PAPERBACK BOOKS

THE PROCRASTINATOR


Can a man save himself by ending his life?  

On the night of September 29th, Alistair Forge - football icon, wealthy businessman and hero to the three million people of Vanguard City - is going to jump off a bridge.  It is not a spur of the moment decision; it is something he’s been scheming, planning, considering, building up to for five long years…five long years that followed The Mistake.             

And now it’s a done deal.             

But suicide isn’t as easy as Alistair thought.  His stomach says no when the inner voices say yes.  A salesman with car trouble and a cagey attitude enlists his reluctant assistance.  A former TV star turned derelict guardian angel takes up the mission to talk him down.  The spectre of his father’s lesson for success hovers over him like a pall of smoke.  And worst of all, the wife, the cops, the media and half the city descend upon the bridge to see if their hero still has what it takes…           

Satirical and stunning, The Procrastinator is a contemporary tragicomic fable that examines the nature of heroism, the weight of expectation, and the search for salvation.  It’s a novel that won’t be put off until another time.    

“Darren Groth is a fresh and exciting new voice…”

Nick Earls  

Darren Groth's dark wit is well honed and a worthy read…”

Sharp Writers Review  

“A roller coaster ride of a story…”

World Scribes Review            

In Store Price: $23.00 
Online Price:   $22.00

ISBN:1-9211-1871-7
Format: A5 Paperback
Number of pages: 180
Genre: Fiction

 


Author: Darren Groth
Imprint: Poseidon
Publisher: Poseidon Books
Date Published:  2006
Language: English

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THE AUTHOR

Darren Groth is the author of the acclaimed fiction novel MVP - MOST VALUABLE POTENTIAL; short listed for Best Young Adult Book in the 2004 Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards and lauded by The Courier-Mail, ABC Radio, 4BC Talkback and CBC’s ‘Reading Time’.  

When he’s not writing, he’s watching ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ with his beautiful Canadian wife, or head banging to Spiderbait with his four-year-old twins.

Read a sample:

The End

September 29th

9:44pm

 

Alistair Forge inhaled two lungs-full of Vanguard City smog and shut his eyes.

            “Hail Mary, full of grace-”

            (come on do it)

            “The Lord is with thee-”

            (do it you freak)

            “Blessed art thou amongst women-”

            (ashes to ashes)

            “And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus-”

            (dust to dust)

            “Holy Mary-”

            (life is shit)

            “Mother of God-”

            (so jump you must)

            “Pray for us-”

            (jump now)

            “Sinners now-”

            (Jump Now)

            “And at the hour of our death-”

            (JUMP NOW)

            “Amen.”

            He leaned forward, waited until Commitment, Drive and Focus had shifted from mind to body, then fell toward the afterlife.

 

***

 

Four minutes earlier.

 

Alistair Forge looked out from the mid-point of the Impossible Bridge - Vanguard City ’s highest and most famous bridge - and couldn’t decide.

            Was this evening, with its invigorating breezes and its smoky moon, the most appropriate upon which to die?

            There’d been a lot of suitable nights over the course of September. Alistair knew them by heart. September 3rd had been cloudless. September 21st - perfect temperature. September 26th, it had rained throughout the day, but cleared around 6:30pm. September 16th had graced the city with a magical copper and amethyst sunset, and September 19th had produced the lowest smog readings in five years. There’d been nuances peculiar to each individual evening, but they’d all been fit. And the evening of the 29th of September was honouring the tradition. Alistair Forge couldn’t decide whether it was the most appropriate, but he was glad he’d chosen well.

            It hadn’t been his first choice.

            That had been September 10th. September 10th - with its cool change, its southerly zephyrs, its array of the galaxy’s most pollution-resistant stars…

            Its parachutes.

            September 10th had been pencilled in by the Vanguard ‘Naked and Narly’ Basejumpers - the NN’s, for a clandestine visit to the Impossible Bridge . Wishing to take advantage of the favourable weather, and having conquered the fifty storey VAMI Insurance building without a single claim, the NN’s had arrived at the bridge hoping to set a new benchmark for an au naturale team exercise. It proved a roaring success. All landings perfect, all body parts present and accounted for, not a single police siren or flashing light to speak of. Robed and huddled together on the escape launch, they’d all agreed - this was as good as it got. Opportunities of this kind, unlike the opportunists themselves, didn’t fall out of the sky.  

