04-22-2010, 01:20 AM
The majority of threads I start get 0 responses, probably because of the feeble-mindedness of everyone, so I'm hoping this one fares a little better.

This is the first chapter of something I've been writing for a while, I'm up to just just over 50 pages in total, and I guess if people like it I could post up a little more. Since I am writing this in Word a lot of formatting is going to be lost by pasting it on here, and I'm not going to spend the time to rectify that, so I would recommend downloading a .pdf copy from here ( If you follow the link and the file has expired send me a PM and I'll re-upload it.

But yeah, I hope you enjoy and comments and feedback are appreciated. It's titled Jack and Coke.

It was late in ’05 when I received the phone call from Timmy Lovejoy. I remember that it was in the run up to Christmas because the grocery store beside my apartment had these ugly stone angels draped in tinsel sitting in the window.
On the day of the call I came in from the cold and set my keys on the table by the door. I unbuttoned my overcoat and hung it from the hatstand, shaking snow from the shoulders and removing a brown paper bag of Jameson from the pocket. By late evening I’d settled into the third or fourth glass of whiskey and was dozing off in my armchair to the twenty-four hour news when the phone rang.
“Hello,” I said groggily, trying my best to shake my drowsy head clear of the alcohol.
“Who am I speaking to?” came the reply, high pitched- to the extent where it made you wince a little- and distinctly familiar.
I was guarded as I replied to the strange yet familiar evening caller, “This is Jack. Jack Devine. Who am I speaking to?”
“Oh Jack! It is you! Thank God, been trying to track you down for hours. Your voice man, barely recognised it over the phone.”
They sounded a little drunk, whoever they were, but clearly they knew me and I certainly recognised the speaker even if I couldn’t place them exactly. So, less defensively I reiterated my question, “Who am I speaking to?”
“It’s Timmy Lovejoy, Jack. Long time, no speak huh?”
I was stunned at that. Timmy Lovejoy. The name! That voice! I could almost have reached out in the air and touched him. “Timmy Lovejoy? Timmy fucking Lovejoy! How the hell are you?”
As it happened, Timmy was doing very well for himself. He was living in San Francisco now and writing for a paper called the San Francisco Bugle. I suspect that part of what prompted him to call me that December evening was the desire to let me know he’d finally made it as a journalist- he’d always looked up to me. I told him that that was great, which pleased him a lot to hear, and then he extended an invitation for me to come visit him sometime if I ever found myself on the western seaboard. He said he wouldn’t mind, in fact, he’d like it a lot and I agreed I would like it too. Although I’m sure he made the offer casually and without any expectation of fulfilment, it was a remarkable intervention given that I was just about ready to call it quits with New York but had no blueprint for where to go or what to do instead.
After a while I got him to pause a second so I could top up my drink and then we yammered on about mundane things like old friends and our love lives and memories of this and that and then we said goodbye with Timmy making me promise to come visit sometime and again, I think, not realising just how prepared I was to take him up on that offer.

