This is a novel which Kelly worked on as her semester project. She began drafting a chapter each week during the third quarter, completing about half the book in that framework, and then worked on the final chapters, the artwork, and the revisions during term four.
Chapter 1: New York
"Knock, knock." The sound echoed throughout the empty room, bouncing off the blank walls and the uncovered wood floor.
"The door is open. Put it under the window. Dont hit the frame, its soft wood." He spoke abruptly while casually sitting on the floor, his legs bent up with his feet flat to the ground. The classified ads resting neatly over the top of his knees created a canopy over the pens he had dumped on the floor. Frustrated with his search for a decent job he was relieved now that the movers gave him an excuse to break.
It took only two trips to get everything successfully moved up the three flights of stairs and into the tiny apartment. He had chosen this particular place because of its location. Stumbling upon this area Tom couldnt help laughing at the fact that he was picking based on its lack of status whereas all his life he had been taught to do otherwise.
Tom Ritefield grew up in one of the most lavish homes in New York. He always had the nicest cars, the best food, and was put into the best of schools. Toms parents were never home. They were jet setters, the type of people who frequented country clubs, fine restaurants and parties hosted by high society. Lifestyles such as this did not accommodate children. Toms life was spent with the nanny, a nice woman whose values and lifestyle influenced him greatly. Despite his parents frequent absence and neglect, Tom was not resentful. Instead he sought to change his life and vowed to live a differently than his parents had.
Toms father Fred, and his mother Madeline hadnt worked a day in their lives. Their money was all inheritance. To them work was what they would never be required to do. Tom never felt that his parents disliked him, anything he wanted he could have. Only to Tom, his parents always seemed distant, as if they werent actually his parents but two people who had thoughtlessly created this being, pressured by the elder Ritefields to carry on the family name. Tom, a Ritefield trophy-something to show off at the club.
As he peeled off the tape from the first box and glanced out of the window, Tom felt content with what he saw. The apartment was situated with its façade facing the street and his window conveniently located where he could get a clear view of all the buildings around him. On the street, cars were gliding by, and the sidewalks were littered with bystanders. Trees began to show traces of their preparation for autumn, and the air was warm and salty to the taste. He wasnt living in the worst part of Manhattan but it certainly wasnt anywhere his parents would have allowed him to stay if they were to pick it. Tom purposely chose this flat for its simplicity. After 20 years of his pampered and spoiled life, he had purposely decided on this change. The bankruptcy couldnt have come at a better time. His moms father had died recently leaving an embarrassing sum of money to her. The death came as a surprise to everyone, but did not shock them as much as the money. In the will, they discovered that not only had Fred and Madeline been stiffed, but instead their money had been given to Tom, placed in a separate account until he turned the age of 21. This angered Fred and Madeline tremendously. They had counted on that money to be able to continue their lifestyles. It never occurred to either Fred or Madeline that Madelines father would cut them short and give the money to Tom.
But Richard Caulvin III had been a conventional man. He worked hard to earn his money and worked hard to raise Madeline with the same values. He gave up on her though, when she was merely a teenager. Spoiled from the very beginning and unwilling to adopt her fathers values she refused to work. When she decided to marry Fred, another shallow wealthy man, Richard was all too happy to let her go. Fred complemented Madeline and her lust for an expensive life. However Richard was allowed one more opportunity to enforce his values upon his superficial daughter when he met his grandson Tom. Down to earth and centered like himself, Tom captivated Richard and issued hope into the old man. By leaving everything to Tom, Richard could only hope that a simpler lifestyle would change her for the better. Madeline would surely diminish his lifelong success in no time at all, and without any regard to her son.
Freds money was gone long before Tom even made it out of high school. Living off of Madelines wealth, he had no need to work. This laziness angered Richard, for he despised those who sucked the wealth from those who worked so hard to obtain it. Fred was aware of his stepfathers disapproval and had the wit not to ever request anything of him. But now, after discovering that Richard had left Madeline with nothing, he vowed vengeance and knew what was left to do.
Remembering the call so late at night from him mom, informing him of his grandfathers death, Tom couldnt help but stifle a laugh. He was all too relieved to find that his parents funds would be cut short, although he never wished them to be done so hastily. Only a week after the death of Richard Caulvin III, Fred and Madeline were forced to sell their beautiful Victorian house in upstate New York, and the six cars Fred spent years collecting, and forfeit the vacations. Tom was occupying a quaint three bedroom flat in Providence, attending his third year of Brown University. Upon hearing the news of his familys misfortune, he gave up the flat to his parents and dropped out of school. Quitting college caused no commotion in the Ritefield house, for the family that attended college to begin with, and was now in need of any money they could obtain.
Fred and Madeline were so thirsty for capital. So much so, that when Tom announced he would be moving to New York City to look for work, there was no hesitation on their part. In less than twelve hours he was packed with three boxes, a mattress, and a table set, headed for the Big Apple.
Now, leaning out the window still staring at the buildings around him Tom smiled. Brown curly hair and khaki corduroys, standing 511" with a strong build, he realized that after living the wealthiest of lives, it wasnt until this poverty, that he would be truly happy. He knew this is where his new life would begin.
Chapter 2: A New Friend
The air was warm and hung over him like wet cotton. The humidity was unusual for this time in the fall. Tom slid off the sheets and climbed out of his bed. Since the move two days ago he had lost most of his enthusiasm and was dreading the thought of starting his job tomorrow. Today was Sunday, the end of the weekend and a horrible day outside. Tom sat at the table with the paper; his hair, still wet from the recent shower left dark patches on his shoulders where the fabric had soaked up the drops.
"I think it would be nice to have a cat. Yes, a fat tabby would make this place less dreary." Tom spoke aloud. He had taken up talking to himself the first day of living alone. Back in his college flat he had constantly had friends and neighbors stopping by. With a large place like that you are bound to be the host of a few parties. Here he had nobody. That is what the purpose of today was. He planned on going everywhere, and ending in some nightclub, having made a few acquaintances.
"Morning sir, what can I do for you today" the tall thin lady from behind the counters asked. She was around 58" with curly red hair flying everywhere. Her green eyes shone through the copper rimmed-glasses, which clung tightly to her nose as she turned swiftly to the front counter.
"Id like a cup of black coffee and one of those muffin things down there." he said pointing to the basket of freshly baked muffins behind the bare glass case.
"There you are, thatll be $2.50." she replied and slid the cardboard cup towards him. "Where are you from? You dont look like you are from here. I can usually spot out-of-towners." Her eyes narrowed as she said this, as if she was now attempting to determine his exact origin.
