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rown Spring2014 Intermediate Fiction LITR 210a 802 Course packet sales are nonrefundable All sates final U wa rd Table of Contents and Date for Discussion LITR 210a Section 2 February 5 Kafka and Borges from pdf S 12 Angela Carter Re ections Grace Paley Wants 19 Sarah ShunLien Bynurn The Young Wife s Tale Kelly Link Light 26 Lucy Corin Mice Lydia Davis The House Behind March 5 Nicholas Mosley The Sea from a pdf Paul Bowles Pages From Cold Point 12 Stanislaw Lem from The Qyberiad Edgar Rice Burroughs In the Atmosphere Factory from A Prirzcess ofWm Antoine Volodine from W39in0 Anget5 19 Dashiell Hammett from The Thin Man Paul Auster from City qfGlass China Mi ville from Perdido Street Station Mervyn Peake from The Great Kitchen from Titus Groan XHits LIVING REMOTELY ON THE I39 IN391quot COAST or ENGLAND soivte twenty years ago beavering away on that impossible project The Public Burning I began with a kind of fan letter to the then largely unknown British writer Angela Carter an intense penpal relationship that was to last for two years before we could actually meet and then as a personal friend ship for many years more until death stole her breath away Perhaps I should have written more such letters my life might have been much more I beautiful I d been working very hard writing at least twelve hours a day my hero 39 was at the time boarding the train to Sing Sing prison while behind him the crowds were gathering in Times Square and he it they and I were all very hot I badly needed a couple of short stories one night just to cool off and there on the top of my stack of unread books was Angela Carter s Firewories published that year in England without fanfare by Quartet Books I lay back expecting nothing hoping in fact to be lulled to sleep but as soon sat 39 up astonished riveted filled with delight I had just discovered I knew in a moment one of my greatest living contemporaries Even so I probably would have remained a secret admirer had I not439ustquot accepted in spite of or because OD my isolation the temporary fiction edi torship of The Iowa Review so I was able to write to her a mere cover Zoved this writer but useful for one for whom such letters were no easy habit as a wouldbe publisher of her writing As it happened I ended up devoting an entire issue to her work the centerpiece of which was the disquot turbingly beautiful masterpiece of Fireworks fReflectionsquot which had as told her in my letter left me breathlessquot She replied I am especially pleased you liked Reflections because it is one of the very few pieces that made up as I went along I usually work to a very tight schema and I still dont know what it means The imagery was in charge of me instead of vice versa This was true about her writing instincts we shared this structure overquot image substance over style but we also most admired in each other thos moments when our best intentions were overwhelmed by the raw story stuff within Reflections is a most mysterious tale violent magical comic men acing seemingly transparent but like the mirror through which it displays itself bewilderingly deceptive Reflections Angela Carter was walking in a wood one late spring day of skimming cloud and showertarnished sunshine the sky a lucid if intermittent bluecool bright tremulous weather A coloratura blackbird perched on a bough curded with greenish mayblossom let fall a flawed chain of audible pearl I was alone in the springenchanted wood I slashed the taller grasses with my stick and now and then surprised some woodland creature rat or rabbit that ed away from me through long grass where little quotdaisies and spindly branches of buttercups were secreted among gleaming stems still moist at the roots from last night srain that had washed and refreshed the entire wood had dowered it the poignant transparency the unique inconsolabie quality of rainy countries as if all was glimpsed through tears The crisp air was perfumed with wet grass and fresh earth The year was swinging on the numinous hinges of the solstice but I was ingenuous and sensed no imminence in the magic silence of the rustling wood Then I heard a young girl singing Her voice performed a trajectory of sound far more ornate than that of the blackbird who ceased at once to sing when he heard it for he could not compete with the richly crimson sinuosity of a voice that pierced the senses of the listener like an arrow in a dream She sang and her words thrilled through me for they seemed filled with a meaning that had no relation to meaning as I understood it Under the leaves she sang and the leaves of life Then in mid flight the song ceased and left me dazzled My attention abstracted from my surroundings all at once my foot turned on an object hidden in the grass and I tumbled to the ground Though I fell on the soft wet grass I was shaken and winded I forgot that luring music Cursing my obstacle I searched among the pale earthstained rootlets to find it and my fingers closed on of all things a shell A shell so far from the sea When I tried to grasp it in order to pick it up and examine it the better I found the act unexpectedly difficult and my determination to lift it quickened although at the same time I felt a shiver of fear for it was so very very heavy and its contours so chill that a shock like cold electricity darted up my arm from the shell into my heart I was seized with the most intense disquiet I was mysti fied by the shell I thought it must be a shell from a tropic ocean since it was far larger and more elaborately whorled than the shells I d found on the shores of the U21 122 139 REFLECTIONS Atlantic There was some indefinable strangeness in its shape I could not immediately define It glimmered through the grass like a cone of trapped moonlight although it was so very cold and so heavy it seemed to me it might contain all the distilled heaviness of gravity itself within it I grew very much afraid of the shell I think I sobbed Yet I was so determined to wrench it from the ground that I clenched my muscles and gritted my teeth and tugged and heaved Up it came at last and I rolled over backwards whenit freed itself But now I held the prize in my hands and I was for the moment satis ed When I looked at the shell more closely I saw the nature of the teasing difference that had struck me when I first set eyes on it The whorls of the shell went the wrong way The spirals were reversed It looked like the mir ror image of a shell and so it should not have been able to exist outside a mirror in this world it could not exist outside a mirror But all the same I held it The shell was the size of my cupped hands and cold and heavy as death In spite of its fabulous weight I decided to carry it through the wood for I thought I would take it to the little museum in the nearby town where they would inspect it and test it and tell me what it might be and how it could have arrived where I found it But as I staggered along with it in my arms it exerted such a pull downwards on me that several times I nearly fell to my knees as if the shell were determined to drag me not dowrrmo the earth but into the earth itself And then to complete my confusion I heard that witching voice again Under the leaves But this time when a gasp stopped the song the voice changed at once to the imperative Sick 0F she urged Sick im Before I had a chance to do more than glance in the direction of the voice a bullet whirred over my head and buried itself m the trunk of an elm tree releasing from their nests in the upward branches a whirring hurricane of crows An enormous black dog bounded towards me from the under39 growth so suddenly I saw no more than his yawning scarlet maw and lolling tongue before I went down on my face beneath him The fright nearly bereft me of my senses The dog slavered wetly over me and the next thing I knew a hand seized my shoulder and roughly turned me over She had called the dog away and now it sat on its haunches pantingf watching me with a quick red eye It was black as coal some kind of lurcher with balls the size of grapefruit Both the dog and the girl glanced at me without charity She wore blue jeans and boots a wide vmdictiveljig buckled leather belt and a green sweater IIer tangled brown hair hun about her shoulders in a calculated disorder that was not wild IIer dark eye 39 browsl were perfectly straight and gave her stern face a gravity as awful ANGELA CARTER quot T23 that of the shell I held in my hand Her blue eyes the kind the Irish say have been put in with a sooty nger held no comfort nor concern for me for they were the eyesuthat justice would have if she were not blind She car ried a sporting ri e slung across her shoulder and I knew at once this ri e had fired the shot She might have been the gamekeepefs daughter but no she was too proud she was a savage and severe woodranger Why I do not know but every impulse told me to conceal my shell and I hugged it close to me as if my life depended on keeping it although it was so heavy and began to throb with a wild palpitation so that it seemed the shell had disordered my own heart or else had become my own disor dered heart But my brusque captress poked at my hands with the barrel of 39 her ri e so roughly my bruised fingers let the shell fall She bent forward so that her necromantic hair brushed my face and picked up the shell with amazing ease She examined it for a moment and then without a word or sign to me tossed it to her lurcher who seized it in his mouth ready to carry it for her The dog began to wag his tail The rhythmic swishing of his tail upon the grass was now the only sound in the clearing Even the trees had ceased to murmur as though a holy terror hushed them She gestured me tomy feet and when I was upright she thrust the mouth of the gun in the small of my back and marched me through the wood at gunpoint striding along behind me while the dog padded beside her with the shell in his mouth All took place in unadulterated silence but for the raucous panting of the dog The cabbage white butter ies ick ered upon the still air as if nothing whatsoever were out of the ordinary while deliciouslooking apricot and violet colored clouds continued to chase one another across the sun according to the indifferent logic of the upper heavens for the clouds were moved by a fierce wind that blew so high above the wood everything around me was as tranquil as water trapped in a lock and mocked the inward perturbation that shook me Soon we reached an overgrown path that took us to a gate set in a gar den wall where there was an old fashioned bellpull and dangling above it a bell stained with moss and rust The girl with the ri e rang this bell before she opened the gate as if to warn whoever was at home that visitors were arriving The gate led into a graceful and dilapidated walled garden full of the herbaceous splendors of early summer hollyhocks wall owers roses There was a mossed sundial and a little stone statue of a nude youth stretch ing his arms up out of a cuirass of ivy But though the bees hummed among the flowerbells the grass was as long as it had been in the wood and just as full of buttercups and daisies Dandelions expired in airy seed quotheads in the ower beds ragged robin and ground elder conspired to oust the perennials from the borders and a bright sadness of neglect touched everything as though with dust just as it did the ancientbrick house almost covered with creepers that slept within the garden an ancient tumbledown l24 39 REFLECTIONS place with a look of oracular blindness in windows that were stopped up with vines and flowers The roof was lichened quite over so that it seemed upholstered in sleek green fur Yet there was no peace in thedisheveled loveliness of the place the very plants that grew there seemed tensed in 3 curious expectancy as though the garden were a waitingroom There was a short crumbling flight of steps that led to a weathered front door ajar like the door of a witch s house Before the door I involuntarily halted a dreadful vertigo seized me as if I stood on the edge of an abyss My heart had been thumping far too hard and far too fast since I had picked up the shell and now it seemed about to burst from too much strain Faintness and terror of death swept over me but the girl prodded me cruelly in the buttocks with her ri e so I was forcibly marched into a countryhouse hall with dark stained floorboards a Persian carpet and a Jacobean oak chest with an antique bowl on it all complete yet all as if untouched for years for decades A maze of dust danced in the beam of sunshine that disturbed the choked indoor air when we broke into it Every corner was softened by Cobwebs while the industrious spiders had wound filaments of geometric lace this way and that between the cnlmbling furniture A sweet rank smell of damp and decay filled the house it was cold inside and dark The door swung to behind us but did not close and we went up a staircase of wormeaten oak I first she after and then the dog whose claws clattered on the bare wood At first I thought the spiders had cast their nets on both sides of thesstair butthen I saw the workmanship that wound down the inner side of the staircase was not that of the spiders for though it was the same color this web had a determinate pattern that resembled nothing so much as open work knitting the kind of featherlike floating stuff from which they make 39 courtesans bedjackets This knitting was part of an interminable muffler that as I watched it crept with vegetable slowness little by little downstairs towards the hall Yard upon yard of the muffler was coiled up in airy folds f on the landing and there I could hear the clack clack clack of a pair ofquot knitting needles ticking away monotonously near at hand The muffler came 1 out of a door that like the front door stood a little open it edged through 39 the gap like a tenuous serpent My captress motioned me aside with the muzzle of her rifle andquot knocked firmly on the door Inside the room someone coughed dryly then invited us Come in It was a soft rustling unemphatic almost uninflected faded faintly per39 fumed voice like very old lace handkerchiefs put away long ago in a drawer 3992 with potpourri and forgotten My captress thrust me through the door before her when I was close to her my nostrils quivered at the vicious odor of her skin It was a large room part drawingroom part bedroom for the being who lived in it was cri pled She he it whoever whatever my host or hostess may have been lay in an oldfashioned wicker bathchair beside a cracked marble fireplae ANGELA CARTER 13939 125 bossed quotwith swags and cupids Her white hands nished in ngers so inde cently long so white and so translucent they raised lewd thoughts of can dles and feminine self gratification those tapering fingers were the source of the bewildering muffler for they held two bone needles and never ceased to move The volatile stichery they produced occupied all the carpetless area of the floor and in places was piled up as high as the crippled knees of its maker There was yards and yards of it in the room perhaps even miles and miles of it and I stepped through and across it very carefully nudging it out of the way with my toes to arrive where the girl directed me with her gun in the position of a suppliant before the bathchair The crippled being who lay in it had the most regal cast of chin and mouth imaginable and the proud sad air of the king of a rainy country One of her profiles was that of a beautiful woman the other that of a beautiful man It is a defect in our language there is no term of reference for these indeterminate and uI 1ClE 39flI1 able beings but although she acknowledged no gender I will call her she because she had put on a female garment a loose neglig of spidencolored lace unless she like the spiders spun and wove her own thread and so had become clothed for her shadowy hair was also the color of the stuff she knitted and so evanescent in texture it seemed to move of its own accord on the air around her Her eyelids and the cavernous sockets of her eyes were thickly stuck with silver sequins that glittered in the strange subaqueous drowned drowning light that suffused the room a light filtered through win dows caked with grime and half covered by creeper clairvoyant light reflected with an enhanced strangeness by the immense mirror in a chipped gilt frame hanging on the wall opposite the fireplace it seemed the mirror like the moon was itself endowed with the light it gave back to us Wim a touching fidelity the mirror duplicated the roomandall it con tained the replace the walls covered with a stained white paper stippled with fronds of greenery every piece of neglected ormolu furniture How pleased I was to see my experiences had not changed me though my old tweed suit was stained with grass my stick gone left behind where I had dropped it in the wood And so much dirt on my face But I looked as if I were re ected in a forest pool rather than by silvered glass for the surface of the mirror looked like the surface of motionless water or of mercury as though it were a solid mass of liquid kept in place by some inversion of gravity that reminded me of the ghastly weight of the shell that now 39 dropped at the androgyne s feet from the dog s mouth She never stopped knitting for one moment as she nudged it with a beautiful toe painted with a rime of silver woe gave her a purely female face I Only one little stitch And I only dropped one little stitch she mourned And she bowed her head over her work in an ecstasy of regret At least it wasn t out long said the girl Her voice had a clanging reso nance mercy was a minor key that would never modify its martial music He found it 39 39 l26 39 REFLECTEONS She gestured towards me with her gun The androgyne directed upon me a pair of Vague toolarge stagnant eyes that did not shine Do you know where this shell comes from quot she asked me with a grave courtesy Ishook my head It comes from the Sea of Fertility Do you know where that is On the surface of the moon I answered My voice sounded coarse and rough to me 39 Ah she said the moon the source of polarized light Yes and no to your reply It is an equivalence The sea of fertility is a reversed system since everythingthere is as dead as this shell He found it in the wood said the girl Put it back where it belongs Anna said the androgyne who pos sessed a frail yet absolute air of authority Before any harm is done The girl bent and picked up the shell She scrutinized the mirror and took aim at some spot it that seemed to her a logical target for the shell I saw her raise her arm to throw the shell into the mirror and I saw39 39 her mirrored arm raise the shell to throw it outside the mirror Then she threw the duplicated shell There was no sound in the room but the click of the knitting needles when she threw the shell into the mirror while her reflection threw the shell out of the mirror The shell when it met its own reflection disappeared immediately I 39 The androgyne sighed with satisfaction A The name of my niece is Anna she said to me because she can go both ways As indeed I can myself thoughi am not a simple palindrome She gave me an enigmatic smile and moved her shoulders so that the lace neglig she wore fell back from her soft pale breasts that were eachquot one tipped with nipples of deep dark pink with the whorled crenellationsV of raspberries and then she shifted her loins a little to display savage and 3 barbaric in their rude redpurple repose the phallic insignia of rnaleness She can said Anna go both ways although she cannot move at all So her power is an exact equivalent of her impotence since both are abso 39 lute 39 But her aunt looked down at her soft weapon and said gently Not 1 darling absolutely absolute Potency impotence in potem iahence relative Only the intermediary since indeterminate 39 With that shequot caressed her naked breasts with a stunted gesmre ofhe forearmsshe could not move her arms freely because she did not stop knit ting They looked at one another and laughed Their laughter drove icicle of fear into my brain and I did not know which way to turn 39 You see we must do away with you said the androgyne You know too much Panic broke over me like a wave I plunged across the room towards the door careless of Anna s gun in my attempted ight But my feet wetquot snared by the knitting and once again I plunged downwards but this n ANGELA CARTER 127 mi fall half stunned me I lay dazed while their renewed laughter darted cruelly about the room Oh said Anna but we shan t kill you We shall send you through the mirror We hall d r belong non Sen You here the Shell Went Since that 15 Where You But the shell vanished I said N05 rel ied the 3ndI0gY1 1 It did not vanish in reality That shell had no business in this world I dropped a stitch this morningI only one 1111 39 h e madnZ1 that CO111fOund d shell slipped through the hole the dropped it met ts ecause ose shells are all so very very heavy you see when 1 re ection it returned to its proper place It cannot comequot back 110W and neither will you after we have sent you through the mirror Her VOICE wasso very gentle yet she offered me a perpetual estrange ment I let out a cry Anna turned to her aunt and placed her hand on her ge il li i 50 T1h fquotfh6 COCk sprang up It was of redoubtable size Oh auntie don t scare him she said Then they uttered the weird harpies so that I re be d with fear and bewilderment was qm S1 6 myself It is a system of equivalences 39 said the andro sh cam gun YOU See and I too gyms 6 es the She di3P13Y C1 her towering erection with the air of a demonstrator in laboratory 39 e a In my intermediary and cohesive logic the equivalences reside beyond 5Ymb01iSm The gun and the phallus are similar in their connection with jfe quot ha 3 is one SW53 it and the other takes it away so that both 39 essence are similar in that the negation freshly states the affirmed proplaslll tion quot I was more bewildered than ever 39 But do all the men in the mirror world have guns between their thighs Anna exclaimed with irritation at my simp1ici1y That s no more likely than that I could irnpregnate you with thiS She Said pointing her gun at me here or in any other world Embrace yourself in the mirror said the androgyne knitting knittjn knitting away You must go now Now 1 g bid A11 win I1 1I11medher menace there was nothing for it but to do as they ran Ove Sniff e mirror and examined myself 1139 its depths A faint ripple r 1 ace but when I touched it with my fingers the Surface was ust as smooth and hard as it should have been I saw that my reflection was cut off at the thighs by the gilt frame and Anna said Climb on 3 stool Who d want you truncated here or there She gnnn ed in an appalling fashion and slipped back the safety catch on her ri e So I pulled a little caneseated giltwbacked chair to the mine and clambered up I gazed at myself in the mirror there I was complete from head to toe and there they were behind me the androgyne weaving her E30 39 REFLIIEWCETIONS fore my only safety in this unknown world that Anna who now smiled inscrutably at me negotiated as skillfully as if she herself the solstice in per I son went on curious hinges between this place and that place unlike her aunt who since she was crippled could notlmove unless her condition of permanent stasis meant she was moving too fast for me to see with a speed the inertia of the eye registered as immobility But when the door creaked open on everyday iron hinges that had never been oiled in this world or any other world I saw only the staircase up which Anna had led me down which she would now lead me and the muffler that still curled down to the hall The air was dank just as it had been Only all the alignments of the stairwell had been subtly altered and the light was composed of a reversed spectrum The webs of the spiders presented structures of white fire so minutely 39 altered from those I had passed on my way upstairs that only memory made me apprehend how their geometrical engineering had all been executed backwards So we passed under the spectral arch they had prepared for us 39 and out into the open air that did not refresh my bewildered brain for it was as solid as water dense and compact of an impermeable substance that transmitted neither sound nor odor To move through this liquid silence demanded the utmost exertion of physical energy and intellectual concentra tion for gravity beyond the mirror was not a property of the ground but of 39 the atmosphere Then Anna who understood the physical laws of this world exerted a negative pressure upon me by some willed absenceof impulse and to my amazement I now moved as if propelled sharply from 39 behind along the path to the gate past owers that distilled inexpressible colors from the black sky above us colors whose names only exist in an inverted language you could never understand if I were to speak it But the 39 colors were virtually independent of the forms of the plants Haloes of incandescence they had arbitrarily settled about spread umbrellas of petals I as thin yet as hard as the shoulder blade of a rabbit for the fresh of the flowers was calcified and lifeless no plant was sentient in this coral garden All had suffered a dead sea change And the black sky possessed no dimension of distance nor gave none it did not arch above us but looked as if it were pasted behind the at out lines of the halfruinous house that now lay behind us a shipwreck bearing a marvelous freight the female man or virile woman clicking away at her needles in a visible silence A visible silence yes for the dense fluidity of the atmosphere did not transmit sound to me as sound but instead as irregular kinetic abstractions etched uponits interior so that once in the new wood a sinister mineral realm of undlminishable darkness to listen to the blackbird was to watch a moving point inside a block of deliquescent glass I saw these sounds because my eyes took in a different light than the I light that shone on my breast when my heart beat on the other side of it although the wood through whose now lateral gravity Anna negotiated me was the same wood in which I had been walking when I first heard her ANGELA CARTER I I31 sing quotAnd I cannot tell you since there is no language in this world to do so how strange the antithetical wood and sweet June day were for both had become the systematic negation of its others Anna in some reversed fashion must still have been menacing me with her gun since it was her impulse that moved me on we went just as we had corne but Anna now went before me with the muzzle of her gun pressed in the belly of nothingness and the dog her familiar this time in the van Andthis dog was white as snow and its balls were gone on this side of the mirror all dogs were bitches and vice versa I saw wild garlic and ground elder and the buttercups and daisies in the fossilized undergrowth now rendered in vivacious yet unnamable colors as I immobile arabesques without depth But the sweetness of the wild roses rang in my ears like a peal of windbells for the vibrations of the perfumes echoed on my eardrums like the pulse of my own blood since though they had become a kind of sound they could not carry in the same way that sound did I could not for the life of me make up my mind which world was which for I understood this world was coexistent in time and space with the other wood was asit were the polarization of that other wood although it was in no way similar to the re ection the other wood or this wood might have made in a mirror The more my eyes grew accustomed to the dark the less in common did the petrified ora seem to have with anything I knew I perceived all had been starkly invaded with yes shells enormous shells giant and unin habited shells so we might have been walking in the ruins of a marine city 39 the coolpale coloring of those huge shells now glowed with a ghostly oth erness and they were piled and heaped upon one another to parody the landscape of the woodland unless the trees parodied them all were 39 whorled the wrong way round all had that deathly weight the supernatural resonance of the shell which seducedme and Anna told me in a soundless language I understood immediately that the transfigured wood fertile now only of metarnorphoses was for how could it be anydiing else the Sea of Fertility The odor of her violence deafened me Then once again she began to sing I saw the mute dark fire burning like Valhalla in Gdrterd immemng She sang a funeral pyre the swan s song death itself and with a brusque motion of her gun she forced me forward on my knees while the dog stood over me as she tore open my 39 clothes The serenade smoldered all around us and I was so much at the mercy of the weight of the air which pressed down on me like a coffin lid and of the viscosity of the atmosphere that I could do nothing to defend myself even if I had known how and soon she had me poor forked thing stretched out upon a bank of shells with my trousers around my knees She smiled but I could not tellwhat the smile meant on this side of the mirror a smile was no clue whatsoever to intention or to feeling and I did not think she meant to do me a good deed as she unbuckled her uncouth leather belt and stepped out of her jeans I32 quot REFLECTIONS Parting the air with the knives of her arms she precipitated herself upon me like a quoit on a peg I screamed the notes of my scream rose up on the air like PingPong balls on a jet of water at a funfair She raped me perhaps I her gun in this system gave her the power to do so I shouted and swore but the shell grotto in which she ravished me did not reverberate and I only emitted gobs of light Her rape her violation of me caused me atrocious physical and mental pain My being leaked away from me under the visitation of her aggressive esh My self grew less in agony under the piston thrust of her slender loins as if she were a hammer I and were forging me into some other substance than flesh and spirit I knew the dreadful pleasureof abandonment she had lit my funeral pyre and now would kill me I felt such outrage I beat in the air behind my head with my helpless fists as she pumped away indefatigably at my sex and to my sur prise I saw her face cloud and bruises appear on it although my hands were nowhere near her She was a brave girl she only fucked the harder for she was intransigent and now resembled the Seljuk Turks sacking Con stantinople I knew there was no hope for me if I did not act immediately Her gun lay propped against the shells beside us I reached the other way and seized it I shot at the black sky while she straddled me The bullet pierced a neat round empty hole in the at vault of the heavens but no light no sound leaked through I had made a hole without quality but Anna let out a ripping shriek that sent a jagged scar across the surface of the wood She tumbled backwards and twitched a little The dog growled atme a terrible sight and leaped at my throat butI quickly shot her also in this negative way and now free there remained only the problem of the return to the mirror the return to the right hand side of the world But I kept tight hold of the gun by grasping it loosely because of the guardian of the mir ror To return to the house I struck out from the shell grotto where Anna lay in the opposite direction from the one we had come from I must have fallen into a mirror elision of reflected time or else I stumbled upon a physi cal law I could not have guessed at for the wood dissolved as if the bloodquot that leaked from Anna s groin was a solvent for its petrified substance andquot now I found myself back at the crumbling gate before her juices were dry on my cock I paused to do up my fly before I made my way to the door I used my arms like scissors to snip through the thickness of the atmosphere for it grew moment by moment less liquid and more impalpable I did not ring the bell so great was my outrage so vivid my sense of having been the plaything of these mythic and monstrous beings The knitting curled down the stairs just as I expected and in anothe moment I saw on a staccato stave the sound of the needles She he it Tiresias though she knitted on remorselessly was keening over a whole dropped row of stitches trying to repair the damage as best she could Her keening filled the room with a Walpurgisnacht of crazy shapes and when she saw I was alone she ung back her head and ANGELA CARTER 133 howled In that decompression chamber between here and there I heard a voice as clear as crystal describe a wordless song of accusation Oh my Anna what have you done with my Anna I shot her I cried With her own weapon A rape She s raped screamed the androgyne as I dragged the gilt 39 chair to the mirror and ciambered upon it In the silvered depths before me I saw