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Misbeliever - Chapter 4

by eanna 

Posted: 09 January 2006
Word Count: 3483

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

Chapter 4
In the interest of coherence

By the time his lunch appointment with Maria came around, Jacob was in a much more positive and stable mindset. The Sun’s apocalyptic advance towards the Earth seemed to have been cancelled and instead the benevolent amber ball was smiling down upon him, rather than searing the flesh from his crumbling radioactive bones.
Yes, Jacob was in a great mood now. And, although he had satisfied his grease requirements earlier in a nearby, disappointingly moral café, Jacob was starving for a bit of lunch. It seemed to him that this over the last couple of hours he had gained much needed perspective. Daniel Candelli was dead and that was shit, but he had no control over it now. Some guy was supposedly blackmailing the church, which was also sort of, but not as, shit. The fact that he’d been offered the bizarre task of beating the blackmailer to the punch was both unbelievable and unwelcome, but Jacob had not control over that either.
Sitting in La Terazza, the roof garden restaurant of the Eden hotel, Jacob looked out over the Roman rooftops, and found peace in his latest summation that, yes, a lot of things were shit, and no, he had no control over them. So, why worry? It was a beautiful day, his head was clear once more, and he was going to have to deal with everything whether he wanted to or not.
That decided, Jacob picked up his menu and his new mood spoke to him. Order what you like boy, it said, it’s on me.
This was pleasing, because not only did the menu look really fancy with its little velvet rope and tassel, it was also full of things that he loved to eat. Cannelloni, gnocchi, Calzone and to a lesser extent risotto, all his favourite Italian foods, and yes, they really did taste better in Italy. Maybe it was physiological, or maybe it was the tomatoes? The atmosphere probably leant a hand too. Whatever it was, Jacob was in love with it. It felt good to recapture something of his liking for Rome. Only yesterday he’d been afraid that he could never come back again without feeling great sadness and regret. It really was amazing what food can do for you.
There were of course other reasons to come back to Italy and the most important one of these was walking towards him across the rooftop at that very moment.

Maria was not herself, Jacob could see that immediately. He rose to greet her. She gave him a wane smile, and a peck on the cheek but seemed more interested in the view than in Jacob.
‘Maria,’ Jacob asked, ‘are you alright?’ She sat down and fidgeted, something that he had never seen her do before.
‘Oh Jacob,’ said Maria, ‘everything is so wrong.’ She picked up her napkin and hid her face with it. Was she sobbing?
‘Maria,’ Jacob said, trying to be stern as he pulled the cloth from her grasp, ‘what…’ He stopped in mid sentence. She looked so frightened, what could possibly have happened?
‘Maria?’ he asked again, softly this time, ‘tell me.’ She sniffed and took herself to hand.
‘I can’t,’ she told him, ‘not really. I can never tell you really, because I don’t understand it.’
‘Don’t understand what?’ Jacob looked at her trying with his eyes to force the answer from her. It had the opposite effect and Maria broke down again. It almost seemed to him that she was someone else, not the woman he knew. This was Maria Candelli, the sister of his best friend and mentor Daniel. She was elegant and charming, intelligent and strong. This was not the same person at all.
So again, Jacob could feel his mood descend to the depths of yesterday.
‘Oh Jacob,’ Maria said suddenly and with a burst of rebellious energy. ‘Don’t do it Jacob. Just leave. Whatever it is they ask of you, refuse. Leave!’
‘Listen Maria,’ he began, but Maria was already rising to go. ‘Wait.’ He said. Maria reached into her handbag and brought out a small book, looking around frantically as she did so.
‘Daniel was going to give this book to you on your birthday, he posted it back from the trip he was on, just before he died,’ she said handing it to him, ‘it’s full of short stories about honour. Oh Jacob, he said it was exactly what you needed.’ Maria patted Jacob’s hand as he took the book from her. ‘You’re a good man, Jacob. You pretend you aren’t, but you are.’ A tear slid slowly down her cheek as she turned away and Jacob, felt a surge of horrible frustration. He wanted to stop her, make her stay and explain. He wanted to say something. But, for once in his wisecracking smart-alecky life, he couldn’t push a single word out of his stupid mouth. Speechless. So this was how it felt.

