The Writers Voice
The World's Favourite Literary Website



Christopher Turner

Book Excerpt:

“These stories can be read at a superficial level and if this is as far as you wish to go then you will certainly find them of interest. These stories can also be read at the personal level and if they should somehow resonate within you then I can only empathize with the life you must have had. These stories can be read at the allegorical level, and if you get this far you will have begun to see the bigger picture. However, if you understand these stories at the ultimate level, you will be stunned that people can behave this way…..….and get away with it.”

The Reporter.

“There are facts that are so solid they will stay with us forever. There are facts that are like ghosts, appearing and disappearing according to whatever’s convenient. And then there are facts that have been so hollowed out inside that they can’t support the weight of the argument for which they may be used, so they crumble to dust and are lost. Even without resorting to overt lying, the social architects of contemporary existence can pick and choose which facts are for public consumption and which remain hidden, and in so doing, determine how we see a person, an event, or the world.”

The Narrator.


The Reporter and the Narrator

It was a crisp, early-April morning. A man was sitting on a bench in Central Park, leaning forward, and throwing the rest of his croissant, piece by piece, to the pigeons. He was dressed well and expensively, though the casual way he wore everything, the faux-aged shoes, the pants that looked off the rack but maybe they weren’t, the belt that seemed like another off-the-rack purchase until you got up close and saw the fine detail, and the full length cashmere overcoat that was worn like a long jacket, all suggested he thought about his appearance. As he flung his last morsel to the appreciative crowd of sky rats, a woman walked up to the bench and stopped in front of him; he knew who it was without glancing up at her. She was dressed in a very professional manner, much like that of a successful NYC lawyer, with an eye for the personal touch. She too was wearing an overcoat, though more to ward off the chill than for looks. Her clothes gave her an elegance that brought attention to her athletic frame and her matching jacket and skirt hung from her body like they were custom-made. His color theme for the day was neutral grays and dark browns, hers was lighter grays and subtle reds, offset by a crisp white blouse.

The woman looked him up and down and said, “You’re dressed……..better than last time I saw you.”

“New York, Manhattan especially, seems so grand and formal, so whenever I come here I tend to make more of an effort, otherwise it just seems……….rude.” he joked.

They had agreed to meet at this particular bench as there was easy access from the street on the west side of the park and there were several iconic landmarks close by, making it straightforward enough to find later on if they needed to meet there again. When she’d met him earlier in February, she was finishing off another story at the time and had to return to New York to make the deadline. However, after many phone call exchanges, he said he would be heading to New York sometime in April and agreed to meet again when he arrived. He didn’t want to meet in her office so she suggested Central Park, at a pre-designated bench that was close to a black and white tile mosaic, a minute’s walk from the 72nd Street entrance. She knew the location well enough and felt it was relatively safe, and the surrounding flora offered some seclusion, even in early Spring.

“So you finally want to talk?” she asked him, in reference to the numerous phone calls she’d made to remind him to meet with her when he came to New York.

“Well, you wouldn’t give up so maybe it was time.” he replied, in reference to the number of times he’d said “maybe” to her request to meet.

“I always get my man!” she answered, with a smile and swagger that suggested, although she may be teasing on the outside, she was never in doubt about such a result on in the inside.

He looked at her from her toes to her hair, nodded with approval and said, “I wouldn’t be surprised.” She smiled to acknowledge that she’d just been complimented, and in so doing it was as if the dreary gray day was for the moment transformed into something warm and tropical; it was a smile that was both impossible to ignore and unlikely not to provoke the same in the recipient.
She had been through college on a basketball scholarship, so she had the height and body of a well-toned beauty queen. She’d actually turned down moving in that direction, modeling that is, before deciding to pursue her double-major, communications and politics at a prestigious university in Alabama. In her stockings she was no more than 5’10” but in her heels she was closer to 6’0”. Her skin color was somewhere between the deepest ebony of her closer African descendents and the lighter tones of her more distant South American kin. She had the face and body of a woman that most would have found overtly attractive and though people would have said God could have quit at that point and called it a particularly good day, He had decided He was not quite finished. Indeed, set against the silky ebony tones of her skin were the most penetrating and intelligent hazel-brown eyes, which gave her a look that could reach deep into a man’s soul and stay with him for all eternity, even though she may only have crossed his path but once in his entire life.
Although she was proud of her roots and often went back, she knew she wanted to work for the best that New York could provide, and she’d been so successful as a student that by the time she had graduated, offers from the city’s finest News outlets were not in short supply. She quickly settled in to the big city environment and, with her looks, doors would always be open to her, though she knew only real talent would keep those doors open. She’d been aggressive in pursuing all her stories as a reporter and very quickly got promotion after promotion for bringing her newspaper major political breakthroughs on a regular basis. She’d gotten a well-deserved reputation for being relentless but fair, brutally honest but balanced, and her leads were always so well researched that everyone trusted her representation of the facts. She’d had the newspaper world at her feet for several years now but her stories had dwindled of late to a slow trickle and they were beginning to lack…….passion. Indeed, she had gotten a little jaded chasing down crooked politicians and was looking for fresh pastures to further develop her journalistic instincts, which was in fact the very subject of a recent conversation with her editor.

