Carmine Vermilion (Index and Sample)

“Stick to your dreams,” Saul answered. John wished him a fine day and hung up the phone. Just as Saul was about to tell the others what he had asked, Dion’s phone rang. John Hampton again. Hoped to talk to the Chief of the Atakapas.

“Speaking,” Dion said.

“Could you explain to me the term Ishak?” John tried.

“Interesting. My friend Carmine sometimes talks of ‘Ishak’ as the Chickasaw word for people, to illustrate, don’t ask me how, that the Native American tribes are not one of the lost tribes of the Book. In fact, Ishak is the name of my people, those you call the Atakapas. And Atakapas is a Choctaw name that means man-eater, so it is not the name I would use.”

“Oh, I am sorry. But you are smiling on the Atakapa Park web-site?” he was asked.

“Yes,” he answered amicably, “I did not know about this myself until after I became the chief. Now I use the name Ishak for my people and Atakapa for our language, though that of course, isn’t politically correct either.”

“Is it not true, then?” this John Hampton dared to ask. He must have been very sure of himself.

“No,” Dion politely smiled at no one. “We may have done some things to the Spanish, but eating them would have been extravagant even to us.”

“On a different subject: are you acquainted with Mr. Vermilion?”

“What have you heard of him?” Dion tried him back. He did not like these questions, in particular the last.

“That he is supposed to be an embezzler who uses your reservation to traffic contraband. Or is that a secret?”

“I have only one secret,” the chief answered him, “and Mr. Vermilion is the only one who knows. Saul, remind me to tell Carmine,” he said, in part to let John know he had overheard his earlier conversation with the mayor, in part to share his thought with Saul, “that he may use that in his speech. And Mr. Hampton, this conversation is over.” He hung up on John. You may like him, his grin spoke to Saul, but I don’t.

Carmine Vermilion (an underground train of thought) has 23 chapters, each of which starts with a dream in italics, and it counts 184,000 words. The book will be published in June 2012 at

About the book

I hoped it turned out to be an atmospheric piece, a couleur locale, with the big bad city way beyond the tree-lines. Originally, I thought of St. Vith as a parish I might have driven through on a summer’s day in France, a paradise guarded by wonderous dreams. The name of the saint means life: life which tests our strength and our weaknesses. I believed the town had a rabbi who could see letters from the Hebrew alphabet in the crumbled joints of old brick walls. But I was wrong, for the rabbi turned out to see these letters in the shapes of big red fire-engines, engines that spelled another place, so I was left to wonder, is that where this story is coming from? Where did this road exist with all its Spanish and British invaders, succumbing to the secret of the pie? Which town survived all the municipal restructurings of the past few centuries? Which city should be the threat at its foundation? I realized I should be thinking of one particular city. In my mind I had a vivid image of the small town in the urban landscape, but when I tried to find it on the web, at a freeway junction north of the city, I discovered there was no ‘north’ to this particular city, just a lake with a causeway, yet there was a perfect patch of yellowish-green just west of it, right on the city border, in accordance with the tale. And the city? It had long history of municipal restructurings, as I knew it would have. As for what happens in the garage, I have no proof of my claims. Nor could I verify a single kosher truck-stop along any of the mentioned routes, yet judging by the score that he reported, Ralph and I have seen the same game of football. Please note that, as the club owner says, he does have lots of parking space. Feel free to visit him. I don't know what people will think about the music I picked up on, whether it represents anything played and enjoyed in the big bad city. Nor can I speak for the Pope and the fate of the Roman Catholic Church. Though not an Israelite myself, I do feel I have to speak for Jewish community in my book. We distance ourselves from the distinctions that Saul teaches those dear to him, and to us no less. So who is this Carmine Vermilion, whose personal, inner reflections I have persistently failed to mention? What is so underground about his train of thought?

Contents of the book:

Chapter One: Red ink and vinegar blink.

Chapter Two: Agitate the gravel.

Chapter Three: Pardon my French.

Chapter Four: The secret is in the pie.

Chapter Five: Up the creek without a paddle.

Chapter Six: You look like a million dollars.

Chapter Seven: Tuckered out in a dust bowl.

Chapter Eight: A different ballpark.

Chapter Nine: The X that marks the spot.

Chapter Ten: A Chinese firedrill.

Chapter Eleven: Shadow politics.

Chapter Twelve: Why must I chase the cat?

Chapter Thirteen: Behind the eight-ball.

Chapter Fourteen: Off the reservation.

Chapter Fifteen: A town that has gates and bars.

Chapter Sixteen: Cottonwood crossroads.

Chapter Seventeen: A reed that bends in the wind.

Chapter Eighteen: Par for the course.

Chapter Nineteen: Kilroy was here.

Chapter Twenty: Ring around the roses.

Chapter Twenty-One: Throw a monkey wrench.

Chapter Twenty-Two: Jerusalem.

Chapter Twenty-Three: Dead stick landing.

Appendix: Indexical Zero Theory.

About the book.

About the author.

Sample dream from chapter eleven:

She is taking her Kora Prima apart, laying every piece on a silk cloth. Wants to clean the inside of the barrel with a white rope, but instead of a rope she is holding a flower, an ox-eye daisy with purple petals and an ochre core. Sticking in and out of the barrel, it looks like gun fire. Can she take up the whole silk cloth, with all the components of her revolver, and offer it to someone as a token of goodwill? Why would she want to do that? The answer has to be in the flower. Its colors have shifted somewhat toward the red. She sees it. A shadow looms at the study door. It’s the silhouette of a man she knows. He holds the ox-eye daisy. Holds it to his nose. She hears steps. Quicker than she can later remember she folds up the cloth and plants it in a drawer, which she closes, while she wonders at the silhouette. Strangely, it is getting smaller as she hears the steps getting closer. Hey, the gun is in the drawer! Did she put it there? A tip of silk is sticking out. Susanne hears her husband at the top of the stairs. She pulls at the silk tip. Turns around to face him. Now she is holding the cloth like a handkerchief next to her cheek. She is crying. Or is she? You’re making it worse, he says, his hand resting on the wall and covering the dot where the silhouette disappeared. She looks in a mirror. Her cheek has smears all over it from the handkerchief. She feels like a soldier or a football player wearing camouflage. I know what this is about, she says. It is about revenge. Her husband suddenly wears a wet hat and raincoat. For him it seems to be tomorrow. At least he insists on hearing where she has spent the night. According to Susanne it is he who must have spent the night outside, since he is still wet with rain.

Carmine Vermilion will be available at

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