Meet Pavel the Czech

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Pavel the Czech. Gangster, sometimes friend. Can he be trusted? Read “The Crow’s Head: Book I of The Chemical Marriage” by Adrian Stumpp. Coming April 2022.

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The Crow’s Head

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Book I of the seven novel series, The Chemical Marriage, is coming out in print and e-book April 2022. Pre-orders will be available soon!

excerpt from The Crow’s Head:

Slowly, with time, the sun warms the crucible. Amniotic water incubates the quickening earth. It is a brooding and an elongated meditation on thaw. Blue skies reflecting blue oceans. Deep in the sky dreams the sun and deep in the ocean the earth dreams of a sea-tortoise dreaming a wooden bench, painted white, dreaming of the dreamer. No longer a child but not yet a man. The sea is nearby and a salt breeze strokes Damian’s face. Beneath him the damp grass. He sees the distant wharf and street-traffic. The sun is high and dazzling and where Damian lies in bed, dreaming, he feels it fall through slatted blinds hot and white across his eyelids. He is aware of his sleeping body and he knows he is dreaming a familiar dream from his childhood. He approaches the white bench. The woman is sitting on it. As Damian knew she would be.

In bed he twists among the sheets and rolls over. He sees the dreamscape and he feels the bed-linens and he contracts into a fetal ball. The woman is older than him—more than ten years, less than twenty—but in the years Damian has had this dream her age and appearance have never changed. It is only he who has aged in the last four years. As a child, he sat on her lap and she seemed large, kind, knowing. But now he is an adult and she is small and dark and freckled with dimpled cheeks, kinky hair, and a white dress. Damian sits beside her on the bench and puts his arm around her. She leans against him. Together they quietly watch the sea. He would like to speak to her but has never been able to speak in this dream. When he tries, nothing comes out and panic rises up his throat. It has not occurred to him what he would want to say to her if he could, so many years have passed since last he tried.

The sky is flattened by a single shade of pastel blue. Midday. Summertime. But the stars are visible and enormous, the stylized seven-pointed stars of cartoons and religious iconography. Their color reminds him of reflective chrome, like shapes wrapped in foil paper. They swing from side to side as if suspended on invisible strings, and then they are in motion, flying in trajectories of some complicated geometry. Stars orbit one another and whirl across the horizon, closer and closer to one another, but they never collide. Stars poise motionless before zipping around, only to rearrange in a new pattern on the sky. Damian watches with detached curiosity the stars scatter and assemble again and again. The woman holds his hand in her lap. From time to time she squeezes it.

He lies in bed a long time afterward with his eyes closed, feeling the acidic trails of tears on his face, the thudding of his heart, the melancholy and hopeless fear this dream has always inspired. 

After a while he opened his eyes.