Bartleby Blows Off Some Steam

firethumb I decided it was time to drop another little snippet from the next book on the blog here, just to assure you that I’m making progress and that I’m not planning on handing you a briefcase full of shredded newspaper, calling it a new book, then high-tailing it to Ecuador.

Here we visit with Bartleby and Pintar. Pintar is new. Due to Bartleby’s…peculiar talents he has more or less become a bounty hunter since the last book; something I’m not entirely sure he’s thrilled about. But the things are out there and he can take them down so he’s let himself get cast in this role. Pintar is his handler as well as his secretary. I’m not positive how this got started but due to the large amount of information that Pintar needs to keep at his fingertips he has to stay in one spot or risk forgetting it, seeing as how everything around him, all the papers and computers and what not, don’t actually exist unless he’s thinking about them. There’s a couple of other characters like this, actually, who have volunteered to be record keepers now that such a role is needed, all of them figuratively chained to their location so they can keep their facts and information straight in their head and easily accessible when it’s needed.

Bartleby and Pintar are trying to track down a lead they received from a Mr. Pinkerton.

This is, as with the last snippet of Kyo’s workout routine, a very rough draft and completely unedited. And that’s intentional. Partly because I never edit as I go and partly because some readers enjoy seeing what my rough drafts look like.

Let’s watch, shall we?

Pintar was seated at his desk, papers stacked up all around him, his silver tea service sitting neglected on the corner, cold cup of tea undrunk. He was typing on a laptop, his face leaned in close to the screen as his eyes were tired. “Here,” he said, “this says the word Durango comes from an old Basque word Urango.” He shifted in his seat and turned to look back at Bartleby who was sitting behind him at another table. Bartleby was tilted back in his chair, his feet up on the table, there was a sloppy pile of magazines and newspapers dripping like thick liquid paper off of the table by his feet. He was staring at Pintar with a look that begged for mercy.
“Are you remembering this?” Pintar asked.
“I haven’t remembered anything you’ve told me in the past four hours.”
“I thought you wanted to figure out what Mr. Pinkerton meant by Durango.”
“I did…I still do…but we’re not doing that. We’re researching absurd trivia on the word Durango using a freaking dial up modem.”
“It’s satellite, not dial up.”
“Well it sucks!”
“Our internet is nowhere near as comprehensive as that of the humans, Bartleby. For research there’s no comparison.” Pintar turned back to the laptop. His head hunched in again and his eyes flickered over the screen. “Here’s a yarn shop called ‘Durango’,” he said, turning to a legal pad sitting next to him where he meticulously scratched out this information at the end of a rather long list of other bits of information.
“Oh. My. God,” Bartleby said, near exploding. “This isn’t helping. This can’t be helping. We had it back on the first two things we found. It’s a town in Colorado, it’s a state in Mexico. He’s there. He’s in one of them. Or he’s not. We’re not going to find him by researching yarn stores,” Bartleby tilted his chair onto the ground and popped up, pacing. “We need to go to these places and we need to look at them. I mean is this all you really want to do? Sit at this desk and just read things on your computer? Don’t you want to–” Bartleby caught himself as Pintar looked up at him. Bartleby froze and gritted his teeth. “Shit,” he whispered. “You know I didn’t…” he started, stopped, started again. “Look I know you’re stuck here and you can’t really move around as long as we have to keep all this shit,” Bartleby looked around at the stacks of paper and rows of filing cabinets, “accessible.” He looked at Pintar. Bartleby’s eyes were ragged. “You know that, right?”
Pintar nodded silently, half accepting Bartleby’s apology, half worrying at the wear and tear in Bartleby’s eyes.
“Okay…good,” Bartleby started again, a little embarrassed but building up annoyance again, “but seriously I can’t fucking do this any more. Four hours straight of anything, and I mean anything will drive me bat-shit.”
Pintar stared up at him, nodded again, then turned back to the computer. “Here we have the Durango Railroad Historical Soci–”
“Oh don’t you fucking dare!” Bartleby leapt across the room and tried to yank the laptop out of Pintar’s hands while Pintar turned away.
“Here we have an ad for a youth hostel in downtown,” Pintar said merrily as he dodged Bartleby and made it to the other side of the table.
“Pintar give me the fucking computer. Give me the computer and I’m going to look up some porn, like you’re supposed to do on the internet, dirty weird-ass highly-legal-here-in-Thailand-porn.”
Pintar, while enjoying this break from his normal monotony, was displeased with this possible use of his pristine computer and he began to compose himself again. As he settled the laptop down he glanced at Bartleby’s hands, stared for a few seconds, then he looked up at Bartleby’s face.
There was another sound and Pintar looked up as a pattering noise on the corrugated metal roof permeated the room. Pintar looked down again at Bartleby’s hands. “Maybe you should go blow off some steam,” he said, staring at the tendrils of smoke that were starting to curl up from under Bartleby’s fingers.
Bartleby looked down himself, then nodded as he lifted his hands. He stared down at the smoldering black marks where his fingers had been, his eyes staring tiredly into space. “Maybe that’s a good idea,” he said as he started walking towards the door. “I hate that stupid pun, though,” he shot off as he banged out through the door.
Bartleby stepped out into the jungle where a morning downpour was washing through the trees. He began walking, leaving the bamboo cabin behind him, the large-leafed growth swallowing him up as he continued walking, rain pelting down onto a hundred thousand bright green leaves. He stopped when he felt like stopping, his black clothes soaked, and he turned his head up, squinting his eyes tight as thick drops of rain pattered down against his skin. His chest lifted as he took a deep breath, some internal spring inside of him starting to unwind, some deep buried mechanism that was constantly checking and rechecking his mood, his anger, his temper, his entire being, to keep him in check, to keep him mentally focused on not letting go. His arms dropped to his sides, hands up, fingers twitching as the rain pelted his palms and slowly the spring unwound, his clothes drying as the rain continued to wash over them, then as he relaxed and let himself lose control completely the rain itself stopped touching him, each drop of the downpour vaporizing inches away from his body as steam billowed off of him and roiled away through the thick green jungle.