UnknownUnknown

Amateur

Author’s Note:

This work is of fiction and all characters are aged 18 or above.

Enjoy reading and please leave a comment!

**

James observed New York’s skyline, its shimmering lights in the distance, from the balcony of his apartment on the 14th floor. A Marlboro was keeping him company for a limited time only as it burned slowly, releasing sweet smoke into the nightly air.

He didn’t know what hour it was, close to dawn he assumed. This was normal; the staying up, the thinking, the smoking. It happened frequently even. But those were the burdens of a deep thinker, and James was of that breed. This, so melodramatically, led him down the career he was in; the writing profession.

James Vidal, twenty-something unknown writer. His name wasn’t associated to works of success, but nevertheless, he was a good damn writer, a wizard with words. So his name meant nothing in the literature world, but Manuel J. Murdoch did.

Murdoch, the author of ten best-selling novels all published within a two-year period. A god bowed to by millions of readers. A man loved by the people for his incredible deep story plots, character creation and tense writing style. When reading a book of Murdoch’s, it was often tagged like reading art, and that one travelled into a different dimension. Some dubbed Murdoch’s writing as the narcotics of literature, read once and it would turn the reader into a clear Murdoch addict. This was a dangerous power for any person. The ability to write whatever Manuel felt and thought, would be prayed upon by the world. This was the depth of levels Manuel J. Murdoch reached.

Despite the ever-growing fan base of Manuel, he was a man unknown. Not once had he accepted any of the interview offers from major magazines, newspapers and various Talk shows. There was no picture of him at the back of the book covers, nor the front, only a summary of who he was and what he liked. His portrait remained frameless. In other words, Manuel J. Murdoch was a ghost. A god of the literature world and also a ghost, albeit a very famous and popular ghost.

What the people grasped from his writing style could be counted on a single hand; that he was a twenty-something man, based off his liked naivety and views on sexual relationships as well as woman, that he had a dark personality, from the descriptions of some explicit characters in various of his novels, and that he loved nachos. Not average nachos, but the cheesy ones, with a spread of sliced jalapenos integrated into the melted cheese to form what he truly loved, a messy dish.

Those were accurate interpretations and facts of Manuel J. Murdoch, and of James Vidal. Both writers and both unknown, although each in a different sense. So far James had done a good job of staying away from the scene. He was Manuel J. Murdoch, which was a mere pseudonym that he thought of in the middle of the night and had only used because of his likes for the initials of the name; M.J.M.

The reason behind creating this egg hunt was non-existent. James did not anticipate the success that would bulk under his pseudonym. He had self-published a couple novels early on in his career, when he was just a teenager, none of which took off like his first best-selling book did; A post world war two story plot, in the thriller genre, which also presented an element of romance. This was the book that got M.J.M. on the title page of the Newspapers as it sold over two million copies. The number in sales only increased with every consecutive book published thereafter under that name. It seemed like an obvious non-brainer for people whenever they saw a book shelved under “New Releases” and had those initials plastered on the cover. For them it was an easy buy.

Offers for movies pooled in all at once, as if each Entertainment Company were in an all-out war with each other, trying to beat their rivals to signing the movie rights. All of them were obviously rejected by James. He didn’t have an explanation for writing under a pen name, but one word always surfaced to the front of his head when he tried to think of one; Privacy. He firmly believed that a private life was a happy life. It was obvious it seemed. He didn’t want to walk down the street with cameras flashing in his face and following him, or people running up to him screaming for signed copies. He grimaced at that image.

James stretched his neck, sighed and readjusted his Malcom X style glasses, suggesting that exhaustion had finally crept to the last parts of his body, although his mind remained strong. The Marlboro that had kept him company was smoking itself on the concrete, all the way at the bottom, the result of James flicking it over the rail. He had craved another one, but decided to call it a night.

In just boxer briefs, James stepped into the two-bedroom apartment, sliding the glass door closed behind him. His bedroom was en-suite, which was one of the things that was on top of his list when he was apartment hunting. He went into the bathroom, brushed Artvin Escort his teeth and crawled into the king sized bed. With one hand beneath the pillow, he fell asleep, unaware of the time that he decided to go to bed nor the time he will wake up.

