This year I managed to break my past finish record by four days hitting the big 50000 in a burst of energy – fuelled by coffee, scones, butter tarts, wild music & write-ins. Who needs a social life when you’ve got all these characters demanding your attention constantly – honestly, they are worse than dogs whose eyes are always on you waiting for attention. Even characters I wasn’t sure I wanted nosed at my hand to give them more pages than I had intended. I hope they don’t mind getting those pages snipped back when it comes time to edit.
By the time I validated my word count – which for me meant also cashing in my slush pile of words saved in case I didn’t hit my goal any given day & adding my notes for the book so far I had over 60000 words done by day 20. So even if I don’t add another word I’ll have a daily average of at least 2000 for the 30 days – which was one of my targets for this year. Next year I may aim for 2500 average per day.
By the time I had broken the 60k mark I my brain was pretty played out though – back ached from sitting too much – head ached from trying to hear two conversations at the same time – one from the person in front of me the other from the characters clambering inside of my head. So I gave it a rest knowing full well that I have covered maybe 2/3 of the story I want to tell.
I have plot holes to fill, plus many threads to tie up before things are really done – that I may leave to next November – but I’ll get back into editing 2014 & 15 before then so I’ll know what I clearly have to address in 2016 – things like: who did it (I know that but have to make that’s foreshadowed properly); my hero’s business & romantic lives are a mess: but some of that is a mess that can continue through the series if I chose not to let this remain a stand alone.
I still have his Father’s porn empire to deal with, it has been sketched in & needs to be more integrated; finally I have yet to introduce my final big set piece: The Church of the Handler – snakes & Jesus are an amazing combination; my other set piece has been established – The Circus Museum & it longs for further development: this’ll give me easily another 70k words. Life is good.
(Glaucia is the psychic that has been added to the mix.)
The mobile van was parked awkwardly at the entrance of the trailer park with lines running from it to the mobile home where Lorraine King lived. He wondered if there was enough room in the Mrs. Kings’s trailer for Brenda to do her scene setting magic.
Dan stood to the left and just behind Glaucia Vidro as she rang the door bell to the trailer. It took him a moment to realize that the fog horn sound was coming from inside. He could hear a radio or TV being turned down. The lace curtain in the door widow was pulled aside and a face peered out at them. The face smiled and the door opened sightly.
“You’ll have to step back for the door to open.”
He and Glaucia stepped down two steps to let the door open.
“Sorry about that.” Mrs.King said. “Who ever designed this model didn’t think it through. Come in.” She held the door open for them. “Sometimes the wind will catch it and whack it against the trailer. That’s why there’s so many dents there. If I had known, about the wind, I mean, I never would have settled in here.”
They squeezed past her, Cliff, the camera and into the trailer.
At the front end there was a living room area with a couch, an armchair and a TV. The TV was on the weather channel but muted.
“I get all the news I need from the weather channel.” The woman sang. “Paul Simon – before your time I guess.”
“Yes.” Dan said sitting in the armchair. The couch was just large enough for two people. He didn’t want to be that close to Glaucia.
“We’re from …” Glaucia began to explain.
“Oh, yes, I know.” The woman said. “You’re from that TV show. I was told you were coming. My that’s a lovely shawl you have there Glaucia. I can call you Glaucia can’t I. I’ve read some of your articles in the Moncton Gazette. Is it from Roberta’s. They make such lovely things there.”
“Yes it is.” Glaucia answered.
“You must be Daniel James? You don’t look much like your father though. Then again, second borns usually don’t. The first often do though. He’s passed away I gather.”
‘Yes but ..” Dan began.
“Here I’ve made us all some tea.” She stepped to the kitchen area of the trailer. “I baked the scones. I do prefer the savoury ones, so I hope you don’t mind. It make them feel less like desserts. These are spinach and herbs.” She put a tray on the coffee table.
Dan bit into one of the scones it was still warm.
“You knew my Dad?”
“Not too well, but he did come to McDonald Secondary for many years, taking those student portraits. For several years, right? I only remember because the company that he sold out to sent such an idiot the next year. That man was a drunk. You know, who would show up smelling of alcohol at that time in the morning? He’d snap at the kids to behave when all they were doing was being kids. He only lasted that one year. So many of the school complained. I don’t remember his name though. Charles something. Your dad was so professional. Knew how to treat the children. I guess that came from being a father. It took us ages to get the pictures from the new company too. They must have been sending them away to be developed. Your Dad did his own work, most of the time, though maybe he sent stuff off too because there would have been thousands of him to look after so he wouldn’t have time, right.”
