REVOLUTION HOUSE STAFF June 2011 EXECUTIVE EDITOR Alisha Karabinus MANAGING EDITORS Fati Z. Ahmed Elaina Smith CREATIVE NONFICTION EDITORS Jaime Herndon Jami Nakamura Lin FICTION EDITORS Karen Britten Todd Gray Carol H. Hood Sarah Kamlet Koty Neelis Katie Oldaker POETRY EDITORS Jonathan Dubow Henry W. Leung Karissa Morton Susannah Nevison Staci R. Schoenfeld
Cover photograph “Alcatraz” by Valerie Rubinaccio
Well, here we are. Welcome to the Revolution House. From the vantage of the winding dirt road, the house may not seem like much. Itâ€™s a little old, a little rickety, the doorframe a little crooked. But thereâ€™s pie cooling in WKHNLWFKHQDWGXVN\RXFDQVLWRQWKHEDFNSRUFKDQGZDWFKWKHÂżUHĂ€LHVGDQFH Things happen here. Children grow and learn; they discover fathers, friends, themselves. Foxes chase hens around the yard. In the extra bedroom, an empty bassinet waits. The smell of fresh oak lingers. The walls are alive with words. In March, we decided to start a magazine. I had an idea, a dream, and when I hesitantly shared it with a group of friends, I discovered they had ideas and dreams of WKHLURZQ/LNHPDJLFHYHU\WKLQJIHOOLQWRSODFHZHKDGVSHFLDOLVWVLQSRHWU\LQÂżFWLRQDQGFUHDWLYHQRQÂżFWLRQERWKDUWLVWVH[SHULHQFHGVRFLDOPHGLDSOD\HUVDWHUULÂżFJUDSKLFGHVLJQHUDQGDUHOXFWDQWFRGHU\RXUVWUXO\ :LWKEULFNVDQGERDUGV we began. We built. And we learned something important, a caution weâ€™ll share: Donâ€™t start a magazine on a whim. Itâ€™s hard. There are decisions to be made. Questions that sometimes demand imPHGLDWHDQGGLIÂżFXOWDQVZHUV6NLOOVWKDWPXVWEHGLVFRYHUHGRUUHÂżQHG:HKDGWR OHDUQWRVD\QRDQGRIWHQWRZRQGHUIXOZRUN:HKDGWRGHÂżQHDQDHVWKHWLFWKDW would accommodate the wildly varying tastes of sixteen people. How did we manage that? The answer: carefully, and with consideration. But we found our way, at last, to the house we dreamed of on those nights before we were editors, when we were just a group a struggling writers commiserating on )DFHERRN$QGDVLWWXUQVRXW"6WDUWLQJDPDJD]LQHRQDZKLPLVQÂśWVXFKDEDGLGHD after all. Not if youâ€™re willing to carry that whim as far as you need to go. Now we turn it over to our newest tenants, the writers whose work is featured in WKHVHSDJHV6SHQGDOLWWOHWLPHZLWKWKHP,WÂśOOEHZRUWK\RXUZKLOH Thanks for everything, and enjoy your stay. Alisha Karabinus
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Still Life with Moving Parts & Europa . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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Lunatics/Lunar-tics Courtney Thomas Vance
Like Cycles of Water I Return to Sky.
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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Thomas Michael McDade
Prince and Sway .
And Still the Evil .
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The Barn . &
Lunch and Love in the Cottage . Jessica Poli
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Space Cases Patrick Henry
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Sonnet Addressed To My Mother . Jessica Plante
The Elephant Graveyard . 9k`d]qOYc]Ăš]d\
How to Boil an Egg Deanna Larsen
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NESTING Brooke Bailey In some ways, she was the love of my lifeâ€”so similar we wanted to fuck the same people, needed the same basic things for survival: jugs of cheap wine, bluegrass low on the stereo, a cause to busy our hands when they were without a manâ€™s back or belly to stroke. We were absent-minded in the same ways, even, always leaving feta crumbs on the face of the goddess painted on our kitchen table or leaving our summer dresses in the dryer to wrinkle. We took one another for grantedâ€”we thought we could be independent together, whatever that meant. We forgot to be considerate. 6KHOHIWPHIRUDPDQ,ZRXOGQÂśWKHOSKHUKDXOWKHER[HVWKDWEUXLVHG her fair arms, causing storm clouds to cover her constellations of Irish IUHFNOHV,QVWHDG,VDWLQP\URRPDQGOLVWHQHGWR76(OLRWRQWDSHâ€œApril is the cruellest monthâ€Śâ€? sounded completely wrong when I was brooding LQODWH-XO\EXW,NQHZKRZPXFKVKHKDWHGLW,IVKHFDPHKRPHWRÂżQGPH OLVWHQLQJWR(OLRWVKHWHQGHGWRGRD8WXUQEDFNRXWRIWKHPRXWKRIRXU DSDUWPHQW6KHNQHZZKDWLWPHDQW,WZRXOGNHHSKHURXWRIP\EHGURRP and therefore keep her from asking of me the one thing I couldnâ€™t give her. I would have given her anything else. Hers was the body I found excuses to curl into after watching docuPHQWDULHVZRUVHWKDQKRUURUPRYLHVĂ€LFNHUDFURVVWKHEOXUU\VFUHHQRIRXU television. When we went to dances at the Apple Barn and I had no partner, VKHZRXOGEHP\OHDGDQGZDOW]PHDFURVVWKHGXVW\ZRRGHQĂ€RRU2QFH summer got here and I could detach myself from my sullenness, my sobriety, and I blossomed like everything else, she would bed my surplus of lovHUV7KHUHZDVDIDFH,ZRXOGPDNHRYHUWKHĂ€LFNHURIRXUFDQGOHVRYHUWKH steam still coming off of our food, and she would know which one I didnâ€™t want. All of the men were desirableâ€”that was never a problem. It was hard to be jealous when there were no wrong men in our house the same way there are nearly no wrong answers in literature. There was always something redeeming, something workable: the way theyâ€™d burrow into us, the way theyâ€™d sing Don McLean as they drifted off to sleep, sometimes the way theyâ€™d be gracious enough to disappear before we woke in the morning. We had a system and we were never alone. 6
I had no whiskers to scratch her neck in sleep and my body couldnâ€™t FDXVHKHUVWRĂ€RZHU$WWKHHQGRIWKHGD\,ZRXOGKDYHGRQHKHUELGGLQJLI she had asked. In the morning, I cooked her beignets to round out her body the only way I knew how, catching the oil where it popped off the pan the way I could not catch the sparks that came off her hair when she stood under the porch light with one of those cloves that tasted like Christmas spilling scented smoke from her hands. I painted her Kokopellis and orchids. I hid fertility charms around the apartment. I had seen the way she eyed EDELHVLQWKHLUVWUROOHUVZKHQZHZDONHGWR6XQGD\EUXQFKWKHZD\VKHH\HG maternity magazines at the organic grocery store where weâ€™d load our carts with baguettes so long they could only have been made for ravenous lovers. Those, or girls like usâ€”whatever that meant. My current lover is good with his hands. He makes banjos with wood from the forest that shelters us when we need to hide and explore one another in the fold of the mountain. He grows hops and makes ale for us to drink in his garden. I asked him to make me a bassinet one night after blowing cool air on him, chilling the sweat that covered his body after a particularly acrobatic bout of lovemaking. A gift for a friend, I said, before licking the rivulets off of him. He had perched himself up on his elbows to look at me and make sure my belly wasnâ€™t rounded. Leaning in to stroke it and feeling no psychic kick, he smiled and he nodded. At night when I get home from work each night, I prepare the extra bedroom. The bassinet, still smelling of oak, sits in the corner. Pressed Ă€RZHUVKDQJIURPWKHFHLOLQJLQWKHSODFHRIDPRELOH :KHQKHÂżQGVRXWWKDWVKHLVFDUU\LQJ,NQRZWKDWKHZLOOOHDYHKHU When she comes back with child, there wonâ€™t be anything she could need that I canâ€™t give to her.
L@=KOGJ<KO9DDGO=JOGF<=JKO@9LKL@=HGAFL Amorak Huey A memory: July night, pickup parked at lip of abandoned quarry, warm beer in cans & a girl you just might love. You tell her all the same stories about the old country, high fog & coldstone castles, craggy coasts & dangerous shards of history. These are not your storiesâ€”you were born in a Kentucky coal camp where your father sucked black dust until it killed him & your mother drank herself into the dirt shortly afterâ€” EXW\RXUJUDQGIDWKHUFDPHIURP6FRWODQG you always did have more questions than ambitions. (YHU\WKLQJLPSRUWDQWLQ\RXUOLIH happened two decades ago, an ocean away. That girl wasnâ€™t wired for life on the road so it made sense ZKHQVKHOHIWIRUDEXLOGHUZKRUHWURÂżWKRPHV WRVXUYLYHHDUWKTXDNHV6RPHVWUXFWXUHV were never meant to stay put. Another highway groans by beneath your tires, rumble strips barking if you slide outside the lines. Waiting somewhere in the breathless dark: bright lights, crowd, applause, that mercury-silver compensation, night after night tasting the sharpest edge & spitting it out.
CONJOINED Jen Marquardt
*ZHQDQG+DUROGKDGEHHQERUQDWWDFKHGDWWKHEDFNRIWKHKHDG(YHU\WKLQJ HOVHZDVQRUPDOHYHU\RQHKDGDOOWKHLUÂżQJHUVDQGWRHV$WWKDWWLPHWKH surgery to separate them was not very advanced, too much blood loss, and WKH GRFWRU UHFRPPHQGHG OHDYLQJ WKHP DV WKH\ ZHUH 7KHLU PRWKHU (PLO\ DJUHHG 7KHLU IDWKHU ZDV RQH RI WZR PHQ (PLO\ PHW RQ D VLQJOHV FUXLVH Neither of them knew about the twins or got a vote about the surgery. 6R(PLO\KDGDFDUVHDWPDGHIRUWKHPZLWKDQDGMXVWDEOHEDFNDQG they sat on the bench seat, Gwen facing one window, Harold facing the other. They grew up like that, back-to-back. They sat back-to-back in the middle of the sofa, a set of feet on each armrest, which had to be reupholstered twice. If one of them moved the wrong way, it stretched the skin that connected them and they would both experience some pain. They learned to hold their heads very straight and very still. They wore a lot of button-up shirts. When they ZDONHG +DUROG ZDONHG IRUZDUG DQG *ZHQ ZDONHG EDFNZDUG 6RPHWLPHV VKHFKDWWHGZLWKZKRPHYHUZDVEHKLQGKHU6KHJRWYHU\JRRGDWH[SODLQLQJ their condition, learning later that this candidness was disarming to people who might otherwise gawk or be unkind. Gwen became the charming one and Harold was the one who knew where they were going. 6RPHDGYDQFHVZHUHPDGHLQWKHVHSDUDWLRQVXUJHU\VKRUWO\EHIRUH WKHWZLQVWXUQHGHLJKWDQGZKHQ(PLO\EURXJKWLWXSWKH\ERWKFULHG â€œWhy?â€? said Gwen. â€œIt would be so weird,â€? said Harold. (PLO\ZRUULHGWKDWVKHZDVOHWWLQJWKHPJURZXSWRRVWUDQJHO\WKDW maybe they would be happier if Gwen could have sleepovers with other girls and Harold could play sports or whatever it was that boys did. â€œWhat happens when you start dating?â€? she asked. â€œWhat even happens when you XVH WKH EDWKURRP"Â´ 2I FRXUVH (PLO\ KDG NQRZQ KRZ WKH\ QHJRWLDWHG WKH bathroom when they were smaller, but things had to be different now. â€œWe have a system,â€? Gwen said. â€œWe have different boundaries than other people. Itâ€™s not a bad thing.â€?
:KHQ WKH\ WXUQHG WKLUWHHQ (PLO\ SXVKHG WKH LVVXH D OLWWOH KDUGHU â€œYouâ€™re going to have urges,â€? is the way she phrased it. This is when the twins explained that they had had urges for a while now. â€œWeâ€™re just very aware that somebody always knows,â€? Harold said. â€œItâ€™s a little like being Catholic, I think.â€? â€œI think itâ€™s made us very aware,â€? Gwen said. They made a show of nodding, Haroldâ€™s face tilting up while Gwenâ€™s tilted down, then they switched. Like a seesaw. Âł<RXÂśUHWKLUWHHQÂ´(PLO\VDLGÂł<RXÂśUHQRWVXSSRVHGWREHDZDUHÂ´%XW they went on nodding, grinning now. The issue of the surgery came up again when they turned eighteen and JRWDFFHSWHGWRGLIIHUHQWFROOHJHV(PLO\PDGHYHJHWDULDQODVDJQDZLWKJDUOLF bread and, during dinner, pointed out that Harold could not go to the Art 6FKRRORI&KLFDJRZKLOH*ZHQZHQWWRWKH8QLYHUVLW\RI:DVKLQJWRQXQOHVV some changes were made. â€œWho needs college?â€? Harold said. â€œWe could become circus freaks. 2UVWDUWDEDQG*ZHQGRO\QKDVEHHQZDQWLQJWROHDUQJXLWDUÂ´ Âł,WKLQNZHVKRXOGFRQVLGHUWKHVXUJHU\Â´*ZHQVDLG6KHIHOW+DUROG VWLIIHQ ZKHQ VKH VDLG LW *ZHQ WRRN WKH ORZHU KDOI RI (PLO\ÂśV JDUOLF EUHDG from her plate and ripped off the crust. Harold took a breath. â€œWe could be famous,â€? he said. â€œWeâ€™d be huge in Japan.â€? *ZHQFRXOGIHHOKLVULEFDJHPRYH6RPHWLPHVVKHFRXOGIHHOKLVKHDUW but not now. Gwen cut her lasagna into pieces without eating it. Her fork made polite tinks against her plate. â€œI have to brush my teeth,â€? Harold said. It was a thing he did when he was nervous. They both had good teeth. Gwen and Harold stood up and walked down the hall toward the EDWKURRP*ZHQZDONLQJEDFNZDUGVVKUXJJHGKHUVKRXOGHUVDW(PLO\ZKR gave her a little nod. Then she looked back at the table. Gwen thought she saw her mother touch the back of her own head and wince. They closed the bathroom door and Gwen listened to Harold brushing KLVWHHWK6KHEHQWEDFNZDUGVRKHFRXOGVSLWLQWRWKHVLQN$QRUQDWHJROG hand mirror was hanging from a nail. Gwen had bought it at a garage sale for WKUHHGROODUVWKRXJK+DUROGKDGSURWHVWHGWKDWLWZDVWDFN\6KHWRRNLWDQG held it up so that she could see Haroldâ€™s face in the wall mirror. 10
â€œHi,â€? he said, looking at her. â€œHi yourself,â€? she said. â€œHow are you?â€? +DUROG VKRRN KLV KHDG VOLJKWO\ DQG *ZHQÂśV KHDG PRYHG WRR 6KH stiffened her neck and they each held still. â€œBut I like you,â€? said Harold. They WXUQHGVLGHZD\VDQGXVHGWKHPLUURUWRORRNDWWKHLUSURÂżOH7KHLUKDLUZDV the same color blonde and Gwen kept hers longer in the frontâ€”just below her jawâ€”but shorter in the back, the same length as Haroldâ€™s. It looked like they shared one giant head. Gwen hooked her elbows with his and they pulled their backs together. It was the way that they hugged. â€œI like you, too,â€? Gwen said. â€œBut arenâ€™t you tired of being a freak?â€? â€œWeâ€™re not,â€? said Harold. â€œI donâ€™t think weâ€™re freaks.â€? 7KH\KDGWKHVXUJHU\DQ\ZD\7KHUHZDVQRJRRGUHDVRQQRWWR(YHQ+DUROG ÂżQDOO\DGPLWWHGWKDW When they were laid back-to-back on the operating table, the anesthesiologist put them to sleep one at a time. Gwen listened to Haroldâ€™s EUHDWKLQJ FKDQJH 6KH IHOW KLV EDFN VOXPS DJDLQVW KHUV DQG VKH VWDUWHG WR cry. â€œNothing to worry about,â€? the doctor said, holding the breathing apparatus over her mouth. â€œGood. Breathe. Good.â€? They woke up in separate beds, facing each other. â€œHarold, thatâ€™s \RXUIDFHÂ´*ZHQVDLG6KHZRQGHUHGKRZVKHFRXOGEHVHHLQJKLVIDFHDQG WKHQVKHUHPHPEHUHGDQGWRXFKHGWKHEDQGDJHDWWKHEDFNRIKHUKHDG6KH would start most mornings like this, at least for a while, reminding herself of what had happened. â€œMy head hurts,â€? said Harold. He shut his eyes. Gwenâ€™s head hurt too, but she was able to get up and use the bathroom. :DONLQJIHOWVWUDQJHQRZ6KHKDGWROHDQDJDLQVWZDOOVDQGGRRUIUDPHV When she came back, she sat on the edge of Haroldâ€™s bed. The stand EHWZHHQ WKHLU EHGV KHOG FDUGV DQG EDOORRQV 2QH RI WKH FDUGV ZDV IURP Gwenâ€™s friends. They had written something about being able to have a real girlsâ€™ night. The word â€œrealâ€? was underlined. Harold had once asked her ZKDWKDSSHQHGDWJLUOVÂśQLJKWV3LOORZÂżJKWV"/HVELDQPDNHRXWV"Âł+HOOLI, know,â€? she had said. 11
Gwen picked up a heart-shaped box full of chocolate. A Get Well card was taped over the shiny â€œI love youâ€? on the lid. â€œWas this a mistake?â€? she asked. â€œI feel awful. It must be a mistake.â€? â€œI think weâ€™re both just going to feel awful for a while,â€? said Harold. 6KHOD\GRZQQH[WWRKLPDQGWKH\ORRNHGDWHDFKRWKHUÂśVIDFHIRUD long time. â€œYou have a mole,â€? said Harold. He touched a spot under her chin. He had never been able to see this part of her face before. They didnâ€™t know what to say then and turned onto their sides, easing their backs together. After the surgery, Gwen and Harold were in physical therapy for a long time. They would do neck exercises and relearn how to walk. Gwen would be in physical therapy longer than Harold, strengthening her quadriceps and learning how to move forward. â€œLike a normal person,â€? Harold teased. At home, Gwen practiced walking and Harold walked backwards in front of her. â€œYouâ€™re going so slow,â€? he said. â€œCanâ€™t you speed up?â€? Âł6XUHÂ´ *ZHQ WROG KLP Âł%XW , GRQÂśW OLNH WKLQJV FRPLQJ DW PH VR quickly.â€? +DUROG VWDUWHG VFKRRO ÂżUVW *ZHQ DQG (PLO\ GURYH KLP WR &KLFDJR DQG PRYHGKLPLQWRKLVGRUP+LVKDLUZDVÂżOOLQJLQRYHUWKHSODFHZKHUHWKH\ KDG EHHQ VWXFN WRJHWKHU 7KH VNXOO ZDV D OLWWOH Ă€DWWHU WKDQ LW VKRXOG KDYH been, but the doctor said that Harold had a good chin, that it balanced out KLVSURÂżOH Before they left Harold in his new place, they went out for pizza. This is Harold in Chicago, Gwen thought as they walked around the city, looking LQWREDUVDQGVKRSV6KHWULHGWRÂż[KLPWRWKLVEDFNGURSRIWDOOEXLOGLQJV QH[WWRWKHULYHU6KHZDONHGEDFNZDUGVLQIURQWRIKLP:DONLQJEDFNZDUGV ZDV PRUH GLIÂżFXOW QRZ Âł$UH \RX JRLQJ WR ZHDU WLHV"Â´ VKH DVNHG +DUROG hadnâ€™t worn many ties before; it took too much time to thread between their necks. â€œMaybe,â€? said Harold. He put his hands on Gwenâ€™s shoulders to steer her around a group of people while he thought about this. He seemed pleased with the idea. â€œIâ€™m going to grow my hair long,â€? Gwen said. 7KDWHYHQLQJ*ZHQDQG(PLO\GURYHKRPHIURP&KLFDJRÂł*RRGE\HÂ´ 12
