Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Inside Flap

Welcome to Visit Mohicanland, an illustrated online novel, presented in consecutive posts below. The story traces a story of two friends, Blinky and Myron, who contend with rapacious capitalists, time-traveling historical figures and gooey aliens. Plus exploding gas stations and challenging golf courses. Rollicking, pithy, darkly funny, the narrative has the quality of a fable, told in the manner of a joke. Ultimately about gain and loss, in many respects.

This blog will not be updated, though comments are welcome. For timely reports from my studio, see my blog and studio site. If you like the story, please consider linking to it. Thanks–DBD.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Scenes 1 & 2

There are two guys, named Blinky and Myron. Myron is the older, more serious, less happy one. Myron has a lot of gravity happening. He’s solid and thick. Blinky flits like a bird. He collects enthusiasms, one after another. Exotic diets. UFO coverups. Crackpot Egyptology. Everything that Blinky has learned about the world, beyond what he’s gained from his own senses, he’s gotten from cable TV, silly pamphlets, and talk radio. Said sources routinely make ridiculous claims that Blinky repeats uncritically. For example, that finely ground dandelion leaves, if you take them orally, will cure any disease in the world.

Myron broods; Blinky exults. Myron is turgid and jowly. Blinky is nimble and gaunt. Myron cites authorities, and Blinky is all caprice.

For the purposes of the story, they’re friends.


Myron owns a house. It’s a small brick number with a steep scoopy roof and white metal awnings. The lot is tiny, the yard nicely kept. Myron puts out potted geraniums. He parks his car, a rust-colored 1986 Buick Century, out front.

So one day. Birds are chirping. Traffic is sliding by the house. Inside, Myron wakes from a difficult sleep. Groaning, he draws his first conclusion of the day.

“I’m ill,” he thinks. “I’m sick!”

Myron struggles to sit up and puts on his glasses. He exhales dramatically. He indexes the discomfort, rifling through a stack of potential causes. “I suffer,” Myron concludes, not for the first time, “from a blockage of some kind.” He declares out loud, “I’m stopped up like a pipe!” He can scarcely open his eyes.

Stooped and wincing, Myron dresses and hurries over to see Blinky.

Blinky lives in a complex of outbuildings on the grounds of a big old mansion. He performs various duties for the rich occupants, but mostly he’s like an engaging pet. He comes and goes as he pleases. (Except when it rains or snows a lot; then he mows and shovels like crazy.)

Myron trudges up to the mower shed where Blinky keeps the lawn machines. He bangs on the corrugated metal and calls out. “Blink!” He announces his illness. Nothing. Then: the sound of Blinky moving the mowers. Blinky’s slender head pops into view, followed by the rest of him. He’s got a finger stuck in an estate-sale copy of Flying Saucers Have Landed, circa 1953, holding his place.

“You’re not sick,” offers Blinky, “you’re just anxious.” He gestures with a hand green from lawn care. “If you suffer from anything, Myron—and I’ve told you this—it’s a lack of experience.”

“Haw,” answers Myron, straightening. “I have an excellent position–”

“Not work experience,” interrupts Blinky. “Experience experience.”

“Don’t give me–”

“Myron, what do you do? You like plink on a keyboard. You look at numbers. Whoop-O.”

Myron reddens. “I manage databases.”

“Whatever,” says Blinky. He ducks back in the shed and pulls out a metal bucket, which he overturns to make a seat. Still holding his book, he sits on the bucket. “What I mean,” says Blinky, flipping pages, “is are you ever out there.” He looks up at Myron.

“Do you experience physical danger?”

Myron pushes back on his glasses.

“Do you have paranormal experiences.”

A giant eyeroll.

“Do you like, violate company policy? Are you getting laid?”

Myron snorts.

“See?” pronounces Blinky, as if addressing a jury.

“See what?” demands Myron.

“I’m telling you, Myron!” Blinky sets the book down and gets up off the bucket. “You need to get out of that office and smell the tuna. Have an experience, or like five.”

Myron stuffs his hands in his pockets.

