The Grand Dissolute
by Joel Van Valin
Joel Van Valin is the author of the fantasy novel, The Flower of Clear Burning and the publisher of Whistling Shade literary journal. He lives with his wife Lisa, a veterinarian, in St. Paul.
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Author Page on Publisher site: http://www.5princebooks.
Top Ten Curious Facts about The Grand Dissolute
- The hero of The Grand Dissolute, Jimmy Pagley, is a veterinarian. A year or two after completing the novel I met my wife, who happens to be a real life veterinarian!
- The Grand Dissolute is largely set in St. Paul, Minnesota, ‘cause that’s where I live.
- The planet Tarrymore was introduced in my first book, an unpublished sci-fi novel. In The Grand Dissolute I decided to make it the home of the Time Ministry.
- Some characters in The Grand Dissolute, like Dennis the Irishman and Rob, are based on friends of mine.
- Physicists have not, to my knowledge, come up with a name for the theoretical energy released when objects travel backwards through time. So I named the energy toc, after the tick-tock of a clock.
- Speaking of Physics – I got a C in it in highschool!
- The name of the Whistler character who appears at the end of The Grand Dissolute is from the literary journal I publish, Whistling Shade. Each issue starts with a short column I write called “From the Whistler.”
- The Grand Dissolute started out as a short poem about a guy whose girlfriend is secretly a time traveler. Then I expanded it into a story. Then the story got the better of me, and I had to make it into a novel!
- And there’s more … I plan to write a series of novels featuring the temvelars. Work has started on the second book and the provisional title is “Lost in the Renaissance” (if that gives you a hint as to what era we will be traveling back to).
- And you may not have heard the last from Haydee and Jimmy, either!
As she walked up Raymond, the old familiar sights gave her a heart-sick welcome. There was the liquor store and Herbst market, and the Moon Rabbit’s psychic readings, and that little jewelry store that sold mostly beads and hand-made necklaces. The square apartment building where she had lived last year looked unchanged in its blond brick stoicism—even its dull facade seemed decked in a veil of sentiment, and passing the lonely old red oak in its yard, Haydee picked a fallen acorn and slipped it into her pocket. But as she approached the Run For Your Money, she knew it was time for common sense. Pixie might help her, but she wouldn’t try to find Jimmy. They haven’t sent you here to fall in love with a native, girl. Beyond the pale. And anyway, it was just a smile you shared, a glimmer in his eyes. Why then, when she saw him in the cafe window, reading at his usual table as he had all last spring, did her spirits rise like a bird taking flight?
She crossed the street and, passing under the jangling wind chimes, entered into the squirrelly atmosphere of the breakfast crowd. A table of truckers, a couple of railroad workers on break and a young man—the same who had been reading the Vonnegut novel, though now he had moved on to Jack Kerouac. And—
“Hey stranger,” she called out, her voice almost quaking.
He was standing up—he’d seen her cross the street. “Haydee…I—so you’ve come back?”
“So I’ve come back,” she echoed, tripping over to him. “Well, for a while. How are you, Jimmy?”
“How was Latvia?”
“How was? —Oh yes, Latvia. Good.”
They stood for a moment with the table between them, Haydee not knowing what to say, how to begin to ask for his help.
“Well, um… why don’t you sit down?” he offered, remembering himself. He seemed delighted to see her, but nervous as well. So much for the idea that he’d forgotten her.
The new waitress shuffled by to take her order, and Haydee asked after Pixie. On leave, the waitress yawned. She was filling in.
“Uh, yeah, I think I heard something about her father dying,” Jimmy pitched in. There went plan A, she thought.
“So how is vet school, mister?” Haydee inquired, trying to stay casual, upbeat.
“Finished. You’re talking to Dr. Jimmy Pagley here.” His modest smile. She got him to ramble on about poodles and dachshunds and Persians and ferrets for a full ten minutes before he turned the tables.
“And what kind of mischief have you involved yourself in, hmm?”
“Well, unemployed at the moment, but right now I’m trying to find a friend.”
“And it just so happens you have a friend right at this table.”
“No, I mean, my friend Joachim. I came back to visit him but he’s—he isn’t home and he isn’t anywhere. He appears to have, well, disappeared. Poof!” She hoped she was sounding normal, and not like a lunatic or an international smuggler. And stop saying dumb things like “Poof!” she reprimanded herself. The thing was, Jimmy was making her giddy.
“He didn’t leave a message? Tell anyone?”
“He’s kind of … eccentric, you know? Secretive.”
“You could talk to the police.”
“No,” she said, reflexively. As she’d explained to Brown, calling in the police would be dangerous in the extreme. Police working on her case would most likely be neglecting something else, and it could have a ricochet-effect in the causality stream. She could be killed before she even got to the station. “He didn’t know I was coming,” she improvised. “He probably just went on vacation somewhere. But I’d like to find him, just to feel safe. Say, weren’t we going to go see a movie, once upon a time?”
She had intended to shift gears away from topics of missing persons, and it worked. He suddenly forgot all about her friend Joachim. “We were, but you said you couldn’t. Something about rules?” Jimmy bit his lip.
He’s being nice about it, Hayd. He’s being a prince, giving you a free pass, a second chance. “Rules, yes. They don’t apply anymore.” She gave him what she thought was her winningest smile.
“Right, okay. You’re on then. What do you want to see?”
“Well—they’re playing some old detective film at the University. The Thin Man, I think it’s called.”
“Wonderful. I love mysteries! We watch them all the time, back in Latvia,” she lied.
“Right on. Tomorrow night?”
“Sure, okay. What’s your number?” She wondered if all date arrangements were this business-like. He, of course, wanted her number too (he’s not going to let you slip away again that easy, girl) and unprepared as usual, she gave him Joachim’s.
“Thanks for the second chance,” she said, as sincerely as she could, looking straight into his mist-gray eyes. So deeply was she lost in his gaze that she did not register that he had reached across the table and taken her hand.
“Just don’t vanish from me again, okay? No more Poof!”