Seven Days, Seven Blogs, Seven Chapters
Day Four, Chapter Four
The Distant Sound of Violence by Jason Greensides
Relaunch Blog Tour
To celebrate the relaunch and Kindle $0.99 / £0.99 promotion of Jason Greensides’s acclaimed literary coming-of-age debut, The Distant Sound of Violence, you can read the first seven chapters on seven different blogs over seven days. I’m proud to host Jason for day four of the tour, featuring chapter four.
Book Content Rating: Adult, based on language, violence, and sexual content
Synopsis: Do we ever escape the decisions we make when we’re fifteen?
Nathan Dawes, the loser from school, an outsider, street philosopher and member of The Grove Runners gang, needs Ryan’s help to get Stephanie to fall for him. When Ryan’s lawnmower is stolen, Nathan sees this as his chance to enlist Ryan in his plan.
Although Ryan knows becoming friends with Nathan could lead to trouble, he reluctantly agrees to help.
Stephanie wants nothing to do with either of them. Besides, she’s more interested in the one guy in the world she really shouldn’t be.
As Nathan continues his pursuit of Stephanie, and Ryan gets mixed up with The Grove Runners, soon events overtake them all, haunting their lives for years to come.
This intelligent and compelling debut is a heart-breaking tale of bad decisions and love gone wrong. It’s about choices that lead to violence, loss and tragedy.
That evening as I was delivering the bad news to Nathan about my chat with Stephanie, Stephanie herself, still dressed in her school uniform, was sat on her bedroom windowsill. Taylor was sat on the floor, her legs stretched out in front her, her feet encased in yellow and black striped socks.
‘You’re not considering it, are you?’ Taylor said, her glossy mouth hanging open moronically.
‘Don’t give me that, you’ve had a face like a used sanitary towel all afternoon. Dawes, of course.’
‘Ugh, no.’ She was in fact conflicted. Not about Nathan Dawes – that would never happen – but about the thought of someone fancying her. She was more mystified, like hearing about some quirky rite from a distant culture, how anyone could fancy her, with her crappy clothes, squinty eyes, and worst of all, her funny front teeth, angled inwards, as if she’d worn braces two years longer than she should have. No, something must be wrong with that Nathan guy.
‘Are you sure?’ Taylor went on. ‘I don’t need to tell you what a loser he is. If you need a boyfriend – and I think you should consider it, it would lighten you up a bit – come clubbing with me. I meet hot guys all the time.’
The only thing worse than getting a boyfriend, Stephanie reflected, was going to some sleazy club she was too young to get into with Taylor, who would leave her standing alone while she got off with every boy in sight. ‘I don’t think so,’ Stephanie said. ‘Maybe after exams…’
Taylor regarded her questioningly, almost sneeringly, apparently not used to anyone saying they could wait until after exams to get a boyfriend.
Then Taylor’s eyes began twinkling in mischief, her tongue plunging into the side of her too-wet mouth. Evidently Taylor was undergoing the ravages of a new thought. She leaned forward to get Stephanie’s full attention and said, ‘Can I ask you a personal question?’
Stephanie groaned through gritted teeth. ‘If you must.’
Taylor framed her question slowly, tentatively, as if she knew it might hurt her friend, yet compelled to ask it nonetheless. ‘What’s your magic number?’
Stephanie laughed, thankful the question wasn’t embarrassing at all. Out of all the numbers that had meant something to her over the years, she settled on her old house number. ‘Forty-seven.’
Taylor exploded into laughter. ‘Forty-seven?’ she screamed. ‘Forty-seven?’ She turned purple as she tried to control herself.
‘Yes,’ Stephanie said, attempting a smile to show she was willing to join in with the joke, ‘what’s so funny about that?’
‘You’ve snogged forty-seven boys, you little slut!’
Stephanie cringed, her smile faltering. ‘Oh, that’s what magic number means.’
When Taylor had gained control of herself and her face had returned to its normal off-white, she said, ‘God, Stephanie, forty-seven; and here I was thinking how frigid you looked.’
Stephanie snapped. ‘Oh, for God’s sake, Taylor, I haven’t kissed any boys, not even one. My magic number is zero.’
Taylor cleared her throat. ‘Oh, I’m sorry. You mean to tell me you’ve never kissed a boy, like, ever? That’s er…’
‘No,’ Taylor replied, trying to find the correct word, ‘it’s…tragic.’ And without further ado, Taylor tucked her legs beneath her bum and jumped up. She strolled over to the Fantasia calendar pinned to the far wall. ‘What the hell is this?’
Because Taylor’s back was to her, Stephanie rolled her eyes as far back as they would go and said in a bored tone, ‘It’s a calendar.’
‘Well, duh. But what are all these R’s?’
That day in her first week of term, Stephanie had been restless. She’d taken down the calendar and written a capital R in every blank square, right up until the last day of exams on 22 June 1992. ‘It stands for revision,’ she said.