“Right.” Dan wasn’t going to explain how his Dad ran the business.
“You certainly like lighthouses.” Glaucia admired the lighthouse sun-catcher in the window.
“Oh yes, ever since I was a little girl I wanted to live in one.”
There were various lighthouses around the trailer. Nearly everywhere the eye might look. Paintings, throw cushions embroidered with them, door handles on the kitchen cabinets, woven into the rug, even the table lamp in the corner. Brenda had placed them so there’d some one or two behind each of them from any camera angle.
“I know it’s such a Maritime cliche but so am I, really. The spinster school teacher who never went further than a hundred miles from where she was born. It’s not that I didn’t want to travel mind you but once I graduated with my license I thought this is where I need to be. I had parents to look after anyway. Plus I really did like the children. I couldn’t imagine moving away to leave these families behind. I mean, I did get to know the families. Often taught the mother, the father then the children, then the children’s children. Goodness me I knew some of them better than their own relatives.
“What they never knew what that I was never married. Being widow was much more acceptable then the being single, as a teacher I mean. Kept thing simple too. The Mrs. warded off most men.”
“How do remember the children at all?” Glaucia nibbled at her scone.
“Oh Glaucia I don’t. I only remember these because of what happened to them. It was terrible. When school started again that year the other children were so … scared … I tried to get them to talk about but, well, we didn’t have any way to offer them emotional support. Things have changed, haven’t they, with all those school shootings in the states. Why one of the girls in my class started crying one day. Turns out her family was moving to Arizona and she was afraid she’d get shot in school. Imagine.” She got up brushing crumbs off her lap onto the floor. “Don’t worry about making a mess. Cleaning up will give something to do later.” She went toward the back of the trailer. “I’ll get my file for you.”
She slid a door open at the far end. Dan caught a glimpse of a bed with a lighthouse print coverlet before she slid the door shut again.
“She can’t get many visitors.” Glaucia said. “To go on like that.”
“Gift of the gab is more like it. My Aunt Sissy is just like that.” Dan said. “Great scone though.”
“Too healthy for me.” Glaucia nibbled another corner of hers.
Dan was tempted to tease her about the vibe she was getting from the scone but was still not sure to make of her. On the drive to Mrs. King’s Glaucia had refused to talk about the interview lest his preconceived notions interfered with her getting clear images when they arrived. She didn’t even want the radio on for the same reason. She sat beside him in the car with her headphones on listening to ‘white beats.’ He’d have to look those up when he got a chance.
Mrs. King put an oversized accordion file folder on the coffee table.
“I put these aside when school started that year. I mean I don’t have files on all my students. Only the ones that were promising.”
“These were promising?” Dan asked.
“Oh no. Not a bit. They were average. Ordinary. If they hadn’t disappeared I would have shredded this stuff once they’d left the school. Sooner perhaps. I was expecting to be contacted at some point, you know, as the investigation went on. But no one ever asked me if I knew anything that might help.”
“Did you?” Glaucia asked.
“I don’t really know dear. Their mother did have a bit of a reputation.” she dropped her voice. “Loose. The bother and sister didn’t look that much alike. You’ve seen the pictures, so I’m sure you noticed that.”
Dan closed his eyes to visualize the the school photos and compare them. He could see enough resemblance to make them bother and sister.
“Some of us thought … well, anyway when we heard about that other boy in Hants county going missing it was clear that well … the Forestier’s had nothing to do with their children going missing too.”
She took out some large manilla envelopes. “I’ve kept these safe and dry all these years. I hadn’t looked at them until I saw that show and heard on the radio that you were looking for information about what happened. I kept all the clippings, from the paper. Even the ones from the Halifax Herald. My, but that reporter was harsh on our Mountie lads. They were doing all they could but didn’t seem to be enough for some.”
January 20, Wednesday: judging at Hot Damn! it’s a Queer Slam – featuring Dominic Berry Supermarket Restaurant and Bar 268 Augusta Ave., Toronto, Ontario M5T2L9
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