Roger found the notebook in his attic, tucked in the side pocket of a Kevlar jacket. The notebook contained his first novel, the one he wrote when he was twenty-two and never had the heart to revise, or learn any more about. He had forgotten about it, but the smell of his old cologne on the pages awakened his memory. The world that he had written about was long dead, but he wanted someone else to sift through the notebook, to extract something marketable from it. Roger couldn’t read his own handwriting anymore. He stared and stared at it—the squiggles—but did anyone know cursive anymore? No one had penmanship. For a few delusional seconds he wondered whether someone else had written it.
He went downstairs. Having no luck figuring out what to do with the notebook, and too afraid to place it with his current material, next to his laptop (which still needed to be hand-cranked for the night), he called his agent, voice only.
“I’m going to ship the notebook to you, I mean manually.” Above Roger was a framed picture of Roger with the president. Roger’s hair was darker then—no, not the radiation, that had no effect on the color.
“What time is it?” his agent said.
“It’s noon,” Roger said. “What are you doing? Why are you still sleeping?”
The agent said nothing. The agent knew Roger didn’t want to hear about Lord Manhattan, the sweeps and declarations. The agent would have moved out of Queens if she could but she didn’t have the right IDs. The agent had to conduct meetings at night, and daytime security was expensive.
—From Alan DeNiro’s new collection Tyrannia and Other Renditions