Kathys Café was a small plain place slipped between a pet store and a cheap female clothing outlet. Most of the customers were regulars. Outsiders were easily spotted among the typical. Today was unusually slow. The woman behind the counter had plenty of time to survey her customers. She always had a good memory for faces, and with the location of the Café new people were rare.
"I actually have an apartment two blocks over from here, but youre right, I am from out of town. Rhode Island, but I grew up in Long Island," he spoke while grabbing the cup and muffin off the counter."
"I thought so, we always got the same people coming here. You know, not too much business, but the coffee is good, there is just no big advertising like Starbucks." She turned when she said this, as to imply the conversation was done and now she had to go back to her work. Tom acknowledged that, and walked over to a small wood table with a matching chair. Although the conversation had been short he felt fulfilled. Not since he applied for the job down a KNYX had he had a decent conversation.
Two tables down a woman sat drumming her fingers on her legs. She stared at Tom and shook her leg up and down rapidly, nervously. Five minutes went by, and she sat anxiously watching him read his paper. Tom sipped the last drop from his cup and dusted off his lap. He grabbed the paper he was reading and walked towards the door. The atmosphere of the small coffee shop unnerved him. New York always seemed an unusual place, but recently he had felt out of place in the colorful city.
"Have a nice day" he said to the red haired woman. She glanced back at him and nodded with a half smile, then turned again quickly to take another man's order. The woman who had sat nervously got up and walked out behind Tom. He was easily five paces in front of her, but to be safe she slowed down. Tom was never aware of the beautiful woman sticking close behind him. One thing he could never detect was danger. As he turned the corner and headed to the subway entrance she pulled from her pocket a worn picture and said to herself,
"All right Tom, I think its time."
Chapter 3: You Are Listening to KNYX
"You are listening to KNYX. The loudest station in all New York. Hi what's your name?" blared the fast-talking man sitting in the booth. His name was Steven Taylor; he had started as a radio DJ eight months ago.
"Hi, my name is Karleen," a timid shy voice said. Her announcement was fuzzy over the speakers. A small childs voice could be heard in the back.
"Hey Karleen, what can I do for you today?" Steven slid back and fourth in his chair as he said this. A cup of coffee was set to the right of his arm.
"I was wondering if you could play the song by that new band. You know the one that sounds kind of like the Beatles." She asked
"Well I am afraid you are going to have to be more specific than that, Karleen." Steven said. On air his voice sounded patient and understanding, but to Tom he was making a horrible face, sticking out his jaw and squinting his eyes. Tom laughed at the sight of Stevens impatience.
"Well I cant think of the name or title, but you played it the other day. Um, I think I was something like the floaters, or the followers you know? Her voice had become louder and more confident.
"Was it the forty-fours? They sing last night," he said. Steven already knew who it was but he needed to occupy some more air time and this was the best caller all day.
"Maybe, yeah I bet thats it. Can you play it please? I havent been able to get it out of my mind "she said, and was cut off by Steven's sentence.
"Yeah sure thanks for calling." he put in a tape and pressed the button in one swift motion. Then he pushed the microphone away from his face and stepped out of his chair. Slowly he walked out of the booth and over to Tom who was pouring himself a cup of coffee.
"So how was your first weekend in the city?" Steven didnt look at Tom as he asked this. He stared down at his mug, smoothly swirling the coffee inside.
"It wasnt that bad. Saturday night I went out to a few bars, you know trying to meet people. Its a whole lot different than Rhode Island. I mean I have been here before, but I never really got to explore and go where I wanted to go." Tom
said. It was true. Visiting New York City with his parents had been a whole different experience. The best of everything, and only the best places in the city. Now he felt as if he could enjoy the city for its real people.
"Well you know, if you ever want to see a really great place, try here." He said, and handed Tom a small lime green business card with the words CITY LIGHTS written in larger black font. "Its a pretty nice place, hard to get in though. Here show them this." Steven signed his name on the bottom of the card and passed it back to Tom.
"Wow, youre pretty big there, eh?" Tom sarcastically reproached. Steven was a semi famous radio-DJ. The station was popular among teenagers, nothing Tom particularly liked to listen to. But never less, Tom hadnt lied; Steven was pretty big around the clubs.
"Look if you want to meet people, and I mean quality people, not those creeps who hang out in your neighborhood, you gotta go here. Its the best spot. I get in easily cause of the station. They let me broadcast live from there on Thursdays in exchange for a few minutes of advertising every day." Then out of an instinct formed from the many months in the booth he returned to his seat just in time to switch tapes for the next song. A few seconds later he walked back out to Tom.
"Just check it out with me tonight, Im sure youll like it, I can get you on the list so you never have to worry about getting in." Steven said as he began to swirl his coffee in the mug again.
Tom glanced at his feet for a while, and then into the booth at the flashing light which indicated they were ON AIR before replying. "Sure, all right why not. Its not like I have anything to lose right?"
"Thats right. If you dont like it you can go back to your dinky little clubs, but I know youre gonna like it. Everybody does." Stevens voice trailed off, as he looked back to the booth. "Listen, I am working late tonight. Meet me there at 10:30, outside ok?" Steven didnt wait for a reply; he set down his mug and returned to the booth. Pulling the microphone back to his face he began the usual radio babble;
"Hey folks, welcome back to this special edition of morning in the apple, I am Steve the one and only radio DJ you want to be listening to." He then started to take a few more of his callers. Tom finished his coffee and returned to the desk at the right of the booth. He had two more hours of work. Life wasnt so bad right now.
With a sigh Tom slumped down into his chair. Looking again out the windows at the bleak afternoon sky his thoughts changed. Going to CITY LIGHTS had sounded like an all right idea today, but with the dreary afternoon tempting him to remain inside, all he could think to do was fall asleep now at home for the night. Clubbing was fun, but something Tom enjoyed doing in moderation. Tonight was just one of those times he felt no urge to traverse into the vast world of nightlife and clubs. But, being in a new city, with no friends yet, it wouldnt be a bad idea to make an effort to meet people. Tom walked back over to his window and leaned out, the cool breeze caressing his cheek. Downstairs a black Mercedes was parked illegally on the shoulder directly across the street. Two men sat inside gazing back up at Tom and his open window.
"Hey, thats him isnt it Deek?" A skinny pale man exclaimed. His face was perspiring heavily.
"Yeah, thats the scumbag were after." A larger man, twice the size of his partner said as he leaned forward onto the dashboard. They had been sitting in the car for over three hours waiting for the right time to make a move.
"You wanna do him now, or follow him for awhile, you know like scare him a little." The skinny man looked impatient and uncertain.
