Out of Ideas, Out of Time: Chapter 4

A Collaborative Story

P.G. Barnett
Oct 26 · 5 min read

Read Part One Here

Read Part Two Here

Read Part Three Here

“Yeah, I know her,” Carl replied.

Something else troubled me aside from this bombshell Carl just laid on me. I knew I shouldn’t have eaten that second coney.

The rumblings in my stomach caused by all that chili, and those onions meant I was only seconds away from passing gas. Somehow I didn’t think Carl would appreciate my flatulence.

I tightened my butt cheeks and stared across the counter at him.

“How so?”

“She’s my fourth cousin’s, brother’s, sister’s, mother’s, aunt’s, daughter. She comes in here all the time.”

I was stunned. All I had at this point to go on was a picture and a one-page rambling script of well-written desperation. This information was bigger than a Huey Lewis and the News song.

“Can you tell me where I can find her?”

“Why you want to know, mister? She’s in trouble with the law?”

“Do I look like a policeman Carl?”

“Not really.”

I told Carl about the note that had been slid into my office beneath my door.

“I think she’s in trouble, Carl, and my job is to find her.”

Carl seemed lost in thought for a minute, rubbing the stubble on his chin with a thumb and an index finger. I clutched my stomach as another wave of gas welled up like someone pumping up a bicycle tire. Carl snapped his fingers and disappeared into the back of the joint.

I, of course, took the opportunity to relieve the pressure build-up in my digestive system. Waving at the odorous clouds of noxious fumes that would have dropped a rhino in its tracks, I patiently leaned against the counter, waiting for Carl’s return.

When he did, he had a leather-bound notebook in his hands. He slid it across the counter to me. I looked down at the gold leaf imprint and then back at Carl.

“K. Fayeth?”

Carl nodded, “yeah, she left it here the last time she dropped by.”

The burly man pointed across his coney stand at a small table ringed by a couple of rickety-looking chairs.

“When she comes in, she usually sits over there eating one of our New York style coneys and scribbling in her notebook. She’s always writing in that notebook of hers.”

Something told me this was getting more serious than I thought. What self-respecting writer would abandon her/his notebook where they jotted down all of their ideas? I could feel an uneasy tightening in the pit of my stomach.

Could have been another coney uprising, but I was thinking probably not.

“Can I hang on to this for a bit Carl?”

“Sure, help yourself.”

I sat down at the table where this writer sat, first staring at the picture I’d found then gazing at the gold leaf inscription of her name. Pondering the possibilities.

K. Fayeth, huh? Wonder what the K stands for? Kookie? Kismet? Khmer Rouge? Maybe Karen? Karen Fayeth, maybe?

I opened the notebook and stared at the words written in tight script filling the pages. It was clearly apparent the woman loved to write, her prose sprawled across the pages in a beautiful litany of neatly written ideas and inner thoughts. I flipped through the notebook until I reached the last entry.

It was dated only four days ago.

I don’t know what to write anymore. I was thinking about doing a sports piece, but Lon Shapiro writes some of the best pieces in that genre I’ve ever read. Maybe, I can do a funny one-minute wit kind of story. No, Mark Starlin’s got the market cornered on that.

I don’t know what to write I don’t know what to write I don’t know what to write. I have to get away; find someplace where I can get my thoughts straight again. Maybe I’ll just stop writing. Not like I can think of something to write about anymore.

I just need to get away from it all. There’s a place I know upstate where no one can find me. A place where I can be alone with my thoughts. Maybe a place where I’ll make the final decision and be done with all of this. In the woods, a cabin my family owns. I’ll…

Her writing came to an abrupt halt. I flipped through the notebook gazing at a mass of blank pages.

Yeah, this was worse than I thought.

I’d just discovered a writer on the brink of quitting and I had no idea where she was or how to find her. Upstate? Upstate where? New York? Connecticut? Texas?

I could be wrong. In my line of business, you’ve always got your share of red herring roads, you have to travel down to get to the truth. Who knows? Maybe this Karen woman is part owner of the King Ranch, and instead of a car, she drives a horse to work.

I’ve seen much stranger things in this line of work, but something in my gut aside from all the gas told me this probably wasn’t the case.

I couldn’t help but wonder what causes an artist to reach this kind of emotional state. Hell, I’m just a gumshoe private eye trying to make a buck or two digging up the dirt in people’s lives for money. It’s not like I even understand the soul of a writer, much less write myself.

I may be a beat down, jaded, potbellied ex-detective struggling to make it now in the private sector, but years of investigating stuff like this has taught me one thing for sure.

Things didn’t look too good for the home team right now.

Karen? Hang on, I’m trying to find you. Just give me a little time.

Let’s keep in touch: paul@pgbarnett.com

© P.G. Barnett, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

Out of Ideas, Out of Time

A place where collaborative stories go to lose momentum and disappear in a tiny dust devil in the middle of the desert.

P.G. Barnett

Written by

A published author enjoying married Texas bliss. Dog person living with cats. A writer of Henry James stories and thoughts about this crazy world we live in.

Out of Ideas, Out of Time

A place where collaborative stories go to lose momentum and disappear in a tiny dust devil in the middle of the desert.

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