Reader and Advisor
Part III, Chapter IV of Lovely Kiss, Kiss, Kiss
“No, don’t remember at all” Theo replied.
“Yeah, I think you were two.” Ian laid the phone down flat on the coffee table so that the FaceTime camera pointed directly at the chandelier. Theo thought it was an interesting light to look at, a medallion encircled the ceiling where the chandelier hung, an intricate spiral pattern of flowers with perfect radial symmetry. The medallion was a small relic of the apartment's faded Victorian aesthetic. Theo liked looking up at the symmetry, it reminded him of a mobile in a baby’s crib.
“We drove through the middle of the night” Ian started, his face not visible on the screen, but now that Theo was thinking about old stuff, he was listening with intent. “It’s funny, I didn’t remember so much of this before sitting down to try and write it. It’s like the act of slowing down to write it helped me walk through doors of memories I didn’t even know where there.”
“Yeah,” Theo replied, “What else do you remember?”
“We left at night. I remember getting into the back seat of her old Pacer, remember that car? That was such a sick wagon. I remember it was night because I tried to look at you in the car seat next to me and there was a piano in the way, her old Rhodes was down the middle seat. I couldn’t see you so I remember looking out the window and seeing light after light on the street as we left Grandma and Grandpa's place upstate.” Ian paused to try and collect his thoughts. He was now sitting in front of a bookshelf in the living room, rummaging through a stack of vinyl.
“Yo, I’m getting another call,” Theo said, out of the blue. Ian heard him but didn’t respond. “I gotta go I’ll call you back,” Theo said.
“Love you dude,” Ian yelled before hearing the closing chime of a FaceTime call.
Ian, sifting through old records on the bottom shelf of his living room bookcase, had been reminded of music his mom had once recorded. She didn’t like recording, something used to rant about losing the essence of jazz when the music isn’t in the moment. Even though she hated it, she let a few recordings through, and she ended up cherishing them. One of those records, made by a guy she used to play with, was a live recording at a park in New York. Ian found it and pulled it out. The paper sheet covering the little 8-inch record was worn. “Reader and Advisor” was the name of the recording. Ian fit the record over the spindle and onto the platter of the turntable, he flicked the machine on and set the needle onto the vinyl to a small scratch before the background noise of a park came on.
Ian was laying on the floor of his living room as the sound of his mother's band began to fill his home. He closed his eyes and imagined the park she might have been playing at, the people walking around outside, paying no attention to her cello. No one noticing the hi-hat or the saxophone. Ian started getting stuck on his idea of being in the moment while the record spun. What does it mean to let the music go? “Listening is the first act of creation” he thought to himself, eyes closed, laying on the floor. His thought triggered a reflex to shut down the wandering mind, discounting the validity. He thought of the old John Berger documentary from BBC4 about “Ways of Seeing” and the strange line that separates ideas from being corny or being true.
Before he let his ideas of listening and creation go further, Ian crawled up from the floor and grabbed his phone off the coffee table, which was still laying in the same spot where Theo got to stare at the ceiling chandelier. Ian fell back down to the floor, laying on his back over the vintage Turkish rug the previous tenants left behind. He held his phone over his face and checked his messages. Nothing from Laila. Ian closed his eyes again and threw his phone onto the couch, wondering what to do with his afternoon.
Something a little different with a mid-week email. Worked on this piece over the weekend but it wasn’t quite right, so finished this morning and here we are.
There also isn’t much to share in terms of where this writing came from or was inspired by. I’ve been looking back at previous chapters and asking myself some questions about how these characters are developing and probing my subconscious a bit. If the central anchor to this story is the draw between Ian and Laila, I’m starting to wonder more how that’s going to work out.
What does the reader know about Ian at this point? Enough to feel connected?
What about Laila? Did chapter 3 develop her story and background like Ian’s?
If the beginning chapters are about starting to develop their characters - What’s the draw to pull them together after the brief fireworks in chapter one?
I have no answers to these questions. Now that I’ve decided to keep this story going I’ve tried to make a few constraints for myself and am exploring a few questions. Everything else I guess is just continuing to fill with color as it unfolds. Going back and asking these questions after I finish rough drafts like above, helps me keep the story connected, I think?
The entire story happens over the course of a weekend
Every chapter alternates between Ian and Laila’s perspective
Both characters worlds contain a different romantic relationship, their best friend and their own processing of their place inside an extended family.
I had these pretty clear in my head but the last one I guess I’m just making some decisions on right now. I want there to be a lot of symmetry between how Ian and Laila develop, I haven’t introduced another relationship in Ian’s life… Maybe that will come in the next section of Chapter 4.
That feels like enough reflection or critique on this wobbly story for now.