"What do you think we are boogey monsters? We are just gonna do what he asked us to do. WE aint gonna scare him or mess around with him. Just get the job done fast an easy-like." Deek replied in an annoyed tone. "Listen, when he leaves tonight we will see where he goes, and try and catch him on his way back. If he is alone we do it here by his house, make it look like a psycho just tried to jack his wallet or something. You got it? I dont want you messing this up at all, dont pull any stupid crap on me all right?" Deek was pretty annoyed now; he could work himself up easily.
"Ya ya, I aint like that you know, I want this done easy too. I wont do anything." the skinny man slumped back into his seat and rubbed the tip of his thumb over the handle of the silver colt in his holster. A nervous habit he had picked up. Bad habit too. First rule was never to expose your guns. Nobody was supposed to know you were packing heat. But now it didnt matter, there was nobody in sight but his partner Deek sitting next to him. If only he could do something, sitting in this car was driving him mad. Only time, only time, he just needed to say it over and over, only time, only time
Chapter 4: City Lights
The club was noisy; he heard it from inside the cab. Down the street and around the block people were lined up behind a felt black rope. Above them a giant silver sign glowed CITY LIGHTS.
"Here you are, that will be $5.65" the cab driver said to Tom as he pulled to the curb and stepped on the brake. Tom didnt say anything back, he was out of the cab and walking to building before the driver put the money in his pocket. From the open door he saw bodies moving about, clad in flashy clothing, holding drinks. Packed and loud was the best way to describe the club. The music was pumping; Toms eardrums shook with every bass note that sounded in his ear. He looked around. No sign of Steven yet, that was all right he was five minutes early anyway. Tom wondered, even with his credentials, would Steven be able to get them in tonight? A tall man dressed in black pants and an olive green button up shirt turned the corner and walked straight to Tom.
"I hope you havent been waiting here long." Steven said a smirk on his face. He was twenty five years old and he was a pretty good-looking guy. Coming to City Lights was one of his favorite things to do. A new girl every time, good music, good drinks, nothing more he could ask for.
"No I just got here. You are early, you know." Tom wasnt used to Steven being early. Every day he arrived almost an hour late to work. Steven believed that the restrictions of time didnt apply to him.
"Yeah, well thats just me, Mr. Punctual, come on lets go in already." Steven didnt wait for a reply he just began walking towards the open doors. Tom followed, and within a few steps they had reached to door man. He glanced at Steven and without saying a word moved aside for him to step in.
"Wow, I didnt realize you were that well known." Tom said
"Hey I told you we have that contract, remember. I get to broadcast here, and I get let in without a problem." Steven replied
"Yeah ok I " Toms voice trailed off as he was struck by the magnitude of the club. Inside the room seemed more immense than possible. The dance floor was located in the direct center with the bar on one side. All around the other sides were booths with people crowded on the seats. To the right of the bar there was a staircase up to the second level and balcony.
"Thats the VIP part, we will go up there later ok. Heyyyyyy, John where you been?" Steven said yelling to a short fat man approaching them. Tom took this as a cue to depart and mingle. He would rather not become caught in Stevenss group of friends. The bar sounded like a great place to start his own quest for people.
"What do you want?" the bald man behind the counter asked.
"Give me a beer, whatever, I dont care." Tom said. He was scouring the counter looking for someone interesting. The bartender handed him a cold brown bottle and asked for his money. Turning his back to the bar he began to search the area again. His eyes set on a woman with long dark brown hair in a black dress. She was by herself leaning against the bar. She looked up and her eyes met with his. She smiled and Tom took that as an opportunity. He walked over to her and sat down in the empty seat beside her.
"Hi my name is Tom Ritefield." He stretched out his hand as if to shake hers.
"Isabella Puentes." She greeted his hand with hers and they shook.
"I hope that I am not taking anyones seat," Tom said, he hoped the answer was no.
"Well actually yes, I am waiting for my friend to come back, I dont think it is such a good idea for you to stay here. He is not so friendly. I would like to talk to you though. " She didnt get to finish her last sentence before Steven came.
"Come here Tom I got to tell you something." Steven said, his face did not look content as it was just minutes ago, there was fear and concern covering his smile.
"Whats wrong? Let me just say goodbye." Tom was worried, he knew something must be wrong, was it the girl? What had she done? He looked at her to apologize and the expression on her face surprised Tom. Not only was she not surprised by Stevenss bizarre behavior, but she seemed almost pleased to have him rid from her.
"I will see you later, dont worry." She replied, and before Tom could say anything more, Steven dragged him to the opposite side of the room. He was set down in one of the booths, and watched as Steven peered through the mass of people diligently.
"What is your problem? I was talking to a girl, I thought thats why we came here." Tom was annoyed now, his surprised passed and anger began to burn inside.
"Look give me a second to explain before you get worked up." Steven sat down across from Tom and looked down to his feet. Tom sat patiently awaiting the reason.
"Ok that wasnt just any girl. She is Joey Marstyrs Girl. Joey is the owner of the club. He knows everything that happens in here. If anyone sees you making a move on his girl, you wont be back in here ever." Steven said and glanced out to the dance floor again. "Youre just lucky, I dont think anyone saw you. Im glad I got you before he came back."
"I was only talking to her. If he came back it would just be a misunderstanding and I would leave. No big deal, you didnt have to freak." Tom was a little annoyed. Steven was making this into a much bigger deal than is should be.
"Joey isnt a normal guy. He is crazy. I heard he has a private company, which trains hit men. He offers the best men to those who pay well. People pay top dollar for Joeys guys; they do a good job, untraceable and quick. Where do you think he got the money to make this club? They operate upstairs. If you ever got one of them mad, you would be dead within 24 hours." Steven said, his voice stern and earnest. He told this story the same way a young boy would tell his friends of the old man down the street who raises alligators. A myth, and legend to keep them up at night.
"Wow, why doesnt anyone do anything if everybody knows about it?" Tom replied.
"What would you do? Everyone is scared to death of these guys. The police cant do anything without proof, and nobody wants to take this case." Steven lowered his voice to a whisper. Tom just looked back at Steven understandingly, and then they nodded to each other and stepped out of the booth. Tom thought it a good idea to just stick with Steven until he became more familiar with everything.
Four hours later Tom was saying goodnight to Steven as he headed out. He hadnt seen Isabella again that night. Walking outside to the curb he was stopped by an arm which grabbed his shirtsleeve. He spun around to see Isabella.