‘Please,’ he whimpered moments later, but by then Maria was gone and left Jacob feeling more confused than ever.
This morning after he’d gotten out of the Church Limo Jacob would have readily put his hands above his head and admitted. Yes, I am officially confused. But now after what Maria had been trying to tell him, failed to tell him, his mental state that morning was akin to spiritual enlightenment when compared to how he now felt.
Jacob turned his attention to the street so that he could catch a glimpse of Maria again before she got into her car, but this only served to make things worse. Jacob’s heart flinched away horribly in his chest from what he saw on the footpath below.
Outside the restaurant waiting at Maria’s car were two men in black. Jacob cursed his constant vanity. Why did he always leave his glasses behind whenever he went out? The faces below were frustratingly blurred, but even so, he felt that the initial shock of recognition he’d felt had been right on the money. Dead on.
One of the men was largely built and Jacob couldn’t place him, but the other was a much smaller, much older man, unmistakably grey and willowy. Down there on the street, intercepting Maria as she left the hotel was Archbishop Dillon, the leader of the Octo-clergical circle Jacob had encountered at Daniel’s funeral.
Jacob watched the two men as they guided Maria into the car, the larger man climbing in with her. This was of some relief to Jacob. He couldn’t explain it, but he somehow preferred the hulk to the scrawny Dillon anyway. The Archbishop’s presence frightened Jacob. It meant that all of the events of the last two days were connected somehow, and couldn’t be ignored. Not any more.

Fr. Dillon turned his attention upwards from Maria’s car as it drove away. He looked up at Jacob and held his gaze. He didn’t smile or sneer, or squint or nod, no. There was no expression on the old cleric’s face at all. He simply looked up so that Jacob could see him clearly. It was a dumb statement of fact.

Yes it is I, Dillon’s presence told him. Work it out.

After that the Archbishop walked off out of sight down the street, as though he were strolling carefree to church on a Sunday morning and Jacob was left half-standing and looking out over the restaurant wall at the empty street below.
Oh my god, he thought, what the hell is going on?
As he sat back down he noticed the book that Maria had brought him. It was typical of Daniel… had been typical of Daniel to buy a present for someone, either for a birthday or for Christmas, long before it was needed. Jacob’s birthday wasn’t for another two months, but he guessed that Daniel had planned to read the book himself before giving it to him. That way the two of them could have heated arguments about its content.

The old bastard

Stories of Nobility and Honour, the book was called. And, inside the cover Daniel had written and inscription:

For Jacob, I just thought you would like to know what you are missing. Daniel.

Jacob smiled at this.
‘Asshole,’ he said aloud.


In the white Renault Rajette watched the day unfold over Jacob like an anvil in a bed sheet. Everything seemed to be happening according to plan as far as he could see. Unfortunately for Rajette, this meant that there was no chance of a little action. Jacob was being easily led and as yet didn’t need any knuckled reminders. The writer was also quite safe and unharmed, meaning the Black and Whites didn’t warrant a pasting either. How boring.
That evening the hired Palestinian pinch followed Jacob out to a bar and watched with pleasure as the young man’s face displayed the pain and obvious personal anguish that he must have been feeling. It wasn’t as good as actually beating the hell out of him, but Rajette reasoned that as long as someone was suffering then the day wasn’t a complete loss.
Rajette left the bar at quarter to twelve and headed back to his car outside the hotel. It was beginning to smell like cheese and unfiltered cigarettes, which was comforting. As he suspected Rajette had returned just in time to see a light being turned off in Jacob’s room, the Black and Whites were at work again, perfect. As soon as Jacob was asleep he would go up there and take a look at what they had left behind. Then he would have tomorrow’s destination. Rajette leaned back to wait.