**

Banging on the door substituted the alarm, which James never set in the first place, as it woke him up from a light sleep. He groaned as he rose, reaching for his frames with one hand while using the other to rub his eye. He put the glasses on and his vision un-blurred.

A quick glance through the peephole and he turned the bolts, unlocking the door.

‘Morning sir, sorry to wake you.’

‘That’s no problem Sean.’ James yawned. ‘That for me?’ He eyed the brown parcel Sean was holding under one arm.

Sean was one of the building’s team of reception. He was responsible for the delivery of packages, signing on behalf of the people and personally delivering them. He had strict hours, knocking for the apartment-owners only between the hours of 8am and 8pm. In James’ opinion, there was no need for this. He felt bad that Sean had to go all the apartments that received a package either in the mornings or at night. Of course letters and paper subscriptions were to be picked up by the owner, who each had a box, similar to a safety deposit box in a bank, with two sets of keys available, one given to the housemates and one given to the engineer of the building.

‘Yes sir.’ Sean said, handing the parcel over.

James scowled. ‘Sean, how many times am I gonna have to tell you?’

Sean smirked and shrug his shoulders. ‘Don’t know what you talking about.’

‘I’m not sir. To you, I’m James.’ He said, causing the old man to laugh out loud. ‘Heck, if you wanna call me Jamie, Jim, Jimmie, I’m good with any of them.’ James mirrored old man Sean’s smirk.

‘I’ll keep that in mind.’

‘Wanna come in for a cup of coffee?’ James asked.

‘Oh no, I’m good. I have a few other deliveries to attend to.’ He gestured to the mail cart, that was filled to the brim with various sized parcels.

‘Alright then, I’ll see you around Sean.’ He said and then they did their exclusive handshake.

‘See you around, sir.’

James furrowed his brows, as he heard Sean chuckling amusedly by himself while pushing the cart. He closed the door and went back inside, opening the package.

It was a book James had ordered the two nights ago. It was a highly anticipated biography, with ratings over the roof. It talked about a once soviet spy, who came to betray his own country and encounter a game of sex, lies and danger.

James took the book to his study and placed it on the desk. He had converted the second bedroom, which was slightly smaller than the master, into a complete study, with expensive ceiling to floor wooden shelves, a desk by the window and opposite the door and various personal collectibles. The collectibles were on a stand by the window and behind his desk, covered in a box of glass for protection. They were signed baseballs, couple of trophies and awards and a small ship in a bottle that he won at an auction for a reasonable price.

The shelves held thousands of books of all possible genres. A particular part on the shelf contained the collections of his own series of novels. Integrated between different authors, any visitor to his humble study would think the obvious, that James was another die hard fan of MJM, an idea not far off from the truth.

The study was James’ “Batcave”, and naturally, it was his place of work. This was where all the magic happened, as some would say. The words worth millions were created in this office, and this was the environment that satisfied all of James’ needs. He created it with the exact atmosphere that he always wanted to feel every time he stepped into this room. Vibes that rivalled the Godfather’s. A room that with every second of James presence, was constantly filled with thick smoke either from a Marlboro or the occasional Cuban cigar, spreading the rich taste through diffusion.

It was James’ retreat in every meaning possible.

In the kitchen, his new book left behind in the study, he prepared an easy breakfast consisting of a mug of pure black coffee only. It was too early in the day to be digesting something heavy, he thought but changed his mind when his eyes landed on the bowl of fruits he kept on the kitchen isle. Grabbing a couple clementines, a banana, a green apple and kiwi, he skilfully sliced the fruits and delivered them onto a plate. He reached to the bottom drawer next to the stove and pulled a pack of walnuts out, spreading them onto the fruit. The cherry on top was honey, which he used a lot of. Breakfast was served cold.

He stood by the isle as he devoured the delicious combination of fruits, his morning playlist playing through the speakers he had installed in the apartment. He had them built in the ceiling in every room, even the bathroom. It was all very hi-tech. If he started listen to music Artvin Escort Bayan in one room and then went into another, the speakers in the first room would automatically switch off and the ones in the new room would continue playing the song. The transition was smooth, so that he never missed out even a mere second of a song. In a sense, one could say that the music was following him around the apartment.

