Also by Kevin Bartelme

Great Wall of
New York


The Great Redstone
Kevin Bartelme

Trade paper US 14.95


Martin Seward’s soujourn in the country is about to take an unexpected turn for the better, at least for those last golden, sunlit days of summer. However, the fateful intersection of his cousin Alicia and his neighbor Dacron Redstone will eventually lead to consequences that can only be described as disastrous. At least if you have no sense of humor. Bartelme’s comical account of life with the summer people will make you wonder if that country house is really worth it and just how much have things changed since F. S. Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby.

What Giorgio Vasari accomplished with his Lives of Artists in 1550, Kevin Bartelme has done for the geniuses of the present day in ‘Redstone’. But Bartelme’s book is much funnier.”                                                      — Robert Grossman

 “All art is a scandal. Life tries to be. I succeed. Kevin Bartelme comes very close.”
                                                     —  Taylor Mead


I woke from a dream the next morning where I was being led by Megan Fillywell through a battlefield that looked something like Matthew Brady’s photographs of Gettysburg or Bull Run except in color. Among the mangled dead were Dacron Redstone, Pedro Barbez, and Fuzzwick Offenfusser. Megan led me out of this scene of carnage up a hill to a high plateau with eternal sunshine and pushed me over the edge of the cliff. I woke in a cold sweat just before I hit the rocks below. Only kidding. Actually, I slept like a baby and I don’t think I dreamed anything at all.
Of course, I couldn’t call Redstone to tell him his piece was finished. I’d have to wait at least a week so it wouldn’t look like I was completely ripping him off. Now that I was solvent beyond all expectations, my dilemma was whether or not to continue with my other onerous chore. Buddha was bad enough, but Jesus? Well, Jesus! I am a procrastinator by nature and decided to let things lie awhile and, for the moment at least, avoid some unpleasant confrontation with my patroness.
I drove into town and bought the newspaper and a corn muffin. Having nothing to do and not even having to feel guilty about not writing I decided to go for a drive out to the point. There was nobody there but a few surfcasters working the rocky beach beneath the lighthouse. I sat down on a bench overlooking the ocean and watched the few sailboats bobbing around in the morning sunlight. There was virtually no wind so they weren’t making much progress. Suddenly, a candy apple red speedboat roared into view heading east. The driver paid no attention whatsoever to the sailboats, violating their right of way with impunity and sending up a rooster tail of spume as he sped off into the distance.
I returned to my house a little while later and turned on the answering machine. “Martin, it’s Alicia. Please call me when you get this message.” Now, frankly, I didn’t want to speak to my cousin right at that moment. Her demands on my time, though not yet excessive, showed every sign of becoming tiresome.
The next message was from the far more urgent Sheridan March. “Really, Martin you must call me right away. We have so much to discuss.” I suppose we did. I reluctantly picked up the phone and dialed her number in the city.
“Oh, there you are,” she said excitedly when she answered the phone. “Did you get my message about changing Buddha to Jesus?”
“Ah, yes, I did…”
“Well, forget it. Back to plan A.”
“Don’t you mean plan B?” I joked. She didn’t get it.
“No, I mean back to Buddha. I just had a long meeting with a very important Tibetan rimpoche who was very enlightening. He told me the Buddha had this sort of twelve step program to achieve your financial goals and he agreed to reveal the secret if I was willing to make a donation to the Dalai Lama. Isn’t that fabulous?”
I had to admit it was, but not the way she meant it. “Listen, Sheridan, I’m not sure I’m really the guy for this job…”
“Of course you are! You’re just having a crisis of faith in your own abilities,” she admonished me. “You just have to empty your mind of all the conflicts you’re having and let the Buddha be your guide to success and security. I don’t mean to interfere, but you’ve got to listen to a little bit of my Mother Bear wisdom! All you need is to get motivated! What’s the problem, Martin? Money?”
“Not exactly.”
“I knew it!” she brayed triumphantly. “I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to give you incentive! I’m going to give you another five thousand dollars! But you’ve got to deliver, Martin. I want to see pages, I want to see progress! I know you won’t let me down.”
I was at a complete loss for words but it didn’t matter. She had already hung up. I would have to submit my resignation by mail. But then, maybe I’d just go ahead and do the silly woman’s bidding. I could use an extra five thousand bucks. I went outside and walked up to the main house where I could see the Sulema steaming into the harbor and heading for her berth at the marina. I wondered if Harry Poon were on board.
“Ahoy there, mate!” Redstone called out from the woods. He had a way of sneaking up behind you and making you jump.
“Hello there,” I said.
“Why don’t you come over for lunch and we can shoot the breeze,” he jovially suggested.
Why not? I was soon seated at the long table in the main room where the all too recognizable work of Derek Schnoigel towered to the ceiling, all pieces of broken glass and rocks affixed to a huge canvas and painted over with abstract abandon.
“What would you like to eat?” said Redstone. “We have lobster, soft shell crabs, steak, whatever you like.”
It’s not often that someone invites you to lunch and hands you a menu. “How about the soft shell crabs?” I said.
“Excellent choice. I think I’ll have them myself. Perhaps you’d like a very dry white wine with that. I bottle it myself at my vineyard in California.”
Now let me tell you something about Redstone’s tone of voice. Everything he says, no matter how insignificant, comes off as the boasting of someone not quite sure of himself, possessing an unfathomable sense of displacement which must be covered up with proud bluster.
“So, what’s new, sport?”
I thought he was talking about his report to the bond firm. “Well, I’ve only just started working on…”
“No, no, that can wait for another day,” he said. “What I want to know is what’s up in your life? I suppose you have friends out here.”
“Not really,” I said. “Well, there’s my cousin, of course.”
“Good, good, great to have family around you. Don’t have any myself.”
I didn’t know whether to commiserate or tell him how lucky he was.
“But I don’t let it get me down,” he continued, “because my dreams are actually more important to me than real people.”
I was curious. “So what do you dream about?”
“Oh, all kinds of things. Mostly the future.”

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Kevin Bartelme

Kevin Bartelme lives and works in New York City. He is the author of  O’Rourke: another slopsink chronicle and The Great Wall of New York, and his latest, The Great Redstone, all published by Cool Grove Press. He is currently putting together a collection of short stories.

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