Quick Novel

::: the novel written in seven hours :::

chapter twenty-one

Opening a book can be like walking into play, but opening this book is like walking into an art gallery. On that wall we have a collection of pictures in a quick scratch mode of presentation: apples in a fruit stall, wet red hair, a symbol of peace, Chinese carryout, a card table in lamp light, orange skies, vegen sandwiches, the Bronte sisters, bad bridgework, green-black mucus, NyQuil, ordering pizza, and poets and writers wandering the streets and their minds; all sketches in charcoal, rough, incomplete. On this wall we have a series of scenes painted by a latter-day Rafel or VanGohe. Scenes vibrant with color, but strangely incomplete. What will Charel say to Susan? Will Bob get to have sex with Susan? Or Charel? Or Allen? Will Drew ever become the writer he wants to be? Or will he meet Jane and fall madly in love and go off to sell insurance in Kansas? These and many other questions haunt us as we travel through the pages of this book.

But an author has other problems. He or she must make a story or something like a story or something unlike something that is not a story, at least. So, here we are with a handful or pieces:

- Drew, Jane, and Ruby (Tuesday?) are standing on Drew's porch; or at least they were yesterday afternoon

- Allen, Bob, and Susan were in Susan's apartment waiting for Charel to come over; or at least they were yesterday evening.

- My head is full of words and my hands are tired; or at least they were when I was writing this.

So, there is something that needs to take place. Obviously each of these threads could grow into a story of its own. Let us start with the sticky notes. As our hero continued his plastering of the city with sticky notes, each note began to turn into a story of its own. All up and down State street, people came running out of the cafes and the restaurants to read the stories. One woman, in a black leather overcoat, with a fake fur collar and a fake fur hat was so overcome with the story that she read that she took off all her clothes and ran screaming into Shaman Drum where she proceeded to dump books into a pile and bury herself in books. Drew and Jane witnessed this from the sidewalk table that they had taken in front of Amer's. Drew whipped out his notebook and began to write a description of the scene, but Jane only said, "Poor woman." and continued to drink her cafe latte.

By the time the police had arrived, closing off traffic on State street, an event which eventually resulted in the resignation of President Clinton in what came to be called the cover-up-a-gate scandal.... By the time the police arrived, the number of people who had read sticky-note stories and done something crazy was in the hundreds and the whole downtown area resembled the best of hashbash weekends. The police tried to interview people, but found it impossible to get a complete or coherent story.

Strangely this did not effect Susan and Charel in the least. They were happily sitting in a booth in Red Hawk, gazing lovingly into each others eyes. Charel was wearing a skin-tight red body suit that had a zipper that ran from the neck along the side and down the leg. She had on black Niky's. Susan was dressed in a black wool floor-length skirt, black patent leather shoes, a white blouse, with a black tie and a black sports coat. Charel thought Susan looked stunning, she could never remember being happier in all her life. They had just ordered a Nachos Grande and were going to split it.

While the police were invading State street, Allen was waiting for the bus to Chicago. He stood in front of the Bus Station on Huron and listened, unconcerned, to the distant sound of sirens. He held his briefcase close to his chest and tried to review, through the confusion in his mind, exactly what could have happened last night. He remembered that Charel had walked in the door loaded down with bottles of Whisky, Gin, and Vodka. And that someone had produced a stash of hash. And he remembered vaguely reciting poems to an impressionistic painting in the light of the streetlamp coming through the rain covered window, to the sound of sex from the bedroom. But he could not remember who it was that was making the little moans and panting sounds that, at the moment, seemed to fit perfectly the rhythm of his poem.

Interestingly, this is a lot more then Bob remembered.

It was Sonny Bogdavani who proved to be the real hero. Because it was his wife who had read the first note, and gone berserk; and it was his secretary who, between her own fits of passion involving, first, a policeman who had unwisely also read one of the notes while standing in the space between the two Patrol Cars that were parked across State street just as she had walked by him brushing the front of his pants with her hand and, later, the hotdog stand vender and all of his hot dogs, was lucid enough to call Sonny's office and say, "It's your wife. I think she's in trouble."

Sonny sighed and set the receiver down. He looked at his watch. It was late enough that he could justify, in his own mind, leaving. He picked the papers off his desk, stuffed them in his briefcase, and walked out the door of his office.

This is what he saw, as he walked from Angell Hall to Shaman Drum. First there were yellow stickies on all the trees, all the lamp posts, all the door and windows of all the buildings. Sonny did not stop and read any of these. He had not time for the pranks of infantile college students. He knew what he had to know, and it did not involve sound bites scrawled on a two-inch-square of yellow paper. He was, after all, a man of purpose.

Then there were people dancing on the steps. Not just students either. There was the Dean of the Collage and the Chair of the Department dancing arm in arm. And it looked like they were taking off each others clothes. This made Sonny a little uneasy, but he chose to ignore it.

He could not, however, ignore the crowd in the street. By this time, traffic had been stopped all the way back to I-94, and people had gotten out of their cars to see what was the matter. Of course, the really curious had read the notes, and the not-so-curious had stopped to see what they were doing and then, when they laughed, giggled, and started dancing with apparent joy, had read the notes also. Almost everyone had read a note.

And when they read a note, in addition to feeling happy and free, they also felt drawn to their fellow beings. It's cold out there by Briarwood Shopping Center; everyone knows its a lot warmer, friendlier, on State street. Even the Main Street crowd, reluctantly at first, as if torn between two equally wild parties, eventually migrated to State Street.

It was more packed then a sunny cool day at Art Fair. There were colors flying everywhere. Shirts being waved in the air; laughter; dancing. People shouting for joy. Sonny coughed. For a brief moment he had a vision of the food riots back home, long ago. He shuddered. But he shook his head in disbelief, no ghosts, and stepped into the crowd. For a brief moment, he thought he was going to be trampled, he felt himself falling. A young man in a black leather coat and a black leather hat, grabbed his arm. And held him up. Sonny turned to thank him, but the young fellow just grinned and waved goodbye, and he pushed his way through the crowd.

Sonny also started pushing his way up the street. Bodies pressed against him; all

Any questions? e-mail chris@osric.com