"Here take this and go there tomorrow, expect a phone call in the morning." She was speaking fast, glancing around nervously. "Shh, dont say anything I have to go, wait for the call." She turned and walked quickly back inside without so much as a glance back. Tom was dumfounded, the whole cab ride back to his apartment, thoughts were running through his mind. What did she want with him? Then a realization was she their runner? Their carrier of bad news? Had he done something to offend Joey and his men? This fear tormented him and clouded his mind. He haphazardly paid the cab driver and stepped out. Still thinking about the danger he could be in he didnt even see the two men step out from the alley in front of him. It wasnt until the hard blow to his head did he catch a glimpse of his attackers.
Chapter 5: New York, New York
"Hey, are you ok. No, no dont
move. Stay down for a minute." A tall thin policeman was standing
over Tom. He had placed a towel underneath Toms head.
"Ooooooo." Tom moaned in pain, his head throbbed. He lifted his hand to his skull and touched dried blood. Everything around him was blurry; he could barely make out the two police officers.
"Can you tell us what happened? Who were those two men? Did you know them?" The officers tone had become more serious.
"I dont know .I, I didnt get to see them." Slowly the scene was being replayed in Toms mind. Two men came out from the alley, and then wham! Thats all he could remember. Now his head hurt even more.
"Well, we werent able to catch them. You are just lucky we were patrolling over here. I dont mean to give you a scare, but if we hadnt seen you, you would probably be dead. Those guys looked serious." He paused and looked over to his partner who was leaning against the car. "Do you live near by?"
Tom nodded cautiously and pointed to the building he was laying in front of.
"Oh good, how is your head?" he asked again. "Do you think you can walk? Do you want to go to the hospital?" The officer seemed more concerned now.
"Yeah I think I can walk." Tom knew he should probably see a doctor after a blow like that, but not now. He would go tomorrow; right now all he wanted was to go home. The officer offered his hand, and Tom accepted. He slowly walked up the stairs and got out the key. As soon as the officer felt Tom was secure he said goodbye and left. Tom listened to his footsteps down the stairs, and waited to hear the security door slam behind him. He turned back into his apartment and slumped into a chair. Within a few minutes he was asleep, the lights still on.
The next morning Tom was awaked by a phone call. It was Steven; he had called to check on him.
"Yo, Tom. Whats up, how was last night? I just wanted to make sure you got home safe, and not lying on the street somewhere dead." Steven was cheerful and awake despite the early hour it was.
"Its funny you say that, I got mugged right outside of my apartment. Huge lump on my head to prove it. Probably would be dead if it had not been for a patrol car that showed up just in time." Toms head hurt more then the night before. He felt as if it had grown three times its size and was now a swollen watermelon atop his neck.
"No kidding?! Thats horrible, how are you? Oh shoot, I gotta go; I will come over to see you later today after work. I hope you get better. Thats kind of a crappy way to spend your first week in New York. Take it easy man." Stevenss voice trailed off, and Tom said goodbye then hung up.
Dragging himself to his bathroom, Tom showered and watched the dried blood dissolve and change the water to a lights pink color then run down the drain. As he rubbed the steam from the mirror he was astounded by the bump which had developed. It parted his hair to the side and looked as if someone molded a clay hill on his head. Tom changed and walked to the kitchen for a meal. About two hours after the call from Steven the phone rang again.
"Hello?" Tom asked sluggishly
"Hi, Tom, This is Isabella." Her voice was petrified. She didnt seem the calm cool self she portrayed at the club.
"Hey, wow, I forgot completely about . never mind. What is it?" Tom was dumfounded. The mugging had erased all thoughts from the night.
"I know this will sound weird, but
youre in trouble. You got bad things coming your way." Isabella
"What? What are you talk "Tom was interrupted
"Just listen. I know you were attacked last night. It was a fluke. Youre in trouble. You need to get out of New York now!" Isabella was frantic
"You dont know how weird this all sounds. I dont know you at all, why should I believe this. For all I know you could be lyi " Tom was cut off again.
"I dont know how much I can help you, just leave now, get out " This time Isabella was cut off, but by the line. Tom stared at the phone trying to comprehend everything, then set in down into the receiver. How could she have known about the attack? Were they Joeys guys? Toms head began to throb more. He lay back down. Not two minutes later the phone rang again.
"What?!" Tom practically yelled into the phone.
"Tom, is that you?" An elder voice spoke.
"Hey, Dad, sorry, its been a weird past two days." Tom sighed loudly
"Is everything all right? You sound exhausted."
"Well actually I was mugged last
night, outside of my apartments."
"Oh My Lord! See Tom I told you not to buy in that heathen neighborhood!"
"Dad its all right, it could have happened anywhere." Tom was now very sorry he had ever brought up the subject. He interrupted his dads rant and changed the subject to finances, something that would surely interest his father more. They talked for awhile about the current financial situation, and how they were doing. Tom noticed a certain disappointment in his fathers voice.
"I know you have gone throughout a lot dad, but I think that with this new situation, you and mom can really try something new, like a whole new lifestyle."
"Nothing was wrong with our last
one!" Tom could almost feel the spit through the phone. "If that
damned stickler of a father hadnt cut our funds short your mom
and I would be very happy right now, instead of living in that shack
of a house you lived in."
"All right Dad, I didnt mean to start anything, I better go, I need some more rest."
"Yes yes, I will talk to you again later."
Tom was at his limit, he could think of nothing more but to lie down and simply pass out. The bed seemed so welcoming. He closed his eyes, and drifted to sleep. The dreams came and went with ease, and in no time Tom awoke to the sound of a car backfiring. He looked over to the clock on his dresser. It read 5:47pm. Amazing Tom thought. He had slept through the whole day. Lying and staring at the ceiling, Tom felt he had enough energy to think about the past days events. His first few minutes to himself and his thoughts. Uninterrupted silence. This is what he needed. Not five seconds after that last thought there was a loud pounding on the door. Tom walked over to the peephole and glanced out. Three large men stood outside. Tom didnt waste a second more.
Chapter 6: A Sticky Situation
"HEY, open the damn door!" A heavy voice sounded from outside the sturdy wooden door. The metal latches trembled with the force of the mans fist. Tom stood frozen with his eye to the peephole. The small lens distorted the image of the three men, their heads huge. Any other time Tom might have laughed with this image of the men, but now was different. Tom said to himself that this was just a misunderstanding, the men had the wrong address. Tom tried to convince himself it was just three men, maybe a little drunk, at the wrong door. However, Tom knew better, these men hadnt picked the wrong door; they were here for him.
