I am pleased to announce that just this very afternoon I have received delivery of the Soviet-era iron bathysphere which I had ordered several months ago, a relic of the Cold War left to languish in a warehouse in Aradu, Georgia–the country, not the state. It was surprisingly affordable, ringing in at slightly over 165,000 lari, which is the national currency of Georgia. Indeed, after converting my American dollars to the Ghanaian cedi, and then to the Nigerian naira (a special thanks goes to the Nigerian Prime Minister for his help in facilitating this conversion with a speed not normally awarded to just any foreigner trying to move money in and out of the Nigerian banking system), and then back to the American dollar, before converting it once more to the cedi, and from there to the lari, the final cost to myself was almost ludicrously low. Combine that with my free Amazon Prime shipping rate, and I feel almost like a criminal.
As I write this, the bathysphere is at a secret location in Alameda, California, being outfitted with all of the necessary equipment needed in order to survive a prolonged period submerged at a depth of one hundred feet in the San Francisco Bay. As I am neither a barbarian nor a deep sea explorer from the 1930s, I am also having a rudimentary toilet installed behind a curtain, in an attempt to preserve my modesty should any wandering scuba divers swim past one of my trio of manhole-sized portholes and chance to look in.
Most of my food stores will be of the canned or freeze dried variety, and what cooking I do will be facilitated via the use of a standard hot plate. My personal cook, Gertrude, has produced a small culinary guide, which will allow me to prepare with a minimum of effort nutritious and filling meals designed to keep my body functioning at its highest novel-writing abilities for the months that I shall be submerged. Needless to say, the cuisine will also rely upon a steady supply of Vitamins D and C supplements. I cannot allow a nutrient deficiency to come between me and literary success. Also, there will be an adequate supply of vodka, because if it was good enough for Fyodor Dostoyevsky, it’s good enough for me.
In addition, there will be a small but necessary amount of morphine kept in a small box stored beneath my bunk, in case of emergencies. My support team is under strict instruction to not raise my bathysphere under any but the most dire of circumstances. Should a minor injury surface during the course of my time under water—say, a broken collarbone or a deep but not life-threatening shaving wound to my throat—I will utilize the morphine in a purely medicinal fashion to help manage the pain, or alternately to stave off the madness that always lurks at the edges of the mind when one is locked away beneath the roiling sea water, producing Ongoing Works of Stunning Genius (including: a book for children containing stories of oversized and overzealous man-eating lizards, dangerous submersibles of questionable construction, and flagrant flouting of child labor laws in pirate-supervised relic-mining operations; a novel for adults containing plummeting airships, clockwork treasure maps, fisticuffs atop towering rain-slicked ancient architectures, blood-flecked handkerchiefs held tightly against yellowed flesh, and occasional moments of indiscreet snogging; and my long-demanded memoir, which names many names, reveals many secrets, and may or may not be written by hand on vellum pages pressed between a cover bound in human flesh and rescued from the Bibliotheca Corviniana during its destruction in the 16th century by the Ottoman Empire).
It’s no wonder Hemingway shot himself.
The bathysphere will be attached to my support team’s small Bruckmann yacht by an umbilicus, through which I shall be fed electricity, a small amount of potable water, an internet connection and, of course, oxygen. While I my be amenable to the idea of writing in an airtight box with a limited supply of breathable air for future sequels to my great works, the parameters of this session have already been mapped out, and oxygen deprivation isn’t on the menu this time around.
The Aqua Hermitage (which is the officially registered name of my bathysphere) is also being retrofitted with a retractable floor panel, allowing for access to a moon pool, which will provide egress from the bottom of the submersible and into the Bay. Part of Gertrude’s plan for my nutritional upkeep involves the periodic addition of fresh mussels to my diet, and so once a week I will don a diving suit, complete with a bulbous iron helmet and heavy waterproof canvas suit, and drop to the floor of the Bay in order to gather some tasty delicacies from the bounty of the ocean.
Currently, we are running ahead of schedule, and I expect the Aqua Hermitage to be completely ready for submersion by the twenty-ninth of October. My man Friday, Rudolpho, has volunteered to spend a few days in the bathysphere ahead of me, to ensure that all the equipment is working as planned, and that the oxygen flows properly and there are no minor but catastrophic leaks which will cause my unfortunate, but tragically romantic and premature, demise. While I fully expect this undertaking to become legendary in its telling, I would prefer that the glory be not posthumously awarded.
So please, readers… no, friends… no, family (for that is what you all are to me, those sharing my exciting adventure of underwater literary achievement, where no writer has gone before), please relax, sit back, share a snifter of brandy with me, and let us toast to unexplored worlds of wonder and to the solitary men, who completely alone–with the help of a support team, a registered dietitian, a man Friday, Wikipedia, and black marketeers in the nation of Georgia–forge new roads into the annals of history and American literature, asking nothing in return save for glory, eternal remembrance and financially-rewarding publishing deals. Ad victoriam!
Sebastian Malloy ~ October 1, 2014