From A Diary of Mysterious Difficulties


An excerpt from a new book by 3QD friend Laura Raicovich. ” Diary of Mysterious Difficulties was borne out of spam received over a period of several months. These emails circumvented spam filters by including odd texts beneath image-based ads for Viagra, Cialis and penis enlargement. As the same proper names continually surfaced, it seemed likely that these excerpts were taken from a longer text. In fact, they were lifted from Charles Dickens's David Copperfield. These bits of text, once a Dickens novel, are reworked, strung together, and augmented to create a spy-story/melodramatic romance novel.”

Two days later

Dora drained her second Pepsi and held the empty plastic bottle between her and him. She said,

“Listen very carefully, Paul, and don’t interrupt, because I don’t know how much time I have. By the time they come, you should be back in your own room, snug as a bug in a rug. Why worry? If you worry – you die. If you don't worry – you'll still die. So why worry? Where one door shuts, another opens. A loaded wagon makes no noise.”

On these occasions she would typically take Maugham along, her long-haired dachshund. Well, not strictly “hers” – he too was borrowed from a “friend” for appearance-sake. While rarely did she read to him, he loved it and often reminded her of it when they were at the café together. But today was more serious. For Dora, being outside again, needing to convey what was necessary to the man across the table, was too great an experience to allow much concentration on other things.

Suddenly, Paul cried out, and embraced her, as he had that day in Liverpool, when it seemed certain that the pirates had taken her away as Mad Jack had sworn they would. Then Dora realized she was going too fast—it was tough being out of practice. She shifted gears and explained,

“Now listen closely, my friend…each Saturday, Francis and I would go to the movies. While I always used to enjoy the newsreel and the color cartoons and the feature, what I really looked forward to was the next installment of the chapter-play. That was my New Testament. It brought a sense of regularity into my chaotic world to see the story unfold over the weeks. Haste makes waste, I always thought. And besides, who ever wants a good story to end?!”

Dora then fed him a series of proverbs he took for code,

“Keep your eyes on the sun and you will not see the shadows. He who laughs last laughs longest. Just go with it,” She threw in a reference to the Trojan Horse and continued,

“Honesty is the best policy. After dinner sit a while, after supper walk a mile. You are responsible for you. If wishes were horses, pigs would fly. Desperate times call for desperate measures. A watched pot never boils.”

Before he could recover from this onslaught of wisdom, Dora threw a thick folder in front of him. At least she had stopped obsessively combing her hair. Without a bon voyage or even a curse Paul made for his ship and Dora watched him board it. His fingers clutched the folder and Dora fantasized attacking him, grabbing the folder and taking his place on the boat back home. She thought,

“Customs would be a snap and when the ship was about half full I would board and take a seat near the hostess. Her name would be Angelina…”

There were wheels within wheels stirring in Dora’s mind, and in spite of herself, she would like to have known more about what was going on. She felt out of the loop, but nonetheless followed instructions and affixed stamps on each of the seven boxes he had left with her, addressed to different pick-up addresses, marked paid of course, and she was ready to finish the operation. She was capable of so much more, but this was better than nothing. She’d go back to making soup.