As you know, for the past few months I have been writing an INTERACTIVE NOVEL chapter by chapter, publishing a section each week and inviting readers to vote on what happens next.
2 weeks ago chapter 10 was published and a short break ensued whilst I worked on a range of leaflets for CLIFFORD VALENTINE, Doncaster's Leading Colour Therapist.
As it is now almost time for the literary relaunch of this incredibly innovative way of creating a novel (invented by me) I thought it would be a good idea to put all 10 chapters so-far in one post, plus I've had loads of people asking me to do that in private messages, letters, answer phone messages etc.
So here it is - Chapters 1 - 10 of CHAUNCY'S CHANCE. Come back on Monday to find out what happens next!!!!!
Chauncy Nathaniel Swanston, 33, good jaw line, drives his car absentmindedly through the streets of Doncaster and thinks about how he really wants to avenge his parents’ death.
By his side, in a specifically manufactured car seat for dogs, sits his chiwawa Sadie, a canine capable of many facial expressions using mainly her eyes.
Sadie understands that Chauncy, a human man whom she thinks of as her father, is more troubled on this day than any other, for it was on this day exactly one year ago that his parents were killed in their own home, while watching one of those Norweigan Crime Dramas.
‘Damn you, God!’ thinks Sadie, looking up, then straight ahead, then down, because she isn’t sure she 100% believes in god.
Chauncy holds the steering wheel with the grip of an athlete, but tenderer. His eyes, green, framed by black eyelashes and black eyebrowhair, fill with tears which make his vision cloud up and go all foggy [metaphor]. He runs a hand through his majestic white hair and realises that without meaning to, he has driven to the exact street where his parents lived!
And died. [good use of paragraphing]
In fact, he is right outside their house, the house where he and Sadie grew up. Sadie’s eyes look up and to the left as she remembers the happiness the 4 of them had had together here in this 3 bed semi in the heart of Doncaster. That was before they knew Chauncy’s unborn twin was still in his mother’s stomach, so actually there were five of them [more on the unborn twin later in the novel – OR make it into a sci-fi spin-off series in its own right?].
Chauncy looks at his old front door, which is red, as if the door its very self knew twould be a house of spilt blood. If he’d had a penny for every time he’d thought of painting it white, like innocence, he’d be a millionaire! He laughs like when people laugh and cry at the same time and their eyes go all sparkly.
‘It’s been a year now, Sadie my love, and we are no closer to finding out whom killed my parents! We must go into this house, which I still own and have the keys for, and search for any clues which the police missed. BUT FIRST I think I’ll go home to my penthouse apartment and have a quick shower.’ Chauncy says this suddenly, as if he wants to let warm water flow all over his naked body.
Sadie, knowing how he has a tendency to over-wash, breathes out loudly through her nose.
3 HOURS LATER
Chauncy, his body soaped and rinsed, but still wet, steps out of the shower onto plain lino i.e. not onto a mat [subtext: he is very body-confident][possible sponsorship from DOVE if made into TV mini series?].
He DOES NOT put a towel on.
Chauncy looks into the bathroom mirror but he cannot see himself [symbolic] for it is steamed and blurry, like his feelings. He knows, deep down, that his long luxurious shower was part of a reluctance to face the reality of his current situation, which is that his parents have been dead for year and he doesn’t know whom committed their murder OR where their bodies are (he has the heads in his freezer).
Chauncy walks to his bedroom so he can have a look at himself in his full length mirror. As he makes this journey from one room to another he leaves wet footprints 'pon the carpet, but when he looks back at them - they have disappeared [brilliant] [OR: there are another set of footprints by his side? Could become an important religious commentary book – this decade’s Da Vinci Code?]
Chauncy stands in his bedroom in his penthouse apartment and looks around at all of his things. The colour scheme is grey and red. There is a rowing machine in the corner. There is a table with all of his favourite body sprays on it. The bed is really wide. When he bought it, the man at the Bed Showroom said it could comfortably fit eight people in it side by side and winked at him. Chauncy didn’t take kindly to this and felt objectified on behalf of himself and all women.
He walks over to his full length mirror and runs a hand through his wet white hair and thinks about the way he knows that what has happened is that he has become addicted to showering and having baths instead of finding his parents’ murderer. It is as if he is trying to scrub himself of all the grief and loss and pain.
“Enough is enough!” he shouts, commandingly.
Then, “Where’s Sadie?” he wonders, still naked.
“Sadie, my love!” he calls, in a high pitched voice [shows sensitivity to a dog’s hearing].
