01 November 2013

The Beginning of Chapter Four

From the forthcoming Radio - a Novel  by Tom Janikowski


If you have read this far, it is worth sharing a few things with you. Seeing as how most readers of fiction never make it through the third chapter of any given book and merely go around criticizing it based on something they read on the dustjacket, I opted to make the third chapter inordinately short. I figured this would get you “over the hump” and into chapter number four. Which, if you are reading this, seemed to work.

This being the case, you are probably ready for me to share with you the strange truth regarding the word “all-righty,” sometimes spelled “alrighty.” The word has more or less the same meaning as the phrase “there you go,” alternately rendered as “there you have it.” A phrase or a word of affirmation. A phrase of agreement. It is a phrase, however, that by the end of the war, had fallen into disuse, only to be replaced with the word “rab-klaat.” Linguists, English scholars, and bloggers were uncertain how this particular word made its way into the language, but they had plenty of fun trying to explain it. Most believed it was an Inuit word (the Inuit being an advanced nation of people, who had discovered the key to cold fusion long before any advanced extraterrestrial races had done the same). There was an Inuit phrase “ra-ab kla-a-at” that originally meant something like “pass the seal relish, Rob,” but had devolved into meaning something like “yeah?”. This was as close as anyone could figure.

I tell you this only because I intend to use the word profusely over the next seventy-five or so chapters, and because that was also the first word that Michael Nitrous heard as he stepped out into the moony-light airframe of a swollen day. The wafer-thin cheesewood door swung open, and he heard a dry voice say “rab-klaat.”

“Huh?” asked Michael, thinking he had misheard someone.

“Rab-klaat,” said the dry voice again. Michael turned in its direction and saw something very unlike an Inuit reindeer herder. It was the old man from chapter 26. An old grey-headed fellow with an out-of-style sort of leisure suit and a smell about him that was something like a tortilla factory. Or a tortilla factory that had soiled itself, perhaps. Michael shook his head a bit and looked again. The old man was still wearing polyester.

“Hey, there's someone in there,” started Michael, motioning toward the door.

“Yes, I know,” said the man in the leisure suit, “I'm aware of that.”

If we may just chat about polyester leisure suits for just a moment, that would be most delightful. Polyester was a petroleum-based fiber that the pre-war world of the 1970's found easy to manufacture and rather stain-resistant (you can never have enough stain-resistance, you know). When clothing-chemists first began the search for the leisure suit, there was great optimism and an overriding hope that some sort of fruit-based fabric could be worked out, but it never happened. Researchers the world over were forced to begin crafting the embryonic leisure suits (sometimes called, in those early days, “non-toil suits”) out of petroleum-based fabric known as “bridgetfelt.” bridgetfelt was a tough, fibrous fabric that reminded most people of an over-cooked buffalo steak. Development was rapid, however, and progress came with each dawning day. How romantic.

Enough about leisure suits. No one ever really liked them, anyway.

1 comment:

  1. you make the mundane interesting and that is what good writers do