Peter Gets a Job


It was a good day for writing yesterday. After gym, Erin and I headed for Stratford and sat at Balzac's Coffee Limited for a couple of hours, working on stuff. In total, I wrote about eight handwritten pages of new material for The Young City. That morning, I added about a thousand words of revision to Trenchcoat 4's Distractions.

Here is some of the Young City material. Please note that it's a first draft, just like the material I wrote below. Here, Peter has gone back to the construction site where they're burying Taddle Creek in order to look for employment...

Step one, Peter decided, was getting past the watchman. The same grizzled old man who had chanced them out of the construction site the day before was standing watch at the gate when Peter arrived. If the man recognized him, there was no hope of working here at all.

Peter stepped up to the gate and cleared his throat. The watchman's eyes fixed on him and narrowed, but he didn't order him out.

"What do you want?" the old man demanded.

Peter swallowed hard and got straight to the point. "Excuse me, sir, but would you have any jobs available?"

"What makes you think we would?" said the watchman. "Have we signs asking for hired hands? Did you see us asking for workers from the street gangs?"

Peter suspected that the answer was 'no', but he ploughed on. "I could be useful." Sell yourself, Peter. Be confident. He wished he had his resume, though it was useless to him here. "I can keep your books, for instance. I know my way around an office. I can read blueprints!" That was actually a lie, but he figured he could learn quickly.

The watchman turned away. "I'm sure you have plenty to offer, but so do dozens of people not currently employed here. Look elsewhere."


"I'm sorry, son." The watchman didn't meet his eyes. "These are hard times, but there's nothing I can do."

He was about to say something more, when two things happened. A horse-drawn cart laden with timbers drew up to the gate, and the old man caught sight of two slouching, shabbily-dressed boys sneaking past hte gate. He darted forward and collared them. "You're late!"

"There was an accident getting here," said one.

"My pa needed me at home," said the other. "He's sick. Very sick."

"My ma's sick too," the first boy cut in. "On her deathbed, she is!"

"Oh, don't try that on me," the watchman growled. "I've seen how you work. You're never around when there's bricks to be unloaded. Your shovels prop up your chins. You were late three times last week!"

Peter looked from this argument to the cart laden with timbers. He lined up behind the workers grabbing beams and hauled a heavy piece of wood over his shoulder. Turning carefully, he walked past the watchman without staggering.

"Excuse me," he said as he passed.

"Sorry," the watchman began, then stopped short. He stared as Peter shouldered the beam to the growing pile of timbers inside the construction site. He dropped his load into place, and helped the worker following him to unload his load as well. Then he returned to the cart.

"You see that?" The watchman turned on the two sullen boys. "That's the sort of work we like to see here, not your lollygagging and time-wasting! He's worth what the pair of you cost. He works here, now. You don't!"

"You can't fire us!" the first boy shouted.

"Yeah! My pa's at death's door!" the second added, then he spluttered. "I mean, my ma--"

"Enough!" the watchman yelled. "Go away and do whatever it is you do all day -- except now don't expect to get paid for it!"

The two boys started to protest, but thought better of it. Shooting evil glances at Peter, they stomped away.

Peter unloaded his second timber and went back to the watchman. "Thanks. What else do you need?"

The watchman smiled ath im. "Can you lay bricks?"

"I can learn."

"Good! I'll pair you up with Smith. Mr..."

"McAllister," said Peter after a moment's hesitation. "Peter McAllister."

"Well then, Mr. McAllister, let's get your name on our rolls and see what else you can do."

He stepped back into the construction site. Peter turned to follow, but stopped when he saw the two boys in the distance. They were talking to a third, taller, sneering boy, his nose in a bandage. Peter recognized Rob Cameron from the day before.

Peter ducked inside before Rob looked up.

A couple of things will come up again. Clearly, those two fired boys were working for streetgang/bullyboy Rob Cameron, who is villain Aldous Magnait's head heavy in this story. Clearly Aldous has an interest in this construction site. And, after leading Edmund and Faith Watson to believe that he and Rosemary were Mr and Mrs. Watson, Peter decides not to play along with that slipup and signs himself up to work under his own name. This will come up again...

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