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Pulled from the Pages: Rerouted by Daniel Bryant

ReroutedDaniel Bryant’s Rerouted is a debut short story collection in which supernatural and mythic elements meet darkly comedic mayhem. In this book you’ll meet a not-so-average mailman, a shapeshifter or two, a few hapless would-be thieves, a group of brothers touring their less-than-impressive rock band, and more.

Here at PQL, we’re hard at work on printing this new title, but for those of you who just can’t wait, the ebook version of Rerouted is now available and ready for download over at the Porcupine’s Quill’s eStore.

Want to whet your appetite before you buy? Read on for an exclusive excerpt of the story “Deadwalk”…

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From “Deadwalk”

The pub was crowded with fellow posties: fat, skinny, male, female, white, black, olive, ochre, blue.

‘That walk is cursed,’ Matt, the blue one, said cheerfully. He puckered his purple lips and guzzled down half his pint. Foam flecked his red beard. ‘I knew Lester Keane, the station supervisor, who did it a long time ago. I tell you, something happened to him on that walk. No one’s lasted on it for more than a month. They get all angsty and bugger out.’

Joel nodded and sipped his rum and coke. He was numb. After watching Evelyn’s life ebb away on the sidewalk, he needed something stronger than a beer for his afternoon buzz.

‘Yeah, I heard. He seems tightly wound,’ Joel said.

‘Tight ain’t the half of it. The story goes, they found him one morning, under his sortation case, stabbing his palm with scissors … safety scissors, mind you. Apparently, he’d been there all night. He became a supervisor soon after.’

Joel thought about Lester Keane. Lester was in his sixties—spindly, stooped, spittle mouthed—a flesh-and-blood Ichabod Crane.

Good honest work could do that to a person, thought Joel.

A few more letter carriers drifted in, and the noise level amped up. The Quill and Quotidian was the hangout for the Brothers and Sisters of Station Y. It was central to most of the routes and a short bus ride away from all the others. News of the death drew everyone today. The dark wood interior jostled with mugs of beer, sweat-stained blue-striped shirts, and bright red satchels. It was late afternoon.

Matt got up and staggered away. Lenora slid in.

‘I’ve been meaning to ask.’ Joel lowered his voice and tilted his head slightly toward Lenora. A delicate floral scent hung about her like an aura.

Joel inhaled again.

Joel asked, ‘Why is Matt blue? You’ve been at the station for a long time. I’m embarrassed to ask anyone else, and I certainly don’t want to ask him.’

‘It’s silver poisoning. He grew up downstream from a silver mine in Ten- nessee. Contaminated ground water, constant exposure—causes blue skin apparently.’

‘Really?’

‘Yeah, there might be some recessive gene lurking somewhere too. Just don’t call him Papa Smurf.’ Lenora giggled.

Joel watched Matt sit down with the two Trevors. Both Trevors were over six feet tall, lean, and wore wire-rim glasses. One was white. The other black. So as not to cause confusion, and more importantly, to avoid being labelled racist, everyone referred to them by their sexual orientation. White Trevor was gay, so everyone called him Gay Trevor—behind his back. Black Trevor was straight, so everyone called him Regular Trevor, or sometimes just Trev.

There were quite a few doppelgängers at the station—two Bobs, three Lauras, four Ians, another Joel. Everyone got diderentiated according to some peculiar physical or social trait: Bob with the Lazy Eye, Laura with the Big Tits, Lesbian Laura, Tall Laura, Bald Ian, Young Ian, Italian Ian, Funny Joel.

Joel Wozzeck was not Funny Joel. That pissed him od no end.

Gay Trevor and Regular Trevor looked over at Unfunny Joel and nodded. Joel nodded back and raised his glass. The Trevors raised theirs. Joel winked for no particular reason other than to punctuate the exchange with a silent full stop. He returned to looking at his drink.

 

PortraitHope you enjoyed this peek inside PQL’s latest fiction offering! Don’t forget to check out the Rerouted page on our website for more details about the book.

Happy Reading!Steph

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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.