“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” ~Plato
Welcome back to Writing Wednesdays!
Today, I am introducing the novel that I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2013. I hope you enjoy it! It’s a little longer than my 2012 attempt, which was I was originally striving for. One of these days, one November, I hope to reach the ultimate 50,000 words in 30 days.
But, for now, I’m just happy that for three years running, I’ve bested the previous year’s word count.
Enjoy the beginning!
Working Title: “Specialton”
Word Count, as of November 18, 2013: 14,247 words
A builder had a vision. John Alspice built a reputation from the ground up, literally. No one in his family had ever gone into construction, much less earn a Master’s degree. In the early 1950s, his father was very high up in the local bank; his mother, a homemaker with another daughter and son to raise. Through age-old hard work and perseverance, John studied architecture and business throughout college and graduate school, holding on to his dream of building the best neighborhoods for the most amazing families. He never realized that he would become part of a neighborhood so astounding. John built the neighborhood and then never left. He’s 85 years old and his proudest accomplishment, in his illustrious six-decade career, is Specialton.
John was 25 years old when he received his Master’s in business that May, bound and determined to settle the post-war land into sprawling suburbia for those who wanted the American dream. His family was surprised, but proud. His father had seen his architectural renderings. John had studied and admired Frank Lloyd Wright, he didn’t want to build another cookie-cutter Levittown. He wanted his houses to be unique, yet affordable.
Thank goodness John’s father was a banker with seniority. That’s where he started to begin financing his company – JLA Construction. However, it took more than one loan. But John started with what he was given – He was raised that way. He knew he had to be careful with the $25,000 that was offered – He didn’t know what would come next.
After securing the generous loan, John sought out his first workers. He naturally turned to his architecture classmates for their input. A couple of them signed on immediately, intrigued by John’s drive and vision – Robert, Frank, Donald. Those who didn’t want to commit right then, mostly those who were either engaged or married, promised to spread the word. Within a few weeks, John had assembled a stellar team of 25 designers and workers, ready to kick off JLA Construction. They also broke stereotypes – They had a female designer, Evelyn, and a few black construction workers – Howard, Carl, Albert, and Louis.
The next step was to work together to create a strategy and secure more funding. John didn’t realize it at first, but the team he’d assembled was more than just designers and construction workers. Several of the families of these 20- and 30-somethings were very well-off and used their social graces to drum up contributions and ideas. And those who weren’t wealthy contributed in other invaluable ways – Food, office supplies, and best of all – their mouths. Word spread like wildfire from place to place.
Word spreading wasn’t always positive, however. John almost immediately ran into naysayers and some stiff competition. John knew how to deal with the naysayers and the prejudiced – He ignored that and focused inwardly on his vision. He was fortunate that there were enough people behind him to mainly protect the women and the blacks, since there was still great turmoil in America then.
Weeks went by, then months. By November, six months in, no land had been purchased. John was trying to pay everyone fairly, but more money was going out than coming in. Some of the team members were becoming restless, especially the construction workers. Suburbs were popping up everywhere and cities were developing higher and fancier office buildings – Workers were in constant demand.
Carl and Albert left first, almost without warning. They couldn’t be dragged away from the offer in Chicago. Although discouraged, John worked hard to keep up morale.
Another seven months, and still nothing. John was running out of money and growing desperate that June. He’d lost over 40 percent of his original team. They weren’t angry with John – but most were starting families and needed stable income to support them.
Those who were left – John, Evelyn, Howard, Frank, Billy, Mary Anne, plus the construction team – were still holding on to John’s vision. These people were convinced that John would realize his dream, no matter how long it took.
Evelyn was one of John’s biggest supporters. She’d been attracted to him right after he hired her. She wanted to impress him as a ground-breaking female architectural grad from another college. She loved design, both inside and out. Evelyn not only wanted to help design John’s dream – She wanted to design the perfect family. However, she knew that love and marriage would come after the company started succeeding. She was okay with that – She was in for the long haul with John.
Finally, on an unseasonable chilly and rainy July afternoon, the phone rang. Mary Anne, as the secretary, picked it up and said in her syrupy voice:
“JLA Construction. Mary Anne speaking, how may I direct your call?”
“Yes, ma’am. This is Edward Clinton with the county. I believe we may have a tract of land for sale …”
Mary Anne struggled to maintain her composure, but Evelyn saw right through it. She banged, hard, into John’s office door, even though he despised being distributed. Her grin made his annoyance go away.
“There’s something? Finally? Is that Ed? Mary Anne, put him on my line, now!”
Mary Anne, startled, started stuttering. When she realized that Mr. Clinton was still on the phone, she flushed a deep crimson and apologized profusely.
“Mr. Clinton, I’ll transfer you to Mr. Alspice now. Thank you.”
Once she transferred the call and heard John start to speak, Mary Anne jumped up from her desk and hugged Evelyn like they were schoolgirls. They celebrated briefly, then calmed down.
“Let’s not get carried away, Mary Anne. This may not work out … but it does feel wonderful. This is the best news we’ve had in months!”
After what felt like an hour, John hung up the phone with Ed, even though it had only been 25 minutes. He made some notes and leaned back in his chair for a moment. Evelyn and Mary Anne perceived relief through the frosted glass but couldn’t quite tell. Finally, John opened the door.
“Well, girls, it’s ours for $15,000. Its 25 beautiful acres in the next town. We got it!”