"Oh shi !" Tom whispered as he saw the door begin to buckle and warp under the pressure of the mens blows, and ran before he could finish his curse. He sprinted through his bedroom and out through his window. Landing heavily on the fire escape stairwell, he didnt waste a second. One flight down, he heard the strong wooden door give in and fall to the ground. Tom hastened his pace and didnt stop running until he had passed Kathys Café five blocks from his apartment. He turned around and ducked inside, taking a seat in the back of the café. Enveloped in the early morning shadows. Tom began to relax. His legs burned and sweat ran down his face.
An hour later Tom emerged from the coffee shop and walked two blocks further to a phone booth. He called the police and reported the attack. Tom walked back to his house very cautiously, aware of everything around him. His eye caught any movement, and he stiffened prepared for attack. He decided it would be safer to go back up the fire escape in case they staked out the front door. His mouth dropped open at the sight, the whole apartment was in shambles. Ten minutes later the police arrive.
"Hello, my name is Officer Gonzalez, I assume you are Mr. Ritefield?" The tall weak-looking man asked. The Officer had come with two other policemen. Tom was surprised at the large attendance.
"Yes that is correct, thank you for coming so quickly," Tom replied.
"No problem, this is Officer Petty, he will be taking an account of your experience, I hope you dont mind if we dust for some prints?" Officer Gonzalez said while motioning a younger looking man towards Tom. Tom gave a detailed account, and a description of the three men, all about the same height, stocky, strong build, dark hair and eyes with crewcuts.
The policemen left with a few prints, and the suggestion that he leave the apartment and stay in a hotel. Tom did just that. Using a cardboard refrigerator box, he covered the empty doorframe. Tom packed up a few personal items he could salvage into a bag: his toothbrush, deodorant, a few shirts and pants and clean shoes and socks. He then climbed back down the fire escape. He stopped in the managers apartment and notified him of his situation, asking for his door to be repaired as soon as possible. With that Tom began his walk towards the KNYX station.
CITY LIGHTS, a man stepped out from a black Mercedes and walked in through the steel doors. Inside a couple workers were wiping down tables and chairs, sweeping the floors preparing for the night. Upstairs a man name Joey sat in a leather chair wiping the barrel of his .38 caliber with a terri-cloth. Looking out through the one way glass window he becomes aware of the strangers presence. Joey sat up and walked to the top of the staircase. The stranger glided up with ease, concentrating on only his swift steps. Joey extended a hand to him and they shook. Joeys free arm was placed on the strangers shoulder as Joey smiled with false kinship. He took him into his office, and sat him down. Joey walked around peering down at the workers.
"Listen, I want to be frank with you. I like you, but you messed up." Joey walked over to his desk and innocently slid his hand over his newly shined gun. The stranger began to sweat in his palms.
"Joey, it wasnt my fault, we tried to, but we couldnt. There were cops there. I swear if you let me try again we will do it no problem at all. Please Joey, just let me try again." The man was pleading with Joey now.
"I gotta tell you, the guy who asked for this job promised me a lot of money, I want this job done right, and now. So you see I had no other choice but to hire someone new. Youre out of the position. This guy needs to die, and you aint doing the job.
Chapter 7: Just When Everything Makes Sense
The stale smelled was what hit him first; today was a workday, but for some reason, the station was still locked at two in the afternoon. Tom walked around inside, turning on the lights, and yelling for Steven at the same time. Frustrated Tom left the station and headed for the hotel the police officer had recommended. As soon as Tom stuck his key into the lock he heard the phone ring loudly. Rushing to unlock the door, he scrambled inside and picked up the receiver.
"Hello?" A shaky Tom spoke.
"Tom, its me Isabella, you must meet me now, I know what happened today at your apartment." Her speech sounded rehearsed.
"What? How did you get this number?" Tom was rubbing his eyes in confusion.
"Dont you see? This is important. Meet me at City Lights in twenty minutes, Dont argue, just come." She hung up leaving Tom dangling on the other side.
"Oh jeez has this been a hell of a week here." Tom laughed to himself. He wasnt amused; he just felt he might not be able to take much more.
Wearing a long black coat, and a blue baseball cap Tom walked to the doors underneath the sign reading CITY LIGHTS. The club was empty, a hollowed-out carcass of what the nightclub was to be. Isabella greeted him at the door.
"Oh, thank you for coming, I know this is weird, I was afraid you might not have wanted to leave your hotel." She sounded upset, but her face was distracted by the stairwell behind her. She gave off a mysterious air.
"I just need you to tell me whats going on; I dont know how much more I can handle."
"I understand completely. Why dont you take a seat." She led him to the bar counter and pulled out a stool for him. When she reached for the stool, Tom noticed the glisten of something silver, perhaps metal, in her belt under her jacket.
"So can you tell me who wants me dead?" Tom waited. Isabella turned away from him and stared at the stairs again. "Isabella, who wants me dead?" Tom waited again, and she turned and smiled to him. "Isabella, how did you know my phone number?
"I am Joeys girlfriend. He stupidly leaves his work out all the time. He trusts everyone, in New York too! Can you believe it?" She continued to smile.
"Where is Joey now? I dont feel so safe here." Tom was the one to glance at the stairs this time.
"Dont worry, he is looking all over the city for you. This is the last place he would expect to find you. Youre safe, dont worry"
"Isabella?" Tom questioned
"Yes?" She replied
"If you got the number from Joey, then how come Joey didn't look for me at my hotel?" Tom didnt need to ask the question. He had already pieced it together. Isabella wasnt going to help him. Joey wasnt looking for him; he was upstairs, looking at him through the two-way mirror, no doubt. Laughing at how easy it had been to lure him here. How could I have been so stupid, Tom thought to himself. Almost as if she had read his mind Isabella responded.
"I dont have to answer that question do I? Dont feel bad, I would have believed me too. I have been told I am a very good actress." She was taunting him now. Why couldnt she just get it over with?
"I cant believe you lied to me, just when I thought that my father was wrong, and there were decent people in New York you had to prove me wrong." Tom was ashamed of his ignorance
"Oh, get over it. From what I hear, you arent the most honest person either. Trying to make everyone believe you are some poor kid, when really you are a loaded brat." She sounded disgusted.
"What are you talking about?" Tom was dumfounded
"You ask me why anybody would want you dead. Havent you ever seen a movie, the loaded guys are always the ones in trouble. You know, like Ransom and things." His expression made her believe that he really may not have known what she was talking about. She didnt have time to affirm her thoughts; just then three large men stepped out from Joeys office. Isabella pushed back her jacket revealing the butt of a silver revolver. Tom choked on his saliva; sweat began to trickle down his neck.
