Got a tip? Excerpt from Tipped In
Tipped In is a novel in progress by Martha Lea, creative writing student with OCA. Martha’s work has been highlighted to us at HQ recently and we are pleased to give you a taste of her writing here. It comes from Chapter Two, set in Edinburgh.
‘What’s this – what the?’ you said, pointing at the pictures on the walls. The young man put your luggage on the floor near the bed, straightened up and started to speak but you stopped him.
‘Forget it. Send me some extra bath towels – please,’ you counted the pictures; uplighting caught naked flesh. You looked straight at him but he wouldn’t catch your eye, only nodded to the middle distance.
‘Five of the largest, certainly,’ he said and then you tipped him properly; it wasn’t his fault. You knew about the fine line between personal service and the service being too personal. The young man left the room and you turned your back to the pictures, a voice, clear as anything in your head, Classy classy. Veery nice, darlin’. Give me another. Classee. Classic bones you’ve got, sweetheart. Structure, it’s all about structure and that’s what you’ve got. But it doesn’t matter how classic your bone structure is when it’s taken apart and strewn across the country.
The frame corners were snug inside the towels and your own bones just as snug. Tightly jointed. Every one of them exactly where they were meant to be.
You listened to the quiet thud of your heart. On the edge of the bed you sat waiting for the beat to stop twanging the springs. Finally then, you dragged the stranger’s coat over to your side and slipped a hand into all the pockets. It wouldn’t be necessary to start on the bag. The pack of business cards said that his name was Quillam Wall. The message you sent him read:
Still watching over your things. Will drop off at police station tomorrow a.m.
Better to be as impersonal as you could make it. No, Hiya, or Cheers, or anything like that. You didn’t owe him, he owed you. But you obscured that thought, turned off your phone and ran a hot bath.
In the morning you found out that all the rooms had the same artwork. They told you some person might come up and fanny about with a screwdriver but you didn’t hope for anything. And you didn’t turn your phone on.
The cab waited while you went into the cop shop. In you go, you said to yourself: steel yourself, it will be over in a minute.
Mottled hues of uncooked sausage shone through the client’s stockings where lumpy flesh bulged over the t-strap of almost fashionable problem feet shoes. The client’s smile flowed down the steps to land somewhere in the middle of your chest. You imagined the cross-hairs steadying.
‘Charlie Mason,’ you offered her your hand, taking two steps up.
The eyes widened, just for a second, before crinkling. Her handshake was negligible and dry. You try to see past the varicose mapwork but even as a toddler, you feel this person was propelled about on those mottled legs and wore the same cutting glance designed for strangers’ intentions. You feel her eyes slice right down into the soft part of your bones.
Martha Lea 2011
4 thoughts on “Got a tip? Excerpt from Tipped In”
Fascinating and original. Put me down to buy one as soon as it comes out. Congrats Martha!
Thanks, Folio. It’s great to have work featured here!
Well done, Martha – grand to read your work here and feel I’ve met you a little through the student forums. I’m intrigued to see that your story is set in Edinburgh (where I live). Like Mary, I’m looking forward to reading more.
Wonderful writiing, Martha, as ever – it was a real pleasure to tutor you at the OCA.
Very best wishes