillon placed a hand on Jacob’s arm as he snapped back into reality. The old man had tiny pupils even in this dim light. He looked like a real concentrator or maybe it was just colour blindness.
‘I think you should stay in Rome a little longer, my boy’ he said raising his hand and sweeping it around in a wide arc, Jacob waited for a bull to dash by. ‘There is so much to see in Rome. So much to do.’
‘I don’t think so sir… Father. I’m not really up for….’ Jacob began but stopped in shock as the old priest squared up to him. Toe to toe, eye to eye.
‘But the Vatican boy, surely you can’t miss that,’ then he tightened his claws on Jacobs arm and widened his eyes to whisper, ‘especially when you could meet the New Pope eh? In person?’ Dillon lowered his eyebrows one at a time and Jacob considered both the “invitation” and the old man’s facial dexterity.
Over the boughs of the holy forest he could see the Candellis were climbing into their cars. Maria looked so beautiful and excited by the weather. He really wanted to see her soon. She must feel distraught to be smiling so bravely.
‘OK, ‘ he told Fr Dillon, ‘but tomorrow yeah?’

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Comments by other Members

Jubbly at 09:38 on 18 October 2005  Report this post
Hello eanna,I think the reason you haven't had any response to this piece is simply the length. Most members find it daunting when faced with very long text, if you break it up or post shorter chapters I'm certain you will get the comments you deserve. I found the beginning gripping and the imagery, especially the hippos very effective. Your writing is very vivid and easily transports the reader to another world. I forgot I was reading chapter 19 and when I noticed I wondered why you started there and not at the beginning. Sometimes on this site you can build up a trust with other members and eventually post your entire novel chapter by chapter which is incredibly helpful but ususally a chronological order is preferred. I was totally swepty away by the relationhsip between Jacob and Becky and the African adventure they seemed to be having, then I was tugged forcefully into another dimension or so it seemed. You are dealing with a very big subject and taking the reader on a mystical journey that requires total belief in the situation. I enjoyed what I read and really want to know what happens next but I would like to read from the beginning. Apart from a few typos, i.e force instead of forced, everything flows beautifully. I strongly suggest you post again a much shorter version and see what sort of response you get.

Best of luck with it and I look forward to reading more.



Dee at 14:18 on 26 October 2005  Report this post
Eanna, I've just had a quick skim through this and I agree with Jubbly. Your writing is good, it’s stylish, but this is too long for me to read and comment in detail. Also it’s not a synopsis.

If I were you, I'd do as Julie suggests; break it up into smaller sections and upload it piece by piece – but put it in another group or in the general archive. You’ll get many more comments there.


Xena at 12:09 on 17 November 2005  Report this post
I was completely swept by the story. It takes you from the very first line. I liked the contrast between the emotional state of the character, and the show of a funeral. Your piece is full of very interesting observations, and this is one of them: ‘self inflicted gender-programming sets the faces of the men to hard and the faces of the women to soft and tear stained.’ There’s a far cry from what things are to what we understand them to be, and you expressed it brilliantly.


smudger at 13:04 on 18 November 2005  Report this post
Hi Eanna,

Welcome to the group!

This is a fine piece of storytelling and a compelling start to your novel. You set up the main characters very naturally and, as Xena has said, there are some astute observations and nice jokes peppered through the piece. The older character has some features in common with Umberto Eco, or someone of that ilk. Interesting and amusing the way that Jacob can't detach his writer's craft from everday events; it seems to keep intruding. I wonder where you intend to take this?

I was a bit distracted by a few typos, but that's a minor quibble. Really enjoyed it.

More please.



By 'older character' I meant Daniel.

eanna at 12:51 on 07 December 2005  Report this post
Thanks a million guys,

going to start uploading chapter by chapter.

Anj at 19:57 on 07 December 2005  Report this post

I was intrigued by your synopsis so looked this out, and it's a jewel. Your narrative voice is so distinctive, and I love it. I loved the three characters we're introduced to and their relationships. The formatting was a bit scrappy sometimes and that was a bit distracting; there were sentences too that seemed half sentences and I found that a bit distracting too, had to re-read the previous to understand; sometimes the narrative seemed to move too much from one train of thought/scene to another for my taste, but perhaps that's just your style, so I won't argue with it. Btw, first line, "unexceptional" to me means insignificant, but I think you were trying to say it was a rule unbroken without exception ...

But those were minor things - I loved this. Will look out chapter 2


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