Last Chapter of an Unwritten Novel—Daniel Enderle

Last Chapter of an Unwritten Novel

Daniel Enderle

Rachel had known precisely what she’d achieve when she’d carefully snipped the rear pockets from her cut-offs and, now, no unnecessary material interfered with the taut denim expanse of her zaftig hind quarters as they jutted out into the living room. She had a nice bottom. She was kneeling with her forearms resting on the back of the couch and her nose nearly touching the rippled, wavy glass of the big front window. Really nice. The tableau she presented was by no means unappreciated by the other four people present all of whom were males in their early twenties and were therefore, momentarily, incapable of thinking about anything else. So nice. They sat slumped where they had slept after having more or less passed out sometime after 3:00am. Very nice. Rachel studied passersby as the golden morning sunlight cast long shadows down the sidewalks of Mound Street. Really, so very… nice.

She exclaimed, “All these families walking to church are all dressed up this morning! Look at those little girls in their fancy dresses. What’s the deal?”

None of them replied until she turned and yelled, “Hey, perverts!”

Iggy blinked and activated his mind’s playback mode. He said, “Uh, I think it’s Easter, isn’t it?” Marcus looked up, but Comstock and Giggleman remained in their collective reverie.

Rachel resumed her recognizance and briefly swayed her hips like a belly dancer. Comstock’s low moan was immediately answered by a thump and a groan from above. Everyone looked up at the ceiling, but it offered no explanation.

Iggy rose, walked through the dining room to the short hall leading to the bathroom. He opened the closet and discovered that it contained a stepladder. The hatch in the ceiling was open. He climbed up until his head poked into the attic, then he turned himself around until only his heels rested on the step and he could look toward the front of the house where a small dirty window cast a funereal light. He yelled, “Hey, here he is! He’s in the attic! Brian, what the fuck are you doing up here?”

Brian sat in an straight-back wooden chair on a small square of flooring by the window. He picked up a book at his feet, got up and, with his head bent down moved toward the hatch. Iggy said, “Watch your step” just as Brian vanished in puff of dust. Much shouting and commotion from the living room. When Iggy got back in there everyone was staring at Brian as he lay on his back in a halo of debris on the round rug at the center of the room. He still clutched the green book with its old fashioned binding and gold lettering. The ceiling featured a jagged hole with exposed lath and plaster.

“Where the hell have you been? We’ve been looking for you since Friday afternoon. What the hell happened? You just fucking disappeared in the middle of the party.”

Rachel said, “That was a pretty neat trick considering you were unconscious.”

“I think I was kidnapped. I woke up in the middle of the night in a recliner in this storage locker down by the railroad tracks. What day is it?”

No one answered. Brian sat up, then got to his knees and patted all his pockets. He wore an army field jacket covered in dirt and splinters. He extracted a silver art deco cigarette case and opened it. He handed each of them a well-rolled joint.

“Oh my god where’d you get that?”, asked Rachel.

“I found it in the cushion of that recliner.” Brian pawed around on the coffee table until he found an orange plastic lighter and did the honors.

Giggleman said, “Damn, I thought I’d never see weed again.”

Marcus pulled an umbrella from a stand by the door and opened it above his head.

Giggleman coughed, “That’s bad luck, man.”

Rachel, now properly seated, exhaled a cumulus formation and said, “This shit is skunky.”

Comstock closed his eyes and tilted his head back. He said, “Smells like the tree” – the entire ceiling collapsed covering everything and everyone in plaster and filling the room with a billowing cloud of fine white dust – “farm.”

At once, the whole room transformed. Everything monochrome white. They were ghosts haunting an interior moonscape. Everyone stumbled out onto the front porch. No one had dropped their joints. Only Rachel’s still burned. She spit twice, took a big hit and passed it to Iggy who spit twice and hit it hard. He exhaled and said, “All right, Marcus, I’m calling bullshit on your ass.”

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t give me any of your shit. The umbrella gave it away.” Iggy handed the joint to Giggleman, took Marcus’s arm, marched him down the steps, around the side of the house and up the driveway. Once they were in the small gravel lot around back, and standing next to the big double sink sitting on the ground and filled with leaves, Iggy said, “What’s your deal, man? I know you’re up to something. All the shit that’s gone down the past three days smells like you and I know it. Nobody has ever had this much shit happen in one weekend. What’s up?”

“It’s a trick.”

“I know it’s a trick, motherfucker. What’re ya doing? Tell me!”

“OK, you remember we saw that graffiti on the bathroom wall in the dorm? It said, “Time is just a trick to keep it from all happening at once.” Well, fiction is trick that does make it all happen at once.”

Iggy stared at him for a moment, blinking is the sun-dappled shade of the trees. He said,“So, wait… you’re saying this is fiction?”

“Yup.”

“Bullshit. Prove it.”

Marcus said, “Look down.”

“Put me down, asshole.” Iggy’s powdered sneakers, with his feet in them, dangled three feet off the ground.

“Take it easy. I got this under control. Mostly.”

“You’re not under control. Put me the hell down.”

“Do you believe me?”

“Not really I don’t.”

“OK, what’ll it take to prove it to you?”

“Make that fucking sink go away.”

“OK, bam!” The sink was gone. Matted yellow grass marked the spot. “Why’d you pick the sink?”

“Cause it’s been pissing me off. And get all this dust and plaster offa me. So what is this book about?” They were both clean again.

“Nothing. It’s my college novel. No big deal.”

“So, what? You decided to put yourself in the book? Aren’t you ripping off that Vonnegut book you made me read? Should I be looking for the Doberman? What’s his name, Kazak?”

“Don’t worry about it. Guard dogs freak me out.”

“So wait a minute, so you’re saying I’m a fictional character?”

“Yup. But I kinda am, too.”

