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  • Writer's pictureJeff South

Book Excerpt: Day 2

This is the second excerpt from my upcoming novel Someone Else's Book Club. The book's protagonist, Kevin Raulston, is a man assigned the task of hunting a nefarious alien race known as Herpezoids. Here, he discusses his post-hunt routine.

George Bernard Shaw wrote that there is no love more sincere than the love of food and this is not only a true statement but also my personal mantra. I once experienced what I thought was romantic love only to have my heart spit-roasted over an open flame of betrayal. Her name was Marci King and she not only inspired me to compose some atrocious poetry, she introduced me to the world of Herpezoids, which, in turn, inspired an exponential increase in my daily caloric intake in order to deal with the trauma of first contact. Nelson Clanahan, the man who taught me how to hunt Herpezoids, introduced me to the ritual of a post-hunt meal. Nelson was a man of refined taste who also appreciated opulent decadence. He loved W.H. Auden, a fine scotch, and a luscious porterhouse steak. My tastes lean a tad less sophisticated.

So it is that I sit at the bar of my favorite local dive, Pokey’s. A plate of loaded chili cheese tater tots sits before me next to a strawberry martini. The Rapture of the Follies sits ignored by the plate of tots. Next to that work of literary lethargy is a worn paperback of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The Rapture of the Follies is what I should be reading because book club is coming up and it would be bad form as the host to be unprepared. The Adams is what I wish to read because I value my sanity. One of those digital jukeboxes that replaced the old school ones over time sits against the far wall directly across from the front door and is currently blaring a country song that isn’t Waylon or Willie or Dolly. It’s something derivative about sitting on a tailgate down a dirt road on Saturday night with a six pack and a woman who looks good in a pair of jeans. The music is irrelevant. Soon I will be immersed in a book because that is my tradition. Hunt a Herpezoid, go to Pokey’s, eat good food that is bad for me, and disappear into a book. A fellow in a suit that looks a size too big for him sits at the end to my left and stares at his beer as if it were a Magic 8 Ball telling him his future. Two women in head-to-toe denim shoot a friendly game of pool. At the other end of the bar a middle-aged woman pretends to listen as a man in a flannel shirt compares her looks to a magnificent buck he once saw. A young couple, possibly in their mid-twenties but the fall of shadows across their faces makes that only a reasonable guess, cuddle in a corner and kiss. A light touch of melancholy falls on me. I hold up my glass to the bartender for a refill and open Guy Haversham’s misguided attempt at literary greatness and forge ahead undaunted into his unwitting homage to Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

Alack, alack! The rain pestered the beleaguered roof of Thomas Supten’s elegant, yet graciously understated and humble plantation home set off the road in Yoknapatawpha County late in the evening of the vernal equinox of Thomas’s barren soul, which was dark and lost despite the eternal life of his vampire state in which he had been for some three score now.

Tanya, the lithe and wise proprietor of Pokey’s, pulls me from this torture and sets a fresh martini in front of me. Pushing the book away, I take a satisfying sip and turn my attention to the plate brimming with tater tots lathered in chili, shredded cheddar cheese, bacon bits, and sour cream. My melancholy is now replaced with eager anticipation of my first bite.

“Come to Papa.” A forkful of this celebratory meal sends a dopamine rush throughout my mind, body, and spirit. This is 1463 calories of live, laugh, love.

The Rapture of the Follies?” She picks up the book and flips through the pages with a skeptical expression. “What the hell?”

“Trying to support a local author.”

She examines the nebbish author’s photo on the back cover. “Guy Haversham. Looks like an accountant or insurance adjustor.”

“He manages a paint store,” I say with a mouthful of tots.

“Is this any good?” she asks.

“It’s a book that makes me wish books didn’t exist.”

Someone Else's Book Club will be available soon. More info to come!

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