“NUMBSKULL” Novel Excerpt by No Glykon

“NUMBSKULL” is a novel by No Glykon set to debut October Fifteenth from Back Patio Press. It is currently available for pre-order by clicking here.

▲▓I▓▲

After getting paid, Goya drives to Walmart hoping to purchase a gun and spending an hour looking at guns and picking one out and filling out all the necessary paperwork and handing her background check to the clerk.

“So, it will take a week for the background check to process?” Goya asks the clerk.

The clerk turns the forms to read them, and he makes little reading sounds under his mustache, and his eyes go back and forth across the paper, and he breathes a deep breath in to his mouth and out through his nose.

“I can tell you right now that it probably won’t pass,” he says, turning the form around and pointing to a checked check box that reads, I have been diagnosed with a mental illness. “They cannot sell guns to people who have been diagnosed with certain mental illnesses.”

“Okay,” she says, taking the paper from him and walking through the parking lot to her car and driving down the highway and pulling into the parking lot of a different Walmart and filling out another background check without checking the box called, I have been diagnosed with a mental illness.

▲▲▼▲▲

As Goya tells David about how she wants to buy a gun, he imagines Goya accidentally shooting him through the wall between their rooms.

The sequence of hazy mental images starts where he can visualize both of their rooms at once. Goya is in a nightgown, and it has a geometric-shape print. The shapes are fluorescent yellow and fluorescent orange. She holds some hand cannon. He stands up to put his pants on or something banal. Her room fills with smoke. The images cut to where the point of view is behind the bullet. Everything is in slow motion. His daydream follows the bullet to his brain. His body falls away. It reveals blood splattered on the wall behind him.

David focuses on the red liquid, and the blood on the wall in his mind becomes the pasta sauce he is gazing at. The room tone takes on a dead-channel quality. The buzz sits on top of all other sounds in the room.

IIRRRR

David squints. He feels nauseous. He moves a wooden spoon in the pasta sauce. It pushes chunks of vegetables around in the red liquid. Goya watches him.

IRRRRRRRR

The dead-channel tone reaches its highest point of tension.

“Smells good,” Goya says.

“Thanks,” David says.

She laughs. He cannot figure out why she laughed.

“Have you ever shot a gun?” she asks.

He focuses on her briefly. He goes back to watching the pan, and the sauce boils, and he leans over, and he checks the size of the flame, and the flame has fingers, and the flame fingers pulse.

“Blanks for some films I worked on in college,” he says. “Why?”

“I don’t know, like… I’ve never shot a gun, but I’ve been wanting to for a long time.”

She brushes her hair out of her face. She pulls herself up to sit on the countertop.

“…”

“I led some generic-type guy on for months because he kept saying he would take me to shoot guns,” Goya says. “We broke up, because it was like… never going to happen.”

“…”

“We would just play chess all the time, and I never won,” Goya says. She is starting to digress.

“Months,” David says. “That seems committed. That seems quite committed. I think you can just go to a range and shoot pictures of people with rented guns.”

“I feel like I am really good at chess. I must not be because I never win,” she says in the digression.

“…”

“Yeah… well, a shooting range doesn’t seem very meaningful,” she says.

“I feel like I am good at chess because I beat someone with a chess tattoo,” he says following the digression.

She laughs. David laughs. They laugh for different reasons.

“…”

“Not sure if I look for emotional significance in a shooting experience.” David walks away from the stove. He gets the colander ready. He gets something else ready.

“That’s unbelievable to deal with,” she says.

“…”

“But you’re not looking for a shooting experience, David.” The sauce begins to bubble, and Goya turns the stove off for David. “This is important to me.”

“I would only get a gun to live out some following-in-William-S.-Burroughs’-footsteps bullshit.”

“That seems meaningful.”

“Yeah, I need to get a gun,” he says. He continues in a nasally, William S. Burroughs voice, “Time for our William Tell routine.” He mimes placing an apple on his head, and he bites his lip as though placing the idea of the apple with care, and Goya holds some invisible hand cannon, and she takes the idea of the apple in her sights, and she fakes recoiling with its implied kickback, and he moves his hand behind his head as though his brains were being splattered on the wall behind him, as though Goya just shot him in the face.

“…”

“Or whatever.”

“I’ve been thinking about purchasing a gun, but I just feel like… it is not a good idea. Seems like a joke that turns out not to be funny. Like joining a cult.”