Sadie trots in from the living room, eyes wide but respectful.
“I am sorry, Sadie, for the way I have allowed myself to become dependent on having showers and baths and – I’m not afraid to admit it – the odd self-administered bed bath (involves a flannel and a bowl of water and fairly liquid). But I am ready now, and we have much to do, Sadie. Somewhere out there is a killer whom killed my parents.”
Sadie blinks in remembrance.
”Let us go now, out into the metropolis of Doncaster to find the murderous fiends!
And also let’s see if we can find the decapitated bodies of my parents so they can rest in peace and be reunited with their heads at last.”
Sadie looks wistfully towards the freezer.
”Let us go now!” asserts Chauncy, still naked.
Chauncy has noticed Sadie looking at the freezer and has mistook this for a sign of her hunger. She was actually thinking about how the heads of Chauncy’s parents are being stored in there. It’s a chest freezer, by the way, and the heads are in a Sainsbury’s carrier bag (one each)(as in one bag per head). The orange of the carrier bag is very useful, visually, so Chauncy doesn’t get the heads mixed up with other large meat items, such as legs of lambs, shoulders of porks and so on when he is reaching in the freezer of a Saturday night to defrost a little something for him and Sadie’s Sunday lunch.
So anyway Chauncy thinks Sadie is hungry so he opens the fridge to have a look at what he can russell up.
“Hm,” he says, thinking. He is usually very good at reading her appetite but because she is not actually hungry Chauncy finds himself in a state of flabbergast.
“What do you want for lunch, kiddo?” he says fatherly, rubbing the top of her head with a tea towel.
Sadie moves away quickly and stares at him. She can’t believe he’s at it again. Another avoidance technique! I’m not even hungry, she tries to say with her eyes.
Chauncy is oblivious (means: unaware). He thinks about how lately she has been enjoying Steak Diane, which is also one of his favourite meals. (It is one of the things he likes to order when he is out in a fine resteraunt.) (He has it with a red wine.)
Chauncy decides to just seize the moment and whiz up a couple of Steak Dianes. He reaches into the fridge and takes out two of his local butcher’s locally sourced premium free range sirloin steaks. He then fries them in several inches of butter and pours brandy on them before setting them on fire with a Bunsen Burner [check this is how you do Steak Dianes later].
Sadie sets the table.
They sit opposite each other and to be honest the atmosphere is tense.
Sadie tries to eat and manages a few mouthfuls but she chews them really slowly while maintaining full eye contact with Chauncy. It is quite chilling. Chauncy senses her tension and puts his chopsticks down [cultured].
“What’s up with you? You’ve got a right face on,” he says.
Chauncy regrets his tone. He sighs and holds his large head in his strong hands. “I’m sorry. I think I know what this is about. And you’re right. I have been deliberately putting off going back into my parents’ house to look for murder clues for some time now. What a fool I have been, Sadie! You of course have known this, haven’t you, you’re a sharp dog with a keen eye and I’ve been turning a blind eye to your two very large eyes which have been trying to tell me to get my act together for too long now! Well Sadie I will not let you down any further, my girl – we’re going now – out into the metropolis of Doncaster we will go – to solve this murder!”
A single tear falls from one of Sadie’s eyes and splashes onto the plate of buttery charred meat in front of her. [just beautiful]
Chauncy grabs one of his leather jackets and ties it around his waist. He then runs a finger down the CDs in his CD rack so he can choose what album they should listen to on the car journey. His finger stops on Phil Collins. ‘Easy Lover’ is a song which describes perfectly his relationship with THAT BACKSTABBER of an ex girlfriend Marianne [more on this later] and he quite enjoys listening to that and reminding himself about how he doesn’t ever want another girlfriend.
But then his eyes dart to his UB40 CD. Chauncy is a fan of world music and ‘Red Red Wine’ doesn’t fail to transport him to sunnier climes. WHICH SONG WILL HE CHOOSE??? [cliffhanger].
Chauncy carefully buckles Sadie into her bespoke dog seat in the passenger side of his car (it’s a Rolls Royce). He then closes the door and stands there for a minute with one hand on top of the car and the other over his face. He takes a deep breath through his long artistic fingers and says ‘come on come on come on’ to himself over and over. What he is doing here is getting himself ready to go and look for clues in his dead parents’ house about whom killed them.
He walks around to the drivers door and opens it and puts one leg into the car and then bends down and moves sideways into the seat and then pulls his other leg in. He is now in the car. [too much detail? No – keep it – it’s this minutia of life which seems to say very little but actually reveals a lot about character and wins literary awards.]
