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Saudade: The Puppeteer by Evan Myquest Šcreative commons license-A

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Table of Contents

1 The Puppeteer Drinks a Bit .............................................................................................................. 3 2 Writing for the String Section .......................................................................................................... 5 3 As Sure as Rope Follows String ........................................................................................................ 7 4 His Europe Assistant One Year ......................................................................................................... 8 5 Once in her Native Croatia ............................................................................................................. 10 6 Ardithe in her Element on the Strand ............................................................................................ 12 7 Those Kickass First Years ............................................................................................................... 14 8 CloisonnĂŠ .................................................................................................................................... 16 9 Praha CZ ....................................................................................................................................... 19 10 Accidental Gemini ...................................................................................................................... 22 11 Decadence by the String .............................................................................................................. 29 12 The Last Puppeteer ..................................................................................................................... 33 13 Bad Choices on a Slow Night ........................................................................................................ 35 14 Last Bad Choice of Ralph & Em .................................................................................................... 41 15 I Ask You ..................................................................................................................................... 43 16 Pushing Through to the Other Side .............................................................................................. 46 17 Author's Page .............................................................................................................................. 48

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the puppeteer drinks a bit (like a fish drinks a bit) try not to watch the little things dancing from strings as they club each other to toothpicks try not to watch as the jerky movements betray an intense scowling puppeteer this one, this drunken genius Hatton very soon there will be death in this tragedy of little people on strings try not to watch as the slain puppet king slumps in its bunched up royal robe & loose strings buckle its leg & torso hinges behind the stage the puppeteer hits his flask a quick swig while the girl assistant does the widowed queen's mourning wails a story older than the hills melodrama in miniature it never changes from city to city park to park the sad part is putting them in their boxes eyes wide still without television or refrigerators without cars or streets or alleys no talking between boxes in the dark bumpy travels then showtime what city are we in she says do you think this is rock island i love rock island i could have sworn we were in sioux city yesterday Page 3 of 48


the children were attentive didn't you think listen he says eyes staring ahead at the thick traffic when you scream the death agony don't do it in my ear anymore okay my nerves are not what they used to be sioux city rock island who cares we find the place find a room & sleep a little & make some calls unfold the stage debox breathe life once more lines lines practice the lines you never do she says never forgotten a line of script in my life he says make the magic with the strings bask in the young audience attention to classic melodrama & move on each nightfall the laying out in state before the lids go on the boxes eyes looking up in wide horror drink drive drink drive next town find a costume tailor to mend the rags puppeteers in bard's tights need class sequins don't last forever you know they killed in sioux city they will score again in rock island six year olds through eight audiences stay six through eight

town after town

not so for puppeteers nerves not what they used to be assistants either lifespans what they are on string Page 4 of 48


writing for the string section he wants to do gilda find a puppet Rita Hayworth but the script lines are not coming pen in hand the puppeteer cannot figure how to turn the old flick into a play on strings or whether zhivago would convert to a suitable marionette play for parks and schools how to phrase it how to show it how to tear it down and run like hell to yet another motel plastic tumbler or two of gin he knows it won't happen tomorrow it will still be pagliacci in the park in which the slut nedda gets hers it's in italian no one gives a crap if it's in italian one day he will pick the wrong park & the rocks will fly probably hit the damn record player the one thing he cannot fix hmmm... he picks up his pen ryan--ryan--um--ryan what ryan's traitorous daughter yes yes that works he is going to need another bottle

working on the script Page 5 of 48


his is the last light to go out in the peeling paint motel outside bloomington

awakened the assistant asks after being told to find a doughboy outfit puppet size for the daughter's paramour classic cheating bitches again eh? she says he thinks only because you have that moan down cold my dear his brain buzzes as he drives on no sleep again next stop somewhere he calls ratsassville ohio

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as sure as rope follows string as sure as rope follows string when the end plays out hot plate spaghetti when you think you cant look at another string on the nicest days making the best time it doesn't pay to look under the hood foul stench of water pump gasket leak which he knows will worsen going to have to limp it to lansing recalculate the damn route again most important part of a troupe the goddam car & trailer talk sweet to it talk sweet to it at a rest stop for water she leans out the window around the open hood i think i am hungry her daisie mae & daisie duke clothes will change a garage schedule for a needed pump repair anywhere any time of day or trade a hospital show for a park permit violation on the mercy of the court screw that bum's rush police escort to the edge of town keerist it isn't like a kid seeing him take a racehorse piss backstage is like killing anyone how to tell them in leesburg it's a euro acquired thing

