COUNTING DOWN THE STORM (Temporarily Unavailable) A Novella by D. Ryan Leask
For two days the storm has taken over the city, and two people's lives. A man convinces himself that his life is worthless when his lover leaves him for another man. Alone and depressed, he allows his life to sink into the bowels of civilization. When a wife and mother discovers that her husband is having an affair she abandons logic and gives in to the perilous abyss of jealousy and revenge.
Re-Launch Tentatively Scheduled for Oct 17th:
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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

4th of March Reading At McNally

First of all I don't blame anyone I invited for not coming, they changed the time from 6:00pm to 5:00pm making in hard for anyone to come, so don't feel bad. Anyway....

There were likely about 20 people there having dinner and listening to me read, and I sold two books which 10% selling rate I think is just pretty darn good! I also tried to plug my blogs here (this one and Too Dumb to Dance).

Anyway for fun I'm going to post my "script" from last night. I followed it fairly closely so it will be just like being there, only without my beautiful voice or the parts from "Counting Down the Storm" that I read.

Also embedded in there is a bit from "Framed" it's the first time it's really been out there so enjoy.


First of all I’d like to thank everyone for coming out tonight. My name is D. Ryan Leask and I’m an author. Please bear with me this is my first really formal reading and to fend off nervousness I have written the whole thing out so I don’t get too far off track, (hopefully).
Just to give you a little background. I grew up just outside of Calgary in Sundre, a small town of about 2,000 an hour and a half northwest of Calgary. After leaving there I’ve lived in Edmonton, Fredericton and Ottawa before returning here in 2005.
So I’m a local writer and it’s just awesome how much support I’ve gotten here especially from McNally Robinson (Honestly they don’t pay me to say that).
So my book. I think before I give a synopsis I’m going to read a bit from it. I don’t really need much intro for this part. It’s atmosphere describing the two main elements of the story, the city and the man’s downward spiral.
{Reading one 1- He smelled the Rot on the streets…}
The city itself is really nowhere, just an amalgamation of various cities I’ve been to and seen on T.V. It’s kind of like the man, he’s not me, he shares some feelings I’ve had but he’s really just an exercise, seeing how far he could possibly go, how deep and dark into a single emotion I could take a character while still making him believable.
There are two parts to this novella “The Break{up” and “The Jilted Wife” which are also called, “Thunder” and “Lightning”. “Thunder” describes the rumbling dark deep depression that Christian follows when he discovers that his girlfriend is leaving him for a married man.
“Lightning” is the quick and blinding anger that Nancy embraces when she finds out her husband is having an affair.
These two elements are tied in by Amy and Kevin, the girlfriend and husband respectively. Although very little is really known of their characters, their action fuel the entire two days. The dark damp almost Gothic city helps set the tone and provides a setting that feeds the dismal emotions these two have.
{Reading 2-Start of “The Jilted Wife”}
I have to admit that I drew on absolutely no personal experiences when I wrote these two stories. The imagination is a wonderful place (for me and you, definitely not for my characters). When I start to write something it’s usually because I have a thought or a question rolling around in my head. For “Counting Down the Storm” the question for the first story was How far Down can a seemingly normal guy go when his lover leaves him? I can’t tell you the answer to that obviously, but I just kept going further and further until I felt I had gone beyond believability then pulled just short. The second story was basically who else has an interesting story to tell? Who was caught up in this mess that may complement the first.
It was pretty hard to write from a female’s point of view but I have had some positive feedback on it.
This book actually came about after I decided to begin taking my writing more seriously. I did some writing in High School but then didn’t do more than a page here or there. I was doing a lot of travelling for work and began writing in the evenings to pass the time. I actually started writing a story called “To Beat the Band” about a small town early 80’s grunge rock band that gets rediscovered in the mid 90’s. Great storyline, lots of content, the writing is crap. I can’t look at it at the moment, maybe someday. Once again it was one of those “What if” questions.
During that time is when I wrote “The Break-up”. I was posting some of my writing on an adult website so originally it was more, uhmmm provocative. I actually wanted to see if anyone would take it seriously, they did. I had some awesome feedback which I can’t really get to these days as my computer settings won’t let me get onto that site and I don’t want to go there at work.
I stopped travelling a couple of years ago and we moved to Calgary, I really missed writing though so last year I joined a writers group which was a complete waste of time until it was taken over by Kathleen Mailer who runs the Words to Wealth Institute. After talking about self publishing I decided to look into it, then she showed me a cute little book. (Hold up my book). She gave me a really good deal on a small volume printing so I thought I’d go for it, only problem is that I had one story that was too short to fill the max 60 pages. I figured I might as well get my money’s worth. I began writing the jilted wife on the bus ride home then had it finished and to my editor within about four days. A little over a month later and I had this. All in all it’s been pretty exciting.