the new face of a murderer I had put on behind the mirror The androgyne still knitting kicked with her bare heels upon the oor I to drive her bathchair over the wreathing muffler towards me in order to attack me The bathchair cannoned into the chair on which I stood and she rose up in it as far as she could and began to beat me with her tender fists But because she did not stop knitting she offered no resistance when I brought my ham hand crashing down on her working face I broke her nosebright blood sprang out I turned to the mirror as she screamed and dropped her knitting 39 She dropped her knitting as I crashed through the glass a through the glass glass splintered round me driving unmercifully into my face I through the glass glass splintered through the glass half through 39 V Then the glass gathered itself together like aquotskillful whore and expelled me The glass rejected me it sealed itself again into nothing but mysterious reflective opacity It became a mirror and it was impregnable Ballted I stumbled back In T iresias s bedsitting room there was the most profound silence and nothing moved the flow of time might have stopped Tiresias held her empty hands to her face that was now irretriev ably changed each one snapped clean in two her knitting needles lay on the floor Then she sobbed and ung out her arms in a wild helpless ges ture Blood and tears splashed down on her robe but in a baleful hopeless way she began to laugh although time must have started again and now moved with such destructive speed that before my eyes that ageless being withered a quick frost touched her Wrmkles sprang out on her pale fore head while her hair fell from her head in great armfuls and her neglig turned brown and crumbled away to reveal all the esh that sagged from the bone as I watched it She was the ruins of time She grasped her throat and choked Perhaps she was dying The muffler was blowing away like dead leaves in a wind that sprang up from nowhere and racedthrough the room although the windows stayed shut tight But Tiresias spoke to me she spoke to me once again 39 The umbilical cord is cut she said The thread is broken Did you quotnot realize who I was That I was the synthesis in person For I could go any way the world goes and so I was knitting the thesis and the antithesis together this world and that world Over the leaves and under the leaves Cohesion gone Ah H134quot REFLECTIONS Down she tumbled the bald old Crone upon a pile of wisps of ur1raV eled grey wool as the ormolu furniture split apart and the paper un irled from the Wall ButI was arrogant I was undefeated Had Inot39kJ39l1edquothe39 Proud as 3 max I once againadvanced to meet my image in the mirrorquot F1411 of se1f confidence I held out my hands to embrace my selfmy antise1f Y self not se1f my assassin my death the worId s death 1 THE WOMAN wno srrs ON THE naaaav STEPS AT THE BEGINNING or Grace Paley s short story Wants doesn t want anything that s her problem according to her erehusband And she doesn t want things purchases that s true Her wants are political so deeply political they can look whimsical in these United States She wants to be the effective citizen in this dear urban center Well when I first read this story in 1930 I just plain cheered I was writing fiction for the first time then and it wasn t only the narrator s political mindfulness that made me happy but also Paley s writing of the story that encouraged me the way it begins on the steps of the library and doesn t go farther than through the door returning books the nerve and confidence of the sentences straightforward talky a woman s voice that made me think the simple thought IIere is a person Before reading this story it s the opening one in Enormous Changes at the Last Mmute I d never run across or noticed writing like Paley s spare freewheeling sentences and the play of story from here to there with the meander I recognized as the way things really go along The p1umber s snake sentence in this story is a sentence along with the two sentences after it I still often read to students The paragraph sounds sirnpleitjust goes along and yaks But for me it s wild and drastic writirig tl1e way it keeps going through the ear down the throat The paragraph twists and turns easy and painful comic and devastating It s a knowing paragraph comprehending more than it claims embodying things we think of as per sonal or political or cultural in the plain tones of a speaking voice the shaped air out of that woman s mouth 39 In this story Grace Paley clearly doesn t want a fancy narrative or any thing choking with equipment She s one of the writers whose work early on convinced me I don t want much in a story either Not the big purchases the fine finishes Tm short of requests and absolute requirements as the woman says Paley s story opens up and pares down a woman s voice to the bare bones of her politics and imagination It s a story that convinced me then and still convinces me that fictionldoesrft need even if it wants large events or epiphanies or dramatic turns At least some of us don t want them don t require them don t trust them These are political issues as well as writing issues and Paley s match of these matters in Wants made me want to shake her hand kiss her hair Take some appropriate action in words finally here 39 Z Wc nts Grace Paley saw my ex husband in the street I was sitting on the steps of the new library 39 Hello my life I said We had once been married for twentyseven years 39 so I felt justified He said What What life No life of mine I said OK I don t argue when there s real disagreement I got up and went into the library to see how much I owed them The librarian said 32 even and you ve owed it for eighteen years I didn t deny anything Because I don t understandhow time passes I have had those books I have often thought of them The library is only two blocks away My eX husband followed me to the Books Returned desk He inter rupted the librarian who had more to tell In many ways he said as I look back I attribute the dissolution of our marriage to the fact that you neverquot invited the Bertrams to dinner 39 39Ihat s possible I said But really if you remember first my father was sick that Friday then the children were born then I had those 39I uesday night meetings then the war began Then we didn39t seem to know them any more But you re right I should have had them to dinner I gave the librarian a check for 32 Immediately she trusted me put my past behind her wiped the record clean which is just what most other municipal and or state bureaucracies will not do I checked out the two Edith Wharton books I had just returned because I d read them so long ago and they are more apropos now than ever They were The House of Mirth and The Children which is about how life in the United States in New York changed in twentyseven years fifty years ago A nice thing I do remember is breakfast my eiehusband said I was sur prised All we ever had was coffee Then I remembered there was a hole in the back of the kitchen closet which opened into the apartment next door There they always ate sugarcured smoked bacon It gave us a very grand feeling about breakfast but we never got stuffed and sluggish That was when we were poor I said When were we ever rich he asked Oh as time went on as our responsibilities increased we didn t go in need You took adequate financial care I reminded him The children went to camp four weeks a year and in decent ponchos with sleeping bags and 39 39 469 470 39 WANTS boots just like everyone else They looked very nice Our place was warm in winter and we had nice red pillows and things 39 39 I wanted a sailboat he said But you didn t want anything Don t be bitter I said It s never too late 39 No he said with a great deal of bitterness I may get a sailboat As a matter of fact I have money down on an eighteenfoot tworigger I rn doing well this year and can look forward to better But as for you it s too late You ll always want nothing I 39 He had had a habit throughout the twentyseven years of making a nar row remark which like a plumbers snake could work its Way through the ear down the throat halfway to my heart He would then disappear leaving me choking with equipment What I mean is I sat down on the library steps and he went away I looked through The House of Mirth but lost interest I l el 39 Xt139 IIl l 7 accused Now it s true I m short of requests and absolute requirements But Ido want something 39 I want for instance to be a different person I want to be the woman who brings these two books back ir1 two weeks I want to be the effective citizen who changes the school system and addresses the Board of Estimate on the troubles of this dear urban center I had promised my children to end the war before they grew up I wanted to have been married forever to one person myquotquote EJhusband or my present one Either has enough character for a whole life which as it turns out is really not such a long time You couldrrt exhaust either man s qualities or get under the rock of his reasons in one short life 39 Just this morning I looked out the window to watch the street for a while and saw that the little sycamores the city had dreamily planted a cou ple of years before the kids were born had come that day to the prime of their lives 39 Well 1 decided to bring those two books back tothe library Which proves that when a person or arrevent comes along to jolt or appraise me I 39 can take some appropriate action although I are better known for my hos pitable remarks 39 THERE ONCE WAS A KING who came to his throne only after a long period of trouble Everyone everywhere felt relief that he had at last returned to them but no one felt it more keenly than the young Wives of the men Whom he led Vi hat possessed them was more than relief it was a deep mysterious joy that the llt139ng s return had set astir Their husbands Would no longer be leaving for War they told themselves Their children would grow old under the eyes of their fathers and the land would pros per and life would be restored to the rhythms they could not even recall The Young Wi fs Tale So they said to one another as they bent ime the king died and ssed into legend He was nembered in songs and paint S and books and then for a 1g while he was forgotten their heads a and pounded clothes in the cold streams 39 In truth the young wives were stirred by the kings bravery and his extraordi nary beauty Never before had they seen a man as beautiful as he They wondered whether it was the years in exile his time spent wandering despised and alone that had given him his grace His eyes said he understood all the sadness in the world and his worn face said that he would do everything in his power to defeat it These qualities combined with his dark lank hair and his roughened hands made the young wives almost frantic with a longing they couldn t describe But they would see it reflected in each other s flushed stricken faces and know that they were not alone in what they felt The women s love caused them to act in strange ways Some small some not One wife awoke in the morning climbed from the bed Went about her tasks and heated the water without once opening her eyes She was reluctant to enter our of her dream Another in the early days of winter i would slip behind her house take off her clothes and stand turned to the sun unmoving as stone Among the youngest of the wives was a girl who disappeared for long spells into the forest Each time she would eat a lit tle less and roam a little farther in the belief that she might faint at just the moment the king was striding past and he would stoop down to the ground lift her up in his arms and revive her Why she believed this was a mystery The king did not hunt in these woods nor did he travel alone anymore nor did he travel on foot Maybe she was searching for the exiled king the sorrowful king and believed she would nd him in this forest But he would be at once the king adrift and the king redeemed because look in her dream how he lifts her from the ground In time the king died and passed into legend He was remembered in songs and paintings and books and then for a long while he was forgot ten as the paintings blackened and the books moldered and other shorter songs came into fashion Such a very long time went by it seemed pos sible that the king and his hard struggles the peace that followed would be forever lost as if his beauty had never existed and he had never walked this earth or looked up at this sky But there was an old university where 30 SARAH SIUN LIEN BYNUM one night a scholar disc d th ki of the library and once gVi3hiS 0 fig either pM a trance or in the stacks 3 Pair of essa s th ry came to hght First he 3PP 3f d in I Y en a book whose unloollted for appeal inSp d 31 more vo uines followed b Ck d ire sever underground mzines andYd1 Ct0rlT1dil anfil afplnnated cartoons trons an ally a film In this last incarn ti th kin a on 6 8 b igan again to disturb the young Wives of the world wife the new t0WeleS1 ers sph 11Y Pleasures to be had as a young tive body waiting in the bed and at firslfillrsiso machine the Warm recepl Two Women together confessing the terribls Sfemed merely one of them bands so much deeper and sharper than th e Ove th y felt for their hug the Pour fresh cups of coffee Pick u ejbever expected to feel Could Vdv39lith the moistened tips of the L1 ngelScrnn L212 1etr1eW yaillow dishes eir feelin s for 0 SP3 gravely of ishness or b traya11ihfhk IE l Jr11111 3 1l1St It1139fe11g the slightest twinge of fog laughed when other women their stillJ unnPm ege 0fmarriag The 33 movie actor who provoked in them the irrcd11li1a i39nliiS Sugggsted it quotE the seen 39 linger 353335 sergeant sidekilc1ln ii lpiizliliiciglidhVIriS Eflfz fmialcowboy drifter K army thought of Their thoughts belon edgwh H 311 t was not an actor th Y d d king 8 0 y to the brave ravaged beau Eva believed in the beginning that he re d She told him 30 He Sm min ed her of her husband and p A T he H H p H H G he was u H tion for him For the Way his feet soundebl V3 F ed She wasfull of adoa kept himself so cleamsmelljng and neat I311 1g l la nstalrlj plhe vygy he on the c 3 Whe gt ces e pe orrn s stf1 sfu t B and tags A married but to which she could now full Sniff ejdiisted beforethey were to wonder How did she even HOW d1 d Shzev CSIL er abandoning herself 113139 f0I tUne She could only note that she h fir e Could not account for Self in Suspension before and now she had 13 unaware held Part Of her rious and seemingly infmite It refused to beetcgo Tlge fall was slow luxu t h 1 IE1u1 iag almost against her Will You are fhjenbeescf Si1e 7 reduced 13 e 0 their meanin y Or 1mpover not truly indebted btft v1ri1Ci1 wtuCctend39cchd1m1k a person to whom omens ere em to her husband she asked the words to carry th fun Con dent they did e we1ght of her astonishment She wasxlm ever The Young Wife Tale SI doubt that you lose to another person was the A paradox of grovvmg so c th t uquot felt Eva would awake could impart to them the ve1quotytltl0lt1I11 1 hf E iehead hearing someone in tl391 ight feeling Sonlfionelsi rernuch YOU husband loves You quotDo You beside her ask D0 Y0 OW OW know 39 39 th n descend into deeply next to him 3 Eva would 51811 and burrow more 39 b lt He was 39 1 d from his e 3 dream about the kmg Helimls dkahml39igis fcSsi5 and the Ci139C1 Of turning to face an energy T 6 Ooh hand on hilt arm sweei ng 1P torso motion his bOChl39c1eSC39r1bedfquotd21l11gger had a POem s grace its balance and pivoting in the 11 Ct101391 0 Theh1sSingSO1md Oftem frugality There was thciliarlg ftifi tffl I1 nemies their black helmets e a1r 9 pered weapons slicing 0 3 dull in the brilliant Sunlight Came Swarm er and over they told One other You re a rock star Fuck am What do the llt 3W YOU king ass lmmean it We i tting there Soon 52 mg down the wooded slope The Ye1Ped and they whooped they beat their drums and bared their rotting teeth like dogs but the expression on the 16511133 fafe did I10t change one by one he felled his enemt zs pressing in on him from all P bleak patience and determination W attened herself 383311 3 tree and quake 39 Not once in her dream did she fear for Itrhne king but she felt acut 1Y the CV61Whe 39 mg odds against him the ememe Pfml the t1rj1 He would not die but 13913 mlght 39 ticky come close The bark of the tree bit mto 1165 p 1e1rTfh1eg ixVir1 that with Pitch the Pine needles yielded beneath fir heart was bea g V6173 Eva awoke in the darkness of the bedroom Bf fast e to her The mO13911i11g3 made her Sad She dldnt 1 lii1S2 l1yt1iIg11 tlg 11dbl39e said to husband when he left for work She held on 10 sighed but that seems far her We j1 see each other tonight I know 3 e km 116 was a resident in away from now And it was true the d1YS1wid 6 Wrote articles about emergency medicine He was ala WYEr for 6 3150 articles about wars changes in technology for Which hp vlylasvg kl i 3 record Shop and Com in Afiica for wlplich lg 9 didn matter He was doing something pose strange 30I1 39 both of them b she had high hopes for herself For good Eva also had 310 A SARAH SIIUN IIIEN BYNUM They were traveling the distance in very small sometimes imperceptible increments between where they found themselves now and where they desired one day to be Soon It wasn t happening quickly enough You re getting there theytold each other Witli brightness in their voices a true conviction Over and over they told one another You re a rock star Fuck them What do they know You re kicking ass I mean it We re getting there Soon Eva would see the king when she stepped onto the bus in the mom ings Then she would see him again in the lap of the little boy sitting across from her on the aisle She would see him behind the glass at the newsstand and as he ew raggedly down the length of a block When she walked to the bank she saw him hair tangled and sword raised looking out across the city from the top of an office building Somehow he remained irreducibly himself even when miniaturized on a lunch box or multiplied in the pagesof a magazine or attened and stretched across the side of a bus Though she saw him everywhere her spirit would still leap in surprise at the sight of him Then her heart would unfurl in petals of flame and she would burn with a clear consuming light h At its peak before it extinguished itself the fire made Eva s vision sharpen She perceived what was beautiful and fierce in the man who drove the bus his supple fingers tapping against the wheel and the man beside her in the elevator who nodded at her kindly almost caressingly before he stepped off at the seventh floor and the man she saw from her Window crossing the street against the traffic light a small limp in his step She stared at each of them and realized I could love you The thought filled her with courage She wondered if everyone around her might feel it her valor and love radiating off her like heat But as quickly as it flared up her insight faded and all that remained were the ashes the unremark able faces of men The Ay also made Eva sad sometimes She tried luring her husband into staying up late with the promise of movies or cake batter or card games I don t want to go to sleep yet she d say as her eyelids grew heavier and heavier Yet the new sheets were so exquisitely soft And the blanket her cousins had brought back from Wales Their bed was an abyss into which she could not help but precipitously fall She clasped his arm know ing that to sleep was to leave one another for a while I ll be right here he said I m not going anywhere And she said wist illy I know Sleep well I ll see you in the morning The Young Wgfiek Tale Her husband shook his head Shecould hear his hair rubbing back and holding h h er OWIL as 6 led her forth on thepillowcase I ll probably see you before then he You have And how did Sh kn UP the crumbling stoop to meet l11S father a funny hab1t of showing up 111 my dreams You re always hanging around 39 in the middl 6 OW that the man on the elevator Preferred h13 3885 Soft Hg said it with exasperation but he didn t mean it Together they had encounter e SeVed on little drlf triangles of mast EV 39Y glance eve developed a talent for hanging around How else could they have built 39 explodin h0Dnmed thm 5 3 dark eJ Panding universe of mnxhaclelg their wealth of solace and closeness and ease They lived surrounded by about mi taliing iilgcgn fluff at her slightest breath ying up and 5 E g Z orn root the clear familiar Eva had been folding laundry when he asked her to marry him He had been warming leftover noodles on the stove On the televi one nsloly crossing the street would sion played a spooky show that they liked whose characters and conflicts if iven the c they knew so Well had See so many times that they Could drift in and 2tweenll1er legs inhale and utter indec pherable 01 N out of conversation or become absorbed with the task of mating socks if eg nc ber Vibrate with tllfi Sound I Y g of stirring pans to still return and feel they hadn t missed anything at all Yes YE 13 me Vhen Eva turned around to glance at the screen she near1Y fell over her of hail g 9131 You she saYs and sinks her hands into the damp head husband who was on his knees among the washcloths and the turtlenecks She ev r Y C 051118 1131 EYES feeling he bod hum wondering how did still spread across the floor He opened his hand like a magician about to Evy make a coin disappear and there sat a ring Her grandmothers ring she 339 H61 hush d recognized it at once But how did it ever end up in his hand There had Yo I 31 was P 390PP d P on his elbow looking at her curiousl been forethought conspiracy Her very soul rushed forward to meet him u as eel he askcd Y She dropped to the floor and they held one another laughing and weep M ing with all the beloved things of their life arrayed about them the That night Sh dr agopping in the pan the detective muttering on the television the water doors to the 1 an earnt once more of the king He heaved open the oaken stain from the leak last winter oating on the ceiling above their heads before he Sta End hung there his bent figure thrown Into shadow Recounting the moment later she shivered at the possibility that it what the wlt e through The men gathered in the great hall stopped could have happened differently I would have been embarrassed she to rem 131226 131 ol klg and turned to him and stared They seemed hardl cried A dimly lit restaurant a horse dravvn carriage A banner pulled Stogpadgwith xixr 391 lg h1s face lthy l3911S eyes haggard l LlS lean bod by a propeller plane across the sky Somewomen she knew had become he was not d ed Zushon and pm It W33 33 If they could scarcely believe engaged on faraway beaches strolling underneath the moon Ugh she said forward to 3 v Young boy was the first to come to his senses and run It was horrible to contemplate There were 80 many opporumitjes for the the Ch dls Sh Zld S W110 h sltated then laid his hand with a sigh upon process to go awry She felt lucky her husband had asked the right way the up 3 Shout T kltlll Igousing themselves from their disbelief the men sent solely acceptable way which was exactly the way that he had from the batde if ad Come home HIS enemies who had Snatched him But saying so was obvious For if he had asked in a different manner if than 11 the h 11 Z could not keep him The voices of his men echoed he had taken her to the top of a mountain or buried the ring in a choco at thin 31ml ut the lung dld not share in their rejoicing He SII11lecl late dessert then he would be a different person and she would never have 011 a bench ti Y fialilmg 0 the 1303 116 limped to a dark corner sank down married him now would she Stood PreSedPI1hin lgepaldlbacli against the stone and closed his eyes Eva Would she at C ose enough to see how With a pang she remembered the dizzying sensation she had felt while VttI1O E i3911ril l1 iiokiclliown and found she was carryungllallafdfrei fE II walking through the city Anything was possible Anything more danger meant for the kinemBut lg l1ght1Y 111 her hands The water she knew was 8 e ore she could move to him a hush fell over the ously was imaginable Why was it so easy to feel the bus driver s hand hall the In en 54 SARAH SIUNLIEN BYNUM with quiet steps approached the body resting on the bench The man was tall his hair gray and when he stood before the king he seemed to cover him with light My lord the man said in a voice of such gentleness that the king then opened his eyes His face showed his struggle to understand 39 what he saw You fell the king whispered The older man looked at him with love Yes the man said but I did not die And from the king s face his pain dropped away and wonder took its place for his old friend had been returned to him 39 The moment was broken by the sound of water dripping Eva gazed down at the bowl in her hands Then she woke in the darkness of the bedroom feeling wetness onher cheeks pooled in the cups of her ears She heard a voice beside her whispering Eva it said Eva it asked in soft dismay why are you crying 39 ln the morning it was her husband who held on tightly He looked back up at her as he circled down the stairs VVhen he reached the bottom out of sight he called to her as if he wasrft sure she d still be there He told her to have a very good day He told her to say hello for him to her friend I will she shouted into the stairwell I will The front door scraped open lingered a moment and then swung shut with a gasp As her husband had asked Eva delivered his special hello toherL riend She was a young wife herself and pregnant Her doctor had of ces in the part of the city where Eva worked so after her appointment they would sometimes meet at a restaurant and eat together Generally speaking her friend had an exceptionalappetite but now she stared down sadly at her food I She said I bet this looks delicious to you Eva shook her head VVhat Her friend lit up Are you pregnant too Eva shook her head again and smiled Oh her friend subsided You got my hopes up I thought for a minute I Wasn t alone You re not alone Eva said She found her friend disturbing to behold Her face appeared both drawn and puffy at the same time Tiny blossoms of burst blood vessels had broken out along her cheeks and the delicate skin above her breasts Her hair all over she said had turned coarser All day she stroked her stomach without knowing it though her belly had only just emerged We have a favorite she said I want to know what you think Alice SARAH SHUNLIIZN BYNUM 39 39ana 39 r po 397 luv u aa I like it Eva 3311 And what if it s a boy po e the musical name of the klH 3 and a shudder passed Her friend 3 between them Can you irna Sine her friend asked f 3 0139 3 Inomgnt 0 bered herself No really it s Jack I like that 300 Eva said The waiter took their untouched hanlder Emil dr0PPed her head into her S h In tired she said How did this appen to me I m tired 311 the time E d39d acrogathle Ithbllmow What to 3335 She reached woman S arm e and rested her hand on the b er friend glanced up bnghtened and egar1 to scold You didrfr eat anything That s unforgivable You re going to dis appear before our 5yeS D0nt You dare do ftdrtivhen Im blowing up llke 3 1331100 n 61 0 z Pw plates away selves in th 39 One is for yuf w t1i1 her friend kissed 6 0 er is for him n fire She remem mt It was as if over time her ten der stare had sifted over his face and settled there on his fore head his eyelids his Cheek b OM35 his moufh htdmg from her what was beautiful in him mp her On both Cl1eeks dear It Was as if sifted over his face and settled Over t1m her tender stare had there on his forehead his e Yelids his The Young Wg eis Tale ling bins take hold among the MY in 111 3P3ftmcm Could enchadmrll lbtan letters When the Iniftch sP3Iked ickl houseplants the Sm 6 I f neither stunnlilg the S Y fl d all Eva saw was her husbands ace and thewick are drip from hercandle that she loved Wax did not nor monstrous The face h he was fast asle6P the spell went unbro1t6f1 He Stayed cllall eeEva s dream standing atop For the first time the king appeare cl 1 hly about his 1685 and above 3 dry and windy bill His cloak flaPPe IIeavy gray clouds moved him the sky glowed with a strange lum1111os11Iea light The clouds were r 39 low and gwift ovectl a scrirnoonf srE to portend that som el stirring d d in sold an an t aze at e mYSt 39 e 86 0W3b1e chafige was on 1tS waY But the lI1 f 1ead fI1 e1 ePt his eyes fixed d clouds E W ePmg 0 39 he ions Sky the dark glide 39 hand over a brittle tuft Of grass on the barren ground He m39n hlfi OlPdIlt1t Suddenll he fell to his knees his turned a small stone over witl C1519 ht his face close to the turf What d him an roug 31f am C1091 gusnng up behm 39 an urgent u V T1 8911 h SCI he fwd e 1 hm l rli1 lg to the grou d be king fo hwed 3 bung half runn lgv ling E ould not guess what 6 W35 Path of signs discermble only to 4 39 V1e blink she saw the ld g 33 3 seeki g Her P r5P CtiVe was PuZZ mky and in another she cou139d S 39 the to g S y distant gure stark against d VVhere am 1 she th e he overturn the tiny ecks of brightness in e ston he felt beneath h f t the question 21033 5 h wondered 311d at The Very momefn 5 h She was lost in a stand of raV1S Palms the C001 Pilgery Suit 9 he1fY moment she k ew She was 10 ingly White nake trees d b f und It was she tllfi king was Seam she also understood she woul e 0 39 her she their white arms touchmg 2 ing for Stepping through the Pale trees f 711 ood drew closer and closer until at last she appeared on the edge 3 e w d up from the like a sail The king looke the wind lhns her mh g her h art had slowed ground and Saw d kness of the bedroom Her 6 Then Eva awoke 111 The 937 urf 39 from a 3139 that orous throb She feltdasdliiile sv1r rI1t ClZgI 3Cl1 for the hand 9 e 39 andonecl to do so to a langu h recede bl d or 96 3P5 P b resem he 1 cl but found herself too entranced K30 3 of a reddish ofher us an uld t lift her head she became d1mlY aware thi ck Though Sl 1 C0 no cl d red if having lt3F39mt S eam gleam at 116 foot of the bid eOf1heebed a PYTE a shirnmefi g bla ket she was destined 130 80 P In am lowered veil of her he was not Thfcmgh the of fire enf01d1n herquot But 5 h the remnants of b 111 a grate 139 l11390llg lashes she made out embers u img 58 smmn S11UN IIEN BYNUM her dream she smelled the ancient scent of wood smoke she heard the ticking of cinders falling into ash Opening her eyes she saw above her a low ceiling black beams of Wood a small window hanging bright and fac eted as a jewel The room was not her own Her husband was not beside her In the first days of the king there was a girl who wandered far into the I forest At dusk she would come home with scratched face and torn skirts and brambles stuck like pins in her hair to find her husband sitting before a hearth gone cold a dirty pot caked with gruel But how his eyes would shine when she appeared He draws out her seat he brings in water he makes her a thin soup which she plays with with her spoon She smiles at him shyly saying I think I lost my sense of time One evening the dusk turns into darkness and still the girl has not returned Her husband runs to the edge of the foresta torch in his hand All night he searches for her the legions of trees looming around him and by mofhing he stumbles out from the woods bewildered and afraid having found no sign of her The other wives are Washing clothes in the stream They bend down farther over their work as if by doing so they might make themselves invisible The young husband approaches them his face a wound his voice hoarse when he asks them Have you seen her The women up to their elbows in cold water shake their heads They are silent Eva imagined the silence into which her husband would awake She imagined his voice in the empty room saying her name She heard clearly the variations he would use Evita Evuncular time s elaborations the joyful thoughtless ornamenting of the word he most liked to say The names would chime and shiver in the air Evel Knievel he would ask and there would be no answer She had been taken too far away In a strange bed in a strange room she felt the anguish of her husband as her own It felt like knives like rats gnawing like broken glass like poison bubbling no it felt like something else Exactly All it took were two slippery pills swallowed at the clinic and then a bus ride home and straight into bed The pain began as a little pang in her gut and then whoosh she was possessed by it Her husband not yet her husband knelt beside the bed with a cool washcloth in his hand as she writhed around like a snake sweating through the sheets And just as swiftly it was over The pain disappeared and the bleeding began The whole thing lasted only an afternoon In the evening the two of them walked around The Young Wg39 I s Tale S9 the neighborhood eating ice cream To r5QrrQW for her h Ugband say they