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his europe assistant one year his europe assistant one year was janja croatian & pretty knew the world's a pit & wouldn't smile knew lots of languages but had a bad time in the nineties she would not discuss one time she said: vukovar-- & that was it slight gimp to her gait she couldn't hide if she wanted to now unless given a sign (he would push the corners of his mouth up with his fingers) then she would smile to light the world but her eyes still cursed all men she could play giulietta massina's rubber face from la strada--do it to a T zampano she shouted at him when he remarked on it so well that it made him laugh even when he was trying to concentrate he would set up the sandwich board sign with the show times she painted her face in the carshade mirror kids loved her little drummer act as she parade marched around the village fests & zoo parks the old bear pit in berne, they didn't get much west of that city that year prater in vienna pest & buda zoo parks were the best unscheduled stops & quick money village fundraisers or founding festivals for the scheduled ones (except for the kickbacks expected) but never near the zigeuner zigan cygany anyway you want to say gypsy gatherings (too much partying too little left of his gear) he wished she wouldn't frighten the tiny kids so much Page 8 of 48


after walking her toy drum tattoo through the park's family gatherings asking about their food their conversation their balloons their partyboy booze drunken boy magnet & full time anxiety those days there is a show to do after all & he knew if the drum stopped for long he had to go looking for her never blaming either of them in the bushes but hoping to god she was old enough to know what she was doing

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once in her native Croatia once in her native croatia over tumblers of rakija janja asked him why he did this theater he said for the money & women to be the star she pointed out the obvious flaw he had neither money nor women nor stardom & she asked again would it mean anything anything at all for me to say i was being chased by ghosts & satisfying them is the only fucking way to sleep something else you do not do so well well she got mad then stop bullshitting be honest she said okay, i am a marionette smuggler that good enough for you janja she looked at him with new respect the black market marionettes shrewd very shrewd but he accumulated them & hardly ever sold them what the hell kind of smart guy smuggler was that hey why don't you smuggle bluejeans like smart stranaci smart foreigners he looked at her Page 10 of 48


too american --like my ghosts yes yes but i would take your worst american ghosts all the time they don't rape from behind she said leaning close eyes to his eyes say smart guy what play do we do next time max frisch's andorra firebugs is better smartguy it is funnier that's what he always liked about janja for a woman with so many ghosts & no dick she was so goddam cocksure

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ardithe in her element at the strand Hatton could wish all he wanted that emily & ralph were still alive running this itinerant marionette theater kickass they always said kickass show doesn't get any better that's what it's all for man if they were here in provence watching ardithe at the strand they would hit him for looking ardithe was the consummate travel copain & on the way to monaco she loved to stop to sun on the strand who was he to argue what were schedules compared to ardithe on the strand ever inquisitive ardithe wanted to know how to be american what did she need to know & do Hatton told her just shave cap d’ail hotel on the french overlook before monaco was close enough to heaven to watch the stretch yachts ardithe loved to imagine herself on their decks joining the nude sunbathing women their huge sunglasses bronze bodies calling servants out of the cabins to the sun's glare south of france & the prinicipalite plein feu Page 12 of 48


full fire in bright august threading the truck through streets below the voie rapide crowded as a chinese market the year before grace died em & ralph would golly the whole time but ardithe in her element at the strand would be the topper the clue they weren't in kansas anymore

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those kickass first years those kickass first years three drama students with degrees a man a wife a best friend from a teachers college it was the seventies & on the road was huge in small towns with teachers colleges they decided to miniaturize downsize for the great unwashed across the US of A bring the greeks bring the classics it was as bad an end as three of anything that walk into a bar a joke they laughed at that doubled them over for at least two years the best friend had the english accent that drew the crowds the wife painted scenery & tapestried backboards the man worked the marionettes & music player long before there were ipods for the dialogue & sound effects new plays every three months tiring of the greeks & elizabethans then ionesco's rhinocerous genet's zoo story brecht's threepenny & piece de resistance: cocteau sumptuous staging of la belle et le bete of course there would always be one love scene too many not on stage in the van after the show one man too distracted with details truly worse than three kids in a sandbox Page 14 of 48


the recriminations the rants the infidelities the cutthroat threeway grail of drama disintegration of real life & not near the mistake of being in the wrong bar at the wrong time white kids down south it was a bad year for white kids down south it was a bad year for marionettes & othello down south unless you had a british accent then you could be the one to live not you all's fault they said bags over heads sound of trucks leaving peeling out fbi got them & later much later found what was left of two of the drama majors from the north

