Today’s guest post is something a little different. For the first time in the history of Another Kind Of Mind, I’m publishing some fiction – and this is not just any old fiction: this is an exclusive and previously unpublished extract from a brand new novel by Rick Leach, who has kindly let me post it here. Rick is the author of a number of non-fiction books about music, including the Glastonbury Trilogy (you can buy them here, here, here and here), and also contributed a birthday guest post last year too. You can find Rick on Twitter, and check out his blog here.
I don’t know about you, but having read this extract, I really want to know what happens next….
I am sitting alone in the car, by the side of the river. It is night time. I look at my watch to check the time. The clock on the dashboard isn’t working. Actually it is working. It’s just that it’s set to the wrong time and has been for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure if I know how to reset it. Or I can’t be bothered messing around. There is a certain comfort in knowing that it is completely wrong. It seems to jump to a different time every time I start the engine, suddenly leaping forwards ten minutes or so. I think that means that unlike a stopped watch, it’s probably not even correct twice a day. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it does give the right time twice a day. I shrug to myself. I suppose it doesn’t really matter.
I look at my watch. It is a little before 11.00 o’clock. I have a lot of time to spare. There is no need to make a move yet. I stare out of the windscreen and look at the lights from the opposite side reflecting on the water. It is really calm. There is not a breath of wind in the air. The river seems to be barely moving, although I know it must be. The water is as flat as a sheet of glass, just swaying gently. It is like a black mirror. The only thing that I can see moving is a container ship slowly heading off to sea. I wonder where it’s going. Thousands of miles away. Another country.
Apart from the ship, nothing else is going on. There are no other cars parked on this grass verge. The road behind me is deathly quiet. The last time I heard anything driving past must have been a good twenty minutes or so ago. There’s a street light casting a pale and sick sodium yellow glow over the car. Both front windows of the car are fully wound down, yet it’s still warm. It’s been like this all day; clammy and waiting for a thunderstorm to arrive, for the weather to finally break.
I get out of the car and lean against the bonnet. My shirt is sticking to my back. I pull it away and try to waft some air around, but it’s no good. We really need some rain. I glance up to the sky. There are no clouds, just clear skies. At least that should make for a clear flight. I can’t see any planes in the sky even though I’m only a mile or so away from the airport. There are no winking red lights, nor that distant low hum. I’ve not heard any planes land or take off since I’ve been waiting. It’s a Wednesday night however and it is late. Maybe it’s just a quiet night at the airport. I think that her flight is the last one landing tonight.
There’s an hour or so before I need to be at the gate.
I open the car door, lean inside and rummage around for my cup of coffee. I lean back on the bonnet and take a sip. I’ve had it in the car for the last hour or so and not touched it. It seemed too hot to drink coffee and it is probably still is, but it’s something to do while I’m waiting. The coffee has cooled down a bit, but it’s not stone-cold and it’s still drinkable.
I should feel nervous I suppose, after all this time, but I’m strangely relaxed. It’s an odd feeling. I don’t think that I’ve been this relaxed for a very long time. I shouldn’t be so calm about everything. After all, in the grand scheme of things all this is a fairly big step. I’m mulling all this over and realise that step is the wrong word. That implies things; like starting off on a road to somewhere, on a journey. That’s not really what I’m expecting or anticipating. This is not a journey. This is just a thing. An event. A significant event. There’s no doubt about that. I have no doubt. Possibly. Probably. Who knows? I certainly don’t. I shrug to myself and watch the rusty old ship as it slowly slips down the river and towards the open sea.
I should be able to see plenty of stars above me. It’s a cloudless night, but I’m in a big city and even though there’s only one weak street light near the car, there are many other lights which make it impossible. The only thing I can see in the sky is the moon and one single bright star fairly near the horizon. I don’t think it’s a star however; isn’t that Venus? Or Mars? Something at the back of my mind makes me recall that those bright stars near the horizon are planets rather than stars. And something makes me think that if they are, then I can tell them apart because Mars should have a faintish red tinge to it. I can’t tell. I put on my glasses, but it makes no difference. It still looks the same. I could do with a pair of binoculars.
I wonder if she’s been able to see the stars. Under the same sky. I suppose that we are all under the same sky. I must remember to ask her. “Did you see the stars? Do you see the stars?” We must stand side by side and look to the heavens and try to see the stars together. There is a lot to do and a lot to catch up on. But the stars are important. We must put away some time to look for the stars.
© Copyright Rick J. Leach, 2015
Reproduced with full permission of the author.