International Writers Magazine:
Extract from 'Symphony of Fear'
He worked as a paralegal
in a gigantic liberal New York law firm whose ethos was sensitivity and
political correctness, where men were expected to be in touch their feminine
side and the women were encouraged to be decisive and assertive. In short,
it was the first circle of hell and you had to be an unnatural mutant
to work there. Reuben Steuben fit in perfectly. He had the requisite snooty
attitude and irritatingly affected nasal voice and mannerisms which are
loathed by normal Americans from coast to coast, and have resulted in
innumerable stabbings and skull concussions as a result of these misfits
wandering into the wrong bars. Fortunately for him, The Barking Iguana
was not one of these.
Gets His Fortune Told
the dregs of his drink in his hand, Havelock Jones waded through
the Halloween party in the direction of the fortune teller.
This guy, whose
name was Reuben Steuben, was done up like the Mickey Mouse character
in Fantasia, with a Sorcerers Apprentice robe and dunce cap
made out of sun, moon and stars fabric. He was a tall, skinny kid
with a hang-dog face and long hair parted in the middle, which lent
to him the aspect of hound dog ears. All he would have needed was
a black, wet nose to appear thoroughly canine.
On his own time he indulged an interest in the occult arts. He had a set
of tarot cards which had once been owned by Alastair Crowley and a first
edition of Lord of the Rings signed by Tolkien. He picked
up good money doing readings and channeling the spirits at parties like
these. When Havelock came up, Reuben, taken aback by the smeared make-up
and fake blood,exclaimed, You look like you got hit by a Mack truck!
Havelock deadpanned, No, a beer truck. But Im O.K. cause
it was filled with light beer. He extended his grimy hand and commanded,
Gypsy, read my palm!
Reuben Steuben picked up a coffee can labeled TIPS and shook
it. The can was packed with bills and change and jangled richly. First
you cross my palm. Five bucks!
No problem. Havelock withdrew a fin and threw it in the can.
This better be good!
The palm reader took Havelocks hand in his and examined its shape
and that of the fingers. Good hand, he said. He bent the fingers
slightly and evaluated their sensitivity and strength. Well, youre
an artist and you work with your hands.
Its not a guess. Also, the callouses on your fingertips show
youre a musician, but thats not how you make your living.
Your hand is strong and the fingers are long and tapered, denoting an
artist, but its not the hand of a painter or sculptor. You do something
in the arts.
Not wanting to help the guy, Havelock simply said, What else?
Well, it says you like women.
Never one to resist a brutish, vulgar joke where silence would have served
just as well, Havelock said, Yeah, thats how I got the callouses
on my palm from jerking off.
Reuben Steuben looked up from Havelocks palm to his face and gave
him a look of withering disdain, which had virtually no effect. If anything,
Havelock thought it was funny. To say that in an Age of Sensitivity, Havelock
was an anachronism was to make light of the true depravity of the situation.
Maybe things would have been different if he had felt economic insecurity,
but working for Pops he felt he had a safe harbor, and thus was impervious
to the opinion of boring twits like this. Jus a joke, man.
Reuben resumed the examination of Havelocks palm. Youve
lived in many countries, but your career line is unbroken, which shows
that youve done the same work wherever youve lived. I would
have to say that youre some kind of designer.
You got it.
Your love line is broken many times at the beginning, but at the
end its continuous, which means youve had a lot of romances,
but once you get married or find a partner, youll be faithful and
the relationship will endure.
Wait a minute! Heres something funny
. Reuben Steuben
leaned over closer to Havelocks hand. His eyes narrowed to slits.
He sat up straight, reached into the folds of his robe and took out a
pair of eyeglasses. Putting on the glasses, he again focused intently
on a feature of Havelocks palm. Beads of sweat began forming on
his forehead and his composure started to come undone. He again looked
up and peered into Havelocks face, but this time the expression
of the fortuneteller had crumbled from its former aspect of self-assuredness
to something approaching astonishment, and even fear.
Then he did something extremely peculiar. He examined his own hand before
turning back to Havelocks, as though trying to evaluate a comparison.
Finally, he released Havelocks hand as though letting go of something
unclean. He sat back in his chair and stared intently into Havelocks
face, saying nothing.
The silence between the two men was further accentuated by the mad, raging
racket continuing all around them.
Havelock finally asked, So
No response. Reuben Steuben just continued to silently glare at him. Finally,
after a seemingly interminable pause, he simply said, Nothing.
Get the hell outta here! I know you saw something! Youre
shakin like a leaf.
Nothing. I saw nothing.
Look, my friend, youre not coming clean with me. You saw something
in my palm that really blew your mind, and youre not telling me
what it is. This aint right. What did I pay you for?
Reuben Steuben carefully withdrew his glasses and replaced them in his
pocket. With the resigned air of somebody wishing to relieve himself of
a nuisance, he simply stated, Frankly, it seems to indicate that
youre going to commit murder.
Oooh, now I know youre crazy! Havelock looked at his
own palm. Where does it say that?
Its not one thing. Its a combination of factors
And whats that business of you looking at your own palm? Whats
that all about?
That was just for comparison purposes.
Havelock just laughed. Boy, are you nuts! I never hurt a fly. Once
I racked up my car to avoid hitting a squirrel. I seen some whack jobs
in my life, but you really take the prize! They ought to take away your
fortune telling license.
So, who am I supposed to kill?
That, I couldnt say. But I do know you are a dangerous maniac,
or you will become one. If you take my advice, youll get out of
New York before you end up on death row.
Why? If I get out of New York, will that change the lines on my
Maybe if you go live in the woods somewhere, where theres
no one else around, youll take out your deviate tendencies on some
poor, helpless forest creature. It would be bad, but maybe you could avoid
trial and execution.
This guy and his phony, snotty little ersatz snob accent, his grating,
condescending manner and the monstrous moralizing line he was relating
were really starting to get Havelocks goat. Havelock finally told
him, Youre killing me with this lame act of yours. Why dont
you do yourself and the world a favor and go jump off a bridge or something,
At this, the kids eyes popped out of his head. He turned white as
a sheet and seemed to blanche. It occurred to Havelock, and not for the
first time, how fragile these New Yorkers were. Oh, they could dish it
out, but they completely fell apart when you talked to them directly or
tampered with that delicate house of cards construct that they laughably
referred to as their ego. Havelock stormed away from the guys
table and out of the bar. Whatta jerk! he exclaimed.
He jumped in a taxi. As the cab sped uptown, Havelock realized that he
had left his rubber knife at Reuben Steubens fortune telling booth.
© Dean Borok January 2008
Passion of Nino De Jesus
Dean Borok (extract from 'Symphony of
Niño de Jesus frequently had marveled at the fork lift truck on
his way to work and one day, when the proprietor had left the gate unlocked,
he snuck in for a closer look. Climbing up the ladder on the side and
peering into the control booth, he noticed that they had left the key
in the ignition. After all, one might reason, who would steal such a monster?
Only a crazy man!
Keynes In Punta del Este
Excerpt from novel in progress "A Symphony
by Dean Borok
No smoking gun was ever discovered with the mayors fingerprints
on it, and as the flood of nebulous accusations and innuendo cascaded
daily in the newspaper and media reports, he ceaselessly insisted that
he was the victim of a right-wing smear job
Dean Borok (Extract from 'Symphony of Fear')
The world of dreams is an eternal infinite universe inside each person...
driven by the unformed expression of neurotic impulses and sexual repressions
of the dreamer,
More New Fiction in Dreamscapes
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