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Back You are here: Home Stories Words for the People Short Stories This Letter to Norman Court: 18
Monday, 06 June 2011 14:47

This Letter to Norman Court: 18

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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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . I welcome any and all comments on the piece (positive, negative, or ambivalent) or general correspondence about matters literary.


Pablo D’Stair



Couldn’t relax right the whole time on the train back toward where I’d got the unit to store my money. New money I’d transferred into my duffle, arranged it the way I liked it to look—gun was in the duffle, too, I’d checked was it loaded and when it was left it that way, wrapped it in two shirts, very uncomfortable the thing’d go off, something’d get its trigger down I let it bounce around loose.

Taxi’d out to the storage unit right away, mostly because I didn’t know what was I going to do about getting a room, anything, without using my ID, wanted to go a long while, get myself lost far away before I chanced using it again—if I could manage something smart, never have to mess around with it again that’d be even better.

It was with thoughts in my head weren’t getting me anywhere on the subject of fake identification I came up to my unit, took the key for the lock I’d bought out my duffle, stared at the shut up mound of the gun a moment, zipped the bag.

Everything was fine, old money right where I’d left it, separate plastic bag of trash inside a larger bag of trash, just paper, nothing’d go off sour—really I thought the whole ruse was silly now, someone bothered to break in some storage unit saw it’s just a trash bag they’re gonna look in that bag.

Toyed with the idea could I sleep in the unit, just the night, maybe hole up a good week—vanish without going anyplace, no one’d expect I’d just stayed around—but there didn’t seem to be any way to lock the thing the inside.

Added to which, who wouldn’t expect? Who’d I think it was looking?

It was nagging thoughts of things left undone I knew was keeping me from just getting a train across the country, couldn’t shake that too much was going I’d no control over it to let me relax. Same time, didn’t know how to close anything out—Norman and the guy’d given me the letter to deliver the first place, they both wanted something, now, had money from one of them kill the other, other one wanting money from me I’d bled off everyone else.

I laughed, but then stopped myself because it seemed like something a person losing control of his wits’d do, laugh when certainly there wasn’t something to laugh at.

Smoked down half pack of cigarettes, gently pushing the duffle full with everything around the space with the side of my foot. No, couldn’t just take off I had this money someone’d paid me I’m supposed to go kill someone else—though at the same time, why not? If I was gone I was gone, couldn’t picture anyone being able to track me down.

Thing was though, again: eventually I’d need to use my ID for something, eventually I’d come up somehow someone’d be able to find me they were looking, not like I could live forever in hotel rooms on the spoils, the sixteen thousand in the duffle didn’t buy me a new me and I’d no idea how go about being someone else.

Did I want to go living back on Murray’s sofa, whoever’s, back to petty theft get myself through the day to day, nothing else but that?

Gave the bag a hard kick, tensed down like that’d been a bad idea, gun’d go off I behaved like that.

That’s all I had to go back to, either way—except I could get a job, figure out some grift maybe, except even to do that I needed name, social security number, needed everything like that, everything that’d keep me situated one place anyone could come along find me.

Locked the duffle down in the unit, kept out a solid thousand, took a minute to go through my pockets, discard whatever little scraps and loose coins’d collected.

Two cards both with the same phone number written on them, same number as the guy'd given me before—thought it must be some gas station cell phone he’d bought, maybe I ought to get one instead of always sniffing around for payphones.

It was this guy who was the real threat, really, Norman’d been playing his hand wanted me more his dirty little helper, didn’t have anything on me except I’d his money and money’d never seemed to matter to him. I could walk away and Norman wouldn’t follow, but this other guy’d already tried to put it to me, calling the police, shown himself actively set on taking what was mine with all his cleverness tracking me down, phoning in a tip.

Was a row of phones outside a liquor store, one of them in use, some woman bulked up around it keeping her conversation as private as a parking lot phone’d allow. To be polite, I loitered across the street until she’d finished, got my coins down the slot, dialed.

He picked up after two rings, casually said my name.

-What’s your name by the way, except it isn’t Flake, is it? I said, sounding hasher that I really meant.

-You gave me a scare, Trevor. They said at the motel you’d got back to your room, but when you didn’t call I thought maybe they had it wrong and you’d not talked your way out of things. Good for you, breathing free.

I was tonguing the space where my missing tooth’d used to be, letting him talk mostly because I wasn’t ready to make my pitch, didn’t know did I want to so much hearing his voice, it hitting me full what he’d tried to do to me.

-What’s it gonna cost to end this?

He seemed unsure how to respond, made me wish I’d just skipped out of town, that I’d been wrong he’d keep it up coming after me.

-You’re calling to make me an offer?

-It seems that’s just what I’m doing.

-I don’t understand that.

-I chuckled. Something you have to understand about it? I get it, gave you a headache with my thing, you think it’s the least I can do pay some of that off and I’m not really interested this being the narrative of my life until whenever you feel like it’s not, but think maybe you’re the sort I can say Let’s do this it makes us square and you let it do just that.

Awkwardly fished a cigarette up to my mouth while the line kept silent, then while he made a long breath into his end of the receiver made crackling sounds like wind in my ear.

-Finally he said I figure you went down to see Lawrence, too, you’re not telling me otherwise, are you?

-Breathed smoked down my nose a bit, last of the breath out my mouth while I said Lawrence paid through the teeth, mostly because I guess he was more at fault than Klia, the thing.

-Then I want five thousand dollars.

I knew the way he was figuring it, that according to his numbers he was asking for half—all things totaled including the original two thousand he’d given me deliver plus counting what I’d said about Lawrence as he;d paid double the letter into the deal.

-Four thousand.

-Five thousand you want us square. I don’t have time for this, either, so that’s how it is.

Screwed my cigarette up into the coin slot, tube of it spilling a few cinders then dry flakes of tobacco, just broke open a mess, was about to talk again but realized he’d hung up. Left the phone to my ear, quiet until it rang a few times, recorded message came on I’d need to hang up I wanted to place another call, let the message go half dozen times before I set the receiver the cradle, completely done, crumbs and old air left in my head, not a single thought.

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Pablo D'Stair

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.

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