Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Current Novel Excerpt: Adventure!

Baranatalo closes in on Michigan Avenue, where the map he consulted before leaving the house has instructed him to turn right again and walk south. He believes he will recognize the building when he gets near. It has been years, but he has been there before. There are lions atop the stairs in front of the building, he recalls. He will look out for lions.

A rumble from his stomach reminds him that he has still not eaten any breakfast, and he ducks into a cafe to obtain something suitable. He has no idea what sorts of foods he might like. He is nervous to try anything but an English muffin, but forces himself to order a bagel sandwich instead. It sounds exotic, and he hopes he will enjoy it. The word “bagel” comes up as corollary to a type of fish in his mind, and he wonders what sort of fish it will be, what sort of fish people choose to consume for breakfast.

The woman at the counter is named Gladys, according to her badge, and she receives his order impassively, not looking at him or asking any follow-up questions, attempting to persuade him to also purchase this or that. He had hoped that she might appraise him anew when he asked for the bagel, that she might be impressed with his worldly discernment. She calls out “Next!” in a flat, weary voice while he is still standing there.

Baranatalo moves down the length of the counter to await his food, and soon a man in a hairnet reaches over the tall counter to hand him a red plastic mesh basket with a sheaf of waxed paper lining its sides. The man in the hairnet wears no badge displaying his name, merely a stained white t-shirt and the hairnet to serve as his uniform. His arms are dark with hair, and he has a thick moustache above what would be a week’s growth of stubble for Baranatalo. The man’s left eye is the same red as the basket.

Inside the basket is not fish. Instead, Baranatalo sees a round bread roll which has been sliced in two and covered with a white paste. He supposes that perhaps the bagel is in the paste. He wonders briefly if there is some sort of culinary dictionary he can purchase to guide him through this exciting time of new things. He wonders also if he would rather not know, if the knowledge would be dangerous to him.

The hairy man also hands him a cup of coffee, which Baranatalo has not ordered. He has never tried coffee, but he knows it is something that the other people he used to work with in the office enjoyed, and since he is on an adventure, he decides to try it.

The bagel on bread is delicious. Tangy and creamy, and the bread is warm and chewy. The coffee tastes like something forged in a dark place by malevolent forest creatures. It is bitter and earthy and makes his stomach rise, but he forces himself to drink it anyway.

Soon he is fed, and he remains at his little table for a few minutes congratulating himself on a successful breakfast. He has completed this task with an ease that makes him feel grand and even bolder than making the eastward turn on Washington instead of the left which would have taken him to where he used to work. Anthony Baranatalo is a man of the world. Anthony Baranatalo is fitting in.


Unknown said...

This is kind of different to the other excerpts, the pace is slightly different, in keeping with him having an adventure I suppose. I'm very intrigued, keep posting excerpts.

The Moon Topples said...

Ver: I will post more excerpts. I've been a bit worried, though, as this has been up for a while with no one saying anything.

The pacing thing may also just be the first-draftiness. I'll have to look more closely.

Unknown said...

Oh no keep posting the excerpts. I think that people are often worried about saying what they think if it's not gushingley positive. Do you know what I mean? But I think that if you're going to post stuff then you want some genuine criticism (constructive of course). No?