Martin rose early, with a plan in mind. He had to acquaint himself with the life he had written, and try to orientate his mind to what was going on. The events of last night had shown him that there was a price to pay for this exciting new turn of events. He might get the fresh start he wanted every time, but that had an unseen knock-on effect on everything around him, leaving him confused, and stranded in a familiar world that was actually totally unfamiliar. It reminded him of some old theory that he had read about many years ago. He struggled to recall the name of it, and as he sat in the old Captain’s chair, it suddenly popped into his mind. ‘The Butterfly Effect’.
The morning was busy, spent going through every piece of paperwork he could find. He had bought the apartment ten years ago, and still had a manageable mortgage outstanding on it. The car keys he had found belonged to a BMW 520i, and he had the papers for it. It had been bought new last year. He shook his head. How was that even possible? There was a garage rental agreement too, in a place just one street behind his home. So that was where it was. He found contracts signed between himself and Phillip Green, and copies of others signed by the Katz brothers, and his publishing house. They were all almost ten years old. But he had only written about Green being his agent last night, so how had that happened?
Everything seemed to have started around the time he had left Harris-Coyle, including a letter accepting the manuscript of his first Sam Logan book. A separate folder contained everything from his accountant, Donald Silver. But he didn’t know anyone called Donald Silver, and had never had an accountant. Still, it appeared he had paid up all his taxes, and invested in a healthy pension too.
He fired up the I-pad, and logged in to his online banking. The password was still the same, and his account was still in the branch close to the old dingy flat. He wondered if Vanessa was still there. Over fifty grand in his current account, and close to a hundred grand in the savings account. That didn’t seem to be that much, considering his lifestyle, so he went back through the paperwork until he found his financial portfolio, prepared by Silver. Four hundred thousand in investments, and growing slowly each quarter. That was more like it.
The phone made him jump out of his skin. She said she was Monica, and handled his affairs on behalf of Phillip Green. Martin was grateful that she introduced herself so professionally, or he would have had no idea who she was. “Mister Harwood, I have been asked to remind you that the first chapter of the next book will be required by the end of this month. Mister Green feels that now is the time to seek out some new publishers, which will hopefully make your current one increase their offer for the next book in the series”.
He blurted out his reply without thinking. “But the last one is still doing well, and the premiere of the film is due to open in London soon”. Her voice sounded bored as she replied. “But we must remember that it is over a year since the last book now, and that’s a long time in publishing. I would suggest too long. If you want to keep up the momentum, then I’m afraid we will need something to bargain with”. Martin shook his head. Oh how he hated the use of the ‘Royal We’. He toughened his tone. “Right. Leave it with me, you will have it by the end of next week”. He hung up, showing her who was really in charge.
By the time he left the flat to get some lunch, Martin had a handle on what was happening. At least he thought he did. Every time he reinvented his life, everything smoothly combined to make his idea work. But the rest of the world had moved on around him, to facilitate that. Short of writing five hundred pages of details every night, he couldn’t see how he could affect that side of things. He had to just stay alert, and monitor the small things that went on. Some things stayed constant, like the bank, the typewriter, and the fact that he was aware of the changes. The day started fresh, but everything else had started from ten years ago, when he lost his job. It was a mental challenge, but he was sure he was up to it.
The girl in the sandwich bar gave him a look. He wasn’t sure just what that look was, but he knew it was definitely a look. She was pretty, foreign-looking, maybe East European. Her voice snapped him out of the stare. “Hi, Martin. The usual?” Fortunately, she was wearing a name badge. “Thanks, Ivona. Yes, same as always”. She smiled, and nodded across at the seating area. “I will bring it over”. He took a seat and watched her prepare the sandwich, with no idea what it would contain. She kept glancing over at him, trying not to smile. She eventually came over to the table with a ham and cheese panini, and a small cup containing a double espresso. Her hand brushed against his on the table top, and she spoke very quietly. “You didn’t phone me. I was expecting your call”. She hovered, waiting for him to reply. He looked her over before speaking. Painfully thin, hair tied back, eyes dark and sunken. Not his type at all, but there must be some reason for her to have said what she did. “Sorry, so busy with work. They are on at me about getting the new book out”. He presumed she would know about him being a writer, and she did.
“Oh I am looking forward to reading it. Will I have a signed copy, like always? And the film premiere. Are we still going? I have bought a new dress with the money you gave me”. She remained at the edge of the table, ignoring the growing queue at the counter. He gave her one of his best smiles. “Of course, I will ring you soon, with all the details”. She lightly brushed her hand against his once more, and returned to the complaining people at the front. As he devoured his lunch and slurped the lukewarm coffee, he went over it in his mind. He had obviously had some sort of fling with this girl. Promised her a trip to the premiere, signed copies of his books for her, and given her money too. He didn’t even try to think about how that could have happened. Not only had he no recollection of ever meeting her before, everything about her screamed ‘not for me’. She was a nice enough girl, he was sure. But he wouldn’t have looked twice at her in the street. He placed a twenty pound note on the counter as he left, and waved a friendly goodbye as she looked up. It was too much for what he had had, but let her keep the change.
After all, it was the last time she would ever see him.