After reading Carissa's review of Ordinary People, I started thinking about love at first sight. I'm not generally a believer that people fall madly in love immediately upon meeting and it lasts forever, but I often think about circumstances it might be possible/plausible. This very short story is the result of last night's thoughts:
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
“Do you believe in love at first sight?”
Ian looked over at his partner of nearly forty years. Chris sat ensconced in his favourite recliner, rug over his knees, bald head shining in the warm lamplight as he read. Echoes of Chris in full rant over a political decision or a crookedly planted flower tumbled together with images of the two of them through the years.
"Why do you ask?" It was always a good idea to find out exactly what Chris was talking about before Ian said something that set him off again. Although, truth be told, Ian had quickly worked out he liked setting Chris off on a rant. That level of energy always needed an outlet.
Chris shrugged. “I read a book and the two characters basically took one look at each other and that was it. They knew they were destined to be together forever.”
“Did it work in the story?”
“Oddly enough, it did. One of the characters had no doubts at all and persued the other poor guy relentlessly.”
“What about the other one?”
“See, I think that’s why it sounded believable. The other guy didn’t believe it.”
“Didn’t believe what?” Ian struggled to hold his smile inside. Chris could very well have been describing the beginning of their relationship.
“Well, sure he was attracted. It was instant lust.” Chris scowled at Ian, and Ian grinned at him. He was getting it now, making the links between the story he’d just read and their own lives. “But,” Chris continued forcefully. “That doesn’t mean it was true love. The love had to have time to grow.”
Ian left his chair and climbed on top of Chris, wincing slightly as his knees bent under the pressure of his body weight. Even five years ago, it didn’t hurt at all. They were getting old, he and Chris. He leaned forward and pressed a kiss to Chris’s forehead. They were growing old together, just like he’d known they could, all those years ago. “I think,” he whispered, “that if the first one hadn’t recognised they could love each other, the second one would have walked away from the best thing that could ever happen to him.”
Chris lifted his face for a proper kiss. The press of their lips was familiar now, comforting and soothing. Their kisses still held the promise of passion, but it was muted after so many years. They’d spent years learning each other and learning, also, that there was no need to hurry. They’d be together forever, so if the passion didn’t built and bear fruit, it was okay. They’d pick it up again tomorrow, or the next day.
“You knew,” said Ian. His breath washed over Chris's tissue-wrinkled cheek. He inhaled as he pressed his cheek against Chris’s soft flesh. He still smelled the same: warm and masculine with a slight undertone of sawdust. These days, Chris’s work with wood consisted of whittling children’s toys, rather than building rustic furniture. “You knew you loved me from the moment we met.” He kissed Chris again. “I don’t think I’ve ever really thanked you for recognising what could be between us.” Forty years ago, it had been Chris pursuing a sceptical Ian. There’d been times, Ian knew, that Chris had wanted to give up. Fighting against Ian’s snark and negativity had been hard, but he’d stayed the course. It was because of his Chris, and his determination to have the love he deserved and offer Ian the same, that Ian had the wonderful life he’d had.
“Are you suggesting what we had was love at first sight? Insta-love? Really?” Chris’s voice was a mixture of scepticism and hope.
“Of course it was. You just needed to hit me over the head a few times over the course of a year or two to get me to see it.”
Chris chuckled. “You’re an idiot.”
“You tell me that every time you want to fuck me,” Ian teased.
Chris sighed resignedly. “Well if I must, I must.” Then he spoiled it by grinning. “Do you need help getting off me so we can go to bed? I think our days of fucking in the recliner are long gone.”
“You’re right about that. And, yes, I do need help. My feet have gone to sleep and I don’t think my knees want to straighten at all.”
Chris pushed as Ian slid awkwardly off the chair. They both rubbed Ian’s legs until the circulation had returned and he could walk again. Together, they banked the fire and turned out the lights, then walked arm in arm down the hall toward their bedroom.
Ian leaned his head against Chris’s shoulder. “I’m glad you knew,” he said. “I’m even more glad you didn’t give up on me.”
“You’re worth fighting for, love,” whispered Chris as he closed their bedroom door behind them. “I knew it then, and it hasn’t changed. None of it.”
I've been on holiday and out of phone/internet contact so I haven't seen any reviews for Ordinary People until today. I haven't unpacked or anything yet, but I'm online. What does that tell you about my priorities?
Sandra @ my Fiction Nook wrote a lovely review. I'm so glad she got the humour in the story. She said it was 'cute and snarky fun' and had her 'giggling more often than not'. She got it that the romance had to stay a slow burn because of James's job and his connection to Vinnie's case. Check out her complete review at the link above.
Other reviews float words like 'quirky', 'adorable', 'sweetly eccentric'. Find them on Goodreads.
I've also been on holiday. Aboard ship there's no phone connection, pay-per-minute internet, and too many things to do. We sailed from Brisbane up the Queensland coast to Airlie Beach, Yorkeys Knob and Port Douglas, and saw some fantastic things.