“So what if I don’t wanna be a character in your stupid book?”

“You got no choice. You’re S-O-L on that one.”

“So, wait man, you don’t write. So, that means you’re writing this in the future?”

“Yup.”

“So how far in the future? How old are you really?”

“I’m fifty-one years old.”

“Holy shit! Really? Damn, you’re older than shit, man. Why’d you wait so long to write a book?”

“It goes by really fast. Mostly, I’ve just worked forty hour weeks trying to pay the rent and buy groceries. And I made sculpture for fifteen years. Wasted lots of time and money on that. But now I’m in this writing group.

“What kinda sculpture? So what do you do now? Did you marry Penny? Did you make money making sculpture? What’s the future like?”

“So you believe me?”

“No. Not really.”

“Well, you’re still up in the air. Did you forget that?”

“Yeah, I did. Put me down, asshole. Whoa! OW!”

Marcus reached out a hand and pulled Iggy to his feet. He dug in his pocket and handed him some change. He said, “Check it out.”

“What?”

“Check out the dates on those coins.”

“1978? Big deal. Hey, here’s a wheatey.”

“Keep looking.”

“1999? 1987? 1995? 2011? Jesus, what year are you writing this?”

“Do the math. Almost thirty years. It’s 2013.”

“OK, so what’s the future like?”

“It’s pretty much the same except the whole planet is all fucked up. The atmosphere is fucked, the North Pole melted, a black man is president and I have gray hair.”

“The North Pole? A black president? You gotta be kidding. What’s that like?”

“Well he’s cool, but the Republican assholes hate him and the whole country’s fucked up and he’s doing some awful shit.”

“Is pot legal?”

“Yeah, sort of. But it hardly matters. The last three presidents smoked weed and one of them was coke fiend and a drunk too.”

“Cool.”

“Not really. He started two wars.”

“In the middle-east?”

“Yup. And two space shuttles blew up.”

“Oh no, really? Two of “em?”

“Yup. One of them on lift-off and one on re-entry and that one, all the pieces landed right here in Nacogdoches County. Lot’s of it right downtown.”

“No shit? Why here? Did you see it?”

“No, I was in Seattle by the time that happened.”

“Is that where you live?”

“Yup.”

“Do you like it?”

“I like looking at the mountains.”

“With snow on ’em?”

“Yeah.”

“So where do I live?”

“In North Carolina.”

“North Carolina? What the fuck?”

“That’s were your parents and one of your sisters live now.”

“So what?”

“So you kinda went crazy.”

“What do I do?”

“Not much.”

“Are we still friends?”

“Yeah, we talk almost everyday.”

“Isn’t that expensive?”

“No. Long distance is free now.”

“Weird. So what happens now?”

“Well, I’ve got some parting gifts for you.”

“So this is the end of the book?”

“Yup.”

“So what happens to me? I’m a fictional character. The book ends – I’m gonna disappear.”

“Nah, you’re gonna live happily ever after.”

“How you gonna make that happen?”

Marcus opened the trunk of his Pontiac and pulled out an aluminum briefcase. He said, “You’re gonna play the stock market. There are five newspapers in here. One from next New Year’s Day. One from March of 1987. Two from the 90s and one from 2001. It’s in a brown wrapper. Don’t look at that one until 2001.”

“OK. They got lottery numbers in ’em?”

“Yup. And race results.”

“Cool. I can’t believe it. You’ve hooked me up, man. So…any advice?”

“Yeah, but you won’t listen.”

“Yeah, I will.”

“No you won’t, but here goes. Give up trying to relate to your Dad. Remember crazy runs in your family.”

“What do you mean?”

“Just give up. Take a hard look at your Granddad and your Dad. They’re both batshit, right?”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right, now that you mention it. So me too, huh? What else?”

“Get yourself a woman shrink, the men won’t do you any good, and don’t fuck up your back. Don’t ever help anybody move furniture. Don’t ever do any job that involves lifting anything. Don’t ever help anybody build a barn.”

“Is that general advice or is it just for me?”

“It’s general, but I’m telling you specifically. Trust me. I know. And get out of this asshole town this summer.”

“What about my degree? Where should I go?”

“You don’t need a degree with what’s in the case. Go anywhere. Go to France. They have nude beaches there. Just don’t ever go to Baltimore.”

“Will I ever get another girlfriend?”

“Yeah, but if you wanna keep her, you gotta put out.”

“Whatta ya mean?”

“Women put out by having sex with you, but men put out by being nice to them and by being nice to their friends and their family.”

“I do that stuff.”

“No you don’t. Not really. You gotta act like you care.”

“What do you know about it?”

“Look, man. Penny and I are still together. It’s been thirty-three years and we’re happy.”

“Thirty-three years? You’re like twenty-two!”

“No. I told you. I’m fifty-one. Do you know how hard it would be to counterfeit those coins?”

“So you know all about women?”

“I know all about one of ’em. Pretend you’re listening to her, wash the dishes once in a while, bring her flowers and tell her you love her ten times a day. If she’s bitching at you, let her bitch. If she’s crying, let her cry. It’s that simple.”

“Sounds like you’re pussy whipped.”

“Yeah, and that’s good. It’s great. That’s the way we all wanna be. Here.” Marcus handed Iggy an aluminum film cannister with a blue screw cap.

“What’s this?”

“Open it.”

It was full of weed. Buds, shake, and a little chunk of hash. Marcus said, “If you smoke it up, it’ll be full again the next morning. Just don’t lose it. And don’t get busted.”

“That’s awesome.”

“You’re damn straight it is.”

“How’s that work?”

“It’s fiction, man.”

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About bbcstudiowrites

This blog is me archiving the BBC Studio Writers Workshop.

Posted on May 7, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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