Saturday, August 1, 2009


The following is a draft of Chapter 24 of my post-oil novel AMERICAN CRUDE. Comments have been disabled. If you wish to comment, please go to TheKunstlerCast at and join the discussion.


--Innocent Byproduct


I put Nike back on the shelf and got dressed. I headed to the nearby market to buy some fresh food. I’d been eating at fast food places too much lately and needed not just to get healthy but also to save some cash.

I returned to the apartment, groceries in my arms, well after dark. I started cutting up fruits and vegetables for tomorrow’s cold box lunch, and that’s when the phone rang.

I checked caller ID: it was Catherine. I hesitated in my fear of Doctor Tuxedo. Finally I answered.


“Hi, Mr. Walczak?” she asked.

“Yeah, hi Mrs. Warren,” I said in a somewhat flat tone.

“I hope this is an appropriate hour.”

I checked the time: eight-thirty. Plenty appropriate. But I second-guessed that Doctor Tuxedo -- while he most likely wasn’t guilty of actual wire tapping -- probably could get his hands on a phone log where he could see how long Catherine and I spoke. So I resolved to keep this conversation under five minutes.

“Yeah, sure,” is all I said.

“I wanted to know if I could see you this week after I got out of the hospital ... if that’s okay.”

“Uh yeah. Sure, whatever.”

She paused. I was being intentionally aloof, and the desired effect of alienating her was proving successful. I could hear her hesitation, and my mounting success broke my heart. But I soldiered on with my aloofness.

“I promised you two things,” she began. “First I owe you your contingency bonus. And I also said I would give you a full explanation of ... ‘everything.’ And since ‘everything’ is somewhat complicated, I was wondering if perhaps you might allow me to explain it all over lunch.”

I actually liked that prospect.

“Um, sure,” I said. “I guess that’ll be okay.”

“Great then. How about we meet at Hal’s Diner again?”

“Can we go Dutch?” I asked.

“Uh ... if that would make you more comfortable.”

“It would,” I said.

“Okay. How about Thursday at twelve-thirty?”

“Sounds good,” I said.

“Great then,” she said. “Thursday at Hal’s at twelve-thirty. See ya’ then.”

-------------------End of Chapter 24--------------------