had made a decision would sug gest that they had needed toquot have a con lh Cl l d into E1 lOW m elan ChO Ly versation Neither one had said Given the smallness of our apartment and the nar te above Whlcfl her false heart rowness of the stairs Considering Where we are in our lives She didn t even ed The kmg The brave and have to mention her wedding dress which aged a n d bea Umrul ki ng was already paid for already fitted sitting hugely and steadfastly on her credit card lat might he say to her It was made of silk organza and oated a up behind her when she moved It was the color of champagne In this strange bed in this close room beneath the tiny jewel of a Win dow she thought of her husband and felt again the ache of that dreamlike afternoon Or at least she did for a little while A shockingly shamefully little while For how could she stay sad when the king himself was watch ing her sitting alert by the re As she saw his dark eyes gleaming in the light her sorrow for her husband dwindled into a low melancholy note above which her false heart trilled The king The brave and ravagedand beautiful king V5hat might he say to her What might he see There was always the possibility he could love her wasn t there There was always the possibility If her young marriage had taught her anything it was that The surprise the stark miracle of love bent in her direction So why not the king watching silently from his chair She felt his eyes move over her touching each part of her deliberately like a hand The next time Eva awoke in the darkness of the bedroom her heart Was brimming beating lightly as a birds The heaviness that had pulled on her was lifted She yawned enormously stretching her limbs to the far cor ners of the bed At the end of the room a ruddy light glowed but rising up onto her elbows she saw that it belonged to the unsteady streetlamp out w side her apartment window And above her was her ceiling still haunted by 4 the water stain The crooked blinds The seething radiator Did the sound a p of its spitting mean she was back The dream over More likely more tor 39 39 menting the dream continued and she had simply been ejected from it For there sat her umbrella her shoes There lay the novel she was read t ing prostrate on the floor Her crumpled socks IIis swaybacked boots 60 SARAH SIIUNLIEN BYNUM The Young W g Tale Like a piece of food that someone dropped on the ground and not even the dogs Want to eat it 39 Yeah not even the bugs or worms will eat me Not even germs Germs Won t even touch me I m the same way Yeah Are you the favorite person of anybody I m not are you I d like to think so Even though you re like a piece of dropped food Sure why not Maybe I have a secret admirer How sure are you of this I m not so sure But why not hope Right hoping s free You take care You too Bye Bye KELLY LINK two men one raised by wolves The man at the bar on the stool beside her bent like a hook over some item A book not a drink A childten s book dogeared When he noticed her stare he grinned and said Got a light It was a Friday night and the Splinter was full of men saying I68 MIRANDA JULY the second shadow always grew back twice as long If you didn t bother to cut back the second shadow then eventually you had twins one of whom was only slightly realer than the other lindsey had grown up in a stucco house in a scab raw development in Dade County Opposite the house had been a bruised and trampled noth ing A wilderness that grew was razed then grew back again Banyan trees drip ping with spiky epiphytes tunnels of coral reef barely covered by blackish sandy dirt Lin d S E h a Cl h a Cl a h a p py that lindsey and her twin Alan not quite real enough yet to play with other children lowered herself into to emerge skinned bloody triumphant Develop ers bulldozers made football eld size depressions that lled with water when it rained and produced thousands and thou sands of fingernailwsize tan toads Lind sey kept them in jars She caught blue crabs Cuban lizards yellow pink tobacco grasshoppers the size of toy trucks They spat when you caged them in your hand Geckos with their papery clockwork insides ticktock barks anoles whose throats pulsed out like bloody fans king snakes coral snakes red and yellow kill a zllow red and blaclajiieridlyjack corn snakes Vlhen Lindsey was ten a lightning strike ignited a fire under the coral reef For a week smoke ghosted up They kept the sprinklers on but the grass cooked brown Alan caught five snakes lost three of them in the house while he was watching Saturday morning cartoons Lindsey had had a happy childhood The women in the bar didn t know what they were talking about It was almost a shame when the man who had theories about being raised by wolves came over and threw his drink in the face of the woman named Caroline There was a commotion Lindsey and the man who had theories about being raised by wolves went for a walk on the beach He was charming but she felt his theories were only that charming When she said this he became less charming Nevertheless she invited him home Nice place he said I like all the whatsits Most of it belongs to my brother Lindsey said Your brother Does he live with you God no Lindsey said He s wherever he is things Some guy off in a booth was saying for example Well sure you can be raised by wolves and lead a normal life but Lindsey said I don t smoke if The man straightened up He said Not that kind of light I mean a light Do you have a light I I don t understand she said And then because he was not bad look ing she said Sorry Stupid bitch he said Never mind The watercolor illustration in his book showed a boy and a girl standing in front of a dragon the size of a Volkswagen bus The man had a pen He d drawn word bubbles coming out of the children s mouths and now he was writing in words The chil dren were saying The man snapped the book shut it was a library book Excuse me she said but Fm a children s librarian Can I ask why you re defacing that bookgt I don t know can you Maybe you can and maybe you can t but why ask mequot the man said Turning his back to her he hunched over the book again VVhich was really too much She opened her shoulder bag and took out her travel sewing kit She palrned the needle and then jabbed39tlieinan in his left buttock Very fast Her hand was back in her lap and she was sig naling the bartender for another drink when the man howled and sat up Now everyone was looking at him He slid off his stooland hurried away glancing back at her once in outrage I There was a drop of blood on the needle She wiped it on a bar napkin At a table behind her three Women were talking about a new pocket universe A new diet A coworker s new baby a girl born with no shadow This was bad although thank God not as bad as it could have been a woman sorneone called her Caroline was saying A long lubricated conversation followed about over thecounter shad ows p rosthetilts available in most drugstores not expensive and reason ably durable Everyone was in agreement that it was almost impossible t distinguish a prosthetic shadow from a real one Caroline and her friends began to talk of babies born with two shadows Children with two shadows did not growup happy They didn t get on well with other children You could cut a pair of shadows apart with a pair of crooked scissors but it wasn t a permanent solution By the end of the day childhood The women in the bar dIdn t know what they were talking about Light 171 170 KELLY LINK Sponges hold water Water holds light Lindsey was hollow all the way through when she Nasrrt full ofalcohol I had a sister Died when I was two the man said Wolves make really shitty parents quot 39 Ha she said experimentally Ha he said And then Look at that as he was undressing her Their four shad ows fell across the bed sticky and wilted as if from lovemaking that hadn t even begun At the sight of their languorously inter twined shadows the wolf man became charming again Look at these sweet little tits he said over and over again as though she might not ever have noticed how sweet and little her tits were He exclaimed at the sight of every part of her afterward she slept poorly apprehensive that he might steal away taking along one of the body parts or pieces that he seemed to admire so much In the morning she woke and found herself stuck beneath the body of the wolf man as if she had been trapped beneath a collapsed and derelict building When she began to wriggle her way out rom under him he woke and complained of a icking terrible hangover He called her Joanie sev eral times asked to borrow a pair of scissors and spent a long time in her bathroom with the door locked while she read the paper Smuggling ring apprehended by Government overthrown in Family of twelve last seen in vicinity of Start of hurricane season The wolf man came out of the bathroom dressed hurriedly and left She found a spongy black heap the amputated shadow of his dead twin and three soaked pungent towels on the bathroom floor there were stubby black bits of beard in the sink The blades of her nail scissors were tarry and blunted She threw away the reeking towels She mopped up the shadow fold ing it into a large Ziploc bag carried the bag into the kitchen and put the shadow down the disposal She ran the water for along time Then she went outside and sat on her patio and watched the iguanas eat the owers off her hibiscus It was 600 am and already quite warm I72 KELLY LINK no vodlza one egg Sponges hold water Water holds light Lindsey was hollow all the way through when she wasn t full of alcohol The water in the canal was glazed with light which wouldn t hold still It was vile She had the beginnings of one of her headaches Light beat down on her head and her second shadow began to move rippling in waves like the light shot water in the canal She went inside The egg in the refrigerator door had a spot of blood when she cracked it into the pan She liked vodka in her orange juice but there was no orange juice and no vodka in the freezer only a smallish iguana The Keys were overrun with iguanas They ate her hibiscus every once in a while she caught one of the smaller ones with the pool net and stuck it in her freezer for a few days This was supposedly a humane way of deal ing with iguanas You could even eat them although she did not She was a vegetarian She putout food for the bigger iguanas They liked ripe fruit She liked to watch them eat She knew that she was not being consistent or fair in her dealings but there it was men unlucky at cards Lindsey s job was not a particularly complicated one There was an office and behind the office was a warehouse full of sleeping people There was an agency in DC that paid her company to take responsibility for the sleepers Every year hikers and cavers and construction workers found a few dozen more No one knew how to wake them up No one knew what they meant what they did where they came from There were always at least two security guards on duty at the ware house They were mostly in Iindsey s opinion lecherous assholes She spent the day going through invoices and then went home again The wolf man wasn t at the Splinter and the bartender threw everyone out at 200 am she went back to the warehouse on a hunch four hours into the night shift Bickle and Lowes had hauled out ve sleepers three women and two men They d put Miami Hydra baseball caps on the male sleepers and stripped L1ghtT I73 the women propped them up in chairs around a foldout table Someone had arranged the hands of one of the male sleepers down between the legs of one of the women Cards had been dealt out Maybe it was just a game of strip poker and the two women had been unlucky It was hard to play your cards well when you were asleep Larry Bickle stood behind one of the women his cheek against her hair He seemed to be giving her advice about how to play her cards He wasn t holding his drink carefully enough and the woman s neat lap brimmed with beer e Lindsey watched for a few minutes Bickle and Lowes had gotten to the sloppy expansive stage of drunkenness that sober she resented most False happiness VVhen Lowes saw Lindsey he stood up so fast his chair tipped over Hey now he said It s different from how it looks Both guards had little conical paper party hats on their heads A third man no one Lindsey recognized came wandering down the middle aisle like he d been shopping at Wal Mart He wore boxer shorts and a party hat VVho s this he said leering at Lindsey Larry Bickle s hand was on his gun What was he going to do Shoot her She said I ve already called the police Oh hick me Bickle said He said some other things You called the police Edgar Lowes said They ll be here in about ten minutes Lindsey said If I were you Pd leave right now Just go It isn t as if I can stop you What is that bitch saying Bickle said unhappily He was really quite drunk His hand was still on his gun She took out her own gun a Beretta She pointed it in the direction of Bickle and Lowes Put your gun belts on the ground and take off your uni forms too Leave your keys and your ID cards You too whoever you are Hand over your ID and I won t press charges You ve got little cats on your gun Edgar Lowes said Hello Kitty stickers she said I count coup Although she d only ever shot one person The men took off their clothes but not the party hats Edgar Lowes had a purple scar down his chest He saw Lindsey looking and said Triple bypass I need this job for the health insurance Too bad Lindsey said She followed them out into the parking lot The third man didn t seem to care that he was naked He didn t even have 174 KELLY LINK his hands cupped around his balls the way Bickle and Lowes did He said to Lindsey They ve done this a couple of times Heard about it from a friend Tonight was my birthday party Happy birthday she said She watched the three men get into their cars and drive away Then she Went back into the warehouse and folded up the uniforms emptied the guns cleaned up the sleepers used the dolly to get the sleepers back to their boxes There was a bottle of cognac and plenty of beer She drank steadily A song came to her and she sang it Tall and tan and young and drunken and She knew she was getting the Words wrong A midnfghtpyre Lilac a bird ori re I have tried in my way to be you It was almost 500 am The floor came up at her in Waves and she would have liked to lie down on it The sleeper in Box 113 was Harrisburg Pennsylvania a young boy The sleepers were named after their place of origin Other countries did it dif ferently Harrisburg Pennsylvania had long eyelashes and a bruise on his cheek that had never faded The skin of a sleeper was always just a little cooler than you expected You could get used to anything She set the alarm in her cell phone to wake her up before the shift change In the morning Harrisburg Pennsylvania was still asleep and Lindsey was still drunk She d drooled a little on his arm All she said to her supervisor the general office manager was that she d fired Bickle and Lowes Mr Charles gave her a longesuffering look said You look a bit rough I ll go home early she said She would have liked to replace Bickle and Lowes with women but in the end she hired an older man with excellent job references and a gradu ate student Jason who said he planned to spend his evenings working on his dissertation He was a philosophy student and she asked what phi losopher his dissertation was on If he d said Nietzsche she might have terminated the interview But he said John Locke She d already requested additional grant money to pay for security carn eras but when it was turned down she went ahead and bought the cameras anyway She had a bad feeling about the two men who worked the Sunday to Wednesday day shift Light 175 as children they were inseparable On Tuesday there was a phone call from Alan He was yelling something in LinLan before she could even say hello Berma lisgo airport Tusfah me Alan He said I m at the airport Lin Lin just wondering if I can come and stay with you for a bit Not too long Just need to keep my head down for a while You won t even know I m there Back up she said Vhere are you The airport he said clearly annoyed Vllhere the planes are I thought you were in Tibet she said Well Alan said That didn t quite work out I ve decided to move on i What did you do she said Alan Lin Lin please he said I ll explain everything tonight I ll make din ner House key still under the broken planter I Ljis melt she said Fine The last time she d seen Alan in the esh was two years ago just after Elliot had left for good Her husband They d both been more than a little drunk and Alan was always nicer when he was drunk He gave her a hug and said Come on Lindsey You can tell me It s a bit of a relief isn t it The sky was low and swollen Lindsey loved this the sudden green after noon darkness as rain came down in heavy drumming torrents so loud she could hardly hear the radio station in her car the calm jokey pronounce ments of the local weather witch The vice president was under investi gation evidence suggested a series of secret dealings with malign spirits A woman had given birth to a dozen rabbits A local gas station had been robbed by invisible men Some religious cult had thrown all the infidels out of a popular pocket universe Nothing new in other words The sky was always falling US I was bu1nperto burnper all the way to Planta tion Key Alan sat out on the patio behind her house a bottle of wine under his 176 KELLY LINK chair the wineglass in his hand half full of rain half full of wine Lindsey he said Want a drink He didn t get up She said Alan It s raining It s warm he said and blinked fat balls of rain out of his eyelashes It was cold where I was I thought you were going to make din ner she said Alan quotstood up and made a show of wringing out his shirt and his peasant style cotton pants The rain collapsed steadily on their heads Alan sat out on the patio behind her house a bottle ofwine under his chair the wineglass in his hand half full of rain39half full of wine There s nothing in your kitchen I would have made margaritas but all you had was the salt Let s go inside Lindsey said Do you have any dry clothes In your luggage VVhere s your luggage Alan He gave her a sly look You know In there She knew You put your stuff in Elliot s room It had been her room too but she hadn t slept there in almost a year She only slept there when she was alone Alan said All the things he left are still there Like he might still be in there too somewhere down in the sheets all folded up like a secret note Very creepy Lin Lin Alan was only thirty eight The same age as Lindsey of course unless you were counting from the point where he was finally real enough to eat his own birtladay cake She thought he looked every year of their age Older Go get changed she said I ll order takeout What s in the grocery bags he said She slapped his hand away Nothing for you she said close encounters oftlee absurd kind She d met Elliot at an open mike in a pocket universe near Coral Gables A benefit at a gay bar for some charity Men everywhere but most of them not interested in her Elliot was over seven feet tall his hair was canary yellow and hisskin was greenish Lindsey had noticed the way that Alan Light 177 looked at him when they first came in Alan had been in this universe before Elliot sang the song about the monster from Ipanerna He couldn t carry a tune but he made Lindsey laugh so hard that whiskey came out of her nose He came over and sat at the bar He said You re A1an s twin He only had four ngers on each hand His skin looked smooth and rough at the same time She said I m the original He s the copy Viherever he is Passed out in the bathroom probably Elliot said Should I go get him or should we leave him here Vihere are we going she said To bed he said His hair was feathers not hair His pupils were oddly shaped A What would we do there she said and he just looked at her Some times these things worked and sometimes they didn t That was the fun of it She thought about it Okay On the condition that you promise me that you ve never fooled around with Alan Ever Your universe or mine he said Elliot wasn t the first thing Lindsey had brought back from a pocket uni verse She d gone on vacation once and brought back the pit of a green uit that fizzed like sherbet when you bit into it and gave you dreams about staircases ladders rockets things that went up and up although noth ing had come up when she planted it although almost everything grew in Florida S Her mother had gone on vacation in a pocket universe when she was first pregnant with Lindsey Now people knew better Doctors cautioned pregnant women against such trips For the last few years Alan had had a job with a tour group that ran trips out of Singapore He spoke German Spanish Japanese Mandarin Chinese passable Tibetan various p0Cletquotu11iV 1 S6 trade languages The tours took charter ights into Tibet and then trekked up into some of the more touristfriendly pocket universes Tibet was riddled with pocket universes KELLY LINK You lost thern 39Lindsey said Not all of them Alan said His hair was still wet with rain He needed a haircut Just one van I thought I told the driver Sakya but I may have said Gyantse They showed up eventually just two days behind sched ule It s not as if they were children Everyone in Gyantse speaks English VVhen they caught up with us I was charming and full of remorse and we were all pals again She waited for the rest of the story Somehow it made her feel better knowing that Alan had the same effect on everyone But then there was a mix up at customs back at Changi They found a reliquary in this old bastard s luggage Some ridiculous little god in a dried up seedpod Some other things The old bastard swore up and down that none of it was his That I d snuck up to his room and put them into his luggage That I d seduced him The agency got involved and the story about Gyantse came out So that was that Alan she said i I hoping I could stay here for a few weeks You ll stay out of my she said Of course he said Can I borrow a toothbrush more like Disney World than Disney World Their parents were retired living in an older established pocket uni verse that was apparently much more like Florida than Florida had ever been No mosquitoes no indigenous species larger than a lapdog except for birdlike creatures whose songs made you want to cry and whose flesh tasted like veal Fruit trees that no one had to cultivate Grass so downy and tender and fragrant that no one slept indoors Lakes so big and so shallow that you could spend all day walking across them It wasn t a large universe and nowadays there was a long waiting list of men and women waiting to retire to it Lindsey and Alan s parents had invested all of their savings into a one room cabana with a view of one of the smaller lakes Lotus eating they called it It sounded boring to Lindsey but her mother no longer emailed to ask if Lindseywas seeing anyone If she were i ever going to remarry and produce children Grandchildren were no lon ger required Grandchildren would have obliged Lindsey and Alan s par ents to leave their paradise in order to visit once in a while Come back all Light r iguana disappeared into the twork of banyan trees that iped ovei the canal The nyans were full ofiguanas ves rustling greenly with their that long way to Florida That nasty place where we used to live Lindsey s mother said Alanshad a theory that their parents were not telling them everything They ve become nudists he insisted Or swingers Or both Mom always had exhibitionist tendencies Always leaving the bathroom door open No wonder I m gay No won 39 der you re not em and secret meetings Lindsey lay awake in her bed and listened 180 to Alan make tea in the kitchen Alan hanging up his clothes in Elliot s closet Alan turning the television on and off At two in the morning he came and stood outside her bedroom door He said softly Lindsey Are you awake She didn t answer and he went away again In the morning he was asleep on the sofa A DVD was playing the sound was off Somehow he d found Elliot s stash of imported pocket uni verse porn the secret stash she d spent weeks looking for and never found Trust Alan to turn it up But she was childishly pleased to see he hadn t found the gin she d hidden in the sofa VVhen she came home from work he was out on the patio again trying uselessly to catch her favorite iguana Be careful of the tail she said quotMonster came up and bit my toe he said That s Elliot I ve been feeding him she said Probably thinks you re invading his territory Elliot he said and laughed That s sick He s big and green she said You don t see the resemblance Her iguana disappeared into the network of banyan trees that dipped over the canal The banyans were full of iguanas leaves rustling greenly with their green and secret meetings The only difference is he comes back The next morning Alan drove her to work and went off with the car In the afternoon Mr Charles came into her office Bad news he said Jack up 2 r39 j 3939 39n39 l KELLY LINK Harris in Pittsburgh went ahead and sent us two dozen sleepers The new kid Jason signed for them down at the warehouse Didn t think to call us first You re kidding she said Traid not he said I m going to call Jack Harris Ask what the hell he thought he was doing I made it clear the other day that we weren t approved with regards to capacity He ll just have to take them back again Has the driver already gone she said Yep Maybe you could run over to the warehouse and take a look at the paperwork Figure out what to do with this group in the meantime There were twenty two new sleepers eighteen males and four females Jason already had them on dollies Where were they before Pittsburgh she asked Jason handed over the dockets All over the place Four of them turned up on property belonging to some guy in South Dakota Says the govern ment ought to compensate him for the loss of his crop Vfl391at happened to his crop she said He set fire to it They were underneath a big Old dead tree out in his fields Fortunately for everybody his son was there too While the father Was pouring gasoline on everything the son dragged the sleepers into the bed of the truck got them out of there Called the hotline Lucky she said 7Vhat the hell was the father thinking People your age Jason said and stopped Started again Older peo ple seem to get these weird ideas sometimes They want everything to be the way it was Before Fm not that old she said I didn t mean that he said Got pink I just mean you know She touched her hair Maybe you didn t notice but I have two shad ows So I m part of the weirdness People like me are the people that peo ple get ideas about Why are you on the day shift JermaiI1e s wife is out of town so he has to take care of the kids Vihat do we do with the sleepers now Leave them on the dollies she said It s not like it matters to them She tried calling Alan s cell phone at ve P6 but got no answer She checked e mail and played solitaire She hated solitaire Enjoyed shuf ing through the cards she should have played Playing cards when she Light 181 shouldrft have Vihy should she pretend to want to win when there wasrft anything to win At seven she looked out and saw her car in the parking lot VVhen she went down to the warehouse he was irting with Jason while the other guard Hurley ate his dinner Hey Lin Lin Alan said Come see this Come here VVhat the hell are you doing Lindsey said Where have you been Grocery shopping he said Come here Lindsey Come see Jason made a don tblame me face She d have to take him aside at some point Warn him about Alan Philosophy didn t prepare you for people like Alan Look at her Alan said She looked dowr1 at a sleeper A woman dressed in a way that suggested she had probably been someone important once maybe hundreds of years ago somewhere probably that wasn t anything like here Versailles Kenv tucky I ve seen sleepers before No You don t see Alan said Of course you don t Hey Lin Lin this kind of haircut would look good on you He uffed Versailles Kentucky s hair Alan She said A Warning 39 p w Look he said Just look Look at her She looks just like you She s you quotYou re crazy she said Am I Alan appealed to Jason You thought so too Jason hung his head He mumbled something Said I said that maybe there was a similarity Alan reached down into the container and grabbed the sleeper s bare foot lifted the leg straight up Alan Lindsey said She pried his hand loose The prints of his n gers came up on Versailles Kentucky s leg in red and white VVhat are you doing It s fine Alan said I just wanted to see if she has a birthmark like yours Lindsey has a birthmark behind her knee he said to Jason Looks like a battleship Even Hurley was staring now The sleeper didn t look a thing like Lindsey No birthrnarlc Funny though The more she thought about it the more Lindsey thought maybe she looked like Alan I82 KELLY LINK not herselftoday She turned her head a little to the side Put on all the lights in the bath room and stuck her face up close to the mirror again Stepped back The longer she looked the less she looked like anyone she knew Alanwas right She needed a haircut The kitchen stank of rum Alan had the blender out Let me guess he said You met someone nice in there He held out a glass I thought we could have a nice quiet night in Watch the Weather Channel Do cha rades You can knit I ll wind your yarn for you I don t knit No he said His voice was kind Loving You tangle You knot You muddle You needle she said VVhat is it that you want Why are you here To pick a fight Per bol tuh LinLin Alan said VVl1at do you want She sipped fero ciously She knew what she wanted VVhy are you here This is my home she said I have everything I want A job at a com pany with real growth potential A boss who likes me39A bar just around the corner full of men who Want to buy me drinks A yard full of iguanas And a spare shadow in case one should accidentally fall off This isn t your house Alan said Elliot bought it Elliot filled it up with his junk And all the nice stuff is mine You haven t changed a thing since he took off I have more iguanas now she said She took her rumrunner into the living room Alan already had the Weather Channel on Behind the perky blond weather witch in violent primary colors a tropical depression hov ered off the coast of Cuba Alan came and stood behind the couch He put his drink down and began to rub her neck Pretty isn t it she said That storm Remember when we were kids That hurricane Yeah she said I probably ought to go haul the storm shutters out of the storage unit That kid at your warehouse he said His eyes were closed Jason He seems like a nice kid Kid being the keyword He s a philosophy student Lan Lan Come on Light 133 You can do better Do better I m thinking out loud about a guy with a ne ass Lindsey Not buying a house Or contemplating a career change Oops I guess I am officially doing that Perhaps I ll become a do gooder A dobetter Just don t make my life harder okay Alan He has green eyes Jason Really really green Green as that color there Right at the eye That swirl Alan said draining his third rumrunner I hadrft noticed his eyes Lindsey said That s because he isn t your type You don t like nice guys He was over at the stereo now Can I put this on If you want to There s a song on there I think it s the third song Yeah This one Elliot loved this song He d put it on and start slithering all over the furniture Oh yeah He was a god on the dance floor But look at me I m not too bad either He was more exible around the hips I think he had a bendier spine He could turn his head almost all the way around Come on Lindsey you re not dancing Come on and dance I don t want to Don t be such a pain in the ass I have a pain inside she said And then wondered what she meant It s such a pain in the ass quotCome on Just dance Okay Okayg she said Tm okay See I m dancing Jason came over for dinner Alan wore one of Elliot s shirts Lindsey made a perfect cheese souffle and she said nothing when Jason assumed that Alan had made it She listened to Alan s stories about various pocket universes as if she had never heard them before Most were owned by the Chinese govern ment and as well as the more famous tourist universes there were ones where the Chinesesent dissidents Very few pocket universes were larger than say Maryland Some had been abandoned a long time ago Some were inhabited Some wererft friendly Some pocket universes contained their own pocket universes You could go a long ways in and never come out again You could start your own country out there and do whatever you liked and yet most of the people Lindsey knew herself included had never done anything more venturesome than go for a week to someplace where the food and the air and the landscape seemed like something out ofabookyoufd read as pgckei Universes