When he unzipped the case and placed the typewriter onto the small table in the corner, Martin was pleased to see the spare ribbon had been placed inside by the shopkeeper. He had lived up to his word. Connecting his mobile phone to the Internet, he looked up some online tutorials about changing typewriter ribbons, and was happy that he would be able to manage it, when the time came. It suddenly dawned on him that he had forgotten to buy any suitable paper, and certainly didn’t have anything in the flat. Oh, well, he would search some out tomorrow, and start by making some more notes in his exercise book for now, fleshing out the existing outline of the novel.
The next morning, he put off going out to the shops as long as possible. When he saw that there was no milk, he had his coffee black. The toilet roll was empty too, so he used some tissues from an old travel pack. Although he wouldn’t admit it, he knew that once he went out, he would have to buy some paper, and that would mean actually having to start his book. Something at the back of his mind niggled him about doing that, and he had the strangest feelings of butterflies in his belly. Not good butterflies either. More like moths. But instant coffee without milk was awful to drink, so just after lunchtime, he got ready and went off to the local High Street.
The Office Supply Shop was very expensive, so Martin decided to walk further, to the supermarket. They had copier paper on offer, buy two, get one free. He went for that, and bought a small set of clear plastic sleeves too. It would be nice to keep each chapter in one as they were completed. He got the milk while he was there, and a microwave meal for later. Spotting some wine reduced by a fair margin, he got two bottles of that too. Walking home feeling the weight of his shopping bags, he smiled to himself at the presumption that he would need those plastic sleeves for chapters that were not even in his imagination as yet.
All that afternoon, he couldn’t bring himself to open the paper. He thought of various reasons to delay the inevitable. Catching up with the news on TV, putting in a load of washing, and even tidying up the tiny kitchen area. But after eating most of the tasteless shepherd’s pie, and finishing his second glass of wine, he walked over to the table carrying one of the fat packets of paper, and finally gave in. Once the first sheet of paper was in the roller, and carefully lined up, he consulted the notebook. The working title had been ‘Nash Logan: A Man On The Edge’. But the name didn’t seem right now. After all, who was really called Nash? This character was intended to be the star of a long-running series, so the name had to be right. He jotted down a lot more names in the book. None of them seemed right to him, and the sheet of brilliant white paper remained undisturbed for over two hours.
By the time he was opening the second bottle of wine, Martin had cracked it. He had the title, and the change of name worked well too. He hit the shift key, and typed the first two lines.
‘Sam Logan: The Reckoning’.
By Martin Harwood.
No need for a pen name, he wanted everyone to know who had written it. When it hit the best-seller charts, there would be a lot of red faces around. Checking some very old notes at the front of the exercise book, Martin began to type in earnest, fired by a new enthusiasm, and the wonderful sound of the mechanical keys as he typed. He sat back and went over the first paragraph, stupidly pleased with how well it had turned out.
‘Sam Logan woke up slowly, shrugging off the hangover from last night’s session. Good whisky was never as bad as the cheap stuff, and as he stretched across the luxurious leather sofa, he smiled at the fact he hadn’t even taken off his expensive Italian loafers. Sam was going to have a good day, he just knew it. But the most days were good, for someone like Sam’.
Martin read it a dozen times. He liked it a lot, and felt it set the mood for more to come. In his excitement, he had missed a few spaces, but that was easily rectified. On the third correction, he folded his arms, and nodded in satisfaction. Finally, he was a writer. And a bloody good one too, if he said so himself. But he was surprisingly tired, which might have had something to do with almost finishing that second bottle of wine. He left the sheet of paper in the typewriter, and decided to have an early night.
Sleep just wouldn’t come. After almost half an hour of pointless tossing and turning, Martin felt himself drawn back to the typewriter in the corner of the living room. He made some coffee in his largest mug, and switched on the side lamp so he could see the page clearly. He decided to carry on by laying out Sam Logan’s back story. This time, the typing was much easier. The keys sounded like a machine-gun on the paper, and he didn’t make a single mistake.
‘Sam was a man who didn’t suffer fools gladly. Success came more naturally to him than friendship or relationships. From those early days as a salesman and market trader, he never once doubted that the big time was just around the corner. A quick mind, ruthless personality, and rugged good looks all combined to ease him though life like a hot knife through butter. Not that he didn’t work hard for it. It was just that to him, work wasn’t hard. He used people without conscience, and treated women as little more than baubles to decorate his daily life. Like the shiny things his Mum would hang on the tree, at Christmas.
Martin read through that paragraph. He loved it, exactly how he wanted to portray the hero of his novel. Admittedly, it did sound a lot like the start of his own life, but writing what you know was a solid start to a career as a novelist. And the name was changed, so it didn’t matter if some people picked up on it being based on his own experiences. He could always deny it was. Smiling, he thought how used he was to denial. It had got him through some sticky situations over the years. He patted the Remington gently, as you would a small dog. He was loving that old typewriter, and pleased that he had wandered down that street earlier.
Inordinately pleased with the progress so far, Martin was finally able to get back to bed.
He slept like a baby.