Grover Cleveland

Grover Cleveland served as the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. Benjamin Harrison interrupted his administration by winning a single term in office in the election of 1888.

Today, with November halfway gone, a modern gentleman realizes how quickly National Novel Writing Month is passing.

He is disappointed with the progress of his mystery series. But he also recognizes there remain 15 days before the month ends, and most of those days occur during an extended break from work to celebrate Thanksgiving. These factors steel his resolve to lengthen his novel, which has been stalled at 38 pages for months.

Below are the first couple of pages of “The Grover Cleveland Detective Agency” :

PROLOGUE

My name is Grover Cleveland, and I have read entirely too many Encyclopedia Brown books.

Actually, the reference to Encyclopedia Brown merely foreshadows the kind of narrative about to unfold and how this mystery will ultimately be solved.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Point of fact, I have read entirely too many books in general, which is how I find myself in my current situation.

Named for the only President of the United States to serve non-consecutive terms in office, I was hoped to be imbued with resilience in the face of adversity — traits my parents admired but knew, despite myriad other positive characteristics, would not come from their genetic makeups.  Unfortunately, their genes also lacked the heft of a linebacker, speed of a receiver, and quick-thinking of a quarterback.  No amount of presidential doggedness would make a lanky and self-righteous youth from Nebraska a professional athlete, nor even a starter for the Cornhuskers.  Luckily, I discovered this at an early enough age to hone other skills.

So I read, a lot.  I disappeared for days.  And when I reappeared to refuel, my parents were grateful to see me again and listen to my vicarious adventures.

CHAPTER ONE

Just now I was embarking on an adventure of my own, taking a train from Omaha to Chicago for my first year at Hanscom College, a private institution with a big reputation and bigger endowment.  From there, after years of work study, thankless internships, and lessons in impractical fields (I planned to study Classics due in no small part to Edith Hamilton), I would make my fortune.

But first came new student orientation.  And, though I would see them the next week when I moved into my dorm, I cried as the train pulled away from my parents, who stood waving from the platform of the dingy Amtrak station — which was, ironically, located in the shadow of a beautiful Art Deco train-station-turned-museum that was once the hub of Union Pacific connecting East and West.

A conductor brought me a tissue.  I took it before turning back to the window, forcing my eyes shut, and eventually falling asleep.

I awoke to the bustle of Chicago’s train terminal and cursed for not thinking further ahead as I groggily emerged from the passenger compartment and tried to find my way to Hanscom College’s undergraduate campus in the northern suburbs.

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  1. Chapter Two « Modern Gentleman - November 22, 2011

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