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cover design and layout crispin best everything else matthew savoca

christopher columbus matthew savoca

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1 Christopher Columbus changed ships at the harbor and looked briefly at the port master from a distance as he went below deck. In his quarters, Christopher Columbus sat in a chair and crossed his legs, touching his hair. Back up top, on the planks above the water, Christopher Columbus walked swiftly with his head down looking at his shoes as he tried to step on every crack between the wooden boards. He walked off the docks trying to fix his hair from the wind and on down to the public house which was open and empty. It was early in the morning. Christopher Columbus drank brown ale slowly from a large round glass while sitting alone on a high wooden stool at the bar. He thought about how he didn’t want to live a real life, only an imaginary one. He thought about how he wanted to think of doing things and going places and enjoy the thoughts but not have to actually do them. He wanted to sit somewhere comfortable all day with his hair a mess and not care and not want anything at all. He wanted to think about going to find America and he wanted to talk about it but he didn’t want to actually do it. He wanted to know that he didn’t want to do it but that he wanted to think about doing it in a way in which it felt like he was going to do it, and that it would be successful. Christopher Columbus thought about this as he drank the last of his ale, and getting up from the stool he grabbed his hat from the rack and pushed the heavy door open into the wind which was strong against his face, moving the skin of his cheeks. Christopher Columbus said “I don’t know” softly and then thought about how all he wanted was to say he didn’t know to whatever anyone asked him for the rest of his life.

2 Marco Polo had been back from Asia for over two weeks. He thought about the Silk Road in bed, trying to remember it, but couldn’t really. He could think upon it only as though it were a story that was told to him, something that had happened to someone else. He couldn’t remember what it felt like to be there. Marco Polo felt strangely alienated from himself, from his own life. He hadn’t done anything since returning to an Italy that seemed exactly the same as when he had left, but when he tried to remember what it felt like to live in Italy, he couldn’t. He could only remember what the past two weeks had felt like. Confused and feeling nostalgic for things he couldn’t accurately remember, Marco Polo went for a walk by the docks where he knew there would be birds and fish and other creatures existing seemingly without memory or accurate recollection of life experiences. He would feel a sense of connection with these creatures, they would share something without outwardly communicating to each other, and Marco Polo would feel better. Upon arriving at the docks, Marco Polo saw Christopher Columbus walking with his head down, slowly, sometimes kicking his feet at nothing in particular. Marco Polo watched from a distance until Christopher Columbus disappeared into the public house. Marco Polo stood motionless for a minute or two and then swiftly returned to his quarters to retrieve something. When he got back down to the docks, he saw Christopher Columbus looking at his reflection in the window of the dwelling that faced the port side of the public house. He hesitated and then walked down some wooden steps, three or four, looking down as he went. Marco Polo walked slowly along the dock, watching Christopher Columbus to

know what movements he would make, if any. Marco Polo snuck quietly below deck on Christopher Columbus’s ship and put a stolen Chinese map to the Americas under some navigational star charts that were on Christopher Columbus’s desk. He walked back up top, looking to see where Christopher Columbus was but couldn’t locate him, so he went quickly off the ship and cut across town up through Quimbly Street, calmly moving his legs at a steady pace.

3 Christopher Columbus finished bathing down near the town hall and looked at the clock as it sounded for nine in the morning while walking across the cobblestones. Passing the tailor’s shop, Christopher Columbus thought about his patched trousers and then stopped to see about getting some new ones. He looked through the sample pairs on the rack that stood on the right side of the shop, holding a few versions up against himself to check for size. The tailor was watching his movements which made Christopher Columbus feel nervous. He wandered around the shop a little, looking here and there, trying to seem casually occupied but really thinking about how he wanted to just leave but also about how he needed new trousers badly. A few female customers entered the shop and occupied the tailor which let Christopher Columbus relax and return to examining the trousers. Christopher Columbus was a short, very thin man who often had trouble finding trousers that fit him well. He had observed that all of the sample trousers were too big for him which led him to thinking about how dysfunctional democracy actually was when it occurred to him to try the women’s sizes. Christopher Columbus watched the tailor not watching him as he held up some sample women’s sizes against his body. He found one that seemed to be a good fit, took note of the reference number, and went to the shelves at the back to find it. Once he found the size he chose a color, deep olive green, his favorite, and then took it with a pair of men’s trousers into the dressing room. Upon finding that the women’s trousers fit perfectly, except for being slightly too long, Christopher Columbus exited the room trying to figure out how to buy the trousers, who to say they were for, since the shop

owner would clearly know that they were women’s trousers. “How are you today?” the shop owner said. “Very well, very well, thank you,” Christopher Columbus said. “This’ll be it, then?” the shop owner said taking the olive green trousers from the wooden counter top. “Yes, it is a special person’s birthday tomorrow,” Christopher Columbus said. “Oh we have better models than this one for a special person,” the shop owner said. “No, this will be the one she wants, I am sure of it,” Christopher Columbus said. “Are you sure?” “Quite sure, thank you,” Christopher Columbus said. “Okay, then,” the shop owner said. Once paid for, Christopher Columbus left the shop swiftly and walked along Jensen Street out to the docks and down to his quarters where he put the trousers on, feeling satisfied as he folded the bottoms up twice. He put his shoes on and looked at himself in the long mirror from many different angles.

