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
I stepped from the car, duffle feeling a grip heavier for Klia’d withdrawn the money all in tens, maybe just my imagination. Leaned to the open window, I handed the letter, the original, toward her, but she kept in profile, not reaching, maybe thinking I’d tease it away from her hand up for it, didn’t want to go through anything else belittling. I placed it on the passenger seat I’d vacated, turned right up the block, not looking back till the crosswalk—her car was there lulling, window open still, face in profile.
Three blocks up I could tell I seemed edgy, legs all clunk with each step, so I purposefully let my pace get sluggish, more-than-casual, strolled with still some vague anxiety on me. I don’t know what I thought she’d do—if she called the police, what’d she say? Even if I was found with this money, I couldn’t be because I didn’t have to open my bag, anything.
I shook all thoughts like that off. Klia wouldn’t do a thing at all, didn’t for one single minute believe she’d seen the last of me, that I didn’t have the letter in duplicate, the replica just as much damning to her as the genuine she’d just bought off me. I did still have a duplicate, she was right, nothing I was gonna hold over her, but she wouldn’t believe that no matter if I’d told her.
I ducked into a fast food restaurant, ordered a burger, a shake, sat as much in the corner of the place as I could manage, waiting out the last of the feeling, for time to dull me out. I took the letter from my bag when I’d done eating, the photocopied pages still in the original envelope—I smiled at myself about that, what’d been the point?
Looking at Klia’s address, it struck me it wasn’t Herman’s, not where they lived now, was someplace Pennsylvania. I pictured an apartment, they’d moved down to Mill Creek, someplace hardly any different except a house, Herman’s job. It didn’t matter. Norman lived in Virginia, according to the envelope, I kind of thought that was close, but then put the letter away, nothing left to do with it but get it to Herman, put it in his hand he got back in at the office, next day.
Something in that thought lingered with me up a few more blocks, into a bar where I took a seat in a booth, ordered a bottle of decent wine for myself, sipped at it looking at the empty space across from me, the shallow brown of the high booth back.
Nothing left to do.
Didn’t seem Klia’d seen it that way.
What’d I said? Whatever, it’d been something to the tune of she didn’t pay I’d find another use for the letter and straight off her thoughts’d gone to Lawrence and not her husband. Why’d that be? Well, seemed I was after money to her, of course, and why’d Herman be a viable source for that from I have a letter his wife’d been going around in back of him?
She’d thought of Lawrence as someplace else I’d go for money’s what she’d thought.
I downed my bottle to halfway, looked at the envelope front, tapping this letter and that, little bugs, little crumbs.
It was she didn’t want Lawrence to know she’d been telling the long and short of their thing to anyone, maybe, either just she thought he’d go sour on her because of it or because it’d put Lawrence in some kind of spot.
She knew he’d’ve paid, that he’d have to for some reason or another.
She’d not been with him maybe in the two years since this letter’d gone missing, maybe further back than that—it was way past her caring Lawrence knew how he’d affected her, she’d want him to know that, probably, more than anything. If there was a chance it’d lead even to meeting face-to-face with him for an I’m sorry or a How could you do this, she’d want Lawrence to have the letter.
There was something else to it if she was trying to keep me away from him.
Away from him where?
I looked at the addresses—Klia from Pennsylvania, Norman somewhere Virginia.
Where’s Lawrence in all of that?
Bottle emptied, I made my way to the bar, asked could they leave a bourbon at my booth, break five dollars for coins and did they have a public phone. I was soft, head a heavy breeze, felt the coins grinding in my fingers, the phone just a wall mount in over by the toilets.
I dialed information, stammered through I was looking for a personal telephone number—really I wondered did they give those out, but they did, provided it was listed.
-I think it’s in Pennsylvania, in Sandbar Pennsylvania, that’s what I have, I said squinting at the envelope front.
-Lawrence Stephanie Glass.
-Lawrence or Stephanie Glass?
-Just Lawrence Stephanie, middle name’s Stephanie. Lawrence S. Glass.
There was a moment or two, I rubbed an itch on the side of my thigh sort of, leaned around the phone, head tip tap tip tap tip tap to the wall beneath a reproduction advertisement for Calvert Whisky. I was staring at the slogan—the Whiskey with the Happy Blend—when the operator said there was no listing in Sandbar, but she had four listing for Lawrence Glass in Pennsylvania and one L.S. Glass Plumbing in Horton.
–Is one of the Lawrence’s maybe in Horton?
-I have a Lawrence Glass in Horton, hold for that number.
I heard a click as an automated voice started giving me digits, padded around myself for a pen, but worse thing was I’d call back I’d heard things wrong.
Hung up, dialed, woman answered almost immediately, hardly the purr of a single ring’d gone off before a kind of short breathed clip of Hello?
–I was looking to talk to Lawrence Glass, given this number for contact.
-I’m with Nyborg Realty, calling back off a message he’d left?
-I think maybe you were given the wrong information.
-It’s Lawrence Stephanie Glass, is it? Horton, Pennsylvania.
I could almost see her blink, shoulders up down, saw her whole expression in the elongation to her first word Ye-e-es, that’s him. There was some muffled sound, her saying something to someone, not Lawrence though, then half a beat later it was He’s out just now—another bit of her talking in another direction, not covering the phone this time, a bark of Pick that up, now—then she exasperated huff out her teeth said I’m sorry.
-No no, not a bit of it, I’m sorry. I can just try him later, you let him know Nyborg Realty rang back—or nevermind, I hear you’re busy, just I’ll try back.
Not even stopping long enough to enjoy my little victory, I was slipping coins back in the slot, got the number for some motel in Horton, placed a call, asked did they know were there buses, a train station anything, how I’d get to them from whichever station.
-You’re coming in on train? Commuter train?
-I am, I said, smiling dumbly like the guy was there to make a face at.
-We don’t have shuttles, but I’m sure a cab’d do it.
-Train stops in Horton?
-No, commuter trains in to Darcy, but cab’d be the best to get here, no buses really.
I chatted back and forth a bit before just hanging up midsentence, bored with the pointless make believe, certainly not going to reserve a room.
I was surprised to find the bourbon at my table, glanced around to see maybe who’d left it, my mind catching up with itself it’d been me as I sat, lifted it, let some of it press up against my lip, swallowing nothing, inhaling deeply, tongue out for the little taste left over the scruff under my nose when I set the glass back to the table.
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.