+DUROG VDLG WR (PLO\ KXJJLQJ KHU Âł*RRGE\HÂ´ KH VDLG WR *ZHQ +H KHOG onto her a little longer. It was strange to feel his arms around her like that with their chests together. They had always hooked elbows before. Hugging felt insincere. 2Q WKH ZD\ KRPH (PLO\ WULHG WR WDON WR KHU 7KH\ KDG QHYHU EHHQ WRJHWKHU ZLWKRXW +DUROG Âł6R ZKDW LV LW OLNH ORVLQJ D KXQGUHG DQG VL[W\ SRXQGV"Â´(PLO\VDLG â€œItâ€™s weird,â€? Gwen said. â€œMy head hurts all the time.â€? Âł/LNHDKHDGDFKH"Â´(PLO\DVNHG Âł1RÂ´*ZHQVDLG6KHWRXFKHGWKHEDFNRIKHUKHDGÂł/LNH+DUROGLV moving the wrong way.â€? Âł%XW KH LVQÂśW WKHUHÂ´ (PLO\ VDLG 6KH JODQFHG DW *ZHQ VLWWLQJ XS VWUDLJKWLQWKHSDVVHQJHUVHDWZLQFLQJDWWKHUHĂ€HFWLYHSRVWVDVWKH\SDVVHG them. â€œThis is what being lonely is, isnâ€™t it?â€? Gwen said. Âł7KDWÂśVUXGHÂ´VDLG(PLO\Âł,ÂśPULJKWKHUHÂ´ Âł<RXNQRZZKDW,PHDQÂ´*ZHQVDLGDQG(PLO\VDLGVKHZDVQÂśWVXUH that she did. $ ZHHN ODWHU *ZHQ PRYHG LQWR KHU RZQ GRUP LQ 6HDWWOH +HU URRPPDWH Ani talked about her boyfriend and while Gwen didnâ€™t really care about the boyfriend, she had never been talked to about things like that before. When Ani learned Gwenâ€™s story, she dragged her out to a club and Gwen danced ZLWKHYHU\ERG\$QRWKHUQLJKW$QLKDGDVPDOOYLHZLQJSDUW\RIDÂżOPDERXW FRQMRLQHGWZLQV7KHÂżOPKDG&KHULQLWDQGDEXQFKRISHRSOHFURZGHGLQWR their dorm room and sat on their beds. Afterwards, Gwen answered their questions and showed them her scar. â€œWhat was it like to be separated?â€? one girl asked. â€œItâ€™s awful,â€? Gwen said. â€œWhy did you do it then?â€? someone else asked. Gwen shook her head. â€œI guess I thought it would be easier this way.â€? â€œIs it?â€? â€œNo.â€? After that, the girls told her what it was like not to be attached to anyone, what it was like to kiss boys at thirteen, to do other things. They 13
took her to a party where she kissed a boy with a metal stud in his tongue. 6KHEHFDPHPLOGO\IDPRXVRQFDPSXV â€œYou wouldnâ€™t believe what these people do,â€? she told Harold when he phoned. Âł<HVÂ´+DUROGVDLGÂł+HUHWRRÂ´6RKHZDVH[SHULHQFLQJWKHZRUOGDV well. Gwen wondered if heâ€™d experienced more than she had. â€œMy head hurts like crazy,â€? she said. â€œIt was a terrible idea. Iâ€™m so sorry, Harold.â€? â€œItâ€™s okay,â€? said Harold. â€œYouâ€™re okay.â€? â€œDoesnâ€™t your head hurt?â€? Gwen asked. â€œNot really,â€? he said. â€œNot anymore.â€? 6KH WRRN XS UXQQLQJ 6KH DQG +DUROG KDG QHYHU EHHQ DEOH WR UXQ They had been chased by a dog once and the two of them scrambled sideways before Harold hooked their elbows together and lifted her up, her feet kicking in the air. Now Gwen made long loops up and down the hills RI6HDWWOH6KHJRWORVWDQGUDQKHUZD\RXWEHJDQWRNQRZWKHSODFH6KH learned where the locals drank their coffee and that the rain came down not LQWKHKHDY\GURSVVKHZDVXVHGWREXWLQVWHDGLQDÂżQHSHUYDVLYHPLVW6KH memorized bus routes and the schedule of the Monorail, learned the history RIWKHÂś:RUOGÂśV)DLU6KHIDLOHGWRDSSUHFLDWHWKHDUFKLWHFWXUHRIWKH6SDFH 1HHGOHRUWKH6FLHQFH&HQWHUZKLFKKHUIULHQGVIRXQGDVLJQRIJRRGWDVWH $ER\QDPHG6HEDVWLDQWRRNKHUWKHUHRQDGDWHRQFH7KH\URGHWKH elevator quietly and he took pictures of her peering out over the city, her KDLUÂ˛MXVWSDVWKHUHDUVQRZÂ˛Ă€\LQJDOORYHUWKHSODFH â€œMy dad proposed to my mom in the rotating restaurant here,â€? he said. â€œItâ€™s really expensive.â€? Gwen pictured a couple moving around in a slow circle, taking in the whole city from a single point. Âł,WÂśVNLQGRIDVWUDQJHVWUXFWXUHÂ´*ZHQVDLG6KHWKRXJKWDERXWWKLV on the elevator ride down, willfully attaching to someone, and was sick into a plastic bag containing a mug she had bought in the gift shop. Âł,ÂśPQRWJRLQJWRSURSRVHWR\RXÂ´6HEDVWLDQVDLG,WZDVMXVWRFFXUULQJ to him to pull back her hair. He pushed some of it out of her face. â€œI know,â€? she said. Âł&DQ,VHHLW"Â´6HEDVWLDQDVNHGÂł7KHVFDU"Â´ â€œWhy didnâ€™t you?â€? Harold asked over the phone that night. â€œIt seemed obscene,â€? Gwen said. 14
â€œWhy did you throw up?â€? â€œI got vertigo.â€? Harold said that she had never had vertigo before and Gwen told him to be quiet. â€œYou donâ€™t have anything like it there. You canâ€™t understand.â€? â€œWe had a Worldâ€™s Fair,â€? he said, and talked about the Ferris Wheel. He had ridden the one on Navy Pier with friends who had grown up in &KLFDJR7KH\KDGHDWHQIXQQHOFDNHVDQGVOLSSHGDĂ€DVNRQWRWKHULGHÂł,ÂśOO take you when you come,â€? he said. When she did visit, Harold took her on the architecture boat tour up and down the Chicago River. It was fall and the leaves were almost done FKDQJLQJ:KHQWKHGRFHQWPHQWLRQHGWKH0RQWDXN%XLOGLQJZDVWKHÂżUVW skyscraper, Harold leaned in and whispered, â€œI kissed a girl there.â€? Gwen punched him in the arm and tried to grin. Afterwards, they met some of his friends for sushi. The friends were loud and Gwen was surprised that some of them were girls. None of her friends were boys. Haroldâ€™s friends were pretty girls who laughed a lot. 2QH RI WKHPÂ˛ZDV KHU QDPH 6DUD"Â˛DVNHG *ZHQ D ORW RI TXHVWLRQV 6DUD was probably the one who had kissed Harold by the Montauk Building. But maybe not. Maybe it was all of them. They didnâ€™t ride the Ferris Wheel. â€œNext time,â€? said Harold when he dropped her off at the airport. He pulled her bags out of the trunk while they PDGHDUUDQJHPHQWVIRU+DUROGWRYLVLWKHULQ6HDWWOHWRVHHMXVWKRZDZIXO WKH6SDFH1HHGOHUHDOO\ZDV Âł2ND\Â´*ZHQVDLGÂł*LYHPHDKXJÂ´6KHWXUQHGDURXQGDQGZDLWHG to feel Haroldâ€™s back against hers, to hook their elbows together, but he spun her around again. They faced each other. â€œWe can hug like this now,â€? he said, arms around each other. â€œLike normal people,â€? Gwen said, her face in his neck. â€œYeah,â€? Harold said. â€œDonâ€™t cry. Being normal isnâ€™t so bad.â€? â€œIt hurts,â€? Gwen said. â€œIt really hurts. Letâ€™s just stand like we used to for a minute, okay? Just for a minute.â€? 6KHIHOW+DUROGÂśVDUPVWLJKWHQDURXQGKHUÂł,GRQÂśWWKLQNWKDWÂśVDJRRG idea,â€? he said. 6WDQGLQJLQOLQHIRUWKHVHFXULW\FKHFNSRLQW*ZHQWRRNWKUHHH[WUD aspirin. 15
2Q WKH SODQH WKHUH ZHUH ORWV RI EDELHV Âł,WÂśV JRLQJ WR EH D VKULHNIHVWÂ´ said the man in the seat next to hers. He had an eye patch and wore the FDPRXĂ€DJHFORWKLQJWKDWVROGLHUVZHDU*ZHQJXHVVHGKHZDVFRPLQJKRPH from the Army. â€œGreat,â€? Gwen said. â€œA shriek-fest.â€? The aspirin was kicking in, HYHU\WKLQJ KDSSHQLQJ WKURXJK D QLFH IRJ 6KH EXFNOHG KHU VHDW EHOW DQG UXEEHGDQWLELRWLFORWLRQLQWRKHUSDOPV3ODQHVDOZD\VIHOWGLUW\WRKHU6KH folded her hands in her lap and looked at all the well-behaved heads nestled into their seat backs. No one wore hats anymore. Neither Gwen nor the man next to her spoke again until they had WDNHQ RII FORXGV Ă€LFNLQJ E\ WKH ZLQGRZV DQG D Ă€LJKW DWWHQGDQW FDPH E\ with juice and soda. The man asked for cranberry juice and when he reached IRUWKHFXS*ZHQVDZWKDWKHKDGRQO\RQHDUP6KHQRWLFHGSDUWRIKLVOHJ was missing too, cut off just below the knee. â€œFucking land mine,â€? he said to her. Was he smiling? He must have EHHQLQKLVWKLUWLHVDQG*ZHQOLNHGWKDWKHGLGQÂśWÂżOWHUKLPVHOIIRUKHU â€œIâ€™m sorry,â€? she said. Âł(KÂ´WKHPDQVKUXJJHGÂł7KH\JDYHPHDPHGDODQGPRQH\IRULW,ÂśOO be alright.â€? The man explained that the wounds used to hurt. The hand that wasnâ€™t there would itch or the missing calf muscle would cramp up. â€œThey call it phantom limb pain,â€? he said. He told her about all the medication WKH\KDGSXWKLPRQWRÂż[WKHSKDQWRPOLPESDLQDQGKRZQRQHRIWKLVKDG worked until he met Dr. Ramachandran, who had set up a mirror. â€œHe held it right down my center,â€? the soldier said. He held his hand up to his nose, OLNHRQHRIWKH6WRRJHVZDUGLQJRIIDSRNHLQWKHH\HVÂł6RLQWKHUHĂ€HFWLRQP\ good hand looks like my missing hand, my good leg looks like my missing leg. And I can move them around. I can stretch or scratch or whatever I need.â€? â€œAnd that works?â€? Gwen asked. The soldier shrugged. â€œIt helps.â€? Gwen waited until the seatbelt sign was off, then went to the bathroom. 6KHEHQWEDFNZDUGVRYHUWKHVLQNVRWKDWWKHEDFNRIKHUKHDGWRXFKHGWKH mirror. Then she opened her make-up compact up to see what this looked OLNHWZR*ZHQVEDFNWREDFN6KHZDWFKHGKHUVHOIWXUQKHUKHDGWKLVZD\ and that way, up and down. Then she straightened out, her jaw level, the 16
*ZHQLQWKHPLUURUZDVOHYHO6KHVWD\HGOLNHWKDWIRUDZKLOHKROGLQJYHU\ still, feeling the coolness of the mirror against the back of her head. Finally, when another passenger tapped on the door, Gwen went back to her seat. â€œHello, Baby,â€? the soldier said when she sat down, a thing WKDWVKRFNHGKHUXQWLOVKHVDZWKDWKHZDVGLUHFWLQJKLVZRUGVWRWKHĂ€RRU in front of him. Pretty soon, she saw a baby appear from beneath the seat, SXOOLQJ LWVHOI IRUZDUG ZLWK LWV WLQ\ ÂżQJHUV ,W KDG VRPHKRZ PDGH LWV ZD\ around the metal apparatus of the chair and Gwen worried heâ€”it looked OLNHDKHÂ˛PLJKWKLWKLVKHDG6KHZDQWHGWRFKHHUZKHQKHFUDZOHGRXWIURP under the seat and began to stand up, holding onto the soldierâ€™s good leg for support. Âł2KÂ´ VDLG WKH ZRPDQ LQ IURQW RI WKHP Âł$LGDQÂ´ 6KH GLGQÂśW VHHP ZRUULHG$LGDQSUREDEO\ZHQWPLVVLQJDOOWKHWLPHÂł6RUU\Â´VKHVDLGWRWKH VROGLHU ZKR VDLG HYHU\WKLQJ ZDV ÂżQH ÂżQH +H OHDQHG GRZQ DQG VFRRSHG up Aidan, standing up and handing him back to his mother like it was no trouble at all.
STILL LIFE WITH MOVING PARTS Michael Simon
What are they eating in the afterlife? Pine shadows and the spider gaze of daylilies, ZKLWHÂżUH%RQQDUGÂśVĂ€HHFHRIJUDSHVLQDERZO his yellow auras for peachesâ€”they tell me ,ZRQÂśWKDYHFKLOGUHQ0\IDWKHUÂżOOHGKLVYLROLQ with water from the sink and played into morning. Fear keeps me moving like a tree in the mirror. Autumn strips me, down WRWKHKHDUWEHDWWKHEDUN2QHQLJKWKHORFNHGPH in the bathroom; one night, crying and knocking, KHVHWPHIUHH2ULVLW%DFRQÂśV3RSHVKRXWLQJ in my ear? Mouth as landscape. Tongue an underground VWUHDP6W\[RU/HWKHÂ˛WRFU\LVWROHWODQJXDJH go for a while. Pain, you belong WRP\PRWKHUWRWKLVODYHQGHUVWLFNĂ€RDWLQJ in the bath, where the prune oval of a newbornâ€™s head goes under, comes up. How long ZLOOWKHGHDGZHDURXUVNLQV"6WDUYHGRIFRORU and salt, a beardâ€™s scruff, a broomâ€™s. They peer through your eyes, their grievances rise in your throat, choppy and off-key, sewer noise, song scattered in the shower. Who was it whistled in his sleepâ€”Rimbaud? The underworldâ€™s high caverns are stacked with Rembrandts, VelĂĄsquez, whatever they could smuggle through the needleâ€™s eye. And what my fatherâ€™s mind KHOGRQWROLNHDÂżVWZKHQZHULQVHGKLVIDFH and straightened his arms through the arms of his suit.
EUROPA You must have been a bull in that other life, butting the ground with a wet brow tumbling from your mother. You toss your head when I look over my shoulder, you nibble my skin like a sculptor nicking ice from his swan. The moon breaks into shards, into sparrow hawks Ă€LWWLQJRYHUWUHHVDQGP\KHDUWEHDWVOLSV and steadies. I miss my fatherâ€™s hall, but I know these things take time, take sweat and labor. Knossos begins in the womb; its walls are soft. No arrows scar them, no chargers kick up dust. Alleys curl inward to a central fountain not yet tiled or pulsing with jets. Those who live there wear blue, tie vines around their eyes, and grope among doorways. Wisteria blooms over back garden porticos. They follow its scent; they develop toes. These are my children and I am their queen and my long hair drags in the surf. I cling to your neck as you plow the waves, and drop an ivory comb for ballast. Whatâ€™s divine? Pasting mortar to brick, lathing a juniper throne. (YHU\FUDFNLQWKHEXOOÂśVVNXOO is a prayer I dust ZLWKP\ÂżQHKDLUHGEUXVK
LUNATIC/LUNAR-TICS Courtney Thomas Vance 1. The protagonist of this narrative is psychotic. Check it: This womanâ€”weâ€™ll call her â€˜Meâ€™ and weâ€™ll call her â€˜Psychoâ€™â€”sits on KHU WZLQVL]HG EHG QH[W WR D PDQ :HÂśOO FDOO WKLV PDQ ÂľWKH 2QH :KR 5HGHHPVWKH8QLYHUVHRI$OOLWV8JOLQHVVDQG,QMXVWLFHÂś:HÂśOOFDOOKLPÂľ-RKQ Doe.â€™ â€˜Meâ€™ is tapping away frantically at the keys of her laptop, pressing buttons in order to make letters transform into words, and then words transform into sentences, then sentences into paragraphs, into pages, chaptersâ€”et cetera, et ceteraâ€”until she has written the Great American Novel. The curtains on the window hang half-open, a vestige from when it was light outside and the protagonist wanted to invite sunshine into her life. Now that itâ€™s night, perhaps there is a full moon, as fat and rotund DV D SUHJQDQW EHOO\ DQG LWV IURVWZKLWH JORZ LOOXPLQDWHV WKH ÂżJXUH RI WKH protagonist through the glass pane. The perfect circle, achingly bright like an angry blister, is an allusion to that fabled monsterâ€”half wolf and half PDQ$IRUHVKDGRZLQJRIYLROHQFH2UPD\EHWKHPRRQLVMXVWDFUHVFHQW Âľ3V\FKRÂśGRHVQRWPDNHDSRLQWRINHHSLQJWUDFNRIOXQDUDFWLYLW\6KHLVQRW a stargazer. While she writes her masterpiece, John Doe stands up. He stretches. 6PLOLQJKHORRNVRQORYLQJO\DWWKHJLUOKHKDVFRPHWRUHJDUGDVKLVVLJQLÂżFDQWRWKHU7KH\VKDUHDURRPIXOO\DZDUHRIWKHFRQVRIFRKDELWDWLRQ at their age; but even having been together three years now, theyâ€™re always making bad decisions on the otherâ€™s account. Theyâ€™re wildly devoted to their togetherness, and that wildness infects their surroundings. 6HHWKHLUOLYLQJVSDFHLVFKDRV%R[HUVPLQJOHZLWKEUDVPLQJOHZLWK books on Marxism mingle with combat boots mingle with half-consumed ERWWOHV RI ERXUERQ WRS VKHOI GLVWLOOHG LQ VPDOO EDWFKHV 5RZDQÂśV &UHHN :KLVWOHSLJ 'HDWKÂśV 'RRU ,WÂśV HQWURS\ DW LWV ÂżQHVW DQG WKH ZRPDQ 0H RIWHQ UHĂ€HFWV WKDW WKH WHQGHQF\ IRU URRPV WR JHW PHVV\ DQG GLVVROYH LQWR 20
disorder is not unlike the tendency for her brain to slip quietly and unasVXPLQJO\LQWRPDGQHVV6KHÂśVFUD]\OLNHWKDWDQGKHUPLQGLVQÂśWULJKW â€œIâ€™m heading to the kitchen for a snack. May I get something for you?â€? WKH2QH:KR5HGHHPVWKH8QLYHUVHVD\V2UVRPHWKLQJOLNHWKDW7KRVHDUH likely not his exact words, because memory is slippery, trickyâ€”a cunning fox. And Psychoâ€™s memory, perhaps, is even more in question than normal because of her diseased mind. %XWNQRZWKLV6KHKROGVRQWRWKLQJVKROGVRQWRWKHPWLJKWO\:KDW she lacks in sanity she makes up for in her voracious collection of lifeâ€™s details, in her keen eye, in a way of observing things from the position of an outsider. 6RZKHQVKHUHPHPEHUVWKDWWKHPDQVD\VÂł,ÂśPKHDGLQJWRWKHNLWFKen for a snack. May I get something for you?â€?â€”rest assured that those words are very close to what he actually says. Âł1RWKDQNVÂ´0HVD\V6KHÂśVULGLQJRXWKHUFUHDWLYHLQVSLUDWLRQOLNHD dope high, barely paying attention to her boyfriend. And if the scene were to end here, it would be a dull thing, indeed. :KHUHLVWKHFRQĂ€LFW"7KHUHLVQRQH3V\FKRLVKDSS\WRZULWHDQGKHUER\friend John Doe is happy to go to the kitchen to get a snack. But something happens. Chemicals in the womanâ€™s brain that doctors GRQÂśWXQGHUVWDQGPRXQWDFUXHODQGXQH[SHFWHGDWWDFN6DYDJHV+HDUWOHVV substances. They move wickedly and wildly through nerve tunnels, crossing barriers that they shouldnâ€™t. While her boyfriend is about to leave for the kitchen, she throws something at himâ€”maybe a pillow. John Doe assumes that this is in jest. He tosses it back gently, a hesitant smile on his face. But the woman is having QRQHRILW6KHVWDQGVXSIURPWKHEHGWRVVHVKHUFRPSXWHUWRWKHVLGHRQ the mattress, and takes a pillow and whacks it across the manâ€™s head over DQGRYHUDQGRYHUÂł,KDWH\RX,KDWH\RX,KDWH\RXÂ´6KHUHSHDWVWKLVD cruel loop, a scratched, screeching record that people would sooner see broken completely than continue listening to. â€œBaby, baby, whatâ€™s going on?â€? the Redeeming Boy asks. â€œWhatâ€™s wrong?â€? But this is the girlâ€™s universe now: she is the most disgusting, frightHQLQJWKLQJDOLYH6KHNQRZVWKLVIRUDIDFW6KHLVDVXFFXEXV$QLPSRV21
tor on earth, an interloper among humans. A profound sense of terror overwhelms her as she comes to understand that she has a secret power, but that secret power is evil. Her secret power is to destroy and eviscerate. All that she comprehends is this profound agitation, a pressure in the chest, a mis-wiring LQWKHEUDLQWKDWWHOOVKHUWUXO\RXWRIQRZKHUHWKDWVKHLVDIUHDN8QGHUKHU skin lurks a demon. This, for her, is real. Not a metaphor. â€œYouâ€™re whatâ€™s wrong,â€? the woman says. And she canâ€™t be still. Itâ€™s like DWLFOLNHVRPH2&'NLGZKRFDQÂśWVWRSZDVKLQJKLVKDQGVHYHQWKRXJKWKH\ÂśUH EXUQLQJDQGUHGDQGUDZ6KHKDVWRPRYH+DVWRUXQ6KHFDQÂśWVOHHS6KHÂśV got to lash out because itâ€™s like her body is a whip and itâ€™s aching to crack the Ă€HVKRIWKHHDUWK Âł6WRSLWÂ´-RKQ'RHVKRXWVDQGKHÂśVWU\LQJWRSXVKKHURIIRIKLPWU\ing to prevent her assault. But she cannot hear him. 2. A pamphlet for your consideration: What is Bipolar? Disorder of the brain. 8QWLG\FHOOVDQGFKHPLFDOVDQGZLUHV Furniture arranged all wrong. A poorly-directed Christmas Pageant. Mashed up, mixed upâ€”like when the DJ is trying something new, spitting bomb and funky beats, but it just doesnâ€™t work, and the crowd isnâ€™t feeling it at all, and you just want to hear the song unedited, unadulterated, pure like how it sounds on XM Radio. Bipolar is highs and lows, but not like good days and bad daysâ€”more like psychotic days and suicidal days, like King of the World days and Iâ€™m-apiece-of-shit-who-doesnâ€™t-deserve-to-live days. Highs like engaging in illegal behavior and getting arrested, spending a night in jail, and doing it all over again the next day. Highs like several shots of your favorite whiskey just so you can calm down enough to sleep. Highs like fucking bareback, letting him pull out just barely in time. Highs like being a giddy school girl, kissing an ROGHUZRPDQIRUWKHÂżUVWWLPHNQRZLQJ\RXÂśUHXQVWRSSDEOHWKDWVKHÂśOOORYH you forever, that nothing can go wrong.
