She Couldn’t Stand Ian Rankin (fiction)

The following was written in a ten minute period of free writing in a writing group at Chilli Studios in Newcastle. Except it was written in seven minutes because my page was empty for three minutes while I tried to clear my head of the horrible things some dissociative personality was saying to me, continuing its outpouring of insults that began on Byker Bridge.

I was determined to write something happy. This happened. At least there’s humour in it. Whether it’s happy is another matter.

For the Love of Rankin

She couldn’t stand Ian Rankin.

For no particular reason. Her head just wouldn’t accept him as a valid human being. It wasn’t that he named his creation after word play or that he spoke with a Scottish accent that reminded her of an old neighbour who broke her heart when she was seventeen. It wasn’t even the way every edition of every book had a cover design that made her want to hate the act of turning a page.

Her psychiatrist suggested she was delusional. He was a big Rebus fan he said. What better way to relax after a day of suicidal patients than to watch some lovely murder? She sensed he despised his patients as much as she hated Rankin. Even the name was rotten. Rank. Think the smell of decaying flesh not the place in the army or the row of a chessboard.

Her psychologist suggested catharsis. Do some writing, he said. Express your irrationality until it passes away. But she could only write about chips, broken promises, and the way waves broke over the harbour wall much like her old neighbour broke her heart.

So she tried again. She built an effigy of Ian Rankin. Stuffed it with word puzzles and hopes. Then she toured every charity shop across half a country. Bought up every Rebus book they had.

Before the solstice she drove to the cliff top. Built a bonfire. Carefully. Expertly stacked in date order, hardbacks at the bottom. Fire would clean her strange obsession.

It was pretty. Warm. A bright book death. But catharsis didn’t cure her.

And at that point the bell rang. We will never find out how this form of AHPD (Author Hate Personality Disorder) can be cured. Perhaps we never will, at least not until it’s accepted as a valid diagnosis.

Disclaimer: I have no strong feelings about either Ian Rankin or Rebus. I’ve never read one of the books or seen the TV adaptations, and his voice, which I think I’ve only ever heard in his collaboration with Jackie Leven, reminds me of no old neighbours or unhappy love affairs. Perhaps I should read him sometime, and join the fan club. After all, the books have perfectly acceptable cover designs.

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