Thursday, February 18, 2010

Excerpt from Unpublished, Still-In-Progress Novel "Cows"

Tommy is a bowling ball salesman who's not meeting his sales quotas. It's the late '50s. He's alone in the office one night when he gets a visit from some people out of another book.


The Salesman with A Dream in His. . .

Oh, Tommy's seen some tough days. And he's seen her. And she's just over the horizon, in the same field, walking towards the cows. She's the dream of a bowling ball salesman. And she has a dream, too. Any relation between the dreams? Oh, there's always some relation, one supposes. Futures loom widely, wildly, at any age, if it is springtime. His dreams fix on objects, human objects mostly, in various guises and life situations. One object, really. He thinks of her as "her." Out there with the cows, like when he knew of her.

He's at work again. And he's been going at the job like mad, trying to reach his quota. So far, not so good. Never mind how hard he tries. He's been putting in long hours--mostly pondering, strategizing, practicing different sales pitches. He's worn himself to a frazzle such that he goes limp on the phone when it comes time to produce a coherently persuasive argument for a batch of A. King balls.

What more can be done?

Go get drunk. It's 8:10 and no one is left in the office but me. I 've got my strategy for tomorrow. Humor. It used to work. Why not now? It will.

The front door creaks open. Who's coming in at this hour?

"Doggone it!" Chet Morton exclaims. "No more sleuthing until we eat."

The fat, happy-old boy stands halfway between Frank and Joe Hardy as they walk through the door.

Dark-haired, eighteen-year-old Frank Hardy takes the lead in the purposeful walk through the reception area of A. King Holes.

Meanwhile, his blond-haired younger brother Joe says, "There used to be some reason for our existence. See this place? It's a sign we no longer matter."

He points to the bowling balls and photos of happy families chucking them down alleys.

Chet Morton opens an eye as they move past a rack of balls. Then a few photos. “What are they?” he asks.

“Bowlers,” Joe tells him. “Supposed to be having fun. Makes this company some money.”

"Bowlers!” The plump boy straightens up, looking worried. “Today?”

"Sure,” Joe Hardy goes on teasingly. "If a bowler puts a spell on your cow, she won't give milk. These pictures keep off the curse.”

Nervously Chet looks at the next two photos, and the balls over to the left, and then once all around him.

"Aw, nobody believes in that kind of stuff anymore. This is the twentieth century. Stop kidding me, will you, fellows? This is a novel. All I'm going to do is sleep and eat. Let's not have any mysteries!”

While their friend settles down and closes his eyes once more, Frank and Joe exchange knowing grins. As sons of the internationally famous detective, Fenton Hardy, they have many times been drawn into baffling and dangerous mysteries, where their brilliant sleuthing has earned them fine reputations of their own. Easygoing Chet Morton, the Hardy's best friend, always seems to become involved.

"Hey, who the hell, is there?” calls out Tommy.

“It’s us, the Hardy Boys, and were working on The Mystery of the Atomic Toilet.

“Hey!” Chet yells, “I thought we were looking for food.”

"Not in this novel, you're not!" Tommy warns. "Not food, not toilets. I'm about to be shitcanned and there's no space for your adolescent authority fantasies.”

"Uh, OK. I guess we've got the wrong book." Frank says, puzzled. "Comon you guys. We've got a mystery to solve."

They go out the front door.

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Thanks much,
Grego