Lows like trolling suicide boards looking for the perfect method. Lows like not eating, only drinking, sleeping, not going to class, not doing workâ€”for days at a time because thereâ€™s just not enough spirit in you to manage getting out of bed. Bipolar is yes, no, yes, no, yes, no, all you can do is scream as loud as you can, scratch at the fabric of the world, sink into your hole, re-emerge powerful and larger than life until everyone is afraid, until everyone is sorry, until the ones you love are gone. Symptoms of Bipolar â€œIntense emotional states.â€? Too much feeling. Too many cold, heartless bitches and asshole men who want nothing to do with you. Too many tragedies. Too many bruises. Too many days when youâ€™re so alone, a frontiersman breaking new ground, but all you want is to go back to the Known World, but theyâ€™ll never let you back because youâ€™ve pissed them off too much. 2YHUH[FLWHG2YHUMR\HG0D\DÂśVDOLDUDQGDFKHDWDQGDELWFKDQG\RX know she doesnâ€™t love you, but it feels so good in her arms, and you guys are like two wild things, and no-fucking-body can stop you. Happiness is telling your mother to fuck off at the eighteenth birthday party she just threw you. <RXÂśUH%RVV<RXÂśUH*RG<RXÂśUH(SLF And mad, mad, mad as a fucking hatter. Mad, mad, mad as your grandmother who used to lash out with the belt for seemingly no reason at DOO*RG\RXPLVVKHUVRPXFK 6DGQHVVOLNHQRRWKHU<RXGRQÂśWGHVHUYHWREHKHUH\RXNQRZ<RXÂśUH ruining it for all the Good People, of which you are not. Talking too fast. 2QHLGHDDQGWKHQDQRWKHU7KHQDQRWKHU7KHQDQRWKHU Coked up on who knows what? Life? That doesnâ€™t quite sound right. &DQÂśWVOHHS1HYHUVOHHS2QO\DIWHUWKUHHVKRWVRI$PHULFDQ5\H 3. Âł<RX VKRXOG OHDYH PHÂ´ WKH ZRPDQ VD\V DIWHU WKH UDJLQJ LV ÂżQDOO\ RYHU6KHÂśVEDOOHGXSLQWKHEHGVKDNLQJFU\LQJVZHDWLQJÂ˛GRLQJDOOWKRVH things that symbolize a lack of togetherness. Her body has only just barely calmed down. â€œJust leave me. Please, please, please. Iâ€™m a mess, a bitch. I donâ€™t deserve you.â€? 23
$QGDOOKHVD\VLVÂł<RXÂśUHEHDXWLIXO,ORYH\RXÂ´$QGKHKROGV3V\FKR6KH tries to shake him off, but his hands around her are too tight. 4. The origin of the womanâ€™s disease is not known, but the folks in charge believe that bipolar affective disorder runs in families. It has a genetic basis. 3V\FKRDJUHHV6KHNQRZVWKDWWKHLOOQHVVOLYHVLQKHUERQHV,WÂśVSDUWRIKHU PDNHXSMXVWOLNHKHUVNLQDQGKHUKDLUDQGKHUVSLQGO\ÂżQJHUV 0HPRULHVFRQÂżUPWKLV Meâ€™s mother tells her about Grannyâ€”a goddess of a woman prone WRÂżWVRIUDJHDQGGHSUHVVLRQDOLNH6RPHWLPHV*UDQQ\ÂśVNLGVDOOVHYHQRI them, were afraid to move or say a word in fear that the woman was in one of her moods. By the time that Me was born, she imagines that Granny settled VRPHZKDWLQKHUROGDJH+HUJUDQGPRWKHUZDVDGLIÂżFXOWZLOGFROGZDUP affectionate, mean womanâ€”thatâ€™s for sure, and Me received a belt across her bare back and bare ass enough not to question my motherâ€™s stories of her childhood. The insanity was there, unquestionable. It was a part of everyoneâ€™s lives. And besides, does the starting point of the illness matter at all? This is not like that lecture all high school history teachers give at the beginning of their course. Noâ€”understanding the past does not help us to understand the present. Psycho grapples with the disease everyday, and even when it feels RND\HYHQZKHQLWIHHOVÂżQHÂ˛VKHNQRZVWKDWWKDWLVMXVWWKHQDWXUHRIWKH bipolar. The next truly heinous day is only a full moon away. The chemicals are just regrouping. 5. If I told you that Psycho was a werewolf youâ€™d think I was just being one of those trendy authorsâ€”you know, all hip with the young folks. If I said WKDWWHHWKWKDWZHUHQHYHUWKHUHEHIRUHHUXSWIURPKHUJXPVEUHDNKHUĂ€HVK make her mouth bleed and contort and chomp, but only when the moon is as full as her girlfriendâ€™s breasts in her teenage hands, youâ€™d think I was just trying to sell you on the next young adult novel sensation. But she is like that 24
broken clock in Grannyâ€™s attic. Tick then tick then tock then tick again. Anorexic moons are good for her, but when they get wanton and trolORS\VKRZLQJRIIWKHLUVNLQWR0HWKHPRRQÂśVSDOHĂ€HVKURXQGDQGSHUIHFW DQGIXOODIWHULWÂśVJDLQHGVRPHZHLJKWDQGVRPHFRQÂżGHQFHEDFNDOORIKHOOÂśV demons break free from the gates. The end is here. Because what solution is there for disaster? What remedy is there for disease without cure? This is a narrative without a denouement, and therefore maybe not a narrative at all. The only realization that Psycho had was that there was a name for her pathology. 6KHVLWVRQWKHEHGZULWLQJWKH*UHDW$PHULFDQ1RYHO-RKQ'RHVLWV next to her. He stands up and tells her that he is going to the kitchen for a snack. And for a moment, a moment, she gets worried. He does, too. They know how this scene plays out. 6KHVPLOHVDWKLPDQGVD\VÂł*HWPHDGLHWSRS"Â´ He smiles back and says, â€œCool.â€? â€œHey,â€? the woman calls after him as he starts to leave the room. â€œMhm?â€? â€œI love you very much. And I appreciate that you are there for me, that you stand by me even though I hurt you.â€? $QGWKH%R\:KR5HGHHPVWKH8QLYHUVHVD\VÂł2IFRXUVHÂ´ And his loveâ€”and the love of her mother and family and friendsâ€”itâ€™s the one constant. As she swings up and down, going bat shit crazy, they alZD\VFDWFKKHUZKHQVKHIDOOVRIIWKHULGH6KHZRQGHUVWKRXJKZKHQKHU weight will become too much.
LIKE CYCLES OF WATER I RETURN TO SKY Andrew Payton
Driving through West Virginia land with my father, we stop at a graveyard full of two centuries of our blood and bone. He takes pictures, and I take a piss on a rosebush. We visit cousins in toothless shacks; I see my name and nose in the pallor of their faces; I hear my voice in the whir of machined organs. And it appears to me now, I may never face the cry that comes when I am half-awake. 2QFH,DPWROGWKHEORRGRIDZLOG,QGLDQ broke into our line, and ever since they have bleached and bleached to remove the stain. ,QWKHVZHDWRIDQ(DVW&RDVWVXPPHU in the house where I was born, I think again of packing my bags. I walk out into the moon, and ask: carve me out of this piece of myself, so that I may see into the midnight of America. Naked and unknowing, the land weeps under the harsh reproach of the coal-powered streetlamps. What must I do to reclaim my place amongst the things that howl, and the sun that is new and new and new?
PRINCE AND SWAY Thomas Michael McDade
A gambling fever came over me after I spotted an ad for a round trip bus to Lincoln Downs in the Providence Journal. I asked myVHOIÂł6DQIRUG\RXIHHOLQJOXFN\"Â´+HDQVZHUHGDWKXQGHULQJÂł<(6 6,5((720Â´0\HDUO\OLEHUW\FKLWVDLOHGWKURXJKWKHFKDLQRIFRPPDQG,KDGQÂśWEHHQLQDQ\WURXEOHVLQFHP\VKLSWKH8660XOOLQQL[ returned from the latest Med cruise. Arriving about an hour before post, I dodged tipsters to pick up a Morning Telegraph. I dropped a buck in a green bucket a nun with a gold tooth and mirrored sunglasses held in one hand, tambourine in the other. Yeah, Jesus loves horseplayers too, for a price. Christ, KHUVKDGHVZHUHVXUHODUJHZRXOGUHĂ€HFWHQRXJKRIDPDQÂśVIDFHIRU VKDYLQJ,Ă€LSSHGDFRLQKHDGVVHQWPHWRWKH9LFWRU\%DU,ÂśGVSRWWHG from the bus, a reasonable walk from the track. I didnâ€™t have a lot of trust in my tattered and blurred fake ID but what the heck. It worked. Being in uniform must have gotten me by. A beer and shot rocked me since Iâ€™d been dry for a couple of weeks. A dimpled, blonde-headed number named Faith asked what the thirteen buttons on my bells VLJQLÂżHG,WROGKHUWKHRULJLQDOVWDWHVDQGFKDQFHVWRVD\QR$IWHUD URXQGRIOXVWLHUĂ€LUWLQJVKHVXGGHQO\NLVVHGPHIXOORQWKHOLSVEHIRUH handing me a twenty-dollar bill and a slip of paper the size of two fortunes from cookies that read like this: Dresses dancing Clothespin castanets Winter snapping still 6KHVDLGWKDWDZRUGRUWZRZRXOGSRLQWWRDORQJVKRWEHWWKH twenty to win, no lame place or show, just win. I offered my Telegraph hoping sheâ€™d make the selection but winking one of her green eyes at me, she was gone as quickly as if her angry husband or lover KDGZDONHGLQWKHVLGHGRRU6KHGLGQÂśWZHDUDZHGGLQJEDQGWKRXJK 27
The bartender named Cicero stood there, arms crossed, about ready to burst a gut laughing. I left before his intestines hit the wall. There was a long line at the Lincoln Downs grandstand entrance. I zipped through horse names while waiting. Faithâ€™s request was easy, Winter Prince, 30-1 in the eighth. The chain link fence topped with barbed wire reminded me of the Thistledown barrier Iâ€™d jumped so many times back home. There was no need to leave the ground here since my uniform clicked again. The clerk in the booth saluted and directed me around the turnstile. An old man whose left eye looked like a glass replacement, touched my pea FRDWVOHHYHÂł)RUOXFNÂ´KHVDLGÂł:LVK,FRXOGÂżWLQWRP\::,,PRGHOÂ´, heard someone call him Wilfred. He wore a red and black checked jacket WKDWUHPLQGHGPHRIP\ÂżUVWWULSWRDUDFHWUDFN:KHQ,ZDVWHQDPDQZKR ZRUHWKHVDPHW\SHGURYHWKH6W0DWWKHZÂśV(OHPHQWDU\VFKRROEXV+LVKDW was a toque to us but a watch cap to him. Pushed forward, it rested against his wild, bushy eyebrows. Heâ€™d babble about a ship that took a kamikaze hit after his transfer following a head injury. A swinging gun mount barrel clocked him. He believed he could have saved the ship had he been aboard. +HDOVRUDPEOHGDERXWDMD]]VLQJHULQ&ROXPEXV2KLRKHVWLOOORYHGQHYHU got details on that one except her name was Camille. He didnâ€™t complain about us calling him Barnacle Bill and singing the ditty. It dawned on me WKDWÂł:LOIUHGÂ´ZDVQÂśWVRIDURIIIURPÂł:LOOLDP%LOOÂ´2QHPRUQLQJ%DUQDFOH smelled more of alcohol than usual. He was chanting what sounded like a SUD\HU$OO,FRXOGPDNHRXWZDVÂł6HUHQLW\Â´0\PRWKHUZKLVSHUHGWRPH ODWHUWKDWLWZDVDSUD\HUDOFRKROLFVVD\+HVQDSSHGKLVÂżQJHUVDVLIKHDULQJ music far off our wavelength. As it turned out, he was snapping along racehorses. He drove us to Thistledown, marched us off the bus to the fence where we could see the end of morning workouts. A couple of kids were scared purple and green EXW VRRQ WUHDWHG RXU DGYHQWXUH DV D ÂżHOG WULS :KHQ D MRFNH\ RU H[HUFLVH boy rode over to us on a tall grey horse with a maroon saddlecloth. Veronica Leary asked the horseâ€™s name. â€œHeâ€™s so slow I call him forty-weight oil,â€? said the little man. I was a Tarzan fan so I christened him Tarzanâ€™s original name, Greystoke. Riding off, the rider waved to us, Lone Ranger style I thought, just as the state troopers arrived. The Barnacle got off a roundhouse that glanced off one copâ€™s face. We heard later that our whacky wandering driver 28
ODQGHG LQ D VWDWH PHQWDO KRVSLWDO 2XU QH[W SLORW ZDV ERULQJ +H ZRUH D MDFNHWERZWLHDQGFXWXVQRJRRÂżQJRIIVODFNZRXOGSXOORYHUDQGVWRSWKH bus if anyone stood up. Maybe Barnacle Bill pointed me toward the Navy. No, he canâ€™t take all the racetrack credit though; my father gets some. ,JODQFHGXSDWWKH6WDUV 6WULSHVDVP\IDWKHUDOZD\VGLGDW7KLVWOH WRFKHFNZLQGVSHHGDQGGLUHFWLRQ,ÂżJXUHGIURQWUXQQLQJ:LQWHU3ULQFH would be up against it in the stretch. My father wouldnâ€™t have given the nag a thought, but he never was a hunch player. A friend of his told him he should have been an actuary, his Morning Telegraph so gummed up with ÂżJXUHV:RXOGDZRPDQOLNH)DLWKKDYHFRQYHUWHGKLPWREOLQGOXFNLQhis youth? Two old men sitting near me were discussing a horse theyâ€™d once ZRQDEXQGOHEHWWLQJ$SULO6NLHV7KHJLUOEDFNKRPHZKRÂśGVHQWDÂł'HDU Johnâ€? Iâ€™d received in Barcelona had a birthday in that month. I wondered if Barnacleâ€™s Columbus sendoff had arrived by mail. Listening to the old men got me recalling my father rattling on about KLVIDYRULWHKRUVHV(YHU\WLPHZHÂśGJRQHWR7KLVWOHGRZQWRJHWKHUKHÂśGJLYHQPHDUXQQLQJGHVFULSWLRQRI)LQGZLQQLQJWKHÂżIW\WKUHH2KLR'HUE\, hadnâ€™t hit a horse as memorable as Find yet. Maybe Winter Prince would be the one. When I pictured my father at the track, I saw him in an old slouch hat he claimed was his lucky charm. According to my mother, it was a halfassed disguise to go unrecognized by whichever brother he happened to be feuding with at the time. He was always at odds with one of them. Heâ€™d VNLSSHGP\8QFOH'XQFDQÂśVIXQHUDO I had the winner of the second race courtesy of Faithâ€™s poem. I guess thatâ€™s what youâ€™d call it, even though it didnâ€™t rhyme. The horseâ€™s name was 'DQFH7HDP,GRQÂśWXVXDOO\EHWHYHQPRQH\IDYRULWHVEXWÂżJXUHG,ÂśGWHVW out her system. I visited the bar to drink to Faith. The bartender asked for an ID, examined it, smiled and said, â€œClose enough for government work, 6DLORUÂ´ ZKLOH SRXULQJ D VKRW RI &URZQ 5R\DO 7KH 'RQDOG 'XFN VXLW KDG been handy again. Imagine, celebrating a $4.00 mutual, must be out of my head! I nursed the whisky, reran my Faith button experience recalling her pushing her hair over a pearl studded ear. I thought more about my father. ,PLVVHGKLPDQG2KLR+HZDVVL[W\WKUHHDQGVXIIHUHGIURPEOHHGLQJ ulcers. Iâ€™d had nightmares about him dying before I saw him again. I prom29
ised myself to request leave as soon as I returned to the ship instead of waiting for Christmas. :LQWHU3ULQFHZDVLQWKHHLJKWKUDFH+LVMRFNH\ZDV5DXO6DQWR%\ that time, I was ahead sixty-eight dollars thanks to a ten to one shot named Gunwale. Hell, boot camp naval nomenclature classes were worth something DIWHUDOO6RUU\)DLWKQRPDWFKHVIRXQGLQ\RXUSUHVFULSWLRQ7KHZLQGKDG IDGHGFRQVLGHUDEO\7KHĂ€DJĂ€XWWHUHGZHDNO\,EHWWKLUW\WRZLQDQGWZHQW\ to place for myself. I added another ten to Faithâ€™s twenty and plunked it conÂżGHQWO\RQWKDW:LQWHU3ULQFHÂśVZLUHVK\QRVH'XULQJWKHSRVWSDUDGHKH let loose a royal plop. A Thistle tout I knew who called himself Wynn Ticket, RQFHFRQÂżGHGVXFKDVL]DEOHGURSZDVJRRGOXFN$WOHDVWOHVVZHLJKWWRFDUU\,DOZD\VÂżJXUHG+HFODLPHGWKDWKHÂśGJURZQDQDZDUGZLQQLQJNXPTXDW plant using the stool of a 21 length winner as fertilizer. Heâ€™d have been okay with â€œorangeâ€? or â€œlemonâ€? but â€œkumquatâ€? provided too many possibilities for off-color jokes. Wynn recovered quickly when he found that more people bought his tip-sheet for a chance to goof on him up close. I had no qualms about the bet until I saw the post parade. Donâ€™t you NQRZ WKHUH ZDV D VWDWHO\ JUH\ QDPHG 6SLF\ 6ZD\ WKDW VQDSSHG *UH\VWRNH into mind? The jock was a Bill, Bill Cardin! Nothing is easy at the track. 6SLF\ÂśVVDGGOHFORWKZDV\HOORZDVDVFKRROEXV$OWKRXJKKHZDVDPHUH ,DOPRVWUDQWRWKHZLQGRZWRSODFHDEDFNXSZDJHU1RJRZLWK\RXUÂżUVW impression Tom, like multiple-choice tests. Winter Prince had a plus sign on KLVIRUHKHDGWKDW,WRRNDVDVLJQ,ÂśGSURÂżW 7KHUDFHGLVWDQFHZDVDPLOHDQGDVL[WHHQWK7KHÂżHOGFRQVLVWHGRI non-winners of their last three. The break formed a check mark as if theyâ€™d DOOGUHDPHGWKHĂ€\LQJVW\OHRIWKHJHHVHWKDWFODLPHGWKHLQÂżHOGODJRRQ6SLF\ 6ZD\ZDVWKHOHDGLQJWLS3DVVLQJWKHFOXEKRXVHIROORZWKHOHDGHUIRUPDtion developed along the rail except for Winter Prince. The disobedient child RQDVFKRROÂżHOGWULSPDWFKHGVWULGHVIURPWKHPLGGOHRIWKHWUDFNZLWK5R\DO Friend, the last horse in line. Prince hadnâ€™t broken so far back in his last ten starts. Giving up hope, I moved the tickets into ripping position but reached for the chance that his trainer had converted him from a front-running fool to a Whirlaway closer type. I paid my money. I deserved optimism at least and a good look at the race. Iâ€™d rented binoculars. 7KH DQQRXQFHUÂśV GURQLQJ YRLFH ZDV VWXFN 6SLF\ 6ZD\ 7RRWKSLFN 30