He finished the plate of breakfast and gulped down the now-warm coffee. He put the plate and mug into the dishwasher, briefly went into the bedroom to quickly put on jogging bottoms and a large hoodie, and then slid open the glass door to the balcony, stepping out for the first time in the day.

He breathed in the cold, morning air and was already reaching for the pack of Marlboros. He had a box of matches that he kept out here, which he used to light the smoke. The first cigarette of the day was the best one, tastier than rest that followed. It would sometimes give James a nice buzz. Only the first blem of the day had the ability to achieve that, for he had been a smoker for far too long to get it from every cigarette.

Inhaling deep, he exhaled a thick cloud of smoke that appeared even thicker combined with the warm air contrasting against the cold. He didn’t have speakers installed in the balcony. He didn’t think that far ahead, but he could hear the music from the living room continuing.

James observed the very same scene that fell victim to his eyes several hours prior. Only were the lights were shimmering like stars at midnight, the sun was hiding between skyscrapers, finding gaps in the architecture to shine through and landing on James’ face. The warmth of the rays were appreciated.

He closed his eyes, took a drag on the cigarette and enjoyed the brightness of the morning, slowly exhaling smoke, covering the scene in front of him for a couple of seconds before it disappeared into thin air.

In a way, this was James’ own way of meditation. It ended too soon when the familiar ringtone of his mobile phone interrupted the peaceful, yet loud, morning and his thoughts. He glanced at the caller ID and sighed, not out of annoyance but rather disappointment. It was Olivia, his agent.

Olivia Parker, a confident woman with a strong head. She knew what she waned and she would get it, one way or another. The lady was mesmerising, her beauty comparable to an angel on Earth. She also had incredible charisma, allowing her to weasel anyone into whatever deal she desired. No one wanted to get on her bad side, as that would force Olivia to absolutely destroy the career of the one who interrupted her beauty sleep. She was fearful, and she was James’ agent, making her one of four people that knew his other identity, the more famous one. She was the the person connecting the triangle between MJM, the author, and the publishing house that James was currently signed with.

‘Hey.’ James answered the call.

He took another drag as he listened to the angelic voice on the other line giving him shit. He smiled, as Olivia was the kind to bust someone’s lip for their own good. She wanted the best for James, and that meant calling him at ungodly hours only to give him an earful.

‘Alright, I’ll meet you over lunch.’

James reluctantly agreed to the time and location of their lunch date, despite the fact that the restaurant Olivia had picked wasn’t his style and way too fancy for his liking, but he wasn’t about to argue with a personality like her. Once she was done with… they ended the call and James got back to enjoying what was left of the cigarette.

**

James Vidal had been to the place where had a lunch date with his agent a few times, so he dressed appropriately, but not over. He wore slim chinos, a turtle-neck of fine material with a blazer of even finer material on top. He was dressed in all black, with the exception of his shoes, which were red Louis Vuitton boots. When he bought the chinos, he took them to his tailor to get build in zippers on the inside of the chinos, so that they sorted nicely onto any shoes James decided to wear.

Even though his name or fame status didn’t suggest that he had money, what he wore sure did. As soon as the concierge saw James indenting to enter the restaurant, he opened the door for him and greeted him accordingly. It was a textbook welcome.

‘Vidal-Parker.’ James said to the lady managing the front desk.

Couple seconds later, which were used by the lady to confirm the table reservation under those names, she issued for a waiter in charge of the dedicated table to lead the way for James.

The table, for James, was in a perfect area of the restaurant. Lunch in the city was a busy period and places like these usually were packed with wall-street man or other important people. So their table, which was towards the back in the corner with minimum lighting, allowed for enough privacy.

James was seated, the waiter, whose names was Mario, handed him the Escort Artvin menu of drinks while he waited for his company. When Mario offered to list the specials for the day, James politely declined and explained that he wanted to wait for his partner to arrive.

Olivia, in style of course and fashionably late, showed up couple minutes after James did. He got up and pulled the chair for her. She plummeted down and sighed.

