Chapter 1 of Octavius
Whoever said no man is an island clearly had never met Mitchell Fontaine Octavius. Some people are simply meant to go it alone, not that Shantel hadn’t done her best to try to bring him out of his shell, but all Mitchell ever really seemed to need was his poetry. In fact, at this very moment he stood scribbling furiously in a notepad for his family’s used car dealership as they waited for his mother to come to the door.
“Nobody in this country will ever understand this poem, it’s that good,” Mitchell said.
That’s exactly why he refused all offers of publication on American soil. It was also why his rock opera based on the life of Robert E. Lee had only been produced in Germany, and even then only in Pig Latin. He had told her this almost daily, and about how they used modern poetry magazines to monitor all extraordinary men such as him. He knew his words made him a target for the government’s less than savory ideals, to say nothing of possible alien abduction. He went on about this as she knocked again, her cocoa colored fist the most elegant thing to grace the doorstep of the Octavius mansion in quite some time. The plantation, like the family crest now used as a door knocker, had seen better generations. After a bit of rustling the door opened and the butler directed them to the sitting room.
“May I take your coat Mr. Mitchell?” he asked.
Mitchell batted his hand away from his vintage CM Punk hoodie as the elderly man half-stared at his unkempt salt and pepper beard, camouflage shorts and matching flip flops. Shantel handed the man her mink stole.
“Is mother about, Barnes?” Mitchell asked.
Mitchell grabbed Shantel by the arm and took her into the next room. There his mother sat in her electric wheelchair watching the newest commercial for Octavius Motors. On screen an actor dressed up to look like the ghost of Jefferson Davis rushed to greet a happy family and show them a station wagon and then turned to the camera.
“The south may rise, but our prices will never be this low again!!”
Mitchell dropped his notepad just long enough to clap as his mother looked up in horror. Mamie Augusta-Clementine Octavius or Ms. Augusta, as she was known around town, was draped in the family pearls and her great grandmother’s wedding dress.
“Don’t you think that’s a bit much?” Mitchell asked.
With that Ms. Augusta started to zoom away toward the winding staircase ramming into it several times before falling out of her chair. Barnes ran over to her, but she too batted him away.
“Mitchell, I need you!!”
As Mitchell leaned over to pick up his mother she grabbed him by the back of the neck and whispered under her breath.
“I will not be seen in the Mayflower Room with a negress on my birthday, boy. If your poor sainted daddy were here…what would he say?”
Mitchell managed to break free of his mother’s feeble grip, as Shantel offered the older woman her hand.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Augusta.”
Ms. Augusta turned her head away and waited for Mitchell to help her up and back into her chair.
There was an awkward silence for what seemed like a few minutes, but what was in reality no more than a handful of seconds.
“Mother you know about my back.”
Mitchell looked over at Shantel, who looked back at him and then lifted Ms. Augusta into her arms and then back into her chair.
“Don’t you touch me!!” “I know exactly how much money I have in my purse!!”
Barnes handed Shantel her coat and they exchanged sighs like terms of endearment. As they reached the steps Ms. Augusta stopped her chair and once again looked at Mitchell, who once again looked at Shantel, who started to attempt to take Ms. Augusta out of her chair before getting punched square in the jaw.
“What do you think you’re doing?!” “There are criminal types all around here, that chair belonged to Mitchell’s poor sainted daddy, and I’m not just leaving it out here for horse thieves!!”
Shantel set Ms. Augusta back down and then struggled to pick up the chair with her in it and carry it down several pairs aging marble steps and into the hollowed out backseat of a weathered Octavius motors company car that Mitchell’s uncle Rupert had had equipped on the lot.
The opening chapter of my novel-in-progress, Octavius.
John Dorsey is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw’s Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press, 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Leaves of Ass (Unadorned Press, 2011) & Tombstone Factory (Epic Rites Press, 2013). His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.