Monday, May 30, 2011

novel excerpt

What follows is a short excerpt from the novel I've been working on.

Club 88. Elephant Smeat decided he wanted it, even though it was an abandoned, rundown piece of crap. But he didn't care what it looked like, or even if it made any money. Dr. Bernhard Schultz, Professor Emeritus of German Studies at the university, had named it for the year he himself had bought and opened it. Achtundachtzig, as he would say. He had envisioned it to be an authentic reproduction of a Biergarten in Munich. But he was never able to achieve that ideal, as even on its best days, it looked like nothing more than just another nondescript hovel.

During its heyday, if such could be said of it, Dr. Schultz would pounce on unsuspecting patrons as they walked through the door, welcoming them into his place with a spray of native German saliva directed into their faces: “Wilkommen zum Club Achtundachtzig!”. The few returning customers would learn to sneak in through the side door. Barely two years later he had already gone out of business. The fact that he was able to keep it afloat for even that long was a miracle.

Being unoccupied for another two years did nothing to improve its appearance, as one of the local gangs had seen fit to bust out the windows and tag the hell out of it. And the inside looked even worse: trash strewn all over the place, broken furniture, more graffiti and a smell that El could not identify. Even the rats and cockroaches wanted nothing to do with it. If Eurystheus had been able to add Club 88's renovation to his list., Hercules would've shit himself. But El never had a second thought; it suited him just fine.

He decided he would keep the name. When he heard the number 88, the first thing that popped into his head was the 88 mm anti-aircraft gun used by the Germans during WWII, a piece of history that was near and dear to El's little heart. He even had one mounted atop his warehouse hidden deep in the woods in Bastrop county . He thought about moving it to the top of the bar, to give it a little class. But that would draw too much attention to the place. That would not do.

He had often fantasized using it (he kept it in fine working condition) if the rapture ever came, and it was raining angels. A crooked smile would wrap around his cigar as he imagined himself shooting down as many of the winged bastards as he could before they dragged his sorry ass to hell—provided he could get to it in time. And provided that angels actually existed…or a heaven and a hell…or a god, for that matter, which El seriously doubted. It was difficult to believe in an all-powerful, ever-loving supreme being when you had seen and done the things Elephant Smeat had. But, still, just in case.

He knew he didn’t know the first thing about running a bar. But it couldn’t be that hard, he thought. He had run across enough bar owners in his dealings over the years, and not a single one of them could be considered a mental giant. Besides, he knew he would have to hire someone to run it for him anyways, as he wouldn’t be spending that much time there, what with all of his runs down to Mexico.

The closing was scheduled for Monday morning, May 11, 1992, at 9:00 am, usually much too early for El. But Dr. Schultz had insisted on it, claiming he would not be able to accommodate a later time, as he had a plane to catch that day to his beloved Deutschland, “und vuld not be beck vor zum time.” He really seemed anxious to get through it as quickly as possible, and after the last signature was recorded, his short, fat legs propelled him like a bullet out the door and into a waiting taxi.

Once El was the official owner of Club 88, his first order of business was to place a call to Chango, the leader of the local gang who El identified the tags with. He had barely hung up the phone, before the nervous gangbangers showed up to repair and repaint the place. He told them he didn’t care what color they painted it, and left to go back to his apartment and crawled back into bed.

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