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The amazing thing was the way that he didn’t seem to know—or maybe just didn’t care—just how far off the wall he had gone, and how demented he seemed, lurching through the crowded concourse, dazed, chewed up and spit out, a bloodstained casualty. As we talked it seemed that he was slowly coming out of the other side of something, some chrysalis of feathers and chicken gore that had left bright flowers blooming on his chest. He looked to be still half in a dream where the rooster runs around without his head and a crinkly little man jumps and cackles like he had done late at night in the deserted mall, buck dancing in the blood and the dust, hammering down his Jack Daniels, giggling in the heat. 2. By the mid-nineties I was teaching college English in Brooklyn and living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. One day I was walking down First Avenue near my apartment when I saw a famous author—someone who was a Manhattan celebrity, primarily, but well known in literary circles everywhere—walking towards me on the sidewalk. He looked detached, very serious, perhaps troubled—and it seemed to me he was looking far off towards something I could not see. But the remarkable thing was that the front of his white button-down dress shirt—no jacket, so it must have been summer—was splattered with splotches of blood, just like Woodrow. It was so shocking that it was like grabbing on to a loose electrical wire, a shot to the solar plexus kind of feeling, because here was someone I had not only read about, I had seen him on television, read his books and essays, seen him in the newspaper, and he was walking towards me looking as if he had been the victim of a violent crime or in a car crash.


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I quickly decided that he must have suffered a bloody nose, which had sprayed down his shirt, and he was not far from home, because I knew where he lived, one of the few celebrities whose home address I knew, mainly because his home was a famous Manhattan literary salon. It was only a few blocks from my apartment. He really did look like he was in a daze, though, and just like Woodrow, he didn’t seem to realize how out of it and shocking he looked, with blood on his white shirt, the famous author in Manhattan appearing in the middle of my day, as a doppelganger for Woodrow. The past, previously sealed, had opened up and entered the present, but changed utterly, Nashville janitor to Manhattan Brahmin, both wearing red and white flags of what appeared to be terrible psychic distress. 3. On most summer weekends in the 1990s I went to a free concert series in Central Park in Manhattan. The park was usually filled on those afternoons with crowds from all over the city, and the music was a representatively eclectic selection—deep roots of the blues performed by Ali Farka Toure, the master musician/farmer from Timbuktu, Mali, a central cultural intersection point in sub-Saharan west Africa; blood boiling Pacific rim reggae performed by a self-proclaimed tree mystic from Okinawa, Shacouchi Kina; blues, honky-tonk and western swing from an Austin, Texas roadhouse king, the mighty Junior Brown; opera on Wednesdays; spoken word on Thursdays. The events were well attended. The bleachers and folding chairs were invariably taken, and the crowds spilled out onto surrounding lawns, filling shade and sunlight alike. It was a place to see all kinds of people, hear great music, and watch the parade. It was a friendly crowd of lively, social people.




Profile for Katya Cummins

Niche Magazine No. 1  

Niche is an online literary magazine that was designed to be limitless. It aims to provide a place where an array of voices, from experimen...

Niche Magazine No. 1  

Niche is an online literary magazine that was designed to be limitless. It aims to provide a place where an array of voices, from experimen...

Profile for nichelit