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Cloisonee he reads in the kiosk herald international two bodies discovered in mississippi believed missing since seventy-one not freedom riders self appointed educators missing only the satchel carpetbag the missing puppeteers accounted for by dna patterns from clothing in a box deep in unsolved fbi storage posing smiling for cameras evidence response team leaves for the south news agency says mississippi teen found bloody puppet (scarpia! found at last) & weapon in grandpas attic called police grandpa led them to the graves wearing his best cloisonne stars & bars lapel pin kid broke down because grandpa just couldn't be couldn't be couldn't couldn't just couldn't be one of those hooded ones of the past times but grandpa could point to many others riders in the night grandpa retired fishing hunting gardening (roses for prizes at the mall) rv driving helping with college teaching auto mechanics nights visiting gram all the time Page 16 of 48


keeping her flowers fresh one sided conversations alma you see in the paper where that damn kid turned his own grandfather in damn fool younger generation cant let dogs lie can't let dogs lie let dogs lie can't mistakes were made alma

letting me go & hiding the bloody puppet is the part that got them prison time ought to arrest the little stringed wooden one too obstruction of justice dream trespass by the scarpia puppet in the first degree soul murder most foul ralph n em going home at last maybe now he was off their list what a yank hoot almost four decades a step behind where he should be in their shadow swirls around him night after night european distance meaning nothing now this he tells his assistant pack up sweetheart here's money for the train home now beat it phone call will track him any day now there will be cameras microphones appearances would it matter to the nightmares

would it matter to the ghosts would anything at this point matter some mississippi mudder gets fame & maybe the chair maybe the rope over a thirty year old capital crime his friends from the kickass years

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cable news was searching out the missing third puppeteer

archives gave them pictures contacts last addresses phone numbers the works they plucked Hatton from his drunken island in his potato alcohol sea down a series of jetways to a thousand questions & one answer only will he make it pull it off or will they see through him to the scarpia soldier firing squad ghost driven man or will that glare cause him to put the gun barrel in his mouth like the last time only this time do it with a string tied to the trigger standing against the wall

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praha cz every european story starts out with the coming of the plague one out of three dead selective little bacteria slayers this house not that house this traveling band of romani not that traveling band of romani this ship not that ship the captain not the crew the rats not the chickens

prague in the unified czech & slovak commie days when the color of everything was stone gray with soot excecpt in the father to sons puppet shops out muddy old king road a marionette of exceptional flexibility going for small dollars outfit a theater--backdrop & all for two bottles of jack daniels shadow puppets & rolling cart thrown in for a drunksong about a fat woman back in the days one could speak russian without raising eyebrows

Hatton thought he knew the game until prague '70 when the world's puppet masters came for repairs & talking shop when the masters gathered in the taverns & puppets danced on the bars & tables when the masters drank & said to him no no no like this --stupid stupid boy--to Hatton's faux fumbles

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when the masters swapped stories of priapic puppets & angry audiences when the masters told of palace shows for royalty & generous bourgeoisie when the masters told of generous penthouse wives & foot thick down covers & bullet holes in headboards & hasty getaway balcony leaps

it was prague after all where the best came to show off a wrist move to show off greek tragedy & mayhem on the little stage to show off the suspense of a loudly ticking clock sound effect to show off pistol fire on a small scale to show off the latest pissing shadow puppet trick guaranteed to perk a flagging story

such was prague '70 & much much later the genesis of many of Hatton's debts to the masters the reason that to the end Hatton could not go to prague again unless under the cover of darkness & disguise (when Hatton would hear stories about himself years ago) for Hatton had bested

no--hustled

them all

at lines remembered from a hundred plays & obscure verses of songs in their own language often taking double or nothing bets while appearing immensely drunk (having lost the appropriate number of previous bets) such was prague '70

such was prague when Hatton made puppets out of puppetmasters & the plague years started anew for the puppeteer Page 20 of 48


jolted awake in paddy wagons & diagnosed as dead more times than he cared to count doing drunk tank roles while cellmates cowered before the voice & begged to be separated from him dark ages throw-out-your-dead had nothing on Hatton at times he left them in his wake prague '70 a legendary example when they started putting bars on the windows of puppet shops during the worldwide may puppet festival where one young puppeteer learned to swim in bottles for a living fresh out of respect for his elders

