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NaNo Day 1

First words down! So many more to go. It’s amazing what I’ve been picturing in my head vs. what actually happened.

I’ve been living this story for the last three days, thinking of plot points, and sure of the direction everything was going, so I imagined I would be writing like a maniac at the start.

But instead, the words came out like molasses. I struggled, but I did manage to get 1,000 words on paper this morning. I will write again later today to try to reach at least the 1,667 that I should be doing every day to keep on track.

Now, as to the story. Last night, a new character, who you’ll meet below, came into my brain fully formed as the perfect foil for Leon right at the beginning. And he would be the one to state the theme, “What good is money and time if you have no one to share it with?”

And this morning, I realized I want to change the catalyst. It seems that the running for office tack was okay, but I wanted something bigger. So, the catalyst will now be a murdered prostitute, and a note attached mentioning Leon directly. This is something Leon will not be able to ignore and it will affect him more directly. So yeah, the beat sheet will be great, but what I have now will probably–will definitely–look nothing like the finished product.

One last thing. The NaNo site has room only for an excerpt, so I decided to post my work-in-progress here instead. Below are the first 1,011 words of Jack’s Back.

______________________

It was time to disappear again. For the last time.

I looked around the police station where I had been working for the last seven years. Nothing had changed in that time. Every day, the same. I would come in every morning and leave every afternoon, having accomplished nothing. 

There was a low murmur of activity as usual. A few gatherings of officers as they discussed the latest sports scores or scores with the opposite sex. The smell of terrible coffee wafting through the air. The occasional arrestee complaining about one thing or another. 

I had come here in the hopes of making a difference after all these years, and yet, everything I have done has not been able to balance the scales for what I let happen so long ago. And yet, I try every day. At least, I tried. 

It’s amazing how quickly seven years can pass, and yet, how it can feel like an eternity as well, which is a strange thing to say as someone who actually understands what a true eternity can feel like. In those seven years, I have been able to do some good. I managed to save people and put bad people away, but in the grand scheme of things, what have I really managed to accomplish that could wipe away my greatest failing?

I was tired. Tired actually doesn’t even begin to cover my feelings. I was drained, exhausted. I had nothing left to give. 

“Hey, Leon.”

I looked over at Ernie, my partner for the last two years. He was a roundish fellow with a dusky complexion, what people refer to as African-American nowadays. He was a perpetually optimistic man with, according to him, the best wife in the world and two–or was it three–children? His grin was infectious, and I found the corners of my mouth turning upward slightly in response. “Yes?”

“I’m pretty sure I know what your answer is gonna be, but I still gotta ask. Few of us are getting together over at Rosie’s Pub tonight to celebrate Joey’s engagement. You should come.”

Joey. I racked my brain trying to remember who Joey was. He was the young kid sitting by the captain’s office? No, that was, DeLuca, first name…escaped me at the moment. It didn’t matter who he was. After today, none of this would matter. “Wish I could, Ernie, but I have some pressing matters to attend to.”

“Yeah. Figured as much. But had to try.” Ernie picked up one of his framed pictures that overran his desk. I caught a quick glimpse of it as he brought it up to his face. Three kids. “Leon. I’ve known you now for, what, two years? We’ve been shot at together, and how is it I know next to nothing about you?”

Shot at together was a stretch of the actual events. We had managed to chase a bank robber a few blocks and he did have a gun he was firing behind him as he ran. But it was a BB gun. 

“You never mention a significant other,” he continued. “Heck, you never mention anything about your personal life. We’re partners, buddy. We’re supposed to know everything about the other. Instead, you let me do all the talking.”

“You don’t seem to mind that too much.”

Ernie’s grin grew wider. “It’s true. I love talking about my family and my life. I’m blessed beyond what I deserve, and I love letting everybody know. You, on the other hand, are the most closed book I’ve ever met, and that includes the perps.”

“Okay,” I said, “ask me anything. I’ll answer.” Why not, I thought. After I left here today, Ernie would never see me again.

“I’m assuming you’re not married, because I don’t see a ring. I know, I know, some solid detective work there. Is there a special someone in your life?”

I shook my head. “There hasn’t been someone special for a long, long time.”

“That’s sad, man. You can’t go through life alone. You need people in your life. People who care about you. People who you care about.”

I bristled at that. What did he know about my life? “I have a cat,” I said, and regretted saying it as soon as the words had materialized. The man had a wife and kids, and I was comparing my cat to that?

Ernie placed the photo back among its brethren and sighed. “A cat. I mean, I guess that’s better than nothing. Haven’t you ever loved someone?”

I had. And I had that love ripped from me. But it was not something I was willing to explain. So, I chose to change the subject. “How long have you been married?”

“Fifteen years, fifteen long, awesome years. And yet, it feels like we met yesterday. I know, I know, sounds so cliched.”

“No,” I said, “it sounds perfect.”

“Well, maybe someday, you’ll find your perfect love.”

I shook my head slightly. I already had found that love. How often in a lifetime does that happen? I could not bring myself to love again.

“What’s the name of your cat?” Ernie asked.

I hesitated. “Cat.”

Ernie’s eyes grew wide. “You named your cat…Cat?”

“I didn’t see any point in giving it a fancy name.”

Ernie threw his head back and roared with laughter. I had to admit, it was funny. At the time, I just needed someone I could discuss things with, and people have a tendency to expect things from you. So, I went to a local shelter, found a cat, brought it home, and used it as a sounding board. And to be honest, Cat helped me talk through a few problems and helped me find a solution. But, after today, Cat would also be a memory of a life that would be no more.

“You are one strange man,” Ernie said, wiping tears from his eyes.

“You don’t know the half of it,” I replied.

****

I looked around the spartan furnishings of the place I called home. For now.

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