“You need,” summarizes Blinky, “a vacation.”

Hmph,” replies Myron.

“And not some cruise. Instead, like camping. Or travel to a bizarre international location. Turkey. Java.”

Myron has turned away. His arms are folded, and he’s peering down at the gravel.

“Look,” says Blinky, stepping forward. “I could stand to get out of town myself. Let’s go somewhere! Let’s walk crosslots for 200 miles, and get really thirsty, and strip to the waist, like Mohicans, or Mohawks, or whoever, and hide out in a National Forest.”

“Mohawks,” says Myron flatly, insultingly.

“I’ll tell you what,” adds Blinky, retreating. “the Indians know the score.”

“Whatever you say, Blink.” answers Myron. He gestures at the book. “Whatever the aliens tell you.”

“I’m just saying. Travel would do you good.”

The subject has been exhausted. And Blinky, like some decent hunk of bread in a bad bowl of soup, has absorbed Myron’s distress.

“I’ll tell you what would do me good. A raise,” corrects Myron, with real-world self-importance. “A promotion would do me good. I could use a little recognition of the role I play–”

“Myron,” interjects Blinky, nearly whining.

“I keep that place in order.”

“And what do you get? Chronic digestive whatever.”

Blinky bends down and picks up Flying Saucers Have Landed. He points the book at Myron ruefully. “You know, you laugh at me, but I am not the one living in like Ulcer City.”

“I don’t have an ulcer--”

“I have been thinking about this. I ask you: why is it that visitors from other worlds are going to totally mop up when they get here?” Blinky tucks the book up under his arm, holds out his hand and enumerates two points. “Not enough outdoor activity is one reason. And focus on all the wrong things is the other.”

Scene 3

Myron works at the O P & Q Company, a wholesaler of machine parts. One day, along with a big shipment of aluminum rotators, comes word of changing circumstances. The floor guys are rumbling. The company’s up for sale. “The old man, he’s got a fish on the line,” says one.

A mysterious black truck has parked behind the building. Sharp-looking men in dark suits have been spotted. Lawyers.

“If he sells out to one of these big outfits, we’re on the street,” says another.

Outwardly, Myron isn’t having any of it. “Mr. Q. would never sell this company.”

O P & Q was founded by Osborne, Packer, and Quinn, three paratroopers who came back after the big war and went into business together. They got a warehouse and and a loading dock and some trucks.

Understand about Mssrs. O P & Q: they are virtual Homeric Men. In Europe, they hurl themselves of out airplanes and float down over Belgium without getting their dings shot off. They overrun Germany. Now they carry super-heavy equipment up six flights of stairs. They tolerate big jolts of electricity casually. They make handsome money. Golf handicaps in single digits. This at the height of their powers.

But hey, nothing lasts forever. Osborne, the sales guy, is the first to go. He gets bored, cashes out, and moves with the wife to Nevada. Then goes Packer. He’s at a fishfry in 1979, eating beer-battered perch at the VFW, when Alma his wife goes to the bathroom. Suddenly Packer goes blue and flops over. WHAM. Fries everywhere. Chokes on a masticated fishball. Dies.

Myron comes on after this point.

Q is a man with white hair and big forearms. Q has an actual surname, “Quinn,” but everyone calls him Q.

Q hires Myron to keep track of where things are. At first, the system involves a great many index cards, and then it changes, to an inventory software package with an awkward name. Myron learns the program. He does well, in a limited way. He works in the outer office at a desk with a computer, behind milkily windowed walls that separate the clerical area from the shop floor.

Today, on the day of scary rumors, Myron’s getting worried. He can see several silhouetted figures in Q’s office. The white-haired Q is seated. Myron broods over his data. Q’s phone line blinks from 8:30 on.

Finally, near lunch time, the door opens and Q comes out of the office wearing a casual shirt. “Good morning, Myron,” says Q. He’s accompanied by two men in dark suits. They’re carrying fat brown accordian file things. Q introduces them, perfunctorily, to Myron.

