I'm just nine chapters in on this new project, which is, really, an adult version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, one of my all-time favorite films. It's a derivative work, however, not a fan-fiction. The characters are original, and so is the story.
It's been slow-going, mostly because I want to get it right, and because the characters flesh themselves out slowly, as does the plot.
I hope you enjoy it. Please be aware that these chapters are very roughly drawn at this point and have not undergone any of what I term "deeper" edits.
Several miles south of
He spotted the vehicle in the fog. It was parked on the side of the road, perilously close to the ditch. Its right rear tire was flat, its hazard lights blinking.
The fog wasn’t so thick, nor the dusk so deep, that he happened upon it suddenly, which he gave silent thanks for. He was already well above the speed limit, and the car was jet black. He was quite late for home and a video call, one that might very well help get him a decent job and a way out of the debt he and his wife were drowning under.
Still, perhaps he could help this poor bugger quickly and be on his way. Employers were always late when it came to interviews anyway. He pulled over and slowed as he came up behind the other car.
The job was at
’s finest hotel, and
would pay him more than he’d ever made before in his life—which, truthfully, wasn’t
all that much. He wasn’t quite qualified
for it (not really), and he certainly didn’t relish living in Belfast . But he had applied anyway, mostly
out of desperation. Neither he nor Lee wanted to move, but at this point, they
really didn’t have a choice. Belfast
He was shocked when he got a call back.
He watched as cars swerved impatiently around him and the other vehicle. One behind him honked at as he slowed, then zoomed by, horn continuing to blare.
,” he grumbled to
no one as he flipped the driver off. Belfast
He really shouldn’t stop, he thought. He could very well miss the call, and he damn well couldn’t afford to do that.
“Fuck it,” he grumbled after another moment’s hesitation, and kicked on his hazards.
A light rain began falling the moment he opened his door.
“Yeah, okay, pile it on,” he groused. “Just pile it the fuck on, why don’t you?”
He spied the driver, who sat next to the flat. He was an older man, with a fedora and rain coat to match his car. He held a tire wrench and a jack and was trying, unsuccessfully, to get them under it.
A Rolls Royce no less!
“I’ll be damned ...”
He closed his door and approached. “Need some help?”
The man looked up. He had a sharp gaze, broad cheekbones, and worn smile, offered briefly, that seemed best suited to a doctor or lawyer. He looked vaguely familiar.
“You’re the first person to stop,” he said, still trying to work the jack under. “I don’t think I’m going to get this.”
“Let me try.”
The man gazed up at him, then nodded and scooched on his butt to give him room after handing him the lug wrench. The rain had thickened and a gusty breeze had kicked up.
He knelt while thinking what he was going to say to Lee when he got home.
It wasn’t that job offers were pouring in. In all likelihood, they were going to have to sell their home and get on a government debt program of some kind to keep the creditors off their back.
Fuck it. Just fuck it!
He gruffly sat in the dirt-turning-quickly-to-mud and angrily jammed the jack under the bumper. He managed to get it under, but not without scratching the paint. He glanced sideways at the man, who saw what happened.
The man shrugged. (Was that the hint of a smile?) “Do what you have to do.”
People zoomed by. The rain was becoming a downpour.
“Didn’t keep up on your auto club membership?”
The man chuckled. “I guess not.”
“Why don’t you get inside your vehicle and stay dry? No need for both of us to get wet!”
The man studied him. “What’s your name?”
“Good to meet you, Ronan. I’m Karl.”
“Karl, you’re gonna catch a right cold if you don’t get in your car!”
“It’s not mine. A friend loaned it to me. I couldn’t find his auto club membership in the glove compartment, and wouldn’t you know it, my cell phone needs charging. Don’t worry about me, Ronan, and don’t worry about the car. He’s got plenty of insurance. Good Irish name, Ronan.”
The jack was at its maximum, just high enough to get the tire off the road, which was now a small stream. Karl opened the trunk, and together they got the spare out. Ronan got it on and tightened the lugs as quickly as he could. He was soaked through and shivering, despite wearing a thick woolen jacket. Another couple of minutes and the jack was off. He tossed it and the wrench back in the trunk, which he slammed down as Karl watched.
“I’ll be off then!” yelled Ronan through the downpour.
“Please let me pay you!” said Karl, reaching for his wallet.
“No need!” said Ronan. Can you pay me thirty-six thousand quid? Fuck it, then! Go get dry, old man!
“Do you live nearby, Ronan? Will you get home safely?”
“I’m just up the road!” Ronan yelled as he hurried for his car. “I’ll be fine! Take care of yourself, Karl!”
Ronan got in and turned his car over, turned the defroster and windshield wipers to maximum, and pulled back onto the road. Karl waved as he passed. Ronan waved back.