This Letter to Norman Court: 19 by Pablo D’Stair
this letter to Norman Court is a novella consisting of 22 sections (each around 1250 words) I am releasing by way of serializing the piece across blogs, by reader request. 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. As of now the 22 slots have all been requested (cheers to everyone for that) but if you enjoy what you read please do get in touch with me via email@example.com. I welcome any and all comments on the piece (positive, negative, or ambivalent) or general correspondence about matters literary.
It was strange stepping out off the train, into the station close to four in the morning, strange recognizing immediately and deeply the city I lived in, nothing specific, just the laziness I could walk with, the unconscious understanding how far I was from here or there, feeling I’d not had since stepping on the train originally, letter from Klia to Norman not even open.
Went down the storage area the basement of Murray’s building, reached in through the hole in the wire fence of his little cubby, took the spare key from under the towel on top the boxes I knew had most of his books in them, elevator up to his floor, let myself in. He wasn’t around, supposed he had the night shift as it was just midweek.
Took a long shower his body wash, shampoo, conditioner, used a new one of his disposable razors to shave. Smiled that my Kroger brand pizzas were still in his freezer, tucked to the side of the three half empty boxes of popsicles, only grape flavored ones left, heated one of the pizzas and drank a two thirds full bottle of cold water the fridge, refilled it from the tap.
I dressed in some of my old clothes I saw Murray’d packed up in one of his old suitcases for me, put the clothes I’d been wearing I showed up in my duffle, poked around the apartment generally to see had I left some little knick-knack of mine around maybe I’d miss later, didn’t find anything, turned on the television and smoked. Turned the television off as soon as whatever show I’d stopped on got to commercial, dug through my duffle, carefully took out the gun. It was a funny weight in my hand, I didn’t even loosely curl my finger around the trigger or even put it alongside the trigger, held the handle odd, way it’d be the gun were a banana—I pointed it around variously, put my coat on unbuttoned to see what did the weight feel like down the pocket.
Struck me I didn’t have an extra duffle to put the money I was bringing the guy in, rooted around through Murray’s things until I came up with an old backpack I’d seen in the same corner forever, full of old school notes and some miscellaneous garbage which I piled neatly—not like I exactly planned to see Murray again, but if ever I did he asked I’d tell him I’d took it, which he’d already know.
Locked up behind me, kept the key for when I’d come back for my bag as I’d aim to do so I knew Murray wasn’t around anyway, got to the street with the old backpack around one shoulder, hands in my pocket, tensed when I touched the gun, but kept walking until I was to the phone outside of the post office.
Guy picked up, said my name then right away in with his bit how the money was to be delivered. I frowned, his plan more clever than the ones I’d been thinking. I was to go to a hotel he’d rented himself a room out, give whatever it was I had the money in—a backpack I said over him, but he didn’t acknowledge me—to one of the desk attendants, say it was for Mister English they’d be expecting something delivered for him and would take it to the room, he’d go ahead and call the place in the evening, make sure they’d only taken the bag and I’d not gone to the room, meanwhile I was to get on a train to Henderson Crest, give him a call I was there and when he recognized the proper area code from where I called he’d go up for the money and we’d be done.
He hung up after making sure I knew which hotel and he’d had me repeat the procedure to him, nothing else.
It was only just past nine thirty in the morning, so I got some coffee, careful to remove my coat, set it over the chair back when I sat, padded the outside of the pocket to be certain the gun was as down in the pouch as it’d go.
It got under my skin more and more he’d had such a neat and clean little plan, smugness all over his voice I replayed it, like it was all some dreadful yawn for him, it was I’d done the leg work and he could just ho hum up a plan I’d slip into like a cog, give him his payday.
Even more annoyed because he was right, why not be smug?
Spun some pointless little ideas how could I get at him after the money’d been dropped when I couldn’t even begin to come up with how would I fake a call from Henderson Crest, but all of it amounted to nothing but some limp thing like try to call the hotel and get out of them some sneaky way which room’d been the one had a bag left for it—trouble was I didn’t know which room, which name, no way to finesse the question. Short of getting a job there, getting a whole list who’d taken out rooms then spend forever trying to match them up with my guy I was blanked, and even that nonsense only worked in fantasy land had he used his real name, real address.
Felt pretty terrible about myself, mind wandered to what maybe Norman was thinking I was up to. He must’ve known I’d just split with his money, I’d even told him that was just what it was I’d had my mind set to do—but I wondered, anyway. He crept all into my head, whole little scene of him forcing the money on me, the gun, how I really felt he’d ignored me saying I don’t promise, pretended the words into I had.
I perked up a little bit it struck me maybe if I explained it right I could get someone to keep an eye on the desk, see who got the bag, pay them a little bit of money follow the person, but just as soon I slumped into stepping outside for a cigarette, saw about a million ways that this’d never stand a chance of working even if I could come up with someone’d do it inside the next hour or two before I’d have to be on the train out.
Guy was as smart as me, clearly lot smarter on top.
Ridiculing myself, it occurred to me he wouldn’t be going to the desk to get the bag, bag’d already be up in the room. But maybe I could see if I could hang around, see which room the attendant took the bag to, have someone stake it out.
No. Just as much nothing, but I wouldn’t stop thinking no matter how much I told myself stop.
I was tired, realized I just drifted to the side walking down the street, was leaning against a wall, hand around the gun in my pocket.
Only thing I could do was to not leave the money, but that was more something I’d be doing to myself than to anyone else.
Got on a bus, seat in the back, extra vibration because I was just above one of the wheels, or at least it felt that way in my head. Found myself thinking how when I’d been younger, high school, I’d like to walk around in the cold, holiday lights up and things especially, pretend I had a gun in my pocket, was waiting to walk past a certain person, pull the trigger—always’d wondered would the shot cause a recoil, make me hit against my leg, leave a bruise, wonder could I just keep walking after the trigger’d been pulled or would it be evident what’d happened, people rush down on me. Those were the games I’d played. It seemed sad and pretty at the same time, smiled not quite able to make that out in what there was of my reflection the window.
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.