‘You wouldn’t believe the day I had, Jamie.’ She dramatically said. ‘Where’s the waiter? I need a drink.’

‘Careful, people may think you’re an alcoholic.’ James playfully whispered, which got him a stare from Olivia that said “you’re dead”, much to his amusement.

After the waiter brought out the drinks, a simple lemonade for James and a cosmopolitan for Olivia, who couldn’t hide her eagerness to gulp down the glass and ask for another one, which she of course didn’t do, they began their conversation.

‘It’s been a while, James.’ She took a tone which suggested business to James.

He was all too familiar with that tone, having known Olivia for way too long to not be able to pick out when she wanted to talk business.

James smiled. ‘Surely it hasn’t been that long, I saw you last week.’ He knew what she meant, but nevertheless he enjoyed being playful with a strong persona like Olivia Parker.

‘That’s not what I meant.’ She shook her head before taking another sip of her cool drink. ‘You haven’t produced a book in over a year. The house is showing some concern, which they are throwing on me.’

He understood that she didn’t like to take shit from others, and the fact that the publishing house was doing exactly that put him in a tough, yet obvious, position.

‘What are they saying?’ James cocked an eye-brow, now interested.

‘Oh, just that they wanted you to honour the contract of two books per year.’

‘Are they threatening to terminate me?’ Curiosity evident on his face.

Olivia met his glance, held his gaze for a while before nodding her head.

‘Good, let them. We can move to another house.’ James said unreactive. ‘Pretty sure anyone would love to work with MJM, and worse come worst, we can go independent.’ He concisely and confidently laid out the options.

Olivia looked at her writer with awe. She had known James Vidal for almost a decade now, but his calm mannerism in every situation, even through a threat like that, always astounded her, and quite honestly, made her tingly feeling.

She blushed as she allowed her mind to travel to the taboo. She quickly averted her eyes down to her drink. She wasn’t used to someone like James. Usually the opposite sex, sometimes the same, all but threw themselves at her. She was used to the cat-calling, the absurd attempts of conversing with her and the “rich offers”. She was sexy and she knew it. But not once had James ever crossed that line. At first he respected the constrains of professionalism between the agent and the writer, and after several years even the lines of friendship. It pinged her ego, but she knew better. James wasn’t of that sort. He valued their relationship as it currently was, and anything beyond that would complicate the deal they had. So all her uncontrollable feelings for him were kept in check. She made sure of that.

James had observed Olivia’s reaction from the corner of his eye. He noticed her never ending stare into the depth of her drink.

‘Don’t worry.’ His voice brought Olivia back to the table. ‘You’ll have a complete product by the end of next week.’

Olivia didn’t know whether he was truly in the process of concluding a new novel, but his confident tone suggested that it didn’t matter. James, unlike many men, stuck to the words he spoke, as should every man.

‘Okay.’ Parker sighed, smiling at her companion across the table.

‘Now that that’s done, I’m starving. Let’s order the entire menu.’ He said with a serious face, which broke Olivia into a series of laughter, him joining in of course.

‘Before I forget, my sister’s birthday is this weekend and some of us were planning to have a fun night out. It would be great if you could join us?’

James showed some irritation. ‘Little Samantha wants to go clubbing?’

Olivia giggled. ‘Little Samantha isn’t so little anymore.’

‘Isn’t she like fourteen?’ James playfully glared.

‘She was fourteen, now she is twenty-one and planning to hit every establishment that offers alcohol from here to Miami.’

‘Jesus, it seems like yesterday that I was helping her with some creative writing homework.’

‘Well buckle up, she wants to do less of that and more drinking. She would love it if you were there.’ Olivia cutely pleaded with him.

James had gotten along with little Samantha the multiple times he met her when Olivia was playing babysitter.

‘No problemo, hit me the when and where and I’ll be there to save the night.’

‘My knight in shining armour, ready to save my night.’ Olivia sarcastically said, smiling at him.

They finished their drinks, ordered another round with some heavy lunch, much to the insistence of James, who was seriously considering getting a bit of everything. They talked, they ate, they laughed. They were good friends, although one of them wanted more.

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