Quick Novel

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

chapter nine

I 'm standing on Drew's porch. I'm looking at the belongings of a girl who's been invading my poor head for days now. Surely she's not hiding behind some object nearby. I didn't see any objects able to accommodate the shadow of a five-foot-five gentile of average build. There are no maple trees in my neighbors yard.

I met Drew before I moved into my place. In fact, with so many sketchy landlords around, I used his recommendation to help me select a living zone. We met outside the library. Drew was standing in the cold one day, shivering and talking to strangers. I'm often a stranger.

The boy is a shaker. His feet tap to unheard tunes, most of which seem to be in a really obscure time signature. He pulls his hair behind his ears several times a minute, seemingly forgetting that his hair is not long enough for his ears to accommodate. He was telling me something. Something. Regardless, that was a year ago and I have no guilt over not recalling that conversation. The fact that I wouldn't have recalled it five minutes after the fact is another issue. I liked him, though. A little manic, but potentially a good neighbor just the same. Later forgettable library conversations led to that.

Jane's face appeared in the doorway. Should've known she was looking, Should've felt her around and should've had the presence of mind to realize that people do not stray far from their stuff. I'm not known for presence of mind. I'm not known for much, really. "Hello," says Jane. She looks at me and cocks her head a bit. God, she looks friendly. "I know you from somewhere?"

My reply goes like this: "I'm not known for much, really," says Ruby, whose facial features were suddenly struck by a bolt of utter confusion.

Sometimes the last sentence that echoes through my brain bounces around in there for a little longer than the allotted time limit and projects, at impressive speeds, out of my mouth when I should have been saying something...relevant. Try again.

"You do look familiar, " Ruby replies confidently. Oh, to see the ticker tape parade blaring on behind the veil of my expression. Banners. People banging pots and pans together to the glorious beat of various easily recognizable Sousa marches. Men in clown suits winging lollipops at young children. She doesn't remember me at all.

Drew popped out of the house and into the picture of Jane and I. The picture was much more comfortable now that it involved a mediator. Jane was picking up her post-it-notes and I handed her the pile I gathered. Dare I ask about them? Dare I ask Drew who this woman was? Should I run away?

"Hey." What a soothing word that was at the time. I was a little desperate for words at this point. And this boy, who on some evenings read me entire fountains of words from his notebooks, picked one good short-and-sweet syllable. He chose a few more but I wasn't really paying attention. I was watching the girl, who turned to Drew and promised her return. She walked away, whistling. I exchanged some pleasantries with my neighbor and wandered off, hoping not to find a certain someone.

I work for a pseudo-intellectual cranky Russian bastard. I take back the pseudo. The man is an intellectual. A goddamn genius, as a matter of fact., and so much so that I'm probably not considered to have enough faculties to even think that. I run his errands and type things. I have a little table with a hand-me-down adjustable broken office chair and a phone that is usually reserved for ticket confirmations and pizza ordering. Monday morning he made me get him coffee and take out the garbage.

I have two large boxes at home filled with my bedtime stories. Countless poor saps file in all damn day, trying to get any kind of confirmation that their writing is not a waste of time. They say things like "I do this because I have to!" and make lots of references to authors I'm not familiar with. So when Bogdavani throws all their stuff away I take it home and read it at night. One might think the boss has issues about recognizing other people's talent.

I most certainly have issues with the old coot. He's got that bearded guy attitude, he speaks through the leather patches on his moth-eaten blazer, he wears his glasses on the end of his nose even though it doesn't necessarily enhance his fuckin vision and he throws away decent work that some kid toiled all year for. I think he's mad that his beat friends made allusions to every writer in the universe except him. Not sure, though. Today I saw a post-it note in the garbage. Until I noticed the evil secretary's handwriting I suspected it may have been Jane's. It did have a pleasant message on it, after all.

Oh, and what do we have here...yes, that looks passable, I may enjoy this, and now I fully remember what my conversation on the porch with Drew was about. Damn. That whole time I was nodding my head and not listening again and here's my neighbor's life. Wow! Right here in the trash. It's a little crumpled, I bet the nut was so nervous he kept playing with it while he waited to get through Mary.

Lunchtime, one full hour of blessed consumption."Pretty good" was the new phrase in my head for the moment. My neighbors verse was fairly consuming, everything had a nice rhythm to it and all. But how can I really pore over this stuff when I see a yellow rectangular blur off yonder? Over there? "Go look at it" sauntered into my thoughts and pulled a knife on "pretty good."

The note said "Thank you. I will." It was posted directly over the sign that thanked the shop's patrons and requested that they come again.

Bells rang somewhere, signifying thought. Mine, specifically, as I realized that my hero was on a citywide feel good campaign using stolen office supplies. I liked to imagine the notes being stolen, as I have yet to meet anyone who actually purchases them. It made me realize that Jane was an attainable entity. A goddess within my grasp. Of course, she was an enemy kind of goddess. I had a responsibility to best her. My mind reeled as I tried to think of something altruistic I could do, and I looked to Drew's literature for inspiration. There was, of course the obvious secret plan of getting him into his little department. That would work wonderfully, really. I could be sweet and unselfish. Do good for the sake of good. And fill my bosses head with kettle steam and train whistles. I didn't really entertain the notion that this might be difficult.

...on to Chapter Ten...

Any questions? e-mail chris@osric.com