It's great to be a small part of an ingenious Internet experiment from a talented writer, Pablo D'Stair...
this letter to Norman Court is a novella consisting of 22 sections (each around 1250 words) I am releasing by way of the following experiment: I am trying to serialize the piece across blogs, by reader request. If you read and enjoy the section below and have a blog the readers of which you think would enjoy a selection, as well, please get in touch with me to be an upcoming host. A little hub site is set up at www.normancourt.wordpress.com that has a listing of the blogs that have featured or will feature sections—please give it a look, get yourself all caught up if the below piques your interest.
It is my simple hope to use this as a casual, unobtrusive way to release this material to parties interested. As of now the 22 slots have all been requested (cheers to everyone for that) but if you enjoy what you read please do get in touch with me via firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome any and all comments on the piece (positive, negative, or ambivalent) or general correspondence about matters literary.
this letter to Norman Court
I’d ducked into my room just long enough to throw some water on my face, place a call in to Darcy about a taxi, told them I’d be out front of the Horton Super Eight, agreed no problem about paying meter-and-a-half considering the trip out it’d be for their driver.
I could hardly picture some police car rolling up on me, but kept in the bleak, back behind the buzzing sign, sat on an overturned shopping cart full of rocks, figured it was where someone sat their smoke breaks, stubs all around the litter of dead grass.
Regretted not having taken some of the tissues from the room, roll of toilet paper, but it seemed the worst of my cold, allergies, whatever it’d been was now subdued by the tablets I’d taken, my head a wet sock rolled up in another by the time I was in the heated cab, dozing as the driver kept tuning the radio between commercials on various stations.
-You know when the commuter train out of Darcy goes?
He thought it was at just past six. I looked at the clock—sneaking up on one—asked if there were any cheaper motels inside five minutes walking or so to the station.
-Not five minutes, no. Hotels’re all kind of outside the city.
So I told him never mind, he could just leave me at the train, I’d wait.
There was a convenience store open, down a few blocks, bought a nice sturdy document envelope and a book of stamps, more cigarettes, noticed the copy machine so made one more replica of Klia’s letter, nothing particular in mind for it, just something to do five minutes, warm pages spit out, glow of the scan crisping against my eyes in stabs.
There was a train left out at quarter past five, boarded that one, saw that a certain compartment had a placard it was a Quiet Car, no talking allowed, lights off, business people listening to whatever on headphones, most of them also either nodding off or else reading paperbacks illuminated by little blubs clamped to the back pages.
By the time I was back in to Mill Creek, my head’d cleared enough air actually passed clean in through my nostrils and drinking a hot coffee too fast settled me back more or less to even, except the sour glaze of fatigue, my eyes hurt to blink against the coming sun changing the sky bright.
Wondered was there some way I could get a buck or two off Herman for the letter, but couldn’t come up with an angle’d make it someone would pay me money out to get a letter proved their wife had gone around on them.
In a sandwich shop toilet around midmorning I counted what money I had left—seven thousand three hundred thirty-five dollars, counted it off eight times to be sure. I breathed a long sigh out, proud of myself, though really it meant I’d managed to spend through something seven hundred dollars in two days, calmed myself by calling it all return on investment.
Across the street from where Herman worked, everything seemed strange to me all of a sudden—really there was nothing left to do, nothing but hand a man a letter and that’d be it, nothing left but what I’d been paid to do, only, to begin with. Probably, the feeling was worse for I’d not slept since bleeding the money off Lawrence, that still seemed like where I was though at the same time ages ago, nothing that could ever find me no matter how bad suddenly it might want to. Lawrence’d be having to explain about why he’d not be able to do paychecks that week to his staff, though maybe not even, I’m sure he had enough in the bank to cover it, really he’d just be fretting in the shower, thinking how he was gonna float things this account to that, keep the wife from knowing something was off or else barring that what he was gonna say to keep it had anything to with Klia out of it.
-Klia Klia, I mumbled, looking down at the business envelope I’d prepared, eight dollars worth of stamps in the corner, Herman’s name and office address, a name from out of my own imagination as the return.
I had two last cigarettes, put a stick of gum I’d bought in my mouth, got on the elevator up to the office, same receptionist from before, she looked up she’d recognized me.
-For Mister Flake?
I nodded, started to ask Is he in, but already she was on the phone, saying to probably Herman that a gentleman was there, had been in earlier in the week. She nodded, hung up the phone, took a sip from the fast food drink she had there by the phone, told me he would be right out.
The man who came out of one of the two doors off the waiting area few minutes later looked nothing like his nondescript brother, this one portly but only in the arms and legs, face with a beard shouldn’t be on it, easiest guy in the world to describe later only everyone would think you were describing something out of R. Crumb instead of anything actual.
He eagerly extended his hand, I gave it a dull, gripless touch.
-Sorry I missed you, was out at a conference, really thought I’d cleared my appointments up better.
-That’s fine, it might’ve been my fault, nothing really except to give you this.
He took the envelope, a grinning nod, I could see his eyes tick on the return address, narrow a bit and he started turning the thing he was gonna open it right there.
-Do I need to sign anything for this?
I wished I’d thought of something like that, something to’ve given me a brisk reason to appear and just as quick disappear, instead had to shake my head No, asked did he have anything for me to take back. It was stupid, but the moment of his confusion then his face shake No, no validated me nodding and telling him Thanks again then. I got in through the closing elevator probably just as he was recognizing his wife’s handwriting, body shifting a squint, looking up to see maybe was I still around.
I found subway stairs right up two blocks, got down them in the midst of all sets being used by people coming up, fished a ten dollar bill out of my pocket to buy a pass, got on the first line pulled up, set my head to the window then when no one took the seat in front of me to the top of that. I laughed, it hurt to do in that position and kind of my head clogged back up, but I laughed and let myself, rubbing and rubbed my eyes each with three fingers of a hand.
I switched trains, rode to the end of some line, out into the cold afternoon, into a cigarette I hardly bothered to smoke, into an hour spent drifting, reminding myself why the bag I was holding hurt so bad on my wrist.
Noticing a menswear shop, I remembered how I’d wanted to buy that coat before, fondled lapels of suits along the racks until I found a checkered top coat, closed myself in a room to try it out for size. I made the deal that if it didn’t drop me below seven thousand up, didn’t drop me below seventy-one hundred up, I’d take it, frowned when I saw it cost five hundred, just kept it on and rearranged the insides of my duffle.
I’d forgotten really about the last photocopy, took it up, read some of the boring stuff from the first page. I folded the pages shut, stood up to look at myself, closing the buttons of the coat up around me, slipping the pages into the deep of one side pocket while I touched my thumb to my nose, gave a nice little sniffle.
Pablo D’Stair is a writer of novels, shorts stories, and essays. Founder of Brown Paper Publishing (which is closing its doors in 2012) and co-founder of KUBOA (an independent press launching July 2011) he also conducts the book-length dialogue series Predicate. His four existential noir novellas (Kaspar Traulhaine, approximate; i poisoned you; twelve ELEVEN thirteen; man standing behind) will be re-issued through KUBOA as individual novella and in the collection they say the owl was a baker’s daughter: four existential noirs.