Making a Living

Henry peered around the corner. There was nothing there.

Which was disconcerting.

Henry didn’t like stepping out onto a new page without at least a sentence or two of description, especially this early in a chapter.

Who knows what will eventually fill the blank page, particularly so early in a story.

So far, he had been in an ordinary, nondescript room. That didn’t mean much. There could be aliens, monsters, zombies, ghosts, demons, politicians, or all manner of evil and deadly things waiting for him further along in the narrative.

So far, it did look like realistic fiction, maybe a thriller or a mystery. But Henry knew that in these opening pages all that could change. He could slip through into an alternate dimension any second, realise he was in some virtual reality machine, or even – if the worst came to the worst  – be inside some dream sequence.

Henry hatred dream sequences, being a protagonist in some story while it was under construction was bad enough, but when that tale turned out to have only been a dream after all.

There had been complaints at the Fiction Narrative Protagonist’s Union meetings for decades now. Despite dream sequences now being classed as fictional cliché, and thus payable at full unsocial hours overtime rates, there were still some writers who insisted on them.

That was unless this was a prologue, or even worse. This could be one of those stories that began with some minor character – the first murder victim – going about their usual business. That character completely unaware that they would spend most of the story cold and lifeless on the mortuary slab. It was hard trying to be a memorable character, get some reader sympathy, empathy, when you were an inert, lifeless corpse. Henry knew that only too well from bitter experience. He had paid his dues, started out at the bottom. At the bottom of a lift shaft to be accurate. Everyone in the story had dismissed Henry’s death as some unfortunate accident until the hard-bitten ex-cop, thrown out of the force for drunkenness when his wife left him, found the tell-tale clue.

The ex-cop got his man by the end of the story, of course. But after that Henry had moved on and upwards becoming in this writer’s last detective series, the Detective Sergeant to the series Inspector.

Now Henry was the star at last, after all those years, including several as this writer’s go-to villain. Those had been good roles.

This time he’ assumed he was the star, the protagonist, after all, he was named in the first sentence, that was a good sign.

Wasn’t it?

Henry checked again, the next page was still blank. The writer was sipping his coffee, glancing out of the window every now and then. It was a warm summer day, sunny and bright. Occasionally, the new young wife next door came out to sunbathe in her garden, right below the writer’s study window.

If she did, Henry knew the author would be unlikely to get beyond this page for the rest of the day, unless the sky clouded over.

Still, though, there were worse ways of making a living.


Published by David Hadley

A Bloke. Occasionally points at ducks.

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