“We’re from legal,” they say. Myron nods.

“Would you get on the intercom,” Q asks Myron, “and call a meeting?”

Everybody. Immediately.

Myron obliges, feeling sick. The company staff assembles out on the shop floor. Q makes a brief announcement that O P & Q has, in fact, been sold. But--he stresses--But. “Everybody’s job is going be safe.” The guys from legal smile thinly.

Q shakes a few hands, wipes an eye, and strides across the greasy endblock wood floor to the freight elevator. He yanks on the nylon strap and opens the gray slab door, virile as ever, then, at Friday noon, disappears into the elevator. He’s joined by Viv, the office manager, who’s got broad hips and a nice leer. Word is the old man turns up in Naples.

Florida, not Italy.

Nobody blames him but a small-minded driver named Newbauer. And Myron.

Scene 4

The news spreads: the venerable O P & Q Company has been purchased by an outfit called the Sucke Brothers.That’s S-u-c-k-e. Probably they’re British, which is the only decent explanation for the silent “e.” The Sucke Brothers are diabolical capitalists. Major turnip-squeezers.

“The Sucke Brothers,” says Blinky. “I think I’ve heard of them. They move into places and buy everything up.”

Myron, who struggles with transitions, gurgles and dissembles all weekend. But come Monday, by the time he can actually string sentences together, he’s gotten on board. “Vertical integration of products and services. These Sucke men must think big!” Myron ponders the opportunity.

Blinky isn’t optimistic.

The Suckes waste no time taking control. They cut half the staff, and modify the company insurance plan to require all visits to the doctor to occur between the hours of 3 and 5 am, on Wednesdays. They also begin to charge for parking.

Contemptibly, Myron curries favor. He’s promoted. But even Myron has trouble with the Suckes. “They’re peculiar,” he admits to Blinky, “and a little scary.”

Understand, no one has ever seen a Sucke Brother, or even spoken with one. As a matter of company policy, the Suckes communicate only by fax. In lieu of an actual physical presence, they send along little busts of themselves, the kind that piano teachers give out to students. (These busts, which are made by machines and composed of solidified corn starch, are very inexpensive to produce.) They come with instructions. The miniature Suckes are to be placed around the office furniture. So they can keep an eye on things. These little figures have a weird power, and no one likes them. They survey the office ominously, while the fax machine burps and beeps. Additionally, just in case the spell wears off, and employees begin to disregard strict rules prohibiting private use of the photocopier, an unmarked helicopter hovers outside the O P & Q offices at irregular intervals.

After a period of months, during which working conditions at the O P & Q Company steadily worsen, Myron is one of a tiny handful of remaining employees. Finally the day comes when Myron too is dismissed, and replaced by a mechanical dog.

Scene 5

Myron is pacing.

“Did they give you any kind of severance,” asks Blinky.

“Fifty bucks,” admits Myron, “and the leftover coffee packets.”

Blinky is seated on Myron’s living room carpet. He’s been to the photocopy place. Papers cover the floor. A copy of Prehistoric Indian Mounds in the Eastern United States sits on the early American coffee table.

“Blinky, we have to oppose these people,” says Myron, pivoting.

“What people.”

“The Sucke Brothers!”

Myron had been able to tolerate the slow squeeze at O P & Q by distracting himself. He concocted an elaborate fantasy, according to which he would come to play an exalted future role among the Suckes: Vice President for Facts.

Then, poof.

Now he’s wearing a groove in the carpet. His plans are wrecked. His aspirational framework is gone. His digestive misadventures, which go back and forth between blockages on the one hand, and intestinal mudslides on the other, have resumed. So Myron’s a little bent over.

But he’s finding his way to a new thing.

“You mean like a boycott,” says Blinky, distractedly.

“Maybe sabotage,” counters Myron, seating himself in a worn cloth chair. “Do you realize that the Sucke Brothers are destroying the fabric of life in our city.” Blinky looks up. “They are fraying the bonds of kinship. I am telling you Blink, our children deserve better!”