At twelve forty, bang on time, Jacob came rolling around the corner and up the street. Rajette had known that it would be twelve forty because the bar they’d been in was closed at twelve and Jacob, in his state would be shown the door by twelve thirty. After that three minuet walk would then take at least fifteen minutes.
It took a couple of practice runs but Jacob managed to mount the front steps to the hotel and manoeuvre himself through the lobby doors, which were held open by Christopher who worked as a night porter and was used to this sort of behaviour from the excessive and the wealthy.
Five minutes later Jacob was mostly in bed and soundly asleep, fully clothed and snoring. He had almost been on his hands and knees in the hallway as he tried to put his key card into the little slot in the door. Fortunately the porter had been following at a respectable distance. And, after giving the distinguished guest a deferential number of attempts at opening the door, Christopher picked up both card and owner and did it for him, helping himself to a generous tip from the wallet that Jacob had thrown at him saying.
‘I think it’s in there, off ya go, work away, mumble, mumble.’ And Jacob was asleep.

Now, Christopher wasn’t a bad guy. He didn’t steal any cards or anything. He didn’t even take all the money. He only took some of it. Well, most of it actually, but he left enough for a taxi to the airport. Not a bad guy at all.
After leaving the room Christopher walked down the hallway, head down, counting his money. A dozen steps on and he came to a complete stop as he felt something press against his bowed head. From Christopher’s perspective all that he could see was an expensive looking shoe and a pile of recently dropped money, covering presumably, another expensive looking shoe.
‘Don’t move,’ said a voice, ‘I have a gun against your head.’
‘Ok,’ said Christopher shaking. It wasn’t that he was a coward. There was a gun at his head, or so he’d been told. That sort of thing would make a lot of people wet themselves.
‘That’s disgusting,’ Rajette informed the porter, his nose wrinkled with distaste. ‘Do you have a key card for the door?’ he asked, nudging Christopher’s head with the muzzle of his gun.
‘Wha?’ Christopher squeaked. Rajette spun the porter around and marched him up the hall to Jacob’s room.
‘Open it,’ said Rajette. Christopher didn’t for even a brief moment harbour any ideas of refusal and immediately took out his master key-card to open the door. Rajette was a little disappointed at this but he supposed that it could be taken as a compliment, so that’s how he took it.
Using Christopher as a doorstop Rajette entered the room and straight away found what he was looking for. On Jacob’s bedside locker there was an envelope and a leather wallet of papers. Rajette ripped open the envelope and read the letter inside. It had a check attached. He straightened the letter out and placed it on the table. And, taking his mobile phone from his pocket he took a picture of it. It took him a couple of tries before he was sure that he had a readable picture of it but the flash was bright enough and penmanship wasn’t too flamboyant. Then Rajette took an envelope of his own from his breast pocket and folded the note and the cheque into it whilst putting the ripped envelope and his phone back into his pocket. Everything was now in order.

Rajette left the room stopping only to whisper in Christopher’s ear.
‘Go and pick up your money,’ He said and strode towards the stairs. There was no need to threaten the porter for silence. Rajette knew the type, just a normal guy. He wouldn’t tell a soul. Even if the thought did cross the porters mind, he had his money and his embarrassment to think about. Better to just forget the whole thing had happened, that was the easy way and normal guys always took it.

Rajette left the hotel and crossed the street to his car. After sending the picture by email and calling Marshall to confirm his orders, Rajette was off to the airport. He felt good that this part of the process was over. There was no doubt now that the writer would take the job. He had little choice now after the little show the Black and Whites had put on for him.
The most professional way to follow someone was to find out where they were going and then get there first. This meant that the pursuer could familiarise the lay of the land and plan his strategy before the target even arrives. This was straight out of the FBI textbooks and Rajette was a big fan of the FBI. Not the real FBI no. The movie FBI now, they were the business, “Hands on your fuckin head!” and all that jazz.

