A Novel

Chapter 16: Fly Fucked (First Floyd Fly Fucked)

Next day » Thursday, August 27, 1987 » Floyd Hotckiss awoke, sort of. His eyelids opened, and he saw and he was aware of seeing: he saw acoustic ceiling tiles.

Where am I?

My head won't move.

My arms won't move.

I'm feeling no pain, but my face is hot.

Floyd Hotchkiss, the first Floyd. He felt weak, but in a good way, like he was only just existing and it was pure contentment. No energy to worry or scheme, no fear or hate or want. Exactly the right amount of energy to be, and no more.

He didn't yet remember that he had raped somebody. He didn't remember that her father had then beaten him almost-to-death. No, he didn't remember. He fucked the hell out of Connie Swinford, and then Connie's father fucked the hell out of him. See? Same words, different meanings: one road, two lanes, opposite directions. What I've written I've written, and I've written it in Hebrew and in Latin and in Greek.

He didn't know where he was or why he was there, but over the past couple years he had lost consciousness so many times, had awakened to find himself in unfamiliar places so often, that the experience no longer unsettled him. Everything usually worked itself out. Delaney always came through for them, somehow or another. Once, Floyd and Joe had gotten themselves into a real scrape—what was it?—and Delaney sent this cartoon man, fat old Esquire-Man, Joe called him. Mr. Esquire-Man. Mr. Esquire-Man looked like he was made out of balloons. Mr. Esquire-Man sprung them from. . .from whatever it was, wherever it was. Prison, probably: Floyd could not remember. Whatever it was, Delaney always came through. Delaney was the man. Delaney had pull. Delaney was in the Life. Yeah, Delaney always came through, and he would come through again.

Lying on his back, Floyd was too sore to move. Or was it that he simply couldn't move? Anyway, he moved his eyeballs, left and right; he found that he was in a hospital room. A hospital room was an okay place to be, if you ignored the proximity it placed you to the law. But Floyd didn't really fear the law, because he was a minor. Joe always said that this fact made him, for all intents and purposes, invincible. The worst that could happen? Maybe a term in JU-V, and probably not even that. Delaney could have anything fixed. He was a fixer. Worst case scenario: they might send him back to his parents, and then he'd just skip again anyway. Too bad, so sad.

Slooooooooowly, he begins to think:

→Joe idolized Delaney. Joe was constantly rocking Delaney, grooving Delaney, copping Delaney, cribbing Delaney—especially Delaney's one word quotations, like "Containment": those were Joe's favorite. Yeah, Joe surely thought he was pretty important when he quoted Delaney: fun Joe would turn strictly business, and then strictly business Joe would pronounce cold sober upon the importance of "containment". Floyd never knew what half of it meant, but he could always tell when Joe was re-sourcing Delaney.

→Floyd liked Delaney too, but Floyd didn't want to be Delaney's stooge forever. Floyd didn't see much chance of getting a whatchya'd-call "promotion" from Delaney. Wouldn't it be cool to be the one wiring the money, instead of the one chasing the wires? Giving the orders instead of taking them? Let's turn the tables, Floyd would sometimes think. And then he would try to sell Joe on a plan, a plan to blackmail Delaney: "Check it out. We could make a mint. He'd pay a fortune to keep us from spilling what we know." Joe said Delaney wouldn't pay a fortune, wouldn't pay one red cent, and that in any case, who would they tell? What would they tell? Who would believe them?

→Joe's Western Union directory: Joe didn't think Floyd had a clue about the Western Union directory. Joe carried it around with him, everywhere. Joe said he needed it to find Western Union offices, where they could pick up money wires and telegrams. But Joe didn't know that Floyd knew that Joe also used that damned directory as a diary, a place where he recorded every job they pulled.

→Floyd saw Joe writing in that directory, when he thought Floyd wasn't looking.

→Floyd couldn't remember how he knew what Joe was writing in the directory.

→But he was sure of one thing and he didn't really give a damn how he had come to know it: that goddamned Western Union directory was a diary of crime in yellow crayon.

→Joe refused to let Floyd see the directory, but Joe was:

→Dead. Floyd had:

→Murdered him, and had stolen the Western Union directory. Floyd had murdered Joe to get his hands on that directory. And where was the directory now?

Pure premium panic morphine drip override.

The morphine glow over.

That directory was a goddamned record of criminal conspiracy, of:

Juice shakedowns.

Cartage thefts.

Truck hijackings.


Mail fraud.

Insurance fraud.

Forgery of securities.

Obstruction of justice.

Labor infiltration.



Voter fraud.

Black hand schemes.




Drug trafficking.

Floyd saw it all in his head, and it looked like poetry to him, but it felt like fear.

In the directory, Joe had recorded the whens and the wheres. The whys could be reconstructed by any up-to-speed flatfoot.

Everything depended on the directory. Floyd was gonna sell that directory to Delaney for $50,000. But first he needed the directory. The directory contained not only the record of Delaney's orders to Joe, but more importantly, it contained Delaney's telephone number, the only way Floyd knew to contact Delaney. Floyd had never actually spoken with Delaney, didn't even know if that was his real name, and if so, whether it was his first or last. Without the telephone number in that Western Union directory, Delaney disappeared into thin air, and Floyd's entire plan fell apart.

