I have a new friend. His name is Matthew Arkin. Matthew is an actor who crossed over to the dark side… the writing side. Oh, the horror!
We met a couple of weeks back during his Kickstarter Campaign, a campaign for his debut novel entitled “In the Country of the Blind”–a tantalizing mystery/thriller. I’m happy to say that Matthew has provided an excerpt of his story. You’ll find it below but first let me tell you about Matthew’s campaign. He hopes to reach $17,000 by the 18th of July which is only 9 days away. Right now, Matthew has raised $11,210 so he’s two-thirds of the way there and I hope you consider giving any dollar amount between $1 to $1,000 to Matthew’s campaign.
Anyway, enjoy reading Matthew Arkin’s first chapter from his debut novel.
Excerpt from IN THE COUNTRY OF THE BLIND by Matthew Arkin
My beer arrived. I took a swallow and surveyed the barroom. This crowd was more frantic, more bent on reaching a good time, with more ground to cover to get there. A movement caught my eye, the turn of a head a little too quick, a woman talking to two men, her back to me. I took another sip of my beer and watched. From the looks on their faces, these guys were smitten. A burst of laughter erupted from the party to her left, and somebody jostled her, forcing her to turn, giving me a glimpse of profile. She looked familiar, and when she glanced my way our eyes locked. She looked away quickly and returned her attention to the two men. I stood, threw some bills on the bar and picked up my beer. As I threaded my way through the crowd, she glanced at me again and her eyes lit up.
“There you are!” she cried. She said something to the two men and edged quickly my way. I still couldn’t place her. When she reached me, she stood on tiptoe, grabbed my face with both hands and pulled me in for a full, hard kiss with a delicious mouth. She squeezed the back of my neck hard as she whispered in my ear.
“Don’t say a fucking word.” She spun on her heel, pulling me behind her by the hand. We passed her two companions and she let loose a peal of laughter.
“Sorry, fellas, but I haven’t seen this guy for ages, and we’ve got some catching up to do. I’ll see you around,” she said, and we were out the door. She still had hold of my hand, and I stopped to protest, but she grabbed my face for another hard kiss. It is unwise to object when kissed by a beautiful woman dressed to the nines, even if you don’t have any idea who the hell she is, so I began to reciprocate. She broke it off and spun me around, my back to the restaurant.
“Not here,” she said as she waved over my shoulder to the guys. She put her arm around my waist and pulled me quickly down the street. I followed, or rather, let her drag me, to the corner, where she hauled me a few steps down Seventy-Sixth and pushed me into a dark alleyway, the only light cast by a single bulb above an apartment building service entrance at the far end. She was backlit by a street lamp near the entrance to the alley and I couldn’t see her face.
“What the fuck were you doing in there?”
“Excuse me?” I said.
She stepped towards me. “I asked you what the fuck you were doing in there.”
“Uh . . . Having a drink?”
“Don’t get smart with me.” She straight-armed me further into the alley. “If you’re dicking around with this, you’re in big trouble.”
I was starting to be less amused. It’s one thing to be kissed and manhandled by a beautiful, sexy stranger, and another to be threatened by her.
“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”
“Don’t fuck with me,” she said, shoving me again. The tone of voice and her language completely belied the refined image projected by the woman I had seen in the bar.
“Excuse me,” I said, “but who the fuck are you?”
“Who the fuck are you, and what the fuck are you talking about?” She took another step forward. I wasn’t exactly afraid of her, but if I stood my ground and she pushed me again, I might have to give her a good one back. I didn’t want to do that, she was so small, so I took a quick step back. My foot landed on a piece of pipe, it skittered out from under me and I went down as quickly as if I’d hit a patch of ice. I tried to arch my back to keep myself upright, so the first thing to hit the pavement was my head. I heard the crack, felt the dull penetrating vibration of the impact, and a sharp searing pain. A twin star revolved in the night sky, and two women loomed over me, speaking words I couldn’t understand, could barely hear. The twin star slowly resolved itself into the single bulb above the service entrance, and then one of the women was gone. I could hear the remaining one more clearly, speaking from the end of a long corrugated steel tunnel.
“Zach, are you all right?”
“Does your neck hurt?”
“Dammit. Just lie still for a minute.” She put a hand on my chest. “That must have knocked the wind out of you.”
She kneeled over me, looking into my eyes. She raised one hand and blocked the light from the bulb, putting one of my eyes into shadow, then moved her hand and repeated this motion a few times with that eye, and then again with the other.
“Does your neck hurt?”
“Can you sit up?”
“Okay, let’s try it, nice and easy.” She put one hand behind my head at the base of my skull, and wrapped her other arm around me to support me from behind my shoulders. Her face was next to mine and I could smell her perfume, dark and spicy, as she pulled me up into a sitting position on the pavement. She sat back on her heels and held my neck, kneading, probing gently with her fingers. The light finally caught her face, and it hit me: The police station, before my meeting with Cynthia and the two homicide dicks.
She pulled her hand away from my neck and held it up in front of her. It was covered with blood.
“Shit,” she said.
“Is that mine?”
“It would appear so. It looks like you hit the remains of a beer bottle when you went down. Goddammit. Now I’ve gotta fill out a shitload of reports.”
“Yeah. Not to mention dealing with IAB and a brutality investigation.”
“You’re kidding, right? That might be tough to pull off. I’ve got witnesses who saw us smooching our way out of that restaurant and up the street.”
“Well, if there’s more smooching to look forward to, I might be persuaded to drop the charges.”
“Shut the fuck up,” she said. “Turn around. I wanna see how bad it is.” I complied.
“Sally, right?” I asked as she probed the back of my head to get a good look.
“Yeah. Good memory.”
“So, Sally. What do we do now?”
“We get you to the hospital for some stitches.”
“And then?” I asked, turning back to her.
She was digging in her shoulder bag. She pulled out some paper napkins and handed them to me. “And then you go home and forget this ever happened.”
If you enjoyed reading this excerpt, go to: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1815786743/in-the-country-of-the-blind-a-novel-of-suspense?ref=live to see Matthew’s short campaign video. It’s hysterical.
MORE ABOUT MATTHEW ARKIN
Matthew Arkin, a critically acclaimed actor, has extensive credits in film, television, Broadway, Off-Broadway, and many of the country’s most prestigious regional theaters. Mr. Arkin teaches acting, both privately in Los Angeles and at the Conservatory at South Coast Rep. He is also a passionate motivational speaker, giving talks and seminars on discovering your authentic voice and personal definition of success to those in the entertainment industry and beyond, and he enjoys bringing this message to his work as a teacher of public speaking and presentation skills in the corporate world and the public sector.
You can learn more about Matthew Arkin by going to his website: www.matthewarkin.com