"What took you guys so long? I thought I was gonna have to talk to the creep all day." Isabella transformed from this delicate Hispanic beauty to a crude devil of a woman in mere seconds.
"We didnt want to interrupt your girl talk," replied the largest of the three in a sarcastic voice. He rolled back his eyes and lifted his arms in mock curtsy as he said this.
"Shut up Severen! Just because Joey isnt here, dont mean you can harass me." Isabella was annoyed, she didnt pronounce her h on harasses, it reminded Tom of Sophia, his Puerto Rican maid when he was little. She would yell at him all the time for leaving such a mess on his floor.
"So, where do you want him?" The man behind Severen asked.
"Lets take him to the river and shoot him, Joey will go crazy if we get blood on anything." Isabella sauntered off ahead while the three men dragged Tom through the doors to his doom.
The white paint was peeling on the
frame of the door, a yellow color shown through. The door creaked
open and a tall man in his 50s answered.
"AH, Mr. Van Doyle, I have been expecting you." Fred Ritefield said with a smirk.
"Its very nice to see again Mr. Ritefield." The stranger felt a sudden rush of uneasiness.
"Come in and have a drink, we have lots to discuss." Fred led him to the kitchen; Mr. Van Doyle noticed the art and paraphernalia respective of a younger person crowding up the medium sized flat. "Now tell me Mr. Van Doyle, when can I expect my work done? I understand my investment was taken quite lightly, and not much has been done to my expectations." Fred drew out a bottle of bourbon and raised it to the stranger, a silent indication of an offering. Mr. Van Doyle shook his head, and Fred replaced the bottle in the cabinet after pouring himself a glass. Before Mr. Van Doyle could answer to Mr. Ritefields accusation, Fred spoke again. "Because frankly, I am tired of waiting, These are millions of dollars we are talking about, not pocket money!"
Chapter 8: The Statue of Liberty
"I dont understand why we have been having so much trouble. We normally can complete our business in record time." Mr. Van Doyle did not have an apologetic tone to his voice. He sounded almost irritated.
"You dont understand? You dont understand?" Freds voice began to rise. He was notorious for a short temper. "I hired you because I heard that you could help me immediately. I needed you to get the job done as soon as possible. Its been almost a week since I hired you, and I have not one penny to show for it. I want you to leave here tomorrow and finish what you started, or I may find myself looking for help elsewhere." Fred lowered his voice back to a civilized tone. Mr. Van Doyle showed no sign of embarrassment; in fact he seemed overly calm for the situation.
"Mr. Ritefield, I promised you I would do this job successfully and I mean to keep my end of the deal. But you must remember I was not the only one to strike a deal. You too promised something to me. You will stay faithful to my services or you will never have as much as one dollar for the rest of your life. This job may have proved a task more difficult than those previously given to us, but may I remind you that my business is very powerful and I would have no problem discarding your own "possessions." Mr. Van Doyle sat back against his chair and folded his hands against his lap. His calmness and tone, so relaxed it was almost mocking that of Freds, who at this point, could take no more.
"Mr. Van Doyle, I believe you have worn out your welcome in this house. Now allow me to show you the door." Fred got out of his chair. Just then Madeline Ritefield walked into the room. She was humming softly to herself. Fred had always been jealous of her worry-free life. She left finances to him; as long as she was funded properly for her frequent shopping trips, it mattered not to her where the money came from. Fred now resented the burden placed upon him by his family. He was never the provider, simply the organizer. Now they were left with barely anything at all, and he was still expected to fork up enough dough for Madeline's frivolous spending.
"Fred! You never informed me we would be having guests." She walked towards the two men. "I would have done something. You never allow me to be a good hostess." Madeline extended her hand to Mr. Van Doyles
"Thats quite all right Mrs. Ritefield, I was just about to leave anyway. I am staying in a nearby hotel. Hello, my name is Mr. Van Doyle, Frank Van Doyle. I am your husbands financial adviser. He hired me to help you recoup some of the money you had lost in the death of your father." Frank slid his hand into Madeline's and shook it with a firm grip.
"Well thats a relief. We were getting so tired of living in this cramped little house." Madeline smirked. She had never acknowledged it as an actual house; it humored her to think she was actually adapting to this lifestyle.
"I am not sure you should get too excited right now Maddy, Frank has yet to produce substantial evidence to prove he has been doing his job." Fred glared at Frank.
"Well its obvious I should be leaving now Fred. I will keep you informed." Frank closed the door with a loud bang and disappeared into the mist outside.
Tom had been shoved into the trunk of the black Mercedes he had seen countless times already. What was it about black cars and gangsters, he thought to himself? A car jack and umbrella pressed their sharp edges into his back. They drove for what Tom estimated to be at least a half and hour. The heat of the car caused Tom to perspire profusely. His shirt was soaked with sweat. When the trunk was opened, the cool air rushed in and hit Tom like a slap on the face. It was the first time that the events had seemed humorous to him. He had been terrified until now. He had no idea what was going to happen, but the criminals seemed like actors right out of a Godfather Movie. Riding in a trunk to the destination where he was to be terminated on the scene he had seen in numerous action films. One thing differed from his reality and the movies: in the films; the innocent man always managed to escape. Tom wasnt an actor, factored into some far-fetched plot, he was real, this was real, and he wasnt going to escape.
The three men yanked Tom out from the dark cramped space. Their hostility was unnecessary; Tom had shown no sign of resistance from the beginning. Isabella walked ahead. Tom saw the water for the first time in his stay in New York. The sun was slowly going down behind them, sending a glow all over the waves in the water. A ferry pulled up next to them on the dock; they got on one by one, Isabella leading the way. In the distance, the tall green figure of a woman waved her torch to them. They docked and in the same order abandoned the ship. At the opposite side of the island away from tourists glares they jumped the fence and hiked down to the shore.
"Hurry up, we dont have much time, Joey will be here tomorrow and we need to have this done." The more Isabella spoke, the more disgusted Tom became with her. She pulled his sleeve and shoved him in front of her with his back to the water. The shore was bombarded with waves, a shot would not be heard over the crashing. She lifted the gun to his face, Tom closed his eyes. As Isabella slid her finger over the trigger a shout and gunshot rang out simultaneously. Tom wasted not a second, he wasnt sure if he was shot or not. He jumped backwards into the water and sank to the bottom. After determining that his body was free of bullets, he swam on the bottom as far as his quick gulp of air allowed him. When he returned to the surface he discovered that to his satisfaction he had traveled at least sixty feet away from Isabella. The shot had come from a guard, who now lay sprawled across the rocks. His gun had fallen between three larger boulders. His shot had missed; unfortunately Isabella was quick to return the bullet, with greater accuracy. The three men were waist deep in the cold dark water searching with one hand, and clutching their guns in the other. Isabella stood on the shore frantic and yelling curses, a mix between English and Spanish. Tom crawled between a log and a boulder. Shaking he awaited footsteps. None came. The stars were blocked out by the city lights. Tom closed his eyes, still dripping the dirty water, which saved his life.