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accidental gemini hill town overlooking Lago Maggiore narrow cobblestone cowpath italian street parabolic mirrors on stuccoed building corners to show blind side traffic an inch of clearance between cars an inch of clearance between building walls

without clearance opposing vehicles must back up on roads into and out of the lake bluff town of Contra buses rear ends hang over fifty meter cliffs guardrails would only get in the way of delicate on the fly maneuvering Hatton slept head down low in his seat folded in his heavy coat & scarf hands under his arms not knowing not caring about his driver's daring the news this week was not full of bus carnage at the bottom of hills this bus

safe as any

large black man at the sidewalk cafe rail looking into whizzing vehicles with expectation

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inside cars & inside buses & lorries cargo space comes the tour bus with Hatton bundled up in his pestalozzi handoffs a bus full of rural swiss tourist passengers in loud conversation pointing & gawking at the unusual sight of a black man now running along the narrow italian sidewalk Hatton looked up & startled them with his own alcoholic lack of color in their midst saw his past personified in the man shouting his face behind Hatton's window & losing ground

saw the one the mississippi locals used to say was his spitting image twin from a whiter mother except Hatton without the other mans hidden neck scars from a klansman's spiny rope

the swiss passengers looking from Hatton to big michael & back what a disturbance in the scenic ride's normal conversational buzz their world

the one outside their tourist conversations now became ever

more animated they shouted at the driver to halt Page 23 of 48


Hatton jumped off that bus embraced the man fully the coincidence of this meet up a miracle except for a few advance show fliers big michael had spotted & a few messages sent out to Hatton's last known address a town or two too late

of all the sidewalks in small european crossroad towns on earth these men eye to eye through that bus window Hatton befuddled out of context recognition despite both their salted beards & invisible ten years difference

though big michael was thicker & a step slower

lost to a past injury

back when--the time of the shit & the time of the fan. a life storm of it. the time of the flames & the time of the hoses (idled during the black church & schoolhouse flames)

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it was big michael's father who had saved Hatton at the river but it was big michael put Hatton in the smokehouse crawlspace & faced down the searching sheets & pickup truck riders with their torches & squirrel guns & shotguns aloft

chameleon survival instinct on the railroad run it had taken only three minutes for Hatton to lose his tommy brit accent gain a flawless southern dialect convenient for passing & borrowing miscellaneous identity papers saving his life more than once on the trainless railroad of the night to --just get back north-- at all costs

when the searchers had come to big michael's screen door peering through at fearful family occupants heartpounding fear & life good as lost

then

when they kicked aside the man's wife & in frustration torched his place as the family looked on

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gave michael those rope burns

around both neck & wrists

Hatton learned the deepest respect possible in another's pain as he was restrained by others who said you go out there--you waste the man's life & yours too maybe all of us here & down the church or down the schoolhouse

flames can only go so high man but Hatton had never seen them higher or hotter

that chameleon survival instinct saving his life more than once on the trainless railroad of the night to --just get north-- at all costs

two men who refused to die

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one from hanging one from falling from a high bridge

now there was a message from other side of the world come on home

come home to the states

there's been a discovery evidence

real evidence

in a good old boy's attic my brother said big michael

this time it's different, he said to Hatton's deep & weary sigh

Hatton trusted this brother alone among men owed him his life & more for the asking

so with bummed cigarettes & coffee warmth Hatton gave in to big michael in person where he never would have by mail or phone went to the man's fancy piazza grande hotel with him big michael's clothes on Hatton without second thought

