With us today at DBK is Pablo D'Stair...
this letter to Norman Court is a novella consisting of 22 sections (each between 1000 and 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. There is some suspense, in that if a new host does not appear after each posting, the train comes to a halt (back tracking to previous hosts is not an option in this game). So, if you enjoy what you read and would like to host an upcoming selection, please get in touch with me via firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome not only invitations, but any and all comments on the piece (positive, negative, or ambivalent) or general correspondence about matters literary.
this letter to Norman Court
More than half drunk, managed to get the late commuter train, thing packed until almost half hour in—miserable situation, I just stood against the wall, duffle hugged tight to me.
I suddenly couldn’t think why was I in such a hurry. Herman was back in town tomorrow, but who knows would he go in to the office and even if so, guy’d paid me to deliver the letter couldn’t expect me to be there, the very first moment when already these extra days were his fault for not knowing about some whatever conference it was Herman was out at.
-Better just to get it all done, I mumbled, touching at my nose, raw from it’d started running awhile back, I’d been using napkins I’d swiped from the bar to clean it.
My thoughts were sloshing gently to the rhythm of the train, the sooner I was done with Herman, the sooner it was all done, the sooner I’d slip away more than a few bucks richer for my trouble.
But where did Lawrence live?
I rubbed at my eye with a thumb knuckle.
Had I been thinking I had his address, got it mixed in my head with Klia’s old place?
Seat freed up, so I sat, knees impatient. No, this wasn’t a good idea—no need to abandon ship, scurry back as already here I was on the train, but certainly I needed to sober out, get a handle on what was what.
Lawrence had his number listed, so probably his address was in the directory, or probably I could track it down through the number—anyway, there was L.S. Glass Plumbing, which it’d be a bit much of a coincidence that had nothing to do with him, guy named Lawrence Stephanie in the same town as an L.S. company shared his surname.
It was well past dusk by the time I got out at Darcy, stomach a mushy knot, in no shape for anything but a trip to the toilet yielded nothing but making me cramp worse from the effort, then a fit of sneezing made me feel a wrung rag.
Town was still operational, for the most part—some bookstores, smaller coffee places were closed up, but a convenience store got me some cold and allergy tablets and a number for a taxi, had to walk back to the station for a public phone. I smoked even though it was a lost cause, swallowed the soiled phlegm that kept either rising up from my gut or else slimed down my nostril back, told the cab Take me to any motel in Horton and asked what was the matter with the air it was turning me inside out.
-Take a stiff drink before bed, clear you right out.
-That’s what to do about it, yeah?
-I didn’t used to believe it, but some rum, it’ll sort you.
-Rum’ll do that?
-Rum, bourbon, vodka—make you sleep warm, too, good hard sleep, you’ll wake up like there’s never been anything the matter with you in your whole life.
I nodded, not wanting to get too chummy, feel pressured into leaving the guy a tip for medical consultation on top of the climbing fare, asked a final Where’s Horton, anyway? slunk my soggy head to the door window, vibration helping things.
-Horton’s no place, that’s right where Horton is. I’ll take you to the Super Eight, though, I don’t like any of the others.
I made an affirmative noise, eyes closed, getting my head back to Lawrence. Nothing to do for the night except maybe have a look at the plumbing shop, whatever it was, hope my medicine did the trick. This was no state to get a couple thousand dollars off some guy, fact that I could hardly motivate myself to blow my nose more than enough proof of that.
-Or is it allergies? the driver asked me, asked again when I guess he thought I hadn’t exactly heard him.
-What’s the difference, it’s cold or allergies?
-Just that rum won’t do anything for allergies, nothing does anything for allergies.
-I took some tablets, I said, asked could I smoke a cigarette and were we almost there.
The light had gone away outside when we came up on Horton, it was just an odd cut in the midst of nothing, Super Eight’s raised sign the tallest structure around.
-Jesus Christ, is this a place?
The driver laughed, told me Good luck about my allergies, if they were allergies.
The motel lobby was air conditioned despite the weather, got signed into a room no trouble, made sure the clump of buildings up the way was Horton, proper.
-You know L.S. Glass Plumbing?
-Sure. That’s by the movie theatre.
I nodded, took my key, started to walk across the lot right away, ten minutes to the city and it was impossible to tell how I felt, was it the come down from my drunk, the medicine getting on me, or just the next phase of my head clogging up.
Place was a store, sink fixtures, toilet fixtures on display in the window, been closed since five o’clock even though there was a glow looked like someone’d left a portable television on at the cashier’s desk. Place’d open next day, eleven o’clock, which was fine with me—I could sleep in, take care of things, hopefully take the last commuter train out of Darcy. But this seemed off—train’d leave Darcy early, that made sense, but I wondered how often did it head out, again after that?
I tossed my duffle on the bed of my room, stripped naked and shut off the air conditioning that’d been blowing hard since last time the room’d been let, it seemed.
How much was this jaunt costing me?
Train, room for the night, cab, cab again, tomorrow, then the train back, if there was a train back that time of night. Worse case, I’d have to stay in Darcy, get the train day after next, letter off to Herman, but that’d be another room, lots more headache.
Clock showed eight-fifteen. Local directory was right in the drawer with Gideon’s, I recognized the number I’d dialed for Lawrence before, was practicing what’d I say to get past his wife she answered again when a man said Hello.
-This is someone needs to talk to Lawrence, rather do it on the telephone than I have to come knock on his door. This Lawrence?
-This is Lawrence.
-Need you to come out the shop, talk a few minutes about Klia, if that’s alright with you.
I ran the hairs of my forearm over my dripping nose through a pause.
-I don’t know why there’s thought involved in this for you, Stephanie, I’d honestly save us both the hassle of making this a house call, unless Klia’ a particularly happy subject with your old lady.
He apologized, voice hushed, but enough normalcy I guessed his wife was near enough he had to make a play pretend who he was speaking with.
-We’re putting the kids down, right now.
-I’m happy to let you do that, you tell me when’s a good time you’ll be out here, tonight though.
He sighed, seemed pathetic how he was unsettled trying to keep his act up, explained he didn’t know could he get away just then.
-How about we say by eleven, then?
-What am I supposed to tell Emily, I’m ducking out on a Thursday night?
He said that maybe like to sound he was talking to a pal was inviting him for bowling.
-It’s I’d be more concerned what I’m supposed to tell Emily, that’s how I see it.
I sneezed three times into my elbow, wiped my face into the raised shoulder of my free arm.
-Make it before eleven I said, hung up, another fit of sneezing, to the sink where I popped three more tablets on my tongue, swallowed them with a mouthful from the tap.
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.