Lightning Lil and Hay Hauler. He didnâ€™t bother with any others until the far turn when Texas Bullet and Naturalist kicked up clods of dirt high swinging out of the procession to create a horserace, so to speak. Winter Prince maintained his shadow-like plod until Royal Friend abruptly pulled up lame. Turning into the stretch, the two challengers got within a length of Cardin DQGKLV6SLF\6ZD\6XQGD\VWUROO7KHMRFNH\ULGLQJ1DWXUDOLVWORVWKLVZKLS He faded under token hand urging. Winter Prince initiated a steady gain DIWHU 6DQWR ZDYHG KLV ZKLS LQ KLV IDFH 6SULQWLQJ WR WKH IHQFH , ZDWFKHG him collar Texas Bullet. His unusually tall sliver of a jockey stood up in the VDGGOHHDVLQJKLVPRXQW$IWHUDOO6SLF\6ZD\Â¶VRGGVKDGSOXPPHWHGWRVXUH WKLQJ6RPHVLWXDWLRQVUHTXLUHGLWFKLQJDOOVXEWOHW\ The rest of the horses dotted the track like dream geese disoriented E\DEDFNÂ¿ULQJSLFNXSLQWKHVWDEOHDUHD7KH3ULQFHIRXQGDEXUVWRIVSHHG DSSURDFKLQJWKHHLJKWKSROH'DPQHGLI,ZDVQÂ¶WVQDSSLQJP\Â¿QJHUVOLNH %DUQDFOH%LOOKLPVHOI6ZHUYLQJDEUHDVWRIUDLOKXJJLQJ6SLF\6ZD\:LQWHU Princeâ€™s head bobbed in unison with the darling of the crowd and smart PRQH\6DQWRZKLSSHGWKH3ULQFHDVLIDWKLHYLQJSHDVDQW,WDSSHDUHGWKH 3ULQFHWRRNDQRVHRIFRQWUROGHVSLWH&DUGLQÂ¶VZKLSÂ¿QGLQJ6DQWRÂ¶VOHIWDUP EXW6SLF\ZRXOGQÂ¶WTXLWFDPHRQDJDLQ7KH\KLWWKHZLUHDVRQHDGHWHUPLQHGFRQVSLUDF\WREUHDNP\QHUYHVGRZQ,VDZ&DUGLQJODUHRYHUDW6DQWRVZLSLQJDQLQGH[Â¿QJHUDFURVVKLVWKURDW 7KH SKRWR VLJQ OLW XS 0\ DGUHQDO JODQGV ZHUH K\GUDQWV DW D Â¿YH DODUP Â¿UH , FRXOG KDYH MXPSHG RQWR WKH WUDFN GDVKHG VL[ IXUORQJV LQ D minute eight. The usual cries mingled: inside horse got it, no, outside every WLPH)RXO,WHOO\RX6SLF\DOPRVWNQRFNHGLQWRWKHLQÂ¿HOG2QHYRLFH\HOOHG GHDGKHDWUHSHDWHGO\7KHÂ¿QLVKPXVWKDYHEHHQHYHQFORVHUWKDQLWORRNHG with the payoff posting delay. I didnâ€™t care how simple I looked. I stuck my Â¿QJHUVLQP\HDUVDQGFORVHGP\H\HV'HDWKFRXOGQÂ¶WKDYHPXWHGWKHURDUV of joy and disgust. I opened my senses with pessimistic jerks. The tote board KDGJRQHGDUN+HDULQJFDOOVIRUWKH'XW\(OHFWULFLDQEODVWLQJIURPWKH3$ system made me think I was back aboard ship. $PDQLQEDFNRIPHZHDULQJD%RVWRQ5HG6R[FDSORXGO\SUHGLFWHG theyâ€™d refund all money like when the gate only opens for half the horses or when the gate for a race slated for a mile-seventy is placed at the mile and DQHLJKWKVWDUW)LYHPRUHPLQXWHVZDVDOOLWWRRN6RPHRIWKHOLJKWVRQWKH WRWHOLWXSEXWWKHUHVXOWVORWVZHUHHPSW\Â³6RPHWKLQJLQ/LQFROQLVURWWHQÂ´ 31
said a preppy-looking kid with a babe who looked like a model hanging on his trench-coated arm. Fans were screaming and yelling like teens forced RXWRID%HDWOHVFRQFHUW6XGGHQO\,KHDUGVRPHRQH\HOOÂł0HGLF0HGLFÂ´, turned to see rent-a-cops kneeling by a fallen race fan. I felt something hit my shoe. It looked like a kidâ€™s marble, not quite â€œboulderâ€? size. I dropped my Morning Telegraph over it. As the stretcher passed, I saw the black checked jacket draped on the sheet that covered the face. Poor Wilfred, believer in pea coat luck, screwed. I picked up the round object under my Telegraph using a Juicy Fruit wrapper lying next to it. Christ, it was his glass eye and it gave me the willies. I placed the orb in my pocket to toss overboard next WLPHWKH0XOOLQQL[JRWXQGHUZD\,ÂżJXUHGDIRUPHUVDLORUZRXOGDSSUHFLDWH something of him buried at sea. There will be no more trespassing on my pea coat sleeve, folks, donâ€™t need more guilt like that. I bet with myself that any tickets in Wilfredâ€™s pocket wouldnâ€™t make it to his next of kin. I said a prayer for him, quickly crossed myself. The P.A. system blared again but it wasnâ€™t calling for the duty electrician and I wondered why I hadnâ€™t heard it ask if there was a doctor present. 5HG6R[ZDVULJKW$OOHLJKWKUDFHZDJHUVQXOODQGYRLGGXHWRSKRWRÂżQLVK camera malfunction, all cashiers open for refunds: more roars jeered the announcement. A better next to me breathed a loud sigh of relief, must have been among the bunch that saw nothing worthy in the past performances RI:LQWHU3ULQFHRU6SLF\6ZD\$NLGZKRGLGQÂśWORRNROGHQRXJKWROHJDOO\ EHWVSLWDFXVVLQJVWULQJSXQFWXDWHGZLWK),;(6,ZRQGHUHGLIWKHRXWFRPH KDGVDYHG5DXO6DQWRZKR,LPDJLQHGZRXOGHQGXSFHPHQWVKRHGLQ1DUragansett Bay. I read somewhere that you canâ€™t die at the racetrack because thereâ€™s always another race, another day. Wilfred put the lie to that but there was another race, something like that. The crowd must have read the same quote. The racetrack got quiet and past performance study resumed. The robbery was more than money. I lost a great racetrack story to brag about to my father. Whoâ€™d want to broadcast bad luck? I wondered if ,ÂśG FRQWUDGLFW WKDW VRPHGD\ 1R UHUXQQLQJ WKH :LQWHU 3ULQFH6SLF\ 6ZD\ GXHOLQWKHIXWXUHDWUDFHWUDFNVDQGEDUVOLYHOLHUWKDQWKH$SULO6NLHVIDQÂśV GHOLYHU\,ÂżJXUHG,ZRXOGQÂśWWHOO)DLWK+HOOVKHÂśGSUREDEO\UHDGDERXWWKH UDFHLQWKHSDSHUVDQ\ZD\VLQFHLWZDVVXFKDZHLUGÂżQLVK 32
7KHUH ZDV D IXOO ÂżHOG RI WZHOYH LQ WKH ODVW UDFH $ KRUVH QDPH RI More Music, was not a longshot, just a measly 4-1, but â€œcastanetsâ€? had to do with music, right? There was no drama in this race. More Music won wire to wire by six lengths. I guess there was some luck in my pea coat, for me anyway. I bet what had gone on Winter Prince. I walked slowly to the Victory even though it meant missing the bus. I wondered if sheâ€™d click glasses with me, arms entwined, to a 4-1 shot. I didnâ€™t feel like the king of horseplayers, as I would have with Winter PrinceO\ FDVK LQ P\ ZDOOHW 6KH ZDV DPRQJ WKH PLVVLQJ VR , ZHQW WR WKH PHQÂśV room to wash off Wilfredâ€™s glass eye. A man wearing an American Legion pisscutter cap sat at her table doing a post mortem on his Telegraph. Three men drank silently at the bar where Cicero was still working. Drawing me a mug of Narragansett Beer, he explained that Cicero was just a nickname after where he grew up but he could orate some. â€œAmen,â€? bellowed the patriot. 'XULQJWKHZDU&LFHURKDGEHHQDVLJQDOPDQRQWKH8660DVVDFKXsetts. Heâ€™d fallen in love with a WAC from Providence where theyâ€™d settled after they married. He suggested I visit the battleship, now a museum in Fall River. â€œMatter of fact, we could go right now. Iâ€™d give you the grand WRXU0HDQGWKHZDWFKPDQDUHWLJKWÂ´KHVDLGWZLQLQJWZRÂżQJHUVLQP\ face. I know every inch of that ship, every barnacle on the hull! â€œBarnacle,â€? I said, â€œI once knew a Barnacle Bill, drove a school bus!â€? Âł6FKRROEXVKHOPVDWWUDFWVRPHZHLUGSLHFHVRIZRUNÂ´VDLG&LFHUR Âł,V WKH EDU JRLQJ WR WHQG LWVHOI ZKLOH \RX FKDUDFWHUV WRXU WKH 866 Rust Bucket?â€? shouted the Legionnaire. â€œJust kidding, Boss, but have a little respect,â€? Cicero cautioned. â€œWhen I was in,â€? he continued, wiping the bar as if he had polish on the rag, â€œit was wooden ships and iron men.â€? He reached over and punched me lightly on the arm. â€œHoly shit,â€? he exclaimed, â€œI got a splinter in my ÂżVWÂ´+HODXJKHGOLNHDPDQLDF2QHRIWKHWKUHHPHQVKDULQJWKHEDUZLWK PHVODPPHGGRZQKLVHPSW\PXJ&LFHUROHDQHGFORVHWRPHÂł6D\NLG, hear Faith took a shine to you, better watch out sheâ€™ll tie up in more ways than a chief boatswainâ€™s mate giving a knot class to a gaggle of recruits.â€? â€œA good knot is one thatâ€™s easy to untie,â€? I said. 33
â€œBad ones can deep-six you,â€? he countered, pointing to a small quilt hanging on the far wall next to the clock. I walked over and read the writing on it: $VKWUD\VRYHUĂ€RZ Marlboro perfume 1LSSOHÂżOWHUWLSV ,QWKHORZHUFRUQHUZDVVWLWFKHGÂł)DLWK6Â´,GLGQÂśWNQRZZKDWWRVD\XQWLO â€œHot ticketâ€? popped out. Cicero wagged his head back and forth as if Iâ€™d missed his point by a nautical mile. I wondered how many winners were in those words. A man could go through a week of racing without a clear match. Maybe sheâ€™d immortalized me in three lines of words on cloth. Ha! I asked Cicero for an envelope for Faithâ€™s money. Could I trust him? He swore, hand on heart that heâ€™d deliver it to her. He called Royal Cab, told them to send a whaleboat. â€œBe very careful, kid,â€? said Cicero before calling me a good sport and pouring an on-the-house shot after tending to the mug slammer. Getting up to leave, I drank it quickly. â€œWait a minute,â€? he said, rolling up his sleeve to show me a tattoo of a bare-chested hula girl. He twitched his muscle; the WLUHG ÂżJXUH GLGQÂśW GDQFH HQRXJK WR UDWH DSSODXVH EXW , FODSSHG DQ\ZD\ , tried to imagine Cicero young, his tattoo bright, glistening. How many times had that inky dancer performed? I thought about the crossed anchors on my DUPDQGLPDJLQHGWKHPDFRXSOHRIÂżVKKRRNVZKHQ,ZDVROG â€œLetâ€™s see your tattoos, wooden sailor,â€? said Cicero, with unexpected contempt. â€œHey Cicero,â€? I said, â€œYour bicep babeâ€™s ass is busted.â€? He grabbed his OHIWELFHSVKRWKLVÂżVWHGIRUHDUPLQWRWKHDLUDJHVWXUH,VDZVWDUWDEORRG\ brawl at Rosaâ€™s Bar in Naples. As I stood in front of the Victory Bar waiting for the taxi, I mourned the :LQWHU3ULQFHĂ€RS,VDOXWHGWKHUDFHWUDFNĂ€DJLQWKHGLVWDQFHOLPSDJDLQVW its pole, as a school bus approached. Maybe the booze gave it the slow motion effect you see in movies. Was Ciceroâ€™s mentioning battleship barnacles DSDVVZRUGWRDWLPHPDFKLQHRUFRXOGP\ÂżQJHUVRQ:LOIUHGÂśVH\HEDOOLQP\ SRFNHW EH WKH WLFNHW" 7KH SDVVHQJHUV ZHUHQÂśW ÂżIWK JUDGHUV WKRXJK ORRNHG 34
OLNHKLJKVFKRROIRRWEDOOSOD\HUV³6HUHQLW\´ZDVQ¶WRQWKHGHVWLQDWLRQVLJQ, thought of Greystoke but no Tarzan call jiggled my vocal chords. Faith was GULYLQJ6KHJDYHPHDWKXPEXS,FRXOGIHHOP\VHOIWLJKWHQLQJ,¶PSRVLWLYH it was her thumb.
AND STILL THE EVIL Karin Rosman Auntie and I donâ€™t go to church but in the summer, when itâ€™s warm and the sound of cicadas are the only thing that is crisp. Auntie wants me to have PRUHPXVLFLQP\OLIH6KHVD\VVKHFDQGRPRVWWKLQJVIRUPHEXWVKHFDQÂśW do that, and thereâ€™s no church she is going to take me to but a snake church. 6KHOD\VP\FORWKHVRXWIRUPHDVKLUWWKDWFRYHUVP\DUPVDQGEXWWRQVDOO the way to my throat, a skirt that covers my knees and makes it most ways down my legs, even when I sit. 2QFH ,ÂśP GUHVVHG ,ÂśP QRW VXSSRVHG WR GR DQ\WKLQJ EXW JHW LQ WKH car. But I canâ€™t resist poking Mickey with a stick. Mickeyâ€™s a brindle dog that lives under the front steps. We got a lot of dogs but Mickey is by far the meanest. We got dogs because we wonâ€™t shoot them. Anyone who has a dog WKDWWKH\GRQÂśWZDQWWRNHHSDQ\PRUHEXWWKH\ZRQÂśWJHWULGRILWE\ÂżUHDUP RUJXQQ\VDFNWKH\GURSLWRIIDWRXUKRXVH8VXDOO\WKH\GRLWZKHQZHÂśUH at church, but sometimes they do it when weâ€™re at home. They just drive up and push the dog out, then drive away fast enough that the dog canâ€™t keep up with them. Then the eight or nine that stick around our place come runQLQJLQDSDFNWRJUHHWWKHQHZGRJ7KH\ÂżJKWZLWKWKHQHZGRJDQGUHHVWDEOLVKRUGHUDQGWKHQWKHGRJVWLFNVDURXQG2UGRHVQÂśW$XQWLHEHOLHYHVLQ free will for all living things. 0LFNH\ÂśVWKHPHDQHVWELWFKZHHYHUKDG6KHFDPHWRXVZLWKVZD\ing tits but no puppies and she isnâ€™t ever going to recover from that. I like to poke Mickey with a stick because she bit me. I got three white marks on my butt to prove it. Auntie didnâ€™t shoot Mickey for that but she did beat her with a stick. It proved useful because Mickey still doesnâ€™t like me, but all I have to do is pick up a stick and she runs under the steps. Thatâ€™s why I like to poke her with the stick when I come outside to show her that I can walk down those steps with a dog snarling and snapping under them. Auntie really is my auntie and we live in the same house that my PRPDQGPHOLYHGLQ2QHGD\P\PRPZDVJRQHDQG$XQWLHZDVWKHUH7KH PDQFDPHE\WRVD\WKDWZHZHUHVTXDWWHUVDQG$XQWLHVDLGÂł6RPHRQHÂśVJRW 36
to take care of the girl.â€? I would miss my mom but I mostly only remember KHUOHDYLQJ,WZDVQÂśWWKHÂżUVWWLPH $XQWLHFRPHVRXWDQGWXUQVWKHVSULQNOHURQ6KHORRNVQRUPDOIRUD VXPPHU6XQGD\6KHKDVRQHVNLUWWKDWJRHVSDVWKHUNQHHVHYHQZKHQVKH VLWV DQGVKHLVZHDULQJLWQRZ,WÂśVPDGHRIEOXHIDGHGFDOLFRMXVWOLNHPLQH and just like me, she has a shirt that buttons past her throat and covers her whole arms. Her face is washed and shines in the sunlight; her hair is pulled LQWRDEXQ6KHORRNVROG :HJHWLQWKHFDUDQG%OXHIROORZVXV%OXHLVWKHQLFHGRJ6KHVOHHSV with me at night and canâ€™t stand to be separated from me. But she canâ€™t go to church either, and not just because of the snakes. Her tongue is lolling out and she follows us to where the road is washboarded. We lift our feet when we go over the washboards. The wheels go brrrr and the car slides a little. Auntie laughs! I lift my feet and listen to her laugh but I donâ€™t stop watching for Blue. I never like it when she follows us to the road as dogs get hit when they come to the road. Church is way up in the mountains. Itâ€™s just an old meeting place and it doesnâ€™t have a steeple. The oaks have grown tall around it, whispering their green. When we go in, I look at Auntie and how she slips in among the women. I know she doesnâ€™t take me here to learn music. Just as it never reDOO\HQGVXQWLOSHRSOHWLUHDQGOLHÂżQLVKHGDQGWZLWFKLQJRQWKHĂ€RRULWQHYHU really begins, either. At some point, people begin to sing, and at some point they stop. When they stop is when preacher is at the pulpit and they are still humming and swaying. He sees us, but then his eyes go somewhere inside, and he sees only the spirit. People keep coming. His sermon-song is pulling WKHPIURPZKDWHYHUWKH\ZHUHGRLQJ(YHQ$XQWLHZKRFDQEHKDWHIXORI church, comes into his words. There are words that are meant for us, and ZRUGVPHDQWIRUWKHLQWHUSUHWHUVDQGZRUGVPHDQWIRUWKH6SLULW7KHUHDUH DOVRWKHVQDNHV:KHQWKHVQDNHVFRPHRXW,NQRZWKDWWKH6SLULWGRHVQRW want me. The snakes are passed above me and around me. There is dancLQJDQGFDOOLQJWKHVFULSWXUH(YHQ$XQWLHWDNHVDVQDNHDQGKROGVLWWRKHU IDFH6KHOHWVWKHVQDNHGUDSHRYHUKHUKHDGDQGDURXQGKHUQHFN6KHOLIWV KHUDUPVDQGKHUERG\PRYHV+HUPRXWKLVRSHQWRWKH6SLULWEXWVKHLVQRW bitten.