The Western Union directory should be in his backpack, but he couldn't remember where he had left his backpack—hopefully here in the hospital somewhere. Then, remembering what else was inside the backpack, he began to hope that it wasn't in the hospital. If anybody looked inside that backpack, Floyd would almost certainly have to explain a few things to the police. And he'd probably be explaining from jail. Explaining:

His cash.

His opium.

His ether.

His reason for being wherever the fuck he was.

Floyd's mind jumped around, kept remembering and then forgetting information, like an Etch-a-Sketch onto which he slowly, arduously produced an impression, only to have it wiped clean again. He knew that he was in a hospital room, but he didn't know what town he was in. He expected Joe to walk into the room any moment and rescue him from this scrape. He kept forgetting what had happened to Joe, and then remembering what he had done to Joe. To hell with Joe, all he needed was that Western Union directory.

A nurse entered the room, and seeing that he was awake, said, "Oh good—you're awake. I'll just take your vitals, and then get doctor."

"Where am I?"

"You don't remember? Don't worry, considering the severity of your injuries, and all the morphine you're on, short term amnesia is normal, and usually temporary, but I'll let the doctor perform his examination and then you can ask him any questions. I'll also telephone your guardian—you'll probably regain your memory a whole lot faster once you see a familiar face."

"My guardian?"

She smiled blandly; it made him want to punch her.

His thoughts worked so spastically—they jumped around like insects trapped in a Mason jar—they almost caused his body to jerk. He suddenly said, "I'm a rapist", and then realized that he had, in fact, raped somebody. But who? And when? And where?

She looked concerned, disconcerted. She looked. . .

She left the room. Floyd fell back asleep. He awoke. A doctor was standing next to him. The doctor examined him, somehow, with touches and pokes and squeezes and instruments. There was a stethoscope involved. There was a tongue depressor but it was not used on his tongue. The doctor asked if he had any questions.

Floyd said no.

The doctor asked if he had any memory of what had happened to him.

"No, none."

"Do you remember what you said to the nurse earlier, when she was in here with you?

Floyd remembered, but said, "No. What nurse?"

The doctor nodded and then left.

About an hour later, another man entered the room, this one much older, tall and lanky, wearing a dirty linen coat. Obviously not a hospital employee. When the door had closed behind this man, and the two were alone together in the room, the man said, "Floyd, I'm so glad to see you're doing better."

There was a flatness in the man's voice which seemed to confirm Floyd's feeling that he did not know the man, and that the man did not really know him.

The man continued, "I'm your guardian Floyd. The nurse said you had some memory loss, and she thought it would be good if you could see me. Surely you recognize me, though. Durney. Durney McKusker. I was a friend of your parents, before they died. You came here to visit my wife and me for a few months. You must have hitchhiked down from Elmville—I didn't know you were arriving this soon, or I would have met you at the train station. When you arrived at the club, some roughnecks rolled you."

Train station. That did sound familiar. Floyd remembered getting off a train, but it wasn't a passenger train. Floyd spoke the man's name aloud, "Durney McKusker," but still did not recognize him.

Floyd was preparing to tell Durney that he could go fuck himself, when Durney, said, "We have your backpack at home, Floyd. All your things. The roughnecks didn't get any of it. Not even your your Western Union directory. Or anything else in the bag."

When Durney mentioned the Western Union directory, Floyd's wandering attention finally seized upon something that could hold it.

This man, Durney, must have seen the change in Floyd's expression, because he said, "Yes, your Western Union directory. I'm glad to see you're beginning to remember."

Floyd remained silent.

Durney stared knowingly at Floyd. "The police wanted to look through it, to see if it contained any evidence. If you think it would help, I can give the police your backpack. They're seeking information on multiple crimes committed recently in the area. Some of them are crimes for which even a minor could receive adult sentencing, if convicted."

Floyd finally spoke, "I don't know what you're trying to imply sir—"

"I'm not trying to imply anything Floyd. Just talking. The nurse said the more I talk, the sooner you'll regain your memory. I understand how scary this must be for you. If you'd rather, I can turn you and all your possessions over to the police. I don't want to do anything against your will. Oh, I almost forget to mention: there's somebody that's been looking for you. Well, he says he's looking for you and an older person, who nobody has seen. If you want, I can tell this man where you are right now—"

"No, don't do that. Who is he?"

"Hah, yes, you'd like to know that, wouldn't you? Now why might that be? In any case, he's some man, a stranger in these parts, like you yourself. And easily dealt with, like you yourself. He says you were supposed to be arriving in Bureau Junction along with an older guy. The description he gave matched you exactly. He'd be glad to know where you are—probably willing to pay a lot of money for that information, if I guess correctly."

"Don't tell him where I am. Just give me an hour to sort things out. For Christ's sake can't you see I'm confused?"

"It's up to you Floyd. Everything's up to you. We have your backpack at home, and you can come stay with us as soon as the doctor says it's alright. In fact, we own a nice little one-bedroom house right next door to ours. You could stay there; I could hire a nurse to come look after you. Just relax here for now—I'm paying your hospital bills, but I do expect to fully recuperate the investment. Yes, I do. I think you probably have expectations too. I'll come back tomorrow, or maybe even later today if the doctor says you can be discharged. In the meantime, think about what you want to do. It's all up to you. But it does seem like the strong bulls of Bashan are surrounding you."

Floyd lay there, feeling like some child's summertime toy, a bug trapped in a Mason jar, futile thoughts flitting against transparent walls.