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they located & sequestered Hatton's equipment in a rental garage two months with a large enough deposit to keep two more months big michael booked seats together on a flight out of milan for atlanta he wanted to make sure Hatton was close by & not a last minute no show it was arranged they were going stateside no matter what hell to relive lay in store there were memories to put to rest last of the good old boys to hang & takedown from the rope big michael wanted to see it big michael wanted Hatton there to hammer the nails for the jury if only his friend had the state of mind to cope looking at the man in the airline seat next to him he thought he might have made a mistake

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Decadence by the String

Our puppeteer stole from the best Fosse staging: bandit positions, broken doll legs and torsos, sway backs, crane positions, tea-cup finger semaphores, and drip positions. Now all this sounds esoteric or pedantic

lifeless on the

page, but it isn't so on stage where the lexicon moves into life, demonstrating its free enlargement on vaudevillian and burlesque roots and earlier choreographic styles. Music: band drums out bump and grinds. Easy crowd pleasing puppeteering.

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the puppets moved in mysterious ways a dance troupe one time dueling black & yellow kill bill swordmasters at the tops of their trade another

when dancing the puppets moved in a strong jerk only to stop mid-move as if a stronger force propeled them in opposition

the invisible shield caught flyball by an outfield ghost ang lee bamboo inspiration in flips & dives

the puppets danced in unison but as if with broken legs picasso's crosslegged musician style

the puppets danced in fosse's bowler hats & time warp pelvic thrusts the classic teacup two fingered grip & bojangles heel toe stutter steps Page 30 of 48


how did joints move that had no strings do those knee slides & all that jazz (hint think magicians filament thread & the ghost of jack cole)

lifted knee balancing of crane moves surreal forest creature ballet folds

for the private salon simulated sex from spooning puppets synchro dirty dancing on string

puppets whispered in other puppets ears puppet women slapped puppet men then climbed up on them no an unacceptable answer

puppet pick-ups from street corners off to seedy rooms bouncing on gray sheets do you need a picture drawn for you do you see where this madness is leading

if the theater was built on staged Page 31 of 48


decadence if the theater was built on staged perversity ticket sales brisk in dark curtained downstairs theaters where the front row & stage merged

audience drenched in sex sheen eyes fixed ahead where wooden doll jennas & savannahs circled swayed at the bottom of squat thrusts to drum rhythms & strobe effects back row seats doing their own moves

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the last puppeteer he had a small box of things he owned a book of the sayings of chairman mao with the inscription: from em to ralph

a passport

a US drivers license

pictures of a family circa 1958 narrow brit rowhouses doorsteps family dressed for church at the walk stern pinched looks for the camera except for the youngest selling his smile with a tap dance finish

autographs on scraps of papers some stagedoor johnny waited outside alley doors many times bad weather the ideal star ambush

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the names were of a bygone era olivier gielgud lotte coward was not an insult in those drawing room theater days days of irmas lizas guineveres & who's afraid... how many stoker draculas & polidori lord ruthvens the scene was hammer studio world but on the boards

one torn newspaper clipping headlined Hatton Bartholomew Whistler ten years of age steals show at Drury Lane phenom upstages olivier with ovation larry joins in, encouraging and prolonging showstopper

later headlines proclaim child star turns teen teen dancer goes shakespearean young Whistler departs for U. S. college last show sells out in minutes the box office brings out and hangs old keep calm posters

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bad choices on a slow night: the perfect assistant hunt the desperate one the one on the left pole of the bi-poled strip joint bar stage dancing without energy glassy tombstone pupils eyeshining red blue stage lights

Hatton the puppet master wanted her the one with less than stellar judgement & enormous college bills it took five questions to three people to learn about the english major with art history minor the hunt for replacement assistant for show chores was over

how fast would she join up run from her stage to his what line would it take to trigger a hasty exit looking for culture in all the right places but cannot see it in front of her Page 35 of 48


what stellar judgment that she would dance here totally nude here like the sign outside said with their eyes on her body crawling like slime trailed snails across its raquel-esque bounty leaving that tracked over shuddery feeling only a shower could relieve

what stellar judgment did she overcome that she would have her shirt drenched night after night to a forced smile & grin as the emcee exhorted applause out of the zombies yes she would run in a new york minute if she met another runner quoting a few words of maya's caged bird