The blue sky has darkened when we leave and I lift my face to the sky. I leave my eyes open and turn and turn. I love the movement of the clouds when ,DPWXUQLQJ$XQWLHVHHVWKLVDQGWHOOVPHWRFORVHP\H\HV6KHVD\VWKDWWKHUH is an evil in all of us, even in me, in ways that Iâ€™m not even aware of. There are seven houses between us and the church. Auntie calls the men who live in those houses brothers, even though they arenâ€™t. They all have ULĂ€HV6RRQWKHUHZLOOEHDEXFNKDQJLQJE\LWVEDFNOHJVRQHIRUHDFKRIWKH seven houses. We pass the seventh house and lift our feet as brrr! we go over the washboards. Auntie is humming the punctuation of the preacherâ€™s sermon. â€œBack, safe, home again,â€? she says. The sky is dark blue but itâ€™s not night yet. The dogs come running to us when we get out of the car. I count eleven of them, which is two more than ZKHQZHOHIW([FHSW%OXHLVQÂśWZLWKWKHPVRWKHUHDUHWKUHHPRUH7KHVSULQkler is saying â€œchit, chit, chit,â€? and Blue is lying on her side, just beyond its watery reach. Mickey is there, too, sitting and growling, but I ignore her and go to Blue. I can see that she is breathing because her ribs are going up and down and up and down. I go over her to see what is wrong and there is a round hole where a bullet has gone in. If I were a dog, my bite scar would be in the same place that the bullet hole is. But it is not a big hole, so I keep looking with P\H\HVDQGZLWKP\KDQGV,FDQÂśWÂżQGDQ\WKLQJVR,SXWP\KDQGGRZQWR get up. Thatâ€™s where the blood and some of her guts are, in the grass. Now she is taking short breaths and whining them out. I sit back down and try to put the guts back in. I can tell that I am hurting her, so I stop. I lie next to her and FRYHUKHUZLWKP\VNLUW6KHOLFNVP\IDFHDQGOHWVKHUEUHDWKRXWZLWKDZKLQH Her tongue is dry and sticks to my face. Thatâ€™s how I start crying and I canâ€™t keep it to myself. Auntie stands over us and gives us shade until she kneels down. Âł6RPHWLPHVGRJVKDYHHYLOPRPHQWVWRRÂ´ Blue stops panting and dies. Iâ€™m all done with Blue because I canâ€™t do for her what she did for me, which was to protect me from the evil moments that come in the night. When I stand up, there is a stick at my feet and I believe it is a sign. I pick it up and go to the front steps. The air is still except for the twirl of insects and Auntieâ€™s EUHDWK 0LFNH\ LV VQDUOLQJ DW PH 6KH LV DOO WHHWK DQG XJOLQHVV , ZDWFK KHU while she snaps at me and then I drive that stick right into her eye. 38
THE BARN Jessica Poli I go there now, walk on molding feathers, dead hen in the corner. Where we held sweaty hands and pushed together foreheads. The room where I undressed, ZKHUHEHVLGHVDFNVRIĂ€RXU and creased Bible pages I curled my new and unused body around yours. Where I shed a teaspoon of blood QRZGULHGRQĂ€RRUERDUGV Where without reservation you peeled me like the rind of an unripe fruit, gnats and EDUQĂ€LHVZRUNLQJWKHLUZD\ between our torsos. I know now that things die. A rotting hen told me. 6DLGIURPWKHFRUQHURIWKHURRP you know youâ€™ll have to start over. The deadbolt isnâ€™t thrown P\ÂżQJHUVWRRVRUHWRRVWLII
but it wonâ€™t matter, youâ€™ll never try to get in again, the barn will stay quiet and rot, and I will listen to the mold of that hen and stand in a hot steaming room, in light that comes through dirty dishes and perfume, and remove myself to boil in clouded water and add spines, vertebrae, scraps for a new body drawn up over breakfast including a detailed map of every artery and vein and every inch of my skin that wouldnâ€™t have been touched by you. 39
LUNCH AND LOVE IN THE COTTAGE I hang cotton dresses on a line of hot nitrogen. 2XUGD\LVDLUHGDQGQHZ the seams invisible. I wash the butter knife for the mangoes you devour in the garden, eat thorns with raspberry jam, scooping them onto silver spoons. (DUO\LQRXUPRUQLQJDSDLURILRGLQHOLSV whispered against shaking knees. You hung across the bed like cloth along the clothesline. After we make love, I run to turn the faucet off. 7KHNLWFKHQVLQNRYHUĂ€RZLQJZDWHUDQGWKRUQV spilling onto bleached tile. <RXZDONLQWRWKHĂ€RRGDQGÂżOODFXS
QGM<GFLF==<DGN= Myfanwy Collins
The kitchen did nothing but look out onto the parking lot behind the Asian PDUNHW6RPHWLPHVWKHUHZHUHFUDWHVRIFKLFNVQH[WWRWKHGXPSVWHU,I\RX RSHQHGWKHZLQGRZ\RXFRXOGKHDUWKHEDE\ELUGVSHHSLQJWKHLUĂ€LPV\FODZV scrabbling against the wood. But there wasnâ€™t anything to see, really, and now a man was dead and Junie was the only one living in the building. The lesbian couple in the apartment below Junie moved out in late $XJXVWOHDYLQJKHUDORQHRQWKHVHFRQGĂ€RRUZLWKRQO\WKHROGODG\LQWKH adjoining big house. It was April and the earth was thawing. The man had died in January and stayed cold enough through the winter that she could not VPHOOKLP,WZDVQRWXQWLOWKHÂżUVWH[WHQGHGVWUHWFKRIZDUPGD\VGDIIRGLOV blooming softly beneath the willow tree in the old ladyâ€™s yard, that Junie smelled his unfortunate decomposition. Festering, oozing, layering himself into dust beneath her. All those nights she had lain in her bed listening to the wind push against the storm windows, wondering about what was next and feeling an unfurling excitement in ribs. All those nights that she had reveled at being so far from home and all that was familiar to her. He had been there all those nights dead. Though there would have been some point when he wasnâ€™t actually dead. Presumably, he had died there below her. His last breath exhaling XSZDUG DQG WKURXJK WKH Ă€RRUERDUGV DQG LQWR KHU URRP +LV ODVW EUHDWK forming the shape of a cat and curling into the notch her knees made in sleep. His last breath a woman dressed in stars above her. The police had questioned her about the man even though the coroner said he had died from too much drink. A body canâ€™t take all of that night DIWHUQLJKW$WVRPHSRLQWWKHERG\EUHDNVGRZQRQHRIWKHRIÂżFHUVVDLG 6KHIHOWWKHSROLFHZHUHVNHSWLFDODERXWKHUUHVSRQVHVWRWKHLUTXHVWLRQV DQGWKDWWKH\KHOGKHUUHVSRQVLEOHIRUWKHPDQÂśVGHDWK6KHZDQWHGWRDVVXUH them that she would not have simply left a body to rot below her. There were places back home, out in the skunk cabbage, deep in the forest, where you FRXOGSXWDERG\DQGQRRQHZRXOGHYHUÂżQGLW1RWKHUHLQWKLVFLW\LQWKHVH 41
rented rooms below her. 6KH GUDQN YRGND DV VKH VSRNH WR WKH SROLFH 6KRWV DQG VKRWV 7KH handsome one suggested she slow down. But the old ladyâ€™s son was visiting and while Junie had never liked him, she agreed that he could stay with her for an hour or so while she sobered up. The police said they wouldnâ€™t leave until she said yes and so she said yes. The old ladyâ€™s son was 42 and malevolent. He was named Karl and had never been married and liked to lean up against his car and smoke FLJDUHWWHVDQGELWFKWR-XQLHDERXWKLVPRWKHU6KHÂśVDFXQWKHOLNHGWRVD\ and she always has been. Junie had never heard anyone say the word out loud before. It sounded even uglier coming from his pale, crusty lips. After the police left, she and Karl sat side by side on the couch drinking shots. The window was open and the sun broke through the clouds just as rain began to pour down. ,OLNHWKHVRXQGRIUDLQ.DUOVDLGDQGWRRNKHUKDQGLQKLV6KHZDQWHG to let go of his hand and she did not want to let go. It might have been the only thing keeping her tethered to the room as her head felt balloon-like and VZLPP\6KHZDVDYDSRU Karl pulled her onto his lap, her bottom resting between his thighs. He put his arm around her back and pushed her head down to his shoulder and said, there, there, now, a darling gesture he must have learned from his old cunty mother. Junie hadnâ€™t realized she was crying until he did that. .DUO VWURNHG KHU EDFN DQG KHOG KHU RWKHU KDQG 6KH VDZ WKDW KLV ÂżQJHUVZHUHORYHO\WKHQDLOVFOHDQDQGWDSHUHG6KHGLGQÂśWNQRZZKDWKHGLG IRUZRUN6KHGLGQÂśWQHHGWRNQRZ6KHZRXOGQRWORYHKLP Junie believed that she could live in the box of her life by herself and so long as she had air and water and food, she would survive. You donâ€™t need love, she told herself in her bed at night lying above a man who was GHDGRUG\LQJEHQHDWKKHUĂ€RRUEHQHDWKKHUEHDWLQJKHDUW<RXGRQRWQHHG love, she said, and time will not stop. Time will not stop without it. Time is merciless.
SPACE CASES Patrick Henry
When I was a child, my friends always told me that Tony Putnam was a real loon, a really out-there space case. The twins and I watched Tony Putnam GXULQJ RXU VHFRQGJUDGH GD\V DW (DVWEURRNÂśV %HUJHU (OHPHQWDU\ 6FKRRO The other children giggled in the shade of the sugar maples or played Âł5DLOURDG5REEHUÂ´DWWKHZRRGHQWUDLQSOD\VHW6WLOORWKHUVJUDSSOHGDFURVV the monkey bars and the jungle gym, only to fall to the mulch chips below and then run and cry to Mr. Pasternak, our teacher and recess monitor, about bruises and brushburns. He instructed the children to go inside and WR WKH QXUVHÂśV RIÂżFH 0HDQZKLOH 7RQ\ 3XWQDP WRRN XS UHVLGHQFH DW WKH Dome, a rounded jungle gym in the playgroundâ€™s corner. He clacked his ÂżQJHUQDLOVDJDLQVWWKHVWHHOWXEHVDVKHRUELWHGWKH'RPHDQGPXWWHUHGWR himself as if in unceasing conversation with some ghost. That morning had been Tonyâ€™s turn for show-and-tell. He brought in a silver colander with small holes punched in the pattern of starbursts. He called it his â€œspace helmet,â€? said it protected him from cosmic rays, and he donned the gleaming strainer in front of the entire class, his husky IUDPHVKDGRZHGE\WKHZRUGÂł63871,.Â´RQWKHEODFNERDUGEHKLQGKLP Mr. Pasternak said nothing and crossed his arms over his chest. When Tony took his seat, Mr. Pasternak remarked that it was nice to see colanders used from something other than rinsing vegetables. Now, on the playground, the sunlight refracted in a brilliant arc off his space helmet. The twins and I observed his ritual at the Dome. The twins, Claire and Lauraâ€”whom I collectively called â€œCluraâ€?â€”were pretty, girl-next-door types with bright auburn hair and clusters of freckles on their faces. They were the sort that every little boy wants to kiss, even as he asserts that all girls are gross. The twins spoke with the same chirping voice, like a single person split in two identical bodies. â€œI think heâ€™s an alien,â€? one said. â€œHeâ€™s too weird to be a boy,â€? the other added. â€œI think heâ€™s a person,â€? I said. â€œNo way. Heâ€™s an alien.â€? â€œHe wears that space helmet so the sun doesnâ€™t bake his big alien brain.â€? 43
â€œItâ€™s just a colander.â€? â€œThatâ€™s what you think.â€? â€œHeâ€™s an alien. Aliens have space helmets.â€? â€œClura, heâ€™s not an alien. Heâ€™s just a boy.â€? The twins crossed their arms. â€œAliens donâ€™t have parents.â€? The other explained: â€œIâ€™ve heard that Tony Putnam doesnâ€™t have a daddy.â€? Âł7KDWÂśVVLOO\(YHU\ERG\KDVDGDGG\Â´ â€œNot Tony Putnam.â€? â€œHeâ€™s an alien.â€? I leaned my back against a maple tree. â€œThereâ€™s no such thing as aliens,â€? I said. â€œMy dad has binders full of articles about the space race, and those donâ€™t say a thing about aliens.â€? â€œThatâ€™s because your daddy doesnâ€™t want you to worry.â€? â€œAliens would probably just scare you.â€? â€œThey wouldnâ€™t scare me.â€? The twins gasped and hid their mouths behind their hands. â€œAlien lover!â€? they shouted in unison. â€œYouâ€™re an alien lover!â€? â€œAm not,â€? I grumbled. I slouched against the trunk of the tree as the twins began clapping their hands together in a game of â€œknick-knack SDWW\ZKDFNÂ´2QO\WKH\FKDQJHGÂłJLYHDGRJDERQHÂ´WRÂłSOHDVHVHQG7RQ\ home.â€? I hadnâ€™t told the girls about my own father, about how he, too, had left several weeks before. I hadnâ€™t told them about the months of preparation, about the boxes mailed to my uncleâ€™s house in south Florida, about the bookshelves emptied of my fatherâ€™s blue space books. Clura did not know about the sight of my parentsâ€™ bedroom from the hallway. Their open closet door invited me to stare in as my motherâ€™s thingsâ€”dresses, blouses, shoesâ€” hung as a veil, disguising the dangling hangers where my father had kept his shirts and ties. 7KH QLJKW EHIRUH KH OHIW (DVWEURRN P\ IDWKHU DQG , OLVWHQHG WR 3UHVLGHQW.HQQHG\ÂśVDGGUHVVIURP5LFH8QLYHUVLW\RQWKHUDGLR+HVDWEHVLGH me on our plaid couch, his hand on my shoulder and a grin spreading wide across his face. His resignation at Neubauer and Meinhold, the accounting ÂżUPZKHUHKHÂśGZRUNHGZDVHIIHFWLYHWKHSUHYLRXVGD\VRKHZDVDYDLODEOH to hear Kennedyâ€™s address. My father wore black jeans and a white t-shirt RQGD\VRIIOLNHWKLVRQH+LVKDLUZDVEX]]HGLQWRDĂ€DWWRSDVLIKHZRUNHG 44
mission control at Cape Canaveral. The lenses of his thick-rimmed glasses UHĂ€HFWHG WKH FHLOLQJ OLJKW :H ERWK VWDUHG DW WKH UDGLR WKDW VDW RQ WRS RI our seldom-used television set. Kennedyâ€™s voice crackled over the airways: We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, tooâ€Ś. â€œIâ€™ve always had one dream,â€? my father said, pointing up to the ceiling. â€œAnd thatâ€™s to get up there.â€? My father fanned the air with his arms and then tousled my hair. But he stared beyond the radio, beyond the living room wall, all the way to Cape Canaveral. His voiceâ€”just as far awayâ€”whispered, â€œKid, your generation will see all of the big things happen.â€? He sighed and sank back into the couch cushions. â€œIâ€™m going to be a part of that. Can you believe it? Your old man, a part of it. Now, just remember to put this in my space books when we get the Eastbrook Gazette tomorrow.â€? Âł6XUH WKLQJ 'DGÂ´ , NQHZ ZKDW KH PHDQWÂ˛WKH EOXH VFUDSERRNV RQ the shelves beside the television. He collected every article that appeared in the Eastbrook Gazette that revealed any information about the space race. +HKDGDUWLFOHVDERXW6RYLHWDQG$PHULFDQVDWHOOLWHVWHFKQRORJLFDOPLVKDSV on both sides, monkeys in space, administrative bungling, and botched experiments and off-kilter hypotheses. My mother peered in from the kitchen. The aroma of a honey-glazed ham and the buttery smell of mashed potatoes and fresh bread followed. â€œBrian, canâ€™t we have one night without space?â€? .HQQHG\KDGÂżQLVKHGKLVVSHHFKP\IDWKHUZDYHGKLVKDQGDWWKH UDGLRLQGLFDWLQJWKDW,VKRXOGJRWXUQLWRII,REH\HGÂł2IFRXUVHÂ´KHWROG my mother. 6KHVKRRNKHUKHDGDQGZLSHGKHUKDQGVRQKHUDSURQÂł:HOOGLQQHUÂśV in about ten minutes. You may want to get washed up.â€? My father patted my back. â€œYou heard your mother, kid. Go upstairs and get washed up.â€? I slid from the couch and went upstairs to wash my hands and face in the small, white bathroom. I glanced through the porthole window. 6TXLUUHOVVFXUULHGDORQJWKHVLGLQJ7KHURDURIDQHQJLQHÂżOOHGWKHURRPD 45
FDUZDVGULYLQJGRZQ3HPEHUWRQ6WUHHW,GULHGP\KDQGVUDQGRZQVWDLUV and perched on the ledge of the bay window like a hawk scouting prey. It was a white station wagon with green, rust-patched doors, and it slowed to a stop in front of the grayish house across the streetâ€”the Putnamsâ€™ house. 7RQ\ÂśVPRWKHURSHQHGKHUGRRUDQGJRWRXWRIWKHFDU6KHVODPPHGLWVKXW and I could see Tony standing at the front door, his space helmet tilted back on his head. His mother fumbled with her keys as Tony watched her and rocked on his heels. I gawked until my mother called me for dinner. â€œTony Putnamâ€™s mom just got home,â€? I informed my parents. â€œTony?â€? my father asked. My mother answered for me, cocking her head in the direction of the house across the street as she placed the hamâ€”still steaming in its roaster SDQÂ˛RQWKHWDEOHDQGVOLGRIIKHURYHQPLWWV6KHJDYHKHUKXVEDQGDNQLIH sharp look, one that stabbed her intended message deep into his thoughtsâ€” you know about the Putnams, so drop it quickly. â€œMargaretâ€™s son. You know that, Brian.â€? My father nodded and leaned back in his chair, and I tapped his knee ZLWKP\IRUHÂżQJHUÂł7KHWZLQVVD\WKDWKHÂśVDQDOLHQÂ´ Âł$QDOLHQ,VWKDWVR":HÂśGEHWWHUFDOO1$6$WKHQÂ´0\IDWKHUSXVKHG his chair out and reached toward the phone, mounted on the kitchen wall. â€œBrian!â€? my mother chided. Her eyes were bloodshot; her cheeks, red. â€œNone of that silliness at the dinner table.â€? +HVQDSSHGKLVÂżQJHUVDQGSXVKHGKLVFKDLULQ+LVÂżQJHUVVWHHSOHG together over his plate, and he frowned, drawing down his long, horse-like face as his eyes met mine. â€œNow listen here. Your mother is absolutely right. Thereâ€™s no such thing as aliens, so Tony Putnam canâ€™t possibly be one. If you need to prove this to your friends, you can take my space books into school. 6KRZWKHPWKHDUWLFOHV6KRZWKHPWKDWWKH\GRQÂśWVD\DWKLQJDERXWDOLHQV okay?â€? I nodded. â€œThey also talk about how Tony doesnâ€™t have a daddy.â€? 0\ PRWKHU UHWXUQHG WR WKH WDEOH DQG SXOOHG RXW KHU VHDW 6KH exchanged a glance with my father. They both turned ghost pale as if a spectre, a poltergeist they had managed to dodge for the last few months, sat between them and was to materialize, there in the dining room. My parents gazed at each other and my fatherâ€™s eyes seemed very blue, that same sort 46