Now I try to write when I can. I carry around a bunch of tiny notebooks (show one) that I write with on the bus and I have a bunch of things on the go. A few weeks ago I was on a Writer’s retreat with the Writer’s Guild in Banff and flushed out a story I had been plowing away on for months. It revolves around a Serial killer who murders not for the thrill of the kill but he frames others for his crimes and then watches their cases as they go through court and to jail. The story is called “Framed”. I’m going to read a bit from it.
Henry James Smith is the Name of the Serial Killer. He has made a mistake and leaves before one of his victims dies. She actually survives her attack but her Husband who has a history of abuse is still being charged despite the fact she doesn’t believe he did it. Sandi Hunt is the name of the Victim and her husband who is in court is named Kyle. Abby is Henry’s wife. Henry is a court reporter which is how he follows the crimes he has committed.
Henry sat in the back of the court throughout Kyle Hunt’s trial. He had heard that his wife whom he had tried to murder had indeed survived his attack but Henry couldn’t believe it until he saw her face entering the courtroom. Despite the fact that he was sure he must have been grossly misinformed he began growing a beard in the months leading up to the trial.
Abby of course hated it. His wife had always said that she detested men with facial hair but he kept insisting he wanted to try it on. He had never grown one before and tried to convince her that it was his right as a man to at least grow a full beard at least once in his life. The beard grew in coarse and patchy, it never quit filled in to a point that it looked clean and respectable but he continued to pretend to be convinced he liked it. Abby eventually let it go, although she kept mentioning how it scratched every time he kissed her and left a rash on her back when he clung close to her at night.
The trial drug on for weeks. Everyone except Kyle kept insisting that he should make a plea but he continued to fight them, believing that in the end his claims of innocence would prove to be true. Throughout the ordeal Sandi sat quietly amongst friends and family. Henry tried not to look at her making every attempt to leave the courtroom before she did in fear that she would somehow recognize him through his disguise. It was as hard for him, as it must have been for both Kyle and Sandi. He had looked at his other victims before, occasionally even taunting them with his eyes, trying to convey without words that he knew they were innocent because he had committed their crimes. That was different, he could get no satisfaction out of doing this to Kyle, not while Sandi still lived.
It was the night before the last day of Kyle Hunt’s trial. He was always anxious about these days. Until the trial was actually over he didn’t truly know if his planning had fully succeeded, he would often spend time pouring over the evidence ensuring everything was there that should be. He listened carefully to each expert’s testimony, determining if their conclusion matched the one that he had orchestrated them to have.
Perhaps it was this attention to detail that led his contemporaries to believe was passion. At the end of the day he found himself almost in tears having to cut his carefully crafted copies down to a printable size for the next day’s paper. His first writings never remained. He always carefully scattered them in dumpsters or added them to his fireplace when it was still burning, afraid that perhaps his details went beyond what could possibly be ascertained from just sitting in a courtroom watching and listening.
This trial caused him even more anxiety than usual. There was nothing about the case that indicated that the outcome would be anything other than the conviction of the defendant, he had no alibi. He’d actually been seen a few hours after the attack buying Methamphetamine from a dealer near his home and toxicology reports indicated a high level was still in his system when he was arrested the next day. Kyle couldn’t even clearly account for his whereabouts after leaving his house and admitted to being high since earlier in the evening. As a prosecutor may say on T.V., “It’s a slam dunk.” Henry’s anxiety sprang directly from the actions he had taken the night he tried to kill Sandi Hunt and his having not made sure he had succeeded
Abby knew he was always anxious before a trial. She knew because he was desperate to make love to her, it was the one thing (that she knew about) that always calmed him down. No matter what she always allowed him to take her on these nights. Sometimes it was wild violent sex, others it was just a quick fuck. She made herself available to him again, but this time with a caveat.
“Shave it.” She said, standing in front of him, nearly naked with just a red silk wrap tied loosely around her waist and barely holding in her breasts.
“What?” he replied.
She walked over to him and sat on the bed beside him exposing one of her slightly sagging but still full breasts. “If you want to touch these, you’ll have to shave this.” She ran her hand across his hairy face then stood up from the bed and turned her back to him, teasing.
He walked up behind her and grabbed her, she giggled. “Go.” He was ashamed that for an instant he was actually angry with her, a thought of violence had actually quickly fleeted across his mind.
He pulled himself together and in a voice of mocked indignation, the humour in which to make it was hard to retrieve, walked into the bathroom and returned a few minutes later with a clean face with the exception of one small nick on the side of his lip.
“Now that’s better.” Abby said in a pouty voice and licked the dot of blood on his face, then down his bare chest and beyond.
That night their love-making was animalistic. Abby thanked him with pleasures he hadn’t received since they were first married and she was trying to break his sexual shyness, he in turn provided her with multiple climactic explosions until neither of them could take on any more.
Abby whispered in his ear as his labored breaths began to steady and the gentle rhythm of sleep began to take him over. “No more beards.”

