V E N U S
I developed a short story following an exercise from Stephen King’s book “On Writing” I posted it on a short story website for comments.
In the book, King offers a writing exercise. He paints a scene where Dick’s escaped from jail and is stalking his ex-wife, Jane and their daughter, Nell. Jane drops Nell at a party and returns home. While enjoying a cup of tea in the kitchen, the news on TV announces the escape of three criminals with one still at large. Jane panics when she smells Dick’s aftershave. King then reverses the roles so that it’s Dick who hears news of the escape and believes that Jane’s after him.
In my version, John meets Ninako who he thinks is every man’s dream woman. They get married and have a daughter, Evie. When the marriage spirals into a living hell, they break up and John gets full custody. This sends Ninako further into unbridled fury. She attacks John and ends up in jail. While enjoying a beer in the Hare & Hound, the news on TV announces the escape of Ninako and two others. John panics, races home and smells Ninako’s perfume. He grabs some things for Evie and gets out. Unbeknownst to him, Ninako’s stalking them. The next day, he drops Evie to a birthday party. Ninako gets her revenge by kidnapping a reluctant Evie and leaving a blood-spattered trainer in the gutter.
Just to give you a taster, here are a couple of paragraphs from my story:
From the moment I saw her, I thought she was the one. It was on a packed platform at the station. Flying downstairs to catch the 17.57 before the doors closed, I couldn’t help but notice the way the sun lit her face. I made it to the bottom without taking my eyes off or crashing to the ground. She looked breathtakingly beautiful with curly locks bouncing around her shoulders, blacker than black almond eyes, and honey-kissed skin. By the time I regained my senses, the train pulled out.
As the days went by, I couldn’t think about much else. Returned from one of those events with dregs of the female persuasion, and went to drown my sorrows at the Hare & Hound. The door busted open and in she strutted. All eyes were on her, and it didn’t matter if they were single or married ones. My heart hammered in my chest. She oozed freedom – was bold in the way that excites most, if not, all men. Slurping froth on my beer, I secretly watched her roll hips in the middle of the room with her eyes shut. Mark went over for a dance, and she blanked him. It seldom happened with birds, but this one had me real saft. Alf saw me losing shape and come over.
‘Wakey, wakey, Gym Rat.’
‘Ya got life insurance?’
‘What you on about, guv?’
‘Screwball, that one! Y’know, ya work so ‘ard for that piece-a-piss-chewing-gum at the bottom and, after all ya ‘ard work, it tastes like shit.’
‘Give it a rest, will you. I’m Willy the Conqueror.’
‘Look, John,’ he said, ‘She ain’t ya usual.’
I smiled, ‘What do you know, Alf?’
‘Shout if ya need protectin’, he said, shaking his head from side-to-side.
‘Check out da guns.’ I said, flexing my biceps.
‘You’ll want propa… she’ll eat-cha-right-up,’ he said in a low voice. ‘Call me when ya just a bag-o-bones.’ He pushed the drinks to me. ‘Bones,’ he said, ‘Eat-cha-up.’
‘Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.’ I said.
‘Oh, Venus. Awww Venus–
‘OK, alright.’ I said, wishing he’d turn it in.
‘Out while ya can. Y’hear?’ Alf said, ‘NOW.’
‘Great first sentence which pulls you into the story. Good characterisation of Ninako and John. Liked the way he described himself as feeling ‘Trumpish’. The language is smart and snappy. The story moves from a lustful sex scene to a softer mood: lay in the crook of my arm — lovely description. Tension builds as the story changes from love to an abusive relationship. Ninako’s downward spiral is described in a tense, moving and quite frightening way. There are a few more twists and turns to keep the reader hooked: John’s arrest and Debbie letting the mother take Evie. A love story with a dark twist.’
‘I enjoyed the way the plot quickly takes you from the moment Ninako and John meet to when problems start to unravel. As a reader we can see that Ninako might not be all that she seems and when Alf warns John about her, I immediately believed every word he said.’
‘Loved the intro — hooked me solidly. And thank you for the twist, that peppermints could not conceal…’
‘Fast-moving narrative with an unusual storyline. The writer has effectively managed to condense an entire plot into a couple of thousand words.’
‘Lots going on here, very exuberant writing.’