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|More Strange Fiction from DKL|
Nov. 3rd, 2006 at 3:44 pm
Some of you may be familiar with the three short stories that I published as Miranda Park Jones at Banner of Heaven.
In case you missed them, there were three of them:
(A word of warning: they got mixed reviews, because some readers were reluctant to insult Miranda; nevertheless, the general consensus was that they were unfortunate and strange.)
I’ve written another one, and since Popcorn Popping isn’t terribly likely to accept it, here it is. (I don’t have a title for it, so any suggestions are welcome.)
[No Title Yet Posted with Story; Decided on “A New Name for Mr. Flightley]
There he sat in the lobby, leaning forward with his elbows on his desk and his phone to his ear.
“Tonaldo,” he said.
“Tonaldo,” he said again.
“Tonaldo.” He waited.
“No. Thank you. I’ll just call back,” he said finally. And he hung up the phone.
He sat back in his chair a little exasperated. After one week, it was pretty obvious that “Tonaldo” just wasn’t working for him. “I guess it’s back to the drawing board,” he thought.
He opened one of his side desk drawers, and retrieved the book, The Distinguished Name of Success, by Austin Dellminatorri. “Austin Dellminatorri! What a powerful name,” he said to himself as he retrieved the book and began thumbing through it’s well-worn pages. “I’ve got to find that name!” he kept telling himself. Not just any name. The ideal name. The perfect name. He took a deep breath, set the book down, and stared out the floor-to-ceiling windows in the lobby, squinting at the light. He could see it. An office, a corner office, with a balcony and a window with shades and hard wood floors and a tidy little oriental rug. A big, flat monitor hooked to an uber-laptop. A secretary. Minions hanging on his every word. And the name on the door — oh, that name! It would be perfect. It would set him apart from everybody else. He’d stand atop his desk in a designer suit with his arms raised triumphantly while trumpets roared and the wind blew through his hair and everybody looked on in awe and shared stories of his daring feats, repeating his name again and again.
“You. Boy,” came a voice yanking him from his daydream. “What’s your name this week?”
“Tonaldo,” he muttered.
“Tonaldo,” he said, a bit more clearly.
“Huh,” came the voice as it offered a small pile of paper. “Can you fax this for me.”
“Sure.” It was Brian Bandathama. He was always faxing stuff for Brian Bandathama. Brian Bandathama was one of those lucky few who was born with the perfect name — that rare combination of luck and awesome parents — and Brian Bandathama enjoyed all the privileges that came with it. “Brian Bandathama never faxes his own stuff. If only that name weren’t already taken,” he thought. “Or maybe I could move somewhere and then use it myself.” He quickly reconsidered. “No, no. Running away won’t solve anything. I’ve just got to find my name.”
He was born Thomas Jason Flightley. This week he was Tonaldo Spivy. Last week he was Embolist Rollington. A few weeks earlier it was Meritomb Bettler. And so on. To start with, they had all sounded so perfect. Each time he came up with a new name, he’d fill with excitement. He’d set a date for adopting the new name and wait with eager anticipation. Then the big day would come, and it was always the same. After a day or two, the name just didn’t pan out — nothing would happen. He needed to find that one name, the name that would change everything.
After he’d faxed the paper, stamped it, and put it in Brian Bandathama’s mailbox, he returned to his seat and paged through The Distinguished Name of Success, by Austin Dellminatorri. He looked up at the ceiling for a second and whispered, “Chilton Amenant.” He shook his head and returned to the book. After several minutes, he looked to the ceiling again. “Farod Harthinwip,” he whispered deliberately. He shook his head and returned to the book. Turning page after page through the book, he’d look up to the ceiling to test the sound of a name every few minutes, stopping only to answer the phone.
Once it reached 5PM, he got up and left the office and went to a pub. There he sat alone at the bar. He ate a burger and had a few beers. He watched some of the people coming and going. He noticed how oblivious they were of each other. Mostly he thought about how oblivious they were of him, and he wondered why he wasnâ€™t more oblivious of them. Saddened by the immediacy that these thoughts gave to his deep sense of incompleteness, he turned his gaze upwards, distracting himself with the televised sporting event playing on the overhead monitors.
Then he looked down at the counter, squinted, and brought his hands together. “Venlippen Pargenta,” he whispered. After a short pause, he shook his head, put his hands down, and sighed. Never before had it taken him this long to arrive at another name. “Maybe Iâ€™m just stuck having to get by as Tonaldo,” he complained to himself. With that, he turned back to the sporting event playing on the overhead monitors.
Suddenly, a smile appeared on his face and a glint came into his eyes. “Yes!” He whispered. “Thatâ€™s it! I’ve found it!” It was too perfect to even repeat, but it was definitely the one. He just knew it.