“Ferdinand Fell” was named a semi-finalist in the Big Moose Prize for fiction from Black Lawrence Press. It’s a surreal mystery set in Los Angeles, 1986. I’m currently submitting it to publishers and agents.
This is the first page:
A blanket of clouds slipped over the city, dimming the light as if a play were about to begin. One raindrop tapped me on the shoulder. Two more appeared on the sidewalk. And that’s all the warning there was. The sky opened and the city was transformed. Streets became rivers. Headlights glowed in the daytime. Windshield wipers said No No No No.
I found shelter in a taqueria and pushed the front door closed, the sound of the storm fading to nothing, making way for the pentatonic tones of bubbles popping in a large pot of beans in the kitchen to reach my ears. I walked to the warm face of the matron at the counter, the soles of my shoes peeling from each step and leaving a trail of kidney-shaped puddles. ‘One burrito grande,’ I said. ‘Wet.’
She laughed in a way that said, You are safe here. I pulled apart wet dollar bills and laid them on the counter. She handed me a towel that once was white. I patted my dripping face with the towel and then folded it over a chair where I sat and I waited.
I waited until a new man walked in and the warmth of the place was sucked through the open door. He pulled his umbrella shut and propped it against the wall. He was wearing horsehide saddle shoes, a grey herringbone suit, and a plastic goat mask. The mask had a shiny goatee and little horns. Wiry curls from his red sideburns escaped from the sides of his mask, which was held snugly to his face with an elastic string.
He was the third man I had seen that week wearing an animal mask. The first one was at a bus stop, wearing a corduroy suit with an open collar and a rubber horse mask. He turned to look at me just as he was getting on. The second one passed me in front of a diner, the one with unpredictable coffee. His suit was made of dark silk, his mask a lion’s head. And then came the anarchist with the umbrella.
I understood then that I was being followed. These men were using disguises not to hide this fact but to make it loud. For awhile I thought only one man in town wore a mask. Roy Meeks.