A Little Fiction – New Book (Title Unknown) – Introduction (Conversations with a Bearded Man part one)

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I was going through some old files on my computer when I found this. It is just titled ‘New Book – Title Unknown’. I thought you might like it…


The first time I saw him he was peering under the bonnet of a car, pulling at wires and whistling “Blowin’ Free”.
“Wishbone Ash,” I said.
“You know them?” he asked. He neither looked my way, nor ceased his wire pulling. I took a couple of steps backwards to stand alongside him. “Every note,” I said.
He lifted his head from his work and peered at me. He had a smudge of oil across the bridge of his nose that I wanted to wipe away. He didn’t speak. I fidgeted, unnerved by the silence. I looked down at the engine. “You got a problem?” I asked.
“Just looking for something,” he said.
“Anything I might know?”
“I think there’s a sensor.”
“What kind of sensor?”
He straightened his back and looked at me properly for the first time, swatting his hand across his face, aiming for something that as far as I could see, wasn’t there. And then he leaned back under the bonnet and recommenced his wire pulling, but I noticed that he’d shifted over a little, just enough to allow me to stoop down at his side. I peered inside.
“The lights,” he said finally.
“The lights?”
“The lights. They know when I’m coming. They turn red… always.”
I stared at the engine, uncertain whether he was serious. He could have been psychotic, or neurotic, one of them, I’m never sure. He turned towards me, his face now only inches from my own. I realised he wore spectacles and it struck me as strange that I hadn’t noticed them before. Underneath his beard his face was tanned, not overly, but he had a weatherworn skin that actively defied any attempt to age him. There was something, I don’t quite know what, but there was something in his eyes. Was he mocking me? I felt uneasy and I realised that he hadn’t blinked. I don’t know why I noticed that. Why should I notice that? He turned back to the engine and pulled enthusiastically at a wire that might just have been very important.
“I don’t know too much about cars,” I said, “but I don’t think you want to go pulling too many of those.”
He grinned, suddenly and fleetingly and I wondered whether I had imagined it.
“Don’t worry,” he said, “I know I’ll never find it, but it’s important that they think I’m looking.”
He shook his head in a theatrical way and eased himself upright. I followed and he closed the bonnet.
“I don’t drive as much as I used to. Don’t seem to have much of a place to go these days.” We lapsed into silence again.
“Well,” he said, wiping his hands on his trousers.
“Yes,” I said. “Well…”
He held out his hand and I shook it. “Better be going, I suppose,” he said.
“You have oil on your nose.” I pointed and he wiped across his face with his sleeve. The oil spread further, the stain became paler.
“OK?” he said.
I continued on my way and he wandered off across the road ahead, when a thought struck me.
“Your car,” I shouted after him.
“My car?”
“Your car, you haven’t locked it.”
I could see the amusement bubbling across his face as he slowly turned away. “Don’t worry,” he said. “It’s not my car.”

© Colin McQueen 2019

Episode 2 of this little saga is here.A Little Fiction – A Further Excerpt from a Different Unfinished Novel (Conversations with a Bearded Man part two)

29 thoughts on “A Little Fiction – New Book (Title Unknown) – Introduction (Conversations with a Bearded Man part one)

      1. This is the eternal quandary for us homeless writers. Part of me (the part that writes) wants to shout ‘No! Write it! I know it’d be good and it should exist!’ and the other part thinks ‘Yeah, better to chill and enjoy the rest of life than work hard chasing phantoms.’

        I wish I knew which answer was the right one. I’m still chasing phantoms though.


      2. I am discouraged very easily. I have had successes, but it only takes one or two rejections to kill me. When something is an idea, it is just that, but when I’ve put my heart into something that I know is good (it happens from time to time) only to find that I can’t even persuade somebody to look at it properly. Radio and tv are the worst. Nobody wants even to look now if you’re not a name. Publishers are getting as bad. I enjoy doing this because I write it, I post it and a few people read it and that’s it. I may return to the book (it’s complicated – like Ulysses with laughs). If I do, on your head be it!…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. 😀 Well, if you do, my head will be proud to take the weight!
        I’m sorry about all the other frustrations, although some successes count as a huge achievement in writing, so I applaud you for that.
        Mostly I’m happy for a few people to enjoy what I do, but I do want *something* to succeed before I shuffle off. No idea how that could happen. But then I figure, so long as I live a life I’m proud of, surrounded by good people and bringing a bit of happy wherever I can, then that’ll be ok too.


      4. Hurrah for that! The successes are great and the misses tolerable, it is the ‘so close’ moments that kill. But writing is what I do. Outside of that, I would bore even myself to death 😬 I truly hope your big success comes along but as you say yourself you are already successful in a million really more important ways. Keep on keeping on 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Colin.. You know me well enough to know that I too am the sort of person, who when being slapped on the back by dozens of happy individuals who have enjoyed the show, but who overhears one negative comment and then goes home feeling despondent about having produced a perceived failure…. I have at least four new projects that I could be working towards and have numerous bods who want to work with me but I’m held back by constant thoughts of impending failure… How easy it is to forget past successes! Loved the piece by the way…


    1. I remember all your successes. You have done great things and now you have time – much more to come from you. Bugger failure. Greater successes lies ahead


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