The Bookmaker: Part I


I’ve stated in earlier posts of my intention to begin sharing a writing project with you all on here. It’s unfinished and underdeveloped, but I hope the process of working on it here and sharing it with those of you who come across it gives me that added bit of motivation to keep it going. I know many of you out there are far more accomplished writers – I’d love to hear any feedback you might have!

As for the story itself, the opening scene began as a random shower thought, something that came to me one day inexplicably. To prevent losing it forever, I quickly typed it out into a few paragraphs, and it stayed that way, dormant for two years before I decided to pick it back up again over the last few months. Truthfully, I haven’t flushed out all the details as of yet – or even how it will ultimately end – that’s a journey we’ll have to go on together.

The opening scene introduces you to John, a thirty something year old who while working to better himself both personally and professionally, will find himself at several consequential crossroads. Crossroads that are a product of his environment, for better or for worse, that could lead to him greatly improving his station in life or lead to his downfall. Enjoy.

Part I

It started out like any other Thursday night for John Rioli. He had just gotten done eating a quick dinner, showered and headed out the door. His slicked back black hair, still wet from the shower began to harden around his head as he walked through the frosty, December air. It was cold, but a comfortable cold. The type of cold that made you feel alive and confident. 

The street was quiet, brownstones lined the block on both sides, and there wasn’t much going on at the time. Several homes were decorated for Christmas, with wreathes on the doors and lights strung around railings, fire escapes and shining through windows. The sound of his heels clacking against the sidewalk filled the air. John was well dressed. Polished black leather dress shoes, black slacks, a pressed white dress shirt, maroon colored tie, dark grey vest all beneath his black wool overcoat and scarf.

Up ahead as John was approaching the end of the block and reaching the intersecting avenue, it got louder and brighter. The quiet respite of the brownstone lined side street was over and now there was no mistaking where he was, New York City during Christmas. He took a right at the corner and proceeded down the avenue. The sights and sounds were all too familiar; double parked cars, throngs of people pouring into and out of restaurants and stores. On the corner, just beside the subway entrance, a Salvation Army Santa rang his bell.

John made the walk almost daily. It was a short walk, less than a mile, sixteen minutes door to door to be exact. As he stopped at another corner along the way to wait for the light, he glanced at his watch. It was just about ten to seven, and he was nearly there, plenty of time. As he continued to wait for an opportunity to cross the street, he reached into his pocket to pull out his cigarettes. He turned, shielding himself from the wind and lit one up, taking a long drag before exhaling. The light turned green and just as he stepped off the curb and into the crosswalk, he heard shouting from behind him.

“Hey J.R.! Johnnie!”

He turned around to see a familiar face from the neighborhood, Mark LaVance.

John made eye contact with Mark and offered a wry smile while walking over, the two shook hands.

“What’s up Mark?”

“We gonna see you there tonight?”

“Yep, heading over now. Should be a wild one.”

“I’m sure. Well, I don’t wanna keep you. I’ll see you over there tonight – wife is dragging me out to do some shopping, but we’ll talk later.”

“Sounds good. Good luck out there. And say hello to Kim for me.”

“Will do.”

John crossed the street and took one final drag of his cigarette before flicking it into the gutter. He checked his appearance in the reflection of the window of a parked car, made sure his hair was in place, straightened his tie and collar and turned around to see that a line had already begun to form to get inside. It was an old limestone building that resembled an old bank that had been renovated and converted into a high-end bar and restaurant. The flickering neon light in the window read Falcon Blue. It was one of the neighborhood hotspots, and being the last Thursday before Christmas, it was sure to be alive with office holiday parties, people blowing off steam after work, city tourists and of course the regulars that didn’t need any particular reason to be there.

John walked up to a mountain of a man who stood outside, they exchanged nods and the man patted John on the back as he ushered him through the door. Cigarette smoke filled the place, along with loud conversations, laughter, sports arguments – as it happened, both the Knicks and Rangers were playing tonight. All the things you’d expect to see and hear in a busy New York City bar on December 23, 1993. Ironically, beneath all the commotion, you could faintly make out Frank Sinatra’s rendition of Silent Night coming from the jukebox. Walking into a back room just beside the bar, John removed his coat and scarf, hanging them on a coat rack. He unbuttoned his cuffs and rolled up his sleeves, glancing again at his watch. 6:59. Showtime.

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