Saturday, August 6, 2022

Inspiration for the characters in my book Shatter by Jay Lang

My inspiration for this first chapter was to showcase how a chain of events can lead people down a path they never dreamt of going down. In the city of Vancouver B.C, there are areas with large populations of homeless, drug addicted and mentally ill people. It is against this backdrop where my story begins.

Chapter One

    The only thing more terrifying than the sounds of her screams, was when they stopped altogether. Their fights were brutal and frequent and were usually a result of whatever drug they had indulged in. In the morning's we would help clean up the debris and by evening, our lives would go back to normal—existing in pre-chaos. But this time was different. We could feel it. Something sinister and scary had happened. We just didn’t know what.

Chapter Two

  I sit on the thin mattress and rest my back against the paint chipped wall in my small apartment. Staring at the sun-bleached picture of my family on top of the TV, I listen to the low buzz coming from the broken neon sign outside my window. It’s been a long day. Ten hours in the pit, pulling wrenches at Ziggy’s Garage while my young boss, Rae, blasts rap music. I’ve got to make a change soon; this shit is getting old.  I hear yelling from the street and crawl over my bed and look out the window. Hasting’s Street is the go-to place for the wondering souls who have lost their way and found their misfortunes.

While I pull back the sheer curtain, my eyes sweep the street to find the source of the noise. A street lamp lights the entrance to the dark alley at the side of my building.  It’s not uncommon to see three or four homeless with drug dealers hanging around. Across the street is Leung’s Chinese restaurant, a cheap place to eat that’s open late which makes it a beacon for riffraff and night walkers. 

Just as I turn away, I hear the scream again. Looking back to the road, I see a man wearing dark clothes run out of the alley and into the street. He stops, grabs his gut, and keels over. An elderly man pushing an overloaded cart walks past him, pauses and then continues walking.  A part of me wants to run down and make sure the injured guy is okay, but another part of me says that it could be a trap. One too many times, I’ve watched as someone fakes an injury and a good Samaritan stops to help, only to have the ‘injured’ man’s accomplice jump out of the darkness and rob the do-gooder—no thanks. I’ll just call the cops and watch from the safety of my window. Even though I’m too many floors up to be a credible witness to what’s happening on the street below, I dial 911 and tell the dispatch girl what I just saw. She tells me that she's received other calls pertaining to the incident and that she's sending a car around.

I watch as the man fights to stand. If he is pulling a scam, he's good. Then, from the same dark alley, another man appears. He's wearing a beige jacket and a baseball cap. He bee-lines it for the wobbling man, pulls out something shiny, and without pausing, aims it at the guy’s head. Next, I hear the booming echo of a gunshot, as it bounces off the building's and shakes the windows. A spray of red fluid blows out the back of the man’s head; his body drops to the pavement like a ragdoll. The shooter doesn't run; instead, he looks both ways and steadily continues to walk until he's out of view. A minute later, I hear the sound of siren's get louder. I watch as the cop car pulls up and stops within feet of the shooting, illuminating the blood and matter around the body.

Instantly, my stomach feels queasy and my mouth fills with water. I just saw someone get their head blown off! What kind of fucked up shit is that? A wave of anxiety rushes through me like electricity. I quickly reach for my phone.

Jason answers almost immediately. “How’s my favorite girl?”

“Right now, I’m about two seconds from losin’ it.”

“Why? What’s up?”

“Let’s just say I won’t be eating spaghetti for a while.”

“Let me guess, you went on a date with an Italian chick and despite her being great in the sack, she couldn’t cook worth shit?”

“I’ll give you marks for imagination, but you’re way off. I just saw some guy get his brains blown out.”

   “You were freak-watching again, weren’t you?”   

     "I heard a noise, so I looked. And, just because they're street people doesn't mean they're freaks."

My goal was to humanize those who are shunned and misunderstood by the upper classes. The protagonist in this story, Jules Gordon, is a product of her environment and is fighting hard to overcome her past. Even though Jules strives to move away from the slums, she also sees the people around her as having value and importance.


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