It has been quite a while since we have visited with Mantorville. That’s what poking around on the computer will get you, I suppose. Well, poking and a major card holiday…
However, here is the next section of my still unfinished story. Former teacher, convicted murderer, psychiatric prisoner James Arkham is still talking with his Iowa state psychologist Joshua Symonds, reminiscing about his first weeks in Quetzal County. Coming from a far western suburb of Chicago, Arkham, having lost his teaching job in the city of Jackson, has accepted a position in the tiny rural community of Mantorville, Iowa, where as he is about to realize, he’s like a fish out of water. Symonds, listening to this story nine years after the crime which landed Arkham in psychiatric prison, must make of this tale what he can…
still as-yet-untitled-horror story (isn’t anyone going to help me with this?)
It was like a new start. From being all bummed out, getting sacked, I was energized. I got to really looking forward to this new job, enjoying my new home, my own little house, as I thought of it, having always lived in my one apartment in Jackson—and that motel for the M.A. down in Louisiana.
A real fresh start. I even made some friends. I put some effort into being neighborly, at least at first. There was a good-looking woman who lived across the street. That’s what started the neighbor stuff: I wanted to meet her. And she turned out to be single, too. We never really got together, but we were friends.
That would be Emma Court. She turned him in finally. Some friend. On the other hand, he needed to be caught. If only I could get him to talk now.
And Howie, of course. He was the true friend. He helped me move some of my stuff, not what you’d expect from a superintendent, but Howie wasn’t ever just what you’d expect.
Good. We were back on Howie.
He even took me around to some of the other towns. Said it gave him a chance to avoid the chores his wife had planned. Although I know he loved Sonia like everything, he probably meant that. She cracked the whip around their house. I don’t know if she ever really liked me.
Well, she certainly didn’t like you now.
Local girl, Sonia. That was the problem. Although she’d gotten to know Howie, she still saw most newcomers as outsiders. That was me, still the outsider. With Sonia and every other good citizen of Quetzal County.
—Sounds like there should be a newcomers support group.
Should be. But the locals would never allow that. Newcomers are second-class citizens in their book and don’t deserve such fine services. “Let ‘em suffer.” That’s the Quetzal County attitude.
—Which Howie didn’t share?
He was a newcomer too.
—But married to a local girl. Didn’t that make him belong, so to speak?
Not on your life. The only locals were born and bred there for generations. That was the problem. That’s why I’m here.
Was he going to tell me? —Okay, so why are you here?
Because I killed Howie. Isn’t that right?
Well now, wasn’t that easy? (I didn’t say aloud.) We got it out in the open in only two sessions. And to think I was considering cutting this one off there about twenty minutes ago.
Naturally, that’s when he clammed up, and although I let the session continue for another nine minutes, he said not one more word. He remained silent for the next two full days. In his room, he didn’t even read, his normal pastime; he just lay on his bed, rising only to go to the bathroom.
Being caught up in the mechanics of creating the posts on Mantorville each time, I hadn’t stopped to consider the actual narrative technique I’m using. Is anyone troubled by the three layers of narration included in the story? Arkham’s statements to Symonds, of course, are the normal text, while the italics are Symonds’s thoughts, and his statements to Arkham during each session are preceded by a dash—as James Joyce imitated from European novels for dialogue in Ulysses. The multiple layers of storytelling are going to get trickier, if everything goes according to plan, but not for a while yet. And there will be more of this story soon…