Old School Tie

Entry by: redmug

10th July 2015
Old school Tie
A Short Story in Search of a Novelist

Much can hang by a thread, one man's self-esteem or another man's life. Roger Farrant had spun the thread of his life from almost nothing and this was beginning to show. Seen from the outside his life was a series of baffling contrasts. He had shone at boarding school, dazzled at Cambridge and then faded. He had a record of succeeding at dreams but failing in practice. The idea that shaped his life was spun froma dream, deeply felt, worthy, intelligent but only a dream. The world had seen a priviledged young man following an erratic downward course. He, however, had seen , as clearly as if it had been already achieved, the full life of a writer.
Can somebody suffer so much, feel so much, dream so much and not be a beacon to others? Had not his uncle achieved this as a painter? after the motorbike accident that killed his uncle, Max Maslow, a leading figure in early 21st century British art, Roger had inherited much along with a considerable fortune and the mangled motorbike, he inherited the mantle of artistic expectations. The motorbike, the Thunderer, had been his uncle's trademark, his talisman. roger had it restored and gloated. He smelled it, hecaressed it, had himself photographed astride it. It invoked its spirit. He told himself that he had only to ride the bike to an adventure to give birth, finally, to the great work he knew was within him.
A man lacking spirit would have basked in the kudos , spent the fortune and kept his feet on the ground. a talented man would have ridden it to some purpose. But a man with nothing but dreams risked disappointment at best.
At the time of the following events Roger had ridden the bike dream as far as Pamplona and had taken a small house on a sun scorched hill a few miles to the west in the tiny village of Cizur Minor. With his front door opening onto the pilgrim path to Santiago Roger had immediately sensed that this was the perfect place for a writer. A year passed and then another as he sat in daily conversation with his deliberately old-fashioned Remington typewriter. Many writing projects were finished, many more started and he was surrounded by the detritus. Endless papers, paperback novels in, now, two languages, his old school and college graduation photographs, and opened letters. these last were almost only rejection letters, the most hurtful from old school friends now making it in the media companies. So much for the old boy network he mused angrilly over endless glasses of the local Rioja. The bitterness of the strong tannins mingling with that of increasingly obvious failure.
The thunderer now measured not his hope but his frustration and was half forgotten in an outhouse. his dream of being a writer was kept alive only by a belief that a man of his calibre, his privileges and his education and connections surely must, one day, gain recognition. Even though his old school tie meant nothing in the backwater of Cizur Minorhe started wearing it, sometimes just over a T-shirt. It identified him with the elite he felt, distinguished him from the common man .
One day in early October one such commoner arrived in his life. Sitting almost aimlessly at his Remington Roger noticed the short figure of a back-packing pilgrim nosing around the church, like the hundreds who passed each week. At first Roger had eagerly conversed with some of them, expecting to be envied in his writers' lair. Thruthfully most had been glad to get away. This one was different. He approached Roger saying,
'What a place for a writer!'
He was ushered in. Roger felt, for a while, that he had been recognized, finally, for what he felt himself, sometimes knew himself, to be. He had been called a writer. A writer!
The pilgrim looked around Rogers study, read a page here, a paragraph there and some lines designed to be the blurb on the back of novels yet to find a publisher and promotion. Then the pilgrim mentioned his own work. He announced that Cizur Minor would be where he would stay for a month, perhaps two, to finish his own novel. He expected Roger to be thrilled to be in the company of a talented writer on the verge of success. He was wrong.
As Roger read the outsider's work he was entranced and appalled in equal measure. This common man ( he hadn't even recognized the proudly worn school tie) had a straight forward style that could reach many and an uncommon way of showing readers their own inner thoughts. He realised that the pilgrims initial remark had been self-referential. The pilgrim stood with the many others who had not seen his dream as a reality. The other man's talent burned his eyes like the scorching Spanish sun.
Roger removed his tie and held it taunt as he stood behind the pilgrim who was laughing as he wrote up his writers' diary. He knew that the old school would strangle one of them - but which?
He imagined the police finding the body at the desk, finding his own gorged by one of the Thunderer's handlebars inthe bull run streets of Pamplona. What luck tomorrow was St Firmin's day, the bull run day ,Hemingway's ,bull run day.