“Myron,” says Blinky. “You don’t have any children. You don’t even have a girlfriend.”

“It’s a figure of speech.”

“You know, they didn’t bother you before--”

Myron rises. “It’s true, I am only now waking up to this.” He starts pacing anew. “I was mistaken about their intentions. But I’m seeing clearly now. The Suckes have bought the whole city,” he goes on. “The roads, the schools, the monuments, the radio stations. The grocery stores. The utilities. Yesterday they bought the newspaper.”

All of this true. The Sucke Brothers are hoovering up the whole metropolitan area.

“It’s not right!” declares Myron. “We will shine the light of truth on these people. Anonymously, of course.” Myron is moving more quickly. “I gotta use the bathroom.” Abruptly he ducks into a side room.

Blinky is paging his way through 19th century drawings of Indian Mounds. “Do you have an atlas?” he asks, loudly.

“They will be so sorry.” Myron’s voice is coming through the bathroom door. “They will beg to get me back on board. Because I had a clear grip on that place. I knew where everything was. What was what.”

“Hey, Myron.”

“I bring things to the table,” Myron mutters. “I have skills.”


The toilet flushes. Water runs in the sink. The door pops open. “What?” says Myron.

Blinky says “You need a vacation, man. You’re talking to yourself. We gotta get you out of town.”


“Myron! Don’t you get it? The Suckes will be looking for you.”

Myron swallows.

“You’ve got the inside dope on their game.”

Myron blanches. He sits down in the worn chair.

“Some R & R might be okay,” he admits.

“Good,” says Blinky, “That’s settled.” He gathers up his book and pile of photocopied drawings. “I’ll meet you first thing.”

“Tomorrow?” says Myron, alarmed. “We’d have to check the weather.”

“Or,” says Blinky, “I suppose you could just sit here--”

“I’d have to stop the mail--”

“--And wait for some Sucke legbreaker to appear,” finishes Blinky. He’s standing in the doorway with his coat on. “It’s up to you. I’m not sticking around, under any circumstances.” Blinky lets this sink in. “I’ll be back tomorrow.”

Myron’s eyes have gotten big.

“If you’re not ready,” warns Blinky, pulling the door after him, “I’m taking the bus.”

Scenes 6 & 7

Blinky shows up at Myron’s place around 8 with clothes in a grocery bag. Myron brings his stuff to the door in a hard plastic suitcase. They throw the luggage in the back of Myron’s 1986 Buick Century and close the trunk.

Myron has hardly slept. He’s anxious about the trip. He’s had more diarrhea.

Blinky is wearing a Turkish hat. He offers to drive.

“About where we’re going,” says Myron. “I want to go to Florida. I brought my suit.” Blinky notes this with a nod. “Just so you know,” continues Myron, “we’re not getting off the highway to look at dumb attractions. We need to make good time.”

“Why?” asks Blinky, simply.

“This is about Point A to Point B.” Myron whips out a map with a route marked in orange. It runs straight southeast, across to Chattanooga, Tennessee, then south to Atlanta, and on down to Florida.

“I’m open,” adds Myron, “about which side, once we get there. Gulf, or Atlantic. But I’m leaning Gulf.”

Blinky has looked at the map. “Mm-hmm,” he says.

“It’s my car,” says Myron. The meaning of this is unclear.

They get in the Buick and drive away, headed east. As the car passes over the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Myron is already drowsy.

They pass a four-door sedan with two people in it, a man and a woman. It’s on Myron’s side of the car. His eyelids are beginning to droop, but he notices them squabbling over the car radio. They can’t agree on a station. The odd thing to Myron, who’s now tumbling toward sleep, is that they’re wearing masks. They look like squids or something. Strange.

Now Myron is dreaming of the ocean.

As the onetime senior clerk at O P & Q slumbers, Blinky aims the rust-colored Buick east, toward Indianapolis.



Blinky is driving. Myron has napped intermittently. They’ve stopped for gas and food, and for Myron’s bowels, once. Things are firming up there.

The miles are rolling by.

