Hey, sorry for taking so long. I'm not too happy with it, but I don't want to keep you guys waiting!
* * *
And if Franco's death had been my birth, the envelope was my coming of age.
I was sitting in my room in a cheap hotel in Columbus. I had nothing planned for that afternoon and didn't feel disposed to leave the hotel. I found myself yet again in the middle of what had become my personal ritual - holding my gun and replaying in my mind all that had been going on in my life for the past few years - when the envelope slid under the door and landed neatly by my feet. I laid the gun on the bedstand and picked the envelope up. On the front were written the words "Mountain Man (AB17)". There was no stamp or return address.
Mountain Man. That name being there could be just a coincidence, but it brought memories I'd rather not have.
I opened it and took the post card that was inside. It was from Hong Kong, a cityscape portrait that showed the upper part several very tall modern buildings, more glass than concrete. It seemed to be trying to show that that city was a place where people work and make money.
I flipped the card. The handwriting on the back read "Mama Pidgin is dead."
I put in my jacket pocket and went down the stairs to the lobby in a hurry. There was nobody there but the receptionist (and, perhaps, owner).
"Ma'am, someone just slid an envelope through my door...?" I asked her.
"Oh, yes", she said, and dropped the newspaper on which she was doing crosswords. "Mister Selick, right? A man was just by to drop it for you. He insisted on doing it personally."
I went to the door and looked outside. It was a busy enough street that the man could easily lose himself amongst the passersby. I turned back to her. Nobody was supposed to know where I was. "What did he look like?"
"I don't know? Very slim, dark-haired."
"Did he say something? His name?"
"He said he was a close friend and wanted to surprise you. Look, is everything okay?"
I put my hands on the counter and reached forward. "Listen, if this man ever comes here again, call my room immediately. He is very dangerous." It was most likely true.
She raised her eyebrows. "Should I call the cops?"
I forced a laugh and a smile, and leaned back. I didn't want anything to do with cops. "No, sorry. I was kidding. Just let me know if he comes by."
I ignored her wide stare and went back up to my room. Sat on the bed.Mama Pidgin is dead.
It was time to call some old friends.
* * *
I have also made a list of characters and plot points. I included every character named so far (plus the mysterious man from my chapter), even the ones that seemed fairly minor, in case anyone wants to develop them more. Each plot point currently corresponds roughly to a chapter, but feel free to change that. You can use this as a base for your own chapter; even if you don't, I ask you to keep it up to date with it, so that other people can.Characters
- Selick is the protagonist. He has an unclear relation to Mama Pidgin, and was assigned by her to be her nephew Franco's "babysitter". Killed Franco in what seemed to be a bizarre accident a year ago, and ever since has been on the run from, presumably, the authorities and Mama Pidgin's people. Has since robbed a corner store in Reno and a bank in San Francisco, and killed more people ("most times intentionally, always by necessity"), including a half-blind old man who "just kept smiling" after having been shot. Has been shown to engage in deep, introspective internal monologues about his condition, and has contemplated suicide several times, although he seems to have ultimately decided against it.
- Mama Pidgin is a powerful figure about whom little is yet known. She is possibly some kind of mafia leader. Has many nephews, all of whom compete for her attention. Her favorite is Franco, who she holds in high esteem. According to a post card given to Selick by an as-of-yet anonymous character, she is dead.
- Franco Garnini was Mama Pidgin's favorite nephew, "part-time gangster and stooge for [her]". Describes himself as a "physical manifestation of the world’s inherent chaos". Seems mostly unambitious and somewhat childish, showing a great appreciation for movies and comic books, which he quotes often. He was killed by Selick after handing him a gun loaded with what he believed to be blanks and asking Selick to shoot him with it.
- Donnie is the person who sold Franco the real bullets that Franco believed were blanks. That eventually got Franco killed.
- Jordan Aleph and Sandra Zapati are a couple who has some relation to Selick, Franco and Mama Pidgin (possibly members of two mafia families). Their families "still give [Selick] dagger-eyes at meetings" ever since he got into a fight with Franco at Franco's own request during Jordan and Sandra's wedding.
- A still unidentified man left Selick an envelope in Selick's hotel room, even though "nobody was supposed to know where [Selick] was". The envelope read "Mountain Man (AB17)", something that "brought memories [Selick] would rather not have". Could be one of the characters above, or one not yet introduced.
- Franco's death is what started the plot. He went to Selick, gave him a gun and asked him to shoot him with it; it seems he meant it as a prank for Selick, having loaded the gun with what he thought were blank cartridges but were actually live rounds. He had gotten these from Donnie, who sold them for cheap.
- After killing Franco, Selick runs away, presumably from the authorities and Mama Pidgin's people.
- A year passes, during which he seems to have become a robber. He has killed more people since Franco, "most times intentionally, always by necessity".
- Selick often questions the events that led him here and contemplates suicide.
- One day, an unknown man leaves Selick an envelope containing a post card from Hong Kong. On the envelope are written the words "Mountain Man (AB17)", and the post card claims Mama Pidgin is dead.