A while back I was asked by a spyware company to write a serial for their new blog that would incorporate the items they were selling into a traditional spy story. I was apprehensive at first, not being well versed in reading or writing the genre, but I gave it a try because 1. it would have been a paying gig, and 2. I am quite good at genre writing. I can pick up the style and essence of a genre and replicate it authentically – I believe. I ended up writing only two sample parts of the serial before the company decided to go a different way with the blog. (side note, they are no longer in business, so maybe they should have just gone with my fiction…) I was disappointed not to see my spy story through to the end, or more so, see it on the web at all. Often times writers write things that never make it in to print (of any kind, traditional, web, or ebook), and are never even seen by other eyes. This concept has always bothered me. It is like that concept about the tree falling in the forest. If no one is around to hear it fall, does it still make a noise? Well, if no one is around to read your writing… I do realize, however, that some writing should not be read. There are pieces of work that we do that ultimately resign themselves to “practice” pieces. Stories or poems or tid-bits of thoughts that only serve to sharpen our skills. I attended a reading by one of my favorite authors Jennette Winterson when I was living in Manchester, UK, where she spoke about all the unfit writing she has done over the years. (Unfit in her eyes, of course). Her main point was that she destroys any writing she thinks is not good enough to be read by another living soul. This, of course, intrigued me, as the question posed to her had to do with her archives, and being one to keep a record of most of all the things I have written, early, terrible, or draft, I was once more reminded of that tree falling in the woods scenario. Of course, Winterson will have left behind a body of published work fulfilling enough that her scraps of thoughts and failed attempts at stories are need not, but for some of us, those failed attempts, or stories that almost were, are important to our legacy, important to who we were as a writer, or who we tried to be. So, in an attempt to create my own legacy, and to make sure that everyone can hear that tree fall, I am undergoing a mission to present the majority of fiction I have written, polished or rough draft, to the reading public. I think my fans will enjoy seeing these unseen morsels, and I will enjoy showcasing to my readers what I can, and is some instances, cannot! do.
Below you will find the sample selection of my un-serialized spy story plus a tiny bit of the the third section which this post inspired me to write. It is rough, it is unfinished. One day I may complete the story. If enough readers wish for it to be completed, please encourage me to do so, otherwise it will sit as it is, a testament to what could have been, what was, what is. Enjoy.
PS – note the product placement in the story…
Untitled Spy Story: by Brian Centrone
Title? #1 by Brian Centrone
Jantz sat in the boardroom on the 86th floor of the Bass-Co building. The altitude was higher than he cared for. Coming in just under 100 stories, Bass-Co was the tallest building in Gauter City. It was the hub of the city’s economy. Powerful men in more powerful positions pounded their fists against tables in boardrooms like the one Jantz was sitting in up and down this glass and steal tower.
There was nothing particularly interesting about the boardroom on the 86th floor. It was sterile of any real character, save for its necessity to exude power and masculinity. Jantz was seated on one side of a long oblong table which squared off at either end. Behind him were a row of windows, taller and wider than he was. One could see the whole of Gauter City from them, though Jantz dared not look.
“Do you know why you are here Mr. Jantz,” the man sitting in front of Jantz asked, leaning forward against the table.
He was an older man, one who appeared to have lived through many terrible things and always came out on top. His jaw was as squared off as his choice of haircut. He wore a suit, but who didn’t in the Bass-Co building? It was steely gray with the faintest hint of a pinstripe. When the man clasped his hands together on the table Jantz caught a glimpse of his cufflinks. They were as polished as the floors in this monstrous tower.
“I’m not quite sure,” Jantz admitted, taking out a pen from his trouser pocket and placing it delicately on the table.
“I thought we had an agreement, Mr. Jantz.”
Before Jantz was able to get a word in, the man across the table waved someone forward.
“Karl,” the man said coldly.
From out of the shadows a large imposing man made his presence known. He moved in a deliberately slow manor towards Jantz.
Jantz was both impressed and uncomfortable with the shear mass of the guy. He was definitely the muscle.