They’re listening to a talk radio program hosted by a person with the last name of Colfax. He’s mixing some material about healthy lifestyles with some other stuff about not trusting the government to do anything. “Let’s talk a minute,” proposes Colfax, “about the radon crisis.”

“Can we listen to some music?” says Myron. Blinky reaches over and turns the dial in seach of tunes. The vast majority of what’s available is bad country-pop. He settles on oldies, Myron’s normal preference. His passenger grunts what sounds like approval.

Blinky glances over at Myron. He looks pale and uncomfortable. Blinky says, “Myron? Are you okay?” Myron is clenching his jaw.

“You want me to pull over?”

Myron nods. “Maybe a rest area.”

“Got it,” answers Blinky. Lately he’s been reading 400 billboards about the approach of an exit with a giant RV dealership. Now he’s on top of it. Blinky makes a decision to pull off the interstate. He decelerates and slides toward the exit, which curls gently off to the right. Blinky follows it, then slows and pauses to read at the T-shaped crossroads. There is a brown sign for some historical site, with an arrow to the left.

“Go right,” instructs Myron weakly. To the right lies the biblical supply of Winnebagos. But Blinky takes a sip of his sports activity drink and turns left.

“Come on!” Myron complains.

The car speeds past a few prim houses, a rusted trailer, an old yellow ceramic brick store. They drive by the turn to Arcadia. Next they pass a sign that says: GREENVILLE 4. Myron groans. “Go back to the exit. This is too far.”

“We’re almost there,” says Blinky, racing. Myron is looking up at the weave of the ceiling fabric, jiggling his knees, making low sounds. They come upon smattering of commercial properties and billboards. “Welcome to Greenville, Ohio” say the Rotarians and the Evening Optimists, in a big blue script.

Blinky follows a sign. He turns left onto the main drag, and left again, pulling up at a small open field, the size of several lots. A few houses flank the field, plus a laundromat. There’s a billboard with a Ford pickup truck, and a Catholic school nearby.

“They’ll have a bathroom in there,” says Blinky, pointing at the laundromat. Myron swears and exits the vehicle.

Blinky looks back at the field. There’s a huge chunk of pink granite mounted on a pedastal near a tree.

The signs have led him here.

Scene 8

Myron bangs his way into the laundromat. It’s a shotgun-style space with windows along the front. Almond-colored washers and dryers face one another along the walls. Tables for folding laundry sit between the appliances, upon a plane of gummy, crap-dotted floor tiles. Except for the missing ones, the tiles conform to a checkerboard pattern of previously-ivory and blue green.

The air is filled with tobacco molecules and memories of powdered detergent.

A biggish older woman sits at a desk with a cashbox near the window, looking dumb and proud. She’s at the helm.

The woman turns to look at Myron, inhales through her nose, then looks over at a 35 year old retarded guy that Myron figures to be her son.

A grizzled man in a black tee shirt is only other person in the place.

The grizzled man is trying to get from one spot to another with a basket of wet clothes. But the retarded son is weaving back and forth in front of him, oblivious, super-determined to check the lint in the dryers.

“Ronny,” says the woman.

Ronny’s flummoxed by the fact that several of the dryers are still running. He’s paying very close attention to the orange indicator lights. The guy in the tee shirt still can’t get past him.

“You got a bathroom?” Myron asks the older woman, urgently. A large envelope sits in the middle of her desk. The woman picks up her big arm and points to the back, toward a hallway near the vending machines.

“In the back.”

She glances back at her son. “Ronny,” she says sharply. “Get out of the way!” Ronny, spooked, steps aside in a panic. He hurries down to the other end of the row of dryers, next to an aged pinball machine.

Then Ronny remembers something.

“Is nat na man?” he asks, pointing at Myron.

She sniffs another breath. “No.”

As Myron speed-walks between the washers and the dryers, the woman looks back out the window, then down at her watch.

Ronny looks over at his mom.

“Is na man hewe yet?” asks Ronny. “Is he hewe?”