The other reporters seated in the back row with him commented on his lack of beard. His usual reserved and quiet self had been given a jolt the night before and he surprised himself by partaking in witty banter with his colleagues. He was still laughing and talking when everyone was asked to rise for the right honourable so and so.
He saw Sandi again in the front row and his head came crashing back down to earth. He felt his face for his beard but it had disappeared. He felt as though he was the rope in a tug-o-war, the team of fear was trying to pull him out the door while the team of need pulled against them. Need prevailed and Henry stayed.
He sat through the last few items of the trial and so desperately wanted to leave. The jury was sent out he had to wait, no, he needed to wait, he needed to know, it was insane, he knew it was insane, Kyle would be found guilty and would go to jail. He could know the verdict mere minutes after it was read and it would make no difference whether he was there or not. He started heading for the door but a voice called out to him.
“Hey Henry, the verdicts in.” It was impossible. He looked at his watch only fifteen minutes had passed, it must be some kind of record.
He took one last look at his escape but turned around and followed the others back inside. As he walked through the door there she was standing right in front of him, facing him. A look of recognition on her face, then terror. She knew him, she remembered him. He attempted to stay calm. He tried to think of what he could possibly say to make her change her mind, all he could think of was “excuse me.”
She didn’t move, he discovered he couldn’t either, then in a faint whisper, “why are you here?”
“I’m a journalist.”
She was shaking her head back and forth. “No, you shouldn’t be here.” Her voice was rising he knew he couldn’t flee now, it would only make whatever she was about to say be true. “Uh-uh, you’re not here, you don’t exist. YOU DO NOT EXIST.” She was yelling now.
The man who had been sitting beside her throughout the trial, presumably her lawyer, ran up the aisle behind her and put his hand on her shoulder, she started. “Are you all right, is this man bothering you.” He asked.
Henry tried to reply, “I’m not sure what…”
“No, this is him, this is the man. No one believed me, no one FUCKING believed me but here he is.” She lurched towards Henry, reaching for his throat, now he could move.
He quickly stepped back before she could get him. Her lawyer grabbed her but she was trying hard to resist him. She glared at Henry and with a deep angry evil voice spoke at him, “It was you. You. I thought I was crazy. They made me think I was crazy.”
She broke away from her lawyer, this time Henry wasn’t able to avoid her. They feel into a pile on the ground. Someone yelled for the baliff and several arms wrapped around her and pulled her off. Henry layed on the floor pretending to try to catch his breath but instead his was trying to catch himself. The worst had happened.
She was still screaming at Henry as security guards forced her out of the courtroom. “Are you all right?” Someone asked helping him off the floor.
He was asked what had happened, he just said that she must have been distraught over her husband’s conviction. He’d forgotten that the jury hadn’t entered the courtroom yet to read their verdict. He was going to back peddle but thought it best to just keep his mouth shut.
After all of the ruckus the judge decided to clear the gallery. Henry had to wait to hear what the verdict was, not that it was a surprise. He declined drinks and instead went home.
He spent the evening staring at his computer. He’d finished his copy for the trial but was debating talking about the outburst. He knew that any good reporter would have, but he was afraid that if any further scrutiny was placed on Sandi Hunt’s wild rantings it would uncover things that Henry just could not have uncovered.
It had been fairly common knowledge throughout the trial that Sandi Hunt believed she had been attacked by someone other than her husband. He’d heard whispering of it in the hallways of the courthouse and an article had even appeared in the Sun. Whenever he heard anything about it he tried to ignore it. He didn’t want to get into the debate, not that there really was one, it was a classic case of battered wife’s syndrome, or so it was believed. According to an expert who was interviewed for the Sun’s story she had likely put a different face on her husband when he attacked her, a reflex mechanism so she didn’t have to believe what was happening to her. Apparently it was not uncommon.
It was now his face that everyone was going to think she had seen.
He sat down and wrote an account of what happened. Respecting the reputation of the victim would not be a valid excuse for not making light of what had happened nor would it be one his editor would buy. He painted her as a distraught woman who had managed to sit stoically throughout the trial but when it seemed inevitable that her husband had really done what everyone but her believed he had done she became delusional and for reasons, which Henry was unable to explain, lashed out at him. In his article he stated that he did not take it personally and hoped that she would be able to move on with her life.
All his concern had been for nothing, his editor never ran his story nor did any of the other new services that had reporters there. Henry believed that everyone must have felt she had suffered enough.
A few weeks later he received a letter through Sandi’s lawyer.