“You still chasing down that science guy, I thought you said…..” her editor started to question her.

“I think there’s a lot more to it than I originally thought.” she cut in.

“It’s been a while since your last big breakthrough, I’ve been very patient with you but time’s running out.” he said, almost demanding the Reporter show more urgency. “You’ve checked him out and he’s got credibility problems, so what’s the hold up?” he added.

“I did and at first my sources confirmed what I’d heard about him but……..”

“But………?” he answered with shrugged shoulders.

“it all looked OK on the surface……but every time I get below the first few layers of any issue, the facts….well……they stop being facts, it’s like there’s a whole different world to this guy………every time I check on what people say happened I find there’s too many inconsistencies. I don’t want to run this story till I get a feel for who he is, maybe after talking to him I can figure out for myself what actually happened.”

“I don’t see this one going anywhere, who the hell cares about scientists anyway, they’re just a bunch of elitist, socially-retarded geeks; this story’s got no juice. In this business your reputation is only as good as your last story. It’s been a full 6 months since the last good one went to print, when are you going to give me something new?” he asked.

“I really think this scientist lead will pan out, I’ve a lot of dirt on him and he’s finally agreed to meet with me.” she said with a sense of optimism, “I think it’s only fair I hear what he has to say before we go to print.”

“He’s going to talk to you…..?” he asked, with a tone that suggested both surprise as well as guarded approval for this new development.

“I don’t really know what he’ll give me, but I think I’ve flushed him out at least.” she replied.

“So talk.” he demanded.

“I don’t want to scare him off, if I rush him he might bolt, so just ease off for now…..…OK? I’m tired of going after crooked politicians. I have a feeling this story’s nothing like anything I’ve ever come across before.” she pleaded.

“I make no promises, so go get me a story!” he ordered. He knew her desire to be thorough and fair would cause a delay but he’d grown accustomed to this side of her and was willing to cut her some slack; just a little though and not for too long.

She’d been successful for a lot of reasons but her main asset was that she protected her sources identity and never divulged their names, not even to her most trusted colleagues at work. So, she always gave her contacts an alias they both felt comfortable with, and in this case the man sitting next to her on the bench in Central Park would always be referred to as the Narrator. She was fiercely loyal to her leads, contacts, and sources, as she knew that such loyalty would often be repaid at later times, with better stories or more details than those for which she had originally asked or hoped. She leaned back slightly, stretched her legs and crossed them at the ankles, put both hands in her pockets and turned to him and smiled, as if anticipating that he was about to say something significant, or that she was at least inviting him to talk.

Noticing her hands go into the pockets of her overcoat he asked, “Are you cold… this OK here…..would you prefer to walk or go inside?”

“This is fine, I like to get out of the office, even when it’s colder than this; this isn’t bad, even for a southern girl like me.” she replied, in a very neutral way.

“So you’ve pursued me relentlessly, if I were closer to your age and didn’t know you were a reporter…..” the Narrator began to tease, before his was cut off, somewhat abruptly.

“You mentioned you wanted to tell me about a number of people, four women to be exact, which of course got my interest.” she said.

