Novels‎ > ‎Shot Down‎ > ‎

Chapter Three




I’m at home now, as I planned to be.  I wanted to chill out on my own for the evening, but that’s gone now.  I need to tell you this, because tonight you made me realise how I really felt.  Seeing you out in the street, bellowing a hysterical wave of emotion at me, I know that I’m not right for you.  You want too much from me – you want me to be a character that you have created, a live-wire to show off to your friends like a badge of decadence.  I’m good for your self worth am I not?  You like the creative type because it fills in the artistic gap in your life.  That, I think, is the sad truth.

            This hasn’t come from nowhere, I thought it may have been the case for some time, I just didn’t dare say it.  I’m sure I smack of arrogance right now – reading back the first lines tells me that it would seem that way.  But you get annoyed with me, Faye, when I’m not reverting to type.  You’re intolerant of my off days – you pitch me in front of your friends and wait for me to say something clever.  Tonight, I see it all very clearly.  I wanted to have an early night and you can’t understand it.  Why can’t I be as vibrant as the first day you met me?

            Being with you makes me tired, at times.  There is little inspiration to be drawn from conversing with you.  You ask me lots of questions, and you want to know what I think – but you give nothing back.  You tell me functional things about your day and my mind switches off.  I need inspiration.

            If I’m honest, Faye, it’s not just you.  It’s this place.  I see it more and more now.  It’s insipid.  Lots of dreams, not enough action.  People see Manchester as a place to do things, but most of them only ever talk about it.  That’s not the life I wish to have laid out for me.  I want to be the one that people resent.  I want to get too big for my boots, something that only success can afford me.  Council paper-pushing initiatives bore me, so in turn it must mean that you bore me also.  I wish this weren’t so, because you are a delightful young woman with a lot of good qualities.  You will be good for someone, I can promise you that.  You need someone with a determined future – my question marks don’t fit in with your desire for promotion.  You are doing well at what you do, and I am immeasurably proud of your achievements – but what boosts your heart, deep down leaves me very cold.

            I need to matter and I need it to happen soon.  I see Barry getting bitter that the world hasn’t fallen to its knees and fellated him vigorously, and I fear that I will be bitter too if I do not seek out my own opportunities.

            How I would love to say this to your face, but you never let me finish a sentence.

            I’m sure you think me conceited – and yes, I probably am – but others have seen this in you as well.  They think that you use me to give to you an edge, and that I use you to make me look edgier.  And they are right.  They are, aren’t they?  You’re my straight-man, but it’s together that we make the double act.  I keep viewing us from every imaginable angle, and I just don’t see the future for either of us.  You need to be with Ross in Human Resources, me with someone called Posterity.  Those are out destinies, and we should accept them.

            I’m trying to convince myself as much as I wish to convince you.  I do not know if this is merely a reaction to your behaviour tonight, or the absolute truth.  The more I think, the more I’m swinging towards the latter.  I do love you, but we have no future, and it’s only fair that we both accept this as soon as possible.

            I intend to move to London in a few weeks – I need to do something with my life before I get too set in my ways.  I never planned a stagnant adult life, and tonight, in and amongst our routine, I realised that I was dangerously close to being lost forever.  That is not going to happen…


            Ripley paused for the first time since he had put pen to paper.  The words had slipped out so easily, the diatribe of semi-loathing for a girl he was meant to love.  Part of it was anger that Faye had snatched his planned solitude that evening.  He wanted to put an album on, spark up a joint, probably masturbate and then write some thoughts on moving on.  He had always felt that he was on a journey and wanted to document as many of his thoughts in touching prose as he could.  He wished to hurt Faye as much as he willed himself to spare her feelings.  She did deserve the truth, it was just that this truth was a particularly cold one.

            He paced around his flat, and eventually drew himself to the window.  When he was younger, he imagined that he would stare out at a panoramic cityscape, inspired by the multitude of possibilities that being out on his own in Manchester would bring him.  In reality, any potential view was occluded by being on the first floor and completely overshadowed by a disused mill.  The city was now full of one man apartments, so the developers had been forced to drive themselves to the less scenic, more dilapidated outskirts of Ancoats.  In time, there would be a view.  For now, though, it was as banal as the rest of Ripley’s life.

            It was a position that Ripley could only maintain for a short period of time before he was completely bored.  There was no potential in the window, the liveliest part of the room being his letter to the woman he told himself he once loved.  His mental block extinguished by the grizzly reality beyond the window, Ripley continued to write with refreshed aplomb.


… I can’t allow myself to be wasted.  If we were both to follow our dreams, then we end up in separate places.  If one of us were to succeed together, the other would be resentful.  We can’t do this to ourselves, can we Faye?

            Tonight, our mutual friend Ryan is painting London red, alone.  How I envy him.  He’s in the thick of the excitement down there.  He is only going to a gig, but at least he is alive tonight.  We weren’t.  I was left behind because you don’t like Bright Eyes, do you?  I don’t want to be left behind again – it is the one thing I am most scared of.  There I was gazing over a balcony of worthless lives, people that think they will be something one day, and I knew that I didn’t have a second to waste.  I have a future of indulgence elsewhere.  I want you to see my name in a few years associated with something I’ve done, and I want you to be pleased for me.

            By now, I’m sure you loathe me.  But this is for you as much as it is for me.  I’m not purely selfish.  I have your best interests at heart.  And one day I will love to hear what you called your three children.

            I don’t think less of you for having modest ambitions.  Variety is inspiration, I assure you.  You are a lovely person and I wish you well.




Staring at the page, Ripley was unsure whether he would be courageous enough to send the letter, or whether his disappearance would say everything he daren’t.  Faye hadn’t called him, which he was surprised about.  She was usually compelled to have her say all over again by now.  It was in her nature to have things clean and uncomplicated. 

            Maybe he would have felt different if he’d had a pill that evening – his disappointment at not scoring being transferred onto his loving girlfriend.  But Ripley wasn’t that shallow. 

            Before he could progress his feelings on his own depth, Ripley was distracted by the phone ringing and the inevitable wailing girlfriend awaiting him when he answered.  He didn’t have the heart.

            But looking at his mobile, Ripley’s heart skipped a beat when he saw that it was a London number.  It was a bit late for agents to be calling, but then he wasn’t planning on living by the nine-to-five either, so it made sense.  He swiftly answered the phone, expecting the beginning of a new personal adventure.

            “Rip, you’re my phone call.”