she would attach herself to him a departing bus or train with her name on it a shotgun seat to see the past roll by & future ahead like the one she missed so long ago she is probably roughed up enough to acknowledge such fulcrum moments & the red-eyed devils to punch her ticket

shout all aboard

track zero

a few educated & experienced words worth of hope that she had better prospects

intellectual assets

besides the ones on gyrating display

that stage (no pole) she had wanted in the beginning Page 36 of 48


instead of this biggest little Reno town of last stops where pick up lines go to die girl wake up before you get the imagination working overtime

he is as grimy as the rest are you out of your ever loving mind gal look at him look in the dictionary under d for disappearing act girl so what if he can quote the sweetest shakespeare & browning he is drinking like a fish tilting that bottle in the parking lot where he didn't miss a line of the stinging shrew

but he talks in contracts of human bondage she said thats maugham you know never mind you lost on a dream girl, her only backstage friend said

the big brown nippled girls in the back shake their heads they see the decision she is propping up they want to call her kid but they are kids themselves & on slopes of even less control we see what is in your eyes it's no good girl no good dammit girl no use talking to you

hugs from the young shrugs from the thirty somethings with bigger sagging things to worry about than a pretty man up front Page 37 of 48


with a hunting look to him the kind that know a walking losing streak with brains when he sees one

no mouth on her too quiet to be a sister you can tell the rabbits ready to run rub up a client but won't sit on a dressing room chair without a towel on it first everything is temporary starting out but there are little poetry books in her backpack & she always needs a ride somewhere always wants someone to watch foreign movies with her says she knows why the caged bird sings

on the other hand he is tall

black hair falling in his eyes

long armed

long legged

(confident without swagger & no peterbilt belt buckle or ball cap) sideburns

boyish clean of face

a brogue a cowgirl could ride barrel races around facing front or back but the dylan he whispered had

her

as in dylan thomas

packing up her things in a rush

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it cost Hatton a whole tenner to get close it was all he had but there was grant money from at least six countries for an assistant with a clear head & hands that did not shake & the right forms & did not link homer with jethro before greek poetry

the perfect assistant from San Diego out of blonde Duluth, deadended in Reno who did not feel like east was backwards in time & direction & the southerners were not the country's burden & Austin was not the only liberals-in-daylight place in Texas

the bottle took his shakes & sweats away but also the patience for groveling in those arts grants application forms though the lines were pat golden yankee doodle george m cagney dancing & flags flying for the classics a ten person troupe two actual persons with eight wooden stage wobblers on string made his life like the captain of the african queen made his life like the bus driver in night of the iguana one step ahead of chaos

one step ahead of the ghosts

he could get the bus there & his voice alone could fill it but there was a fuzzy concept of reality involved random bouts of dissociation Page 39 of 48


liver damage lucid living dementia & assorted other perks

he traveled better in europe & points east looser pharmacy rules & Hatton loved to pick his poison after midnight for the biggest discount

yes this over educated Reno pole dancer would do fine if he could get her to shut up once they got past the state line & through california up past alturas to ashland oregon ashland would put the dramatic stars in her eyes for a good deal of time

it was a good grant application postmark too one of those united states wolftrap ravinia cultural signpost places slightly better than the house on the rock or the giant ball of twine

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last bad choice of ralph & em ralph had taught Hatton how to put a caricature leer on a block of wood carve it into a stiff upper lip pine face emily had taught him the ways of bureaucracy & a crafty way to access people with money Hatton had the looks to get them to pitch in do their share for the cause of good theater everywhere they ran to enthusiasm with a high degree of come one come all center ring whistles & whips Hatton could outdo the music man & all seventy six trombones right there in river city

the trouble with come one come all it included everyone did not exclude the killers of change artists the virally stupid the raise the hair on the back of your neck stupid the rabbit eared whadusay stupid from two bar booths over

it was always too late when you were surrounded & too stupid yourself to look where you were going while mocking local speech patterns Page 41 of 48


while ignoring the georgia backwoods poets that rocked harvard while only hearing dueling banjos & gaptoothed guitars if you think the black artists were solitary in local art you miss the dickeys & never glimpse the byron herbert reeces the clark ashton smiths in the hills or the stunted closet suicide girls in upstairs windows the ones who would kill like lizzie borden if forced to read one more scripture or scrub the floor again on chafed knees for jesus