I first met Timmy in my third year at Columbia, which must have been back in ‘96. Those days I used to run mostly with Charlie O’Hanlon, a huge redhead from Boston and, like myself, of Irish stock. It was also around then that I’d started to make a name for myself on campus, or at least amongst the English students, as a bit of a prodigious writer.
Anyway, one night me and O’Hanlon were out at Flannigan’s. It was a grubby little spot, oppressive walls and oppressive company, but it used to have live music every Friday and Saturday and was quiet enough that you could hold a conversation whilst you drank, a major draw for me given that I can’t stand the loud places. Flannigan’s pulled down its shutters for the last time a few years back, not able to pull in the customers anymore with the young drinking wherever the young drink and the old regulars dropping like flies. I remember the night it closed vividly, not for the party which was wild and loud with drink on the house all night long and a perfectly memorable party entirely in its own right, but for it being the last ever night I was out with O’Hanlon, may he rest in peace.
Back to ’96 though and O’Hanlon had wanted to show me some writing he’d done and we’d taken up a table in the corner and sprawled his pages all over it. I don’t remember the specifics, but it was about a man from west Cork during the famine and how hard he was trying to provide for his family- a real romantic affair. O’Hanlon spent about six months around about then when he would obsessively write stories set in Ireland despite never having been, at least not for another few years after that. His reality was rooted in a fuzzy old tape of Darby O’Gill that had been played to death and from evenings spent on cracked and faded plastic bar stool tops with foam exposed, his eager youthful ears soaking up the drunken yarns of Bostonians talking of ‘Home’.
After a while the writing and literary discussion faded to obscurity and the whiskey, cigarettes and music came to the fore. Leaving the table in the corner, O’Hanlon and I began to mingle. I dropped down onto a stool by the bar and struck up a conversation with a few of the resident alcoholics, or ‘professional drinkers’ as they termed it. When Timmy Lovejoy first entered my life, I was sat at the bar chatting to an old fiddler complete with wispy white beard and Yankees cap who was sipping over a pint of Guinness. He told me he couldn’t drink so fast as he used to or he vomited up blood.
From nowhere, I heard O’Hanlon shout, “Will you get the fuck away from me!” his booming voice able to cut through the indecipherable drone of conversation in the room with ease before marshalling it into silence.
Two dozen pairs of eyes, and ‘Patch’ Finnegan’s solitary one, all simultaneously honed in on the same spot like they were made of metal and somewhere backstage a switch had been tripped and a huge electromagnet activated right in the middle of the floor. In the red corner, standing six feet two inches and weighing in at two hundred pounds was O’Hanlon. In the blue corner was our newcomer, standing at six feet nothing and weighing in at not much over one-forty. O’Hanlon was squared up to a child, a gangly, bespectacled streak of piss.
In the silence came the reply, “Didn’t you hear the lady? She’s not interested.” He spoke in a high squeak that did little to assert itself against O’Hanlon’s baritone, especially so in the silence that had followed the initial shout which served to expose it all the more.
O’Hanlon had been chatting up a pretty blond in a white cocktail dress and, in fairness, she didn’t look at all interested, not that that mattered to O’Hanlon when he’d had a few. “And who the fuck are you kiddo, her brother?” asked O’Hanlon, taking one hand and shoving the newcomer back a few steps.
After the shove the kid stepped back to where he’d stood, trying to hold firm against a guy about twice his size. I wondered if he was drunk, he didn’t look to be but these weren’t the actions of a sober man, certainly not a sober man as tiny as him. Plucking up all his courage he retorted “No, I ain’t,” then a pause, then, “Why, are you?” I cringed at that and a few others couldn’t suppress a snigger.
“What? What the fuck is wrong with you?” asked O’Hanlon incredulously, raising his huge hand and shoving it into his chest a second time but so forcefully that the newcomer had to stagger to keep his feet. He was on the ropes now and taking on a guy a weight band or two above him and at that stage one of two things was going to happen: they would fight and O’Hanlon would have kicked the shit out of him easy, of that I have no doubt, or they’d have been thrown out before he got the chance. I turned to the fiddler and said, “Sorry, I have to go sort this.”
“Friends of yours?” he asked, looking up at me with wrinkled red eyes.
“Unfortunately,” I replied and he nodded in commiseration a moment before returning to his Guinness.
I got over to them quickly, placed myself between O’Hanlon and the other guy and said: “What’s going on here Charlie?” From the corner of my eye I caught the bouncer by the door as he watched on, waiting to see how this unfolded but ready to pounce at a moment’s notice if my peacekeeping mission failed.
“Would you get out of my way Jack, me and this shithead was talking,” said O’Hanlon, taking me by the shoulders and trying to lift me to one side so he could get a clean swing.
“Looks to me like the talking’s all done, Charlie,” I said, resisting his attempts to move me, “you’d best cool down before they chuck you out of here.”
“The guy’s pissing me off!”
I turned to him: “Are you pissing my friend off?”
“No, I am not,” he said. “I told him that the lady wasn’t interested ‘cause he was being pushy with her and then the big bastard lashed out at me. He’s a psychopath!”
“Come on!” shouted O’Hanlon, “take your best shot motherfucker and make sure it puts me on the floor, ‘cause I ain’t going to let you get in a second. Come on! Come on!”
I knew O’Hanlon every bit as well as I knew myself and I knew how hot-headed he was, but I could tell that any real fight in him had passed and he was content to shout the other guy down and let me negotiate a peace. So, ignoring his outburst, I turned to the girl, who really was pretty, and asked: “What’s your name?”
“Elaine,” she replied, enchanting me with her soft red lips as she formed the word. All around us, conversation was presently resuming with the crowd seeming to have sensed that any prospect of a fight breaking out proper had been nipped in the bud by my intervention and some grumbled in disappointment at the last minute cancellation.