He opens the flap above the window [check technical term later] and looks in the little mirror at himself. His eyes, which are green and surrounded by thick black eye lashes with black eyebrows above them, are sparkling like the debris in the tail-end of a shooting star [wow].
His white hair, which has just dried naturally into a quiff after his long soapy shower, looks great. He blinks quickly to try and get a look at what he looks like with his eyes closed. ‘IMPOSSIBLE!’ he concludes, before closing the flap again.
Sadie has just been sitting there all this time. ‘So patient, you are, Sadie,’ he says, tapping the top of her head with a biro from the glove compartment.
‘Let’s fire up this automobile and get going! And I’ve decided to listen to ‘Easy Lover’ by Phil Collins on repeat for the whole 20 minute drive. I am going to use the time to remind myself about my failed relationship with that BACKSTABBER Marianne just to keep the memory fresh so I don’t get distracted by another woman ever again.’
Sadie isn’t sure this is the healthiest attitude to take, even though she wasn’t Marianne’s biggest fan (Marianne once placed Sadie in the tie back of a curtain for safe-keeping while she did the hoovering).
Chauncy revs up the engine and hits ‘play’ on the state of the art stereo system. (for a truly 3D experience – follow this link and listen to the track as you read the rest of this)
Both Chauncy and Sadie nod their heads with the beat.
They also both scoff at this line:
“She will play around and leave you
Leave you and deceive you”
‘Ha!’ laughs Chauncy, knowingly. ‘She certainly did.’
Chauncy casts his mind back to the first time he saw Marianne. She was his step aerobics instructor. It was summer 1999. What a summer! He was new to the sport and she stole his heart and made it pump faster than it ever had before. Up and down on the step he went, sometimes lifting small handweights at the same time, every Tuesday night at the leisure centre 7pm – 8pm.
With each passing week he became more confident, placing his step closer to the front of the class, allowing himself to lock eyes with the lycra-covered temptress.
He was only 18, she was in her 30s. She watched him transform from an shy, awkward exerciser into a master of the step, never missing a beat, looking more toned and energetic as the weeks went on.
One night, at the end of the class when everyone else had left, Chauncy plucked up the courage to speak to her. ‘Where did you get your cycling shorts from?’ he asked.
‘BHS,’ she replied. He was shocked but he tried not to show it. Looking back it was obvious, but he was young, naïve. And didn’t she know it! She moved towards him, as if she was about to kiss him.
BUT THEN she quickly moved away and sauntered over to her ghetto blaster. Chauncy gulped. He’d never been kissed before and was nervous. It was all well and good stepping onto and off of a box with supreme rhythm but here, in the quiet of the deserted sports hall he was scared.
Marianne looked through her box of cassettes. She selected one and put it in the machine. Then she fast forwarded and rewound it for a bit until she found the track she was looking for.
It was ‘Mambo No 5’, the hit of the summer. (for full interactive experience TURN PHIL COLLINS OFF and click on the link to listen to Mambo No 5 here)
She danced back over to him, clapping her hands to the song’s undeniable beat. When she got to him she took hold of his large head and pulled his face to hers. Then she kissed him while still dancing, which was a bit jolty and was actually quite like kissing someone while they were doing step aerobics. He guessed she just couldn’t switch off.
She didn’t stop kissing him for the whole song.
When it finished she pulled back and shouted jubilantly, ‘You make me feel like Geri Halliwell!’ before unplugging her ghetto blaster and running out of the hall with it.
Chauncy was both elated and deflated – so many questions ran through his mind. Was she is his girlfriend now? What would happen next week? Why BHS?
Well, the following week the same thing happened, and the week after that. Each time Marianne chose a different song, always something up-tempo. Shania Twain, Blondie, Cher, Ricky Martin. It was a magical time.
Then they moved in together and got Sadie (though she was always Chauncy’s really) and were quite happy doing things like reading the Sunday papers together and having debates about feminism and making elderflower cordial until ONE NIGHT when Chauncy went to pick Marianne up from work as a surprise- she was still a step aerobics instructor – she just loved it – and he was about to find out why…
Chauncy went into the leisure centre to locate her class. He could hear music. He started to move with the beat, as if it was speaking to a deep part of his memory. It was Mambo No 5. He reached the door to the dance hall. Suddenly he knew what he would find if he opened that door. He opened the door.
There she was, kissing a young man to the mambo trumpet beat.