Qf C0Uy5e a child a brochure a dream There were sex themed pocket uni verses of course Tax shelters and places to dispose of all kinds of things trash dispose of all klnds of thmgsi junked cars murder victims People went to casinos inside ocket universes more P like Vegas than Vegas More like Hawaii murder VECtI39mS than Hawaii You must be this tall to enter There were sexthemed Tax shelters and places to trash junked cars This rich Just this foolish Because who knew what might happen Pocket uni verses might wink out again suddenly all at once There were best selling books explaining how that might happen Alan began to reminisce about his adolescence in a way that suggested it had not really been all that long ago Venetian Pools he said to Jason I haven t been there in a couple of years Since I was a kid really All those grottoes that you could wander off into with someone Go make out and get such an enormous hardon you had to jump in the water so nobody noticed and the water was so fuck ing cold Can you still get baked ziti at the restaurant Do you remember that Lindsey Sitting out by the pool in your bikini and eating baked ziti I heard you can swim now Because of the mermaidsquot The mermaids were an invasive species like the iguanas People had brought them back from one of the Disney pocket universes as pets and now they were everywhere small but numerous in a way that appealed to children and bird watchers They liked to show off and although they didrft seem much smarter than say a talking dog and maybe not even as smart since they didn t speak only sang and whistled and made rude gestures they were too popular with the tourists at Venetian Pools to be gotten rid of Jason said he d been with his sister s kids I heard they used to drain the pools every night in summer But they can t do that now because of the mermaids So the water isn t as clear as it used to be They can t even set up filters because the mermaids just tear them out again Like beavers I guess They ve constructed this elaborate system of dams and retain Light 185 I84 KELLY LINK I86 ing walls and structures out of the coral these elaborate pens to hold fish Venetian Pools sells fish so you can toss them in for the mermaids to round up The kids were into that J They sing right Lindsey asked We get them the canal some times the saltwater ones They re a lot bigger They sing Yeah Jason said Lots of singing Really eerie stuff Makes you feel like shit They pipe elevator music over the loudspeakers to drown it out but even the kids felt bad after a while I had to buy all this stuff in the gift shop to cheer them up Lindsey pondered the problem of Jason the favorite uncle who could be talked into buying things He was too young for Alan VVhen you thought about it who wasn t too young for Alan Alan said Didn t you have plans Lindsey Did I Lindsey said Then relented Actually I was thinking about heading down to the Splinter Maybe I ll see you guys down there later I That old hole Alan said He wasn t looking at her He was sending out those old invisible death rays in Jason s direction Lindsey could practically feel the air getting thicker It was like humidity only skankier I used to go there to hook up with cute straight guys in the bathroom while Lindsey was passing out her phone number over by the pool tables You How what they say about girls with two shadows don t you Jason Jason said Maybe I should head home But Lindsey could tell by the way that he was looking at Alan that he had no idea What he was saying He wasn t even really listening to what Alan said He was just respond ing to the vibe that Alan put out That come hither come hither come a little more hither siren song Don t go Alan said Stay a little longer Lindsey has plans and I m lonely Stay a little longer and I ll play you some of the highlights from Iindsey s exehusband s collection of pocket universe gay porn Alan Lindsey said Second warning She knew he was keeping count Sorry Alan said He put his hand on Jason s leg Husband collection of gay porn She and Elliot wherever he is are still married I had the biggest harcl on for Elliot He always said Lindsey was all he wanted But it s never about what you want is it It s about what you need Right Right Jason said KELLY LINK 39 A A A i r rr cm b How did Alan do it Why did everyone except for Lindsey fall for it Except she realized pedaling her bike down to the Splinter she did fall for it She still fell for it It was her house and who had been thrown out of it VVho had been insulted dismissed and told to leave Her That s who Cars went by riding their horns Damn Alan anyway She didn t bother to chain up the bikequot she probably wouldn t be riding it home She went into the Splinter and sat down beside a man with an aggressively sharp cologne You look nice she said Buy me a drink and I ll be nice too there are easier ways qftrying to kill yourself The man tried to kiss her She couldn t find her keys but that didn t mat ter The door was unlocked Jason s car still in the driveway No surprise there I have two shadows she said It was all shadows They were shadows too I don t care the man said He really was very nice No she said I mean my brother s home We have to be quiet Okay if we don t turn on the lights Vihere are you from Georgia the man said I work construction Came down here for the hurricane The hurricane she said I thought it was headed for the Gulf of Mexico This way Watch out for the counter Now it s coming back this way Won t hit for another couple of days You into stuff You can tie me up the man said Better knot she said Get it I m not into knots Can never get them untied even sober This guy had to have his foot amputated No circulae tion True story Friend told me Guess I ve been lucky so far the man said He didn t sound too dis appointed either way This houselhas been through some hurricanes I bet One or two she said Water comes right in over the tile oor Messy Then it goes out again She tried to remember his name Couldrft It didn t matter She felt terri c That had been the thing about being married The monogamy Even drunk she d always known who was in bed with her Elliot had been Light 187 different all right but he had always been the same kind of different Never a different kind of different Didn t like kissing Didn t like sleep ing in the same bed Didn t like being serious Didn t like it when Lindsey was sad Didn t like living in a house Didn t like the Way the Water in the canal felt Didn t like this didn t like that Didn t like the Keys Didn t like the way people looked at him Didn t stay Elliot Elliot Elliot My narne s Alberto the man said Sorry she said She and Elliot had always had fun in bed He had a funny looking penis she said Excuse me Alberto said Do you want something to drink she said Actually do you have a bathroom Down the hall she said First door But he came back in a minute He turned on the lights and stood there Like What you see she said His arms were shiny and Wet There was blood on his arms I need a tourniquet he said Some kind of tourniquet What did you do she said Almost sober Putting her robe on Is it Alan But it was Jason Blood over the bathtub and the pretty half tiled wall He d slashed both his Wrists open with a potato peelenquot The potato peeler was still there in his hand Is he okay she said Alan Where the fuck are you Fuck Alberto Wrapped one of her good hand towels around one of Jason s wrists Hold this He stuck another towel around the other Wrist and then wrapped duct tape around that I called 911 he said He s breath ing Who is this guy Your brother My employee she said I don t believe this VVhat s with the duct tape Go get me a blanket he said Need to keep him Warm My ex wife did this once She skidded down the hall Slarnmed open the door to Elliot s room Turned on the lights and grabbed the comforter off the bed Vas poh Your new boyfriend s in the bathroom she said Cut his wrists with my potato peeler Wake up Lan Lan This is your mess Figfis wah Lin Lin Alan said so she pushed him off the bed What did you do Alan she said Did you mess with him 188 KELLY LINK He was Wearing a pair of Elliot s pajama bottorris You re not being funny he said I m not kidding she said I m There s a man named Alberto in the bathroom Jason tried to kill himself Or something Oh fuck he said Tried to sit up I was nice to him Lindsey Okay It was real nice We fucked and then we smoked some stuff and then we were kissing and I fell asleep She held out her hand pulled him up off the floor What kind of stuff Come on Something I picked up somewhere he said She wasn t really listen ing Good sniff Organic Blessed by monks They give it to the gods I took some off a shrine Everybody does it You just leave a bowl of milk or something instead There s no fucking Way it made him crazy The bathroom was crowded with everyone inside it No way to avoid standing in Jason s blood Oh fuck Alan said My brother Alan Lindsey said Here s a comforter for Jason Alan this is Alberto Jason can you hear me His eyes were open now Alberto said to Alan It s better than it looks He didn t really slice up his Wrists More like he peeled them Dug into one vein pretty good but I think I ve slowed down the bleeding Alan shoved Lindsey out of the Way and threw up in the sink Alan Jason said There were sirens 39 No Lindsey said It s me Lindsey Your boss My bathtub Jason Your blood all over my bathtub My potato peeler Mine Vlfhat were you thinking There was an iguana in your freezer Jason said Alberto said VVhy the potato peeler I was just so happy Jason said He was covered in blood I ve never been so happy in all my life I didn t Want to stop feeling that way You know No Lindsey said Are you going to fire me Jason said What do you think Lindsey said I ll sue for sexual harassment if you do Jason said I ll say you fired me because I m gay Because I slept with your brother Alan threw up in the sink again How do you feel now Alberto said You feel okay I just feel so happy Jason said He began to cry Light 189 not much ofa bedside manner Alan went with Jason in the ambulance The wind was stronger pushing the trees around like a bully Lindsey would have to put the storm sh uttersup 0 B went with Jason in the ambulance The wind was stronger pushing the trees around like a bully Lindsey would have to put the storm shutters up For some reason Alberto was still there He said I d really like a beer VVhat ve you got Lindsey could have gone for something a little stronger Everything smelled of blood Nothing she said I m a recover ing alcoholic Not all that recovered he said I m sorry Lindsey said You re a really nice guy But I wish you would go away I d like to be alone He held out his bloody arms Could I take a shower first Could you just go Lindsey said 39 I understand he said It s been a rough night A terrible thing has happened Let me help I ll stay and help you clean up Lindsey said nothing I see he said There was blood on his mouth too Like he d been drinking blood He had good shoulders Nice eyes She kept looking at his mouth The duct tape was back in a pocket of his cargo pants He seemed to have a lot of stuff in his pockets You don t like me after all I don t like nice guys Lindsey said There were support groups for people whose shadow grew into a There were support groups for women whose husbands left them There were support groups for alcoholics Probably there were support groups for people who hated support groups but Lindsey didn t believe in sup port groups By the time Alan got back from the hospital it was Saturday night she d nished the gin and started in on the tequila She was almost wishing I90 KELLY LINK that Alberto had stayed She thought about asking how Jason was but it seemed pointless Either he was okay or he Wasn t She wasn t okay Alan got her down the hall and onto her bed and then climbed into bed too Pulled the blanket over both of them 39 Go away she said I m freezing he said That fucking hospital That airconditioning Just let me lie here Go away she said again wah When she woke up she was still saying it Go away go away go away He wasn t in her bed Instead therewas a dead iguana the little one from the freezer on the pillow beside her face Alan was gone The bathtub stank of blood and the rain slammed down on the roof like nails on glass Little pellets of ice on the grass out side Now the radio said the hurricane was on course to make land some where between Fort Lauderdale and Saint Augustine sometime Wednese day afternoon There were no plans to evacuate the Keys Plenty of wind and rain and nastiness due for the Miami area but no real damage She couldn t think why she d asked Alberto to leave The storm shutters still needed to go up He had seemed like a guy who would do that IfAlan had been there he could have opened a can and made her soup Brought her ginger ale in a glass Finally she turned the television on in the living room loud enough that she could hear it from her bedroom That way she wouldn t be listening for Alan She could pretend that he was home sitting out in the living room watching some old monster movie and painting his ngernails black the way he had done in high school Kids with conjoined shadows were supposed to be into all that Goth makeup all that music so Alan was into it When Alan had found out that twins were supposed to have secret twin languages he d done that too invented a language LinLan and made her memorize it Made her talk it at the dinner table I on meh nadora plezbig meant Guess what I did Bandy Tim Wong leglrwa g s melt meant Went all the way with Tim Wong Tim Wong icked me in the Vernacular People with two shadows were supposed to be trouble They were sup posed to lead friends and lovers astray bring confusion to their enemies bring down disaster wherever they went She never went anywhere Alan had always been a conforrnist at heart Whereas she had a house and 1 ob and once she d even been married If anyone was keeping track Lindsey thought it should be clear who was ahead 39 Light 191 Monday morning Mr Charles still hadn t managed to get rid of the sleepers from Pittsburgh Jack Harris could shuf eppaper like nobodys business 39 I ll call him Lindsey offered You know I love a good Good luck Mr Charles said He says he won t take them back until after the hurricane goes through But rules say they have to be out of here twenty four hours before the hurricane hits We re caught between a rock And an asshole she said Let me take care of it She was in the warehouse on hold with someone who worked for Har ris when Jason showed up VVhat s up with that Valentina was saying Your arms Fell through a plateglass door 135011 Said That s not good Valentina said Lost almost three pints of blood Just think about that Three pints Hey Lindsey Valentina Lindsey said Take the phone for a moment Don t worry It s on hold Just yell if anyone picks up Jason can I talk to there for a moment 39 Sure thing Jason said He winced when she grabbed him above the elbow She didn t loosen her grip until they were a couple of aisles away Give me one good reason why I shouldn t re you Besides the sexual harassment thing Becaus I would enjoy that Hearing you try to make that case in court Jason said Alan s moved in with me Said you threw him out Was any of this a surprise Yes and no She said So if I fire you he 11 have to get a job That depends Jason said Are you ring me or not F fis bah Go ask Alan what that means Hey Lindsey Lindsey hey Someone named Jack Harris is on the phone Valentina said getting too close for this conversation to go any further I don t know why you want this job Lindsey said The bene ts Jason said You should see the bill from the emergency room Or why you want my brother 19 KELLY LINK ai Driver He says it s urgent Tell him one second Lindsey said To Jason All right You can keep your job on one condition e is He didn t sound nearly as suspicious as he ought to have sounded Still early days with Alan You get the man on the phone to take back those six sleepers Today 39 How the fuck do I do that Jason said I don t care But they had better not be here when I show up tomor row morning If they re here you had better not be Okay She poked him in the arm above the bandage Next time borrow something sharper than a potato peeler I ve got a whole block full of good German knives Lindsey Valentina said this Harris guy says he can call you back tomorrow if now isn t a good time Jason is going to take the call Lindsey said everything mustgo Her favorite liquor store put everything on sale whenever a hurricane was due Just their way of making a bad day a little more bearable She stocked up on everything but only had a glass of wine with dinner Made a salad and ate it out on the patio The air had that electric green shimmy to it she associated with hurricanes The water was as still as milk but de ating her dock was a bitch nevertheless She stowed it in the garage VVhen she came out a pod of saltwater mermaids was going out to sea Viho could have ever confused a rnanatee with a mermaid They turned and looked at her Dove down although she could still see them ribboning there down along the frondy bottom The last time a hurricane had come through her dock had sailed out of the garage and ended up two canals over She threw the leftover salad on the grass for the iguanas The sun went down without a fuss Alan didn t come back so she packed up his clothes for him Washed the l clothes first Listened to the rain start She put his backpack out on the dining room table with a note Good luck with the philosopher king In the morning before work she went out in the rain which was light but steady and put up the storm shutters Her neighbors were doing the same Cut herself on the back of the hand while she was working on the Light 193 next to last one Bled everywhere lawn Ca Pulled P While Slle was Sf l cursing and Alan got out He went into the house and got her 11 B3I1d39A1d They put up the last two shutters without talking 39 all 3 Finally Alan said It was my fault He doesn t usually do drugs at He s not a bad kid she said So not your type b I m sorry he said Not about that You know I guess I mean a out everything G They went back into the house and he saw l11S suitcase Well he said 1 z lhatz waghon meh she said Bilbfl tuh Nent bruk he said No kidding He didn t stay for breakfast She didn t feel any less or more real after he left The twentytwo sleepers were out of the warehouse and Jason had a tour pleted stack of paperwork for her Lotsof signatures Lots of duplicates and triplicates and fucklipates as Valentina hked to say Not bad Lindsey said Did lack Harris Offer lfouf Joli h 3 h He offered to come hand me IHY 333 Jason Said I S31 quot E 39 ave to get in line Nasty weather Are you staying out there th 5 lint I Where would I go she said There s a big party at C P 3 tonight It s not like I have to come in to work tomorrow I thought they were evacuating the Keys he Said I b It s voluntary she said Tl391 Y C101 Care if We 51333 037 80 V3 een through hurricanes When Alan and I were kids we spent 0116 C3 mPed In a bathtub under a mattress We read comics with a flashlight all night long The noise is the worst thing Good luck with Alan b5 the W335 I ve never lived with anybody before So maybe he knew just enough to know he had no idea what he had gotten himself 1I1t0 I V3 11eVe17 fallen for anybody like this There isn t anybody like she said He has the power to cloud and con ise the minds of men VVhat s your superpower Jason said He clouds and confuses she said I confuse and then cloud The order makes a big difference She told Mr Charles the good news about lack Harms they had 3 C of coffee together to celebrate then locked the warehouse down Mr Charles 394 KELLY LINK had to pick up his kids at school Hurricanes were holidays You didn t get snow days in Florida On the way home all the traffic was going the other way The wind made the stoplights swing and flip like paper lanterns She had that feeling she d had at Christmas as a child As if someone was bringing her a pres ent Something shiny and loud and sharp and messy She d always loved bad weather She d loved weather witches in their smart black suits Their divination kits their dramatic seizures their prophecies that were never entirely accurate but always rhymed smartly VKhen she was little she d wanted more than anything to grow up and be a weather witch although why that once had been true she now had no idea She rode her bike down to the Splinter Had a couple of whiskey sours and then decided that she was too excited about the hurricane to get prop erly drunk She didn t want to be drunk And there wasn t a man in the bar she wanted to bring home The best part of hurricane sex was the hurri cane not the sex so why bother The sky was green as a bruise and the rain was practically horizontal There were no cars at all on the way home She went down the middle of the road and ran over an iguana almost four feet long nose to tail Stiff as a board but its sides went out and in like little bellows The rain got them like that sometimes They got stupid and slow in the cold The rest of the time they were stupid and fast She wrapped her jacket around the iguana making sure that the tail was immobilized You could break a man s arm if you had a tail like that She carried it under her arm walking her bike all the way back to her house and decided it would be a good idea to put it in her bathtub She went out into her yard with a ashlight Checked the storm shutters to make sure they were properly fastened and discovered three more iguanas Two smaller ones and one real monster She brought them all inside By 600 1311 it was pitch darlc The hurricane was still two miles out at sea Picking up water to drop on the heads of people who didn t want any more water She dozed off at midnight and woke up when the power went off The air in the room was so full of water she had to gasp for breath The iguanas were shadows stretched along the floor of the living room Light 195 The black shapes of the liquor boxes were every Christmas present she d ever wanted Everything outside was clanking or buzzing or yanking or shrieking She felt her way into the kitchen and got out the box with her candles and ashlight and emergency radio The shutters banged away like battle Swung down the announcer was saying How about that and this is just the edge folks Stay indoors and hunker down if you haven t already left town This is only a Category 2 but you betcha it ll feel a lot bigger down here on the Keys It s 300 am and we re going to have at least three more hours of this before the eye passes over us This is one big baby girl and she s taking her time The good ones always do Lindsey could hardly get the candles lit the matches were that soggy her hands greasy with sweat When she went to the bathroom the iguana looked as battered and beat in the light from her candle as some old suitcase Her bedroom had too many windows for her to stay there She got her pillow and her quilt and a fresh T shirt A fresh pair of underwear When she went to check IIlliot s room there was a body on the bed She dropped the candle Tipped Wax onto her bare foot Elliot she said But when she got the candle lit again it wasn t Elliot of course and it wasn t Alan either It was the sleeper Versailles Kentucky The one who looked like Alan or maybe Lindsey depending on who was doing the looking She dropped the candle again It was exactly the sort ofoke Alan liked Not a joke at all that is She had a pretty good idea where the other sleep ers were in ason s apartment not back in Pittsburgh And if anyone found out it would be her job too No government pension for Lindsey No comfy early retirement Her hand still Wasn t steady and she was running low on matches When she held up the candle wax dripped onto Versailles Kentucky s neck But if it were that easy to wake a sleeper Lindsey would already know about it In the meantime the bed was against an exterior wall and there were all the windows Lindsey dragged Versailles Kentucky off the bed She couldn t get a good grip Versailles Kentucky was heavy She opped Her head snapped back hair snagging on the floor Lindsey squatted took hold of the sleeper by her upper arms pulled her down the dark hall try ing to keep her head off the ground This must be what it must be like to have murdered someone She would kill Alan Think of this as practice she thought Body disposal Dry run Wet run 196 KELLY LINK She dragged Versailles Kentucky through the door of the bathroom and teamed the limp body over the tub s lip Grabbed the iguana Put it on the athroorn oor Arranged Versailles Kentucky in the tub first one leg and then the other folding her down on top of hese1 Next she got the air mattress out of the garage the noise was worse out there She filled the mattress halfway and squeezed it through the bathroom door Put more air in Tented it over the tub Went and found the 3Sl1ligl1t got a bottle ofgin out of the freezer It was still cold thank God She swaddled the iguana in a towel that was stiff with ason s blood Eng it into the tub again Sleeper and iguana Madonna and her very ugly 1 Y Everything was clatter and wail Lindsey heard a shutter somewhere go sailing off to somewhere else The floor of the living room was wet in the circle of her ashlight when she went to collect the other iguanas Either th Fain beginning to force its way in under the front door and the sliding glass doors or else it was the canal The three iguanas went into the tub too Women and lguanas fsti 3116 Said and swigged her gin But nobody heard her over the noise of the Wind She sat hunched on the lid of her toilet and drank until the wind was gllmost something she could pretend to ignore Like 3 band in 3 bar that oesn t know how loud its playing Eventually she fell asleep still sitting on the toilet and only woke upwhen the bottle broke when she dropped 1t The iguanas rustled around in the tub The wind was gone It was the eye of the storm or else she d missed the eye entirely and the rest of the hurricane as well Light came faintly through the shuttered window The batteries of her emergency radio were dead but her cell phone still showed a signal Three messages from Alan and SIX messages from a number that she guessed was Jason s Maybe Alan wanted to apologize for something She went outside to see what had become of the world Except that what had become of the world was that she was no longer in it The street in front of her house was no longer the street in front of her house It had become someplace else entirely There were no other houses As if the storm had carried them all away She stood in a meadow full of Wildflowers There were mountains in the far distance cloudy and blue The air was very crisp h Her cell phone showed no signal When she looked back at her house s e was looking back into her own world The hurricane was still there Light smeared out onto the horizon like poison The canal was full of the ocean the Splinter was probably splinters Her front door still stood open She went back inside and filled an old backpack with bottles of gin 39 Threw in candles her matchbox some cans of soup Her gun Padded it all out with underwear and a sweater or two The white stuff on those moun tains was probably snow If she put her ear against the sliding glass doors that went out to the canal she was listening to the eye that long moment of emptiness where the worst is still to come Versailles Kentucky was still asleep in the bath tub with the iguanas who were not There were red marks on Versailles Kentucky s arms and legs where the iguanas had scratched her Nothing fatal Lindsey got a brown eyeliner pencil out of the drawer under the sink and lifted up the sleeper s leg Drew a birthmark in the shape of a battle ship The water in the air would make it smear but so what If Alan could have his joke she would have hers too She lowered the cool leg On an impulse she picked up the smallest iguana still wrapped in its towel Vlhen she went out her front door again with her backpack and her bike and the iguana the meadow with its red and yellow flowers there and the sun was coming up behind the mountains although this was not the direction that the sun usually came up in and Lindsey was glad She bore the sun a grudge because it did not stand still it gave her no advan tage except in that moment when it passed directly overhead and she had no shadow Not even one Everything that had once belonged to her alone was back inside Lindsey where it should have been There was something maybe a mile or two away that might have been an outcropping of rock The iguana fit inside the basket on her handlebars and the backpack was not uncomfortably heavy No sign of any people anywhere although if she were determined enough and if her bicycle didn t get a puncture surely she d come across whatever the local equiva lent of a bar was eventually If there wasrft a bar now then she could always hang around a little while longer see who came up with that bright idea first She may have come from the suburbs probably She could have been born in i one of the smaller cities perhaps she had stoodin tlie hallway near the man who j to its limit She looked across 39 Maybe the girlfwas foreign quot P T w Of course this dream was less 39al Iit the girl surely she was older than pv1 quotquotiher body a about the way Lalways had I98 KELLY LINK THE GIRL WAS NEARLY A BABY been ferried in IIerhair was short and gathered to V f A points like whitish brown fur The girl U quotf 739 A 39 I kU whokept her on E1 parents leash Most ofthe 1 39ish391ay slaitk 1 on the hotel s hallway floor for the girl did the bare hall to the open s 39 3 s1endingc i Even a fewfn1jr139utesafterI first saw her I knew Ilwould steal the girl It was39 a leaden knowledge like suddenly under standing the endingof a tale show or looked for something to raise me up fol lowing the part of the story 0 Y u I hadquot fallen I G 39 39 matically constricts her immediate environment until all is enclosed in seirlembrace Having nally achieved the torsion and compaction of a 3 1 I i 3339rinc39 b wrrmastics as the men woired on incredulous the audience would stage some women it hy meansquot of dancing or gyroscope my dual muses shifted gears and bounced off the stage into the aisles allowing two ecstatic members of the audi ence to catch them thus importing to our theater arnbience the wholesome plea sures of the baseball stadium It was then that the third sphere appeared who knew from where reinforcing solo the entire sequence of events and you can well imag me how the audience responded to this encore a synthesis of which they wouldn t have dared dream I cannot tell you at what point audience and performers became one Suf ce it to say that the entire season was a grand success By the time the grand nale of the closing night arrived there were as many women jumping from and then into the sawing trunk as children in a swimming pool in sum mer and with equivalent alacrity It was a free for all but a deligous one Women who previously would have experienced no motion other than to stand sit down applaud walk out had spontaneously adopted graceful daring postures seemingly outside the province of the amateur I never once had to request a Volunteer I needed only to announce I am about to saw a woman in half and the audience would storm the stage some women reaching it by means of dancing or gymnastics as the men looked on incredulous The audience swelled with mothers daughters sisters aunts grandmothers extending well beyond the edges of the tent And thus I who never sought a wife long resigned as I was to the con straints and rigors of my singular vocation have amassed an unsolicited harem under my patronage whose contentment is my duty and whose entertainment will be my challenge long after the curtain has come down And even though I sometimes doubt my capabilities even though I find f myself on occasion feeling overwhelmed or anxious I am largely con dent that magic will continue to provide 3i 39kRY CAP O NE GRO bea51td1aympnHed opened entirely C P j ii tbe lkitch In floor as if my body and my thing g kn 0 W1 me at all Angela s aHergiQM 0 k 5 0 i Y0L1V139I1i in 00k like gq head v Gw Worst when 3 I Y ur u u 39 ge and ugly mm 13221net edsssnerals ii gt i Moments later oQ39gi39139gZaf3939 quot1313 ck body against o I blackne fth d n P q I 9iliiaIiwh l lYsl7 Pi esed Q 39 Ye lidlet q fltold Angela and my wife D g39331 p p said back had n iliih lsiulids 1 hi quotquotquot S39 We agreed We I coma tilgerejme wealth But still 4m l l In k 0n V e 11 39quot39er a month the dog stopped tracking and soon enough if he lifted his head he did so as he would were it me or Angela or my wife skating the baseboards burrowing through blankets trailing pellets leaving urine residue behind and finally what it comes down to is that grossness overwhelms the overall adorable ness of