They Play Solitaire


1) Page one of the manuscript

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This is the last pitch I made to my editors at Sac’to Weekly, before I “took the law into my own hands.” I was sure we were never going to find any way to agree on anything subtle about what might be newsworthy.
____-John Morganstern

____Davie was cheerful, hopeful, grateful, but still welcome by these few people. I thought he was a good kid. They didn’t need him to be any kind of real. Neither did I. So what, if he pixelated everything to his own understanding like it was local TV news.
____He was saying, “If we didn’t want the world to be exactly the way it is, it wouldn’t be.”
____Davie had suggested that the mall was about more than mall rats. One of his friends had balked at that with a smile, and walked away.
____Nina put a hand on his arm and said, “We?”
____Nobody mentioned that he wouldn’t be finding any friends in there. His disconnectedness spooked everybody. Even other happy Young Republicans.
____Jack said, “Let’s all not be mall rats,” making things obscure and generic.
____“I like being a mall rat,” Bobby put in, “…by myself.”
____According to Nina, “That doesn’t count.”
____“It counts,” said Jack, “if the mall rats think so.”
____“If they notice.” Nina didn’t always want to be noticed.
____“They notice.” Jack was certain. “What else have they got?”
____Nina said none of it meant anything to her.
____Davie sat back awkwardly on the edge of a tree planter and folded his arms. “Yeah. Try to live in a world without malls.”
____I expected Nina to take him by the shoulders and shake him (having seen her do this a few times before); smile in his face; shame his closed, but ultimately harmless, small mind; embarrass him happy.
“Cake,” said Jack, as in, “Let them eat…” His usual final word on anything common.
____The consensus was that Davie was smart enough to eventually work these things out, if he ever had to. If we ever let evolution get going again. He would never get them to bicker.
____It was a dry, hot day last June. The suburb was trying to offer another empty one, so they were inventing something else. They were at the mall to see a carnival in the parking lot. They walked around drinking paper cups of coffee from a shop inside, randomly commenting on things. Michael wasn’t there, but some of his aunt and uncle’s old rides were. Nina was recording random sound for him to sample. Davie had started to get in line at a ticket booth. He turned and saw the others looking at him, so he came back and they all walked on. There was a cheap, but large action-figure toy hanging by a string from a post. Nina reached up and turned it so that it faced Davie.
____“Got this one?” she asked.
____However disinterested, any one of them could tell that it was “incorrect.” Davie dubbed it, “Indiana Skywalker.” He only has a few of the merchandising figurines left, but he still has all of the movies. Jack’s attention and comments wound up being about the girls around. Bobby snapped the lid off and on his coffee, saying “…movies, malls, parking lots, carnivals…” to nobody.
____Mrs. Bert was there on a small, but unavoidable errand. She didn’t get out much anymore — just on her street, with some neighbors; lawn furniture out front, on the corner. But there was also the internet, and she was trying things. She had the tarps off of Mr. Bert’s motorhome for the day and had to park it way out. On her trip across the parking lot she stopped to watch two kids whirling around in a giant cup and saucer. Nearby, there were some retro arcade games happening at a whole new scale. ‘I better be on the lookout for first-person shooters.’
____They had all heard about Proclamation 8 on the news. They knew that unemployment had become a problem again — the new kind of unemployment: people refusing to participate in the “income opportunity” system.
____“Tupperware parties,” according to Jack.

Download this PDF for more background:

icon-pdf Full excerpt [PDF]: The Solitaire Players – Prologs and Chapter One


Written by Kenny Mann

04/02/2006 at 11:28 am

Posted in fiction, Uncategorized

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