Anyway, all the “lay of the land” rubbish hardly mattered in this instance, because Rajette knew everything there was to know about their destination.

The Palestinian was going home.

Finally, he thought, some real food.


In the morning Jacob was surprised to find that his hangover was nowhere near as punishing as it had been the day before. It was quite possible though that he was still drunk, so he decided not to make any assumptions just yet. Waiting in the back of his mind, Jacob knew, were dark thoughts that were jostling for his attention but he resisted them for as long as possible in order to make himself a cup of coffee and turn on the television. Jacob always put on the television when he wasn’t writing, even when he had no intention of watching it. He was prone to loneliness and it made him feel like he was connected to the world.
Jacob’s blissful ignorance however was quickly stamped out by the presence of an envelope and a large leather folder on his bedside table. He couldn’t remember seeing it the night before, but then again, he couldn’t remember seeing much of anything after eleven o’clock.
He opened the envelope and read the letter.

Mr Terry,

Enclosed is a cheque, which you will find is most generous. Thank you so much for your assistance in this matter. Below is the address and phone number of a prominent church scribe by the name of Darit Richeloe. He has been informed of your visit and will have the relevant papers ready for your collection.
In the folder you will find copies of the information and notes compiled by Fr. Alexander De’Angelo with whom you spoke yesterday…

‘Alexander,’ Jacob said aloud, he’d been way off. The rest of the letter was an address in Jerusalem of all places. So that’s where he was going? He didn’t seem to have any other option. The decision had to be made, and with Maria in mind, Jacob made it.

It was then that Jacob decided to play the fool. The priests, he told himself, were merely friends of the Candelli family who were helping Maria through a difficult time. Daniel’s sister was obviously distraught at his loss and could not been taken seriously in such a state. The lie actually made Jacob feel better. The falseness of his logic was classic.
He picked up the cheque and stared at it. He even got a pen and paper from his bag and wrote the figure down upon it. It was a huge fat number that pleased him greatly.
Well, Jacob thought, if he was going to fool himself for anything, it may as well be for a big dirty pile of money. He might not agree or even understand what he was taking upon himself, but one thing was for sure.

He was getting paid.


Coherence, Meaning and other worthwhile aims

People are always talking about finding meaning in their lives. What a load of rubbish. Everything has meaning.

In every week there are seven days, and in each of them there are twenty-four hours. In every hour there are sixty minutes and in each the same number of seconds.
Inside every single second there are probably lots of other measurements of time with names like nanoseconds or milliseconds. And, someone with the capacity and know-how to do so has broken down these too, into even smaller dot and blips of existential measurement.
It really is amazing that the human brain can even fathom such ideas. But what is even more amazing is this:

All the time, regardless of the unit chosen to quantify it, the universe is doing something. We are doing something, going somewhere, growing, dying, feeling, rotting, expanding, ingesting, reacting, excreting, and making lists. In every version of time, every second, every hour, every fortnight, all the bank holiday weekends, during summer holidays, surgery opening hours and commercial breaks, we are thinking, and we are living.

If you can’t find meaning in that, then there probably isn’t any to be found anywhere. Not even on ebay.


A week later Jacob was thinking his own thoughts about meaning. He too was wondering about whether he could find meaning or whether it was supposed to find him. He was on a plane again, leaving Israel for Africa. The last seven days had been full of events that were full of meaning for Jacob. Unfortunately, he wasn’t sure what they meant.
Africa? How did he get to this stage? Where were his choices? He couldn’t remember making any at all recently. All he knew now was that he was afraid and lonely and had more to lose than ever. But he denied himself the truth of it. He wouldn’t back out now, he would never back out. Instead he would pretend that at any moment he could back out. Just give them back their money and walk away. Hell, he could give them back twice what he had been paid, that was all he had to do. And, then he could go and find Becky, and they could be together.
It wasn’t that simple, not any more. It was only a week after Rome and already it was too late to stop. He was hooked, and he was decided. No matter what the outcome.