“Alright Elaine, are you interested in Charlie here or aren’t you?” I asked, trying to keep to the matter at hand and not fall victim to her attempts to spellbind me with that mouth of hers.
She paused for a moment, searching for the diplomatic answer but when none was found she simply settled for “Um, no. Not really.” O’Hanlon was crushed.
“Sorry Charlie,” I said, giving him a consoling pat to the shoulder, “that’s your answer.” The giant of a man visibly buckled, slumped dejectedly against the bar and sighed. He looked at the floor a second and just sucked in air, collecting his thoughts and regaining some composure before sitting back up and pointing at Timmy with his big index finger. “You’re a fucking asshole alright, a fucking asshole. If you ever show your face around here again I’ll rip it off your fucking head.” He flung himself forward and marched towards our table to collect his jacket, telling me as he passed “I’ll see you in the morning Jack, I’m going.”
“Aw, fuck’s sake Charlie, would you come here a minute?” I protested, but there was no talking to him and he stormed off undeterred. I followed him with my eyes until he’d left the bar and then turned to Elaine. “I’m sorry about my friend just now. Can I get you a drink of something by way of apology?”
“You’ve got nothing to be sorry for,” she replied, again using those lips to try to hypnotise me and forcing me to exercise all of my willpower in resistance.
“I know, I know, but still, I want to buy you a drink if you wouldn’t mind, it’d make me feel better at least.”
She mulled it over a second, her face screwing up a little with thought as she mulled, and then said “Okay, I’ll have a vodka and white- if you insist.”
“Vodka and white it is,” and I stopped the barmaid and ordered the drink. When it was served and I’d apologised on O’Hanlon’s behalf once or twice more and when she had been more than courteous in her gratitude, I bought myself a beer and a shot of Jameson, which I took at the bar, and returned to my table.
O’Hanlon had left behind his writing and I made myself busy reading through it, just something to pass the time since I planned on reacquainting myself with Elaine in a bit. It was getting quite late at this point, the music had finished and the musicians were packing up and the crowd was beginning to thin out, and this quietening combined with the events of the past fifteen minutes had cleared my head sufficiently so that I could focus on the writing a little better and, with a clear-ish head, I was able to appreciate the story for what it was: eloquent bullshit.
I’d been reading it for maybe fifteen or twenty minutes when a clearing of a throat at the opposite side of the table made me look up. It was the guy who O’Hanlon had tried to fight earlier. “Can I help you?” I asked.
“Uh, not really,” he replied, fidgeted a bit but stood steadfast at the top of the table.
I thought about ignoring him, getting back to reading, but he was making me too uncomfortable. “What do you want?” I asked, letting my irritation show.
“I’m Timmy, Timmy Lovejoy,” he was visibly nervous, sweating quite a bit and mashing his hands together. His heart pumped so fast that I could almost make out ripples being broadcasting across his shirt.
“Alright Timmy, Timmy Lovejoy, what do you want?” I replied sarcastically.
“Could I, uh, buy you a drink or something, a token of my appreciation for, uh, you know, saving my hide earlier,” he said.
I motioned towards my half full beer on the table and said, “I’m fine for now but thanks all the same.”
“Well, how about a shot of Jameson or something?” he persisted, giving away the fact he must have been observing what I’d been drinking earlier in the night.
I was getting pretty irritated by him and his pushiness at this point, “If I let you buy me a shot, will you leave me be?”
“Yeah, okay,” he said, seeming relieved to have finally coaxed me into acceptance.
“Fine then, make it a shot of Jameson,” I said.
He scuttled across to the bar and returned a few minutes later with two shots held in finger tips made sticky and brown with the spillage from the two precariously full glasses. I took mine and downed it quick, slapped the glass back onto the table and blinked back a few tears. When I looked up, Timmy was still stood there, shot in hand, staring blankly at me. “What’s the matter Timmy Lovejoy, you not going to take your shot?”
In retrospect I should never have asked him that. He looked ghastly, all white and clammy, twice the rabbit caught in headlights he’d been when O’Hanlon had made to fight him. He composed himself another moment and said, “Yeah, ‘course I am.” He downed it and set the glass on the table, but you could immediately tell from his face that it hadn’t sat well with him. Instinctively, I pushed O’Hanlon’s pages out of the way and jumped from my seat just as he doubled over and vomited on the floor. He then fell to his hands and knees, pressing himself into the vomit, and continued to spew all over the floor and all down himself. Black and watery, the smell of it had the effect of making me heave almost to the point of vomiting myself. Then, from behind the bar a shout went out, “Hey! What the fuck are you doing? Get the fuck out of here! Teddy! Teddy come here and show this wise guy the door.”
He was in bad shape, gasping for breath and crouched down in his own vomit, and it didn’t look like he could move fast enough to be able to evade Teddy’s clutches so, being a good guy, I shouted back to the bar, “It’s alright, he’s with me. I’ll take him home.”
Out of eyeshot I heard someone say “What’s Jack doing bringing a bastard like that in here for?”
I buttoned up my overcoat and threw my scarf round my neck then collected O’Hanlon’s pages and stuffed them into the pocket. I turned to Timmy and helped him straighten up. Patting him on the back I said: “You got a jacket or anything Timmy?”
“Yeah, my coat’s over there,” he said, motioning to another corner of the bar. I helped him across and he pulled his coat on and we left, Timmy apologising profusely as we passed the bar.
When we were outside I checked my watch: one-thirty. There was a late October frost dusting the street which glistening under the streetlamps like shards of broken glass and our footsteps made tracks as we walked. “How far do you have to go, Timmy?” I asked, not keen on leaving him to his own devices given his current state.
“Abou’ fifteen minutes,” he replied, his speech slightly muddled still.
“Okay, I’ll walk you.”
“No, I’m fine,” he protested, grabbing my arm, “Seriously, I’m fine,” his slurred speech contradicting him better than any argument I could have put up.
“You’ll be just as fine if I walk you,” I said breaking free of his grip. We beat on in silence for a minute or two and, in truth, I was pretty livid about having to walk so far out of my way in the freezing cold of the wee hours.
