My next novel
April 29, 2014 by Thomas Wictor
Today I finished the outline for my next novel. All I’m going to say about this book is that it concerns a terrible suspicion. What does a person do when confronted with suspicion? Do you leave well enough alone, or do you look for the truth regardless of the damage it will do to yourself and others?
Some truths must be exposed, I think, even if they cause great turmoil. It comes down to a question of loyalty. Do you owe loyalty to a mirage? My answer is a resounding, “No!”
Lots of people will disagree with me. I perfectly understand. My approach isn’t for everybody. I’m already anticipating the criticisms; my novel will make a lot of people angry. A friend warned me that it might even get me killed. I don’t think so, but if it does, so be it. Death isn’t the worst thing that can happen to me. The worst thing that could happen to me at this point is that my brothers Tim and Eric would suddenly announce that they’d always thought I’m a buffoon and that they’d only been pretending to like me.
Even if that were the case, I’d survive.
Now that I think about it, learning that Eric and Tim regard me as a clown isn’t the worst thing that could happen to me. Being tossed into this thing would be much worse.
Look how slowly it goes. You’d have a lot of time to think about what was taking place.
Being transformed into this guy would be much worse than Eric and Tim thinking I’m a joke.
Our sailboat trip to Santa Catalina Island was the most seasick I’ve ever been in my life. My cousin and his son took us out to observe the sea lions, and we all vomited nonstop for hours. Pat was first, then Paul, then Carrie, then Mom, and finally me. Tim didn’t throw up because he’d taken so much Dramamine that he was a zombie. Though I knew there were great white sharks in the water, I seriously contemplated jumping in.
When we got back to shore, we staggered away while our cousin wailed, “What are we gonna do with all the food we bought for the barbecue?”
As close as I am to Eric and Tim, I’d take their derision over becoming that seasick ever again. It was a hot, prickly, greasy queasiness that wouldn’t stop. Even the rotational vertigo attacks of Meniere’s disease aren’t as bad as that boat ride.
Today I also had the worst stomach pain of the past two years. I went down to Tim’s’ house, and he gave me some of his Carafate, and then we waited to see if I’d have to go to the emergency room. After about three hours, I was fine. It’s just stress.
While Tim and I sat there and monitored my situation, we talked about how we don’t feel any different than we did at the height of 2013, when both parents had destroyed or were destroying themselves, and I was being scammed by so many grifters that it was like I’d entered an industrialized process.
Actually, upon further reflection I was more like this in 2013.
The future will be a little different in that Mom and Dad are already dead, not dying, and I won’t be ripped off to the degree I was before. Also, I now know almost everything there is to know about search-engine optimization. I’m well positioned if I produce a good book. And I think it’s going to be great.
Originally I’d started a different novel, but this one is fighting to emerge. Writing it will banish most of what torments me. It’s very strange: I didn’t foresee any of the truly ghastly comprehension that I now possess, but I assimilated it immediately. It wasn’t even a struggle. The reason why is that it explained my entire life. I always choose knowledge over obliviousness. The cliché “Ignorance is bliss” really isn’t accurate. People are much smarter than they seem. Almost everybody knows when something is wrong.
It’s the pretending and denial that erodes them.
I found a bunch of slides that my Great-aunt Rosalie took in 1948. After scanning several of them, I just gave up. Rosalie and her sister Clarinda were deeply unhappy people. They had hard lives, but they refused to acknowledge their misery. These photos aren’t suitable for publication because they just show really grim middle-aged and elderly women standing around in yards, in front of garages, and on porches. People would laugh at them. I don’t want that.
This photo was from that huge box of slides. It shows the Skrotch Funeral Home’s living-tableaux tribute to the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima.
I assume it’s the Flandreau, South Dakota, Independence Day parade of 1948. It’s a moving and truly bizarre bit of performance art, so I posted it.
There was an element of theatricality in my relatives’ indestructible unhappiness. Tim and Paul visited Iowa in 1967. While they were there, my Great-grandmother Clara died. Dad being so secretive, I can’t tell you exactly how old Clara was. Here she is on her wedding day, January 30, 1900; Edward Fiegen is the groom.
Clara had to be almost ninety when she died. She passed away in her sleep, but when my Grandmother Angelina received the call that her mother had died, she began screaming at top of her lungs. Angelina was a taciturn, remote person who unnerved all of us kids. Tim said that her screams sounded like laughter: “Ahhhhhh-hyah-hyah-hyah-hyahhhhhhhhhh!” One second she was her normal, silent self, and the next she was making this unearthly racket.
Tim was seven and Paul was six; Dad had disappeared, the way he always did, so the two little boys were left with a hysterical old woman whom they barely knew. As Angelina howled, she walked around the house straightening piles of magazines and dusting.
When Dad died, I phoned Eric and Paul. The second Eric heard my voice, he said, “This is the call, isn’t it?” I told him it was. When I called Paul, I said, “Paul, I have some very sad news, so I want you to prepare yourself for it. Are you ready?” When he said he was, I told him that Dad had died. It was the same when Mom died. It was necessary for me to think of the others and to cushion the blow.
I’m going to cushion the blow of my next novel by adding as much humor and mystery as I can. My intention is to allow the reader to think that the narrator is an insane drama queen suffering from rectal-cranial loopback.
The writer himself may be afflicted with same.
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