Saturday, November 30, 2013

An Arnold Schnabel Potpourri, Part 4


In honor of the recent national holiday, and not at all because of the woeful laziness of your humble amanuensis, the next installment of Arnold Schnabel’s immortal classic Railroad Train to Heaven™ will be delayed for one week, and in its stead we present another of our occasional collections of excerpts from that sprawling masterwork.



Enjoy, responsibly.







I told the little voice to be quiet and to go away, at least for now. 



****


That was it, I felt like I was coming home, even though it was a home I’d never had, a home I had never been to. I had walked through hell to get here. But now that I was here, now that what remained of me was here, I was glad.




****




I much prefer books about hardworking young men who somehow commit murder or who become trapped in webs of betrayal.


****


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, no matter how inane…




****





That was it for me, I had exhausted my supply of sparkling repartée.





****




What would it be like if I had to have my legs amputated?

On the plus side I wouldn’t have to go anywhere.

On the negative side I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere, except in a wheel chair.






****




“At least I’m not a pseudo-intellectual,” said Steve.

“Steve,” said Miss Rathbone, “you’re not any sort of intellectual.”




****



Both my legs were more or less completely numb now, my brain a little less so.


****




“Don’t think I didn’t see you looking at me,” she said.

It’s true, I had been shooting her the odd glance, but only in the way one would keep an eye on a large cat known for sudden attacks of hysteria. 

****




Her face was like an enormous close-up from some old black-and-white movie, the part where the heroine says something extremely dramatic.




****




“False modesty will get you nowhere with me.”

“I assure you my modesty is warranted,” I said.


****




Where was my friend Jesus when I needed him, I wondered.

“Right here, buddy,” he said.




****




I moved quickly. I certainly wouldn’t have put it past her to come running out after me and grabbing me again, perhaps to throw me down on the hall carpet with a jiu-jitsu maneuver.




****




I suppose I looked like a lunatic. Which I suppose is what I should have looked like, since I was acting like a lunatic.




****


 

At the foot of the stairs I could hear the gentle, crackling-leaf voices of the old people in the dining room, playing their canasta or shooting craps or whatever it was they were doing.




****



The kitchen was empty of other human beings, but I felt life all around me, as if even the walls of this house were alive.




****


Sometimes it's hard to say enough, and sometimes I think it's easy to say too much. I've come to realize that some men's souls are like bombed-out cities. But even the most bombed-out city can be rebuilt in time.




****



And she brushed past us and into the kitchen, leaving a fugitive fragrance of dried roses and Scotch.


****


I’ve come to realize that when it comes to odd behavior I am in no position to be critical.


****


He was sitting near the open French doors, but rather than facing the terrace and the dark green sea beyond he sat sideways, facing in the direction of the bar, so that with a look to his right he could gaze on the saloon and its inhabitants, and by looking to the left he could gaze at the ladies under their parasols, the gentlemen in their straw hats, the bright green neatly-mown grass, the quietly stirring chrysanthemums, the sea with its toylike boats in slow motion, and, off farther to the left, a grove of sighing lindens, and, under the trees, benches with people sitting at them, the women’s dresses as colorful and exuberant as the flowers that exploded gently all about these sunny grounds.



****



Dick said some names I didn’t recognize and whose sounds left no corresponding sequence of letters on my brainpan.




****



“He says he has no idea what he’ll write about,” said Dick. “Because he doesn’t really do much in his life and he says he has no imagination to create stories and characters.”

“Tell him I’ve never let any of that stop me,” I said.



****



We then experienced one of those silences that drift over the best of conversations.




****


I drank my beer.

If this was one of my psychotic episodes it was certainly one of my more realistic ones.


**** 




It had always been my policy that if I must get drunk I would do it within easy stumbling distance of my own humble abode.




****




In the day’s waning light even more of the ladies had come out to sit or stroll on the terrace or to stand by the trelliswork fence gazing out at the sea which was now blazing up in the setting sun, and it’s true that with their delicate parasols and their hats blossoming like mad flowers and their voluminous dresses of rich reds and blues and greens and purples and with their light singing voices on the breeze they seemed like a garden that had somehow become human.



****

Right then and there I just didn’t feel like exposing yet another facet of my lunacy.




****




…but in a sense I walked around every day feeling as if I had been transported into the future, a minor character in an impossibly long and plotless episode of The Jetsons.


 
****



It was all starting to come together now.





 
(Kindly tune in next week when we will present an all-new thrilling episode of Arnold Schnabel’s Railroad Train to Heaven© in its usual time-slot. This has been a Horace P. Sternwall Production,in association with penmarq studios™ ; all contents vetted and approved by the Arnold Schnabel Society. )




2 comments:

Kathleen Maher said...

What a feast! Thanks.

Dan Leo said...

You're welcome, Kathleen!