of faraway blue that the sky seems to be. My motherâ€™s were a terrestrial brown, and ultimately her voice grounded us back into the dining room. Reality penetrated the unearthly atmosphere. My mother simply said, â€œI mailed the rest of your boxes, Brian.â€? Âł7KDQNV (OOHQ ,WÂśV JRLQJ WR EH JUHDW )ORULGD 1$6$ :HÂśOO DOO EH down there. And Jim got me that job.â€? Âł2K\HVLQDEXGJHWRIÂżFHPLOHVIURPWKHODXQFKVLWH7HOOPHKRZ thatâ€™s different from what youâ€™re already doing.â€? Âł,WMXVWLVÂ´KHVDLGKLVYRLFHĂ€DWÂł,WÂśVVWLOODJRYHUQPHQWMRE-LPVWLOO got me in.â€? I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. â€œWhy have we been mailing all of \RXUWKLQJVWR8QFOH-LP"Â´ My mother hushed my father with a gesture like a conductor cutting off a choir. â€œYour father canâ€™t make me understand it. I donâ€™t think heâ€™d be able to explain it to you.â€? The phone rang, and my father answered. â€œJim?â€? My mother stabbed her ham; my father discussed detailsâ€”yes, the SODQHZDVODQGLQJLQ2UODQGRLQWKHPRUQLQJ\HVLWZDVDUHGH\HĂ€LJKW \HV\HV(OOHQZDVDOOULJKWGULYLQJKLP<HV-LPRIFRXUVHÂ˛WKH*DOD[LH ZDVDJRRGFDULWFRXOGKDQGOHWKHWULSWRWKHDLUSRUWDQG(OOHQFRXOGGULYH LW DV ZHOO DV KH FRXOG 1R QR (OOHQ ZLOO EH EDFN E\ PRUQLQJ 1RWKLQJ WR ZRUU\ DERXW 0\ IDWKHU JXIIDZHG LQWR WKH SKRQH DW D MHVW IURP P\ 8QFOH Jim that only the two of them would ever know. â€œRight, Jim, Iâ€™ll give your apartment a ring as soon as Iâ€™m off the plane.â€? My mother and I ate the glazed ham; my father never touched his SODWHDQGDIWHU,KDGÂżQLVKHGHDWLQJP\PRWKHUVFUDSHGKLVIRRGLQWRWKH garbage. The sun set, and twilight fell. I watched Tony Putnam and his mother play catch in the brightness of their porch light. I sat in the ledge of the bay window, pretending to read The Viking Symbol Mystery, a Hardy Boys novel that Iâ€™d pilfered from my fatherâ€™s collection; he kept them on the same shelves as his space books. My parents whispered to each other in the kitchen as my mother washed the dinner dishes and my father dried themâ€” WKHLU QLJKWO\ ULWXDO 2QO\ RQFH GLG P\ PRWKHU UDLVH KHU YRLFH Âł,ÂśYH EHHQ working at that damn bakery for three weeks now. I used to enjoy baking. 47
1RZ,KDYHWRGRWKLVVRLQFDVH\RXUHVFDSDGHPLVÂżUHV,KDWHLW%ULDQÂ´ 6KHVSODVKHGKHUKDQGVLQWKHGLVKZDWHUÂł1RZZKHQDZRPDQFRPHVLQWR order a cake for her husbandâ€™s birthdayâ€”â€? Âł(OOHQÂ´P\IDWKHUVDLG â€œI want to tell her that he probably doesnâ€™t deserve it.â€? Âł(OOHQÂ´KHUHSHDWHG â€œRight, youâ€™re right, of course,â€? my mother groaned. â€œMaybe that husband lives on this damn planet. Maybe that husband actually tells his child where heâ€™s going to be the next morning.â€? They mumbled to each other again; my mother frequently sighed in exasperation. I traced the words on the page of The Viking Symbol Mystery with my thumbnail, but I never did learn how Frank and Joe Hardy solved the mystery. I didnâ€™t know what the mystery even was because, across the street, Tony Putnam beamed, his space helmet a shining silver beacon, as he tossed the baseball back and forth with his mother on their front yard. 6XUHO\WKLVZRXOGTXLHW&OXUD7RQ\3XWQDPZDVMXVWDER\Â˛KHSOD\HG catch like any other boy, lived in a house with a bright white porch light like any other boy, had a mother like any other boy, and he smiled like any other boy. Nothing alien about Tony Putnam, nosiree. I imagined telling Clura DERXW WKLV DOWKRXJK WKDW ZRXOG UHTXLUH WHOOLQJ &OXUD WKDW 7RQ\ 3XWQDP OLYHGDFURVVWKHVWUHHWIURPP\IDPLO\ 7KHWZLQVZRXOGMXPSWRWKHLUIHHW and walk in circles, their auburn-topped heads pondering Tony Putnam, and they would conclude that â€œHeâ€™s an alien.â€? â€œHeâ€™s too weird to be a boy,â€? but then I would say, â€œWatch this.â€? I would go over to where Tony Putnam stood at the Dome. I would have a baseball and two mitts, and I would give him one so that we could play catch. Then we would throw the ball back and forth, the sun glinting off his helmet like a beacon, and the twins would DUJXHVD\LQJÂł,DOZD\VNQHZKHZDVQRUPDOÂ´Âł:HOO,NQHZLWÂżUVWÂ´ I laid the book, still opened, on the window ledge and jogged to the kitchen to share my insight with my parents. I felt as if I were watching the scene in Pinocchio where the fairy turns the wooden puppet into a real boy, only it was Tony Putnam, the alien, who had become an actual child. I stopped in the door to the kitchen and saw my father holding my mother close against him, his hands on the small of her back. He spoke in a voice above a whisper, one that revealed a latent secrecy, my fatherâ€™s plans, which I was not meant to hear. 48
I realized then that the world contained more than children discussing aliens and the kid across the street. The world was full of children, yes, but there were adults, too! â€œDid you ever think of our child?â€? my mother questioned. â€œDid you ever think of us, here, without you?â€? And I heard my father half-mumble into my motherâ€™s ear: that he must go to Florida and be a part of this. After all, hadnâ€™t she heard what .HQQHG\ KDG VDLG RQ WKH UDGLR" ,W ZDV WRR ODWH 6KHÂśG VWDUWHG WKH MRE DW the bakery to tide us over, his plane ticket was booked, heâ€™d already made DUUDQJHPHQWV WR OLYH ZLWK -LP KH KDG WR JLYH XS 3HPEHUWRQ 6WUHHW DQG (DVWEURRN+HWROGKHUWKDWKHZRXOGVHQGIRUXVDVVRRQDVKHFRXOG+H DOUHDG\KDGDJRRGMREOLQHGXSDQGKHZRXOGÂżQGDQLFHSODFH:HÂśGDOOOLYH in Florida where the sun shines and the rockets blast into space. â€œTheyâ€™ll think youâ€™re another Jay Putnam, Brian,â€? my mother cautioned. â€œJust like Tonyâ€™s father, a Beatnik, a hippie, a bum.â€? My father said that he had nothing but respect for Jay, nothing but UHVSHFW+HÂśGFOHDUHGLWZLWKKLVROGODG\EHIRUHKHOHIWIRU'HQYHUDQG6DQ Francisco, and that was all that my father was trying to do. My mother dried her hands on her apron and moved away from him. â€œYou made your decision, Brian,â€? she said. â€œAll you ever asked me to do was drive you to the damn airport.â€? I went upstairs and got ready for bed without being told to. For a ZKLOH,ZDWFKHG3HPEHUWRQ6WUHHWIURPP\ZLQGRZ2XU)RUG*DOD[LHVDW PRQVWURXVDQGDTXDPDULQHLQWKHGULYHZD\6HYHUDOFDUVFUXLVHGRYHUWKH cracked macadam, hugging the gray curb except when they veered over to avoid the Putnamsâ€™ station wagon, the only vehicle parked out on the street. I closed the drapes, turned off the light, and went to bed. I was not awake when my father opened my bedroom door and whispered a â€œGoodbye, Kidâ€? and promised to call each night, or when my PRWKHUHDVHGWKH*DOD[LHRXWRIWKHGULYHZD\6KHUHWXUQHGKRXUVODWHUDV, VOHSW6KHZKLOHGWKHQLJKWDZD\ZLWKPXQGDQHWDVNVÂ˛VZHHSLQJKDXOLQJWKH trash bins to the curb. When I went downstairs the next morning, she sat at the table with a mug of coffee and the last of my fatherâ€™s space books in front of her. The steam wafting from the cup miraged over her face, dissipated WKHSXUSOHFLUFOHVRIZHDULQHVVEHQHDWKKHUH\HV2QWKHODVWVSDFHERRND VPDOOSLHFHRISDSHUUHDGÂł6KRZWKHVHWR\RXUIULHQGVDWVFKRRO1RDOLHQVÂ˛, 49
promise. Youâ€™ll hear from me soon. Love, Dad.â€? I held the album to my chest ZKLOHP\PRWKHUJD]HGEODQNO\DWPH6KHDVNHGLI,VOHSWZHOO,QRGGHG 6KHSXVKHGWKHQHZVSDSHUWRPHIURPDFURVVWKHWDEOH7KHKHDGOLQHRQWKH Eastbrook GazetteUHDGÂł.HQQHG\$GGUHVVHV5LFH8QLYHUVLW\0DQRQWKH 0RRQEHIRUHWKH'HFDGH(QGVÂ´,ZHQWWRWKHNLWFKHQWRJHWWKHVFLVVRUVDQG the tape out of the family supply drawer. ,WUDLQHGIUHTXHQWO\LQWKHVHYHUDOZHHNVDIWHUP\IDWKHUOHIWDQGWKH6HSWHPEHU RI.HQQHG\ÂśVPHPRUDEOHVSHHFKZDQHGLQWRDORQJGDPS2FWREHU,FRXQWHG the passing of the days with my fatherâ€™s phone calls; he kept his promise, though some nights he spoke for a few minutes and others for hours. Mother SDLGWKHELOOVIRUWKHÂżUVWPRQWKDQGFULHG0\IDWKHUVHQWFKHFNVIROGHGLQD sheet of teletype paper stuffed in an envelope, never letters. Just checks. The UDLQFDPH DV LW KDG LQ 6HSWHPEHU DQG WKH OHDYHV IHOO OLNH DFFRPSDQLPHQW to the storms. Tears streaked my motherâ€™s face after the evening calls, like the rivulets winding down the glass panes of the living room bay window. I watched the street, watched the Ford Galaxie, which never brought my father back. 7KH JURXQGVNHHSHUV DW %HUJHU (OHPHQWDU\ 6FKRRO NHSW RXW RI WKH weather and, when it was dry enough, took their time raking the slicked, GDQJHURXV OHDYHV 2XU KRPHURRP WHDFKHUV ZHUH VWLOO IRUFHG WR ZDWFK XV during indoor recess. Mr. Pasternak unloaded checker and chess boards from the bookshelves kept beside the coat closets in the back of the classroom. We GLYHGLQWRWKHJDPHVÂżJKWLQJRYHUZKRZRXOGJHWWKHQLFHVWERDUGVDQGWKH unbroken pieces, over who would have to play chess instead of checkers. Clura demanded chess pieces, wanted me to play against them. I obliged and noted that Tony Putnam had not joined the struggle for a board; he sat in WKHEDFNRIWKHURRPE\KLPVHOIDQGKHSOD\HG0HPRU\ZLWKDGHFNRI2OG Maid cards. He grumbled to himself and shrugged his shoulders; every few minutes his head jerked toward the coat closet in the back of the classroom, where his space helmet hung from a hook. As Clura set up the board, I saw 7RQ\Ă€LSRYHURQHFDUGWKHQDQRWKHUDQGKLVKDQGVGDUWHGWRWKHGHVNWRSWR TXLFNO\UHPRYHWKHP$SSDUHQWO\DPDWFKRQWKHÂżUVWDWWHPSW 7KHWZLQVPDGHVKRUWZRUNRIPHLQRXUÂżUVWJDPHÂł<RXFDQÂśWKRSHWR lose your queen and still win.â€? â€œIf you lose your queen, youâ€™re done for.â€? 50
â€œYou just got by on luck,â€? I said. â€œLetâ€™s play another game.â€? We began the second round of chess. Clura talked about that afternoonâ€™s round of show-and-tell. They had wanted to bring in their father, DQ(QJOLVKWHDFKHUDW(DVWEURRN+LJKEXWKHZDVUHYLHZLQJPDWHULDOZLWK his students for a test the next day. Instead, their mother would be coming in for show-and-tell. The twins chattered about â€œMumsy,â€? as they called her; Mumsy was going to bring cinnamon buns for the entire class. The twins wondered what the other two show-and-tell studentsâ€”Tony Putnam and Iâ€”planned to show the class. I mentioned that Iâ€™d brought my fatherâ€™s space book to show everybody what he did in his free time. If anybody, Clura included, scrutinized the taping of the articles against the cardstock pages, I would have been ratted out: my tape job on the article about Kennedyâ€™s DGGUHVVDW5LFH8QLYHUVLW\ZDVVPHDUHGZLWKÂżQJHUSULQWVDQGVPXGJHVRI newspaper ink, whereas my fatherâ€™s were archived and expertly handled, with only the yellowing of the paper to dictate the articlesâ€™ ages. I didnâ€™t tell the twins that I couldnâ€™t have asked my father to tape the article about Kennedyâ€™s address, let alone to come in for show-and-tell, seeing as he was VRPHZKHUHLQ)ORULGDZRUNLQJZLWKP\8QFOH-LPDQGPDQDJLQJDFFRXQWV IRUVRPHVSDFHUHODWHGJRYHUQPHQWRIÂżFH,KDGQRWHYHQWKRXJKWWRDVNP\ mother to come in for show-and-tell, and as I wondered about my father down there in the sunshine, probably smelling the exhaust of all those rockets as they blasted into the sky, the twins took my queen a second time. Checkmate quickly followed. The bell rang and Mr. Pasternak collected the games and returned them to the shelves. He shepherded us back into our seats, then sat on WKHHGJHRIKLVGHVNDQGODFHGKLVÂżQJHUVWRJHWKHURYHUWKHSDXQFKRIKLV stomach. â€œAs you all know, today weâ€™re beginning our second round of show-and-tell.â€? He reminded the class of todayâ€™s four presenters: Claire and /DXUDZKRÂśGUHFHLYHGVSHFLDOSHUPLVVLRQWRZRUNWRJHWKHU 7RQ\3XWQDP and me. We were assigned to either bring in a parent to speak about a job or interest, or we were supposed to bring in a visual aid and talk about our parentâ€™s career or hobbies on their behalf. A woman knocked on the glass window in the door, and Mr. Pasternak slipped from the lip of his desk. He let the woman in. â€œIt looks like weâ€™ll begin with Claire and Laura.â€? The twins hopped from their seats and joined Mumsy at the front RI WKH URRP 6WDQGLQJ EHVLGH KHU &OXUD ORRNHG OLNH GROOVL]HG FORQHV DOO 51
three shared identical auburn hair and the same pale freckles and delicate skin, and when Mumsyâ€”who introduced herself to the class as â€œAmyâ€?â€” passed a Tupperware container of cinnamon buns around the room, she GHPRQVWUDWHGWKHVDPHĂ€RZLQJZLOORZ\JUDFHWKDWKHUGDXJKWHUVSRVVHVVHG Amy discussed bakingâ€”that was her hobbyâ€”and about how cinnamon buns were the family favorite. We applauded, and Cluraâ€™s mother offered us each DQRWKHUFLQQDPRQEXQ2QO\7RQ\3XWQDPUHIXVHGRQH The twinsâ€™ mother left, and Mr. Pasternak called Tony to the front of the room. â€œI brought my dad,â€? Tony said, running his thumbs along the edges of a black picture frame. Clura glanced wide-eyed at me, and I sunk into my seat. â€œWell, I sorta brought my father,â€? Tony corrected. â€œYou seeâ€”â€? Mr. Pasternak sat in his desk chair and then drummed the top of his desk. â€œHow did you â€˜sorta bringâ€™ your father, Tony?â€? â€œAll I have of him is this picture. My mom took it a long time ago. It was right before he left.â€? Mr. Pasternak propped his elbows on his desk and held his chin in his hands. â€œWhat can you tell us about him, Tony?â€? I sighed and wondered if I could tell anybody about my father. He was an accountant, yes. But what else? A note appeared on my desk, and one of the twins batted her eyelashes at me. I read the note: â€œHeâ€™s an alein alien!â€? The piece of paper was signed â€œClaire.â€? I balled it up and threw it inside my desk. Tony passed the photograph around the room and told us about his father. From overhearing my parents, I knew that he was called Jay Putnam, DQG 7RQ\ ÂżOOHG LQ WKH JDSV -D\ 3XWQDP ZDV D SRHW ZKRÂśG OHIW (DVWEURRN WRPLQJOHZLWKWKHJUHDW$PHULFDQZULWHUVZKRWKULYHGLQ'HQYHUDQG6DQ Francisco, and he didnâ€™t expect to make a mint off of his writing. He expected WR PDNH SRHWU\ DQG ÂżQG XVHG ERRNVWRUHV DQG FUXPP\ GLYH EDUVÂ˛ZKDW , would later learn to describe as the brilliant, grimy, bohemian underbelly of our country. Tony phrased it with innocence: â€œMy mommy reads his letters to me. He writes about places with bright lightsâ€”neon lights. People give him rides from one place to the next. He writes about beautiful women. And he has a dog named Anselmo. I think he drinks a lot of tea; he sure seems WRZULWHDERXWWHDDORWÂ´-D\3XWQDPZDQWHGWRÂżQGWKHVHSODFHVDQGZULWH about their people, Tony said. â€œAnd I found one of his old poems. Part of it, anyway.â€? 52