Chapter 9: Sirens and Suspicions
The sound of barking dogs startled Tom awake. His tired swollen eyes struggled to stay open. The smell of salt and smog filled his nostrils. He crawled from under his hiding place. In the sunlight it resembled the lean-tos he was taught to build by his grade school friend Daryl. Daryls father had been a professional hiker, and occasionally he would allow Daryl and Tom to accompany him on some of the shorter hikes through the Catskills.
A closer bark shook him out of his trance. Tom began to run. Tripping and stumbling he eventually made his way to the pier where the ferry had brought him the day before. To his astonishment there was a ferry there. He glanced around before climbing under the fence. The night watchman must have just been discovered. Toms watch read 9:35. About ten people walked down the ramp and onto the island. Tom casually walked up the ramp alone. He stole a seat in the back of the boat, hidden behind a pillar. Fifteen minutes later the boat sounded its horn and the lurched away from the dock. A short ride back and Tom was safe.
Tom was astonished that his feet had remembered to bring him back to the hotel. So shaken up was he that he could not steady his hand enough to get the key in at first. Tom turned on the shower and the bathroom filled with steam. As he walked further into his room turning on the lights, a figure appeared.
Her lips paused, then parted revealing a thin stream of white smoke. The cigarette burned red and she moved it to ash in a black plastic dish on the nightstand.
"You crazy mujer." She lifted her cigarette to her mouth and inhaled.
"Isabella "Tom seemed to want to continue his sentence, but he stopped. After these past couple of days he should have learned to expect everything. Of course Isabella would have come here. If only he had had time to think about everything. But it was too late now. Now he must concentrate and decide what he has to do to get out of this. Isabella just sat there starring. She said nothing. Tom slowly began to back out from his apartment. Isabella picked up her phone and dialed a number.
"Hello, yes he is at his apartment right now." She flipped the phone closed and set down her cigarette. Tom Turned and ran directly out of his room. A shot was fired. Sprinting down the hallway on the right he opened the stairwell door and continued his sprint. Isabella hot in pursuit dropped her gun and fell behind. Tom had a room not too far up from the lobby. In a few seconds he was out from the stairwell and into the lobby. He sped past the reception desk. He raised his hand and a cab approached. As he slammed the door he saw Isabella crash through the revolving doors and onto the street, she stopped on the curb and yelled. She had tucked her gun into a jacket pocket. Shooting after him wouldnt do any good. She would only draw attention to herself. Instead she drew her cell phone from her pocket and dialed a number.
Tom got out of the cab and walked to the station. He had nothing on him but his wallet. Tom bought a one way ticket to Rhode Island, Providence to be exact. The train would leave at 11:45am. Tom had fifteen minutes. Tom settled in a gray plastic chair. Tom felt a tap on his shoulder. He jerked around.
"Hey stranger." The familiar voice eased
Toms tight muscles. He relaxed back into the chair.
"Whats wrong with you?" Steven prodded.
"Its a long story, but basically I spent the night hiding underneath the statue of liberty, worrying for my life, only to make it back to my hotel room safely this morning and end up being chased at gunpoint back out." Tom spoke tensely.
"Jeez, have you gone to the police?" Steven looked stricken.
"No, I am just getting out of here, I dont feel safe anywhere." As if he had just remembered the danger he was in, Tom begin to glance around nervously. His eyes fell on anyone who walked by suspiciously close. His heart beat faster with every loud sound.
"Tom, are you gonna be ok? Where are you headed to?" Steven looked sincerely concerned.
"Im going back to Rhode Island, at least until this clears up." Tom glanced back at his watch and fidgeted with his sleeve. Steven had been his friend in New York, however now he found himself nervously watching Stevens every move, ready to run at the flinch of an arm.
"Tom, let me come with you, I am worried about you man! I dont think you should go by yourself." Steven had his mind made up already. If Tom got in trouble somehow after this meeting he would feel responsible. Although they hadnt known each other long, Steven felt a certain duty to keep Tom safe in the big City. He remembered how he felt when he first moved in. A shy teenager straight from the fields in Kansas, ready to start a new life. A life of fame and fortune. Glamour and glitz. I life in New York. It would have been much easier for him had he met someone to help him get aquatinted with the city.
"No, thats all right, its just a train ride." Tom suddenly felt his exhaustion catch up with him. A wave swept over him, his eyes clouded up, and for a minute the room was silent. Reality hit him again with the slap of Stevens hand on his shoulder.
"Tom, youre not in the condition to go by yourself. Dont argue, I am coming." Although Tom didnt want to risk Stevens life at all, he was mildly content with the assurance of some protection. Steven set his bag down on the ground. He slid into the adjoining plastic chair, and shut his eyes. Like Tom, he had also been busy, but unlike Tom his life wasnt in danger.
Chapter 10: The End from the Beginning
The train arrived on time. Both Steven and Tom fell asleep for the first hour of the trip. As the conductor announced Providence station would be in thirty minutes, there were awakened.
"Since we seem pretty safe right now, why dont you tell me everything, Tom." Steven was leaning forward in his seat and looking over his left shoulder. They had seats parallel to each other.
"If you dont mind, Id rather not." Tom replied. Steven would have pushed him more, but the look on Toms face stopped him. Tom was pale and shaken up. Steven felt bad that he wasnt there for him.
They arrived in Providence shortly before thirty minutes had passed. There was a rush of people getting off the train. Tom barged his way through. He was quite eager to make his way home and straighten everything out. In the cab, Tom loosened up a little. He saw his campus. The students walking by. Now more than ever he missed the classrooms, the books, the late nights. This was his true home. He didnt think he could go back to New York now. Not to the cramped apartment and the noisy streets. The cab stopped in front of the building and Tom and Steven got out. The whole ride there, neither of them spoke. Steven broke the long chain of silence.
"Wow, this is a pretty nice place you got here. Why would you ever leave?"
"My parents needed it more than I did." Tom was still sullen. Up the two flights of stairs the walked. At the door Madeline greeted them.
"I heard you coming. Oh Tom! I have missed you so much." She held a tall glass of what appeared to be ice tea. Her hair was pulled back neatly in a French twist, and she complemented her light blue dress with a matching pair of strappy high heels.
