Sunday, January 8, 2017

The book is here!

Railroad Train to Heaven, Volume One of the Memoirs of Arnold Schnabel is now available as a handsome big glossy paperback or as a Kindle e-book! Click on the cover image below and be the first kid on your block to read it!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

"New Year’s Eve on Chew Avenue"


Railroad Train to Heaven, the first volume of the memoirs of Arnold Schnabel, will soon be available at long last in a handsome large-format paperback edition, as well as an “e-book”, but in the meantime, and in lieu of any new episodes of Arnold’s chef-d'œuvre at this time, we present again one of our hero’s most beloved sonnets, originally published in the Olney Times for January 4, 1963; two weeks later he would be in a padded cell at the Philadelphia State Mental Hospital at Byberry.





New Year’s Eve on Chew Avenue

It’s New Year’s Eve, it seems we’ve made it,
if only barely, through another year;
the terror, if not gone, has abated
into a dull and grey persistent fear.
My mother’s sound asleep by eleven,
so I go to the VFW,
shove to the bar of this drunkard’s heaven,
and say, “Pat, if you please, I’ll trouble you
for a Schmidt’s, backed with an Old Forester,
and keep them coming till I say not to,
or until you throw me out; whatever;
do what your conscience says that you’ve got to.”
I take that first sacred drink of cold beer:
“Happy new (let’s hope it’s not our last) year.”




(New episodes of Arnold’s adventures will appear in the coming year, and, who knows, perhaps even poems.)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

An Arnold Schnabel Potpourri, Vol. 3


The new year will bring us, at long last, the publication of the first volume of Arnold Schnabel's memoirs, Railroad Train to Heaven™and our staff of volunteers and graduate interns are now busily preparing the e-book edition as well; in the meantime, here is another collection of bons mots from that first volume... 



I walked down the windy dark empty street to Congress and turned right, and down the block and a half to the VFW. It’s just a plain long building, dull and brown, it’s windows made out of filmy glass bricks like ice cubes. I opened the door and went in. The first thing I heard was Steve’s distinctive tenor, singing along to a song on the jukebox called “Be My Baby”. And there he was in the middle of the crowded bar, waving a beer mug in time to the music.

Amazingly, it didn’t look like anyone wanted to beat him up.



****



…I slowly recognized her as a pretty but somewhat somber face I had seen around town in past summers, each year a little taller and a lot more — what’s the word? Imperious? Or even like the way the Blessed Mother looks in some old paintings, beautiful and calm but somehow somewhat bored or even miffed about something.

By the way I just want to interpolate that if despite my present lamentable state of willy-nilly agnosticism there really is a Blessed Virgin I mean no disrespect by the above sentence or, now that I look at it again, should I say sentence fragment.



****



I felt like a ghost wandering through a carnival swarming with mad midgets.




****
Universes collapsed, stars exploded and disappeared, new galaxies burst into creation, gods and entire races lived and died as she went into her little kitchenette and took a bottle of Gordon’s gin and poured healthy drams into two of the Flintstones glasses that my aunts had supplied the apartment with. She came up to me and handed me one of the drinks.




****

I turned and walked out, closing the door behind me. I walked gingerly over to the bathroom, went in, closed the door, unzipped, and splashed cold water from the tap onto the offending portion of myself.




****




Their words passed into my ears and out again, leaving only the vaguest impressions on my brain.




****


Miss Rathbone sat down and poured Steve a glass of ice water.

He thanked her, lifted the glass and drank it all, his Adam’s apple palpitating like a small creature trapped in his throat.




****




I could never describe the complex of emotions, hidden but obvious, conversation, superficial but fraught with meaning, all of it somehow managing to be deeply boring but completely unmemorable, which ensued in the next three minutes of chatter among the old women and Miss Evans.




*****



I said nothing. What could I say? It seems to me that for years I talked to people, and they talked to me, primarily in a sort of code composed almost entirely of clichés, a code whose purpose was not the transmission of meaning but the lack of meaning.


****

People were starting to come back from the beach, blistered-red, sweating and weary, looking as if they had been through a battle. Even the little children hobbled and staggered as though on a death march, or else were carried by their sandal-dragging parents or brave older siblings.

****



Real life always comes back to bring us down to planet earth even in the midst of our most exalted philosophizing, and so it was that I realized that I had to urinate.

****

I didn’t know what to say, which is not unusual for me of course. However, after many years of social doltishness, I’ve gradually realized that people are much more comfortable if you say something, anything other than saying a great resonant nothing…


****


Next thing I knew we were in a café drinking peppermint schnapps, and pretty soon after that I was being frog-marched into a brothel, gibbering with fright as if I were being dragged to the gibbet. And as terrified as I was going in I was even more terrified an hour later when I shuffled out, expecting a lightning bolt to strike me down at any moment and cast my wretched unshriven soul screaming hellward.

