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Authors: Jaime Forsythe

Tags: #Fiction, #Short Stories (Single Author), #Anthologies (Multiple Authors), #FIC019000, #FIC003000, #FIC048000, #Short Stories

Transits

BOOK: Transits
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Transits

Transits

Stories from In-Between

Edited by Jaime Forsythe

Text copyright © Jaime Forsythe, 2007
Individual contributions copyright © of their authors

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any method, without the prior written consent of the publisher.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
       Transits : stories from in-between / edited by Jaime Forsythe.
Short stories.
ISBN 978-0-9782185-9-1
       1. Short stories, Canadian (English) 2. Canadian fiction (English)--
21st century. I. Forsythe, Jaime, 1980-
PS8329.1.T73 2007                  C813'.010806            C2007-901136-5

Cover Design and Photography by Megan Fildes Typeset in Dante MT Std by Megan Fildes

Printed and bound in Canada

Invisible Publishing
Halifax & Montréal
www.invisiblepublishing.com

Table of Contents

Introduction

The Plot

Sarah Mian

Alice and Roy

Devon Code

Phoenix

Pablo Strauss

Evidence

Ian Colford

Catechism

Sue Carter Flinn

Ten Days in Whitehorse

Maggie Dort

Proof of Loss

Jaime Forsythe

Moving

Wanda Nolan

Shoot Now

Sean Flinn

every other love that is happening to you right now is not this big

Stacey May Fowles

Introduction

Why bring together a collection of stories like
Transits
? A modern life is one where movement and transience are central. The idea of ‘home' is becoming, increasingly, less well defined. We are en route; we have nowhere to go; we are in-between places. We wanted to hear what others had to say about mobility and distance, what kinds of narratives these ideas might trigger. We also wondered if stories might be a way of preserving moments in lives that seem to move at breakneck speed—moments in time that might otherwise go unnoticed or lost.

The authors included in this anthology present an array of characters, without a single typical experience, coming from a variety of locales. People appear (and disappear) in bars, bakeries, backyards, on sidewalks and in waiting rooms. They run away from, or move toward, disparate cities, countries, and jobs. Characters experience strangeness, familiarity, estrangements and intimacies. They negotiate their relationships to their own memories, perceptions, and their landscapes. Each ends up in a place that is different, but not necessarily more permanent, from the one where they started.

We hope you enjoy these stories, that perhaps they offer you some form of escape or recognition.

Jaime Forsythe,
Editor

The Plot

by Sarah Mian

I am sitting in the old, sloped kitchen with the chipped, white-painted cabinet, and inside the cabinet is the land deed.

The conflict: I'm a writer and collector of every new or antique idea that blows my way. My brain is keeping track of so many plots I've invented for my characters that I've lost my own plot. It has bitten off its leash and run full tilt over the hill. I've tried calling it back with lavish promises but it's too far gone; it must be deep in the forest making a new life for itself amongst the firs.

The way the wind is now seeping under the screen door and turning left to right, right to left, makes me think there's a long snake winding down the hall toward me, flicking its tongue out for signals. I have snake visions often and it takes time to banish them. I trick them into the attic with the bats and the trunk full of odd-shaped ashtrays: one of my father's tamer hobbies.

I'm also obsessed with the number 6. Every story I write has 6 characters and 6 chapters.

So it turns out I'm not living the life I thought I was. Until today I've been operating under the assumption that I am in a rickety, yet stable-at-the-foundation relationship with my pregnant girlfriend, Odette and that my new little family would live here in the rickety, yet stable-at-the-foundation house I grew up in; however, it turns out that Odette is in love with my reflection, not
me
, as she explained so painstakingly, and she is currently on a train to Wichita with my DNA locked inside her. Also, I am penniless and was informed just this morning that my father forged the land deed for this property. I have to leave.

NOW, the lawyer said.

What a page turner.

I asked Odette if I should come to Wichita, but she said nah. Just like that: “Nah.”

So to hell with Odette and her reflection lover. If our child is a girl and she looks like her mother, she'll get on fine without me; won't work a day of her life. If it's a boy, he doesn't need me around setting a bum example. Besides, Odette's got a collection of mint-condition vintage baseball cards that could feed
ten
kids. I've got nothing but a pile of rejected manuscripts.

I have no choice but to start over.

Chapter 1

The broke, unsuccessful writer packs his suitcase with three bundles of typed stories, a toothbrush and a framed photograph of the beauty who spurned him. He heads out the door, takes one last look at the land his father stole and at the headstones of his family members who are rotting out in the field. Then he walks away.

Chapter 2

It occurred to me when I woke up this morning next to a woebegone hobo-witch that tried to steal my soul, my typed stories and then just my toothbrush, that maybe I'd be better off having nothing at all. I left my suitcase lying in the ditch where she had her little camp and before I set off I yelled in her ear: “BRUSH YOUR SKANKY TEETH!” And once again I was starting fresh.