BACK TO THE PRESENT
A single tear rolls down Chauncy’s cheek. [good – always an incredibly powerful image]
‘I’m glad I remembered about all that anyway Sadie because it’s a good reminder that I don’t need anyone else in my life. Right then let’s get on with this, we’re nearly at my parents’ house now. I’ll turn Phil Collins off.’
Sadie enjoys the sound of nothing in her large ears.
They pull up outside the house and Sadie thinks how this is how the day started, 3 chapters ago now.
They get out of the car, walk to the front door, looking at the well kept flowerbeds either side of the path.
‘What the…’ says Chauncy. ‘Who has been keeping the garden nice? It should be overgrown! A mess! Weeds, dead flowers, rats living here – that’s what I imagined! Yet look – tis as if a green fingered fairy hast been taking care of it!’
Just then a man about the same age as Chauncy steps out from behind a bush. He is wearing galoshes and gardening gloves but there is no mistaking the fact that he LOOKS VERY MUCH LIKE CHAUNCY.
Chauncy gasps. Who are you???
Chauncy stands face to face with what appears to be his own face. The man before him wears galoshes and gardening gloves and is almost his exact double - apart from instead of black eyebrows and white head hair he has the opposite: white eyebrows and black head hair. [Very striking. Film poster idea: the 2 Chauncies side by side staring intently into camera OR at each other.]
‘Who… are… you?’ asks Chauncy.
‘Chauncy Nathaniel Swanston,’ replies Chauncy.
‘But that’s… my name,’ says Chauncy.
Chauncy appears to have not heard him. He has bent down to stroke a plant.
‘How did… you… get here?’ asks Chauncy, confusedly.
‘This is my parents’ house,’ replies Chauncy.
‘But… they’re… dead…’ says Chauncy.
‘No they’re not, they’re in the living room watching Downton Abbey,’ says Chauncy.
Chauncy stares towards the living room window. He knows Chauncy can’t be right – his parents hated Downton Abbey, they saw it as an indulgent celebration of an outmoded class system. Also he has their heads at home in his freezer.
He casts his mind back to a moment ago when Chauncy first appeared. He had stepped out from behind a bush. He has a walk over to it and looks around the back of it. It is there he sees where he must have come from: there is a rip in the fabric of space and time just to the right of the bush.
Chauncy looks at Chauncy. He looks very serene. He is also wearing a wedding ring. What a privileged life he must lead in his parallel universe! Why hath HE, this Chauncy, in this world, been the one to feel pain and loss and heartbreak? Why doth HE, the other Chauncy, have all the luck?
A rage builds up in Chauncy. He feels all of his toned body tense up. The tension starts in his strong shoulders and goes all the way around to his dynamic chest, and explores slowly down, down, down his torso, quietly to his groin, then it hurries around to his buttocks, then back round the front again, then keeps going south down his wide thighs to his knees, then it goes back up again for a minute but then sweeps down and rests on his bulbous calves.
But then the other Chauncy smiles at him and it is like all of the stars in the night sky are shining from his face. All of Chauncy’s bodily muscles relax again and he feels very jubilant – how lucky he is to have met his self from another world! He imagines all the things they can do together.
‘Do you have any pets?’
‘Yes, I have a chiwawa,’ he says.
‘Me too! She is called Sadie. Wait a minute, where IS Sadie? She was just here a minute ago when I went around to have a look behind that bush…’
‘Look,’ says Chauncy to Chauncy, ‘I don’t think you understand what’s happening here. This,’ he pauses, ‘is not… your world.’
The other Chauncy looks blankly at him.
Chauncy sighs. He needs to work quickly to convince the other Chauncy that this is not his home, that he has slipped through a portal, so they can both bob back though it together to rescue Sadie.
‘Don’t you think this is a little odd? That there’s another version of you in front of you? And that’s me: an identical tall, toned, striking man with an excellent jawline and the ability to look good in anything, even a bin bag?’
‘I wore a bin bag once…’
‘Hallo’we’en 1991’ they say at the same time.
The other Chauncy gasps.
Chauncy continues: ‘School disco. You were 10 years old. All the other kids had bin bags on as well, but theirs were hanging loose. You used a system of belts and sellotape to create a more stylish fit. And you teamed the ensemble with…’
‘… a raspberry beret.’
‘You mean? You wore… the same… outfit at your Halloween school disco?’
