Thought I’d share a sneak peek at my prose novel, “The Pantheon Bell”. Enjoy:
The Pantheon Bell
by Darrin O’Toole
“The pain begins again” Carl Roberts thought to himself as he gazed out the window. He looked at the dull Vegas sky and smirked to himself. “Rare to be cloudy this time of year” he thought. The grey clouds stretched to the horizon encasing the sky as far as he could see from the small window. He remembered the last time he saw clouds like them from an aeroplane window. It was five years ago, and Jenny was sat beside him on a flight which was heaven compared to the misery he endured each week when he boarded this A380 Airbus.
Jenny had the most beautiful smile that day. He’d been working non-stop for months and had finally gotten some well earned rest time. Jenny had always wanted to go to Hawai’i and this seemed like the perfect trip to atone for the lack of attention she was receiving from Carl since the wedding. They both knew when he accepted this position that there would be long absences from home, but their love would see them through it. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder, or so they say.
Conversation was scarce on the plane to Hawai’i. Carl found it hard to strike up conversation. Jenny had told him about the trip to the doctor, and how excited she was at the prospect of being a mother. She asked about work, but Carl reminded her that he was unable to discuss his current research. Small talk, quickly faded, but Carl was entranced by Jenny’s warm, loving smile, a smile that was just happy to be beside its lovers lips. As the plane descended onto the Hawaiian landing strip, he saw that loving smile devolve into a look of disappointment on Jenny’s face. He turned, and gazing out the window saw the dark, grey clouds descend upon their beautiful Hawaiian sky.
Things have changed since Hawai’i, Carl thought. He hadn’t seen Jenny in over two years. She moved out shortly after Amy was born, blaming his absence from the house for long periods as the reason for her leaving. She just didn’t know him anymore. She said he’d become distant, private. Then in her darkest hour she met James, and James was everything Carl used to be. They live in Malibu now, where every day the sun tears the sky apart with not a cloud in sight.
“Why me?” wondered Carl. He’d spent five years in M.I.T. studying quantum physics, and graduated top of his year. He’d been a model citizen all of his life. When he took this job, he thought all of his dreams had been fulfilled…the great house, the dream job, the loving wife and child. Wasn’t this what life was all about?
Now Carl reminisced on the previous weekend. The plane returned them Friday night. He jumped on his connecting flight from Vegas to Denver. The cab driver drove him home, and waited outside in his musty cab while Carl left his luggage inside the house. Moments later, Carl returned and the musty cab delivered him as usual to The Back Gate.
The Back Gate was Carl’s regular haunt on Fridays. It was a place where a man could find solace in a shot glass, a place where Carl could go and sit without some stranger asking intrusive questions about him or his life. “Just me and my good pal Jack Daniels” Carl often muttered sarcastically as he downed another glass of the dark, apathetic liquid.
Hours later, Carl returned to a place that used to be a home. He sat swallowing large volumes of his friend JD and waited for the doorbell. After what seemed like an eternity to Carl it chimed out, and he rushed to the door with eager anticipation.
As the door opened, he staggered back and saw the familiar sight of Rebecca standing soaking wet in the frame of the door. “This was the last time” Carl thought as she walked in, flicking a cigarette back out the doorway as she entered. She moved over towards him and kissed him, a dark shadow of a feeling he’d once experienced in this house. She pulled him past the toppled lamp into the bedroom. The smell of the room reminded him of the evenings earlier cab ride. She turned to him and removed her jacket. She tossed her skirt in the same direction as the jacket, and the rest of her clothing quickly followed. Carl fell on the bed and as Rebecca began working on him he wondered to himself if Fred was doing the same thing.
Pulling himself back from the miserable memory, he turned from the depressing window view on the plane and glanced at Fred. Fred had just boarded and was one of the last few stragglers still boarding the plane on the Vegas runway. Fred sat beside him, Fred’s usual emotionless expression on his face. Carl had seen that stupid expression on Fred’s face twice a week for the last three years.
“God I hate Fred” Carl thought as he gazed at the last passengers boarding the plane.
Of course, Fred wasn’t Fred’s name, but rather a name that Carl decided would most likely belong to the owner of that stupid beady face. Passengers were not permitted to talk under any circumstances, let alone divulge personal information such as names. Carl noticed that the hostess on the door was new. He looked at her shapely form and bright red hair and decided that she was much more attractive than the old hostess.
Carl imagined Fred’s life was decidedly worse than his own. This gave Carl small comfort thinking that no matter how bad his life had become, Fred’s was a living hell in comparison. He imagined that Fred wanted an easy way out more than Carl, but because of the chips implanted in the base of their necks even suicide was a choice they were deprived of.
As Carl waited for CLOUDnine to take off he wondered how it would all eventually end. “Maybe a bad meal would end it,” he thought. “Thats it.”
As the hostess leaned over Fred and handed Carl the same unimaginative breakfast he’d been eating each Monday morning since the first time he flew on CLOUDnine, he noticed that she was also new.
“Why the new cabin staff?” thought Carl as the blonde hostess moved on to the next row of passengers.
He looked at the front and rear sky marshals- both new. As the plane’s wheels left the ground, and the hostesses and marshals drew and aimed their weapons, Carl breathed a sigh of relief, thinking how after two years of thinking the same thought every Monday morning whilst aboard this flight, that maybe wishes can come true.