“He’ll be here in a little while, Ronny.”

Myron flies into the bathroom, rips his pants down, and plants his rear on the toilet.

“Nnnnngh,” he says. Myron blasts the rectal horn a few times belowdecks. But sound and sweat are all he’s able to produce.


New blockages.

Already it’s been a long day.

Myron remains on the toilet for five minutes or so, attempting to gather himself. Then somebody tries the knob. “Just a minute,” says Myron, who finishes, hauls himself off the seat, and buttons his pants. He runs water over his hands, lathers and rinses them, then wipes them off on brown paper towels.

Myron opens the door to encounter the grizzled man holding a garment bag. “Let’s go,” he says impatiently. “Gotta drain the vein.”

Myron mutters, “All yours,” and steps past him into the hallway. It strikes him as odd that the guy has a garment bag.

Ronny the Retard has been loading soap boxes into a vending machine. Or meaning to, anyway. The single-load boxes of All are stacked, waiting to be placed in rows inside the coin-operated dispenser. But Ronny has turned away from the machine. His neck is craned toward the back of the building. Ronny looks worried.

“Na man is hewe!” Ronny declares. “Na man is hewe!”

Myron follows Ronny’s distracted stare, into the alley behind the laundromat. He sees the front end of a 24-foot truck, painted black with tasteful gold lettering on the door. Myron’s jaw drops. “Not possible!” he croaks.

Myron strides toward the front of the laundromat, just shy of a run.

The big woman is looking up from papers she’s pulled from the big enveloped. First she’s trying to figure out what is the problem with Ronny. And then Myron’s move for the door unnerves her. Anxiety waves are breaking over the place.

Ronny is walking back and forth between the vending machine and the rear door, waving and rocking.

The woman gestures with the document, suspiciously.

“Are you a building inspector?”

“No, ma’am,” replies Myron, slowing to keep from looking panicked. He notices that the heading on the document reads, PURCHASE AGREEMENT. SBE, LTD.

“Because I don’t want you people messing with my business.”

“Listen,” says Myron. The woman looks at him .

The toilet flushes.

“What,” says the woman.

They hear the sound of water running in the sink.

The door to the bathroom opens. Ronny is caught halfway back to the soap dispenser from the alley entrance, dead in front of the grimy bathroom door. Yellow light breaks over his uncomprehending face.

“You got something to say?”

Just then the grizzled man steps out of the bathroom. Except he’s completely sans-grizzle at this point. The jeans and black tee shirt are gone. He wears a light colored dress shirt with a dark suit. He’s wiping his hands on a brown paper towel like he expects to erode the skin off the muscle. And his posture has changed.

Myron thinks: a spy!

Myron says to the woman, confidentially, “Tread carefully.”

Ronny is completely freaked out, in part because the guy has come out of the wrong door. He keeps pointing toward the truck in the alley.

“Now what in hell does that mean?” barks the woman at Myron.

“Na man! Na man!”

“Good afternoon,” announces the formerly-grizzled man. He’s clean-shaven. He looms. The guy is a corporate shark from the prehistoric era of corporate sharks. Teeth with fins and a tail maybe 50 feet long.

“Mama! Is he na man?”

A totally savage acquisitor. A nut-buster.

“Ronny,” says the woman, flustered. She looks at Myron. “I don’t know.” Turning to the man, she asks, “Are you?”

The man stops. He’s balling his paper towel. “If you mean to ask: Am I the representative of those with whom you seek to do a transaction?”

He tosses the ball smartly into the trash. “The answer is, yes. I am.”

Ronny blinks and slobbers a little.

The man straightens his cuffs. “I’m from legal.”

“But--” says Mama.

“My superiors insist upon sound research. They like to know the people and the properties they’re dealing with.”

Ronny the Retard looks frightened.

“So as to forge lasting business relationships.”

Myron exhales deeply and turns. “I gotta go,” he says.

“Splendid,” replies the lawyer. “Have a good day.”

The door bangs behind Myron.

“Now,” says the man. “Shall we turn to the documents?”