The silence was finally broken when Timmy piped up, “Sorry. I can’t stomach whiskey at all. Even the smell, even just the smell, is enough to get me gagging.”
“Forget about it,” I replied looking dead ahead, determined to get to bed as quickly as possible.
“Still, I’m sorry. I kind of ruined your night.” He paused for another moment before asking “What were you reading back there?”
“Some writing a friend of mine did. Your pal O’Hanlon actually, the big one.”
“Oh, okay,” he said and you could sense just a trace of disappointment in his voice, “Any good?”
“It’s alright, yeah.”
“I thought that maybe you’d written it,” continued Timmy.
Without turning to face him, but looking at him suspiciously from the corner of my eye, I asked “And what would make you think that?”
“Well, you’re Jack Devine aren’t you? I recognised you. I’ve read some of your stuff, you’re a hell of a writer. You’re practically… you’re practically like a god or something!” he joked and then laughed very loudly and very crassly at his jest. I didn’t.
“Thanks,” I said, gratified and disturbed in equal measure. It wasn’t the first time someone I didn’t know had come out of the blue to praise my writing, but Timmy was different in that he seemed almost a fan. It was then that I made the assertion that the entire confrontation with O’Hanlon earlier, which was so unnecessary from Timmy’s point of view, had been intentionally and meticulously engineered on his part so he could get to talk to me. On cue, the conversation now underwent a total direction change.
“You know, I actually do some writing myself,” he said.
I knew exactly what he was fishing for and tried distancing myself pre-emptively to no avail. “You do, do you?” I asked indifferently.
“Yeah, I want to be an author you know,” he was getting really bubbly now, the effects of vomiting up the whiskey forgotten. Talking quick and excited, “I think I’m good but maybe I could use some guidance.”
Guidance, he had to be kidding. “Is that right?”
“What about you, don’t you want to be an author too?”
“Yeah, well sure I do, but I don’t look to writing as some sort of definite career destination. I do it for enjoyment, if I end up making enough off of it so that I don’t have to work, well, then that’s all the better.”
“Well I’ve read some of your stories and they’re fantastic, you really could make it as an author,” said Timmy before adding “No doubt about it, you really could.”
“I might,” I smiled, trying to be polite.
“Hey, I just had an idea.” I had an incline I might just know what this idea was. He continued, “You know- if it wouldn’t be too much hassle for you of course- maybe you could read through some of my stuff the way you were doing for O’Hanlon this evening.” And there it was. Denouement. I’d only seen it coming a few moments before, but his entire night had been structured to culminate with that question with every bit as much forethought and planning as a wedding proposal or a lunar landing.
He’d left me with little recourse, at least little enough that I couldn’t come out of it not looking shabby if I rejected him. “Yeah,” I said, “I guess could take a look at it. Sure”
“Great!” His face lit up so bright that to anyone watching from a distance he might easily have passed for a splinter of the sparkling frost. “Thank you.”
We didn’t talk much after that until we arrived at his apartment building. He’d already gotten everything he wanted out of me and I had no desire to converse with him, so any further talk was redundant. I bid him goodnight and started my own cross-town homeward trek, eventually arriving about two thirty or three o’clock. O’Hanlon was comatose in the kitchen when I got in, face down on the table and with a half finished tumbler of whiskey and Coke by his head, so I shook him awake and assisted his lumbering, drunken mass to bed. Finally, I was able to climb into my own bed shivering, sore and tired and cursing the moment I came to Timmy Lovejoy’s rescue, far better had I let O’Hanlon throttle him.
On the night I came away with a very poor impression of a man. I was unimpressed with the way he’d so patently tried to use me, and maybe I was the fool for allowing it to happen with so little by way of resistance. His eagerness annoyed me too, my friends, when sober at least, tended to be weary and bitter sorts. He hadn’t been able to hold his liquor either, something I usually like in a companion. Most of all though, the borderline reverence with which he held me (and still evidently did today if he was willing to search me out from San Francisco and talk long distance for more than an hour) wasn’t flattering, it was off-putting and strange.
A few days later, when all memory of our chat had disappeared, I bumped into him on campus and he presented me with a folder full of pages, five or six different things he’d been working on, and asked if I could go through it like we’d discussed. Annotating Timmy’s work wasn’t the same as reading over O’Hanlon’s though. Then you would just head to a bar somewhere and you would pretend to pace it so your attention span dwindled as the drink kicked in. Now I felt like a teacher marking the work of a student, only whereas a teacher can be damning I felt I had to tread a fine line with my criticism so as not to damage Timmy’s fragile ego and opinion of me. Over the course of the following week or so I meticulously went through it all and, ranging from the competent to the poor, it was obvious to me even then that he had no future as an author. I gave him the folder back with my comments critical but not overly so and with unashamed enthusiasm he had provided a fresh batch within days. It continued like that, with me having to devote a considerable chunk of my spare time (a chunk which had the illusion of being somewhat greater than merely ‘considerable’ due to the monotony of it all) to reading Timmy’s work, and after a time he began to occasionally hang out at me and O’Hanlon’s apartment.
He’d sometimes read mine or O’Hanlon’s writing and reserve particular praise for O’Hanlon’s pieces in a bid to win him over. It didn’t work. O’Hanlon never got along with Timmy, they’d got off to a disastrous start after all, and he used to encourage me to tell him to fuck off and stop wasting my time reading his drivel. When Timmy came by, O’Hanlon would usually just leave in an obvious fashion but sometimes, if he’d been drinking, he’d lie in the living room with us mocking Timmy and his writing, laughing that deep and rich laugh of his and knocking back whiskeys till he was red in the face and succumbed to sleep. Timmy hated O’Hanlon.