‘Yes – but I was here, in this universe. You’re from another one, one where you’re married, where your parents aren’t dead. Some things we have both experienced, some things are very… different.’ Chauncy looks away. [excellent]
The other Chauncy stares at the house. ‘So, my, your - parents, they’re not, in there, watching Downton?’
Chauncy shakes his head. ‘No.’ He thinks about telling Chauncy all the details about their murder but he knows it wouldn’t do any good.
‘No, they’re not in this house. But they’re in the one in your world. And we need to go there,’ he points – ‘through that rip in the fabric of space and time, can you see it? Just to the right of that bush. It’s how you got here.’
‘Oh I see. Come on then.’ [finally!]
Both the Chauncies walk to the bush. Chauncy takes the opportunity to have a good look at Chauncy. It’s quite a treat to see himself in 3D. He hangs back and watches him walk ahead for a few steps. Lovely.
They stop at the bush. Chauncy asks Chauncy a question. ‘How did it feel? On your way through the portal?’
‘Well I didn’t even know I’d gone anywhere so it should all be quite straightforward.’
‘True. Come on then. We should probably touch so we don’t lose each other, can you imagine if we ended up in the wrong universe! Nightmare.’
The Chauncies hold hands and walk towards the rip. As they get right up to it it shines like a curtain made of a million diamonds and when Chauncy pulls the curtain back it is like looking at a newly born star. How did the other Chauncy not notice this on his way through? He looks at him and you can tell it’s not really registering again.
Suddenly the brilliant light opens up and a force pulls them forward like nothing Chauncy has ever felt before, apart from when he’s accidentally caught himself on the Dyson hoover pipe.
Then BAM! They are in the parallel universe, in the other Chauncy’s garden. The other Chauncy looks at the flowerbeds and says ‘I thought I’d weeded these already…’
Chauncy sighs. He isn’t sure he can keep explaining to Chauncy what is going on. The important thing is he’s got him home and now he needs to locate Sadie.
‘Sadie my love!’ he calls. She does not come. He looks around the garden. He can hear her – she’s doing that little noise she makes when she’s with another dog – a kind of snore crossed with a laugh.
He walks around to the back of the house. The scene is beautiful and unbearable [woosh].
Downton must have finished because Chauncy’s parents are here too. His father is watering the plants with a hose pipe and every so often he jokingly douses a member of his family. They love it. His mother is picking blackberries and wearing a sunhat. Sadie is trotting around with the other Sadie, the happiest he hath seen her in years.
None have noticed this Chauncy yet.
And there is a younger woman, it must be the other Chauncy’s wife, doing some lunges. She has long black hair and the figure of an exercise instructor.
She turns. Marianne. ‘Chauncy! Darling!’ she shouts to him. The other Chauncy is still in the front garden, tending those flowerbeds he is obsessed with.
They think our Chauncy is their Chauncy. They all walk towards him. His mother holds out her arms. Chauncy fills with emotions.
‘Look at you! Your hair and eyebrows have swapped round. And you look more intelligent. Are you ok?’
Sadie looks at him. She knows. She knows this is not his world, or hers. But she looks so happy. And Chauncy could be happy here too. Couldn’t he?
Chauncy is standing in his back garden – EXCEPT it is in a parallel universe. In the parallel universe his parents aren’t dead and he is married to Marianne, a step aerobics instructor. Is she a cowbag in this universe as well, Chauncy wonders? [PROBABLY]
His parents, whom are standing in front of him, are smiling and saying things like ‘Are you all right’ because Chauncy has gone very verbally quiet.
What is happening here is there are thoughts running around in his head and emotions catapaulting up and down his trunk and limbs because he is looking at his parents (alive) for the first time in over a year. It feels like it has been longer. [pause] [very powerful]
His mother walks over to him and rests a large hand on his forearm.
‘Chauncy? Shall we go inside and do a wordsearch? Or if you like you can show me how many skips you can do on the skipping rope?’
Oh how he would love to say yes! He feels like a young boy again. Then he realizes that he hasn’t done a wordsearch or shown off with a skipping rope for quite some years, so the fact she’s suggesting it means it must be the kind of thing the other Chauncy still does. Figures! He says, inwardly. [American for ‘that makes sense to me’ - enhances Chanucy's international appeal]
But he must admit there is something appealing about the offer. His father is walking towards him with a skipping rope. ‘Here you go, my boy! Have a skip!’ he is saying joyfully and laughing with his mouth and eyes open quite wide.
