.....more great Fiction!
By 6:47 he had eaten and cleaned the dishes. At 6:57, he stood before the papers mounded in the fireplace, cognac poured, matches at the ready.
At 6:59, he lit the match and waited for the digits to flip to 7:00 when he heard a knock on the door.
“Who is it?”
“Father O’Herlihy, Tony. Can we talk?”
“Now’s not a good time, Father.”
“Tony,” the priest intoned as if he were a parent speaking to a fibbing child, “we need to talk.”
The clock flipped to 7:01. The fire is late.
“Come on, Tony. Open the door and let me in.”
“Sure, Father. Just a minute.”
Tony tossed the extinguished match in the fireplace.
“What’s up, Father?” he said opening the door.
“May I sit down?” Father O’Herlihy stepped inside.
“Yeah sure, Father. I was just gonna have some cognac. You want some?”
“No, thanks, I’m still on duty,” he said motioning to his cassock.
“What’s up, Father?”
“Are you feeling alright, Tony?”
“Yeah, I’m good. I eat granola bars and have herbal tea every morning. I keep the place free of mold.”
“You seem to be very angry lately. Have you been yelling at people on the street?”
“You mean yesterday? Yeah, well somethin’ they said just set me off. They insulted Flannery.”
“You can’t yell at people. I made that clear when you moved in here. I talked the museum board into letting you stay here in exchange for a few caretaking chores as long as you control your temper.”
“I know, Father.”
“Tony, you should focus on your writing.”
“Let me show you something.” Tony handed Father O’Herlihy the Zeus Literary e-mail.
“This could be a wonderful opportunity for you to make some money and move someplace nicer.”
Fire shot through Tony’s face. “I probably wouldn’t move. Who would take care of the garden, empty the dehumidifiers, control the mold?”
“We’d find somebody, Tony. That’s not work worthy of a published writer. No, you would benefit the Museum far more by allowing us to say that our ‘writer in residence’ got his book published.”
“Well, I’ll leave you to your cognac,” Father O’Herlihy said as he stood, “I feel better now that we’ve had this talk. I’ll pray this opportunity works out for you.”
The priest shot Tony a reassuring grin and left.
Tony watched the priest cross the square through the window’s iron bars, crumpled the Zeus e-mail, threw it in the fireplace, and struck the match.
Albert Davenport holds a MA in writing from Johns Hopkins University and is the author of the nonfiction short piece, Daedalus: A Tale of Savannah. He is the author of two unpublished novels, the first two of a planned trilogy.
by Albert Davenport
Tony Spirale showered with his glasses on so he could spot mold. Each shower concluded with precise targeted shots of Clorox Clean-up. Ever since his banishment to the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home Museum’s dark, dank basement...no, they don’t call them that down here...it’s the goddamned garden level...he had a routine—rise at 7 AM, shower, chlorinate the walls, wipe them down, towel off, shave his craggy face, get dressed, empty the dehumidifier reservoirs, and then begin the day with a honey and oat granola bar washed down by a cup of herbal tea.
Seated at his desk tucked just below the iron-bar covered, chicken-mesh reinforced window that looked out onto Savannah’s Lafayette Square, he engaged in the one solace of his exile, writing.
I’d never get out through these bars if we ever had a fire. Goddamned southerners are more worried about their precious old buildings than the people living in them.
Tony opened his document to section four of his six-section novel where he had left off the night before. The dehumidifier’s throbbing hum wrapped him in a blissful white noise cocoon for the next hour.
But the machine ran on some sort of timer that Tony could never master, the fates randomly turned it on and off. Muffled street sounds filled the auditory void until the alarm on his phone rang at 2:00 PM bearing the message, ‘Check e-mail.’ A missive from the Zeus Literary Agency read:
Dear Mr. Spirale:
We are very interested in your novel, Sisyphus, but feel it would benefit from professional editing. If this meets with your approval, we will have an editor from Persephone Literary Services contact you.
He printed a copy, placed it on the pile of the week’s other promising e-mails, aligned the stack with the corner of his desk, then deleted the message from his computer. The e-mail harvest would be Saturday’s job.
Saturday morning’s shower and mold slaughter occurred with remarkable efficiency. The flavors of his oat and honey granola bar and herbal tea barely broke through his chlorine-possessed nostrils.
One by one he wadded the printed e-mails and tossed them in the fireplace until he came to the Zeus e-mail.
Maybe I should get back with them. I wonder if they pay for it and take it out of future royalties. I don’t know how the goddamned thing works.
“Born in 25, died in 64. Only lived to be 39,” he heard a man’s voice say outside his window, “What is it with these writers? Why do they die so young?”
“She had lupus, goddamnit,” Tony yelled as he struggled out of the office chair.
He waddled over to the door screaming, “Lupus. She died of lupus.”
Out the door and up the steps as fast as his bandy legs could carry him, he charged on to the street and looked for the man who had disparaged his sainted Flannery.
“She wasn’t a drug addict or anything. It was hereditary,” he yelled at a couple waiting to cross the street. “She died from lupus, goddamnit.”
Tony scanned the street. Across the square, Father O’Herlihy returned his glare.
“Oh goddamnit, I’ve done it now. The goddamn priest is on the goddamn Museum Board.”
Seven o’clock tonight the papers burn while I drink cognac. The ashes sit for 24 hours and then I sweep them up. None of those goddamned board members will be able to tell I used the fireplace.
For those who can't make it to the mecca that is Kelly Writers House, we gather once per month, in a traveling show sort of migration around South Florida to enjoy the companionship, the intellectual stimulation and the pure exhaustion of the mental challenge of a live close read!
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