In spite of any delusions Timmy himself might have had, he was never more than a casual acquaintance to me, quite often an annoyance in fact, which made his phone call that evening all the more surprising. I guess though that he’d never really stopped striving for my approval, even if we hadn’t seen each other in at least four years and even if my memory of him was yellowed and faded- no longer a face easily pictured but rather a memorable voice, an auditory experience- whilst his memory of me was still crisp and pristine. No, he never really had stopped seeking my approval, just taken a break.
I made up my mind that night. I would quit the Chronicle and leave New York, spend Christmas at home in Chicago and then move out west and start again in the new year. I needed a clean break and Timmy had presented me with one; the fresh horizons of the Pacific, the brand new company of San Fran’. Thinking of it made me giddy with excitement. Since I was now officially celebrating, I poured myself whiskey until the bottle was done, the way I used to do it when I was still young and being egged on by O’Hanlon. I finally went to bed at about half past three in a drunken stupor and had one of those long dreamless blackouts I always have after I’ve been drinking heavily.

04-26-2010, 05:42 PM
Hey mossy, I'm going to try to remember to read this when I get back from work! (Have to leave in like 5 minutes so I can't give it the proper attention right now.)

I never check this forum. I am currently attempting to have us get rid of it and just say that if someone wants to post something like this they can do it in GD, where someone might actually see it.

Darth Revan
04-27-2010, 01:36 AM
Not bad MossY. I understand how hard it is now to get constructive criticism/reviews here now (unlike a few years back). Pretty good work I think, and you should continue with it.

I never check this forum. I am currently attempting to have us get rid of it and just say that if someone wants to post something like this they can do it in GD, where someone might actually see it.

You do know TK... if this subforum is deleted (as you stated above that you're trying to do) and have people post these in GD, flames will ensue in abundance due to how loose the rules are in the GD subforum.

05-11-2010, 08:39 PM
It really isn't much different here you know.....

Darth Revan
05-12-2010, 04:21 AM
I suppose that's true. The majority of newer members here don't know how to read or write.

08-28-2010, 07:10 PM
Wow, I can't believe I never spotted this thread; MossY, that is awesome! There's a lot of great writers around this forum!

09-10-2010, 04:18 PM
Nicely written. Congrats MossY.