Chauncy takes the skipping rope. Everyone stands around him [TV/Film version: this MUST be shot from Chauncy’s POV - everyone’s laughing faces and mouths are saying ‘Skip! Skip! Skip!’ and they are clapping - but out of time and out of focus – this is a metaphor for Chauncy’s current state and feelings]. [Brilliant]
Even Sadie and the other Sadie have joined in!
He doesn’t know what to do. On the one hand he’s having a good time but on the other it feels a bit like being mugged. He holds the rope like he is going to start skipping
- but then quite very SUDDENLY -
Sadie jumps up onto his shoulder and makes a little truffle sound in his ear. He instantaneously understands exactly what she is trying to communicate. It is this:
‘Stop now, we don’t belong here, it’s all a bit weird actually and that other chiwawa isn’t right in the head, all she does is trot around the garden looking for moths to eat, and I had to stop her from rummaging in the bins a couple of times, sorry I know it’s my fault we’re here because I slipped through the portal, thanks for coming to get me, and I know you must want to stay but we can’t, it would be like living a lie, and it wouldn’t be long before SHE hurts you again,’ (she gives Marianne a sly look) ‘Oh and also what about whomever killed your parents, in your world? We should crack on trying to solve that, really.’
Chauncy 100% agrees with her.
He barges past the circling chanting crowd, and, with Sadie still on his shoulder, he strides to the front garden. Before he gets there he stops and puts Sadie down, then he leans his forehead on the house, pushing it onto the bricks and makes a noise like crying being held inside of a mountain.
‘It is difficult to leave but I know I must!’ he splutters.
The other Chauncy is still weeding his beloved flowerbeds. He looks up when he senses Chauncy and Sadie standing next to him.
‘We’re leaving. It wouldn’t be right if we were to… stay,’ says Chauncy to Chauncy.
‘All right then, well it’s been nice, have a good journey back,’ chirrups the other Chauncy.
He then stands up and takes his t-shirt off and uses it to wipe to Chauncy’s face. Then they look at each other for a moment longer than is natural.
Then they both turn away.
The other Chauncy says, ‘Bon Voyage’ but without a French accent, then he walks away, and Chauncy and Sadie watch him go.
‘Ready, my girl?’ says Chauncy.
He picks her up and they bob back through the rip in time and space and before they know it they are back in their own front garden.
‘Right let’s get on with solving this murder,’ Chauncy says, for what feels like the hundredth time.
He takes his keys out of the pocket of his leather jacket which is still tied around his waist and in the front door they go.
Everything is as twas whence they were last here. However there is a smell of decay in the air and suddenly Chauncy worries that the heads of his parents have defrosted in the freezer but then he remembers he moved them to the freezer in his penthouse apartment last year so no worries.
Phew! He rasps. Then he walks into the kitchen and sees the source of the decay: flowers, flowers everywhere! Hundreds of dead flowers.
‘What sorcery is this?!’ exclaims Chauncy.
The smell of rotting flower flesh is right up and inside Chauncy and Sadie’s noses. The stench determinedly hangs onto their tiny nostril hairs like … [think of metaphor later.] [Also check if dogs have nostril hair.]
What is happening here is a putrid smell is coming from a mound of bunches and bunches of dead flowers piled up near the back door.
‘But how did they… get… in here?’ enquires Chauncy. He strides forwards and uses his long arms and large hands like spades, bashing the flowers out of the way to reveal…
‘Sadie’s dog flap! It has been open this entire year! And someone hath been pushing flowers through the hatch!’
Being back in his murdered parents’ home is difficult enough, but what is the meaning of this? Whom would play with him in such a manner? He feels like an action man doll in a terrible puppet show where the other puppets are a lot bigger than him and he’s been made to wear an outfit he doesn’t really like [he still looks great].
He leans against the stainless steel fridge-freezer then slides down it until he is resting on his haunches [possible spin-off TV show: ‘Chauncy’s Haunches’ – scenes of Chauncy on his haunches in various exotic locations.] [Might work better as a calendar?]
He runs a hand through his white quiff. Then he smooths his black eyebrows with an index finger. He then turns around and looks at his blurry reflection in the stainless steel fridge. Looking good. He moves forward so his actual nose touches his mirrored nose, then he dips his head to one side and pouts. His lips touch his mirrored lips. Lovely.
He shakes himself out of it, turning back around to the decomposing flowers.
‘I came back here to find clues about whom killed my parents, not to find someone has needlessly posted dozens of bunches of flowers through my dog’s doorway!’ he bellows.
