john bennett | talent scout

Talent Scout

He called and said his plane was grounded in Omaha. It had been forced down by a Southern Baptist who dropped to his knees in the aisle and started talking in tongues. The stewardess didn’t know what to do, he didn’t look Islamic, he was fat with red hair and had on Nike running shoes, polyester slacks and a button-down plaid shirt sticking out in the back. He was babbling and shrill, and you never know what shrill people will do next.

“Sir,” said the stewardess, “you’ll have to return to your seat.” But instead he spread his arms and began foaming at the mouth with his eyes rolled back. The stewardess signaled the pilot who banked the plane back toward Omaha.


Just my luck. I finally get a shot at the Big Time, a talent scout for Christ’s sake who ran across my Shards on line, and now he’s grounded in Omaha.

The first thing out of his mouth the first time he called was, “Can you play the guitar?”

“No,” I said. “But I play harp.”

“Are you gay?” he asked.

“What?”

“Are you gay? These Shards don’t resonate like they were written by a gay guy who plays the harp.”

“Not the harp–a harp. Like in harmonica. Like a 16-hole chromatic. But what’s that got to do with–“

“Performance!” he sang out.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I was thinking more like a book.”

“Book!” he said. “Books are coffins in the shallow grave of the past!”

“That’s a good line,” I said. “But I thought you were a literary agent.”

Hell no!” he said. “Talent scout! I shape raw talent into big money and then we do a 60/40 split. That sound good to you?”

“We need to iron out the details,” I said.

“Now you’re talkin’!” he said. “That’s what I like to hear! We’re gonna claw our way to the top, you and me. I’ll fly into Seattle this weekend. I’ll text you the flight number and arrival time. Meet me with a rent-a-car.”

And now the phone call from Omaha.

“Don’t bother meeting the plane,” he said. He sounded distraught and vague. “Sit tight,” he said. “You’ll be hearing from me.”

I went to the airport anyway. I had a few drinks in the lounge and then went down to the glassed-in smoking section and smoked a few cigarettes. After that I went out front and watched the cabs pull in and out from the curb. And then, on my way to the arrival gate, it came to me:

He wasn’t a talent scout.

He was the Southern Baptist who’d forced the plane to land in Omaha.

He was a fundamentalist fanatic who saw my Shards as the devil’s work, and he was coming to take me out.

Still, I waited at the gate, just in case I was wrong.

click the Hcolom Press logo to visit the web page...HCOLOM PRESS is the heir to Vagabond Press, which began as a main player in the Mimeo Revolution of the Sixties and continued publishing right into the jaws of the new millennium. HCOLOM PRESS embodies the spirit of Vagabond Press, retooled for the times we live in.

Hcolom is Moloch spelled backwards. Moloch is an Old Testament deity to which children were sacrificed, a practice society still engages in with increased enthusiasm. Consumerism is the new Moloch, manifesting itself like cancer in war, politics, the arts and religion, in every nook and cranny of human endeavor, draining the intrinsic beauty out of life and mutilating the innocence and magic of childhood with its commercial meat hook. HCOLOM PRESS intends to publish books that by their nature repudiate this pernicious force–novels, poetry, children’s books and books that transcend genre.

Our launch book, in June of 2006, was John Bennett’s novel, Tire Grabbers, a fable of sorts, a reality book rooted in the fantasy of our times, the story of the coming of Moloch and the children who rise up in rebellion against it.

Books of kindred spirit will follow close on its heels. Go for it by clicking here… or hit the Hcolom logo above…

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