'Right, sod this for a game of monkeys,' declared Lady Bartholomew, getting up and gathering her ball gown around her. 'It's Christmas Day, so I'm going back to my trailer,' she said, storming out of the paragraph, shouting behind her, 'I've got a full drinks cabinet waiting for anyone who fancies a drop.'
'What about the story?' asked Bradford, nervously. He'd never walked out on a novel in his career, but then again he'd signed up for a full print run and was now being strung out chapter by chapter in a blog. It didn't get much more humiliating.
'She's right,' said Lucas, licking his lips. 'This writer's taking the piss, if you ask me,' he added, leaving before the highly predictable asterisk turned up.
'Oh, typical, you've got a much bigger trailer than me,' declared Bradford, settling down in the couch with a large bourbon. Lady Bartholomew was drinking Guinness herself, but then again the day was young and she had every intention of getting wasted. She pulled out a packet of cigarettes.
'Whoa, you can't do that,' said Bradford, slamming his drink down forcefully. Lady Bartholomew looked confused at the outburst - as far as she was aware the smoking ban didn't apply to fiction. Bradford recognised the look, it was one of his, used throughout the majority of the book. If she'd asked, he'd have had it gift wrapped for her.
'You've already stated that you don't smoke, you're going to confuse the readers,' he said. Lady Bartholomew laughed at the thought - she didn't personally care if either reader was confused. She put her head close to Bradford's.
'What are your plans after all this finally finishes?' she asked. Bradford shrugged.
'I've been offered a supporting role in Dan Brown's new novel,' he said.
'But?' asked Lady Bartholomew, sinking the Guinness in one go and slipping a Creme de Menthe in quickly after.
'He gets bumped off in chapter forty seven,' said Bradford, sipping his bourbon carefully, he didn't want to drop the bottle. Lady Bartholomew understood immediately.
'It's not worth the effort, just to be written out on page seven,' she agreed, looking up as the trailer door opened dramatically. Belsen made his entrance.
'Hello darlings,' he said as he waltzed into the trailer, his smoking jacket fastened up carefully and his shoes shined to perfection, a cravat loosely tied around his neck. 'Be a love and get me a stiff drink, and don't spare the cherry,' he declared, a hand on his hip. Then he caught sight of Bradford.
'Oh my, who's Mister Grumpy on Christmas Day?' he asked, mincing over to his favourite lead. 'Why the long face, Braddy Babe?' he asked, adding, 'No pressies for Crimbo?' Bradford forced a smile; Belsen might be acting in the book, but the loathing was true for him. He had a pressing question, though.
'How do you do that mind reading stuff? It really freaks me out,' he asked.
'It's a trick, just a sleight of italics,' replied Belsen, flicking his fringe. 'Change the font, and while everyone's adjusting to the slope, look ahead a few lines. Easy when you know how,' he said. Ryder sidled up to them.
'So, you admit being a psychic fraud?' he asked an embarrassed Belsen.
'It's fiction, for goodness sake,' replied Belsen.
'Nobody got hurt,' interjected Lady Bartholomew. Daniels wandered over, a pint of lager in his hand.
'Except you've admitted to having two readers, are you suggesting they don't count?' he asked.
'Of course they don't count,' said Lady Bartholomew, 'otherwise they wouldn't have made it past chapter thirty. To chapter thirty three, or whatever comes next,' she said, looking flustered, reminding Bradford that the Illiterati had friends in high places.
'At least they've got a life outside of this story,' he grumbled, looking for a second bottle of Bourbon. It was only eight o'clock on Christmas morning and he'd finished his first bottle already, but then again, he was a stickler for tradition.
'Never mind all that,' interjected Lord Bartholomew, a copy of Variety in one hand, a Gin and Tonic in the other. 'It says here that the book is being filmed in the New Year, apparently the Author's struck the deal himself, wouldn't let anyone else negotiate the terms.' Bradford took the proffered newspaper and scanned the article.
'It says it's a straight-to-Betamax?' he said, furrowing his brow. He actually wanted to furrow someone else's but they were all busy in another part of the chapter.
'I suppose he knows what he's doing,' said Lord Bartholomew, unconvincingly, a sentiment shared by the readers. The unconvinced bit, that is.
'Wasn't Betamax better?' asked Lady Bartholomew.
'That's not the point,' said Bradford, pointing at her chest. Lady Bartholomew tutted.
'I think you'll find it is now,' she said, looking at his finger. Bradford retracted the digit and continued anyway.
'But nobody will be able to watch it,' he protested, to an indifferent crowd.
'As opposed to no-one reading it?' suggested Lucas, before changing the subject. 'Are we having a Christmas barbie?' he asked. Lady Bartholomew was visibly shocked, as being invisibly shocked is pretty much a waste of time in a dramatic piece, and boy, is she dramatic, thought Lucas.
'Good Lord no, we're British. We stick to tradition in this country, especially the Landed Gentry. McDonalds are preparing a take out for us later,' she huffed. 'Anyway Bradford, I've got you a present,' she declared, pulling up her ball gown and pulling out a small parcel. Bradford's heart raced, beating his kidneys by half a lap. His lungs came in third.
'For me?' he asked as he took the present off Lady Bartholomew. Pulling the paper apart he stared at the present, as he couldn't look at the past or future.
'It's my glint,' he said, popping it in, blinking rapidly as he'd got used to being without it.
Lady Bartholomew smiled to herself - the hired hand hadn't realised that she'd fobbed him off with a second hand glint, picked up at a market stall in-between chapters. Now perhaps he'd stop whinging and, more importantly, might forget about the fee.
'Time to crack open the single malt,' she declared.
'What about the turkey,' asked Bradford, showing his glint off to everyone. Lady Bartholomew huffed, it had been going so well.
You're going to have to specify which chapter you're talking about, or the glint gets returned, she said, despairing at the hired hand.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Bah Humbug; whichever applies to your personal persuasion!
Missed the beginning? Click here to go to Chapter One
'Da Dan Brown Code' will be published in early January as 'The Last Simple'. Anyone who is registered as following either my blog or Twitter account will receive instructions on how to obtain a free e-copy of 'The Last Simple' shortly after it is published.
If you've enjoyed this chapter of 'Da Dan Brown Code' and haven't read the whole story then check out the earlier chapters in my blog and, if you haven't done so already, why not follow the blog. 'Da Dan Brown Code' has been serialised three times a week on Sundays,Wednesdays and Fridays until today.
Alternatively, why not buy 'The Last Simple' when it is published - it will have all the chapters in the book, most in the right order, and also the Christmas special and the deleted chapter.
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