The Writer







R.B. Banfield





Copyright 2013 R.B.


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Special thanks for all the
help and assistance from those nice, if somewhat unsuspecting,
people of Gendry.



Part One: Craigfield

Part Two: Ironwright








“This isn’t writer’s

Sophie stretched her arms,
yawned and then stood up from the small wooden chair. She walked
away from the desk that once looked inspiring with its roller-top
and cute drawers that always stuck when they opened. It felt both
good to get away for a break, and yet also regretful that so little
had been done. For almost an hour she had sat there, thinking,
dreaming, then singing to herself. The pristine white sheet of
paper that she had aligned with care into the typewriter went
untouched. At first it felt like an empty canvass waiting for her
artwork. Now it felt like a solid, cold concrete wall blocking her
way to her dreams. All she had to do was write something and the
words and ideas would start to flow. Something. Anything. After an
hour it was nothing.

She went to the window and
placed her hands on the sill that was wide enough to comfortably
sit back and relax on. The view outside was not as interesting as
had it appeared an hour before. In just that short time the thought
of looking out over the wonders of the small town of Gendry had
become familiar, far from providing her with

“I’m just not in the right

Her grandmother was not a
rich woman. She had done well for herself to the point where the
way that she lived might seem lavish to an outsider. She had never
had an official bonafide job. The farmland that surrounded her
house had been left unused for the entire time she had lived there,
reinforcing the opinion of people who thought she was eccentric and
not entirely trustworthy.

The farmland itself was a
mess. A discarded tractor from a bygone generation was almost
entirely hidden by bleak tall grass. Something that might have once
been a plough now sat like rusted artwork entertaining a host of
weeds. Various patches of nasty dead land were here and there,
where chemicals had once been dumped and nothing else wanted to
grow. Only three ancient fruit trees remained on the land; none of
them able to give up anything edible. They had been there so long
that no one was sure what kind of fruit they produced.

The house itself was
one-hundred-and-twenty-years old, but not all three storeys were
the same age. Each level was of a different design, the product of
three different builders. It started off with brick, and then
became something resembling Tudor, but not really. The top story
was added some fifty years later by a man who claimed to be a
builder but was more a failed cabinet maker. Subsequent owners
either liked the strange effect of a three-designed house, or just
didn’t really care that much. Sophie’s grandmother was always more
concerned with what happened inside her house rather than

Susan Tyle’s ample money
came from the inheritance of her second husband, who was from a
well-to-do family with little regard for her. Susan herself came
from the wrong side of the tracks, as her in-laws described it. It
did not help that controversy seemed to follow her everywhere she
went. Wealthy Rupert Lomasney was murdered and the killer was never
found, and almost everyone suspected it was his wife Susan. Killed
him for the money, they said. Told her friends that was what she
would do to him one day, they said. Made plans to leave the
country, they said. She was arrested with minuscule evidence
against her, and none of her rumoured utterances proved true. The
trial and all the media attention that went with it lasted six
months. Susan was found innocent but the Lomasney family never
accepted the verdict and she found life easier after she left the
big city and started again in a small country town like Gendry.
Residents there were somewhat backward, and they knew that and did
not mind. They enjoyed their gossip and held no grudges, and
everyone would give everyone else a friendly wave in the street
whether they knew them or not. Susan was treated the same, and she
became respected as one of the town’s leading citizens.

There she met Sam Tyle,
husband number three. He was an unsuspecting and honest repairman
who never charged any of his customers as much as he should have.
Together they had three children and lived in the strange
three-toned house. Sam died naturally one night at Sal’s bar while
on his favourite stool, with an empty beer glass in his hand and a
smile on his face. They buried his stool with him as a tribute to
his many years as a patron. That was why there was a space at the
bar, four stools down on the right.

Sophie’s mother Jenny was
the product of Susan’s first marriage, to Ken Trent, a man who also
happened to die in unusual circumstances. No one close to Sophie
remembered her father, and Susan agreed that perhaps it was best
that they kept it that way. The Trent’s were a family of car
thieves, untrustworthy bookies, con artists and general
hoodwinkers, and Sophie did not resemble any of them.

Sophie herself cared little
for the family problems and controversy. She loved her grandmother
and thought of her as her only real family. Sophie herself had her
own problems to deal with. A truck owned by the firm
We Are Your
Moving Men
didn’t see her boyfriend Leo’s speeding motorbike
one foggy October morning, and didn’t stop until it was trapped
underneath, dragging him along for a few terrifying seconds.
Sophie, who had been the helpless passenger, got away with only
shock and nausea; no broken bits and only a few scratches. But poor
Leo came desperately close to having his skull crushed. He nearly
lost his right ear but doctors were able to save it after the
truck’s driver found it stuck to one of the back wheels.

