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The Book I Will Write #38

THE BOOK I WILL WRITE by John Henry Fleming is a serial novel-in-emails about a would-be writer named John Henry Fleming who is desperate to publish a book. THE BOOK I WILL WRITE is a work in progress; readers are invited to make comments and influence the outcome. Fleming has been exchanging emails with an editorial assistant and a senior editor at Knopf, as well as with an agent. He’s been kicked out of his apartment, and was living at the library before being kidnapped by an organization known as The Zeppelin Society. He was rescued by a mysterious figure on a motorcycle.

THE PATRIOT

 

Mary Ann “Annie” Lankowski

Editorial Assistant

Knopf Publishing

 

Dear Annie,

Here I am back at the library. Things are more difficult this time. Every few hours, Hans and Vik surveil the premises. Their leather pants announce themselves from a hundred feet away, so at least I have time to hide.  Eventually, one of the librarians tells them they have to either oil their pants or leave.

I can’t say if Hans and Vik want revenge for the destruction of their headquarters, or if they just want to re-kidnap me because they understand how close I was to getting started on their letter to the FAA.

But why would they need a letter now? I saw their prototype zeppelin pumped full of lead. After I jumped in the sidecar, I looked back as the zeppelin burst into flames, its skin crackling and vanishing into fire and smoke, the creaking metal skeleton lurching and falling in an eerie, graceful spin like a dying swan—or a ballerina’s version of one.

All that work! All those dreams!

I’ve also caught a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome. I feel terrible for my kidnappers. I’m convinced Hans and Vik mean what they say about the “furtherance of the human triumph,” even if their methods are misguided. I kind of want to give them a hug.

Still, they may try to kill me. And they’re not the only ones. I can’t say anything else about that.

The man who rescued me was the old Zeppelin Man who first broached the subject of airships here at the library. He’s more aware of the world than he seems—the zeppelin world, anyway. He’s been monitoring Hans and Vik for some time and considers himself a rival. He’s convinced that Hans and Vik are agents of a foreign government, so he’s been intercepting their letters to the FAA and writing fake replies. If I’d finished my letter, it never would have made it to the FAA. There’s a lesson in that.

When Zeppelin Man realized that the three of us—Hans, Vik, and I—had disappeared from the library, he grew suspicious. He used his skills—never mind where he got them, he says—to spy on the Zeppelin Society headquarters. He hatched a plan to spring me and to set Hans and Vik’s zeppelin-building back a few months.

According to Zeppelin Man, Hans and Vik know nothing about him. Still, he thought it best to go into hiding for a while.

I thanked him. I shook his hand across the newspaper rack. I felt like saluting him as he limped away through the automatic double-doors of the library exit, but I didn’t want to call too much attention to him. People stared at him anyway. They always do. He has a strong smell.

When the alarm sounded, Zeppelin Man lurched out of the building in his bow-legged gait. He was gone before the librarians could call him back. Who knows what book he took with him?

Anyway, I salute this patriot in my thoughts. I feel safer knowing he’s got surveillance skills. Or I would feel safer, if several people weren’t trying to kill me.

Now to get to work on my novel again! I’ll be in touch.

Fondly,

John Henry Fleming

 

 

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About John Henry Fleming

John Fleming's stories have appeared in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, The North American Review, Mississippi Review, Fourteen Hills, and Carve, among others. He is the author of The Legend of the Barefoot Mailman, a novel, and Fearsome Creatures of Florida, a literary bestiary. He teaches creative writing at the University of South Florida and is the founder and advisory editor for Saw Palm: florida literature and art. He blogs at johnhenryfleming.com.

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