Taylor shook her head, her blond spikes gleaming. ‘What kind of freak writes in R for every single day of the year, including Christmas and New Year? Who even wants to do that much revision?’
‘Me, I guess.’ Was her so-called friendship with Taylor even worth it? She was just one rung lower on the ladder of annoyingness than her mum. Taylor, however, was the only friend Stephanie had made at school, and she wanted to hold onto her.
But why did she have to make her feel so bad about everything? And now what was she doing?
Taylor ripped off the pen from the top of the pinboard. ‘Right…’ she was muttering, wriggling the pen as she surveyed the calendar, ‘we’re gonna sort this.’ Her chubby finger ran along the dates up until the last day of exams. She scribbled out the final R, and in the square next to it, with an arrow pointing left, wrote FK.
Stephanie jumped up in horror, bolted over to the calendar and tried to snatch back the pen. Taylor dodged away and kept the pen behind her back.
‘I’m just trying to help you,’ Taylor insisted.
‘What, by scribbling filth on my calendar? If my mum sees that…’ She could see it now: her mum walking into her room to see that her daughter planned to F**K on the last day of term. She made another frantic grab for the pen, but Taylor held her at bay.
‘What filth? What are you on about?’
‘You know exactly what I mean. FK? Fuck? You expect me to have sex on some prearranged date like some common slag.’
‘Oh, no,’ Taylor giggled, relaxing and offering her the pen back, a look of pity upon her squished face. ‘That’s not what it means. It means first kiss, babe. FK: first kiss? And it doesn’t mean you have to do it on June twenty-second either, just sometime before.’
Stephanie squeezed her eyes closed and wished a plane on its way to Heathrow would crash into the house, killing them both. How uncool could she possibly look? It was bad enough getting the whole FK thing wrong, but the way she’d freaked out about the thought of having sex was shameful.
Without taking the pen, Stephanie slumped back on the bed, unable to look Taylor in the eye. She was dimly aware of Taylor re-capping the pen and placing it back on the pinboard. Stephanie plucked up the nearest textbook and peered inside.
It was silent for some time as Stephanie pretended to read the textbook and Taylor examined the posters on the wall. The shouting kids, the screech and lurch of buses and other traffic, filtered through the open window.
Eventually Taylor, in a softer tone than before, broke the deadlock. ‘Isn’t there anyone at school you want to kiss?’
‘No. They’re all gross.’
‘We’ve got just about every race on the planet in our school, and there’s not even one person you’d consider?’
Should she say Nathan Dawes – not because she wanted to kiss him (which of course she didn’t) – but just to annoy Taylor? Oh, what’s the point? ‘No, no one,’ she said.
Taylor, however, had already moved on. ‘Oohh…’ she groaned, ‘what about him?’ She was still in the area of the pinboard, but Stephanie couldn’t tell whether she was referring to one of the posters by it or one of the photos on it. ‘He is so gorgeous,’ Taylor moaned. ‘No, it’s more than that. He’s…beautiful.’
Her interest awakened at what had got her friend into such an excited state, Stephanie closed the textbook and joined Taylor.
When Stephanie saw the photo Taylor was salivating over, her skin prickled, and her heart raced into oblivion.
‘Well, what do you reckon? Why don’t you kiss him?’ Taylor tore her gaze from the photo and, looking askance at Stephanie, said, ‘Oh my God. What is wrong with you? You’ve turned white. No, that’s not right – you’re grey.’
The back of Stephanie’s mouth seemed to shrivel and the room began to spin. She sat on the bed and held her head.
‘Jesus,’ Taylor joked, sitting beside her, her stupid black and yellow socks making Stephanie’s stomach fizz, ‘I know he’s hot, but this is crazy.’
What had come over her? She’d been feeling weird all afternoon. Maybe she was coming on.
‘I’m OK,’ Stephanie said once the room had stopped spinning.
But wasn’t there a part of her that wanted to kiss the man in the photo? Who wouldn’t want those dark brown, forlorn eyes staring into theirs, or to run their fingers over that light, heroic stubble and wide-set jaw. Who wouldn’t want those juicy lips pressed against theirs?
Yes, he was worth swooning over.
Taylor was right. Her brother was beautiful.
The Distant Sound of Violence is on sale $0.99 / £0.99 Kindle countdown deal from Tuesday 29th September to Sunday 4th October!
Jason Greensides has a degree in Video Production and Film Studies and has made several short films, two of which have been broadcast on television – but writing fiction is his real passion.
He’s interested in ‘outsider’ types, people operating on the edge of society. This inspired him to write his first novel, The Distant Sound of Violence. It’s about a group of kids, one in particular, Nathan Dawes, whose philosophical obsessions and criminal connections have made him an outcast at school.
Jason is now working on his second novel, another coming-of-age mystery, but on coffee breaks he blogs and tweets about writing, and throws in the occasional book review.
Connect with Jason —
Google Plus: plus.google.com/+JasonGreensides
Amazon page: amazon.co.uk/Jason-Greensides