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Christopher--Chapter 1

by andyccn 

Posted: 11 October 2004
Word Count: 1046
Summary: If the end justifies the means, are morals still an issue? You know what Paradise is? It's a lie--a fantasy we create about people and places as we'd like them to be.


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Silver towers stand proud against the East Australian sky line. November sunlight shines from the heart of the metropolis, filling offices across the city with a heat that is as unwelcome to the employees as the Monday morning itself. Just another day.

Forty kilometres North, a lean figure wanders the length of Palm Beach, Sydney's proudest work of art, now bronzed over in the early morning light.

"Come on Goldie, the water won't hurt you."

The voice carried on the breeze, up to where a car waited for its owner to return. Hidden behind the walls of the surf club, the silent observer admired, not for the first time, the picturesque coastline. He leaned against an outback-style fence, unable to look anyone in the eye any more, lest they should see his secret--that the famous cutie, Chris Newman, is weak. He is Chris. He is weak. He is afraid; scared for what will happen to Glad when she finds out his truth. From the beginning she has always accepted him for who he is, not what everyone wants him to be.

Why did things have to change?

Questions. Too many. Too few answers.

Made of brick the same gold shade as the beach itself, the surf club gave the observer the sense of security he often craved. He longed to be cut off from the public, just to be able to go to a place where no one knew him, but that would never happen.

He watched the antics of the golden Labrador on the beach below. Afraid of the water lapping over its paws, it splashed about in the shallows, unable to comprehend why the water retreated, then raced back for another go, time after time. After a few attempts to swim with the waves, the Lab gave up and galloped off to join its master. They soon disappeared from view behind a layer of greenery.

"Christopher!"

He didn't flinch at the sound of a man shouting his name. With the position and status he held in this city, it was difficult, if not impossible, for him to find a place where he could be alone, be himself.

He thought nothing more of it until the man stood at his side, his hands buried in the pockets of a crisp, black suit. This was no fan. It was the guy who was about to ruin his life.

"You must be Pete. I've been waiting."
"Pete Mansky, AFP."
"Drop the act, yeah? I know who you are, I know why you're here."
"I'm here because you called me, Christopher."
"I called the police, not the secret service. And don't call me Christopher."
"Fine--Chris. Pete Mansky, Sydney police. As I understand it, you've got important secrets to tell."
"Then you understand wrong. I've got a story to tell, yes, but you'll never know my secrets. I don't trust you enough to keep them."

Pete offered a hand, hairy, and twice the size of his own. "You called because you wanted help. I can help you."

Chris gave it a glance, then looked away, his mood blatant. He had no desire to make an ally in Pete. "You can't help me. No one can, because I can't trust anybody."
"You can trust me."
"How can I be sure?"
"We're the police, Chris.
"That's never stopped anybody before. You hear all the time of protected witnesses killed in new homes, in new countries. Their deaths are staged to look like robberies, or car crashes."
"Only because in time the criminals realise they're alive. You won't be. The gang you've been working for will go to prison for the rest of their miserable lives, Chris Newman will commit suicide at a remote spot up north. Meanwhile you will have a new identity, new documents, a new life--here in Sydney, another state, another country, wherever."
"If I decide not to tell?"

A group of tourists passed close by. Pete waited until they were out of earshot, and leaned close. "We'll get them and rest assured, young man, if they get convicted, so do you. You're an accessory to crime--an illegal, and dangerous, position to be in. Right now they need you, but not forever. They'll use you for all you're worth, then dispose of you like a sack of garbage. You'll die, for real. Unless we get to you first."
"They already killed me when they killed Elton."
"Only a part of you died. The part that made you love him, that felt for him. With a bullet through your brain and without a second thought, they'll take the rest of you. Another rendezvous gone bad."

Chris had revealed to no one his suspicions of who killed his brother. For the first time during their encounter, he faced Pete. "How . . . "
"I see you're surprised. We've been watching that gang closely for the past year. We also believe they killed your brother, but there's no hard evidence. The job was too clean, too well executed, er . . . sorry, excuse the pun."
Chris glared at him. Given time, he may learn to trust him. He may have no choice. "What do I have to do?"
"I need details. What's going down. Give me one meeting place, date, time, and I promise they'll be gone for good."

His eyes burned. He longed to punch something, someone, and not stop, ever. On the horizon, a boat drifted slowly towards him, shrouded with the mists of hatred. In the space of a blink, it was gone.

"Port Kembla, Monday at seven. There's a boat, full of weapons, drugs, illegal immigrants, the works. It's their busiest job yet, apparently."
"Thank you, Chris. This is one of the biggest smuggling gangs in Australia's history. Thanks to you, I can crack it."
"Just go, Pete. I've had enough already."
"It'll be alright, I promise."

He placed his hand on Chris's shoulder, and slipped a contact card into his short pocket. He squeezed his shoulder, a final act of reassurance. The next time they would meet, it would all be over. Or it would have just begun.

"Monday night, Chris. Be there."

Pete's black Mercedes slid out of the car park as gracefully as it had arrived. Chris watched him leave. He was alone.