It was one thing to go
through such a traumatic event, but another to wait through an
agonising three week period for Leo to regain his senses and start
making noises that were near enough to talking, to prove that he
was in his right mind. Doctors already determined he did not have
brain damage, but that wasn’t the same as hearing him speak
normally. The first thing he said to her horrified her to the core.
She knew that when he looked at her and must have noticed the
lingering bruises on her face. But all he could say to her, his
first words, was to ask how his bike was. While it was well known
to all their friends that he considered his bike his most prized
possession, with most of his money going into keeping it spruced,
it was still just a motorcycle. And there he was asking her about
it even before asking how she was. That said it all for her, and
she walked out and never saw him again. That was three weeks

Her doctor advised her to
take a break, assuring her that the constant spots that clouded her
vision and spells of dizziness would soon pass, as long as she took
it easy. The best place she could think to go was to Gendry and her
grandmother’s house. It had been two years since her last visit and
she had planned to return soon anyway. Another reason for such a
break was to fulfil her ambition to write her first novel. She
could get away from her job, her memory of Leo and his beloved
bike, and get to the work that she secretly desired to

There was no way she could
have tried to write a novel in her small and constantly untidy
apartment, with her attention-seeking and dribble-prone cat wanting
to sit on her no matter what she was doing. Not after her long
working hours and waiting through endless stop-start traffic, only
to sit down with an out-of-date laptop that kept insisting that its
battery was about to die. Not when her workday was dull
computer-feeding trapped inside a small-walled terminal, listening
to a “Golden Oldies” radio station that her workmates insisted on
hearing. No matter how many funny toy animals she glued to the top
of the faded beige monitor, or adorable tiny fish to populate her
little aquarium, the hours were always tedious. The facts and notes
that needed to be entered always seemed like they made no shred of
difference to the life of any member of the human race, and at
times she thought her computer must be bored of them

Her grandmother Susan had an
old-fashioned typewriter and when Sophie was a girl she loved to
play around with it. She tried copying pages from old books,
pretending them to be her own work, dreaming that she was an author
of renown. Of all the fun things she had done in Gendry during her
childhood, she remembered that as the best. Her plan was to clean
the typewriter up and use it to create her own original prose. She
would do it in the style of the old writers, the ones who didn’t
have to worry about battery warnings, upgrade updates and
flickering screens, or the pull of internet entertainment and email

Each page would need to be
carefully lined up, and time taken to turn the roller bar and make
sure the ribbon was still okay. Each letter would make a satisfying
clunk on the paper, and now and again the dainty little arms would
collide and need to be pried apart without getting her fingers
dirty. It gave her the feeling of actually doing something creative
and not just seeing the unreal affect of some impersonal
LCD-generated image. This was hands-on writing, the way to make her
feel like she was actually making something herself, and not having
some fancy machine do it for her.

The only problem was that
Sophie didn’t actually have anything to write about. She had hoped
to think of something during the train ride from the city up to
Gendry, and then find further inspiration in the people she would
meet in the town. If all else failed, she could always go ahead and
write the life of her grandmother and her family. Names and faces
would need to be altered, of course, but even then she worried that
it might be too close to home to put into print. Some old wounds
she did not want to reopen.

She looked back at the page
next to the typewriter and the two sentences she typed yesterday.
When she saw them today she realised that they made no sense. It
suddenly seemed like the hardest thing in the world, to type
anything else. The more she tried to think of something the more
blank her mind seemed to get. Eventually she started to talk to
herself, trying to think of anything to kick-start her

“The river was wide and deep
but not deep enough to hide the body …”

“The tree was so tall that
it overshadowed the entire town …”

“The car had been long ago
abandoned and covered in grass.”

She looked out to that
buried tractor and decided that maybe she could write something
about that. Maybe the main character drove it, back when it was
used on the land. Perhaps he died there, after a hot day in the
seat, after ignoring the warning from his doctor to never drive it
again? Then she realised she could not have a main character die in
the first line. Unless it was all told in flashback? She laughed to
herself, thinking that she hated stories like that, that start with
a dead guy and then try to entertain the reader with guessing when
the big event happens. Then she thought that maybe she could get a
feel for the tractor if she went out and sat on the rusting seat
and surveyed the land. Anything to get her into the writing

Or maybe she could just
write about life in the city.



Kerry Tyle was so identical
to his brother Jerry that no one except for their mother could tell
them apart, and they knew it. Their older sister Rebecca, who had
just turned fourteen but acted more like thirty, claimed that she
could tell them apart but most of the time she was guessing. She
knew she had a fifty-fifty chance of being right. Sophie had a
strategy for when they were together: once the other said the other
one’s name she would keep her eye on that one. The trouble with
that plan was that the twins liked to confuse people by calling the
other by the wrong name. They only did that when their mother was
not around, since she never thought of them as doing anything
sneaky. The reality was, at the age of ten, they were now at the
peak of their troublemaking ways, and they knew it.

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