Following a request from family in South Africa, here’s a short piece of flash fiction called “A Friend In Zuma“.
It was a dark night over the desert. Light from the stars refused to touch the earth. Not even scorpions wanted to witness the meeting between two men splitting a decanter of Remy Martin. It tasted like rocket fuel but neither would admit it – the stuff cost $2000 a sip.
“You need a distraction,” the bald man said. “Don’t make it so bad that it sticks, just bad enough to occupy people. Sex always works.”
“No, not too young. That’s the wrong kind of bad. Make it with a woman but make sure she doesn’t talk. You need to control the conversation.”
The blonde man sipped his brandy. Liquid scorched his throat. He didn’t flinch. “I can do that. I’ll use an affair I had a while back.”
“You’ve had a few.”
The blonde man laughed. “I still do.”
Both men rocked on their heels and listened to the silence.
“I like our talks,” the blonde man finally said. “It’s not often I can have a frank and honest discussion with an equal.”
The bald man chuckled. “The world doesn’t understand us.”
Both men nodded. A cricket chirped then fell silent.
The blonde man frowned. “You think a sex scandal will be enough to divert attention?”
The bald man thought a moment. “Better add murder. Kill the girl. People will stew over that for months. By then the Russian deal will have gone through.”
The blonde man held out his hand. “Thanks again,” he said. “I value your advice.”
The bald man smiled. “You have a friend in me, Donald. Not many men can say that – but you can say you have a friend in Zuma.”
Journey note to writers: Over the last few months I’ve processed feedback from the last novel. Some of the key issues that killed it included backstory, sequencing and exposition. The way Kathryn (most awesome editor from Cornerstones Literary Agency) put it: “You cannot afford to give them (agents/editors) a single excuse to turn your work down”. When you look at it that way, it’s easy to see how all those lovely passages of prose become irrelevant. Cut whatever diverts from the story. She added that established authors get away with rambling nonsense because a fan base forgives many things. But readers still skim over the bits that don’t carry the story. As a new author, a reader won’t skim – they’ll just put your book down and not pick it up again. So back to that golden advice: “You cannot afford to give (anyone) a single excuse to turn your work down”.