mice I try to resist but in the end I just won t let them take over my stuff 39 I know there are bears on a mountain in what Montana A bear is bigger than me A moose is bigger than me A moose gets mad but eats grass This is what I considered at my desk at work my office bulging light into the hall through its open door Outside I knew sunlight smacked itself against the towerwalls still somehow leaving the windows gray Come on in here I could say to any of the people who worked up and down the hall but I didn t Take a look at this see what you P v I could say to Mike who I did like to talk to and then he d come in with the whole bun dle of his life experiencestrung through his weird body Pull up a chair Mike I could say and run anything by him Mike had a nodding chin and his own rnousy affect I Is this about germs and the smallest of life forrns Have I mentioned how huge I am I am a sort of opposite of life under microscopes Life scopes is celestial and I am the hairiest sort of American under micro At home my wife was focused not on me not on mice Mice were between us one thing made of its duplicates Also between us sad air pulsing from her newspapers humming from her monitor springing from the televi sion Mice and news of the world and who would hold out longest within his or her perspective My wife held out longest even after one leaped from her boot even after one galloped around the tub as she bathed and one trotted across her keyboard as she read It was I who said Goddamn it they could stay if they d be civilized like all the other animals who live p this house Angela still wore diapers which stretched my point a bit She walked with a rattle in her st this thighhigh Godzilla not quite a baby and possibly slow Godzilla I m insinuating was no Mr Stephen I Einstein Darling blob of potential What could she become I pictured with warmth a reman But a couple months later you really couldn t cook using pans like that and a family s gotta eat and they dragged stuffing from the couch I o LUCY CORIN and a mail Wants 3 ice Couch so okay iw15I I decided to get rid of the mi b Wanted to do it right right With Gcbed Vl lztlyl if you ve tumbled P th l 8 Where it goes 0 at chicf You know I d Ms as ug 3 V31 Same thin t 831 in his nibbly way I knew from 6 past that he was raised in the Woods played a lot of bow and arrow with his 0w That little man gggn 4 9 L the next week washing glue off mice shampoomg mice in his sink rubbing them down with a terry cloth brother Prfmarill homosexual All around T W33 C10ser to Ilatur e than I113 33 I1 ature mostly came to me when Il k d oo e 111 the mirror and thought What the ckr The bum the elds at th d complexes so he had eXPe1n 0IIi39lf1eery Ydafand mice run into the 39 unit ingers in his lap goin 3 available options he said Th t littl 39 glue Offmice Shampooing mlCeain his ginirlijtnmipyent e ngixt week washing cloth Remember I missed a 39 mg em Own with ate me gt my off the last of the mice from the vlltindHa1dlacil to get the last of the Cm back in the smoldering ejd on the W3 to W0 k 1 It smelling like apples Came in with his knees smuclged onif th I E got 11 at tire out there God that idiot Mike 1168 the Hi t ftjicarbon on the ground nice and wgth integrity I ces o anYone you ever heard of Nice gazed t as he spoke stars going by I was 0 1r 0fn III the sleepmg monitor 80 with th139 in mind down I at away th Ia try t0 Imagine myself as a herg cn f local Saw This and stand at the aliilife for another the one where P S will d 011e ncjigble thing sanctity of if the packages of mouse 39 3 mg or mYf3II1i1 I stud p01SOI1 I 2 on which were drawings of a moug E rli30rd cheeseshaped wedges feet in the air Xs for eyes Like mice are blind ls 3 V1 tongue hanging out Zclnmeone the world maybe were watqling oughg Sl1 castic2 Y as if at picture I thought of the d m Eh1 1c e mice can see Versatiom about their fear of a1L1ts g1d bugs in commercials their con between me and the commercials to maliierflnuljtlilave been 3 Seamlessness What a variety of method e e eve 1I1 mice this W3 h Y s ung before me I had been known to i can our COIHPQHY hotline an o 1 nymous y to d1SC1155 ml ethical concerns I Mice 72 Also when I pictured myself as a hero do you know what it included It included that long trip down the dark hall of my office and into the false light that bulged from my open door I chose no kill traps gray boxes with sliding lids no larger than mice but I pictured them in action a small black hole in the night remem bered that mice feel fine going into small holes In the pet department the local shelter displayed puppies and cats adoption forms and bumper stickers My orange basket swung from the crook of my crag of an elbow and I felt effeminate which naturally I rarely feel In cartoons the mouse lifts the hole from the stone wall of photographed ink so that the chasing monster smacks into it I let the handle slide into my fist Small plastic boxes jiggled in my basket Set them up with peanut butter in the bot tom said Mike at work They can t resist he said and wiggled his fin gets as in he can t resist either A long time ago and present in my mind with the mice was a shot in a movie we were watching me and my wife a movie about the future back before anything had happened to us The hero this guy in this fix looks on the computer at a picture of a cornucopian street market lled with beggars and shoppers The shot shows him swooping the View around and looking close up at parts of the picture VVhoosh whoosh the baskets of owers the glossy bins of fruit and fish an old marfs hand grasping a ragged girl s rags ragged the windows in the background kaleidoscopic with reflections Then in the corner is someone s sleek white arm with something along it peculiar which he zooms in on It s shiny and metallic the barrel of a gun held by someone outside the frame and he zooms in until he s lling the screen with the grayscale sheenwthis is the key motion this rhythmicgoing into depthwand reflected in the barrel is the convex face of a woman in sun glasses a spy so he zooms in on her with this in nite mechanical per ception possible only in this land of the future because back in Antonioni it was photography not video making this same move so the image grew increasingly close and increasingly particulate at once both more and less visible because to see anything up close meant you had to have been there for previous more distant shots in order for this new image to make sense because meaning came from perspective it came from context and from history otherwise up close all you had was an abstract shape or pattern well at least that s how it was in the days of photography LUCY CORIN X 12 But here in is a shiny wall sto nl h c e ark 111 the movies a mid night show back before Angela even twin kl d 39 39 ife in our four moviegomg eyes which you looked at them held the movie in th I 1 CVI39I1I11 vxigked gt my Wife who Was not l Y 1 6 Yet just someone I wanted to Ck Could 866 that nothing at all w haPpening to her as she watched excea m 391Yl3 she was worried about the 133 problems whatever they were She cil d just have it that pure uncluttered c tion But for me it was like I was liilneg Watc I didn t do it I didn t move 39 39 into in nity Not back then I m how was 111 da ean 0 Y a te But I could see It I could see d YOU do that I mean it My wife was watching TV in the dark in the bedroom and eating a popsicle something I actually don t find sexv and I knew she was going to drip Angela so she wouldn t topple from the counter While she ate her peanut butter Watching her moony eyes as they wandered the kitchen within the world of what she was tasting and then I lifted her down took both our spoons and washed them I Wanted the mice to go straight for the traps as soon as possible and not get sidetracked Angela sat on the oor I put traps along the countertops and in the cabinets and set their dainty lids I don t think there s a single political thing that my Wife and I disagree about The difference is that my wife at least then liked to know the spe cifics Every new instance of brutality astonished her every unveiling of corruption took her breath I knew her to pace through the night Far away in the kitchen I thought about how Angela had come from me but only in this totally counterintuitive way via my Wife My wife who looked at images of people and saw reflections of herself Come closer I kept trying to say Come over here so I can see you I could feel myself negotiating Whether or not to feel this other person s unhappiness So what if you feel it It s still there but now it s spreading We are all unhappy enough Then I looked at Angela and it felt obvious here she is as if I am made of her Here she is obviously and miraculous Took a week but we caught one I put Angela and the dog into the car and we drove with the plastic box to the edge of town My Wife stayed home She said she d prefer not to come as she was fine with the mice being naturally a generous and compassionate person You mean unsanitary I said I mean fuck off she said and went back to stuffing herself With news I I unloaded everyone We Were all really excited Angela was moving up and down at her knees and saying Huh huh huh Wearing a bunchy pink sweater and when I lifted the lid the mouse sprung into the air with all its limbs loose and ailing its ngers spread like a cat pouncing on life itself The dog lunged on his leash and the mouse lgtounceb0unce bounced into the black and gold eld Clouds puffed around the superblue sky I laughed I looked at Angela thinking we were sharing this moment of freedom but she peered at the ground as if this one piece of ash was exciting in a Way that the others were not It cloesn matter I thought She feels it in the air 74 LUCY CORIN What happened with Mike39s arrow is We dal he shot his brother in the back The boys were six Their parents didrft believe in t0V5 Nature was their toys space for fun once a long time ago with an artist friend I rushed to the Cal 3T1dPuued out of there like a coward 39 quotWhat happened with Mike s arrow 18 one day he shot his brother in the back The boys were six Their Parents dldnt believe in toys Nature was their toys I read a book where all that happens is a woman kills a cockroach a transla id book from some place where cockroach rnight have a nicer name You 20 through 39 d killin it She s and history 111 the woman s mmd While she consi ers 8 thi 13 mice had taken a maid I kept read1I1glut N didnt l1lltt1tfI spy Of8bilt15i one mom with over implying everything 1I1CluCl1I1g e ee g my wife in another room an d I m not sure if she hates me or just CV31 11 11 dead just thing but rm nearby I felt haunted by her and S ic11IVSIf1 l Itchen esPe across the wall from me I felt this a lot and especl Y d Wif ake in 39 In E aw cially if Angela was already 11 bed 80 1t W35 luff me p H Y and the house usually me in the kitchen producmgdtplp assertiveoclfwmksatef on Patters of home 53111112 to her with the dishes m e g and off the dull percussion o f drawers all this SOS Bk 1 evolving But evoluti0I1 S I felt somethtlln g el9 tc a 1 3ltii1gCti0 I11Y only has the direction sucha snny 8351 as 39 you re looking in 11 b s encir In the bright kitchen when I closed my eyes I saw e 01 trtplt light I 39 from the darkness inside the gleammg cabinets 39hng39mIi th dark and within the dark dark holes where mice might go 1IlIa39 1me 6 closed I imagined my Wife in her den What made me go 1 my eyes d ht rwas in I knew the dog lay at her feet and I felt so alone once IUY mg 6 asleep 1i whip in the IIoneil I Said She was sucking 0 3 Strawberry C01ice 13 th corner of the shadows Most of tllphcorppgliger was l 1lt1j1Vrtmktin I stood behind screen held a photo at not Wan 39 ak 1m 11 thtCl1ClI11ZII1 e1t we be eehe n 2 355 into her ponytail I said I you sppp 8 Reading babe We call it citizenship c uur 39 393939 7 quot3 Honey I said I put my hand on her shoulder which twitched I tried to leave it there for her to relax into but the shoulder didn t relax Under my hand her muscle was a separate animal in her body and something rose in my gut as I stared at it My hand on her shoulder her shoulder refusing my hand In my mind I pushed back on what rose I m a citizen I said I said We call it the working man I could see the side of her face shift but I couldn t tell how The Man maybe she said Still I could not read her tone I reached with all my capacity and I just couldn t tell if she hated me or if she believed we were amused at the same thing I wanted us to laugh at me together I wanted perhaps also to laugh at politics I mean war And then I didn t want to be the sort of person my Wife laughed at I had to muster something in order to move forward in the conversation It was so hard to push the moment forward I am so huge and it was so hard to make anything move It s just that it s hurting you I said Not like it s hurting them I could feel her mind swoop behind her h see through me She exhaled sharply and then clicked her mouse her mouse I almost retched from humiliation at this connection and then boom the image filled the screen a bombed open air market bodies babies blood rust burst ani mals and fruit a soldier with his rifle slung over his shoulder holding an arm in one hand and a chunk of bloody hair in the other probably from a person I could see part of caught under the rubble who the soldier might have harmed or might have been trying to rescue The soldier looked blank paralyzed lost in this gory plenty I saw all this in an assault as if she d bludgeoned me in my sleep and I had to pull back with my mind assert the flat haze of the photo s history its multiple reproductions and register the texture of its transference from medium to medium reiterate how far it had traveled and how that movement had coated it in layers to help separate me from it life and death to camera to newspaper to Inter net all that travel resting now under the skin of her laptop I tilted her chair back into me so I could lookdown on her face There was her face which I know I let myself relax into this perspective I let myself enjoy it in a way that tickled the edge of cruelty Mice 3977 78 39 She let her head drop back into my stomach She took the licorice from her mouth and laid it on her desk next to her pencil She let me look at her I know what I believe I knew What needed to happen Get a cat Mike said next day at Work as if that s a mature thing to do is get another liv ing being to do your Work Anyway Angela s allergic I went back to the Saw This I looked at the guys and the lesbians loading lumber onto a truck in the rain I Went in through hardware and to the garden center I bought those old fashioned smacky spring traps I bought like ten At home was a note My wife had taken Angela and the dog on errands First I cleaned the kitchen keeping an eye over the breakfast bar and through the dining room window for them to come home My cleaning was exhaustive and exhausting but there I stood heavy in the sparkling White room and still they hadn t come Then I sat on the linoleum and set the traps I put three of them under the sink Where I thought mice Were getting in near the pipes I put peanut butter on some cheese rind on some and pushed them into place with chopsticks Then I Waited I stretched out on the clean flooron my back It felt nice It felt cool I could see some of my nose past that some of my belly and past Illifted my head my furry toes I let my head fall to the side and looked down the slope of my arm to my st I was a clod of dirt39VVhere the fuck Were they I thought Evolve like What I Woke when the door banged open and as if I Wererft there I heard the panting dog trotting to his bowl the rhythmic clanging of his tags against it the huge noise of Water toenails Wet breath moving his mouth flaps Angela made her babbling noises and my wife I could hear her putting stuff on the dining table and pulling out a chair made happy little noises back at Angela If you don t talk to her in actual Words she ll never talk back I Wanted to say but then I felt overwhelmed with the happiness I heard in their voices I moved my eyes around and everything I could see was White or shiny From this perspective on the floor behind the C011I39l tertop their voices and the whiteness were singular synthetic and lled everything I supposed perhaps blithely that I felt like the mouse and mice I d been imagining 39 Angela toddled around the counter and into the kitchen hands and face sticky and pink Wearing a head kerchiefwith tiny apple trees on it and LUCY CORIN a paci er on a string around her neck She did a little rocky dance when 21 saw me and burbled Then she Went over to the dog and splashed with in bhe bowl The dog 5it and they did a funnynegotiation over the glltier 161 eY 5 I Saw the feelings move across her features in shades gee Dc st wehtherdI1Jised to be as I understand it people thought of Culategthe e2Iphmad as 1 rigs that come from people as things that Cir alon Wfhin th P30 393 get gaught in them pass them along or travel g 1 em All these feelings that could have comequot from anywhere and 1511531quot they We39re 011 Angela s face I listened to my w1 fe 3 noises 3 i1tle more and them n31lY k h aVed myself to a squat and I don t know Why Well I do but I coiled myself up and I sprang into the air and spread my body as Wide as possible and yelled Surprise My wife dropped a gro cery bag and laugh d While 3 Cl02611 rosy fruits slid around her feet You Iigrpcrlilsteri she said and because I left my arms open she strolled into the en and then into them She put her hands on the back of my head and lay her eyes on mine I Said I138 just that I caught you being happy She grinned and winked at me Let Inc Show Y011 S0I1391 th1 ng she said She scooted back to the dining roclm and returned with a damp flyer It had a drawing of a bloody st on It The5e Pe PlC 5116 Said beaming are not sissies I went to my first meeting today I m in a swoon Then she Whispered We re underground and almost trembled What do these people do I said March We re hugef she said And yet invisible She scooped up Angel ear ped her to the sink and began to wipe her hands and face with a sponge We re one made of many Iik What a march I said You just murder your mousies mister she said with a Wiggle Oh honey I thought Like what I said A cult She put Angela back on the oor and came over She hopped into my arms and I held her with her legs around my waist Ange1 Came Over and put her arms around my leg I could hear her sucking on her paci er The dog came over He sat at my other leg and dripped Water onto my foot We stayed there for a while in a clump 39 39 I thought I heard a trap spring in thenight I moved through the house 1 the dark I felt so hungry In the kitchen in the stove light I went throug 39 gnnin f d the cabinets checking the traps but part Of 1116 W3 35 for O0 I knowit s not so much that Im hungry Iknowthat if a person s insides are hanging from her body and you love her you just want to lift them and nestle them back where they belong So when I do this as that I want something and I know there s food in the house I could see well enough to 566 tllat 110113 of the traps were sprung or maybe I just knew by my sense of the shadows as my eyes processed them I did not want to turn on more light and blind myself Iwas in fact a little afraid to turn on the ligllts because of having seen when I was a child a mouse with his head crushed in a trap a mouse spotted brown and white like my 39 l Iongescaped hamster My father had placed the body on the kitchen tab 6 and explained several things to me about nature while we a3CI33h Y0f each other and looked at it Weather cycles he XP13me 0 C am 39 He yoomed there like the future like me projected on a large screen My f ther speaking the truth he believed 35 iftf1I13111C 311t a I opened the refrigerator and stood SP0t1it in the C001 113115 lling the 39 I d frame with my silhouette One thing I know from the past if the bboo and guts are from someone you love there 1S no lling dlsgllsll f 3 out them I know this from a car wreck I know that if a persons insides are 39 d hanging from her body and you love her you just want to lift them an nestle them back where the belong S313 Shels Your 31353 as she WaS my sister If her blood is everywhere you just W t 3950 gather the b100Cl mm your arms and keep it from leaving You love the blood because it 18 her and you cannot bear that the blood ismerging with dirt and grips Vililfi I look at images of people from war with their bodies scattere can you what is going on 3 a I don t know what it means or doesn 1 mean if I don t look I don t care if we are all connected I want what s mine I didn t have to worry In the morning the food from the traps11 39 gone I replaced the food reset the traps A week later 0116 351 its twin mouse skittered furriiture to furniture sleek and fat I begatil to despair The kitchen was as if I d never cleanedhip the fair heav1n vW mouse I went to work with my teeth gritted and a oat o umps LUCY coam ir3939a 4 ing the mess I d find on my return At work the office hall stretched and I felt lost even though there were no turns Meanwhile my wife became happier and happier IIer grin grew sly Time slipped She wore tighter jeans and clingy undershirts She looked lean and more muscular and this I did find sexy yet entirely unapproachable like a movie star like she was teasing me The dog was mostly asleep from so much action in my absence IIe d sometimes come to me with a look like Save me 39 Time time time I don t know I don t know I d shake my head You will you will she d sirigsong back I refused to picture what she might mean Wliat is it exactly that you do all day I phrased to myself and did not ask aloud now that you are not depressed Most wives with little kids they re running around with laundry and toys to do lists dangling from their pockets their hair all over the place the dog dragging dirty diapers around the house who wants a wife like this not me the baby sticking its fingers in the sockets the phone ringing the garbage disposal shooting sludge the tub overflowing the baby tumbling down the stairs or getting peas stuck up its nose the dog hauling in a dead rabbit and digging up the rosebushes the TV loud with the picture ipping in ribbons electronic robots muttering the alphabet the baby slipping on magazines But they d become so happy angry sornetimes usually at this one guy in the group who my wife thought was a pussy and when she d say his name and look at Angela the two of them wrinkled their noses and stuck out their tonguesbut happy They had in jokes the two of them And they were developing a language Not English It was part baby talk and part some thing else that sounded sophisticated and ancient Theywere always home when I came in and the house looked just as it used tomessy but now they spoke in their secret language until Angela fell asleep with a great col lapse from a busy and important day Once I cornered Angela by the dog s water bowl squatted as close to her level as possible and looked at her searching for our connection Had there ever been a connection I tried to remember Come on give your old dad a try I said Come on I m a clever bastard But she looked at me as if she actually understood my words and I was weird for even asking Honestly though I could ve been projecting refusal onto a face more blank than I knew how to recognize She zipped her lips and issued no peep She tugged at the hem of her jumper She moved her head a little as ifshe were Mice 32 tcstizig her neck out She laughed and sunk her fist into the water bowl The dog licked drops from the linoleum Something secret happens between blood and graSS something underground I Once after dinner my wife looked up from their syllabic exchange and caught me staring at them from the kitchen I Tell me she said hal shadowed lording over the table with a pair of wooden salad spoons wearing a bandanna like a TV gangster What exactly is it that you do all day Even at eight in the morning arti cial light bulged from the open offices and darkness pooled in the recesses made by the closed ones the offices like nubs on an ancient insect that can glow or not glow I Walk d 33 If 011 a conveyor belt and nodded as I passed Jeff then Benny then Elsabeth at their desks The hall was so long Mike s office staggered across from mine remained dark I unlocked my door and looked at the window The building was situated such that even on a clear bright day 35 this dill W35 humming up to be the windows remained a weakly illuminated and pure blind gray Outside were walls from the building next door b about the angles made this impossible to see from insideOur W1I1Cl0WS teetered as if between elemental phases like clouds pressed into shape We were alchemists like everyone in the whole economy We were trying to turn our spittle into gold Every day I looked at my hand and dared If E0 move over the phone to call the hotline about my ethical concerns I pre tended to dare myself because I thought it d be funny I didn t Call b C l11S by then I knew it was not funny It was not spittle It was not ours I knew better than that I knew what it was we made gold from d I heard Mike coming down the hall I could tell by the way he scuffle He said Hi Jeff IIi Benny Oh Elsabeth I like the hat and bounced along the walls with his briefcase which I knew very well enough to imag ine His keys jangled against his door as he unlocked it and then I could hear him pouring himself tea from his thermos which made an empty metal sound He said from behind the walls Good morning to me I wanted to call him over and run the home situation by him but I W01quotlied that I had the power to get my wife in trouble which made me feel pow erless it was humiliating to have a secret and not to know what the Secffit was to be forced into complicity because she knows I have alw2lY5 Pic LUCY CORIN tured myself doing anything for my family She seemed to taunt me with her understanding and then I said in my mind to soldiers chestwdeep in tanks like bathtubs Look at my wife and I ll blow your fucking heads off I thought about searching the computer for some ideas but then I thought about being surveilled 39 This got me pretty deep into midmorning and on my way toward lunch I sat at my desk I looked at the window I tap tapped along as if my fin gers were not mine and my mind oated about the room like a piece of weather I considered Mike I tried to think of something about Mike that I admired that would explain my consistent desire for his counsel I didn t know much about him but the thought of him cheered me He drove a tin can of a Honda hatchback He lived by himself in an aparunent I realized I was afraid to tell him how I was beginning to feel about the mice how I wanted them dead dead dead I thought this might be why I wanted rather to tell him about how much I wanted to ick my wife I thought about his homosexuality and imagined I could get really graphic and 39spe cific about my desires and he d just understand in this way that someone else would jump in with what he wanted to do to my wife I could picture Milce nodding more and more kindly the more I let loose with my ideas I looked at the window and my mind hovered in the spaces between the series of walls surrounding Mike and me I shifted the focus of my eyes and saw the whole hulk of me in the window dense in the glazedover glass craggy as a bare mountain my mouth limp and bulbous my eyes drooping and protruding my teeth pressing against my jowls No one this ugly should get to do anything Throughout the day the gray of the window darkened and my image within it evolved and devolved by which I mean shifted By the time the office closed it was dark outside I stopped at the bank and took out some money I think I thought What my wife 1395 running low on cash and I canjustsup ply ft snap cyfrlze ngers At home they were watching the television in the bedroom all three of them all shadowy on the Coverlet of blue roses The dog lifted his head and thumped his tail when I looked in My wife lay on her stomach propped on her elbows her hands full of colorful wrappers and her mouth full of something sticky and sweet She looked over at me and said Mmm I Angela sat nestled in the curve of her mother s waist sucking on a car rot and light changed her skin in flashes and waves The light moving across my baby s face what can I say It horri ed me I thought I could Mice 83 Two weeks later saw an in ux of large slowvmoving ies that I knew came from inside the walls and inside the bodies of the mice that had died growling ies that thought could rupture and a squirming new mouse would leap out see a talking head superimposed on hers I wanted to pull her from it as from polluted waters I resisted and resisted abducting my daughter from my bedroom I could see the light turning her into someone ruin ing her My body lled the doorway with fat and hair and muscles My wife looked at me still chewing and her face and eyes said What Bug off So I shoved myself from the doorway and went to take out the garbage I took the canister out from under the kitchen sink thinking how kitchen sink means more than everything ie something impossible and then when I lifted the bag this is what I found amid the commen 34 srj l tary and explosions the sudden stench of a mouse that had died under the liner and stuck to the mouse a maggot so white and eshy I could see within it the black seed of a developing y The next day I bought a cardboard wedge of poison granules and placed it near the sink pipes so they d land beside it upon entry I put a safety39lock on the cabinet and within two days the house was littered with radioac tive looking mouse pellets Two weeks later saw an in ux of large slow moving ies that I knew came from inside the walls and inside the bod ies of the mice that had died growling ies that I thought could rupture and a squirming new mouse would leap out One by one I swatted them with a newspaper By afternoon the presidents pixilated face was obliter ated by the deaths of insects How dare you I thought to the president come into my house and make my wf z crazy Indeed how efficiently I am able to swat ies How within my nature it has always been The paint on the kitchen walls was slightly discolored in spots from where I d sprayed disinfectant Angela followed me around as I completed all this She was intrigued or she was oblivious I swept the bodies into the dustpan and flung them into the garden I sang Fly fly away but Angela didn t crack a smile I said something about fertilizer about natural cycles of life and she remained unamused She was wearing a tshirt that said Let Freedom Rain with a picture of a gingham puppy leash dangling peeing on a fire hydrant and holding an umbrella I stared at the t shjrt but it remained both silly and incoherent I began again to clean the house LUCY CORIN jjWm And my wife waswhat Brimrning as if I could unzip her and it would all spill out What would it be Cells in the shape of her the many from the one Now as she read books of histories and revolutionaries and moved through the house and the Internet with a swooping grace I knew only from certain shbts in movies she did so with a large spiral bound notebook that I never saw unless she was writing in it She remained not unfriendly and she remained remote She offered little jokes about mice my desire to get them and my recent success having got them good One night while Angela and the dog slept I stood at the counter polishing silverware and looking out the window over the sink to the moon My wife came in and took a glass from the cabinet VVhen I saw what she was after I rinsed my hands and took the water pitcher from the fridge I met her in the center of the room and poured it for her I stood with the pitcher and watched the water move in waves as she drank it I admired the perfect communion of the water the glass and the force of her mouth The kitchen smelled of faraway spaghetti Under that the only animal scent came from the dog s bowls The romance of domesticity swept into me I put my arm around her waist and we embraced with our symbolic vessels hovering in the air behind our heads We moved a little My wife has sleek reddish hair and I put my nose into it I thought about cells multiplying and my body ll ing with myself I thought about men who go to Alaska and shoot sheep sheep that are so wild they re as dangerous as bears Those people think they re facing themselves but I think they re not they re just being assholes I ve seen a photo of a man with a gleaming white ram sunk into his arms and reclined like a woman on a fainting couch eyes open and behaving in death as it never in any possible contortion would have behaved in life which is precisely what makes the man feel what he is feeling which is sat isfied and right perhaps even with God It s so ugly I know it s