Jacob would come to regret that decision. It would break his heart. But for now he pretended that it wouldn’t, that it couldn’t. He even fooled himself into thinking that he was not being used.
Who is the Head Man here? Jacob asked himself as he watched the little plane on his TV screen move slowly closer to Ghana. Jacob Terry. that’s who. He was one hundred percent in-charge of the situation, like always. He could handle it all. Weird scribes, little druggies with guns, loosing his only friend and mentor. Yeah, he could handle.

Jacob leaned back into his long hall flight and thought. What else could possibly happen to him after this last week in Israel?

After all, hadn’t enough happened to him already?

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Comments by other Members

scoops at 11:43 on 10 January 2006  Report this post
Hello Eanna, I chanced upon this posting and didn't intend to read on as it was clearly well into a narrative in which much has already happened, but was swept along by the energy and humour that drive your writing:-) It is very impressive - too wordy, but that's par for the course in a first draft. It will benefit, later, from some prudent editing. For the time being it seems to me that the enjoyment you're getting from putting down the story is palpable, and it lifts what's on the page. I have no idea whether it works as a whole, but it hums in this extract.

Apart from ironing out the many typos, i have just two bits of advice. The exchange with Maria doesn't quite work, and I think it's to do with the very sudden shift in mood. Her words are dramatic enough so dispensing with actions might help. I also found the jump from the letter pointing him towards Israel, to the African trip, too great. If you are saving whatever happened there for later in the novel, you need to write into the African trip so that we get a sense of the time that has passed and Jacob's mood.

Separately to this, and if it has some resonance, which it must, the section about time is terrific and would be great at the start of a novel:-) Shyama

smudger at 10:02 on 11 January 2006  Report this post
Hi Jacob,

Well this is bursting with humour and energy: I enjoyed it greatly. The reflection on time and meaning stands out as particularly well-written.

I agree with Shyama about the plot leap from Israel to Africa. It seems abrupt, but I suppose you'll cover whatever happened in Israel in some retrospective later on. I'm curious why you left this clearly essential part of the plot out at this stage?

Another bit that resonated with me was
Jacob always put on the television when he wasn’t writing, even when he had no intention of watching it. He was prone to loneliness and it made him feel like he was connected to the world.
This seems right on the money for an MC who makes a living as a solitary writer.

There were a few typos etc that I spotted:

that this over the last couple
– typo

but Jacob had not control over that either
– typo

She gave him a wane smile
– ‘…wan…’

The old bastard
– missing punctuation

Daniel had written and inscription
– typo

like an anvil in a bed sheet
– This simile didn't quite work for me as an anvil can’t unfold; sorry to be so literal.

After that three minuet walk
– ‘After that, the three minute walk’

and penmanship wasn’t too flamboyant
– typo

the porters mind
– typo

Coherence, Meaning and other worthwhile aims
– missing punctuation?

loosing his only friend
– typo

OK, so now I'm hooked, waiting for the next chapter...




Oh dear! I think I'm losing my marbles. I called you Jacob when I meant to say, Eanna. Apologies.
NB Must learn to distinguish between people in the real world and fictional characters.

eanna at 20:22 on 11 January 2006  Report this post
Hey Smudger,

Thanks again for your input! I've polished up those typos and I'm having a serious think about the jump.

You see, I wrote the book in Africa, long after I'd been in Israel and I was attempting to improve my writing by taking the old "write what you know" idiom a little too far, so the next few chapters are set in Africa with interspersed memories of Israel.

I'm not sure it works and am looking forward to your input.


Cymro at 21:33 on 14 January 2006  Report this post
Hi Eanna,

This was an excellent chapter, really enjoyed reading it. It's a long piece, but you hold the reader's attention throughout, I felt. I think this chapter is very plausibly and skillfully written.