Now I need to sleep for a few hours before getting back to real life.
I'll post more photos below.
It's finally here. I feel like I've been waiting for Ordinary People to be released forever.
Vinnie is one of my favourite characters. Even drugged to the eyeballs, he's funny and endearing.
You can find Ordinary People at Dreamspinner Press.
When Queensland Police Force Constable James Laramee raids a hotel room, he finds Vinnie Canterbury on top of a naked, dead man, covered in blood. Vinnie promptly vomits all over James’s shoes.
Thanks to a cocktail of horse sedatives and Hendra vaccine, Vinnie’s memories of his ordeal are fractured. Finding the culprits and the reasons behind his abduction will be a challenge.
With his apartment trashed, his building set on fire, and his clothes, phone and wallet gone, Vinnie needs a place to stay. To his surprise, James not only takes him in, but also lets him cry on his shoulder. It must be true love. Vinnie has plans for his future with James all mapped out, and he hopes he can get James on the same page.
Here's an excerpt as well - one you won't see anywhere else:
“Okay, Vinnie, let’s go down to the station and see if we can find out where you belong.”
“Station?” Vinnie had been so focused on watching Laramee, he’d forgotten why he was here. He looked around the curtained cubicle. He didn’t know why he was here. “I don’t understand what’s happening.”
Laramee still held Vinnie’s arm above the elbow. Vinnie looked down and gasped. “I’m naked.” He wasn’t really. There was that horrid gown they put on him, but it didn’t cover all the…. He sucked in a couple of frantic breaths. “And covered in… in….” He shook his head. “I need to have a shower. Where are my clothes?”
“He can shower here. I’ll get someone to show you where.” A nurse disappeared through the curtain, leaving Vinnie alone with Laramee. Vinnie swayed on his feet and Laramee tightened his grip.
“I love your lips,” Vinnie said as he leaned closer to Laramee.
LIFE ISN’T ordinary at all. Life is a series of images that flash through your consciousness. At first it seems like the images are in slow motion, but then you realize, once you’ve moved on and can no longer see those things, it’s actually all fast-forward. Just glimpses into other people’s lives as you whizz along on the roller coaster. Totally out of control.
Fast-forward to the police station.
There are a lot of books out there I don't take the time to review. To start with, I won't leave a public review that's less than three stars. If I see promise in the story and writing, but there are things that would make the review painful to write and/or read, I contact the author direct and hope I don't upset them too much.
There are some books though that have something that makes me write a review and post it straight away.
I read Bone Rider by J. Fally a few weeks ago. I knew immediately I was going to write a review and that I'd be giving it five stars, but I wanted to think about it first. Then I wanted to read the book again. Why would I need to read a book twice to write a review? In this case, the answer is simple - movies.
Bone Rider is a classic tale of alien-crash-landing-on-earth-and-inhabiting-human-body. The US army reacts predictably--anything you don't understand, destroy--although there's a surprising turn in that plot arc.
In fact, there are surprising turns in the main plot as well as all the sub-plots. It's a serious story, with the alien take-over of the human written in a frighteningly believable way. But then again, it's not that serious.
There's Riley Cooper, on the run from his Russian assassin boyfriend, Misha. There's the alien, System Six, an AI armour system who has to learn about an entirely new world and culture. There's Misha, who is searching for Riley, and his Mob-boss father, who wants Misha to marry and take over the company. And, of course, there's the army, fumbling around in the dark and making decisions based on only what they would do--showing they have no idea how to imagine someone making different decisions.
It sounds like a farce, doesn't it? In some ways it is. There's a lot of humour in the story. There are a lot of movies as well, all of them very cleverly woven into the story so you read a section and then... hang on, was that Wolverine? The Die Hard series is an obvious pick. There's a Die Hard movie marathon at the beginning that went a long way to shaping who System Six would become--he names himself McClane. Alien is another one that's pretty obvious, and I loved McClane's reaction to that one. I counted about seven movies ranging from those being named to obscure references you'd only pick up if you'd seen the movie and remembered it. I'm sure there are others, but I'm not a huge movie watcher so missed them. I had the best time during my second reading, looking for the movie references. The movies ranged from old westerns to classic SF to romantic comedies. I'd love to hear from people who've also read the book to see how many movies they found.
The book wasn't all humour though. It provided a very serious reflection of the lack of compassion and acceptance in our society. It showed a very strong picture of rigid thinking and bombasity. This inflexible thinking was shown from a number of different perspectives--from family, from society, from authority--and each one was done believably and, sometimes, heart-wrenchingly.
And, of course, there was true love. Even that had a number of twists. From the beginning you know it's going to be a romance so you're looking for the two people. One early character looks like a possibility (I'll be he gets his own story at some stage), then what you think is a couple, perhaps isn't. I'll stop there because I don't want to give spoilers, but you should read it to see how it all develops.
Definitely a five star read. J. Fally is also added to my list of authors to read.
E E Montgomery
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