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20 were a form of status footwear called Doc Marten, no doubt the name of the orthopedic surgeon who fortune was made repairing the crushed arches caused by the ungainly clodhoppers.) He was tall, with a face that was sensitive, but coarse; profound, yet somewhat clueless; high-strung, albeit virtually comatose from cheap liquor. The whole effect was incredibly geeky, with a suggestion of an aura of unleashed power that had the potential of devastation. In short, rather like a combination of Aubrey Beardsley and Sean Penn. “I saw what happened in there,” he blurted. “Not a real artist in the bunch, just a bunch of philistines. They’re so declamatory. As if there were still something that could be said. You know?” I nodded, trying to decide whether I should call a policeman or the Times’ literary critic. “Not at all like your work,” he continued, “which was a masterful juxtaposition of Ovid and Diane Wakowski’s Medea series.” My, what a perceptive comment, I thought. Of course, I had no idea what he was talking about, but I liked the Classical Greek sound of it and did my best to smile approvingly in a manner I hoped was Delphic. His next query took me by surprise. “Do you have a car? I was wondering if you could drive me home. I live about a mile down the street in Belltown, and I don’t feel like walking in the rain. Sometimes the universe seems so malignant that it just, you know, makes you tired. By the way, my name’s Simon. Simon LeBoneur.” He extended a long, pale hand with only a tiny amount of dirt under the fingernails. I took it. After all, I had come here to meet some fellow travelers in the realm of Art. “There it is,” pointed Simon as we drove down First, indicating a dilapidated 3-story boarding house situated between a warehouse and a towering new condo. “Thank you so much. Could I invite you up for an aperitif?” As a searcher for new experiences, I had an intuition that this might be one. I agreed. Simon’s apartment was a small studio on the third floor in the back of the building. A balcony (well, actually, a fire escape landing) overlooked Elliott Bay, or, if your gaze angled downwards, the bustling activity of the crack trade that took place in a parking lot under the viaduct. Simon disappeared into the kitchenette while I sat in the only chair, a folding metal one that apparently did double-duty between the card table that served as the dining area and the inevitable computer table. Stacks of books leaned against the walls (Beckett, Ionesco, Burroughs, Trocchi—the identity cards of members of Avant-Garde 101), while the threadbare carpet was

CIRQUE enhanced by the layers of give-away publications that lay strewn about. The only other piece of furniture was a foam rubber pallet covered by black sheets, which decorum made me divert my eyes from before I was tempted to look for come stains. Simon re-entered, bearing a plate of Archway chocolate chip cookies and two cans of Schmitt’s. “I thought I had some Dubonnet and Brie left,” he said, “but I guess I must have finished it for breakfast. They say this place used to be a bordello during the turn of the century. Some scumbag developer is trying to tear it down, but we’ve lodged a petition with the Historical Society.” He cracked a beer. “Oh, I’m sorry, I should have offered you a glass.” Returning with one (bearing the logo of Sylvester and Tweety), he continued. “Listen, I’ve got a confession to make—I had an ulterior motive in asking you here.” Unobtrusively, I reached for my handbag, only to remember that I’d left the mace at the studio. Which is just as well; otherwise the entire clientele of the Emerald Diner would have been on the sidewalk, coughing their lungs out. I braced myself for the onslaught when, suddenly, Simon leapt to the floor and dug through the pile of papers, emerging with a photocopied magazine which he thrust into my hand. Entitle The Umbilicus of Limbo II, it featured a death’s head and a screaming fetus playing guitars on the cover, while the inside featured handwritten poems, collages, and short stories that looked like they’d been typeset on a 1922 Remington found in a junkyard. “I’m the literary editor,” Simon explained. “The title, of course, is an homage to Artaud.” “Yes, I can see that,” I said. “In fact, the whole thing looks like it was drawn and composed by the Special Ed class in an Institution for the Criminally Insane.” Simon looked immensely pleased. “I knew when I first laid eyes on you that you would understand. Of course, the most cutting-edge works are the ones that transcend the boundaries between ineptitude and insanity. That, Nanette, is why you must contribute!” And so, the evening ended very pleasantly. Simon escorted me to my car, waving in the rain as I pulled away. I wondered if I’d ever see him again, and found myself rather hoping I would. Also, I thought, perhaps I could get an excerpt of Shimmering Lard into the magazine before it went belly-up. My generous contribution might very well lift the endeavor out of submediocrity. (To be cont’d…)

Cirque, Vol. 7 No. 1  

A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim

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