natural but still I just really want to fuck my wife I said into her ear as sweetlyas any words can come from a mouth like this I know you do honey she said I backed her toward the counter for a step before what she meant sunk in and we released but embrace I put the pitcher in the refrigerator and paused to let its air push into me Then I closed the door leaned on the hulking white thing and listened to the scraps of paper struggling under their magnets in the breeze that came from the Window and the ceiling fan Mice 85 39 1 v W It 0 u 86 I would never get anything right I could feel my teeth in my mouth I think you should tell me what you do all day with my daughter and my dog I said 39 She crossed her arms over her chest and let quother head fall to the side thinking I Balance she said She extracted a rubber band from the pocket of her jeans and worked to pull her hair back with it Don touch that hair I thought It flowed from her I wanted to say Mine I said You need to be more speci c Entropy she said with the band in her teeth The opposite of you Heat expanded in my body idiotically like a camp re marshmallow She looked at me in a way that you could say she considered mejrom q zr With her head tilted her eyes precise the tone of her gaze forthright I watched her take in all my available dimension She said You big sweet hairy baby I moved toward her knowing that my face was shifting in the static halfalight from moonlit to monstrous I deserve to know I said She rolled her eyes let the band snap into place and disappeared into the darkness of the house VShat are you going to do I called after her Are you going to blow something up What Are you going to blow yourself up VIhen I heard nothing back I called You know what I dare you You know what You should just come on over to my office You should just come on in and blow us both up Then I plunged in after her Moving through the house quickly quickly I brushed against wallpaper and caught my robe on a sconce glided down a hall and then scraped my feet on something like legos At first I tried to listen for where she could be but the rush of organic heat in my head was so loud that I couldn t hear past myself My esh thumped furniture and I kept my elbow trailing along chair rails until they ended and I ailed in a chasm I swiped walls for switches and gave up I moved in gushes and spasms I heaved along and I heaved inside I felt the press of my toenails I pushed forward and for ward as if I were moving down one long passageway scaling boulders and leaping craters as if I had traveled for miles for days VVhen I stopped to listen to my breath in the dark the carpet hummed under my feet I could feel its wormy shapes on my soles and my arms reached like zombie arms and my face it seemed to me in the darkness had let itself loose I couldn t imagine what I could be wearing only my lumpen body like a formation of LUCY CORIN lava left to millennia of stasis crude elemental both alien and utterly of my core I waited panting listening to the muscles in my face come into focus and by the time I spied what looked like a light in the distance I knew tears were forming in my dumb eyes and traveling along my slack cheeks I pushed one foot forward and then another moving myself like a dead bear or an armoire and finally I stood again in the kitchen with the disappoint ing moon tippy behind the perforated skin of our window screen I looked blankly at the screen at a loss as to what could possibly be out there I d run and run but I couldrft catch her I COUIC1 fed h 1 though lling the walls of the house In the dark in the kitchen I breathed for an amount of suspended time After a while my wife hovered in my mind illuminated in darkness like a dessert in the dramatic display cabinet of a very selilimportant restau rant where I remember being taken as a child to eat VVhat would she say if she said something She Said I m trying to protect you I suspected she was full of shit but I couldn t tell I said she could not possibly be doing any such thing because what she was doing was killing me She said I am protecting you in a small way because trust me you don t want to know And I m protect ing you in a big way too because I am doing the right thing and you are part of the world I wanted to shake her to move her physically as if that would move her mind I tried to remember what she had been before she allowed the world to take over our house and I wanted to strangle her as if I could squeeze something real from her throat and her lips because even in my mind she continued to give me nothing But then all I did even in my mind was put on an insolent voice and say Angela s part of the world and then Angela appeared so that my wife could pick her up spin with her in the spotlight cuddle her and say She is A gelas imaginary opened her mouth to speak and nothing came out except bubbles I couldn t think of anything to say So I didn t say anyThins I In madness there is conviction a direct and mechanical thing that comes from visions I had witnessed this in literature even if as yet I had npt been acquainted with the phenomenon in my literal life It hurt a lot to picture all this and I was so confused but then I pushed it to a considered distance From this distance I thought about it my wife her perspective the life in her arms the certainty39of madness the impossible things she might actually do turning it into a cookie and then into a flat stone in my mind then turning the stone over as if in my hand looking at it with eyes of glass I thought Dear God the problem is I think she s right VVhen the room ticked into dawn I rinsed my face in the sink dried it with a dish towel and pulled my shoes onto my feet Something had happened between night and daylight something physical from science the way that at the far edge of the big bang theory the universe returns In this way microcosmically I d changed direction I d sucked every aspect of myself from the rooms of the house I lived in and back into the cave of my body This allowed me to do what I did next which is that I took my wallet and my phone and I left I did the very thing I would never think possible It s just what I did I went out there To look As a camera would look Out there morning air glittered with sprinkler water I squinted at my neighbor s basketball net a giant insect with one compound eye Mail box after mailbox wasn t breathing Then I watched my feet walk I filled my frame of vision with my shoes and the slope of the curb I followed the curb which could have been moving in any direction but as usual was moving forward as I was moving forward through the world not inche ing when a car passed blowing tingly particles I followed the curb forward through morning I When I reached the burned field at the edge of town I lifted my eyes and moved them across its speckled pattern of golds taupes grays blacks With a tilt of my head I could shift the whole acreage from two to three dimensions and then back The act relaxed me I entered the stubby field with easy strides Grasshoppers leaped in an automatic rhythm I saw hares and I saw mice Mice smell of old straw and old straw smells of mice and the field smelled of burned straw burned mice fire and mice I was able to think without laughing That day though no crows someone must have lifted the negative spaces they d made and tossed them away so that I walked through the simple space of the air that had been behind them In the center of the field I turned myself around All directions appeared equal Then I took out my phone and called Mike Nothing happened on 88 LUCY CORIN it was so small I slipped right in the phone except it was as if he already knew what I was doing which is a lot to happen because it s inexplicable I think I thought something like Oh this must be what they mean by magic But I was a camera so I let it go You bet he said I m on my way I continued across the field My shoes crunched and animals sprung around me in arcs I fell into a rhythmquot that included all my senses and then as I approached the cement on the other side Mike s triangular silver car pulled up Take me home Mike I could say Take me home because this is not within my nature But I got into the car Even though In the car Mike wore a sympathetic frowny face that I believed entirely He was all surface honest through and through He handed me a styrofoam cup of high quality coffee I thought you might need this he said And this Then he handed Mike wore a sympathetic frowny face that I believed entirely He was all surface honest through and through He handed me a Styrofoam cup of highquality coffee me my passport also magic and I slid it into my back pocket I watched the field in the rearview mirror and for some time it lled my vision and didn t move until slowly the road appeared above it and then filled the screen Soon the View in the mir ror and the View through the windshield were very much the same Mike started humming trying I realized to soothe me I thought of the burned eld back when it was just a field and then I thought of the woods the elds were before they were fields I thought of the woods Mike grew up m where as a child with an arrow he d shot his brother I noticed that I didn t know if the brother had lived Mike am I ugly I asked And if so what kind No kind of ugly I know said Mike which I believed and which changed nothing At the airport we were surrounded by buses an Off rcluty ambulance and a limousine and when we stopped I tried the door but the handle didn t work so Mike got out and went around I almost panicked as if he might just abandon me in that crappy car but then his gentle face appeared in the center of my window he popped the door open and out I sprung It s true that I d always held Mike in a mysteriously high esteem but only then did I notice exactly how much tinier he is than me I felt an Mice l 89 90 I 39 39 K 1 urge to stroke his head but instead I hugged him and felt his tiny arms around me I felt him for a bit something like an animal something like a man something like a spirit Pv then he zoomed away I traveled along the airport hallways riding the conveyor belt watch ing the travel posters go by Wyoming New Orleans Hawaii Alaska I hopped off and let the Alaska poster mesmerize me a little with its blue and white on white on white its cute and brutal polar bear Then I joined a heap of people waiting for sliding doors to open and took the tram to international I did all this mindlessly I bought my ticket which had me fly to Los Angeles where I ate some airport food and from Los Angeles I ew direct to Moscow From within the pointy airplane I pushed through the world I had my own row but people swelled around their seats and surrounded me with a blur of uncountable languages Below continents approached and with my mind I zoomed in on them and could see people galloping frantic driven from the house and among them the bodies of those who d been poisoned I knew what would happen if I were down there with them in their markets brimming with souvenirs I d kick them away from myself I d drop radioactive pellets into their cups of tin Look at those people at the bottom of that barrel snuggled in the dirt of the earthNg The plane was dark Moscow was invisible and then appeared grew bigger and filled the screen Over the years my images of Russia had failed to remove the big heads of men from everywhere I was a little surprised I didn t see them great banners puffed with wind I saw a river a lot of buildings with shiny blue roofs and I saw the airport I continued to ban ish myself I ate airport food bought more tickets exchanged my money Then I flew to Khabarovsk I waited three days for weather then flew to Yakutsk I waited for a helicopter and then took the helicopter to a group of brown wooden shacks that made up a town with a name I have forgot ten There I bought boots a hat and a huge coat of reindeer fur There was nothing in the wooden shack for me to look into at myself Didn t matter I know what I looked like I hired a guy to drive me on his reindeer sled into the wilderness of ice of mountains of sky and a refracting sun of white I sat behind his furry brown head and he sat behind a furry white tail This I thought is where lost explorers are lost This is where men freeze tirnelessly After a day we came across a Yukat longrider on a white pony My reindeer man talked to the longrider They laughed perhaps at me They LUCY CORIN knew I was a fool but they might not have known my cruelty I gave the two of them the rest of my money as well as my wallet my passport and my phone The reindeer man drove away and the longrider let me ride behind him on his fluffy white pony I loved the reindeer and I loved the pony Vlhen I saw my first mirage I poked the longrider and he stopped the pony so I could get off The snow came around my I no longer felt like a monster I felt a little inorganic and a little divine I felt the way I d tried to imagine such unfeeling things might feel knees like Angela I watched the man and the animal fade into the snow and even as they retreated I felt I was trav eling moving closer and deeper into the world made up of all its eyes and minds to a place from which I might be able to see something and then I watched the trails fill until all directions uni ed This happened some time ago The land was like the moon not the dull and cratered gray moon but the glowing glazed one we see from our perspective I remember thinking I had come to face myself and this is what I faced this image created by distance I tried to look around turning facing myself in the snow I no longer felt like a monster I felt a little inorganic and a little divine I felt the way I d tried to imagine such unfeeling things might feel What I felt like was a lens What I am I thought is apoint qfview I felt lighter and lighter and more and more like snow Here the world was so close to me that it had become entirely particulate nothing but white For a while I got colder and colder in the diffused light then less and less cold I could not resist But after a time there I remained the sun forever visible its broad disk skirting the horizon in this land of perpetual light And what is not possible in a place of perpetual light blinding and infinite In the seat of frost and desolation the future roils with possibil ityr and in a land of possibility nothing is irrevocable The enormity of landscape can elevate a tiny human from all littleness of feeling and it can make insignificance feel beautiful like a freedom When I got back to my home like magic and gazed up at my front door wondering if it would explode picturing my dog s funny nose my baby s sweet freckles the rusted color of my wife s immaculate eyelashes I tried to remember Mice V7hat goes here in this lit land in this space ofwhite Some form of enormity that is open to beauty If only I can remember If only I can ll my body with it always The whiteness of the whale and the mind of winter madness blindness silence and invisibility all here and glowing adoration omniscience the intricacy of attachment the Welling of love everything and shining castles that repeat above themselves I know what I am Before the lusty glimmers of the eyes of lovers and rapists we might be anything but quicker than a quark we turn out to be lled with nothing but ourselves I know what I m made of Here within g2 the history of the banished and the searching I could think of our family 6 E 1 ofcellsmy cells her cells the baby s cells the cells of the dog the cells of mice and then of anyone all round bouncy blank and identical just as they ought to appear in a person s imagination If only I could keep this R I K Kl D U C O R N E T space of white I would know what to do because I could do anything If only I can keep this space ofwhite while I move through the world then IT ALL BQILS DOWN To TH 5 does She Present to the Dick everything Will be 800d and H116 and right mare or not She fears the lot of them those perpetually in ated Dick mares their uncanny magnetism matched only by their startling lack of symmetry Yet she has been summoned A thing as unprecedented as it is provoking I And she has awakened with a curious rash It circles her body like a cummerbund A rash as orid as those coral gardens so appreciated by lov ers of bijouterie A rash having surged directly or so she supposes rom her husband s anornalous or so she hopes behavior Once she had thought her husband admirable Admirable his thorny cone his sweet horny operculum his prowess as a swimmer the beauty of his sudden ejections the ease with which he righted himself when over turned Not one to retreat into his shell in those days his high spirits per colated throughout the yellow mud they optimistically called home Adolescents intellectually annihilated by lust and hopeful mysticisms would engage her husband for hours on end with thorny topics such as why Noah built the Ark without once questioning the d Clam s out burst of temper And if the Clam loves the shes and the shelled fishes best after all they did not suffer during the forty days and nights of rain but instead bene ted why were they snatched in numbers from their naps and served up Top Side boiled in beer and dressed with hot l11t terAnd her husband instructed the small fry with cautionary tales fea turing the terrible Kracken who swims on the surface of the waves like a 92 LUCY CORIN 93 w1 1 3 my is The House Behind T UNITED STATES 339We live in the house behind and can t see the street our back windows face e gray stone of the city wall and our front windows look across the courtyard to the kitchens andbathroorr1s of the front house The apartments inside the front house are lofty andcomfortable while ours are cramped and graceless n the front house maids live in the neat little rooms on the top oor and look out upon the spires of StEtienne but under the eaves of our house tiny cubi P les open in darkness onto a dusty corridor and the students and poor bache ors who sleep in them share one toilet by the back stairwell Many tenants in he front house are high civil servants while thehouse behind is lled with hopkeepers salesmen retired post of ce employees and unmarried school achers Naturally we can39t really blame thepeople in the front house for eir wealth but we are oppressed by it we feel the difference Yet this is not nough to explain the ill will that has always existed between the two houses I often sit by rnygfront window at dusk staring up at thesky and listening to tle over the dormers the traf c choking the narrow street beyond thins out and the televisions in various apartments ll the air with voices and the sounds of violence Now and again I hear the lid of a metal trash can clang below me the courtyard and I see a shadowy gure carry away an empty plastic pail to one of the houses 39 39 The trash cans were always a source of embarrassment but now the atmo jhere has sharpened the tenants from the house in frontare afraid to empty eir trash Thleywill not enter the courtyard if another tenant is already there seether39n silhouetted in the doorway of the front hall as they wait When ere is no one in the courtyard they empty their pails and walk quickly back oss the cobblestones anxious not to be caught there alone Some of the old or11en39fron1 the house in front go down together in pairs he murder took place nearly a year ago It was curiously gratuitous The oman was one of the few kind people in the front house in fact one of few who would associate withthe people of the house behind M Mar had no real reason to kill her I can only think that he was rnaddened by sounds of the people across from me As the hour passes the pigeons set urderer was a respected married man from our building and the murdered 200 LYD IA DAVIS frustration for years he had wanted to live in the house in front and it was be coming clear to him that he never would It was dusk Shutters were closing I was sitting by my window I saw the two of them meet in the courtyard by the trash cans It was probably some thing she said to him something perfectly innocent and friendly yet which made him realize once again just how different he was from her and from everyone else in the front house She never should have spoken to him most of them don t speak to us He had just emptied his pail when she came out There was something so graceful about her that although she was carrying a garbage pail she looked regal I suppose he noticed how even her pail of the same ordinary yellow plastic as his was brighter and how the garbage inside was more vivid than his He must have noticed too how fresh and clean her dress was how it wafted gently around her strong and healthy legs how sweet the smell was that rose from it and how luminous her skin was in the fading daylight how her eyes glimmered witl1 the constant slightly frenetic look of happiness that she wore and how her light hair glinted with silver and swelled under its pins He had stooped over his pail and was scraping the inside of it with ablunt hunting knife when she came out gliding over the cobblestones toward him It was so dark by then that only the whiteness of her dress would have been clearly visible to him at rst He remained silent for scrupulously polite he was never the first to speak to a person from the front house and quickly turned his eyes away from her But not quickly enough for she answered his look and spoke 39 She probably said something casual about how soft the evening was If she hadn t spoken his fury might not have been unleashed by the gentle sound of her voice But in that instant he must have realized that for him the evening could never be as soft as it was for her Or else something in her tone sornething too kind something just condescending enough to make him see that he was doomed to remain where he was pushed him out of con trol He straightened like a shot as though something in him had snapped and in one motion drove his knife into her throat I saw it all from above It happened very quickly and quietly I did not do anything For a while I did not even realize what I had seen life is so unevent ful back here that I have almost lost the ability to react But there was also something arresting in the sight of it he was a strong and wellmade man an experienced hunter and she was as slight and graceful as a doe His gesture was a classically beautiful one and she slumped down onto the cobblestones as quietly as a mist melting away from the surface of a pond Even when I was able to think I did not do As I watched several people came to the back door of the house in front and the front door of our own house and stopped short with their garbage pails when they saw her lying there and him standing motionless above her His pail stood empty at his feet scraped clean the handle of her pail was still clenched in her hand and her garbage had spilled over the stones beside her which was strangely almost as shocking to us as the murder itself More and The Home Behind 201 more tenants gathered and watched from the doorways Their lips were moving but I could not hear them over the noise of the televisions on all sides of me I think the reason no one did anything right away was that the murder had taken place in a sort of noman sland It if had happened in our house or in theirs action would have been taken slowly in our house briskly in theirs But as it was people were in doubt those from the house in front hesitated to lower themselves so far as to get involved in this and those orn our house hesitated to presume so far In the end it was the concierge who dealt with it The body was removed by the coroner and M Martin left with the police After the crowd had dispersed the concierge swept up the spilled garbage washed down the cobblestones and returned each pail to the apartment where it belonged For a day or two the people of both houses were visibly shaken Talk was heard in the halls in our house voices rose like wind in the trees before a storm in theirs rich con dent syllables rapped out like machinegun re En counters between the tenants of the two houses were more violent people from our house jerked away from the others if we met them in the street and something in our faces cut short their conversations when we came within earshot But then the halls grew quiet again and for a while it seemed as though lit tle had changed Perhaps this incident had been so far beyond our under standing that it could not affect us I thought The only difference seemed to be a certain blank look on the faces of the people in my building as though they had gone into shock But gradually I began to realize that the incident had left a deeper impression Mistrust lled the air and uneasiness The peo ple of the house in front were afraid of us here behind now and there was no communication between us at all By killing the woman from the house in front M Martin had killed something more we lost the last traces of our self respect before the people from the house in front because we all assumed re sponsibility for the crime Now there was no point in pretending any longer Some it is true were unaffected and continued to wear the rags of their dig nity proudly But most of the people in the house behind changed A night nurse lived across the landing from me Every morning when she came home from work I would wake to hear her heavy iron key ring clatter against the wooden door of her apartment her keys rattle in thekeyholes Late in the afternoon she would come out again and shuffle around the land ing on little cloth pads dusting the banisters Now she sat behind her door listening to the radio and coughing gently The older Lamartine sister who used to keep her door open a crack and listen to conversations going on in the hallway occasionally becoming so excited that she stuck her sharp nose in the crack and threw out a comment or twowas now no longer seen at all ex cept on Sundays when she went out to earlymorning Mass with a blue veil thrown over her head My neighbor on thesecond floor Mme Bac left her laundry out for days in all weathers until the sour smell of it rose to me where I sat Many tenants no longercleaned their doormats People were ashamed 202 LYDIA DAVIS of their clothes and wore raincoats when they went out A musty odor lled the hallways delivery boys and insurance salesmen groped their way up and down the stairs looking uncomfortable Worst of Tall everyone became surly and mean we stopped speaking to one another told tales tooutsiders and left mud on each other s landings 39 Curiously enough many pairs of houses in the city suffer from bad rela tions like ours there is usually an uneasy truce between the two houses until some incident explodes the situation and it begins deteriorating The people in the front houses become locked in their cold dignity and the peoplein the back houses lose con dence their faces gray with shagme Recently I caught myself on the point of throwingan apple core down into the courtyard and I realized how much I had already fallen under the influ ence of the house behind My windowpanes are dim and ne curlicues of dust line the edges of the baseboards If I don t leave now I will soon be incapable of making the effort I must lease an apartment in another section of the city and pack up my things I know that when I go to say goodbye to my neighbors with whom I once got along quite well some will not open their doors and others will look at me as though they do not know me But there will be a few who manage to sum mon up enough of their old spirit of de ance and aggressive pride to shake my hand and wish me luck 39 T The hopeless look in their eyes will make me feel ashamed of leaving But there is no way I can help them In any case I suspect that after some years things will return to normal Habit will cause the people here behind to re sume their shabby tidiness their caustic morning gossip against the people from the house in front their thrift in small purchases their decency where no risk is invo1ved and as the people in bothhouses move away and are re placed by strangers the whole affair will slowly be absorbed and forgotten The only victims in the end will be M Martjn s wifeM Martin himself and the gentle woman M Martin killed Paul Bowles C although he IS only a scant year olderthan I To me now heis 3191 39lY Eat B1 0th 139 C7 a11fcessful lawyer His thick red face and halldsa l11S backSlappmg yoviality and his fathomless hypocritical prudery these are the qualities which make him truly repulsive to me There is also the fact that he once looked not unlike the way Racky C1095 I10W And after all he still is my big brother and disapproves openly of everything I do The loathing I feel for him is so strong that for years 0 7 have not been able to swallow a morselbf food or a drop f liquid p5 51 P13391106 Without makingfta prodigious effort No one knows this but me certainly not Charles who would be the last one I shouldtell about it He came up on the late quottrain two nights before I left H3 80 qU139ClltlYl0l the P lI1 39as soon as he was settled with an highball So you re off for the wilds he said sitting forward in his chair like quota salesman If youcan call it the wilds I replied Certainly39it s not wild lik 39quot lV tiChi He has a lodgein northern Quebec I consider it really civilized g IIe drank and smacked his lips together stif ylbringing the glass down hard on l1lS knee e P 39 I And Racky You re taking him along Of course Out of school Away So he Il see nobody butyou You think I l1at s good 39 I looked at him I do I said BY G0d if p Could stop you legally I would he cried jumping up and putting l11S glass on the mantel I was trembling inwardly with excitement but I merely sat and watched him He went on You re not t to have custody of the kid he shouted He shot a stern glance at me over l11S spectacles You think not I said gently Again he looked at me sharply D ye think I ve forgotten I was understandably eager to get him out of the house assoon as I could As I piled and sortedletters and magazines on the desk I said Is that all you came to tell me I have a good deal to do to 39 Inorrow and I must get some sleep I probably shan t see you at break fast Agnes ll see that you eat in time to make the early train All he said was God Wake up Get wise to yourself You re not fooling anybody you know That kind of talk is typical of Charles His mind is slow and obtuse he constantly imagines that everyone he meets is playing some 39 private game of deception with him He is so utterly incapable of fol I Pages from Cold Point lowing the functioning of even a moderately evolved intellect that he nds the will to secretiveness and duplicity everywhere I haven t time to listen to that sort of nonsense I said preparing to leave the room 39 But he shouted You don t want to listen No Of course not 39 You just want to do what you want to do You just want to go on o downthere and live as you ve a mind to and to hell with the consecf1ences At this point I heard Racky coming downstairs C obviously heard nothing and he raved on But just remember I ve l got your number all right and if there s any trouble with the boy I ll know who s toblame Ihurried across the room and opened the door so he could see that Racky was there in the hallway That stopped histirade It was hard to know whether Racky had heard anyof it or not Although he 39 is not aquiet young person he is the soul of discretion and it is almost never possible to know any more about what goes on inside his head than he intends one to know I was annoyed that C should have been bellowing at me in my 39 own house To be eure he is the only one from whom I would accept such behavior but then no fatherllikes to have his son see him take icrincism meekly Racky simply stood there in his bathrobe his angelic face quite devoid of expression saying Tell Uncle Charley good night for me will you I forgot I said I would and quickly shutlthe door When I thought Racky 39 was back upstairsin his room I bade Charles good night I have never T been able to get out of his presence fast enough The effect he hason me dates from an early period in our lives from days I dislike to recall Racky is a wonderful boy After we arrived when we found it impos sible to secure a proper house near any town where he might have the company of English boys and girls his own age he showed no sign of chagin although he must have been disappointed Instead as we went out of the renting office into the glare of the street he grinnediand said Well I guess we ll haveto get bikes that s all The few available houses near what Charles would have called civilization turned out to be so uglyand so impossibly con ning in atmosphere that we decided immediately on quotCold Point even though it was across the island and quite isolated on its seaside cliff It was beyond a doubt one of the most desirable properties on the island and Racky was