When Karl was finally by Jantz’s side, he stuck his arm out as if to strike, but instead reached down and grabbed the pen off the mahogany table. Karl made sure that both men could bear witness to the forbidden object in his paw like hand. He then proceeded to crush the pen by closing his fist. The action seemed effortless. When he opened his fist, pieces of pen fell to the table like crumbs from a dry cookie. The ink had seeped from its cartridge and now stained Karl’s brutish hand.
Jantz knew instantly that the ink wasn’t the only thing Karl’s hands had ever been stained with. He swallowed hard and adjusted his tie.
The man across the table moved forward again. “Now, Mr. Jantz, we can begin.”
Title? #2 by Brian Centrone
Jantz let himself into his subterranean apartment. It was dark and brown and the scent of smoke and damp lingered from the past. Of course, his habit to light up didn’t convince the odor to take its marching orders. He flipped the light switch on. A dim bulb hanging bare from the drop ceiling came to life. Jantz dropped his keys into the catch bowl on the side table by the front door before emptying the remnants of his trouser pocket. The crushed pen looked just as sad on the surface of his desk as it did on the imposing boardroom table. It proved to be a good plan, he had to admit; a great distraction. It also proved that what he had been lured into was just as dangerous and unsettling as he suspected.
Jantz sat down in the old desk chair. It wobbled and rolled under his weight. He removed his tie while turning on the computer.
“Let’s see if we got what we needed,” he said to himself. Once the operating system had booted up, Jantz began to move the video evidence of his meeting off the tie and onto the pc. With a few clicks he had managed to transfer the file and open it for viewing. There it was, sound and all. It had worked.
“We selected you for your special skills,” the man said. He looked at the giant thug who had crushed the pen. “There was dissension in the ranks and we had to do away with some of our best operatives.” The man sat back in his chair. Do you know what this building houses, Mr. Jantz?”
“Secrets, Mr. Jantz. Secrets.”
Jantz paused the video. He had a few of his own.
# # #
It was three in the morning when Jantz heard the noise. He was a light sleeper by necessity, plus he had been expecting something like this. Jantz eased out of bed, careful not to make a noise. He moved slowly out of his back bedroom and into the main room of the small apartment. He flicked the switch on the wall outside his bedroom door and that single, bare bulb roared back to life.
“It’s a bit dark for sunglasses, wouldn’t you say,” Jantz said to his guest.
“I have sensitivity to light,” a tall, slender raven haired beauty said.
“And I have sensitivity to people breaking into my place. Even if they do do it in a skintight cat suit.”
“Lucky for you these are all I own.” The woman lowered herself into a worn-out arm chair, crossing her legs.
“Let me judge my own luck, lady. Who are you and what do you want?”
She pursed her bright red lips and purred, “I want you.”
Title? #3 by Brian Centrone
“That’s not something I hear from a beautiful woman every day,” Jantz said as he reached down and picked up a pack of smokes and a lighter off of the yard sale coffee table. He light one for himself and then offered one to the woman.
“I’m not one to mix business with pleasure,” she said, her eyes deadlocked on Jantz’.
Jantz shrugged and took a seat on the ratty puke green and shit brown colored couch adjacent to this cat woman.
“So what do you want me for,” Jantz asked, leaning back and stretching his arms out on top of the couch, his cigarette carefully poised between the middle and point fingers of his right hand.
The woman drew her eyes down to Jantz’ crotch. Jantz widened his eyes.
“Don’t you think you should remove that pistol from your shorts before we get down to business?” she asked, a slight amusement sparking to life in her dark eyes.
Jantz smirked, took a drag off his cigarette, then reached down into his boxers with his left hand and withdraw his gun.
“I usually sleep naked,” Jantz said, laying the gun down in his lap, “but tonight I had a feeling I might be getting a visit from the ghost of Christmas yet to come so I wore these to bed.” He pulled at the cotton boxers. “Not many places to conceal a weapon on a half-naked body.”
The woman leaned forward. “I bet I could surprise you.”
Jantz moved in to meet her. “I don’t doubt that. Now tell me why you’re here. This pistol’s getting cold.”