****
It occurred to me that I was happy.

How odd.

****



(Fear not, fans –  brand new and exciting chapters of Arnold Schnabel's memoirs will be appearing in this space soon.
)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

An Arnold Schhnabel Potpourri, Vol. 2

John Facenda: "The Voice of God"


We are very close to the publication – in both paper and electronic forms – of Volume One of Arnold Schnabel’s 73-volume memoir, which shall bear the title Railroad Train to Heaven; in the meantime here is  a second culling of literary bouquets from that volume, ideal for those who  have short attention spans:


A yellow Oldsmobile hissed slowly by, and Steve stood across the street, under his now seemingly repaired umbrella, or perhaps another one. He waved, and then he disappeared, into thin air, or rather into thick rainy air.
****
It was odd, but just watching her do something so simple as shaking the water off of her umbrella made me want to go to bed with her.
****


By this time the women were getting back to work on the food. Elektra asked if she could help with anything, but they all said no. Elektra asked again, they said no again. Then one more time around.

I wondered if I could take getting married if it meant listening to all these repetitious verbal rituals, and it occurred to me that I would probably just be a typical man and leave the women to their own arcane devices.
****
I was afraid this was going to happen, my Aunt Edith’s famous duck’s blood soup. I realized now that they had really gone the whole hog, reverting back to their dark past in a little village in Germany, and that Charlie had brought the duck over still alive. Thank God I had slept through that. I had stood witness once as my aunts killed a duck and then held it upside down to let it bleed into a bowl. It was not an experience I wanted ever to repeat.


****

John Facenda came on with the news. We watched it for a bit. Some gang in England had robbed a train of £2.6 million.


“When I grow up I’m gonna be a train robber,” said Kevin. “No offense; I know you used to work on the railroad.”

****
The ladies had also brought out the good china, which I find annoying to eat off of. It’s got all this fancy gilt along its scalloped edges which when you wield your knife and fork upon it makes for an awful scraping noise like desperate mice trapped behind a chalkboard.

Kevin and I sat; for some reason he always sits immediately to my left when we eat. Or is it I who always sits to his right?
****
It was almost twilight now, the rain had abated to a salty thin spray that seemed not to fall but to shimmer in the air. The air smelled of honeysuckle and gladioli, of wet dirt and the ocean. I sat down in my usual rocker, lit up a Pall Mall, and stared out at the street, covered like a forest floor with gleaming green leaves and fallen brown twigs.
****
“You don’t understand women. We’re always submitting ourselves to absurd situations. It’s our lot in life.”


****
The misty rain had stopped, but the light that just a few minutes before had brightly colored the street had now fallen away. A silence fell, or was allowed to resume, but it was still rather windy out, so this was the silence of wet leaves hissing in the trees, of fallen leaves scudding along the street like flotsam in a river, and, from seemingly far away but only a few blocks away, the ocean endlessly crashing at the edge of the continent.


****


I was having one "first" after another these days, and in my forty-two years this was the first time I had shared an umbrella with a woman who was not my mother. I took the umbrella, it seemed the gentlemanly thing to do, walking on the street side of the pavement, as I had somewhere heard the gentleman was supposed to.
For some reason we hadn’t been talking as we walked; I can’t account for Elektra but for me it seemed redundant and meaningless to add anything to the sound of the rain drumming on the umbrella, the murmuring of the wind.
****


If I must go into a bar, and apparently sometimes I must, I prefer to slip in quietly, the unknown quiet man quietly drinking his beer or Manhattan. The last thing I need is a bar full of hearty fellows clapping me on the back and asking me how it’s going.
****
I walked down the windy dark empty street to Congress and turned right, and down the block and a half to the VFW. It’s just a plain long building, dull and brown, it’s windows made out of filmy glass bricks like ice cubes. I opened the door and went in. The first thing I heard was Steve’s distinctive tenor, singing along to a song on the jukebox called “Be My Baby”. And there he was in the middle of the crowded bar, waving a beer mug in time to the music.

Amazingly, it didn’t look like anyone wanted to beat him up.
****
As I came out though I saw a woman in a long gown in the dark hallway. Her hair was dark gold.

My immediate thought was, “Oh, great, now it’s the Blessed Mother, this is all I need.”

And I was ready to walk right past her or through her without a word, but she said, “Hello.”

“Hello,” I said.

“You’re Arnold, right?”

“Yes,” I said, trying not to sigh.

The whole Holy Family had it in for me, or so it seemed. And where was Joseph?
****
I digress, but after all this is my memoir and no one will ever read it anyway, probably not even its author.
****

(New and thrilling chapters of Arnold Schnabel's memoirs will return after the publication of Volume One. )