Thursday January 22nd, 2015

The exercise:

Too tired to come up with anything else, I bring us back to the First Line Prompt. Use the following as the opening line of your work and then take it from there:

Phil was the kind of guy that everybody in town knew, but that nobody actually seemed to know very well.

Spent the morning colouring, dancing, and playing music with Max. This afternoon Kat needed to go into Penticton so she dropped her boys off at the play cafe for another round of entertainment. I went ahead and purchased a pass, as I think it's safe to say at this point we'll be going often enough to make it worthwhile.

Looking forward to having some time to myself tomorrow to work on writing or photography. It's on the schedule to be writing, but I'm kinda getting into this photography thing.

In case you hadn't noticed.


Phil was the kind of guy that everybody in town knew, but that nobody actually seemed to know very well. Like, on a personal level, you know? Sure, everyone was on a first name basis with him, could comfortably shout a Good afternoon! in his direction from across the street, talk endlessly with him about the weather and all that.

But who among us knew his favorite food? His preferred authors and artists? Did he have any family left above ground or had the earth reclaimed them all? What did the inside of his house look like? What, precisely, did he do with all of his spare time?

That last one, though. That was the one I often wondered about. Probably more than was healthy, I'll admit.

I dunno. It's not like I ever thought he was up to something nefarious or nothing like that. Phil just struck me as being rather secretive for someone so often in the public eye. I wondered if that easy smile disappeared once he closed his front door. I wanted to know if he swore like a sailor and drank like a fish in the confines of his own home. What did he have to hide - if anything at all?

I guess I just considered it free entertainment for my bored hours of the day. Never really gave those thoughts any credence, to be honest.

At least not until the night I was awoken by the police banging on my door, asking when I'd last seen our dear old Phil.


Greg said...

So you had an entire day of play and now you're looking forward to a day off? I'm definitely in the wrong kind of job here.... I reckon you should do the photography if the weather's good and the writing otherwise, but I'm a pragmatist :)
Your Phil seems like a very curious chap indeed, though the way the tale was going I was expecting him to be making people disappear rather than disappearing himself! I guess that could still be happening though, you haven't ruled it out. I really like the way you convey the consuming curiousity the narrator has too, it definitely marks this as the start of something intriguing.

Phil was the kind of guy that everybody in town knew, but that nobody actually seemed to know very well. It was on account of his job you see, and he wasn't the only one with that problem: there was Phil, Steve, and Charlie. Steve was the homeless guy who sat outside the launderette all day with his harmonica; everyone knew Steve, everyone knew that kids had stopped up all the holes in the harmonica with chewing gum; but no-one really knew him. Or wanted to, he smelled pretty bad and he used to try and shave with bits of flint in rain-water puddles, so his face was a bit cut up.
Charlie was the town lawyer and no-one wanted to have the guy who knew all their secrets in their living room unless it was on business. Charlie couldn't even get a haircut in town because he'd handled the Last Will and Testament of the barber's mother and there had been a long-running feud there. There's nothing like family for hatred and bad-feeling, and Charlie ended up being the messenger for all the bad news.
And then there was Phil. College-educated, nicely dressed, longer words than Charlie even after he'd had a pitcher of Margaritas. He was the town mortician, and there was something of dead that seemed to follow him around. It wasn't the smell; he wore Invictus aftershave like he sweated it. It wasn't even the morbid sense of humour, though he'd made no friends at the butcher's when he'd asked if he known any of the cuts of meat on the slab there. It was just that he was a little bit... inappropriate.
He'd measured Mr, Williams with a tape-measure and not said a word, but why does a mortician care how tall you are? Or should I say, how long you are? He'd turned up when Agnes's cat had died with a coffin just the right size for it, and left it as a gift. Now sure, his heart may have been in the right place, but that's the kind of attention to detail people just don't like from the man who might be burying them. And then he'd had a dinner party one night, and everyone was seated next to a neatly dolled-up and preserved corpse. Well sure, there'd been a coach-crash two days earlier and he'd got the lot in at once, and the mortuary is surely too small for thirteen bodies, and he couldn't have know it would impact his dinner plans... but still. Inappropriate.

Marc said...

Greg - I'm *pretty* sure what I actually said was that I was looking forward to a day of work after a day of play :P

Indeed, I did not rule that out at all :)

Hah, really like your take on the prompt. Some great details here (the lawyer being unable to get a haircut in town, the harmonica with the chewing gum) and that ending scene...

Anonymous said...

It wasn’t the crime that haunted me everywhere I went. No, that I could handle. For a part of me knew that she deserved it, that the world was a better place without her in it. But there was another part of me, no matter how small, that shouted louder than anything within me three little words: it wasn’t right.

Marc said...

Ivybennet - pretty sure this was intended for tomorrow's prompt, so I shall just respond to it as such :)

Ah, that nagging guilty conscience. Nothing seems to shut it up once it has its sights set on something. Nicely captured.