I wondered if it was possible for me to start fresh every day, lose all plots entirely and wake up every morning with nothing to go on. It could be a great experiment. Maybe I could even warp it into a groundbreaking novel. But such thoughts were already turning it into a plot of its own, so I knew it wouldn't work.

But I really liked the sound of those words together: Start Fresh. I repeated them in my head for an hour while I walked past streams and broken-down machinery. Start Fresh. Start Fresh. Only I wasn't exactly fresh, because I no longer had the option of clean teeth. When your teeth are dirty, you feel like a corpse. I wondered how the hobo-witch did it for so long. I wondered if she'd even use my toothbrush on her teeth or if she'd just point it at people. Maybe she'd sharpen the end of it and plunge it into someone's chest and I'd read about it in the paper and think, “Damn!”

Eventually, around noon, I came to a little saloon with a barkeep that was about sixteen years old. He had on a jaunty little hat and went about his pouring business as good as any veteran beer-slinger I'd ever seen. Lucky for me I had one five dollar bill I'd been saving for such a place.

One other thing I brought with me in my back pocket that I never mentioned: the land deed.

I ordered a beer, unfolded the deed and looked at it. I laughed out loud because I saw right away how comically faux it was.

The kid set a big heavy glass of beer down in front of me and asked what I was laughing at, so I showed him the deed and he agreed that
it looked pretty fucking ridiculous. Then he asked, what did I think of his hat? I said I thought it looked pretty fucking ridiculous. He said, good, I'm glad you said that. I said, why? He said, because I don't waste my time talking to anyone who won't say it.

“That it's a stupid hat?”

“Yes.”

I looked into his eyes. It seemed like a fair way to deal with people, although the hat did have a plastic parrot perched on the brim and I figured he'd be hard pressed to find anyone who wouldn't call him on it. I wondered if he knew he was rigging the scale in his own favour. The kid was called Pete and no one had put him in charge of the bar. He'd simply climbed over and starting pouring after the owner collapsed with a failed heart. No one else wanted to pour, because they all wanted to drink, so everyone went along with it. No official ever came to claim the bar or its proceeds on behalf of the owner. The kid had built up quite a nest egg. I said it sounded to me like what he had on his hands was a forged land deed and he ought to be careful.

I finished my beer and sat around for a while wondering what to do next.

Chapter 3

Today I am having a drink with an older actress I met on a plane three years ago. I phoned her from a payphone in the first town I came to on foot. The number 7 was missing from the junky keypad; luckily, her phone number didn't contain 7s. I took out the little piece of paper and punched in the sequence like a code that I hoped would unlock a treasure chest.

It is now half past twelve and I am meeting her in a hotel bar at 2 o'clock. The joint is called
Club D'Ananas
and it is in a city an hour's bus ride away. If I take the bus I can't afford to order a drink, which could be awkward, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. I also
can't remember her name but that somehow seems lower on the totem pole.

What I want is to convince her I am writing a play and have her in mind for a part that would make her waning star shine again. I haven't thought out the imaginary plot of the imaginary play because I'm pissed off at plots and because I want to first pick up clues from her as to the kind of role she could really sink her teeth into.

A lot is riding on this.

An hour on the bus flies by. Half delirious with lack of sleep, I watch little kids take off their socks and climb into a fountain, submerging their arms and legs until only the tops of their heads are visible from my dirty window. I see people kissing and slapping each other, people flying out of their bodies then crashing back down into them.

All of this could be worked into the fake play.

Club D'Ananas
: She is waiting at the back, just as cruel and elegant as I remember her. She wears a sapphire ring and a silver hair comb; there is a distinctive lack of taste in the hotel décor compared to her finery. She perches on a pineapple-print stool as though posing for a postcard. There is a disdainful look on her face and a thick fold of bills in one veined hand.

“How wonderful to see you again.”

She ignores me. “Waiter!” She uses her wad to fan herself. “Bring my friend a tequila sunrise with a lot of obnoxious flare: lemons and limes dancing all around the rim. He looks scurvy stricken.”

The waiter nods. “Right away, Mrs. Irani.”

Two in one! “Mrs. Irani, you're a picture postcard.”

“Why are you calling me Mrs. Irani?” She lights a cigarette. “You met
Mrs. Yetman.”

“Of course,” I say. “I caught on by how the waiter addressed you that you'd remarried.

“I did—a son of the Maharaja of Rajathstan. Horrible man. I urinated all over his clothes before I came down here.”

“Pardon?”

She faintly cringes, sets down her cigarette and speaks slowly. “I climbed up on the bed, squatted over his silk shirts and PEED. It was a long, steady stream. I had time to sing two verses and one chorus of Moon River.” She bursts loudly into song: “MOON RIVER, WIDER THAN A MILE! I'M CROSSING YOU IN STYLE…”

Chapter 4

At six thirty the lobby phone rings.

“Come.”

She is lounging in the last of three vertically connected rooms in the penthouse; I am taken to her by a stir-crazy butler who stops and listens with his ear pressed against each fruit-shaped door before opening it and escorting me through.

BOOK: Transits
7.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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