"Mom, I missed you too," as he said this he slung his bag down and slid his arm around her neck kissing her on the cheek.
"Why didnt you tell me you were coming?"
"Well it was sorta a last minute decision. I will tell you about it some more in a bit. First can I get something to eat? You are probably starved too Steven right? Oh shoot, Mom, this is Steven Taylor. He is my friend and boss." Tom stepped farther into the apartment, and headed for the kitchen. Steven and Madeline were left at the door exchanging hellos. Just then another figure came to the door.
"Dad!" Tom jogged back to the door. Fred cut his hug short by extending his hand instead. Tom grabbed it confused and shook.
"Well, Tom, you should have told me you were coming. Now it is a bit awkward isnt it?" Freds stern look never left his face. Tom was surprised at first with this cold display, but shook it off. "Lets go for a walk okay Tom?" Fred already walked out the door when Tom replied. Steven and Madeline were left once again to talk.
On the street the cars seemed to drive much slower and the people looked much friendlier. Tom didnt speak. He wanted to tell his father everything that had happened. But with the mean greeting, Tom decided he should wait for a better time. They walked back past the campus, past the mall, and kept walking. Tom wondered where they were going. His father said nothing and looked straight ahead. After what seemed like an eternity of silence Fred spoke.
"I want you to meet a friend of mine. It wont take long." Fred had stopped in front of the four seasons hotel. "Come on Tom." Tom didnt say a word; he followed Fred into the lobby and up to the third floor. Outside of room 32 Fred knocked.
"Who is it?" Tom asked. Fred didnt respond. It was an all too eerie feeling for Tom. His fathers strange actions, mysterious people, hotel rooms. If it wasnt his dad leading him here, Tom would have run a long time ago. Nobody answered Freds first knock. He tried again and was successful. The door opened. Inside was a clean-looking man. He sat in the chair next to the television. Tom was so fixated on the man in the chair that he didnt even notice the burly bodyguard who opened the door. He now shut it abruptly causing Toms hurt to flutter.
"Look who I have here!" Fred grabbed Toms hand and yanked him forward. "I bet this is the first time your client did what he hired you to do for you. I refuse to pay you for any service you havent provided me with!" Fred looked into Toms startled eyes. "Well what did you think I was going to do? I need that money. Your bastard of a grandfather put OUR money into your damn account. I didnt kill him only to have you inherit everything!" Fred choked with hatred on the words.
"DAD! You killed Grandpa? You tried to have me killed? For money?" Tom could barely make out sentences. He felt as if his legs had turned to water and were flooding to the floor. Tom wished what he had just heard was false. No matter how many times his father said it, he didnt think it would ever sink in.
"OH please dont say it that way. Its a damn hard world. Everything is about money these days. I dont have any, your grandfather did, you do, and the only way I can get some is to get rid of you. You would do the same in my shoes." Fred was blank faced now. He showed no emotion. The man in the chair sat listening to the exchange of information. He sat up now.
"Fred, I think you should let go of Tom now." Neither Fred nor Tom were aware of the fact that Fred still clutched Toms wrist in his own hand. Fred let go, but looked back at the man inquisitively.
"Well arent you gonna go take him out or something? I mean I got him here, I did half of your work." Fred was anxious, it was quite obvious.
"I think I may have confused you a little in our last meeting. I am Detective Frank Van Doyle of the Providence Island District," Frank said as he pulled out a badge from his pocket. Freds mouth dropped open. "I guess you have me confused with Joey, the man you hired to kill your son. You see, I have been following you ever since the accidental death of Richard Caulvin III. When I discovered you had hired Joey, I immediately stepped in and pretended to be him. With your recent confession we can now force a search warrant on both you and Joey. As for you Tom, I am glad to let my body guard stay with you until we catch the real Joey." Frank stepped up to handcuff Fred. "You are gonna have to spend a few nights with us in the station until we get everything worked out."
Tom was still so dumbfounded with what had happened. He followed the large man out and into a cab downstairs. The events didnt hit him until he arrived back at his apartment. Madeline opened the door and at the sight of the large man in place of her husband she stepped back in fright. Tom took her to the couch and explained everything to her. Steven stood over them listening. Madeline almost fainted when Tom told her of her fathers murder by her husband. The bodyguard slept in the living room while Steven and Tom shared the spare room that night. In the morning they received a call.
"Hi, this is Frank, Tom, I just wanted to tell you that we caught Joey. He was sighted at the train station leaving for New York." Tom let out a loud sigh. They finished the conversation and said goodbye. Tom sat down on the couch and hugged his mom. He picked up the receiver again and dialed.
"Hello and thank you for calling Brown University, for what extension please?"
"Class Enrollment please." Tom looked out his window, and smiled for the first time in three days.
The New York Story came from just one single idea. Inspired to create a continuous story through my cycle papers, I began a plot. Since I fell in love with novels not too long ago, I came up with the goal to write one of my own. My cycle papers presented me with the perfect opportunity. From each previous chapter I formed the next. My story built itself and was created with much thought and effort.
The first thing to do when I started was to design a character. Remembering back to when Mr. Schauble told us of how an author chose his characters by flipping through phone books looking for a good name, I too looked. However, I did not use phone directories and build my main character from a name. I used a magazine, when I stumbled upon a picture of a twenty something year old man. From that picture everything was born. I stared hard at him, in my mind his name, favorite foods, age, mother, father, house, pets all developed. I wrote down everything that I liked, and steered between ideas finding the route I wanted. When I had his history, I began to think of a plot. I imagined myself as him. I saw the world through his eyes. Ideas showered down on me. I scrambled to copy them successfully on paper. When the cloud in my mind was wrung dry I began to narrow down the plots. Morphing, adding, removing I found a great story. A quick outline was made of the entire story, and I began my first chapter.
As the second and third chapters emerged I felt a sudden impatience with my story. The excitement disappeared as if the puddles which the showers made so quickly now evaporated and drained away into the ground only to leave dry ditches. I knew that to stay on the same path would lead me nowhere but failure. I had to change. I decided that from that point on the story was undecided. I had a good guy, and a bad guy. They were the constants in my story, and as long the story ended the same, I decided the path to get there didnt matter. When I sat down to brainstorm and write the chapters every time after that, I found that the excitement had returned. Without restrictions, I was able to create and dream up any twist and turn in that chapter of the story. I found that by not setting fences up along the road, I could hike off to the side for a while and then return later on, allowing a brief entertaining detour. When I finally finished my book, the product was far much more than I hoped for. Maybe next time I will succeed in creating a full-length novel.