Move Under Ground - A Novel by Nick Mamatas (2004).pdf

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MOVE UNDER GROUND
CONtENts
Book One
CHAPTER ONE
1
CHAPTER TwO
11
CHAPTER THREE
22
CHAPTER FOuR
23
CHAPTER FivE
32
Book Two
CHAPTER Six
41
CHAPTER SEvEN
49
CHAPTER EigHT
60
CHAPTER NiNE
74
CHAPTER TEN
84
CHAPTER ElEvEN
94
CHAPTER TwElvE
101
EPilOguE
112
iii
Book One
CHAPtER ONE
I was in Big Sur hiding from my public when I ­nally heard from Neal again. He had had
problems of his own after the book came out and it started being carried around like a
rosary by every scruffy party boy looking for a little cross-country hitchhiking adventure.
They’d followed him around like they’d followed me, but Neal drank too deeply of the
well at ­rst, making girls left and right as usual, taking a few too many shots to the face,
and eating out on the story of our travels maybe one too many times. Those boozy late-
night dinners with crazy soulless characters whose jaws clacked like mandibles when they
laughed are what got to him in the end, I’m sure. They were hungry for something. Not just
the college boys and beautiful young things, but those haggard-looking veterans of Babylon
who started shadowing Neal and me on every street corner and at every dawn-draped last
call in roadside bars; they all wanted more than a taste of Neal’s divine spark, they wanted
to extinguish it in their gullets. Neal was the perfect guy for them as he always walked on
the edge, ever since the ­rst shiv was held to his throat at reform school when he was a
seven-year-old babe with a fat face and shiny teary cheeks. He wanted to eat up the whole
world himself like they did, I knew from my adventures on the road with him, but I didn’t
learn what was eating him ’til I got that letter that drove me to move under ground.
The letters had become more infrequent while I was out on Big Sur living in Larry’s
little cabin, due to me at ­rst, I thought. I was working on my spontaneous writing, which
sounds a bit contradictory but discoveries need to be plumbed, not just noted, and I was
turning out roll after roll of pages about the stark black cliffs and how it felt that the world
wasn’t just shifting under my feet but how I was sure one day I’d end up standing still while
the big blue marble just rolled out from under me to leave me hanging over the inky maw
of the universe. I didn’t take breaks except to pick my way into town every week or ten days
to get some supplies: potatoes and beans, some cooking oil, whiskey, chaw, more rolls of
paper which came in special just for me thanks to Larry, and stamps and my mail. Letters,
only three were from Neal, most from mother and my aunt and one or two from my agent
with checks so big I couldn’t even cash them but instead had to sell them for a dime on the
dollar to the one-eyed shopkeeper at the general store that held my mail for me. By that
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