Sadie has been quite quiet these past few minutes. Suddenly he notices she is truffling around in the dead flowers. Every so often she picks something up in her teeth and drops it at his side.
‘Sadie… what are you… doing?’ asks Chauncy.
He inspects the pile she hath created. It is a pile of cards! Each putrid bunch of flowers must have a card attached – and Sadie is locating them all! What an intellect she is! Chauncy thinks. He also thinks, and not for the first time, that she is the most important female in his life and how he still doesn’t ever want another girlfriend.
He leaps up from his hindquarters and plants a firm kiss ‘pon Sadie’s head. He then looks through the cards. There are 21 of them. Each card has a different letter of the alphabet written on it.
The letters are:
S E A H O M A R E S E I J L N B I R D E R
and there is also an item of punctuation, it is a comma: ,
‘Right then Sadie I think what we have here is a message from the person whom killed my parents. We need to decode what the message is. Shall we have a sit down at the dining table and see what we can come up with? We could have a glass of port, maybe lay on a few nibbles, make an event of it?’
‘OK I get the picture,’ Chauncy replies.
They sit at the dining table and get straight to the task in hand, laying the cards out in front of them.
‘Well I say we keep rearranging the letters until we see the message,’ says Chauncy. This is exactly what Sadie had in mind.
Once again the letters are:
S E A H O M A R E S E I J L N B I R D E R
They begin moving them around. After about an hour they have found some good words such as
‘But none of this means anything!’ rages Chauncy.
Oh dear, thinks Sadie. This isn’t doing any good. They both need a break. She leaps down from the table and trots out into the back garden to do some ancient breathing. Chauncy follows her and listens to her breath and it makes him think of the time he spent in a monastery in the South of France.
‘The monks… they taught me a technique for mind focus. Perhaps I should try it now. It sounds perfect for this situation doesn’t it, Sadie? It should help me to see the message. But it involves me getting into a bit of a rabid state so you had better stand back.’
He begins by closing his eyes and breathing in and out very deeply. Faster and faster he goes, in and out, until he is panting hard. Then he starts to sweat furiously, beads of sweat fall from him, he licks his salty upper lip and gasps, then his clothes are stuck to him, his white t-shirt has gone quite see-through, his blue jeans are clinging to his strong thighs
and then very SUDDENLY he runs at full speed back into the house.
Sadie follows him and watches him work very quickly, moving the letters around to decipher them, getting closer to the killer’s communication each time:
ER, JEANS BILE MOHAIR DRES
JEANER, DRESSHAIR MOBILE
DRESS JEAN, REHAIR MOBILE
Until finally he hits upon this:
JEAN, MOBILE HAIRDRESSER
Chauncy immediately snaps out of his trance.
‘My mother’s mobile hairdresser, Jean! SHE is the murderer!’
Just then there is a noise near the back door. The dog flap is moving! But what is it?
‘What the hell…?!!’ verbalises Chauncy as he watches a grown woman try to push herself through the dog flap into his dead parents’ kitchen.
The woman is Jean, a mobile hairdresser who used to come round to his parents’ house every Thursday morning to give his mother’s hair a wash and set. And every other Thursday his father would allow Jean to lightly trim his hair – at an agreed maximum deduction of 2mm from the length.
Chauncy’s father had jet black hair and was very protective of it, and rightly so.
‘Isn’t it funny how your father hasn’t got one grey hair and yet you Chauncy, a man half his age, have hair the colour of Colgate toothpaste?’ Jean would say.
At the time Chauncy didn’t think much of it, but looking at her now, squirming through an animal’s entrance and/exit, he is filled with fury.
He strides over to her wriggling body. So far she has just got her head through the flap and it is facing upwards, looking at him.
‘What are you doing here???’ he demands, placing a foot onto her forehead. ‘Is it you whom has sent all these flowers? Or is it someone else whom knows it is YOU whom killed my parents???’He continues.
‘Can you take your foot off my head a minute?’ asks Jean.
Chauncy sighs and lifts his moccasin from her forehead. He’s not a monster.
‘Ok but start talking scissor hands or it won’t be such a soft shoe next time!’ [excellent – we are really seeing Chauncy’s wild nature here, as well as a window into his footwear range]
Jean gulps. She knows she’s on borrowed time.
‘Chauncy… it… it wasn’t me! I didn’t kill your parents! I’ve been set up! I didn’t deliver the flowers either, whomever did has framed me!’
Chauncy eyes her suspiciously.
‘Then what EXACTLY are you doing here?’
Jean begins wriggling again, desperate to finish her journey through the dog flap.
