Dennis Dunkle: On the Road (and Off)

David Simms

Available December 2018


His mother hated him. So did his wife. They both tried to kill him. In this preposterous and darkly humorous tale, it is now many years later and mild-mannered, ageing, and fantasy-prone Dennis Dunkle meets Denise online. She's a daft, capricious, narcissistic artist. But what he sees is intriguing mystery. Abruptly he ends his library career at Saint Plato Community College in New Jersey and heads for North Dakota, he and his eccentric cat, anticipating finally, late in life, bliss with a woman ever after. But Denise proves elusive. He drives all over the map after her. And outside the map. There are bizarre encounters with other Denises. His quests are continually thwarted. Alas. And he's so far from good old normal New Jersey.

"...A short, funny, and oddly engrossing tale about a man looking for a woman." - Kirkus Reviews


 ISBN: 978-1-60489-215-3  Hard cover $15.00 

ISBN: 978-1-60489-214-5   Trade paper $8.00

158 Pages

About the Author: 

David Simms grew up in Western New York State a long time ago and has lived in Canada and in Ireland and up and down the East Coast from New England to Florida. Among other things, he’s been an editor, a teacher, an anthropologist, a married man, and an unmarried man. A year or so into the new millennium, he resurrected a long-suppressed fantasy and became a starving writer, sitting down with a yellow legal pad in a cabin in rural Virginia and beginning The Stars of Axuncanny. Eventually, he also started writing short stories and poetry. He continues with that work and some of it is now being published in literary journals.





Exceprt from the novel:  

There’s the case of Myrtle Stefanowski. There are other cases. But Myrtle’s is the one that Dennis Dunkle would bring up whenever Molly Minnelli was nagging him to join Amorous After Fifty. Myrtle’s story had been on 29 Minutes, one of a series of segments the program airs on disastrous outcomes of online dating matches.

29 Minutes is a production of Saint Plato Community College’s journalism department and is shown on the college’s very own television channel. It’s often accused of making stuff up.

Dennis Dunkle was a librarian at the college until, well, barely a week ago when he resigned abruptly, though not surprisingly given his age and his random bouts of weirdness. Or maybe just his age. Librarians are expected to have random bouts of weirdness. He’d watched 29 Minutes regularly, on a screen at his desk, as regularly at least as its irregular schedule would permit.

According to the program, Myrtle Stefanowski was an attractive widow who lived in a trailer park in Florida. She was said to have moved there from Hackensack after her husband’s motorcycle stunt at his high school reunion went awry. She liked macho men but all she got in Florida were sweaty shuffleboard players. There were no crusty old men going out to sea anymore and bringing back big fish. So she joined Widows and Walruses and met Raymond Rooshig online. Raymond was a walrus poacher on Baffin Island. They got to doing Skype.

Myrtle was smitten. She ordered a parka from L.L. Bean, sold her trailer, and drove her old Mustang about as far north from Florida as one can drive. The car rattled to a halt on a dirt track in the Canadian bush alongside an old Piper Super Cub that was rattling in place. The pilot waved. Myrtle hired him to fly her the rest of the way to Baffin.

Raymond was in jail when she got there. Arrested for walrus poaching. The third time. He was in deep walrus shit, as the program’s narrator put it. Myrtle used up all the money she had left to bail him out. He took her to his cabin, administered some delightfully rough sex, announced he was going out for cigarettes, and never came back. Depressed and far from anywhere and out of money, Myrtle eventually doused herself with a can of walrus oil she found in the cabin and struck a match.

Of course, maybe the story was made up. But there were interviews with Myrtle’s former neighbors at the trailer park—several of the journalism students had gone down to Florida on spring break and talked with them. And there was home-video footage of an ecstatic, Baffin-bound Myrtle showing off her new parka, getting into her old Mustang, blowing a kiss at the camera, and starting out. Footage of walruses too. And of a can of walrus oil. And of Raymond Rooshig’s mug on a wanted poster the Mounties had distributed. He had something of a macho walrus look.

Dennis couldn’t figure what women as lovely as Myrtle saw in men who looked like walruses. Or why men who looked like walruses would forsake women as lovely as Myrtle. Wasn’t Raymond ever lonely?