            Alistair would’ve agreed too. Courtesy of the NN’s opportunism, he’d been denied his own. The investigation of an alternative was necessary. He hadn’t cared to do that, not after the three months of careful deliberation that had gone into selecting September 10. Under normal circumstances, he might’ve given the whole thing a miss. Circumstances being anything but normal, he’d cajoled himself into setting a new date. Two weeks was all it took second time around.

            September 29th. Possibly the supreme evening of the month. And if not the best, then certainly salutary for Alistair’s purpose.

            Suicide.

            Alistair Forge intended to jump from the Impossible Bridge - clothes on, parachute off - and make himself dead.

            Officially dead. Alistair believed he’d been deceased for the past five years. The functions of the body had carried on unabated, but as sure as the sulphur mounds on the northern banks of the Bland River beneath him continued to grow, he was a corpse. There only remained for the annoying physiological facade of life to be taken away. Alistair figured a one hundred and seventy feet free fall into concrete masquerading as water would suffice.

            The rumble of a passing eighteen-wheeler, headed for the city centre, distracted Alistair from his observation of the nightscape and prompted him to check his Rolex.

            9:42.

            He hadn’t set a specific hour for his demise but 11pm seemed like a reasonable option. Traffic on the bridge would have thinned, leaving little to no threat of witnesses or spectators. Waiting also allowed Alistair to set his affairs in order, the effects for which were contained in the black knapsack by his feet. His affairs constituted three things - the writing of a letter explaining his actions, a final few games of ‘Tetris’ on his Nintendo Game Boy and the downing of a bottle of whiskey purchased en route to the bridge. There were other larger, more imposing, public interesting affairs he was connected to, but he’d declined to use a guiding hand in their future direction. They would continue on, carving their paths without him, blissfully unaware of the eternal influence he could’ve exercised over them. That’s the way it would be - just as it had always been.

            The affairs in the black knapsack though were different. They could not happen without his say so. The parting note, the last Tetris hurrah, the drunkenness - he controlled them. He dictated whether these objects and outcomes would remain whimsical suggestion or actually occur. And it was his desire for them to occur. That was the decision he’d made.

            (why do anything you’re going to kill yourself aren’t you that’s all you gotta do that shit you’ve got in your bag it’s not gonna save you it’s not gonna give you the kiss of life after five dead years)

            (only one thing’ll bring that about jumping off the Impossible Bridge that’s the final word the bottom line ending your existence is all that matters)

            (so what’s stopping you from doing it now) 

            Using a light support pole to his immediate left, Alistair hoisted himself up into a standing position on the rail. The breeze lulled, allowing him to gain a relatively secure balance, without any swaying or rocking. His left hand remained with the pole, at close to full arm’s length from his body, the contact more a caress than a hold. The tactile sensation of the moist palm against the cold, unyielding steel provided Alistair with physical evidence that reality was yet to give way to oblivion. His feet offered no such input; they were numb and absent of feeling, despite the treads of his two hundred and fifty dollar cross trainers clinging limpet-like to the meagre breadth of the rail. After twenty seconds, he removed his hand from the pole, brought it down by his side and looked into the void below.

            (this is it)

            (freedom is at the end of one tiny step)

            (one tiny step of your choosing)

            Alistair wondered at the thoughts of past suiciders and whether, with blade poised or the gun in the mouth or the noose around the neck, their supreme emotional state was anything like his now. He assumed there were commonalities - relief, release, peace. Perhaps even true joy. He doubted, though, that many before had felt the overwhelming intoxication of the ultimate state of mind: empowerment with focus. The power of power itself. The courage and strength to use it. Alistair Forge was finally going to be wholly and solely accountable to Alistair Forge. He could do anything with his life. His fate was his responsibility. A responsibility that was the result of a firm, unflinching truth: redemption for half a decade of ordeal and torture, in which confusion and weakness and indecision had placed the power of his life in everyone’s hands except his own, could take only one form - doing himself in.

            Now, the combined voices of Commitment, Drive and Focus that had led Alistair to the Impossible Bridge on this salutary evening of September 29th were irresistible, propelling him headlong into his destiny. They demanded satisfaction. They barked out the command for him to step forward. The traffic behind continued to come and go and the discarded black knapsack persisted with its commands for attention. But these were trivialities. Single-mindedness had no ear for trivialities. All it could accommodate was its ruling mantra:

            (jump now) 

            (Jump Now) 

            (JUMP NOW)

***

 

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