●█●●█●

With a magazine over her face is Goya lying on the couch. There is supermodel wearing deconstructed jeans on the cover with a featured article about the You’re Worth It campaign. A little light leaks between the magazine and her face. It illuminates images, but they are too close to focus on. Fluorescent colors are on trend. Out-of-focus fluorescent colors fill her entire field of view. When she breathes out, the pages curl and crinkle. She holds the sound of crinkling paper in her thoughts, distinct like a sound effect for a film. Crinkling paper becomes her favorite sound. She can conjure this sound at any moment in her thoughts, and again she conjures the sound in her mind, and she breathes out, creating the sound with the magazine.

CREAK KUNK

As Hunter walks in, the first thing he sees is Goya on the couch sleeping, snoring quiet breaths, making tiny crinkling sounds. He leans his skateboard against the couch, of course it makes a scraping sound as it begins falling, his hand reaching out towards the skateboard, the skateboard staying just out of his reach.

THWACK

The skateboard smacks into the hardwood floor. He picks up the skateboard. Maybe, somehow, Goya slept through it. Goya lays still with the magazine over her face, so Hunter begins walking toward his room.

“Err,” Goya says through the magazine.

Hunter brushes his long, black hair out of his face revealing his sparse mustache, and he says, “Sorry for waking you.”

Goya does not respond, not moving, not speaking.

“…”

Hunter starts to walk away.

“Hunter,” Goya says. “What’s your favorite sound?”

He pauses and turns around, and he says, “Umm,” and brushes his hair out of his face again. “Something frying in a skillet.” He laughs.

She smiles beneath the magazine.

“…”

“…”

“What’s yours?”

“I think mine is crinkling paper.”

  

Goya comes up behind David. She stares a getting-someone’s-attention stare at him. David stops focusing on his phone. He scans the room. Every horizontal surface has beer cans on it.

“Hunter and I are walking to the bluffs,” Goya says.

She asks if he would like to come with. He agrees. He grabs his camera. They walk toward the bluffs. Their neighborhood is close to downtown, and most of the homes are standalone, and they have small, unkempt yards. The neighborhood is mostly impoverished households, and the occasional new home with a manicured yard stands out. A passerby nods at them. Hunter and David and Goya wave. Another passerby yells at them from across the street to ask for a cigarette.

“Sorry,” Hunter says.

“Fuck you,” the passerby says.

“…”

They walk between some houses to the bluffs. Hunter and David and Goya sit. Their breath vaporizes. They cannot distinguish between cigarette smoke and their breath. They look through the vaporized breath at the distant mountain. It is snow capped, and it vomits a jagged forest into polluted waters below.

“Can I bum a smoke?” Hunter asks.

David is the only one with any cigarettes left. He sets his camera down. He reaches into his pocket. He pulls a pack of cigarettes out. The pack is black, and it is beaten up, and all the cigarettes are bent. David opens the pack. He hands it to Hunter. Hunter pulls one out. He lights the cigarette. He hands the pack back. David places the pack beside his camera. He leaves the lid open as if to say, They’re fair game.

Vaguely in David’s direction, Goya touches her mouth with a soft touch and a distracted gaze. She reaches out, grabbing the camera and bringing it to her face and pointing it at David. His hands cover his face. He makes an anxious expression behind them.

Hunter’s eyes shift from David to Goya and back to David.

CLICK

The camera flashes. As Goya pulls the camera away from her face, David pulls his hands away from his face, and they reveal their faces almost in unison.

“Did you get it?” David asks.

“…”

“…”

“…”

Goya smiles as she sets the camera down, and they go back to looking at the view from the bluffs. “I think we’ve found it,” Goya says.

“…”

“…”

“Found what?” David asks, and he believes he already understands, but he asks in hopes of hearing her speak. He hopes she will speak romantically. He hopes she will speak romantically about this moment.

“I wish I hadn’t said that… seems silly now,” Goya says.

“…”

“I don’t know… like that intersection of comfort and novelty and connection with the people around you.”

“It seems nice,” David says, and he may have destroyed the sentiment by acknowledging it. Hunter and David and Goya sit quietly for a while.

Everything slows down, and they never realize how slow they live.

“Numbskull” is available for pre-order and will be released on October 15th,
for more details please visit: https://backpatiopress.bigcartel.com

No Glykon is a writer, designer, and musician based out of Providence, RI. They are stretched upon the plain and covering some nine acres of ground. Two vultures on either side of them are digging their beaks into their liver, and No Glykon keeps on trying to beat them off with their hands, but cannot.

Twitter: @NoGlykon