Here’s the first page of a novel idea I’ve had bouncing around in my head for a year or two now. It’s probably something I’m not gonna actually write for a long time. I’ve got too many other writing and programming projects I want to do right now, but I do really like the concept for the opening, so I thought I’d just write it out for the fun of it. The style is a bit different than what I’m trying to do right now as well. Very male action-violence oriented.
I know the whole amnesia thing is a little cliche in an action story, but I feel like I’ve got kind of a unique take on it, at least when we get to the explanation of why our character has it. I promise, this isn’t like Lost. I do have explanations for everything. I never start writing unless I have a pretty clear vision of where it’s going.
As he stared into his whiskey glass, listening to the jingling of the ice cubes, somehow still audible through the familiar sound of The Outlaw Torn blasting on the jukebox behind him, everything he’d ever known and cared about disintegrated, and he was left with a vague sense that he was in the right place at the right time. He was just where he was supposed to be.
He knew he was listening to Metallica, knew it was Tullamore Dew swishing in his glass, but as he looked around the dingy bar at the mix of country rednecks and pseudo-gangsters, he realized he had no idea where he was. An odd bar. Blacks and rednecks conversing comfortably with one pronounced gay man sipping a martini as he waited for a beautiful woman in tight, dirty white cargo pants to take her shot in their game of pool.
Where the fuck am I?
He sipped his whiskey. What else do I not know?
He thought. Nothing.
His eyes wandered back to his glass. Did someone spike my drink?
Possibly. But somehow that thought didn’t prevent him from taking another sip.
Am I one of those people who forgets everything constantly and every ten minutes I start this same conversation over again, each time forgetting that my brain doesn’t work? I’ll be having this “who am I” conversation with myself over and over again until I die.
Maybe I wrote a note to myself. He checked his arms. That guy in Memento had written all over himself.
His arms were bare.
He looked back at the woman in the white cargo pants, tight around the ass, loose the rest of the way down, frayed and torn at the bottom, with lots of pockets, more than enough room for phone, cash, drugs, switchblade, condoms and whatever else a girl might need for the evening. His real concern should be figuring out what the hell was going on, but somehow he had a hard time taking his eyes off those pants and that ass.
He felt something in his pocket and set his drink down to pull it out. A standard black leather wallet, full of cards and cash. A driver’s license showed through a clear plastic cover. He looked at the picture, then up at the mirror behind the bar. The same person. Scott Donahue. That’s my name… but somehow it didn’t sound familiar.
The wallet was thick. He opened the long side pocket to reveal row upon row of crisp, brand new hundred dollar bills.
He slipped the wallet back in his pocket and looked up at the bartender. Somehow this all had to do with this glass of whiskey.
He took a sip.
“Do you need something?” the barkeep said with a friendly smile.
“Do you remember what time I came in here?”
The man looked at the clock above the bar. “Like ten, I think. You losing track of time there Buddy?”
“Yeah, kinda.” He looked at the clock. Nearly midnight. “Can I get a water?”
He looked back around the bar. All these people, drinking, laughing, bitching about sports or how someone cut them off in traffic or shouting about how much they love the next song on the jukebox, none of them having any idea this strange man had just lost everything he had ever known. Three minutes ago everything changed and he had no idea why, and somehow he knew no one could help him.
His eyes wandered back to the woman, the only woman in the bar other than the old lady sitting in the back next to her husband, taking a healthy drink from her twenty-four ounce can of Pabst.
Those cargo pants. Worn by the type of girl he knew would never speak to him. Her ass swayed as she leaned over the table to take another shot. He watched. I don’t care if she notices me staring. I’m a new man now, as of right now.
She missed her shot, but didn’t seem to care. She stood and turned to reveal the black, seemingly brand new Slipknot tee shirt molded around her tits and showing just an inch of tight belly. She caught his eye for a moment then moved on, glancing toward the back of the bar.
No. He stopped himself and spun back around on the stool. What was he doing? He needed to figure this out. I need to get to a computer and Google myself.
Midnight. Everything would be closed.
He felt something in his back pocket. Keys, probably. Maybe he would recognize a car in the parking lot.
I don’t even know what city I’m in. When I walk out that door, will I be in downtown LA or out in the Wisconsin country side?
He rapped his hands on the bar. Just finish your drink, pay up, calm down and head outside. You’ll be okay. You might not remember, but you can still think. This could be a good thing. This could be a new beginning. Maybe there were things better left forgotten.
He took a long drink of his whiskey.
Then a presence appeared behind him and a moment later a softness against his back and a gentle hand to his side.
There she was. The girl in the cargo pants. Her breasts pressed into his back as her hand pulled around his stomach and her long dark hair melded with his own.
That’s why he couldn’t take his eyes off her. She was already his.
Her lips brushed against his earlobe and she whispered, “Ryan, Baby, we need to get the fuck out of here.”
I thought I was Scott. But somehow Ryan felt better.
“Okay,” he replied softly. “Can I finish my drink?”
“No. Pay up.” She paused as she nuzzled his neck with her chin, then returned to his ear. “I think they’re onto us. The guy by the wall.”
The wallet came out with one hand and a wave to the bartender with the other.
“Close out?” he asked.
Ryan nodded. The lady had decided that was his name.
Ryan slapped a hundred down on the bar. “Gimme sixty back.”
“Thanks Buddy. Appreciate it.” The bartender saluted as he brought the bill to his eye to check the authenticity. A moment later the sixty bucks came back over the bar, and Ryan and this girl had slipped from their spot to head, arm in arm, to the front door. They pushed through the tiny foyer stinking of stale cigarettes and out into the open, hot desert air.
He looked out on dark rolling hills, sand, a gas station and a highway heading off into the distance. A strip mall in the middle of nowhere.
“Can they see us from in there?” she asked.
“I don’t know.” He looked back at the windows. “I don’t think so.”
But she was already sprinting. The gravel crackled under their feet as he worked to keep up. She headed toward an old black sports car and slid to a stop at the drivers side. Thank God, because Ryan had no idea where they were going. He came to a stop at the passenger side.
“Keys!” she shouted.
He reached into his back pocket and tossed them across. She snatched them from the air and a moment later she was inside, unlocking his door.
“Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!” she stammered as she cranked the keys in the ignition. They backed wildly into the parking lot, the sound of pebbles flying and tires spinning matching the volume of the engine revving. She slammed the brakes again, Ryan’s hands slapping against the dashboard as they hit the middle of the parking lot. “The case!” Her left hand fished under her seat as her right threw the car into first gear. “Thank God. It’s still here.”
A second later he was thrown back into his seat as he snatched for the seat-belt caught behind the headrest. They burst out of the parking lot and skidded onto the open pavement as Ryan looked back to see four men run from the front tavern door. They paused only a moment before sprinting toward their vehicles.
“Fuck!” she screamed as she shifted from first to third.
He slipped the seat-belt into its latch and looked at her just as she shifted up to fifth. “Fuck!” She slammed her palms on the steering wheel. “How the fuck did they find us?”
Was it really such a smart idea to follow this woman?
That was probably a question he should have asked a long time before he forgot everything. As he looked at her, his heart thumping in his chest, somehow he knew he could trust her. In the back of his mind he knew it might be a trick of her beauty, but in his heart he knew she had his back.
“Baby?” she said. “What the fuck you doing? The rifle’s under the seat. Don’t waste no fucking time.”