A vacuum salesman by day, the introvert lives a quiet life alone with his dog until a work relationship and a dark secret from his past team up to create an uncomfortable imbalance in his otherwise ordered life, one that soon finds him squarely at the center of a murder investigation. With his thoughts continually urging him to make people “red and open” and to “achieve it” with his girlfriend Donna, what follows is a sometimes brutal, oftentimes hilarious, and absurdist account of the life of one very anti-social and unexpected anti-hero.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: The story is cute, poignant, and thought-provoking. I loved it.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: I was totally charmed. I read it twice, just for the sheer enjoyment of it.
The Company Culture Handbook
Always Stay Positive
Every Day is a Good Day to Buy
Set Your Clock to Lombardi Time
Be a Humble Student
Assault Them with Honesty
Always Diffuse Discomfort
Control the Conversation
Nobody Likes a Challenger
Dress the Part
The Company is Your Friend
“Sir, have you got a second form of identification?”
She was looking at me from her seated position behind the counter. She wasn’t much of a clerk. From what I could see, she was shabbily dressed, and there was a half-eaten container of Chinese noodles on the counter with a plastic fork sticking out from the cardboard box, and since it was morning, I figured that it must have been leftovers.
“You have my driver’s license,” I said.
The woman behind the counter smiled, and I wasn’t sure why because to me she didn’t seem very happy.
“Yes sir, but I do need to see a second form of identification.”
“I’m just renewing my license,” I said, and I thought that might settle things.
“Sir, I’m afraid we require a second form of identification before we can proceed. If you’d like to come back another time, perhaps?” She was still smiling, but now the smile was waning.
I turned to look at the line behind me that snaked back to the door where I’d first been standing when I’d come in almost forty minutes ago. Then I turned back to face the clerk, but for some reason my eyes caught again on the cardboard container of Chinese noodles and the white plastic instrument peeking up over the edge, and it made me nauseous just to see it.
When I looked back up, I saw that her smile was all the way gone.
“My license expires tomorrow,” I said, looking again at the noodles.
I needed my license to drive my car legally. It wasn’t much of a car, but I still needed a valid driver’s license to drive it.
“I understand that, sir, but I’m afraid we do require a second form of identification.”
I brought my eyes to her face and stared blankly at the fat sphere in front of me and noticed that the lipstick on her lips was red and the mole on her neck was brown, and though both were hideous they at least made me briefly forget about the Chinese noodles. “I have credit cards,” I said.
I could hear people grumbling behind me when I said this.
“I’m afraid that isn’t sufficient, sir.”
It was the third time that she’d said she was afraid, only she didn’t seem afraid. I’d seen people afraid before and their eyes usually went wide and open and white and their mouths gaped sloppy or crooked.
“I have to be at work in ten minutes.”
I wasn’t exactly sure why I said it since it didn’t seem entirely connected to what we were talking about. But then if she’d have just allowed me to renew my driver’s license then I probably wouldn’t have been worrying about being late for work, so then I thought that maybe it was a little bit connected after all, if not all the way connected.
“Sir, perhaps if you came back another time?”
I could tell that she was trying to get rid of me.
“Why would someone who isn’t me ever want to renew my license?”
“Sir, I can’t comment on that. But we do have our regulations…”
I could hear the sighs and the grumbles growing heavier behind me so I fished in my wallet for some other form of government identification though I knew it was hopeless even before I tried.
When I looked back up I could see the clerk staring at me and the smile was back on her face now and even enhanced in a way that it hadn’t been before, as if perhaps with more fake friendliness I might go away faster and then she could take another bite from her container with the plastic fork or move onto the next customer or both.
A man stepped up to the wicket to my right. He’d been one of the people staring at me when I’d last turned around so I was relieved that he was now being served, but then I figured there were many others still staring just as intently so I didn’t feel relieved for very long.
The clerk continued to smile at me, and I thought again how she wasn’t much of a clerk. It wasn’t very professional to have opened food at the counter. It wasn’t very nice to smile at people when you didn’t really mean it. Finally, she apologized once more and slid my expiring license back toward me on the counter.
That was when I noticed the letter opener.
It was resting in front of her, long and steel and quite clearly sharp at one end, all shiny and polished and silver. It was easily within reach, and before I knew it I was again thinking of how she was making me late for work and how the boss wouldn’t like that. Then I imagined picking up the letter opener and stabbing down viciously into her plump pasty white neck and how I wanted more than anything in that moment to see her red and open.
Red and open.
And I thought that I’d have to thrust the opener with real force to pierce the thick layer of fat around her neck and I imagined how the blood would be gushing out red and wet and slide down over her hideous brown mole and how then she really would be afraid with her eyes opened wide in fear and her mouth twisted apart and how people would be running in fear behind me and there would be screams and gasps and commotion all around and how the clerk would be wishing she’d have just let me renew my driver’s license before she succumbed to the attack only by then it would be too late.
It felt good to think it, but instead I just picked up my driver’s license from the counter and turned away because I knew that she didn’t deserve it.
She wasn’t much of a clerk, but she certainly didn’t deserve it.
© 2016 by Michael Michaud
“What a fantastically weird, twisted and absolutely quirky novella The Introvert was! So much so, I am not even sure where in the world to begin! The cover is sim-ple, yet eye-catching and pretty much gives you a feel of the wickedly wonderful writing you will stumble across as you delve into the world of The Introvert!…Would I recommend this wee novella? You bet your arse I would! I found its originality refreshing, its quirkiness addictive, and the strangeness was absolutely awesome!” ~ Noelle Holton, blogger (CrimeBookJunkie) and author of Dead Inside
BOOKNOKREADING BY MARLIDA:
“Michaud has managed to draw a perfect picture of the main character, which is a character I quickly fell in love with because of his awkwardness and special, yet cute, way of thinking…He just seems like the most adorable and awkward person what so ever. Without spoiling, it kind of scares me that I find a character so adorable when he is able to do the things that the introvert has done.” ~ BOOKNOOKREADING BY MARLIDA
“Similar to that of American Psycho with a dash of “God Bless America,” and yet it was both darker and less violent simultaneously…I really enjoyed reading the story and felt myself laughing or smiling in between the cringes at the main character’s internal anger at people and his urges for them to be “red and open.” Though the thoughts were gruesome at times, I can’t say he was entirely over the top with his reactions. I would love to read more from Michael Paul Michaud, especially if the writing is along the same lines as The Introvert.” ~ OnlineBookClub.org
Halo of Books:
“I simply loved this book…purely entertaining, thought provoking and ultimately beautiful! A perfect weekend read.” ~ Halo of Books
“This is a quirky and quick read about a young man’s quest to get through his life without causing too many dramas that upset him. Similar in vein to “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time” where the protagonist is slightly dysfunctional and whose behaviour can be triggered by certain actions by others, leading to unexpected, possibly life changing events. I would recommend it to people who like a bit of black humor, quirky characters and a plot where you are not really sure where you will go.” ~ Library Grits (Dianne McKenzie)
The Odyssey Online:
“This dark humor novella had readers laughing before it even hit the shelves. Michaud portrays a likable but awkward vacuum salesman who lives an introverted life. Once a past secret comes back to haunt him, he finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation. With lots of wit and charm, The Introvert is sure to please a range of audiences.” ~The Odyssey Online – “7 Worthy Books You Might Have Missed From 2016”