She’d heard about the Narrator quite by accident. While investigating an unrelated story that led her to several university campuses around the country, his name kept coming up, and not for good reasons. Not one to turn down a fresh lead, she pursued the rumors and started to piece together a story that she knew could end in his ruin. However, after a little undercover investigation she realized something didn’t add up, a lot of things really. In addition to getting the more obvious “consensus” opinions, she’d built her reputation on getting input from both sides of any issue, or finding people that had unique insights to any given story. So, if she was going to ruin him then she’d do it by leaving no stone unturned and she’d do it with the facts, not hearsay. So, some weeks earlier, she’d asked to see him on a ruse, that she was putting together a piece on the politics of science and wanted some insider feedback. After she’d questioned the Narrator a number of times she began to realize that there was a lot more to him than she imagined. Still, the seriousness of the allegations about him wouldn’t allow her to be convinced that he was as genuine as he came across, and so, maintaining a healthy degree of skepticism, she would keep her interactions with him very business-like.

Back at their bench in the park she asked, “You said you wanted to talk about the facts…..the truth?”, and with some urgency, as she wanted to get the conversation they agreed to have moving right along.

Somewhat slowly, he turned away, bent really low, and reached down into the dirt at his feet. Picking up a handful of dark brown earth in his right hand, he said, “This………this is the truth.” as he held his palm open. Then, looking around he noticed some light colored sand under the bench and picked up a handful in his left hand and said, “This……….this represents the lies”. Then he mixed them up with both hands, with some of the dirt and sand falling between his fingers as he blended the two together. Then he opened his hands in the shape of a bowl, showing the reporter how completely they had both come together, the grains of sand were still visible, as too were the smallest lumps of dirt, but they were essentially uniformly mixed.

“Now…….just using your fingers…” he said looking up to her face, “….separate them back into only the sand…..and only the dirt.”

“I wouldn’t be able to, it’s impossible……it would take forever……or at least a life time.” she answered.

“Welcome to my world.” he said with great solemnity.

They had planned to meet at this bench every day until he was done and she had agreed that no story would be filed until he was finished. So, she had come to this meeting expecting to hear hard evidence of some kind but was now beginning to wonder if all this man had to offer was analogy and metaphor; “Maybe my editor was right after all?” she thought. His symbolic representation of “his world” was leaving too many doubts in the mind of someone who preferred her evidence to be presented in a much more tangible form; his vague response was certainly at odds with her “just the facts” attitude to her work.
When she had started to investigate the Narrator it was based on allegations that many thought him to be a real bastard and prone to frequent ethical or moral lapses. After some subterfuge on her part, with her “politics of science” ruse, she had gained his confidence and started to lead up to the issue of whether he thought women fared worse than men when it came to such matters. Although that wasn’t her ultimate goal, which was in fact to get him to respond to the awful allegations that surrounded his life, she thought it was a good way to ease into the more probing questions later on. However, in response to one of a number of relatively benign interrogatives, he had mentioned that there were some people she needed to know about, four women in fact, whose personal stories would help clarify matters considerably. This of course got her attention as she had spent most of her short career championing various causes, most of which revolved around issues related to her own gender. Indeed, such was her reputation for pursuing her stories relentlessly, that women all over the country sought her out when they wanted someone investigated or something exposed. Although, his cryptic answer to her question about his desire to talk had disappointed her, she reminded herself that she’d often had second thoughts when in pursuit of even her most successful stories. Soon after leaving Alabama she had quickly learned to trust her journalistic instincts about these things, so although his vague symbolism with soil and sand didn’t help matters, something kept nagging at her to show him a little faith for now, though it presently wasn’t clear if that was out of instinct for a story or out of desperation to ease the pressure she was under from her editor.

She replayed his “welcome to my world” response in her mind once more and wondered what exactly he meant. However, she had a growing anxiety to learn more about the four women he had mentioned than to dwell on his whimsical notions regarding the nature of the universe, and with subdued impatience she asked, “Well, about these four women, are you going to give me something I can use or not?”

“That’s what I’m here for.” he replied.

Critique this work

Click on the book to leave a comment about this work

All Authors (hi-speed)    All Authors (dialup)    Children    Columnists    Contact    Drama    Fiction    Grammar    Guest Book    Home    Humour    Links    Narratives    Novels    Poems    Published Authors    Reviews    September 11    Short Stories    Teen Writings    Submission Guidelines

Be sure to have a look at our Discussion Forum today to see what's
happening on The World's Favourite Literary Website.