as enthusiastic about its splendorslas I You ll get tired of being alone out there just with me I said to him as we walked back to the hotel 122 u I Paul Bowles Aw I ll get along all right When do we look for the bikes At his insistence we bought two the next morning I was sure I should not make39rnuchuse of mine but I re ected that an extra bicycle might be convenient to have around the house It turned out that the servantsquot all had their own bicycles without which they would not have been able to get to and from the village of Orange Walk eight miles 39 down the shore So 6 awhile I was forced to git astride mine each morning before breakfast and pedal madly along beside Racky for a half hour We would ride through the cool early air under the tow ering silkcotton trees near the house and out to the great curve in the shoreline where the waving palms bend landward in the stiff breeze that always blows there Then we would make a wide turn and race back to the house loudly discussing the degrees of our desires for the various items of breakfast we quotknew were awaiting us there on the terrace Back home we would eat in the wind looking out over the Caribbean and talk about the news in yesterday s local paper brought to us by Isiah each morning from Orange Walk Then Racky would disappear for the whole morning on his bicycle 1 ia1 g furiously along the road in one direction or the other until he had discovered an un familiar strip of sand along the shore that he could consider a new 39 beach At lunch hewould describe it in detail tome along with a recounting of all the physical hazards involved in hiding the bicycle in among the trees so that natives passing along the road on foot would not spot it or in climbing down unscalable cliffs that turned out to be much higher than they had appeared at rst sight or in measuring the depth of the water preparatory to diving horn the rocks or in judging the efficacy of the reef in barring sharks and barracuda There is never any element of bragadoccio in Racky s relating of his exploits only the joyous excitement he derives from telling how he satis es his inexhaustible curiosity And his mind shows its alertness in all directions at once I do not mean to say that I expect him to be an intellectual That is no affair of mine nor do I have any partic ular interest in whether he turns out to be a thinking man or not I know he will always have a certain boldness of manner and a great purity of spirit in judging values The former will prevent his becoming what I call a victim he never will be brutalized by realities And his unerring sense of balance in ethical considerationswill shield him from the paralyzing effects of present day materialism For a boy of sixteen Racky has an extraordinary innocence of vision I do not say this as a doting father although God knows I can never even of the boy without that familiar overwhelming sen sation of delight and gratitude for being vouchsafed the privilege of Pages from Cold Point sharing S life with him What he takes so completely as a matter of course our daily life here together is a source of neverending wonder to me and I reflect upon it a good part of each day just sitting here being conscious of my great good fortune inhaving him all to myself beyond the reach of prying eyes and malicious tongues I suppose I am ryeally thinking of C when I write that And I believe that a part of thejcharm of sharing Racky s life with him consists precisely in his taking it all so utterly for granted I have never asked him Whether he likes being here it is so patent that he does very much I think if he were to turn to me one day and tell me how happy he is here that somehow perhaps the spell might be broken Yet if he were to be thoughtless and inconsiderate or even unkind to me I feel that I should be able only to love him the more for it 39 I have reread that last sentence What does it mean And why should I even imagine it could mean anything more than it says Still much as I may try I can never believe in the gratuitous isolated fact What I must mean is that I feel that Racky already has been in some way inconsiderate But in what way Surely I cannot resent his bicycle treks I cannot expect him to want to stay and sit 39 talking with me all day And I never worry about his being in danger I know he is more capable than most adults of taking care of himself and that he is no more likely than any native to come to harm crawling over the cliffs or swimming in the bays At the same time there is no doubt in my mind that somethingabout our existence annoys me I must resent some detail in the pattern whatever thatpattern may be Perhaps it is just his youth and I am envious of the lithe body the 39 smooth skin the animal energy and grace For a long time this morning I sat looking out to sea trying to solve that small puzzle Two white herons came and perched on a dead stump east of the garden They stayed a long time there without stir ring I would turn my head away and accustom my eyes to the bright seahorizon then I would look suddenly at them to see if they had shifted position but they would always be in the same attitude I tried to imagine the black stump without them a purely vegetable landscape but it was impossible All the while I was slowly forcingquot myself to accept a ridiculous explanation of my annoyance with Racky It had made itself manifest to me only yesterday when instead of appearing for lunch he sent a young colored boy from Orange Walk to say that he would be lunching in the village I could not help noticing that the boy was riding Racky s bicycle I had been waiting lunch a good half hour for P C and I had Gloria serve immediately 1 I as the boy rode off back to the village I was curious to know in wha sortquot of place and with whom Racky could be eating since Oi anger Walk as far as I know is inhabited exclusively by Negroes I was 3 sure Gloria would be able to shed some light on the matter but I couldscarcely aslf her However as she brought on the dessert I said Who was that boy that brought the message from Mister Racky She shrugged her shoulders A young lad of Orange Walk He s named Wilmot quot l When Racky retufned at dusk flushed oin his exertion for he never rides casually I watched him closely His behavior struck my already suspicious eye as being one of false heartiness and a rather forced good humor He went to his room early and read for quite a while before g off his light I took a long walk in the almost daybright moonlight listening to the songs of the night insects in the trees And I sat for a while in the dark on the stone railing of the bridge across Black River It is really onlya brook that rushes down over the rocks om themountain a few miles inland to the beach near the house p n the night it always sounds lguder and more im portant than it does in the daytime Thexmusic of the water over the stones relaxed my nerves although whyl had need of such a thing I nd it difficult to understand unless I was really upset by Racky s not having come home for lunch But if thatwere true it would be absurd and moreover dangerous just the sort of the thing the parent of an adolescent has to beware of and ght against unless he is indifferent to the prospect of losing the trust and affection of his offspring per manently Racky must stay out whenever he likes with whom he likes and for as long as he likes and I must not think twice about it much less mention it to him or in any way give the impression of prying Lack of con dence on the part of a parent is the one unforgivable sin Although we still take our morning dip together on arising it is three weeks since we have been for the early spin One morning I found that Racky had jumped onto his bicycle in his wet trunks while I was still swimming and gone by himself and since then there has been an unspoken agreement between us that such is to be the pro cedure he will go alone Perhaps I held him back he likes to ride so fast Young Peter the smiling gardener from Saint Ives Cove is Racky s special friend It is amusing to see them together among the bushes crouched over an anthill or rushing about trying to catch a lizard almost of an age the two yet so disparateRacky with his tan skin looking almost white in contrast to the glistening black of the other Today I know I shall be alone for lunch since it is Peter s day Pagesfro11i Cold Point I 39 A I 125 off On such days they usually go together on their bicycles into Saint Ives Cove where Peter keeps a small rowboat They sh along the 39 coast there but they have never returned with anything so far Meanwhile I am here alone sitting on the rocks in the sun from time totime climbing down to cool myself in the water always con scious of the house behind me under the high palms like a large glass boat lled with orchids and lilies The servants are clean p3a quiet 39 and the work seems to be accomplished 39almost automaticallyThe j good black servants are another blessing of the islands the British born here in this paradise have no conception of how fortunate they are In fact they do nothing but complain One must have hved in the United States to appreciate the wonder of this place Still Well here ideas are changing each day Soon the people will decide that they want quottheir land to be a part of today s inonstr011S W01 and 01133 that happens it will be all over As soon as you have that desire you are infected with the deadly virus and you begin to show the symp toms of the disease You live in terms of time and money and you think interms of society and progress Then all that is leftfor you is to kill the other people who think the same way along B a good many of those who do not since that is the final manifestation of the malady Here for the moment at any rate one has a feeling of staticity existence ceases to be like those last few seconds in the hour glass when what is left of the sand suddenly begins to rush through to the bottom all at once For the moment it seems suspended39And if it seems39it is Each waveat my feet each birdcall in tlI1 forest at my back does not carry me one step nearer the nal disaster The disaster is certain but it will suddenly have happened that is all Until then time stays still l I am upset by a letter in this morning s mail The Royal Bank of Can ada requests that I call in person at its central of ce to sign the deposit slips and other papers for a sum that was cabled from the bank in Boston Since the central office is on the other side of the island fty miles away I shall have to spend the night over there and return the following day There is no point in taking Racky along The sight of civilization might awaken a longing for it in him one never knows I am sure it would have in me when I was his age And if that should quot once start he would merely be unhappy since there is nothing for him but to stayhere with me at least for the next two years when I hope to renew the lease or if things in New York pick up buy the plfilcc I am sending word by Isiah when he goes home into Orange Walkthis evening to have the McCoigh car call for me at seven tomorrow 126 i In Paul Bowles I morning It is an enormods old open Packard andIsiah39can save the I ride out to Work here by piling his bicycle into the back and riding with McCoigh W The trip across the island was beautiful and would have been highly enjoyable if my imagination had not played me a strange trick at the very outset We stoppgd in Orange Walk for gasoline and while that was being seen to I got out and went to the corner store for some cigarettes Since it was not yet eight o clock the store was still closed and I hurried up the side street to the other little shop which I thoughtquot might be open It was39and I bought my cigarettes On the way back to the corner I noticed a large black woman leaning with her arms on the gate in front of her tiny house staringinto the street As I passed by her she looked straight into my face and said something with the strange accent of the island It was said in what seemed an unfriendly tone and ostensibly was directed at me but I had no notion what it was I got back into the car and the driver started it The sound of the Words had stayed in my head however as a bright shape outlined by darkness is likely to stay in the mind s eye in such away that when one shuts one seyes one can see the exact contour of the shape The car was quotalready roaring up the hill toward the overland road when I suddenly reheard the very words And they were Keep your boy at home mahn I sat perfectly rigid for a moment as the open counuy39 side rushed past Why should I think she had said that Immediately I decided that I was giving an arbitrary sense to a phrase I could not have understood even if I hadpbeen paying strict attention And then I wondered why my subconscious should have chosen that sense since now that I Whispered the words over to quotmyself they failed to connect with any anxiety to which my mind might have been disposed Actu 39 ally I have never given a thought to Racky s wanderings about Orange Walk I can nd no such preoccupation no matter howl put the ques tion to myself Then could she really have said those words All the way through the mountains I pondered the question even thoughit was obviously a waste of energy And soon I could no longer hear the sound of her voice in my memory I had played the record over too many times and worn it out 39 Here in the hotel a gala dance is in progress The abominable orchestra comprising two saxophones and one sour violin is playing directly under my window in the garden and theseriouslooking cou 39 ples slide about on the waxed concrete floor of the terrace in the light39 of strings of paper lanterns I suppose it is meant to look Japanese At this moment I wonder what Racky is doing there in the house Pages from Cold Point with only Peter and Ernest the watchman to keep him company I wonder if he is asleep The house which I am accustomed to think of as smiling and benevolent in its airiness could just as well be in the most sinister and remote regions of the globe now that I am here Sitting here with the absurd orchestra bleating downstairs I picture it quot to myself and it strikes me as terribly vulnerable in its isolation In my mind s eye I see the moonlit point with its tall palms waving rest I lesslyiin the wind its dark cliffs licked by the waves below Suddenly although I struggle against the sensation4I am inexpressibly glad to be away fromgthe house helpless there far on its point of land in the silence of the night Then I remember that the night is seldom silent There is the loud sea at the base of the rocks the droning of the thousands of insects the occasional cries of the night birds39 all the farn39iliarnoises that make sleep so sound And Racky is there sur rounded by them as usual not even hearing them But I feel pro foundly guilty for having left him unutterably tender and sad at the thought of him lying there alone in the house with the two Negroes thefonly human beings within miles IfI keep thinking of Cold Point I shall be more and more nervous I am not going to bed yet They are all screaming with laughter down there the idiots I could never sleep anyway The bar is still open Fortunately it is on the street side of the hotel For once I need 39 a few drinks Much later but I feel no better I may be a little drunk The dance is over and it is quiet in the garden but the room is too hot As I was falling asleep last night all dressed and with the overhead light shining sordidly in my face I heard the black won1an s voice again more clearly even than I did in the car yesterday For some reason this morning there is no doubt in my mind that the Words Iquot heard are the words she said I accept that and go on from there Suppose she did tell me to keep Racky home It could only mean that she or someone else in Orange Walk has had a childish altercation with him although I must say it is hard to conceive of Racky s entering into any sort of argument or feud with those people To set my mind at rest for I do seem to be taking the quotwhole thing with great serious ness I am going to stop in the village this afternoon before going home and try to see the woman I am extremely curious to know what she could have meant I had not been conscious until this evening when I came back to Cold Point how powerful they are all those physical elements that go to 128 39 39 I I I 39PaulBowl39es r make up its atmosphere the sea and windsounds that isolate the house from the road the brilliancy of the water sky and sun the bright colors and strong odors of the owers the feeling of space both outside andwithin the house One naturally accepts these when one is living here This afternoon when I returned I was conscious of them all over again of theineitistence and their strength All of them together are like a povgerful drug coming back made me feel as though I had been disintoxicated and were returning to the scene of my former indulgences Now at eleven it is as ifl had never been absent an hour EVe139Y ling is the same as always even to the dry palm branch that scrapes against the wmdoyv screen by my night table And indeed it is only thirtysix hours since I was here but I always expect my ab sence from a place to bring about irremediable changes Strangely enough now that I think of it I feel that something has changed since I left yesterday morning and that is the general attitude of the servants their collective aura so to speak I noticed that dif ference immediately upon arriving back but was unable to de ne it Now I see it clearly The network of common understanding which slowly spreads itself through awellrun householdhas been destroyed Each person is by himself now No unfriendliness however that I can see They all behave p the utmost courtesy excepting possibly Peter whostruck me as looking unaccustomedly glum when I encountered him m the kitchen after dinner I meant to ask Racky if he had noticed it but I forgot and he went to bed early I In Orange Walk S made a brief stop onthe pretext to McCoigh that I wanted to see the seamstress in the side street I walked up and back in front of the house where I had seen the woman but there was no sign of anyone As for my absence Racky quotseems toquot have been perfectly content having spent most of the day swimming off the rocks below the ter race The insect sounds are at their height now the breeze is cooler than usual and I shall take advantage of these favorable conditions to get a good long night s rest Today has been one of the most difficult days of my life I arose early we had breakfast at the regular time and Racky went off in the jg rect1onof Saint Ives Cove I lay the sun onthe terrace for a while a listening to the noises of the household s regime Peter was all over the property collecting dead leaves and fallen blossoms in a huge bas ket and carrying them off to the compost heap He appeared to be in 39 an even fouler humor than last night Whenhe came near to me at 39 Pages from Cold Point 39 129 one point on his way to another part of the garden I called to him He set the basket down and stood looking at me then he Walked across the grass toward me slowly reluctantly it seemed to me 39 Peter is everything all right with you Yes sir 39 39 39 J No trouble at home Oh no sir 39 Good Yes sir 39 e He went back to hiswork But his face belied his words Not only did he seem to be in a decidedly unpleasant temper out here in the sunlight he looked positively ill However it was not my concern if he refused to admit it 39 39 When the heavy heat of the sun reached the unbearable point for me I got out of mychair and went down the side of the cliff along the series of steps cut there into the rock A level platform is below and a diving board for the water is deep At each side the rocks spread out and the waves break over them but by the platform the wall of rock is vertical and the water merely hits against it below the springboard The place is aquot tiny amphitheatre quite cut off in sound and sight from the house There too I like to lie in the sun when I climb out of the waterquot I ofteii remove my trunks and lie stark naked on the springboard I regularlymake fun of Racky because he is eni barrassed to do the same Occasionally hewill do it but never without being coaited I was spread out there without a stitch on being lulled by the slapping of the water when an unfamiliar voice very closeto me said lIister Norton I jumped with nervousness nearly fell off the springboard and sat up reaching at the same time but in vain for my trunks which were lying on the rock practically at the feet of a middleaged mulatto gentleman He was in a white duck suit and wore a high collar with a black tie and it seemed to me that he was eyeing me with a certain degree of horror 39 My nextieaction was one of anger at being trespassed upon in this way I rose and got the trunks however donning them calmly and saying nothing more meaningful than I didn t hear you come down the steps 39 i 39 p f Shall we go up said my caller As he led the way I had a de nite premonition that he was here on an unpleasant errand On the terrace we sat down and he offered me an American cigarette which I did not acceptquot 130 H 39 A I Paul Bowles This is a delightful spot he said glancing out to seaand then at the end of his cigarette winch was only partially aglow He puffed at qt I said Yes waiting for him to go on presently he did I I am from the constabulary of this pafiisli e police you see And seeing my face This is a friendly callBiit til it must be taken f as a warning Mister Norton It is very seri u J If anyohe else comes to you about this it will mean trouble for youquot heavy trouble That s why I want tomsee you privately this way and warn you personally You see 39 A I could not believe I was hearing his words At length I said faintly But what about This is not an official call You must not be upset I have taken it upon myself to speak to youquot because c want to save you deep trouble 39 39 But I am upset I cried a my voice at last How can I help being upset when I don t know what you re talking about He moved his chair close to mineand spoke in a very low voice I have waited untilthe young man was away from the house so we could talk in private You see it is about him quotquot TIquot Somehow that did not surprise me I nodded I I will tell you very brie y The people here are simple country folk They make trouble easily Right now they are all talking about the young man you have living here with you He is your son I hear p His inflection here was sceptical Certainly he s my son H1s expression did not change but his voice grew indigiant Whoever he is that is a bad young man 39 39 What do youn1ean I cried but he cutin hotly He may be your son he may not be I don t care who he is That is not my affair But he 18 bad through and through We don t have such things going on here sir The people in Orange Walk and Saint Ives Cove are very cross now You don t know what these folk do when they are aroused I thought it my turn to interrupt Please tell me why you say my son is bad What has he done Perhaps the earnestness in my voice reached him for his face assumed a gentler aspect He leaned still closer to me and almost whispered He has no shame He does what he pleases with all the young boys and themen too and gives them a shilling so they won t tell about it But they talk Of course they talk Every man for twenty miles up and down the coast knows about it Andlthe women too they know about it There was a silence I I 131 Ihad felt myself preparing to get to my feet for the last few sec 39 onds because I wanted to go into my room and be alone to get away from that scandalized stage whisper I think I mumbled Good morn ing or Thank you as I turned away and began walking toward the house But he was still beside me still whispering like an eager conspirator into my ear Keep him home Mister Norton Or send away to scliool if he is your son But make him stay out of these townsFor his own sake 39 e Ishook hands with him and went to lie on my bed From there I heardhis car door slam heard him drive off Iwas painfully trying to formulate an opening sentence to use in speaking toquotRacky about this feeling that the opening sentence would de ne my stand The attempt was merelyquot a sort of therapeutic action to avoid thinking about the thing itself Every attitude seemed impossible There was no way to broach the subject I suddenly realized that I should never be able to speak to him directly about it With the advent of this news he had become another person an adult mysterious and formidable To be sure it did occur to me that the mulatto s story might not be true but I automatically I rejected the doubt It was as if I wanted to believe it almost as if I hadalready known it and he had merely con rmed it Rack returned at midday panting and grinning The inevitable comb appeared and was used on the sweaty unruly locks Sitting down to lunch he exclaimed Gosh quotDidquot I nd a swell beach this morning But what a job to get to it Ittied to look quotunconcerned as I met his gaze it was as if our positions had been reversed and Iwere hoping to stem hisirebuke Heprattled on about thorns and vines and his machete Throughout the 39meal I kept telling myself Now is the moment You must say something But all I said was More salad Or do you want dessert now So the lunch passed and nothing hap pened After I had nished my coffee I went into my bedroom and looked at myself in the large mirror I saw my eyes trying to give their re ected brothers a little courage As I stoodthere I heard a commo tion in the other wing of the house voices bumpings the sound of a scuffle Above the noise came Gloria s sharp voice imperiousand ex cited No mahn Don t strike him And louder Peter mahn no I went quickly toward the kitchen where the trouble seemed to be but on the way I was run into by Rackywho staggered into the hallway with his hands in front of his face 39 39 What is it Racky I cried He pushed past mequot into the living room without moving his hands away from his face I turned and followed him From there he went into his own room leaving the dooropen behind him I heard him in his bathroom runningithe water I was undecided what to do Suddenly 4m P39 v t 139 3PP 33quoted 511 the 11311 d00139WaY his hatin his hand When he raised l1lS head I was surprised quotto see that his cheek was bleeding In his eyes W35 3 Strange confused expression of transient fear and deep hostility Helooked down again 39 May I please with you sir What was allthe racket What s been happening May I talk with you outside sir He said it doggedly still not a looking up In view of the circumstancesI huinored him We Walked slowly up the cinder road to the 1113111 highway across the bridge and through the forest while he told me his story I said nothing y At the end he said I never wanted to sir eventhe rst time but after the rSt tune I Vgj afraid andquot hziister Racky was after me ev ery day A p T r I 3t 3d 313111 and 11311 Said If you had only told melthis the st gme it happened would have been much better for everyone I didnf ltcunmed his llatln 1113 hands St11dy1ngit intently Yes sir But l 13d 0W What everyone was saying about him in Orange Walk t 3Y You know I always go to the beach a7t Saint Ives Cove W1 Mlster R3CkY 011 IIIY free days If I had known what they were 311 S3Y111g I Wouldift have been afraid sir And I Wanted to keep on Vilf fkcllng h 139 I needed the money Then he repeated what he had 3 I93 Y Sflld three nines lJIister Racky said you d see about it that I was put in the jail Iniaa yegr elder Fhan Mister Racky Sir T I know I kI10W I Said impatiently and deciding that severity was what Peter expected of me at this point I added You had better get your things together and go home You can t work here any longer you know 0 V 39 The hostility in his face assumed terrifying proportions as he said If you killed me I would not work any more at Cold Point sir I turned and walked briskly back to the house leaving him stand ing there in the road It seems he returned at dusk a little while ago and got his belongings In his room Racky was reading He had stuck some adhesive tape on his chin and over his cheekbone 39 I ve dismissed Peter I announced He hit you didn t he He glanced up His left eye was swollen but not yet black He siire did But I landed him one too And I guess Ideserved it anyway I rested against the table Why I asked nonchalantly Pages from Cold Point 39 133 Oh I had something on him from a long time back that he was afraid I d tellquot you And just now you threatened tO39tCll me Ohno He said he was going to quit the job here and Ikidded 0A about being yellow Why did he Want to quit I thought he liked the job Well he did I guess but he didn t like me Racky s candid gaze quotbeuquotayed a shade of pique I still leaned against the table I persisted But I thought you two got on ne together You seemed to I 39 p v 39 Nah He was just scared of losing his job I had something on He was a good guy though I liked him all right He paused Has he gone yet A strange quaver crept into his voice as he said the last words and I understood that for the rst time Racky s here tofore impeccable histrionics were not quite equal to the occasion He was very much upset at losing Peter P Yes he s gone I said shortly He s not coming back either as Racky hearing the unaccustomed inflection in my voice looked up at me suddenly with faint astonishment in his young eyes I realized that this was the iruoment to press on to say What d you have on him But as if he had arrived at the same spot in my mind a fraction of a second earlier he proceeded to snatch away my I advantage by jumping up bursting into loud song and pulling offall his clothes simultaneously As he stood before me naked singing at the top of his lungs and stepped into his swimming trunks I was conscious that again I should be incapable of saying to him what I must say i He was in and out of the house all afternoon some of the time 39 he read in his room and most of the time he was down onthe diving board It is strange behavior for him if I could only know what is in his mind As evening approached my problem took on a purely ob sessive character I walked to and fro in my room always pausing at one end to look out the window over the sea and at the other end to glance at my face in the mirror As if that could help me Then I took 39a drink And another I thought I might be able to doit at dinner when I felt forti ed by the whisky But no Soon he will have gone to bed It is not that I expect to confront him with any accusations That I know I never can do But I must nd a Way to keep him from his wanderings and I must offer a reason to give him so that he will never suspectathat I know We fear for the future of our offspring It is ludicrous but only quotquot134 39 quoti l Paul39Bowles a little more palpablyso than anything else in life A length of time has passed days which I am content to have known even if new they are over I think that this period was what I had always been waiting for life to offer the recompense I had unconsciously but rmly ex pected in return for having been held so closely in the grip of existence all these years r g That evening seems long ago only because I have recalled its de tails so many times that they have taken on the color of legend Ac tuallymy problem already had been solvedfor me then but I did not know it Because I could not perceive the pattern I foolishly imagined that Iquotmust cudgel my brains to nd the right words with which to approach Racky But it was he who came to me That same evening as I was about to go out for a solitary stroll which I thought might help me hit upon a formula he appeared at my door Going for a walk he asked seeing the stick in my hand The prospect of making an exit immediately after speaking with him made things seem simpler Yes I said But I d like to have a word with you rst P quot Sure What I did not look at him quotbecause I did not quotwant to see the watchful light I was sure was playing in his eyesat this moment As I spoke I tapped with my stick along the designs made by the les in the oor Racky would you like to go back to school Are you kidding You know I hateschool 39 I glanced up at him No rm not kidding Don t look so horri ed Y ou d probably enjoy being with a bunch of fellows your ownquot age That was not one of the arguments I had meant to use I might like to be with guys my own age but I don t want to have to be in school to do it I ve had school enough I went to the door and said lainely I thought I d get your reactions 39 I 39 He laughed No thanks a That doesn t mean you re not going I said over my shoulder as I went out quot On my walk I pounded the39highway s asphalt with my stick stood on the bridge having dramatic visions which involved