Dear Mr. Smith:
I deeply regret the incident that occurred during my husband’s trial. I realize now that I was a deeply disturbed woman who was confused by all that I had been through both before and during the trial. I am sure now that the man who had attacked me was my husband and I hope that you can forgive my outburst and understand my frame of mind at the time.
Thank you for your understanding.
Sandra Rose.

It should have been enough to ease his mind, but it wasn’t. It was only a carefully worded document saying, “please don’t charge me with assault.” No matter how many times he read it he just could not believe that she had really stopped believing that he was her attacker. He knew that the truth burns deeper into the psyche than does the illusion of it.
My mother is somewhat concerned about my mind and what I write. I was leery to even let her read this (hold up CTDS) book. I don’t think she has to worry, her and my dad raised me well. I think it was that I didn’t have constant T.V. and video games and I was able to grow my imagination. I also read a lot of Stephen King when I was younger, although I’d have to say that right now my favourite author is John Irving. I don’t really know where this dark place in my psyche comes from but I seem to be able to pull lots of stuff out of there, perhaps it’s a good thing I can write.
There’s a couple of other things I’ve been working on. I’ve been going to the Passion Pitch Poetry events every third Wednesday of the Month which is put on by Eleventh Transmission at the Oolong Teahouse right at the end of Kensington Road on tenth st. It’s an open mic which I originally went to to do readings from “Counting Down the Storm” but it was so much fun that I kept going back and not wanting to read the whole story started a new one. It’s the exact opposite of the other stuff I write in that it’s a crazy silly irrelevant comedy. It’s about three best friends from small town northern Alberta, one friend goes off to Edmonton for College leaving the other two behind. The discover a new world in Competitive Mens Doubles Throw-Dancing which is just some insane new sport. It’s really hard to explain, you’ll just have to read it. I’ve been writing it as a blog story called “Too Dumb to Dance.” I have some postcards with links to that blog as well as my blog where I just jot down my thoughts and progress on writing from time to time.
Well I’m going to read what is my favourite part of Counting Down the Storm, then if anyone has any questions or anything feel free to ask and I’m going to stick around to sign some books and chat.
So this is a carry on from the first part of “The Jilted wife” That I read before.
{Reading 4-That was Tuesday, this….}
Well thanks for listening to me rant everyone and please do buy a book! Don’t feel bad buying them here through the store instead of direct from me, you’re supporting a really great establishment here and I get a good cut!

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