It’s a Sunday. 4:00 in the PM.
“You’re gone, baby,” Stu says near his writing desk.
“Gone with the wind. Won’t be seeing you again.”
He pulls a page from the typewriter and tears
it to pieces before walking it outside
and letting the crisp Kansas wind scatter the
tiny scraps of page 18 from his newest
novel, entitled: Killer of Fish, Part II.
He dusts his hands and lights a cigarette as
the wind dies down. The only sound is that of
two distant church bells. “St. Vincent. St. Mary’s,”
Stu says, exhaling smoke like a dragon. “Hey,
he says, looking up at the sky. “Have you seen
the Japanese character for ‘dragon in
flight’? It’s pretty intense. I saw it in an
old book I found at a store up in Winfield
that mostly sells framed cross-stich patterns of things
like frogs and butterflys. Occasionally
you find a gem. You just have to search for a
while to find it. It’s like meeting a good
person in a world filled with shitheads like The
Turgidsons. I just got home and the place is
ransacked. I can only assume they did this
because my crops are still intact and I know
C.C. doesn’t partake in smoking. Ever.
She’s a lunatic, but the only drug she
likes is caffeine. She used to be uptight, back
when we were kids and everyone called her Sue.
I remember one summer she pulled out her
yearbook and told me what she thought of all the
kids in our school. I never told anyone
what she said about them, because that was her
business. I just liked hearing her talk. She
could have read a Chinese food menu and I
would have listened. Then her dad died and … well … she
started dressing like Sara Connor and said
her name was C.C., the way her dad wanted.
See, her pop was a movie critic for the
local paper and he loved old war movies.
He was also a bit of a nut, who had
his name legally changed from William Baker
to Buck Turgidson. He had a weird thing for
George C. Scott, because he named his children George,
Cecelia and Scott. His wife’s name was Bunny
and she died giving birth to her daughter. Folks
say that’s when her old man lost his mind. Bunny
was the only one who thought his awful puns
were funny. Buck lost his job at the paper
after he wrote an article comparing
our handicapped mayor to Dr. Strangelove
and ended the piece with the phrase, ‘They’re stealing
our fluids!!’ 27 times. I heard he
paid the editor 100 bucks to let
that one slide through to the presses, but who knows?
Small towns and their rumors, I suppose. That’s just
how it is from place to place. In Van Nuys the
porn stars talk crazy shit about each other
and what they do when they’re not humping for cash
and the workers at Roscoe’s call the waiters
at Fat Burger morons when they’re not looking
at all the fine-looking ladies strutting their
stuff up and down the street, hoping to be seen
by someone someone else thinks is important.
It’s life – insanity no matter where you
go. I hated California. I missed Sue.
I never wanted to leave Horner’s Corners.
When I came back home I looked her up and gave
her my book – the thing that got me out of Hell
and back to Kansas. Back to my home by the
Walnut River. I love this place. It’s peaceful.
No one bothers me and I don’t bother them.
Well … no one but George and Scott. They’re the ones who
told Sue I was crazy for dedicating
my book to her and Bob Dylan, aka
Bobby Zimmerman.” In the sky, lightning. Then
the rain begins. Soft, at first, then harder. Stu
flicks his cigarette into the bin near the
door and goes inside. Meanwhile, in Winfield…