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Comments by other Members



nudgy at 11:21 on 12 October 2004  Report this post
Andy

Welcome. I like the sense of mystery and intrigue which you portray, and the way you leave the reader sort of dangling and wanting to know more. It maybe a bit sparse or short for a first chapter but perhaps you want it to be.

I got to say that I thought there were quite a few places - especially in the dialogue - were I was confused and had to go instantly back to re-read. Where you've said "he" and I wasn't completely sure which "he" and you tend to use the dialogue to explain for itself who is saying what (if you know what I mean?), which can work well I think, but can also be a bit ambiguous.

I picked up on 3 things:

1- "Christopher." This is where the copper shouts his name, but the dialogue doesn't come across as a shout.Maybe an exclamation mark?
2- his hands buried the pockets of a crisp, black suit. Did you miss out an "in"?
3- Pete offered a hand, hairy, and twice the size of his own. This could read like Pete's hand is twice the size of Pete's hand!

I've gone through this and,as I generally do with new members, given an honest opinion. And I do think you got a story to tell and a way of telling it which is intriguing.

Keep going man

Dave


andyccn at 12:17 on 12 October 2004  Report this post
Dave,

Many thanks, your words are a huge comfort.

With regard to it being a bit sparse, was there any place in particular, or just in general?
In the original draft, there was another section just above the line "Christopher" in the above draft, where Chris meets with a girl and talk about his brother's death (this is now the start of chapter 2)--this I wrote so that the reader knows about his brother's murder, without simply telling them.
However, I thought that it made the chapter too long for a first, and I felt the reader was given way too much information before he found what the main storyline was about. I can upload it if you want to have a read.

Now, onto your issues:

1. I see your point about the exclamation mark. When I originally put it in, I conjured up the image of a guy racing crazily towards Chris, when really he should be more calculated, and controlled. I felt that the exclamation mark gave the sentence more strength than it was worthy of--it should be more of a calling. (I'd forgotten I wrote "a man shouting..."!)
Do you think it would work if I took out the exclamation mark, and wrote "a man calling..." or would it lose its power and meaning?

2. Yes there is supposed to be an "in" in there. Type--I've found hundreds in the rest of my draft!

3. This I was unsure about, and if there was one point in my chapter I expected you to pick up on, this was it. I wrote it in this way because a) the writing is from Chris's point of view, and so he would be looking at Pete's hand and thinking it is twice the size of his own. Yet there is the confusion of true meaning.
I don't want to simply write "Pete offered a hand--hairy, and twice the size of Chris's own", as to me it sounds too basic, and cumbersome. Back to the drawing board ... (or should that be writing board) ... well my desk anyway.

When you say you were confused in the dialogue, did you mean you were confused as to who was saying what? Again, if so, is there a particular section?

Cheers Dave, you're a great help!

Andy

nudgy at 13:06 on 12 October 2004  Report this post
Andy

I just felt like the chapter felt a bit like a long prologue, like a bit one dimensional, but remember it's your story and these are just my opinions.

As for the dialogue I thought an occasional "Chris said" or "Chris asked" or "Pete replied" etc. (There's loads of ways of doing it) would let the dialogue flow a bit less ambigously as regards who is saying what.

I think you'll get some decent feedback on here, so wait and see who replies and I'll draw back a bit. It's your creation man, but send us a mail if you want some individual opinions on it.

Best regs

Dave

Account Closed at 07:01 on 13 October 2004  Report this post
Hi Andy, Welcome to WW. It looks like nudgy has been looking after you well!
I was impressed with your writing. It flows well and keep our interest.

You give out quite a lot of details in the conversation - I wonder if the police agent would tell Chris so much eg " We've been watching that gang closely for the past year." and I wonder if you could say this in a different way?: "The gang you've been working for will go to prison for the rest of their miserable lives,"

Maybe you should keep the reader guessing about his brother. From the tone of the conversation they will understand that Chris is suffering and wants to get his 'revenge' but wait a couple of chapter to tell why.

Congratulations on nearly finishing and keep writing
Elspeth

old friend at 23:00 on 13 October 2004  Report this post
Andy,
I looked at your profile after I read your work. For your age you have a pleasant style of writing. Yes, I think it is good but just saying that will not be of any help to you.

I think you can look at the first few paragraphs for these should grip the interest of the reader and encourage him/her to read on.

I found these slightly confusing. I thought the dog belonged to Chris. I thought that the 'bronze' applied to the figure and this was Sydney's work of Art. I had to re-read to understand and to create the 'right'picture in my mind.

May I suggest that you read aloud to yourself and try to adopt an attitude by saying to yourself that this is the very first time you had ever seen this work.

You introduce a very nice sense of 'adventure to come' and you do make the reader eager to read the next offering. Well done!

Len

PS I went into your website. Lists and lists of highly technical items and information - didn't understand a word!



old friend at 08:21 on 14 October 2004  Report this post
Andy,
The technique of reading aloud 'for the first time'(even with an imaginary audience in front of you) is not too difficult to master.

Of course you have read it 'hundreds of times' - this is what a good writer should do... looking for ways to 'nip and tuck'... all this will improve your editorial skills.

As regards the changes you suggest above - fine! But they must be changes YOU want to make as you feel that they will improve your work one way or another. All comments are opinions, you are the writer and you make the decisions.

Keep on writing!

Len




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