Thursday, 21 June 2018

Spotlight and Excerpt: Just by Jenny Morton Potts

How far would you go to save a life?

On golden Mediterranean sands, maverick doctor Scott Langbrook falls recklessly in love with his team leader, Fiyori Maziq. If only that was the extent of his falling, but Scott descends into the hellish clutches of someone much more sinister.

Just’ is a story of love and loss, of terror and triumph. Set in idyllic Cambridge and on the shores of the Med and Cornwall, our characters fight for their very lives on land and at sea. 

An unforgettable novel which goes to the heart of our catastrophic times, and seeks salvation.

In Cornwall, doctors Scott Langbrook and Demitri Tasso are planning a necessary death… (abridged to avoid spoilers)

As dawn approached on Lusty Glaze Beach, the frill of the sea was making itself heard. The deep bulk though was eerily silent. There was no swell out there. A light breeze whipped around Scott’s ears and floppy blonde fringe. He stripped off his jeans and trawlerman pullover. Could he write the tiniest message to his mother on the label next to the washing instructions? He looked at his best friend who was struggling just to pull the wet suit out of the holdall. Scott thumped himself in his newly toned gut. Naked, he felt the puffs of wind scurry back and forth, through his chest and pubic hair. He dared not look at his genitals but he sensed they were against the project; viscerally opposed, as was his heart. From the very first seed of intention, in fact, Scott’s body had been shrivelling with dread and revulsion. When he considered what he was asking of his dearest friend, Demitri Tasso, who had already seen too much, Scott’s throat closed over. And when he thought of what he was about to do to his mother, he was filled with profound, dark shame.
I have no choice. You understand that, Demitri.” Scott knew Demitri would never understand. “We’re just on a wheel. Like hamsters. We work, we run. We stitch people up. We save who we can. But there is a purity in work, Fiyori taught me that. You do understand, don’t you?”
Scott wasn’t making any sense. He wasn’t really in charge of his mental capacity now, so Demitri decided to be lenient. There must have been another way to tackle this, there must. But Scott’s suicidal mind was made up and to poke at him now with the stick of intellect would only make the final moments more painful.
The pale of Scottie’s skin was reddening as the cold took proper hold. He pulled the wet suit onto his body. It was wrong with damp. Demitri tried to help with the zip but his friend shook his head. The Cornish water looked solid. Scott didn’t know if he could even get inside it.
Mate, you’re freezing your knackers off already.”
The seagulls pumped their wings over the boys and shot back like elastic, in the gusts. “See, Dem, we all have our moment, standing on Lusty Glaze. We all have a time when we must act.”
But this, Scottie, this is the wrong act!”
There must be another way. I know it. We can go to the police. We can—”
No! Go now, Dem, if you can’t hack it. I shouldn’t have asked for your help. I know I shouldn’t have. Honestly, go. It’s nearly time anyway.”
I’m not going anywhere.”
Around them in the sand were charred remains of illegal burnings, sausages bought in giggling haste with a box of matches maybe, or murderous paper plans that someone wanted to burn. Scott and Demitri had not been foolish enough to commit their plan to paper. There was never a download either. The Langbrook Exit Plan – what they were conducting this minute – was never on a hard drive and all was deleted from the SD cards, which anyway were hammered and destroyed. In the boys’ short but concentrated experience, death demanded the utmost care.
The necessities of the day emerging now were committed to memory and all they had to do was remember.
Scott checked his watch and thought about his mother, Lucienne, at home, asleep in the house where he grew up. No, probably not, she was an early riser. Soon, she would go into work as always. She kept long hours at the surgery, in order to keep play at bay. She would probably be putting on the kettle at the Practice, for her first lemon tea. He checked the time again. 7.31am. High tide in nineteen minutes. It wasn’t waterproof, this watch. His mother had given it to him on his 18th birthday. Emporio Armani. Chronograph. Scott took it off.
Here.” He pressed the watch against Demitri’s chest.
Grief, which would be so usefully saved now to spill later, was squelching in Demitri’s throat in amphibious bouts.
Sunrise at 8.05. I should get going.”
Scott walked towards the shoreline. He looked down at his blue neoprene legs and his bony freezing feet on the sand which was darker here, wet with tiny channels between hard, snaky ridges. Now, it must be approaching, the exact minuted moment, when he must take the rest of his flesh to the water and make it all disappear. Scottie turned to Demitri:
Shut, the fuck, UP!
Demitri shuffled forward. He reached up for his friend and the sobs broke around his thickset shoulders. “Scottie, no. No, Scottie, you can’t. There is no way. I see that now. I know you see it too. All a terrible, terrible, the most appalling, the biggest ever mistake. Scottie, we just can’t do this to Lucienne.”
Scott took hold of his friend’s raised wrists. “Listen to me. We have it all… 2,942 words, did you know that? That’s the length of the document. Written in here.” Scott stabbed his fingers on his forehead. “Me. Langbrook. The Exit Plan.”
The immensity of it boiled up in Demitri. “She won’t get through this, you know. You’re all she has.”
She will. There’s no alternative. How could you! How could you make this even harder! I am doing this. With or without you.”

Jenny is a novelist, screenplay writer, and playwright. After a series of ‘proper jobs’, she realized she was living someone else’s life and escaped to Gascony to make gĂ®tes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.
Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with the family. She tries not to take herself too seriously.

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