4 Christopher Columbus told jokes to people he knew who were all sitting around a kitchen table at one of their houses. People laughed and Christopher Columbus felt popular and well-liked. One of them started rolling a cigarette and Christopher Columbus watched, wanting one but not knowing how to ask. He stared at the hands of the person rolling the cigarette while someone else was talking and the people were laughing. He looked up at the person rolling the cigarette and they made eye contact. Christopher Columbus felt scared and like he wanted a cigarette but didn’t know what to do. He kept staring at the hands of the person who was rolling a cigarette and then looking at their head. He alternated between looking at the person’s head and hands. He didn’t know what would happen. He hoped the person might understand that he wanted a cigarette and offer him one. The person smiled at him and he looked away quickly towards the person who was talking, and then fake laughed. Christopher Columbus thought, “That was my chance, I am such an idiot. I should have looked at the tobacco again after we made eye contact. If it happens again, I am definitely going to look at the tobacco.” Then Christopher Columbus looked at the tobacco and then at the person’s head but they were looking at the person who was talking. Then the person was finished rolling the cigarette and put it behind their ear, brushing off the small pieces of tobacco that were on the table. Christopher Columbus watched the pieces of tobacco fall to the floor and then looked and the cigarette behind the person’s ear, then at the person talking, then out the window. A bird went by in the air and Christopher Columbus felt tired. He thought

about going home and getting into bed without washing his face.

5 Leonardo da Vinci sketches plans for a helicopter and puts them in his desk drawer feeling satisfied. Leonardo da Vinci locks the desk drawer and sits back in his chair with his hands folded and his palms resting on the top of his head, leaving the key inside the keyhole. He thinks about Maria Develasia and readjusts the position of his legs, moving his testicles into an open spot. He makes a fist around his penis and squeezes a little, then he lets go and gets up out of his seat taking the desk drawer key with him. Leonardo da Vinci starts coffee brewing in the kitchen and waits with his back leaning against the counter and his legs crossed. He thinks about his helicopter and feels like a good worthwhile person with skill sets and intellect. When the coffee is done, Leonardo da Vinci pours it into a mug with brown sugar already in the bottom then adds some milk but doesn’t stir. The milk swirls around in the coffee and Leonardo da Vinci smiles looking at it. He thinks of his friend Leonardo Fibonacci and misses him a little. He thinks about how they have the same first name, and about how names are important. Leonardo da Vinci tells himself that if he ever has a son, he will name him Leonardo after both himself and his good friend Leonardo Fibonacci. He thinks about how Leonardo is a good name and about how good names are important. After finishing his coffee, Leonardo da Vinci retrieves his helicopter sketches from the desk drawer and looks at them one last time before leaving his abode and heading down to the docks. At the pier, Leonardo da Vinci sees Marco Polo moving rapidly up the steps towards Quimbly Street and calls out to him but not before Marco Polo has disappeared into the alleyway. He holds

his rolled-up sketches more tightly in his hand and thinks “Bastard King of Spain” as he passes Christopher Columbus’s ship.

6 Christopher Columbus moves through the streets quietly and without hesitation. He thinks about all of the people he has ever known, together as one entity, and wonders where they are and who they’re with. He buys ice cream in a cone and eats it sitting on the steps.

7 Marco Polo watches birds in a tree through a telescope from his bedroom window. He thinks about eating, about what he could eat. Two of the birds fly out of the tree and dip down close to the earth, one is chasing the other. Marco Polo tries to follow them with his telescope but loses them. He looks for them but can’t find them. He moves his telescope rapidly all along the path the birds took, from the tree towards the earth across a patch of grass. He accidentally sees two elderly people out for a walk. He watches them moving along slowly, not talking to each other, and then zooms in with his scope and looks closely at their faces. Marco Polo feels disgusted by the imperfections on their faces and thinks “Old ass” while pushing the telescope away and leaving the window.

8 Christopher Columbus lay on his bed below deck at four in the afternoon, holding his pillow. He felt badly without knowing why or about what, but knew that eventually he would feel fine and he would get up and go out of his room. Marco Polo lay on his floor near the window looking through it at the blue and white sky. He felt detached from himself and the world, and wondered if there was ever a reason to do anything. Leonardo da Vinci lay sitting in his chair leaned over his desk and his arms folded and his head turned sideways resting on them. He felt unsure of himself and worthless, like he was a fraud and a scam and someone who could never do anything good or get anything right. He thought about Maria Develasia and Leonardo Fibonacci and his own son who didn’t even exist yet. He thought about wanting to have sex with Maria Develasia and then remembered seeing Marco Polo in a hurry the other day. Marco Polo thought about Christopher Columbus, wondering if he’d found the map yet and what he thought of it. Marco Polo wondered why he even gave Christopher Columbus the map and then watched a bird fly through the sky out his window. Christopher Columbus rolled over in his bed and felt the ship rock back and forth, then he closed his eyes.

9 Christopher Columbus drank half coffee half Jameson early on in the morning sitting by the large front window inside the public house. He watched seagulls diving for fish and thought about all the people he would never meet or even hear about. As he finished his coffee, a cruise ship pulled into port and three Irishmen came into the public house asking for drinks. The barmaid was upstairs, so Christopher Columbus served them drinks, two dark beers each, and watched as they drank them one after the other with large slow gulps. After they left he went to his ship and began plotting courses for America. “It will be good to get back to work,” he thought, “it will give me something to do.” Christopher Columbus fell asleep in his armchair and slept until the sun got up high later on in the day, making his quarters very hot. He changed shirts and went up top to lie on the deck, feeling good about there being a slight breeze about.

christopher columbus  

christopher columbus, by matthew savoca for 1492