There is room for a bit of editing, I think. I spotted a few minor points...

-'disappointingly moral cafe' - not really sure what this meant
-'It seemed to him that this over the last couple of hours...' delete 'this'
-'Cannelloni, gnocchi, Calzone' should 'Calzone' have a small 'C'?
-'This was Maria Candelli, the sister of...' this line felt too much like the author reminding us of useful info. I think you need to work this in more carefully
-'...he'd gotten out of the Church Limo Jacob would have readily put his hands above his head and admitted.' comma after 'Limo'. Consider revising the word 'gotten'? Change the full stop to a comma or colon to link it with the next line.
-'One of the men was largely built' - 'heavily built' instead, as largely has the double meaning of 'mostly'?
-'anvil in a bedsheet' - very quirky phrase, but I had no idea what you were trying to say here!
-Why does Rajette wait for Jacob to get back before going into his room? Surely he would go in as soon as the 'Black and Whites' had left - he had an interval of nearly an hour to do so.
-'Christopher who worked as a night porter' - 'Christopher the night porter'
-'Jacob was mostly in bed' - 'mostly'?
-'long hall flight' - 'long haul flight'

I found the jump to Africa a little too much also, unless we are going to find out what happened in Israel later on - but I still think you need to give the reader a little more info about Israel here before moving on.

I really liked the passage on time, it was very well written, but I did think it seemed like a filler, something stuck in to cover the change of scene. It doesn't seem directly relevant at this stage and so comes across as the author trying to be a bit clever-clever. This is a shame as it's a really well written section. Consider moving it elsewhere, or making a more definite link with the action?

There was lots in here I really liked. There are some very witty, wry moments. I loved 'Order what you like boy, it's on me' and I love Jacob's self delusion (the passage before 'He was getting paid'; very nicely handled. The MC is really clearly drawn.

Really enjoyed reading this. Good work!


Ava at 17:45 on 20 January 2006  Report this post
Eanna, firstly I want to apologise for not getting to this sooner. I wanted to wait till I had time to read it thoroughly. I'm glad I did. It's very good. As always, we see some wonderful characterisation from Jacob, with his denial, his fear, his alcohol habits(he is a writer after all) and all the other cool quirks you've added that makes Jacob distinctly original from that of anything else. In one chapter, I got to know Jacob and its very readable.

Just a few suggestions -

Daniel Candelli was dead and that was shit, but he had no control over it now. Some guy was supposedly blackmailing the church, which was also sort of, but not as, shit.
- Do you really need the word shit in there? I think its too articulate for shit.

‘are you alright?’
- it's all right but everyone makes that mistake.

You pretend you aren’t, but you are.
- this was a tongue twister, maybe try you pretend you're not, but you are or you pretend you are not but you are.

And, inside the cover Daniel had written and inscription
- is that comma needed? and and should be an.

It wasn’t as good as actually beating the hell out of him, but Rajette reasoned that as long as someone was suffering then the day wasn’t a complete loss.
- I was a bit put off with this statement. I think someone like Rajette would find that sort of thing tedious, (the day not being a total waste unless someone was suffering) unless he was causing the suffering himself.

Waiting in the back of his mind, Jacob knew, were dark thoughts
- there were

Yeah, he could handle.
- is there a word missing there?

Sorry for being picky, you can always tell me where to go!

But I really did enjoy this (and i can honestly say it reminds me of nothing I've ever read before! ;) well done!)

Looking forward to the next chapter - great stuff!


eanna at 20:22 on 22 January 2006  Report this post
Hi Sarah/Cymro,

Thanks for your observations. As always, I'm prone to writing straight out without a backward glance. I've used most of your grammer points.

I really appreciate your reading through this and giving me your time.

I'm also having a look at those inconsistancies - it's always the way when it makes sense in my the writers head but doesn't read in the piece.


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