â€œDo you have it with you?â€? 7RQ\VWXFNKLVKDQGLQKLVSRFNHWDQGÂżVKHGDURXQGEHIRUHSXOOLQJ out a crumpled, yellow square of paper, maybe the size of his palm. â€œYup!â€? Tony replied. â€œMy dad wrote this: 6RPHZKHUH,VHDUFKIRU+LP I do not know what He is, but He is colorful, silent. His quiet emanates, glows; it radiates, but from where? Mr. Pasternak clapped, and the rest of us followed suit. Tony bowed DQGSHUIRUPHGDWZRÂżQJHUVDOXWHWDSSLQJKLVÂżQJHUVDJDLQVWWKHEULPRIKLV space helmet. When Tony returned to his seat, I was left holding the portrait RI-D\3XWQDP*UHDV\ÂżQJHUSULQWVVPHDUHGRYHUWKHJODVVSURWHFWLQJKLV sepia-toned face. I made my way to the front of the room with my fatherâ€™s space book and handed off the picture to Tony. I stood in front of the class as Mr. Pasternak introduced me. I closed my eyes, hoping to see a glimpse of my father. Instead, Jay Putnam was there, stubble-faced and wearing a dirty button-down shirt, a leather bomberâ€™s jacket, and a herringbone cap. I introduced my fatherâ€™s space book to the class and said that my IDWKHUFRXOGQÂśWFRPHEHFDXVHRIZRUNQRWHQWLUHO\DOLHMXVWDSURWHFWLYHÂżE VLQFHKHZDVLQ)ORULGDDQGQRW1HXEDXHUDQG0HLQKROGÂśVDFFRXQWLQJÂżUP ,Ă€LSSHGWKURXJKVRPHRIWKHDUWLFOHVUHDGDORXGVHYHUDOKHDGOLQHV,WULHG WRUHPHPEHUP\IDWKHUDQGKLVĂ€DWWRSKDLUFXWWULHGWRVHHKLPDQGEORFN the image of Jay Putnam. I donâ€™t recall exactly what I said, except that Mr. Pasternak said I provided a great segue to our next unitâ€”the space unitâ€”in which all of our spelling words, math problems, and other lessons would be outer-space-themed. Then Mr. Pasternak told us about the planets. We spent the rest of the afternoon making a model solar system, decorating VW\URIRDPEDOOVDVWKH6XQWKHSODQHWVWKHDVWHURLGEHOWDQGWKHQKDQJLQJ those from the ceiling with chains made out of paperclips. 0RWKHUGLGQÂśWDOZD\VOHWPHVSHDNWRP\IDWKHUZKHQKHFDOOHG6RPHWLPHV she would, and his voice was frenetic, stumbling over his words, attempting 53
to convey too much too quickly. He spoke only about the space race, about DFFRXQWVDQGQXPEHUVVFLHQFHDQGSURJUHVV2WKHUSHRSOHODXJKHGLQWKH EDFNJURXQG SHUKDSV RQH RI WKHP ZDV 8QFOH -LP +H SURPLVHG WR PDLO articles from the newspapers down in Florida, but the articles never arrived. (YHQWXDOO\,ZRXOGKDQGWKHSKRQHEDFNWRP\PRWKHUÂł%ULDQÂ´VKHFKDVWLVHG him when she took the phone back, â€œask about school. Ask about classes. $VNDERXWWKHWHDFKHUVDQGWKHRWKHUVWXGHQWVÂ´6KHVODPPHGWKHUHFHLYHU on its hook. â€œI can smell the highballs through the phone,â€? she muttered. The money continued arriving in the nondescript envelopes. Mother SLFNHGXSDGGLWLRQDOKRXUVDWWKHEDNHU\DQGZKHQVKHÂżQDOO\JRWKRPH ODWHDWQLJKWVKHVPHOOHGRIEUHDG\HDVWDQGVXJDUDQGIUXLW6KHKHOSHGPH study for my classes. When my father called, she told him to stay on the line RQO\LIKHJDYHDGDPQDERXWWKHUHVWRIXVEDFNKHUHLQ(DVWEURRN My fatherâ€™s phone calls became more infrequent until we received more checks than news from my father. My mother, exhaustedly helping me through math problems one evening, cradled her face in her hands. The textbook and loose papers sprawled over the tabletop. We used napkins for scratch paper. â€œAnd here, my mother told me your father seemed like VXFKDJURXQGHGJX\Â´6KHVREEHG,GLGDULWKPHWLFRQWKHEDFNRIDQDSNLQ until she took it from me and wiped away her tears, smudging her face with graphite solutions. I spent afternoons home alone, sitting on the ledge of the bay window, doing my homework and spying on Tony Putnam across the street. I studied our spelling words and repeated them to myselfâ€”star, moon, sun, planet, galaxy, alien, earth, orbit2XU)RUG*DOD[LHZDVGRFNHGLQDEDNHU\SDUNLQJORWIDU away. Tony Putnam dragged cardboard boxes from the inside of his house to his front yard. He had a Kenmore refrigerator box and two RCA black-andwhite television boxes. I focused on my homework, word problems for math DERXWDEXJH\HGDOLHQQDPHGÂł7KRPDVÂ´,QWKHÂżUVWRQHKHZDVJDWKHULQJ moon rocks to help American scientists. I counted the rocks and wrote the answer. In the next, he was collecting fuel tanks so that he could return home WRKLVIDPLO\,H[DPLQHGKLVOLWWOH8)2WKH$PHULFDQĂ€DJZDVHPEOD]RQHG RQWKHVLGHEHQHDWKWKHOHWWHUV86$,GURSSHGWKHKRPHZRUNVKHHWRQWKH ledge and went out the front door. 54
2XWVLGH,VKLHOGHGP\H\HVIURPWKHVXQZLWKP\KDQGDQGZDWFKHG 7RQ\3XWQDPDWZRUN(YHU\IHZPLQXWHVKHVWRSSHGSXWKLVÂżVWVRQKLV hips, and chortled to himself. He talked to nobody while he built something out of the boxes. He labeled the side of the refrigerator box The Proud Anselmo and then, using a roll of duct tape, adhered the two RCA boxes to the longer one, a television box on each side. The open ends of the boxes were facing away from the cardboard automaton to emulate thrusters. I crossed the street and stepped onto the Putnamsâ€™ front yard. Tony mumbled and shrugged while adjusting the various boxes. â€œHey,â€? I said. 7RQ\LJQRUHGPH+HVSRNHWRKLPVHOILQPXIĂ€HGWRQHVDQGULSSHG strips of tape from the roll and applied them liberally to the form of The Proud Anselmo. I stood idly with my hands in my pockets as he covered the body of The Proud Anselmo with strips of tape. â€œWho are you talking to?â€? I asked. Tony laughed, grumbled to himself. â€œThey always think Iâ€™m talking to somebody. Canâ€™t they see thereâ€™s nobody here?â€? Âł6R \RXÂśUH WDONLQJ WR QRERG\"Â´ , EHJDQ WR ZDON DZD\ EXW WXUQHG around and scrutinized the taped-together boxes. â€œWhat are you making?â€? I asked, uncertain if Tony would actually answer me. â€œThe Proud Anselmo,â€? he answered. â€œItâ€™s a spaceship.â€? â€œCool,â€? I said. I kicked the grass with the toe of my shoe. â€œWhyâ€™d you give it that name?â€? â€œMy dad adopted a dog in Denver for a few weeks. He told me about it in a letter. He called his dog â€˜Anselmo,â€™ and he said it was a very proud GRJÂ´7RQ\VKUXJJHGÂł6RXQGHGOLNHDJRRGQDPHThe Proud Anselmo. Itâ€™s JRLQJWREHP\Ă€DJVKLS%HVWLQP\Ă€HHWÂ´ Âł<RXZDQWWRPDNHDĂ€HHW"7KDWÂśVSUHWW\FRROÂ´ â€œYou think thatâ€™s cool? Look inside The Proud Anselmo6KHÂśVJRW it all. And sheâ€™s a â€˜she,â€™ tooâ€Śships are always a â€˜she.â€™ At least thatâ€™s how it seems when people talk about these things.â€? I stepped closer to the cardboard spaceship and shoved my hands into my pockets. Âł2KZDLWÂ´7RQ\VDLGDQGKHOHDQHGLQWRWKH.HQPRUHUHIULJHUDWRU box. His feet stuck out in the air. When he dropped back onto the ground, 55
he produced a plastic Rubbermaid stepstool. â€œYou can use this to get in. Just step upâ€Śand hop on in.â€? Tony watched me ascend the plastic stairs and lower myself into the refrigerator box. A red steering wheel was taped into the cardboard the nose of The Proud Anselmo. Dials and gauges were drawn by hand in permanent ink. I UDQP\ÂżQJHUVRYHUWKHFRQWUROVÂ˛DIXHOJDXJHDQRGRPHWHUDVSHHGRPHWHU PXFKOLNHDFDUÂśVGDVKERDUG,QRWLFHG DQGRWKHUGLDOVODEHOHG$/7,78'( DQG $,5 35(6685( $ EUDNH DQG D JDV SHGDO ZHUH DOVR GUDZQ RQWR WKH cardboard interior. A moment later, Tony joined me inside. The light UHĂ€HFWHGIURPWKHFRODQGHURQKLVKHDGEOLQGHGPH â€œIsnâ€™t she great?â€? he asked. â€œA real piece of work,â€? I said. â€œWhat do you want to do with her?â€? Âł)O\KHUDURXQGÂ´7RQ\VDLGÂł'R\RXZDQWWREHP\ÂżUVWPDWH"Â´ â€œIs that hard?â€? â€œNo. Being the captain is the hard part. The Proud Anselmo is a solid, EXWIXVV\VKLS$QG,KDYHWRĂ€\KHUÂ´ â€œWhere will we go?â€? Âł:HOOÂżUVW\RXQHHGWRJHWDVSDFHKHOPHWÂ´,FURVVHGP\DUPVDQG VLJKHGZDLWLQJIRU7RQ\WRFRQWLQXHÂł%XWZHÂśOOĂ€\WR'HQYHUWKHQWR6DQ )UDQFLVFR6LQFH,ÂśOOEHWKHFDSWDLQSHRSOHZLOOFDOOPHÂľ&DSWDLQÂśDQG\RX can be called â€˜Lieutenant.â€™â€? I paced the length of The Proud Anselmoâ€™s cabin. â€œCan we go to Florida after that?â€? â€œWhy would we do that?â€? â€œWellâ€Ś,â€? I stammered. â€œI was, uh, thinking that we could show all of the space people how great The Proud Anselmo is.â€? Tony grinned. â€œYour dadâ€™s down there, isnâ€™t he.â€? It was not a question. Tony tapped his foot and I said nothing, and then he added Florida to the Ă€LJKWLWLQHUDU\ Tony Putnam was at home the school day that we planned the launch of The Proud Anselmo; he asked me to carry a note to school and give it to Mr. 3DVWHUQDNZKHQKHWRRNDWWHQGDQFHÂżUVWWKLQJLQWKHPRUQLQJ,GURSSHG the note on Mr. Pasternakâ€™s desk and walked through the rows of student seats before Clura noticed my secret delivery to Mr. Pasternakâ€™s desk. 56
During recess Clura asked me about my dadâ€™s space books. â€œYou should bring more of them in.â€? â€œThose were really neat.â€? The twins led me in a hike around the playground. We tugged at each otherâ€™s thin, autumn scarves and adjusted the zippers on our jackets. They stepped gracefully, like leaves bending on the wind, and clasped their hands behind their backs. 7KHLUGUHVVHVĂ€XWWHUHGLQWKHEUHH]HÂł%XW\RXVKRXOGEULQJRQHWKDWWDONV about aliens.â€? â€œI bet thereâ€™s even one about Tony Putnam.â€? â€œI canâ€™t bring any more in.â€? â€œWhy not?â€? asked one. â€œThatâ€™s really mean of your dad if he doesnâ€™t let you,â€? the other added. â€œItâ€™s just, itâ€™s the only one he leftâ€”â€? I stopped and exhaled, a rush of breath escaping me. The twins pirouetted and examined me. They quirked their eyebrows, and their pale foreheads wrinkled as if they were examining an unknown specimen. â€œHe left the others at work,â€? I tried. The twins smirked. â€œYou have a secret!â€? â€œTell us! Tell us!â€? â€œItâ€™s just that he leftâ€”â€? I said. My face felt warm, and I turned and walked the other way. â€œItâ€™s not important.â€? They caught up with me. â€œYouâ€™re blushing!â€? they yelled together. â€œWhere did your dad take the space books?â€? â€œI bet he has ones with pictures of aliens!â€? ,ORRNHGDWHDFKRIWKHWZLQVÂł7KHVSDFHERRNVDUHQÂśWLQ(DVWEURRNÂ´ I whispered. â€œTheyâ€™re in Florida.â€? â€œThatâ€™s silly. They donâ€™t belong in Florida.â€? â€œWhy are they in Florida?â€? â€œMy father.â€? The twins gasped and stepped back. â€œYou donâ€™t have a father,â€? one of the twins said. â€œYouâ€™re like Tony Putnam.â€? I insisted that it was different, pled with them to understand. I stepped closer; they shied back. The bell rang, and the sisters ran toward the school. I stood there until Mr. Pasternak called my name. Clura watched me in class and cried. They slipped a note on my desk when Mr. Pasternak began the math lesson. â€œDonâ€™t become an alein alien!â€? Both the twinsâ€™ names appeared at the bottom. I slouched in my chair. The 57
twins watched me and dabbed at their eyes, but it was too late. Their crying KDGDOUHDG\SXVKHGPHIDURIIFRXUVHDQGÂżQLVKHGWKHWUDQVIRUPDWLRQ Tony Putnam wasnâ€™t there. His space helmet wasnâ€™t hanging in the coat closet. Now, I was alien to them all. When I got home from school, Tony Putnam, his space helmet slipped to the VLGHVRLWHFOLSVHGKLVOHIWHDUVDWRQWKHIURQWVWRRS2XUEUHDWKSXIIHGZKLWH LQWRWKHFRROLQJDXWXPQDLUÂł6RÂ´KHVDLG â€œHi, Tony.â€? He handed me a stack of envelopes. â€œI got the mail out of your box for you and your mom. Looks like thereâ€™s something from your dad.â€? He had placed the envelope from Florida on the top, our address scrawled in blocky letters. â€œMaybe he sent you something?â€? â€œItâ€™s nothing,â€? I told Tony. â€œItâ€™s never anything. Just money.â€? Tony chewed on his lip. He glanced up at me. â€œI was going to write you a letter,â€? he announced while rubbing his hands together. â€œTo tell you this. But heâ€™s coming back, you know. He always does.â€? I leaned in toward Tony. â€œMy father?â€? Tony rolled his eyes. â€œNo, myIDWKHU+HÂśVÂżQDOO\FRPLQJEDFNIURP 6DQ)UDQFLVFR,ZDVÂľKRPHVLFNÂśIURPVFKRROWRFOHDQWKHKRXVHZKLOHP\ mom worked today.â€? He pushed himself from the stoop. â€œWe donâ€™t need to go out in The Proud Anselmo. I wanted to tell you.â€? He hugged me, and I dropped the letters to the concrete stoop. Tony Putnam smiled and patted my shoulder; he skipped across the street. I imagined his mouth moving as he talked to himself, and I imagined myself turning around and running after him. I wanted to remind him that we had a dealâ€”we were both going to use The Proud AnselmoWRÂżQGRXUIDWKHUV 7RQ\ÂśV VSDFH KHOPHW UHĂ€HFWHG WKH VXQOLJKW DQG ERXQFHG DWRS KLV KHDG DV he jounced back to his yard. My scalp felt warm, like the sun was baking it through my hair. I suspected that Tony never had that problem. That night my mother and I ate roast beef sandwiches on slices of rye that sheâ€™d brought from the bakery. We waited for the phone to ring, EXW LW ZDV VLOHQW , WROG P\ PRWKHU DERXW KRZ 7RQ\ DQG , SODQQHG WR Ă€\ The Proud Anselmo, but we probably wouldnâ€™t need to do that now. Tonyâ€™s IDWKHUZDVFRPLQJEDFN,WROGKHU6KHVDLGÂł%HKDSS\IRU7RQ\Â´:HDWHRXU 58
VDQGZLFKHVDQGDVVKHVWDUHGDWWKHSKRQH,ZDWFKHGKHUÂżQJHUQDLOVFODFN against the tablecloth. I noticed that it was red, and I excused myself from the table. I was scarcely aware of leaving the house with a baseball mitt tucked under my arm and closing the front door behind me. The candescence of the yellow-orange streetlights illumined the cracks in the asphalt as the soles of my shoes scuffed against the pavement. I knocked on the door of the Putnamsâ€™ house and thrust my hands into my pockets. Tony answered the door and pulled off his space helmet. â€œHey,â€? he said. â€œIâ€™m sorry about your dad.â€? My mother wanted me to tell Tony that I was happy for him. Instead, I asked, â€œDo you want to play catch?â€? It seemed like the only normal thing to do. +HJULQQHGÂł6XUHWKLQJÂ´+HGRQQHGWKHKHOPHWDQGDZKLWHEHDP refracted from its metal surface. :HWRVVHGDEDVHEDOOEDFNDQGIRUWK2XUPRWKHUVZDWFKHGHDFKIURP her own porch. Tony lobbed the ball in my direction, and I returned it with a snap of my wrist. The small ball glided back and forth between our mitts, as LILQVORZPRWLRQDFURVVWKHJHQWOHJORZRIWKHVWUHHWOLJKWV7KHEDOOĂ€HZOLNH a thought, like a slow star, streaking over all of us until the mothers called us LQVLGH7KH\H[WLQJXLVKHGWKHLUSRUFKOLJKWVZLWKWKHĂ€LFNRIDVZLWFK I couldnâ€™t sleep that night after playing catch, imagining Jay Putnam returning to his wife and son. I saw Tonyâ€™s father, with his herringbone cap and several days of unshaved stubble, standing in the illumination of the porch light, his wife in his arms and his lips pressed against hers. Young Tony, the space helmet crowning his head, stood watching his mythical father with starstruck reverence. My thoughts orbited around this reunion, and I threw off my blankets. I spied on the Putnamsâ€™ house from my window, but I saw the house was dark, slumbering as deeply as I should have been. Certain that my mother was asleep, I crept downstairs to the kitchen, SODQWLQJ HDFK VWHS ÂżUPO\ DQG VORZO\ OLNH WKH VQHDNLQJ FKDUDFWHUV LQ WKH 6XQGD\IXQQLHVSDJHV,IP\PRWKHUZRNHVKHZRXOGVHQGPHVWUDLJKWEDFNWR bed with a speech about how she had to work in the morning, and I shouldnâ€™t EHVQHDNLQJDURXQGODWHDWQLJKWDQ\ZD\,ZRXOGQRWKDYHDÂżJKWLQJFKDQFH of explaining my actions. I remained silent so as to not wake her. 59
A stack of Eastbrook Gazettes had accumulated on the counter beside the sink. The scissors my father used to snip out the articles rested beside the stack. I grabbed their plastic handles and studied their shape in the dark, then dropped them onto the stack of papers. I looked away and opened the FDELQHW XQGHU WKH FRXQWHU ULĂ€LQJ WKURXJK P\ PRWKHUÂśV SRWV DQG SDQV , pushed aside a double boiler, a Bundt-cake pan, and a wooden rolling pin before laying my hand inside the colander. It was plastic, slotted, instead of pierced with small holes like Tonyâ€™s, but it would do. I slid it from the cabinet and clutched the handles on the side. I placed the colander on my head and VDWLQIURQWRIWKHVWRYHWRJD]HLQWRP\RZQGLVWRUWHGUHĂ€HFWLRQ
SONNET ADDRESSED TO MYJessica MOTHER Plante Mother, as small child, I tugged violets from dirt; they like tiny purple bruises full of anticipation. I stood at the door you couldnâ€™t open wide enough for me. 6PDOOEXWHDUQHVW,ÂśGZDWFK\RXEOHQGLQWR\RXUKRXVHZRUN moving from room to room, now and again, the barn door of your chest falling open. Inside there was no heart, just a sculpture of a horse: cold and unsinging. Mother, in the dark, I was there. You thought I was the wind and its idiosyncratic tender caress. I polished and cradled you. My persistence brought that smooth shine to your face. I blew dust from alabaster, carried a piece of you inside my sweater to keep it warm, the dust I disturbed still settling between us.