Now they celebrated. It was complete pandemonium. The cheer spread like an infection. Nothing could wipe the smiles off anyone’s face. Calls were made immediately – Champagne, chocolates, a top-of-the-line floral arrangement were all delivered within the hour. The team partied for several hours in the office.
John and Evelyn finally consummated their relationship with a champagne-flavored kiss. And that wasn’t the one – Several other trysts occurred within the team throughout the night. No one cared who was with whom in that office and what anyone was doing – They were celebrating their first victory.
After the team staggered out, drunk and happy at half past midnight, only John and Evelyn remained. Their kisses turned into embraces, and soon a trail of clothes led the way to John’s office. Evelyn danced, naked, on top of John’s desk. She drunkenly kicked his neat and organized files on the floor. John staggered about to save the paperweights and lamp, then encircled her hourglass waist. He carefully helped her lay down on her back. She shivered as her skin touched the smooth wood, but she flamed and moaned as John entered her. They made love for the first time right there, kicking off the first drawings in Evelyn’s design.
John called everyone the next morning – He told everyone to take Thursday and Friday off, plus the weekend.
“Relax, spend time with your families – Because on Monday, we’re hitting the ground running. And we’re not going to stop until we’re done. Prepare yourselves. Step one is done, but we’ve got a marathon ahead of us. Good work – See you Monday.”
John and Evelyn shacked up for those blissful four days, just enjoying each other. And it wasn’t just the sex, although that was a major bonus. John admitted that he’d been smitten with her since her interview. She was stunned, but thrilled.
They both felt guilty about leaving John’s office in shambles the previous night, but no one would know since they’d be the first two in the office, bright and early on Monday morning.
She admitted that she’d never had sex on a company president’s desk while drunk and in the heat of passion, and she’d was hungry to do it again.
John just smiled, took her hand, and proceeded to make love to her in every single room of his house.
Monday morning, John and Evelyn arrived two hours earlier than clock in time, hand in hand. Before reorganizing John’s office, they made love on his desk again, and it was just as wonderful as the first time that chilly Thursday morning. Then they got to work, making sure everything was ready to help JLA Construction start down their first solid path.
The first order of business was to finalize the $15,000 payment to the county. Not wanting to overwhelm the county clerk with the whole team showing up all at once, John only took Mary Anne with him. Evelyn pined for him the entire time they were gone, but she knew that he would never touch Mary Anne. Besides, Mary Anne had called on Friday, saying that she was thoroughly enjoying the extended weekend with Frank.
John and Mary Anne returned after lunch, deed and county maps in hand. They pushed all the tables together in the middle of the office to spread out the maps. John had made it clear that everything was to be studied, no stone left unturned. He wanted to know anything and everything – good or bad – to help make this happen. Everyone was high on energy and analyzed every square inch of those 25 acres clear through to 8:00 that night. Notes were taken frantically and ideas slowly began to take shape.
John only had one request once the process kicked off that Monday afternoon – Everyone on the team should contribute ideas, and every idea should be considered.
Within the first week, plots and plans were in full swing. John and the others put their heads together and figured out that if every home was built on a quarter of an acre, then they could build 100 houses on that 25 acres. But then they laughed – Where would the streets go? Would there be a neighborhood park or community space? Besides, 100 houses was a lot for just one neighborhood in the county.
Back to the drawing board they went, and the ideas just kept flowing. They didn’t want a neighborhood, they wanted a community where people could live and grow for years.
The team started touring other neighborhoods, both old and new, within 100 miles of their land. John called them field trips, and he would rotate the team so that everyone would have a chance to explore and contribute. No field trip was complete without visiting the land offices for maps and other information gathering; it was research. Everyone was brainstorming and helping each other out, and everything seemed to be going splendidly.
The planning continued. The enthusiasm was high for the first two weeks, then it started to wane. Everyone was contributing ideas, but there was tension with some of them. The designers and the construction workers started to clash over building materials. John was the center of this brainchild, and he became increasingly frustrating that little disagreements were turning into bigger and bigger fights and arguments.
Even relationships started to be affected, especially with John and Evelyn. In the beginning, everything was practically perfect, with the sale of the land and the excitement over creating something amazing for their county. However, Evelyn was the first to notice more alcohol flow into the office, and then seeing the majority of those bottles heading to John’s office.
She didn’t mind that he drank; she knew that it was in part stress relief for him. He’d been under tremendous pressure to get the business off the ground, with generous loans to repay and a pretty big payroll to fulfill. Now that they had a massive tract of land, the pressure was only building. She also didn’t mind that his drinking fueled a lot of their sexual experiences, since all she wanted to do most workdays was send everyone else home and just shack up with him in his office or at his home. But it wasn’t long before she started to grow concerned about him. She wanted to be as supportive as possible, but knowing the times, she knew that she needed to be submissive as well. Even if she didn’t want to have sex one particular night – If he wanted it from her, she make sure that he’d get it.
One Tuesday night in early September, Evelyn finally reached her breaking point. John was starting to get drunk during the workdays – So much so that he could barely take phone calls because of his alarmingly slurred speech. Before Mary Ann left for the night, Evelyn asked to review the recent financial records, to see what was happening with the company money. To her shock and disapproval, more than half of that month’s budget was already gone – all on alcohol, expensive drink too. She snapped.
Not caring about what John thought at that moment, she picked the lock on John’s office door with a bobby pin and stormed in. She was in a fury – They had a community to build, and everything was appearing to go straight down the drain.
I hope you enjoyed it!
Come back next week for more.
Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