‘Jean, I don’t think you’re going to fit through there if I’m honest,’ Chauncy advises. ‘This dog flap was commissioned for a chiwawa.’
‘You might be right. If I reverse back outside will you let me in through the door?’
Jean shimmies back through the flap into the garden.
Chauncy takes a moment to rehydrate himself. He brings his lips to the kitchen tap and drinks directly from it. Some of the water drips out of his mouth and wets his top. He’s not long since dried off after going into the rabid trance-like state he entered to help focus his mind on solving the anagram [good – will tempt reader to revisit previous chapter just to re-read detailed account of Chauncy sweating profusely].
Not for the first time today he wonders if he should take his top off. He thinks back to how in the parallel universe the other Chauncy took HIS top off. It was a fantastic moment. He will probably take his top off later, he decides [good – enticing].
For now he struts across the kitchen to the backdoor. Through it he can see the outline of Jean, waiting to be let in. Just as he turns the key and opens the door he hears the unmistakable sound of dog’s hoof running on lino: Sadie – and she’s by his side with a bulb of garlic.
‘Sadie, what are you…?’
BUT HE CANNOT FINISH HIS SENTENCE BECAUSE
Jean has pushed her way through the open door – and revealed her true self: Jean is a vampire!!!
Chauncy’s dead parents’ mobile hairdresser is a vampire! She is wearing a black cape with red lining and the collar sticking up, and she also has fangs, very pale skin, and a bouffant haircut.
‘Jean… what the heck is going on?’ commands Chauncy.
‘Do not be afraid, for I mean you no harm,’ Jean purrs, taking in the sight of him, visually, then stepping towards him and licking her lips.
Chauncy reverses backwards, worried she is going to make moves on him. He knows full well he’d make a breath-takingly physically outstanding vampyre [spell it like that from now on] but he’s just not ready for that kind of commitment.
He tries to distract her by reaching into the fridge and throwing a steak over to the other side of the kitchen, but Jean merely throws her head back and laughs.
‘Oh my boy, you know very little about the true nature of being vampyre!’ As she laughs her fangs are really prominent and it makes Chauncy gulp down a lot of air in dread.
Jean lifts up from the ground and hovers then glides across the kitchen towards him.
‘No! No! Jean! No Jean! No!’ cries Chauncy.
He quickly fumbles in his bumbag in which he always keeps a penknife, some string, and lots of loose nails (from his time in the SAS).
Jean’s eyes lock on the bumbag. She seems to know exactly what he’s thinking. Then her eyes lock onto his and he finds he cannot move, he has been immobilised!
Jean begins chanting the most beautiful sounds, like this: ‘Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah’, up and down the scales, and Chauncy is hypnotised by it.
Sadie is watching the scene unfold, the garlic bulb still at her feet.
And it is quite a sight: a grown man with one hand in his bumbag, his mouth agape [but jawline still very defined], eyes sparkling like two crystal gemstones, staring at a floating 60-something vampyre singing like a preteen all-male choir [was Chauncy ever in a choir? Consider for prequel].
Just what is going on in Chauncy’s mind’s eye? Sadie ponders.
CUT TO: Chauncy’s mind’s eye. Something amazing is happening. Jean is providing Chauncy with a direct link to his dead parents! She is allowing him to see their final moments. It is wonderful - they are both sitting in their arm chairs watching a Norweigan crime drama, dipping custard creams into cups of tea. His mother’s hair looks nice, with it being a Thursday, and every so often she touches it and smiles and pouts to herself at the same time. Chauncy wonders if that actually happened or if Jean is manipulating this scene to make her hairdressing look more appreciated. He can’t tell. Every so often his parents reach out and touch each other’s arms, it really is a moving slice of their lives.
BUT THEN SUDDENLY there is a knock at the door. It must be the murderer! But they do not know that! Chauncy says ‘Nooooooooooo dooooooooooon’t aaaaaaaaaaannnswwwwwer iiiiiiiiiit’ but they can’t hear him – his father gets up and walks to the hallway – and then when he comes back into the living room he has someone with him: Vampyre JEAN!
Chauncy snaps out of the trancespell he has been under, and holds the side of his head with the flat of his palms.
Jean is now making a noise like a rabbit eating a carrot. Her head is going mad, jerking around.
He strides over to her, grabs her shoulders and gives her a good shake. ‘Just what is going on?’ Chauncy requests commandingly.
… to be continued!
Come back on Monday 24th August please
Come back on Monday 24th August please