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 firstname.lastname@example.org . I welcome any and all comments on the piece (positive, negative, or ambivalent) or general correspondence about matters literary.
This is the penultimate posting of the Norman Court Story. There have been enough twists by now to stop me from beginning to guess what will happen in the final installment.
I want to thank Pablo for having the idea of a blog tour for his story in the first place. I'd also like to thank those who followed by offering space - Pablo's a fine writer with an amazing appetite and energy, so I feel it's right and proper that good folk like yourselves celebrate that through your generosity.
I'm going to miss this story being part of my life, but as this door begins to swing shut another is most definitely about to open.
Here it is, Pablo's return.
this letter to Norman Court
twenty-oneSince it was Murray’s dime, took a room the night right in town, bought myself a few packs to smoke and a modest bottle of vodka when I couldn’t find bourbon anywhere near as cheap, the same size. Had the television on, volume up too loud I couldn’t concentrate right but I didn’t turn it down, just sat on the toilet the door closed it got I wanted to focus.
Couldn’t leave it with Norman’d just wandered away we’d had a drink he’d put a gun my hands kept telling me say I promise.
Nothing thoughts clogged me up, idiot things really—like find some report about someone dead, say that’d been the guy, or even as far as thinking I’d shoot myself the hand or something, say a struggle’d gone down, I’d got the worst of it now had no way I’d ever find the guy, again.
It was this meandering finally got me to unscrew the vodka, poured some in one of the plastic cups wrapped up at the sink, added a little water just to convince myself I’d more than I did and maybe it’d keep me paced. It really wasn’t I wanted to get drunk, just couldn’t only keep up the cigarettes with nothing else in me and the thought of food was impossible.
Getting the first swallow down, hissing from it tasted excruciating, it struck me Give him back the money, give Norman back the money it’d be done.
Doing vague math in my head, even after the five thousand I’d paid off the guy with, I had something twelve thousand—eleven thousand, twelve thousand, kind of’d lost track of incidental expenditures, so say eleven thousand—which meant I could give back the whole six thousand something he’d given me with the gun, this’d leave me five, then even I gave him back what I’d first took off him I’d have three, two or three, something.
Got caught up it was funny if I’d only have three left, meant I’d spent more than the original two thousand I’d been given deliver the letter—if I’d only be left three, or say even I was left four, it meant that still didn’t account for the four thousand something Lawrence’d paid me out and neither the two I’d bled Klia.
This was all immaterial, but still it got my head in a fuss, wanted to be at the storage unit to give things a count, couldn’t be satisfied with the figures I was coming out with.
Switched back to cigarettes off now a straight, waterless glass of vodka, took the room phone and sat it in my lap, puzzled out did I remember the address right to Norman’s place—town was called Door, address something like one two three, but I couldn’t get it right, odd combination of numbers seemed normal but wasn’t.
Figured out to dial information, hung up, stared at the cigarette I hadn’t smoked, stubbed it and poured a vodka, just a half inch high of it, downed it.
One five seventeen Pillowglen, it came to me I looked at the bed, my congratulatory handclap dull and pudding sounding, more the sound of slapping a plump belly.
Dialed information, again, relit the cigarette I’d stubbed but stubbed it right back it tasted odd, got a new one going while I answered the woman asked City and State.
-Norman Court I’m trying to call, address fifteen seventeen Pillowglen in Door.
I nodded, didn’t bother saying Yes, smoke out my nose, mouth, nose, mouth all from the same drag.
-I’m not finding any listing for that.
-I scratched my neck, answered There’s a bar with something the same address, don’t know the name of it, but almost the same address, Pillowglen.
-I have listings in Pillowgreen Glen.
-I nodded nodded nodded, cleared my throat. That’s right. Norman Court in Pillowgreen Glen.
She made a kind of whisper sound, but didn’t say anything.
-I’m not seeing a number listed for Norman Court.
I stubbed my cigarette, grimaced at myself because it’d be thoughtless, thing still more’n halfway good.
-How about there’s a bar that address?
-I have a number for Eastwick Pub, one five eleven Pillowgreen Glen.
-Should be it, I think.
Before I could ask would she just tell me the number she said she’d connect me. My instinct was to hang up I wasn’t ready, but as I didn’t feel I wanted to go through it with information get the number again I got a new cigarette up, stubbed the two I’d just stubbed all the way out because they were leaking scums of dark smoke was sort of annoying me to smell it.
I coughed, apologized, said Hello.
-Can you hold on?
I didn’t answer, figured he wasn’t waiting for me to.
-Half minute later someone else was on the line, a woman. Hello?
-What can I do for you?
It didn’t sound so busy, woman’s voice was even, undistracted.
-I’m trying to call for Norman Court, guy he’s upstairs I think. Left me his number a message I lost it, thought maybe you all would know.
-You’re calling for Norman? Who are you?
There was something to the tone, I got uneasy and the vodka seemed all of a sudden it was scuttling its way up in my ears.
-My name’s Murray Flake, I said, almost chuckled at the freeform combination. I’ve just been trying to get through to him a few weeks about something, finally got he gave me his number. Maybe I got it wrong. He said he lived above Easwick’s, though, I remember that.
Another odd pause like I was saying something didn’t make any sense, but then I could tell she’d cupped the receiver, was saying something off to the side someone.
Suddenly back in my ear, same even tone, she said Norman Court died few days ago on Thursday.
While I blanked on anything to say, heard her confirming off to the side Thursday? then I guess someone’d corrected her she said Wednesday night in my ear.
-Man’s voice broke in, You say it was Norman you were calling for?
-He swallowed his medicine cabinet on Wednesday, what are you calling us for?
Got the idea from his tone the man was standing up tall as he could, waiting for me to say something else he could swat me down.
-Well, it was just he gave me his number awhile back, I’d lost it.
Swallowed odd, abruptly, coughed once then just stammered a minute, said I’d call back, then—didn’t mean to say it, but right away the guy was in with No, don’t call back here, we don’t have anything to do with him.
I said Okay, but he’d already hung up.
Sat, phone in my lap, moved it back to the bedside table, looked around for my vodka and when I didn’t see it stood, heard it tip over my foot knocked it, stared blurry watching it glug out into the sand green of the carpet.
Counted off on my fingers—Wednesday was day after I’d seen him.
Yes. It’d been Monday I’d got out from the police, then next day’d seen him.
Realized the television volume was still up high, shut it off, but when the quiet got thick all over me like water spilled from a mop bucket I turned it back on, went to the sink and started washing my hands, my face—wasn’t until I’d scrubbed hard a towel, was feeling around for my cigarettes, it hit me I was crying, sniffles and burps. Tried to take in a drag, it made me sneeze. Sat to the floor, leaned a cuddle in close the heel of the bed.
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.