sure they let you trade hats let you talk & talk & talk but you are not going backward one step the hard truth you are not leaving this place the place is getting smaller colder more humid than possible as the laughter continues becomes poking becomes groping becomes a backdoor rush & a scream as trucks start for dotted line logging roads sorry don't cut it no more girl but this will ralph closed his eyes under the hood they had put on his head hoping his ears closed harder Page 42 of 48


i ask you i ask you is this pest or buda or what why i have creditors on one side more than the other

awake in river fog along the bank he did not know whether it was the buda or pest side stretching in his wool longies finding a tree for relief before the park patrols appeared

he looked at the spired building across the danube da die blaue donau down from mother russia remembered the night partying with gregors people laughing to himself about himself

the dancing men

bottled lightning in their lagging hands as they clasped each other at the elbows synchronized hip turns and heel toe pounding the ground around the illegal fire

raising the height of the fire every once in a while with spills from their bottles of palinka opa opa hatton yelled when the fire had flared mad ubiq-violinist in tow

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used to be in hungary throw a rock hit a violinist now one hears the yelp of the homeless new capitalisms children of the parks & night & allee boxes

but now for the itinerant puppeteer the morning fog was a dirty cotton ball layer on the river & there was show preparation to do before the tourbuses showed up

by the numbers plan the scenes select characters

characters as if the world were not full to the brim with such as gregor big men wanting to dance around a fire like their childhood books about winitou the american indian written by a german who had never been to the usa

east or west

top or bottom stage today puppets or marionettes in other words a choice of topping or bottoming the stage a choice not many get to make in the cold hungarian nights chill Page 44 of 48


where song & drink pass for fleeting warmth

a city of bridges a city of choosing up sides i can never keep the bridge names straight after chain & elizabeth

of course today would be a day for glove puppet hand warmth from the bottom of the stage kneeling mostly & staying steady only because of it & watching for creditors on this side

i work in haste everyone laughs a little bit but under capitalism not everyone shows such good teeth as they used to when they laugh what was it about hurting only when laughing

hey sorry to interrupt have to reset the stage more tour buses arriving for the afternoon drop off

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Pushing Through to the Other Side Hatton took a room in a renovated lakeshore hotel in Chicago

It had been a couple years since the media tired of him

His photo was now civil rights museum property along with those others of the disinterred, the graves that yielded the history that didn't make it to the lecture halls

Then he went the block down to Buddy Guy's and took in a show where he learned his blues were alright--not perfect, not set to slack string guitar, but alright

It wasn't far away he scored the dirty scag that put him out, smiling in terror, knowing

Naked, legs sticking out of the bathroom

Face to the tile floor

Mouth open

Eyes staring

The police took many pictures

Some got out to the tabloids

The pictures were notable for the strings tied around his upper arms, his wrists, his ankles

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They bagged up his belongings: a fringe jacket from a long ago fashion, and a puppet, fancy marionette--it looked like an italian policeman or military commander

The hotel had a cleaning service just for this

Two hour service anywhere in the city

There was an envelope with a note and some money, quite a bit of money as there'd been a settlement over a long ago matter and a couple speaking fee checks converted to cash

The note in the envelope said to send the money to a lady in Croatia

She would know that the contents of the locker in Milan was hers to do with as she liked

She took it to Prague and pawned it all on King Road

What else...she bought blue jeans with the money and Split to the coast...an old Croatian joke between the two of them

Each time she doubled her money on the jeans she thanked that crazy drunken puppeteer

There was a bonfire for what she couldn't pawn, smuggle or sell

She wasn't sentimental

The playbills turned to ash and ascended with the breeze

Free of strings

Page 47 of 48


Evan Myquest, a 'retired numbers guy,' lives in Rancho Murieta CA, with his wife Eva and a demanding cockatiel named Rudi, a bird who files its taxes as head of household. Evan has lived around Sacramento for half his 64 years. In the twenty years he has frequented poetry readings and music clubs in the city's Midtown he has been on stage exactly once: to hug Bill Gainer. He has a passion for collecting micro-press books.

Page 48 of 48

Saudade for the puppeteer  

Hatton Whistler hides with a puppet named Scarpia over two continents and an endless run of bottles and women.

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