THE ELEPHANT GRAVEYARD 9k`d]qOYc]Ăš]d\
,KDYHDOZD\VEHHQDPDNHURIOLVWV,ÂżQGWKHPFDOPLQJ5HDVVXULQJ7KHUH is something very zen about pulling my mind away from the chaos for a moment and taming it with a list. â€œI know itâ€™s hard,â€? I am saying to myself, â€œI know itâ€™s a lot, but if I do just these eight numerically organized tasks today, it will all somehow look better tomorrow.â€? I have even been known, when no one is looking, to add some unexpectedly accomplished task to my list, VROHO\IRUWKHJUDWLÂżFDWLRQRIFURVVLQJLWLPPHGLDWHO\RII7KHUHLVOLWWOHWKH world can throw at me that I cannot put on a list; there is little the world can throw at me that I cannot contain, control, or otherwise overcome. I like to believe this. 1. Short-term memory impairment is usually the most prominent early symptom of Alzheimer-type dementia. Perhaps ironically, I cannot recall many early instances of my grandfatherâ€™s forgetfulness. I know they must surely have been there, because I doUHPHPEHUWHDVLQJKLPJHQWO\DERXWLW:HDOOGLG2QFHIRU his birthday, I bought my grandfather a blanket. It was a large, woven thing, big enough for him take his afternoon naps under and light enough to use \HDUURXQG2QWKHIURQWZDVZRYHQLQWKHFDSWLRQÂł*HQXLQH2OG3HUVRQ Been There, Done That, Canâ€™t Remember.â€? He laughed when he opened it and playfully swatted my arm with one of the blanketâ€™s tassels in retaliation. 6WLOOKHXVHGWKDWEODQNHWQHDUO\HYHU\GD\ 7KHÂżUVWWLPH,HYHUVXVSHFWHGWKDWSHUKDSVVRPHWKLQJPRUHVLJQLÂżFDQW than aging was happening to my grandfather was sometime in junior high when my grandmother began picking me up from school. For years, the short time just before and just after school had belonged to my grandfather and me. We would meet at the breakfast tableâ€”bowl of Cheerios for me, bowl of Frosted Flakes with extra sugar for him. I was never allowed extra sugar on my cereal; I assumed this was a privilege one was granted with DJHDQGDVVXFKGLGQÂśWEHJUXGJHKLPIRULW,WZDVP\PRWKHUZKRGLGQÂśW allow the sugar; my grandfather, I suspect, would have. And that, I think, is 62
the ultimate function of parents and grandparents: one to control and one WR LQGXOJH $ SUHVVXUHUHOHDVH YDOYHIRU DOO WKH UXOHV ZH PXVW REH\ $IWHU breakfast, my grandfather and I would head out for school in his ancient brown Mercury. It was a short driveâ€”too short, I often thought, except when ,ZDVFRPLQJKRPHDJDLQ6RWKHFDVVHWWHUHFRUGLQJRI$EERWDQG&RVWHOOR comedy routines that my grandfather produced one morning took us several car trips to work our way through. It became a morning time favorite, and we slowly memorized that tape together. Aside from the classic â€œWhoâ€™s on ÂżUVW"Â´WKHUHZDVRQHRWKHUURXWLQHRQWKHWDSHWKDW,UHZRXQGDQGOLVWHQHGWR many times on those early morning car trips. It involved a story about how older elephants, when they begin to decline with age, instinctively return to a certain spot to die. Costelloâ€™s punch line at the end was, â€œItâ€™s the trip that kills â€˜em!â€? When I joined the volleyball team in junior high, and practices lasted from 4:00 to 6:30 on every night but Wednesday, my after-school routine KDGWRFKDQJH$WÂżUVWP\JUDQGIDWKHUZRXOGVKRZXSDWP\QRUPDO school dismissal time, a few times a week and I would have to send him home. Later, he started forgetting to come back at 6:30. Not always, mind youâ€”just sometimes. From then on, it was my grandmother, more often than not, who I saw waiting for me after practice. I worried. But, because I could not break my pattern of believing my grandfather to be invincible, I assumed he simply could not break his pattern, held for so many elementary school years, after all, of being outside waiting for me at 3:30. And so I worriedâ€”but not much. 2. Most family members will realize that something is seriously wrong long before the person with dementia realizes it. 2QHFROGZHWGD\DIWHUYROOH\EDOOVHDVRQKDGIDGHGLQWREDVNHWEDOODQG I was free to leave school with all the other non-athletes again, it was my grandfather once more who was waiting for me. But it was not a return to our normal routine. Ten minutes from home, we slammed into the back of a car that had stopped somewhere in front of us. I never looked up until I heard the squealing brakes and that was far too late to see much of anything H[FHSW WKH ZLQGVKLHOG DQG LWV UDSLG DSSURDFK ZKHQ P\ VHDW EHOW IDLOHG LW ZDVDIWHUDOODUDWKHUROGFDU DQG,ZHQWWXPEOLQJIRUZDUG0\IRUHKHDG 63
left an impressive spiderweb of cracks along the windshield; my chin and the dashboard left matching jagged holes in each other. Here the age of the car worked to my advantage; had the dash been less old, less sun-worn, it PLJKWKDYHVWRRGÂżUPDQGEURNHQP\MDZ There was a lost look on my grandfatherâ€™s face as he fumbled through his wallet for all the necessary insurance information. When he got out to speak to the other driver, a faded yellow post-it note fell out of his shirt pocket and onto the soft brown fuzz of the seat next to me. There, written in his own handwriting, was his name, birth date, address, and home telephone number. Typical emergency information, nothing that wouldnâ€™t be contained on a driverâ€™s license. I wasnâ€™t sure why he needed this extra copy, kept so much closer to hand. And then, with a sickening inner jolt not unlike the crash, I was sure; these were things he could no longer be certain of remembering. I stared at the yellow post-it note, sliced chin seeping red into the sleeve of my thick winter coat, and wondered which of them, the paper or the blood, was making me feel ill. 2Q WKH ZD\ KRPH , PDGH D SODQ , ZRXOGQÂśW WHOO DQ\RQH DERXW WKH yellow paper. I wouldnâ€™t let them think the wreck was my grandfatherâ€™s fault, wouldnâ€™t let on how much my chin hurt. Grandmother met us at the door when we got home and listened to my story with few questions. My mother was still at work, so I called to give her the news, striving for nonchalance, FHUWDLQLQDFRQÂżGHQWWKLUWHHQ\HDUROGZD\WKDW,KDGKDQGOHGLWSHUIHFWO\ DQGQRRQHZRXOGZRUU\7KDWQLJKWDIWHUDWULSWRWKHKRVSLWDODQGDEXWWHUĂ€\ bandage for my torn chin, my mother told me that Iâ€™d sounded strange on the phone, almost happy. Manic. Later I learned that this is a thing called shock. 3. Observing the gradual decline of a loved one from a competent individual to an incompetent dependent can be a harrowing experience. 7KHQH[WIRXU\HDUVZHUHDPLQHÂżHOGWRZKLFKQRQHRIXVKDGEHHQJLYHQ a map. We all learned, individually, how to speak to my grandfather, how to read his moods and his confusion. After being removed from his home of so many years, my grandfather mistook our new house for a hospital, a retirement home. He would pack his suitcase; ask us when he could leave. 64
:KHQKHFRXOGJRKRPH6RPHGD\VZHFRXOGH[SODLQWRKLPWKDWKHwas KRPH6RPHGD\VZHFRXOGQRW 2QFHKHEXWWRQHGKLVVKLUWZURQJDQGFRXOGQÂśWEHWROGWKDWWKLVZDV DQHUURUDWKLQJWREHÂż[HG+HPDGHXSWKLVHODERUDWHDQGEHPXVLQJVWRU\ about a shopping trip with my grandmother to an outlet mall, one of those â€œimperfectâ€? clothing stores where everything is discounted because of some VOLJKW Ă€DZ 7KH\ ERXJKW VKLUWV WKDW GD\ ZLWK XQHYHQ QXPEHUV RI EXWWRQV and buttonholes. We let him wear his â€œimperfectâ€? shirt; you learn to pick your battles. There were days when he would ask questions and listen intently, nodding at all our answers. There were days when nothing made sense, and he knewWKDWQRWKLQJPDGHVHQVHÂ˛DQGNQHZDOVRWKDWQRRQHFRXOGÂż[LW He didnâ€™t ask questions on those days and we didnâ€™t correct him when he made mistakes; those particular battles werenâ€™t worth it for anyone. When he asked to see his motherâ€”dead for more than twenty yearsâ€”we told him she would visit soon. My mother and grandmother and myself, when I came KRPHIURPFROOHJHZHUHDFWRUVLQRXURZQSROLWHÂżFWLRQ0\JUDQGIDWKHU was Costelloâ€™s elephant, lumbering ever further away on a trip we couldnâ€™t take with him. 6RPHWLPHV RQ JRRG GD\V KH ZRXOG ÂżQG PH XSVWDLUV LQ P\ URRP and we would talk. He was sweet but insistent, a kind-hearted detective determined to ferret out the secret of the girl upstairs with a face so like his own. He knew he ought to know, and knew that he didnâ€™t; he looked to me WRÂżOOLQWKHPLVVLQJSLHFHV:K\ZDV,KHUH"+RZGLGZHNQRZHDFKRWKHU" 2KFROOHJH":KDWZDV,VWXG\LQJ" I loved those times, and felt guilty for it. When I was small, and came home with a good report card, my grandfather would pull out his own faded elementary school report cards, dotted mostly with Câ€™s, and tell me that I was such a smart girl, that he was so proud. There in the white lamplight of my bedroom we engaged in historical re-enactment: I would tell him what I was doing in college, and he would be proud. â€œAnd...youâ€™re my granddaughter?â€? he would say, in a tone of utter wonderment, a pleased smile on his face. In those moments, I was. Could be again. 2QHPRUQLQJP\JUDQGIDWKHUVWRSSHGPHLQWKHVSDFHEHWZHHQWKH living room and kitchen and, pointing to my grandmother seated in her 65
DUPFKDLUDIHZIHHWDZD\DVNHGÂł7KDWÂśVP\ZLIHULJKW"Â´6KHVWLOOEURXJKW him coffee every morning, much the way he had once brought me breakfast. 6KHQHYHUOHWJRRIWKLVURXWLQH/DWHUVKHWROGPHWKDWKHKDGQHYHURQFHLQ RYHUÂżIW\\HDUVRIPDUULDJHHYHUIDLOHGWRVD\WKDQN\RXÂ˛HYHQZKHQKHQR longer understood whom he was thanking. I like to think that this is simply ZKR KH ZDV VRPHWKLQJ KLV LOOQHVV FRXOG QRW WDNH IURP KLP 2U IURP P\ grandmother. 4. Many dementing people die before they reach the stage of advanced dementia. 6KH ZDV PDNLQJ KLP FRIIHH WKH GD\ KH GLHG +H QHYHU FDPH WR breakfast and my grandmother, thinking to take him his morning coffee in bed, couldnâ€™t wake him. I went in alone to see the body, and felt something shift inside, low in my belly, like gravity, like the drop from the top of a roller coaster. And then I felt nothing. I left the room, left my grandmother in the arms of my mother, and took from a drawer in the kitchen the square black notebook that contained the addresses and phone numbers of family and close friends. â€œIâ€™ll make the calls,â€? I said, and retreated to my room. 2QFHWKHUH,VDWFURVVOHJJHGRQWKHEHGSKRQHEHVLGHPHSHQLQKDQG DQGPDGHDOLVW3ULRULWL]HZKRVKRXOG,FDOOÂżUVW":KRFDQZDLW":KRZLOO hear by word of mouth? I went through the book, writing down names, dialing numbers. I spoke to family. I told the story. I let them say comforting thingsâ€”â€œItâ€™s a blessing that he went at home.â€? â€œThis way, itâ€™s like he just went to sleep.â€? I said appreciative things back to them and did not cry. The list fell apart before I did. The last name Iâ€™d written, Madeleine, was out of order. Madeleine was an old childhood and lifelong friend of both P\ JUDQGSDUHQWV OLNH D VHFRQG JUDQGPRWKHU WR PH JUDQGSDUHQW WKLQN UHOHDVHYDOYHWKLQNSHUPLVVLRQJLYHUWKLQNÂł,WÂśVDOOULJKWWRÂŤÂ´ ,GLDOHGKHU number and, when she answered, simply said, â€œGrandaddyâ€™s dead.â€? I told KHUWKDW,ÂśGVHHQWKHERG\DQGVKHDVNHGLQDKRUULÂżHGWRQH,ZLOOQHYHUQRW EHDEOHWRUHFDOOÂł2K$VKOH\:DVKHFROG"Â´ â€œYes,â€? I said, and choked on the word. He was cold now. Faint bruiselike patterns had formed where the blood had stagnated and pooled in his veinsâ€”on his right side, because he slept that way, was still sleeping that way, and didnâ€™t he look peaceful? Wasnâ€™t I comforted? I put down my lists and stayed on the phone with Madeleine till I had no tears left to cry. 66
5. The major issue confronting caregivers by this stage of dementia is the grieving process. I am still a list-maker. They have not entirely lost their power, and are still my daily security blankets, but there are moments when I look at my blankets and see hisEODQNHWWKDW*HQXLQH2OG3HUVRQWKURZQRZWXFNHG away in a closet somewhere. I have faced, watched others face, things I cannot easily quantify, things that terrify me still. I will rail against it, force it into itemized, bullet-pointed perfection, but thereâ€™s an elephant graveyard waiting somewhere for everyone, and itâ€™s the tripâ€”over which we sometimes ÂżQGZHKDYHPXFKOHVVFRQWUROWKDWZHÂśGOLNHWREHOLHYHÂ˛WKDWNLOOVXVDOO
HOW TO BOIL AN EGG Deanna Larsen Find a chicken. 6HGXFHKHUZLWK\RXUUHDVRQLQJ dizzy her with statistics on export and nutrition. ([SODLQ\RXDUHQRWDIR[ 6OLS\RXUQLPEOH多QJHUVEHQHDWKKHUIHDWKHUV admire the Caspian shell in your palm. Take your wedding gift from the cupboard; 多OOWKHFDVWLURQSRWWRWKHEULP Reach an insufferable heat. Crack the barriers; then feast.
CONTRIBUTOR BIOS Brooke BaileyHDUQHGKHU%$LQ(QJOLVKIURP$SSDODFKLDQ6WDWH 8QLYHUVLW\LQ6LQFHWKHQVKHKDVWDXJKWKLJKVFKRRO(QJOLVKFODVVHV in rural North Carolina and worked as a corporate trainer. In the fall, she ZLOOEHDWWHQGLQJ1RUWK&DUROLQD6WDWH8QLYHUVLW\IRU+LJKHU(GXFDWLRQ Administration. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in various publications, including The Quotable, Certain Circuits, and Lavender Review. Myfanwy Collins has work published or forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, Cream City Review, AGNI, PANK, Mixer, Quick Fiction, Potomac Review, Mississippi Review, and other venues. Patrick Thomas Henry is a graduate of the Writers Institute at 6XVTXHKDQQD8QLYHUVLW\DQGKDVDOVRHDUQHGD0$LQ(QJOLVKOLWHUDWXUHDW %XFNQHOO8QLYHUVLW\&XUUHQWO\KHDWWHQGVWKH0)$SURJUDPLQ&UHDWLYH :ULWLQJDW5XWJHUV8QLYHUVLW\+LVÂ¿FWLRQLVIRUWKFRPLQJLQ7KH:ULWLQJ Disorder; he has published review essays in the journal Modern Language 6WXGLHVDQGKHLVWKHDXWKRURIWKHFULWLFDOKHDGQRWHVLQ2Q:ULWLQJ6KRUW 6WRULHVHGLWHGE\7RP%DLOH\+HEORJVDERXWOLWHUDWXUHDQGUHODWHGWRSLFV at http://penguininthemachine.blogspot.com. Amorak Huey recently left the newspaper business after 15 years as a reporter and editor. He teaches creative and professional writing at Grand 9DOOH\6WDWH8QLYHUVLW\LQ0LFKLJDQZKHUHKHOLYHVZLWKKLVZLIHDQGWZR FKLOGUHQ+LVSRHPVKDYHDSSHDUHGUHFHQWO\LQ7KH6RXWKHUQ5HYLHZ Rattle, Contrary, and other journals. Deanna Larsen is a teacher/tutor/translator in Minneapolis, MN. When VKHLVQRWGRLQJWKHDIRUHPHQWLRQHGVKHLVSUREDEO\DWKRPHZDWFKLQJ6WDU Trek with her cats. Her life dream is to be a contestant on Wheel of )RUWXQH+HUZRUNKDVDSSHDUHGLQ3$1.7KH$QWH5HYLHZ(XSKRQ\ The Dirty Napkin and elsewhere. Beginning in the fall of 2011, she will be DQ0)$FDQGLGDWHDW0LQQHVRWD6WDWH8QLYHUVLW\0DQNDWR
CONTRIBUTOR BIOS Jen Marquardt has a shiny new Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the &HQWHUIRU:ULWHUVDWWKH8QLYHUVLW\RI6RXWKHUQ0LVVLVVLSSL6KHOLNHVUHG shoes. Thomas Michael McDade lives in Monroe, CT, is married, no kids or pets. Heâ€™s a computer programmer in Meriden, CT, writing and maintainLQJVRIWZDUHXVHGLQWKHZKROHVDOHUHWDLOSOXPELQJVXSSO\Â¿HOG+HVHUYHG WZRKLWFKHVLQWKH861DY\DQGJUDGXDWHGIURP)DLUÂ¿HOG8QLYHUVLW\ 0F'DGHKDVGRQDWHGSLQWVRIEORRGUHFRUGHG DQGFRXQWLQJ+HLV WKHDXWKRURIWKUHHFKDSERRNV(3OXULEXV$OXPLQXP/LTXLG3DSHU3UHVV $XVWLQ7;2XU:RXQGV3LWFKIRUN3UHVVDOVR$XVWLQDQG7KULOODQG6ZLOO .HQGUD6WHLQHU(GLWLRQV6DQ$QWRQLR7;7516)5+XOOWRZQDQG 2Â¿3UHVVKDYHPRVWUHFHQWO\SXEOLVKHGKLVÂ¿FWLRQ Andrew PaytonLVDIRUPHUÂ¿OPPDNHUDQGIXWXUHIDUPHU+LVSRHWU\KDV EHHQSXEOLVKHGLQ7KH*:5HYLHZ7KH(XGDLPRQLD5HYLHZ*UXE6WUHHW DQGLVIRUWKFRPLQJLQGLVORFDWHDQG&DYHDW/HFWRU2ULJLQDOO\IURP Maryland, he has been vagabonding about for a few years, but is excited to EHVHWWOLQJGRZQWRDWWHQGWKH0)$SURJUDPDW,RZD6WDWH8QLYHUVLW\ Jessica Plante received an MA in Creative Writing, Poetry from the 8QLYHUVLW\RI1RUWK7H[DVLQZKHUHVKHVWXGLHGZLWK%UXFH%RQGDQG &RUH\0DUNV6KHZDVDVFKRODUVKLSUHFLSLHQWDWWKH1HZ<RUN6WDWH Writerâ€™s Institute where she studied with Henri Cole, and also has taught poetry workshops to incarcerated youth in Massachusetts. When not writing, reading, or consorting with poets and writers whenever possible, you PLJKW Â¿QG KHU SODQWLQJ JDUGHQV RU FUDVKLQJ ELUWKGD\ SDUWLHV +HU SRHWU\ has been published in the North Texas Review, Danse Macabre, and Zaum. 6KHFXUUHQWO\LVDQ0)$FDQGLGDWHDWWKH8QLYHUVLW\RI1RUWK&DUROLQD Greensboro. Jessica Poli UHFHQWO\ JUDGXDWHG IURP WKH 8QLYHUVLW\ RI 3LWWVEXUJK DQG ZLOOEHZDQGHULQJWKHFRXQWU\LQGHÂ¿QLWHO\+HUZRUNFDQDOVREHIRXQGLQ XSFRPLQJLVVXHVRIWKH0RQRQJDKHOD5HYLHZWKH6DQWD&ODUD5HYLHZDQG Collision.
Valerie Rubinaccio is a photographer, jewelry designer and artist livLQJLQ%URRNO\Q1<6KHUHFHQWO\JUDGXDWHGIURPWKH)DVKLRQ,QVWLWXWHRI 7HFKQRORJ\ZLWKD%6LQ$GYHUWLVLQJDQG0DUNHWLQJ&RPPXQLFDWLRQVDQG DPLQRULQ(QJOLVK+HUSKRWRJUDSK\ZRUNKDVDSSHDUHGDW7KH*UHHQSRLQW *DOOHU\DQGLQDVRORVKRZDW6TXDUHURRW&DIpLQ%URRNO\Q1<:KLOHKHU subject matter ranges, her images are tied together with a photojournalistic approach. Aside from photography, she also draws and paints primarily focusing on watercolors and ink while drawing inspiration from crystallization, supernatural imagery and anatomy. Valerie also designs a jewelry line, which is sold in multiple New York boutiques. Karin Rosman OLYHVLQ6HDWWOHEXWJUHZXSLQWKHUXUDOFRPPXQLWLHVRI Montana and Idaho. When she was a child, she saw a news show about a church that incorporated dangerous snakes into the service. It was both beautiful and horrifying. At the same time, the regions where she lived were KHDYLO\LQĂ€XHQFHGE\IXQGDPHQWDOLVPZKLFKFRQWLQXHVWRIDVFLQDWHKHU Michael Simonâ€™s work has appeared in Cider Press Review and Cimarron Review, and he is a recipient of the David Craig Austen Memorial Award for SRHWU\IURP&ROXPELD8QLYHUVLW\+HOLYHVLQ1HZ<RUN Courtney Thomas Vanceâ€™s ZRUNIRFXVHVRQOLIHLQWKHPDUJLQV6KHÂśVD Hoosier, a New Yorker, and a Texan â€“ in that order. Her interests include perfecting her buttermilk biscuit recipe, reading good literature, and farmLQJ 6KH KDV DOVR EHHQ SXEOLVKHG LQ ,QGHSHQGHQW ,QN 0DJD]LQH DQG LV D IXWXUHIHOORZDWWKH0LFKHQHU&HQWHUIRU:ULWHUVDWWKH8QLYHUVLW\RI7H[DV at Austin. $VKOH\:DNHÂżHOGLVDQDGMXQFW(QJOLVKLQVWUXFWRUZKROLYHVZRUNVDQG ZULWHVLQ&ODUNVYLOOH71Â˛WKRXJKQRWIRUPXFKORQJHU6KHZLOOVRRQIXOÂżOOD lifelong dream of studying in Wales, and is counting the days until she can OLYHZRUNDQGZULWHLQDSODFHVDQGZLFKHGEHWZHHQWKH,ULVK6HDDQGWKH home of her grandmotherâ€™s ancestors.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This issue would not be possible without the generous support of our benefactors: MAIYA HAYES DEANNA LARSEN and CHELSEA BIONDOLILLO
and the advice and aid of: TERRY BABB JUSTIN CARROLL and DR. DAVID JAUSS.
We would also like to thank everyone who took a chance on us. Thank you for sending us your work. Thank you for your faith and kindness; thank you for your patience as we worked out kinks, dealt with the blind submissions system, and reworked our submission guidelines. Weâ€™re nothing without you, the readers and writers who support the Rev House.
Published on Jun 15, 2011