Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath


It’s already twilight out, and I can’t sleep. I’m feeling sort of nauseous – I think I drank too much caffeine. On top of that, my monitor just made a sharp cracking sound, went completely blank, then came back on and is now working fine. Maybe it’s going to blow up. I just bought the damn thing in January. Maybe the 6-month warranty timer just went off.

I finished reading Naked Lunch, and what can you say – pretty awesome stuff. I read the reviews on amazon.com, and everyone gave it either a 10 or a 1. The 1 reviews are hilarious. I have to admit, I wasn’t 100% fond of the book because of the randomness, but now I’m a convert. I think I’ll start reading some of his other more challenging stuff, like the cutup trilogy. I’ve read all of his more basic stuff, like Queer, Junkie, and Interzone. Time for a trip to the bookstore.

I got a fair amount of writing done on Rumored tonight. I’m way behind schedule – like 10,000 words behind. But, I cut a bunch of dead wood I knew was going to be dropped, and my schedule didn’t account for that. Although by wordcount, it appears that I lost about 4,000 words tonight, I lost about 7,000 and gained 3,000. And since I ideally write 2,000 a night, that’s a good haul. Most of all, I’m happy that a lot of new stuff is appearing in the time travel part of the book, and the order is all falling into place. I have a lot to do in this half of the book – it’s maybe 50% done at this point, not even that. The other half of the book is about 60% done.

I’m sure these numbers bore you. It’s 5 in the morning. I’ve got to get to bed before it’s completely daylight out, and the room temperature goes from 55 to 273.

06/20/98 12:26

I played GameBoy until like 6:30am, and couldn’t dissolve the caffeine fast enough. Now I feel like the living dead, and I’m preparing for the great water pump surgery, and eating some applesauce for lunch.

On my way to sleep last night, I thought of a long ramble of something I wanted to talk about in here, but now it’s gone. Story of my life.

To quote Dennis Hopper, “let’s hit the fuckin’ road.”

06/20/98 17:51

I knew it would be a mess. It always is.

I had a few things I could’ve done first – drain the coolant, remove the water pump pulley, loosen the alternator – and none of them were going to happen. I couldn’t hold the water pump pulley still to break the bolts (I also found that one the three bolts was MISSING!) I couldn’t move the alternator because I’d forgotten that a shitload of VW stuff isn’t held on by standard bolts, but by allen-head bolts, and I have no wrenches for those. I bought a siphon and did manage to get some of the coolant out of the radiator. I’m suprised the damn thing even ran – it looked like Love Canal sludge, more black and muddy than antifreeze green.

Okay, there’s a Sears about 10 miles from Karena’s (did I mention that I had to do this repair at her apartment complex, where I’m storing the Volks? She’s out of town, so I was there by myself.) so I went to get some 3/8″ drive allen wrenches. I guesstimated it as a 6mm, and found that my mailbox key almost snugly fit inside there. I drive there – some kind of weird radio station on location deal is going on, with a guy dressed as a clam, a bunch of freaks wearing dayglow yellow painter’s overalls and dancing like one of those stupid Intel commercials, and a bunch of people honking their car horns. Inside, the Sears hardware department was a zoo – Father’s day is tomorrow. A set of 6 or 8 metric allen wrenches was like $28, so I guessed and got a 6mm and 7mm for $12. The sales clerk kept trying to guess how to pronounce my last name based on my Visa card, and I thought I was going to have to wheel her over to a display radial arm saw and cut her head off. I wanted to wander the mall, but I already had antifreeze and grease all over me, I’d just spend money, and I promised I’d work until 5 and then fuck around for the rest of the evening. The round trip took almost an hour.

I had a weird system of draining the car, involving a 2 quart tupperware bowl, the plastic tray from a one-gallon vaporizer (that would probably now kill everyone in the room if I plugged it in), and a 2 or 3 gallon dishtray-type thing. I had a couple of fuckups, and spilled some antifreeze, but most of it stayed in the plastic pans. I pulled the bottom radiator hose and got a few quarts to dump loose there, and after I fucked with the pulley a bit, the water pump leaked a steady drip. But I only got maybe 3/4 of a gallon out of the thing, and it supposedly held 2. The radiator had been half empty already, so maybe there wasn’t a lot of water in there.

I broke loose the alternator, no problem (it was a 6mm hex). Then I found that one of the two bolts on the pulley wasn’t much more than finger tight. I spent forever fucking with that last bolt – I couldn’t turn it when the pulley itself was turning. Finally, I jammed a screwdriver in the way so it wouldn’t spin, and got the last nut out. The water pump was now in the open and ready to be pulled.

A lot of cars have a one piece pump that bolts right on the engine, but this particular VW uses a hollow housing that bolts to the engine and has the three hose mounts, and then the water pump bolts on the side of that. Imagine an open-mouthed canister, with a bunch of hoses on the closed end, and a hole in the side that goes to a pipe. The lid to the canister has a fan blade on the inside, so when you put the lid on, it churns around and moves water from the hoses to the hole in the side. The canister is the water pump housing, and the lid is the water pump itself. And what I was trying to do was loosen the 8 or so bolts so I could pry off the lid, throw it in the dumpster, and put on a new one.

What’s the catch? I kept breaking the fucking bolts. There are like 8 bolts holding the two pieces together, and they were snapping off like plastic when I got a socket in there. Plan b – I tore off the alternator, and pulled out the entire housing and pump at the same time. It was only 4 bolts and 3 hose connections, and I got the whole damn thing out without much difficulty. It also drained another 2 quarts of coolant from the system.

So I sat on the sidewalk, with this piece of shit part, trying to see if I could remove any of the bolts without snapping the heads off. A semi-attractive woman that lived at the complex walked by as I sat there, drenched in grease and antifreeze, fucking with this cumbersome piece of cast iron that looks like something off of a 19th century steam engine. Right as she said “Having fun?” I snapped another bolt in two. After the damage was done, I snapped maybe 5 of 8 bolts, and couldn’t pry the two pieces apart. My only hope is to find a shop that will drill out the bolts, pry off the old pump, slap on the new one, and install some new bolts, hopefully for less than $10,000. Hopefully some VW shop will be a pal and do it on the cheap for me. Plus, then they will be the ones installing the gasket between the pieces and torquing it all down, not me. And once I have the housing-pump-pulley assembly, it’ll be easy to put back together – 4 bolts, 3 hoses, plus the alternator.

I’m guessing that at least one reader will look at that giant monologue, say “what the fuck is this guy’s deal?” and never come back to this journal. Right on.

I’m going to wash my hands for the 900th time, and either take a nap, or go to the mall and maybe the movies.