such eventuali ties as our moving back to the States Racky s having a bad spill on his bicycle and being paralyzed for some months and even the pos sibility of my letting events take their course which would doubtlessquot mean my having to visit him now and then in the governmental prison with gifts of food if it meant nothing more tragic and violent But none of these things will happen I said to myself and I knew I was wasting precious time he must not return to Orange Walk tomorrow Pages from Cold Point 135 I went back toward the point at a snail s pace There was nomoon and very little breeze As I approached the house trying to tread lightly on the cinders so as not to awaken the watchful Ernest f have to explain to him that it was only I I saw that there were no lights in Racky s room The house was dark save for the dim lamp on my night table Instead of going in I skirted the entire building colliding with bushes and getting my face sticky with spider webs and went to sit a 39 while on the terrace where there seemed to be a breath of air The sound of the sea was far out on the reef where the breakers sighed IIere quotbelow there were only slight watery chugs and gurgles now and then It was unusuallylow tide I smoked three cigarettes mechanically having ceased even to think and then my mouth tasting bitter from the smoke I went inside My room was airless39I flung my clothes onto a chair and looked at the night table to see if the carafe of water was there Then my mouth opened The top sheet of my bed had been stripped back to the foot There on the far side of the bed dark against the whiteness of the lower sheet lay Racky asleep on his side and naked I lstood looking at him for a long time probably holding my breath for I remember feeling a little dizzy at one point I waswhis pering to myself as my eyes followed the quotcurve of his arm shoulder hack thigh leg A child A child Destiny when one perceives it clearlyquot from very near has no qualities at all Therecognition of it I and the consciousness of the vision s clarity leave no room on the mind s horizon Finally I turned off the light and softly lay down The night was absolutely black He lay perfectly quiet until dawn I shall never know whether or not he was really asleep all that time Of course he couldn t have been 39 and yet he lay so still Warm and firm but still as death The darkness and silencewere heavy around us As the birds began to sing I sank into a soft enveloping slumber when I awoke in the sunlight later he was gone 39 I found him down by the water cavorting alone on the spring board for the first time he had discarded his trunks without my sug gesting it All day we stayed together around the terrace and on the rocks talking swimming readi11g and just lying at in the hot sun 39 Nor did he return to his room when night came Instead after the servants were asleep we brought three bottles of champagne in and 1 set the pail on the night table 39 39 Thus it came about that I was able to touch on the delicate subject that still preoccupied me and pro ting by the new understanding be tween us I made my request in the easiest most natural fashion I36 39 I Paul Bowles Racky would you do me a tremendous favor ifl asked you He lay on his back his hands beneath his head It seemed to me his regard was circumspect wanting in candor V 39 I guess so he said What is it 39 a Will you stayaround the house for a few days a week say 39 Just to please me We can take some rides together as far as you like Would you do that for me Sure thing he said smilingquot I was temporizing but I was desperate I Perhaps a week later it is only when one is not fully happy that one is meticulous about time so that it may have been more or less we were having breakfast Isiah stood by in the shade waiting to pour us more coffee 39 I noticed you had a letter from Uncle Charley the other day said Racky Don t you think we ought to invite him down I My heart began to beat with great force Here He d hate it here I said casually Besides there s no room Where would he sleep Even as I heard myself saying the words I knew that they were the wrong ones quotI that I was not reallyquot 39 participating in the conversation Again I felt the fascination of com plete helplessness that comes when one is suddenly a conscious on looker at the shaping of one s fate 39 In my room said Racky It s empty I could see crnoreof the pattern at that moment than I had ever suspected existed Nonsense I said This is not the sort of place for Uncle Charley Racky appeared to be hitting on an excellent idea Maybe if I wrote and invited him he suggested motioning to Isiah for more coffee Nonsense I said again watching still more of the pattern reveal itself like a photographic print becoming constantly clearerin a tray PNA of developing solution Isiah lled Racky s cup and returned to the shade Racky drank 39 slowly pretending to be savoring the coffee Well it won t do any harm to try He d appreciate the invita tion he said speculatively I For some reason at this juncture I knew what to say and as I said it I knewquot what I was going to do I thought we might y over to Havana for a few days next week 39 39 grin Swell he cried Why wait till next week Hequot looked guardedly interested and then he broke into a wide Pages from Cold Point I I 137 l The next morning the servants called Goodbye to us as we drove up the cinder road in the McCoigh carWe took off from the airport 39 at39six39that evening Racky was in high spirits he kept the stewardess engaged in conversation all the way to Carnagiiey 39 quotHe was delighted also with Havana Sitting in the bar at the Na cional we continued to discuss the possibility of having C pay us a A visit at the island It was not without difficulty that I eventually man agedto persuade Racky that writing him would be inadvisable We decided to look for an apartment right there in Vedado for Racllty He did not seem to want to come back here to Cold Point We also decided that living in Havana he would need a larger income than I I am already having the greater part of Hope s estate transferred to his name in the form of a trust fund which I shall administer until he is of age It was his mother s money after all 39 We bought a new convertible and he drove me out to Rancho Boyeros in it when I took my plane A Cuban named Claudio with very white teeth whom Racky had met in the pool that morning sat between us 39 i 39 We were Waiting in front of the landing eld An o cial nally unhoioked the chain to let the passengers through If you get fed up come to Havana said Racky pinching my arm quot The two of them stood together behind the rope waving to me theirtshirts apping inthe wind as the plane started to move The wind blows by my head between each wave there are thousands 39 of tiny licking and chopping sounds as the water hurries out of the quotcrevices and holes and a partfloating partsubmerged feeling of being in the water haunts my mind even as the hot sun burns my face I sit here and I read and I wait for the pleasant feeling of repletion that follows a good meal to turn slowly as the hours pass along into the even more delightful slightly stirringsensation deep within whichac companies the awakening of the appetite I am perfectly happy here in reality because I still believe that nothing very drastic is likely to befall this part of the island in the near p 39 future a MS Ferncape NeuYorkCasablanca 1947 I of Gargantius Ijjl1lslquot 39 When the Universe was not so out of whack as it is today and all the stars were lined up in their proper places so you couldeasily count them from left to right or top to bottom and the larger and bluer ones were set apart and the smaller yellowing types pushed off to the corners as bodies of a lower grade when there was not a speck of dust to be found in outer space nor any nebular debris in those good old days it was the custom for constructors once they had received their Diploma of Perpetual Onmipotence with dis tinction to sally forth ofttimes and bring to distant lands the bene t of their expertise And so it happened that in keeping with this ancient custom Trurl and Klapaucius who could kindle or extinguish suns as easily as shelling peas did venture out on such a voyage VVhen the vastness of the naveled void had erased in them all recollection of their native skies they saw a planet up ahead not too little not too big just about right with one continent only down the middle of which ran a bright red line everything on one side was yellow everything on the other pink Realizing at once that here were two neighboring kingdoms the con smictors held a brief council of war before landing With two lcingdoms said Trurl it s best you take one and lo the other That way nobody s feelings get hurt Fine l39 said Klapaucius But what if they ask for mili tary aid Such things happen P 39 quot5 fga 39 qr 31 32 The Cyberiad True they could demand weapons even superweapons Trurl agreed We ll simply refuse And if they insist and threaten us returned Klapau cius This too can happen Let s see said Trurl switching on the radio It blared martial music a rousing march I have an idea said Klapaucius turning it off We can use the Gargantius Effect Vihat do you thinkquot Ah the Gargantius Effect cried Trurl I never heard of anyone actually using it But there s always a rst time Yes why not 39 We ll both be prepared to use it Klapaucius explained But it s imperative that we use it together otherwise we re in serious trouble No problem said Trurl He took a small golden box out of his pocket and opened it Inside on velvet lay two white beads You keep one I ll keep the other Look at yours every evening if it turns pink that 1l mean l ve started and you must too So be it said Klapaucius and put his bead away Then they landed shook hands and set off in opposite directions The kingdom to which Trurl repaired was ruled by King Atrocitus He was a militaristto the core and an incredible miser besides To relieve the royal treasury he did away with all punishments except for the death sentence His favorite occupation was to abolish unnecessary offices since that included the office of executioner every condemned citizen was obliged to do his own beheading or else on rare occasions of royal clemency have it done by his next of kin Of the arts Atrocitus supported only those that entailed little expense such as choral recitation chess and military calisthenics The art of war he held in particularly high esteem for a victorious campaign brought in excellent returns on the other hand one could properly prepare for The First Sally 33 war only during an interval of peace so the King advocated peace though in moderation His greatest reform was the nationalization of high treason As the neighboring kingdom was continually sendingspies he created the office of Royal informer who through a staff of subordinate traitors would hand over State secrets to enemy agents for certain sums of money Though as a rule the agents purchased only outdated secrets those were less expensive and besides they were held accountable to their own treasury for every penny spent The subjects of Atrocitus rose early were wellbehaved and worked long hours They wove fascines and gabions for forti ca ons made guns and denunciations in order that the kingdom not be ooded with the latter which in fact had happened during the reign of Bartholocaust the Wall eyed several hundred years before whoever wrote too many denunciations was required to pay a special luxury tax In this way they were kept at a reasonable level Arriving at the Court of Atrocitus Trurl offered his services The King not surprisingly wanted powerful instruments of war Trnrl asked for a few days to think it over and as soon as he was alone in the little cubicle they had assigned to him he looked at the bead in the golden box It was white but as he looked turned slowly pink Aha he said to him self time to start with Gargantiusl And without further delay he took out his secret fonnulae and set to work Klapaucius meanwhile found himself in the other king dom which was ruled by the mighty King Ferocitus Here everything looked quite different than in Atrocia This mon arch too delighted in campaigns and marches and he too spent heavily on armaments but in an enlightened way for he was a most generous lord and a great patron of the arts He loved uniforms gold braid stripes and tassels spurs brigadiers with bells destroyers swords and chargers A per 34 The Cyberiad son of keen sensibilities he trembled every time he chris tened a new destroyer And he lavishly rewarded paintings of battle scenes patriotically paying according to the num ber of fallen foes depicted so that on those endless pano ramic canvases with which the kingdom was packed moun tains of enemy dead reached up to the sky In practice he was an autocrat yet with libertarian views a martinet yet magnanimous On every anniversary of his coronation he instituted reforms Once he ordered the guillotines decked with owers another time had them oiled so they wouldn t squeak and once he gilded the executioners axes and had them all resharpened out of humanitarian considerations Ferocitus was not overly dainty yet he did frown upon excesses and therefore by special decree regulated and standardized all wheels racks spikes screws chains and clubs Beheadings of wrongthinkers a rare enoughevent took place with pomp and pageantry brass bands speeches parades and oats This highminded monarch also had a theory which he put into action and this was the Theory of Universal Happiness It is well known certainly that one does not laugh because one is amused but rather one is amused because one laughs If then everyone maintains that things just couldn t be better attitudes immediately im prove The subjects of Ferocitus were thus required for their own good to go about shouting how wonderful every thing was and the old inde nite greeting of Hello was changed by the King to the more emphatic Hallelujahi though children up to the age of fourteen were permitted to say Wow or VVheel and the oldtimers Swell Ferocitus rejoiced to see his people in such good spirits Whenever he drove by in his destroyershaped carriage crowds in the street would cheer and whenever he gra ciously waved his royal hand those up front would cry Wow Hallelujahl Terri cl A democrat at heart The First Sally 35 he liked to stop and chat awhile with old soldiers who had been around and seen much liked to hear tales of derringdo told at bivouacs and often when some foreign dignitary came for an audience he would out of the blue clap him on the knee with his baton and bellow Have at them or Swiggle the mizzen there matesl or Thunderat1onl For there was nothing he loved so much or held so dear as gumption crust and pluck roughness and toughness pow der chowder hardtack grog and ammo And so whenever he was melancholy he had his troops march by before him singing Screw up yer courage nuts to the foe When currents lag crank out the ag 39We ll scrap stout lads unhl we re nought but scrap or the rousing anthem Lock stock and barrel And he commanded that when he died the old guard should sing his favorite song over the S grave Old Robots Never Rust Klapaucius did not get to the court of this great ruler all at once At the rst village he came to he knocked on sev eral doors but no one opened up Finally he nouced in the deserted street a small child it approached him and asked in a thin high voice Wanna buy any mister They re cheap What are you selling inquired Klapaucius surprised State secrets replied the child lifting the edge of its smock to give him a glimpse of some mobilization plans This surprised Klapaucius even more and he said No thank you my little one But can you tell me where j l might nd the mayor What cha want the mayor for asked the child I wish to speak with him In secret It makes no difference Need a secret agent My dad s a secret agent Depend able and cheap 36 The Cyberiad Very well then take me to your dad said Klapaucius seeing he would get nowhere with the ch d The child led him to one of the houses Inside though it was in the mid dle of theday a family sat around a lighted lamp a gray grandfather in a rocking chair a grandmother knitting socks and their fully grown and numerous progeny each busy at his own household task As soon as Klapaucius entered they jumped up and seized him the knitting needles turned out to be handcuffs the lamp a microphone and the grand mother the local chief of police They must have made a mistake thought Klapaucius when he was beaten and thrown in jail Patiently he waited through the nightthere was nothing else he could do The dawn came and revealed the CObWClJS on the stone walls of his cell also the rusted remains of previous prisoners After a length of time he was taken and interrogated qjl tpptumed out that the little child as well as the houses 3the whole village in fact all of it was a plant to trick foreign spies But Klapaucius did not have to face the rigors of a long trial the proceedings were quicldy over For attempting to estab lish contact with the inforrner dad the punishment was a thirdclass guillotining becausethe local administration had already allotted funds to buy out enemy agents for that scal year and Klapaucius on his part repeatedly refused to purchase any State secrets from the police Nor did he have su cient ready cash to mitigate the offense Still the prisoner continued to protest his innocence not that the judge believed a word of it even if hehad to free him lay outside his jurisdiction So the case was sent to a higher court and in the meantime Klapaucius was subjected to J torture though more as a matter of form than out of any real necessity in about a week his case took a turn for the better nally acquitted he proceeded to the Capitol where after receiving instructions in the rules and regulations of The First Sally 37 court etiquette he obtained the honor of a private audience with the King They also gave him a bugle for every citizen was obliged to announce his comings and goings in of cial places with appropriate ourishes and such was the iron discipline of that land that the sun was not considered risen without the blowing of reveille Ferocitus did in fact demand new weapons Klapaucius promised to ful ll this royal wish his plan he assured the King represented a radical departure from the accepted principles of military action VVhat kind of armyhe asked rst always emerged victorious The one that had the nest leaders and the best disciplined soldiers The leader gave the orders the soldier carried them out the former therefore had to be wise the latter obedient However to the wisdom of the mind evenof the military mind there were certain natural limits A great leader moreover could come up against an equally great leader Then too he might fall in battle and leave his legion leaderless or do something even more dreadful since he was as it were professionally named to think and the object of his thoughts was power Was it not dangerous to have a host of old generals in the eld their rusty heads so packed with tactics and strategy that they started pining for the throne Had not more than one kingdom come to grief thereby It was clear then that leaders were a necessary evil the problem lay in making that evil unnecessary To go on the discipline of an army con sisted in the precise execution of orders Ideally we would have a thousand hearts and minds molded into one heart one mind one will Military regimens drills exercises and maneuvers all served this end The ultimate goal was thus an army that literally acted as one man in itself both creator and executor of its objectives But where was the embodi ment of such perfection to be found Only in the individ ual for no one was obeyed as willingly as one s own self 38 The Cyheriad and no one carried out orders as cheerfully as the one who gave those orders Nor could an individual be dispersed and insubordination or mutiny against himself was quite out of the question The problem then was to take this eagerness to serve oneself this selfworship which marked the individ ual and make it a property of a force of thousands How could this be done Here Klapaucius began to explain to the keenly interested King the simple ideas for are not all things of genius sirnple discovered by the great Gargan tius lnto each recruit he explained a plug is screwed in front a socket in back Upon the command Close up those ranks the plugs and sockets connect and where only a moment before you had a crowd of civilians there stands a battalion of perfect soldiers Vhen separate minds hith erto occupied with all sorts of nonmartial nonsense merge into one regimental consciousness not only is there auto matic discipline for the army has become a single ghting machine composed of a million parts but there is also wisdom And that wisdom is directly proportional to the numbers involved A platoon possesses the acumen of a master sergeant a company is as shrewd as a lieutenant colonel a brigade smarter than a eld marshal and a divi sion is Worth more than all the army s strategists and spe cialists put together in this way one can create formations of truly staggering perspicacity And of course they will follow their own orders to the letter This puts an end to the vagaries and reckless escapades of individuals the de pendence on a particular commander s capabilities the con stant rivalries envies and enmities between generals And detachments once joined should not be put asunder for that produces nothing but confusion An army whose only leader is itself this is my ideal Klapaucius concluded The King was much impressed with his words and nally said The First Sally i 39 Return to your quarters I shall consult my general sta Oh do not do this Your Royal Higlinessllexclgimed the clever Klapaucius feigning great consternation That is exactly what the Emperor Turbulon did and his staff to protect their own positions advised him against it shortly thereafter the neighbor of Turbulon King Enamuel atp mcked with a revolutionized army and reduced the empire to ashes though his forces were eight times smaller T Vlfhereupon he bowed went to his room and inspected the little bead which was red as a beet that meant Trurl had done likewise at the court of Atrocitus The King soon ordered Klapaucius to revolutionize one platoon of infantry joined in spirit and now entirely of one mind this tiny unit cried Kill kill swooped down on three squadrons of the King s dragoons who were armed to the teeth and led moreover by six distinguished lecturers of the Academy of the General Staff and cut them to ribbons Great was the grief of the generals marshals admirals and command ers in chief for the King sent them all into a speedy retire iment fully convinced of the eilicacy of Klapaucius inven tion he ordered the entire army revolutionized And so munitions electricians worked day and night tarn ing out plugs and sockets by the carload and these were installed as necessary in all the barracks Covered with medals Klapaucius rode from garrison togarrisonand super vised everything Trurl fared similarly in the kingdom of Anocitus except that due to that monarch s well known parsimony he had to content himself with the lifelong title of Great Betrayer of the Fatherland Both kingdoms were now preparing for war in the heat of mobilization conven tional as well as nuclear weapons were brought into battle trim and cannons and atoms subected to the utmost spit and polish as per regulations Their work now all but done the two constructors packed their bags in secret to be ready 40 The Cyberiad to meet when the time came at the appointed place near the ship they had left in the forest A Meanwhile miracles were taking place among the rank and le particularly in the infantry Companies no longer had to practice their marching drills nor did they need to count off to learn their number just as one who has two legs never mistakes his right for his left nor nds it neces sary to calculate how many of himself there are it was a joy to see those new units do the Forward March About Face and Company Halt and afterwards when they were dismissed they took to chatting and later through the open windows of the barracks one could hear voices boom ing in chorus disputing such matters as absolute truth analytic versus synthetic a priori propositions and the Thinginitself for their collective minds had already at tained that level Various philosophical systems were ham meted out till nally a certain battalion of sappers arrived at a position of total solipsism claiming that nothing really existed beyond itself And since from this it followed that there was no King nor any enemy this battalion was quietly disconnected and its members reassigned to units that rmly adhered to epistemological realism At about the same time in the kingdom of Atrocitus the sixth amphibi ous division forsool naval operations for navel contempla tion and thoroughly immersed in mysticism very nearly drowned Somehow or other as a result of this incident war was declared and the troops rumbling and clanking slowly moved towards the border from either side The law of Gargantius proceeded to work with inexor able logic As formation joined formation in proportion there developed an esthetic sense which reached its apex at the level of a reinforced division so that the columns of such a force easily became sidetracked chasing off after but ter ies and when the motorized corps named for Bartholo A The First Sally 41 caust approached an enemy fortress that had to be taken by storm the plan of attack drawn up that night turned out to be a splendid painting of the battlements done more over in the abstractionist spirit which rancounter to all military traditions Among the artillery corps the weightiest memphysical questions were considered and with an ab sennnindedness characteristic of great genius these large units lost their weapons misplaced their equipment and completely forgot that there was a war on As for whole armies their psyches were beset by a multitude of com plexes which often happens to overly developed intellects and itjbecame necessary to assign to each a special psychi attic motorcycle brigade which applied appropriate therapy on the march in the meantime to the thuhdcfous accompaniment of fe and drum both sides slowly got into position Six regi ments of shock troops supporied by a battery of howitzers and two backup battalions composed with the assistance of a ring squad a sonnet entitled On the Mystery of Be ing and this took place during guard duty There was con siderable confusion in both armies the Eightieth Marla bardian Corps for instance maintained that the whole con cept of enemy needed to be more clearly de ned as it was full of logical contradictions and might even be alto gether meaningless Paratroopers tried to find algorithms for the local terrain anks kept colliding with centers so at last the two kings sent airborneadjutants and couriers extraordinary to restore order in the ranks But each of these having own or gal loped up to the corps in question before he could discover the cause of the disturbance instantly lost his identity in the corporate identity and the kings were left without ad iutants or couriers Consciousness it seemed formed a deadly trap in that one could enter it but never leave 42 The Cyberiad Atrocitus himself saw how his cousin the Grand Prince Bullion desiring to raise the spiritsquot of his soldiers leaped into the fray and how as soon as he had hooked himself into the line his spirit was literally spirited away and he was no more Sensingthat something had gone amiss Ferocitus nodded to the twelve buglers at his right hand Atrocitus from the top of his hill did likewise the buglers put the brass to their lips and sounded the charge on either side At this clarion signal each army totally and completely linked up The fearsome metallic clatter of closing contacts reverberated over the future battle eld in the place of a thousand bom bardiers and grenadiers commandos lancers gunners snip ers sappers and marauders there stood two giant beings who gazed at one another through a million eyes across a mighty plain that lay beneath billowing clguds There was absolute silence That famous culmination of consciousness which the great Gargantius had predicted with mathemati cal precision was now reached on both sides For beyond a certain point militarism a purely local phenomenon be comes civil and this is because the Cosmos Itself is by natiire wholly civilian and indeed theminds of both armies had assumed truly cosmic proportions Thus though on the outside armor still gleamed as well as the deathdealing steel of artillery within there surged an ocean of mutual good will tolerance an allembracing benevolence and bright rmson And so standing on opposite hilltops their weapons sparkling in the sun while the drums continued to roll the two armies smiled at one another Trurl and Klapaucius were just then boarding their ship since that which they had planned had come to pass before the eyes of their morti ed infuriated rulers both armies went 0E hand in hand picking owers beneath the u y white clouds on the eld of the battle that never was a Trurlis Electronic Bard First of all to avoid any possible misunderstanding we should state that this was strictly speaking a sally to no where In fact Trurl never left his house throughout it except for a few trips to the hospital and an unimportant excursion to some asteroid 391 Et in a deeper andor higher a sense this was one of the farthest sallies ever undertakenby the famed constructor foit very nearly took him beyond the realm of possibility Trurl had once had the misfortune to build an enormous calculating machine that was capable ofonly one operation namely the addition of two and two and that it did incor rectly As isrelated earlier in this volume the machine also A proved to be extremely stubborn and the quarrel that en sued between it and its creator almost cost the latter his life From that time on Klapaucius teased Trurl unmerci fully making comments at every opportunity until Trurl decided to silence him once and for all by building a ma chine that could write poetry First Trurl collected eight hundred and twenty tons of books on cybernetics and twelve thousand tons of the nest poetry then sat down to read it all Whenever he felt he justcouldn t take another chart or equation he would switch over to verse and vice versa After awhile it became clear to him that the con struction of the machine itself was child s play in compari son with the writing of the program The program found in 43 44 The Cyberiad the head of an average poet after all was written by the poet s civilization and that civilization was in turn pro grammed by the civilization that preceded it and so on to the very Dawn of Time when those bits of information that concerned the poettobe were still swirling about in the primordial chaos of the cosmic deep Hence in order to program a poetry machine one would rst have to repeat the entire Universe from the begiuning or at least a good piece of it Anyone else in Trurl s place would have given up then and there but our intrepid constructor was nothing daunted He built a machine and fashioned a digital model of the Void an Electrostatic Spirit to move upon the face of the electrolytic waters and he introduced the parameter of light a protogalactic cloud or two and by degrees worked his way up to the rst ice age Trurl could move at this rate because his machine was able in one vebillionth of a second to simulate one hundred septillion events at forty octillion different locations simultaneously And if anyone questions these gures let him work it out for himself Next Trurl began tofmodel Civilization the striking of res with flints and the tanning of hides and he provided for dinosaurs and oods bipedality and taillessness then made the paleopaleface Albuminidis sapientia which be gat the paleface which begat the gadget and so it went from eon to millennium in the endless hum of electrical currents and eddies Often the machine turned out to be too small for the computer simulation of a new epoch and Trurl would have to tack on an auxiliary unit until he ended up at last with a veritable metropolis of tubes and terminals circuits and shunts all so tangled and involved that the devil himself couldn t have made head or tail of it But Trurl managed somehow he only had to go back twice once almost to the beginning when he discovered that The First Sally A 45 Abel had murdered Cain and not Cain Abel the result apparently of a defective fuse and once only three hun dred million years back to the middle of the Mesozoic when after going from sh to amphibian to reptile to mam mal something odd took place among the primates and instead of great apes he came out with gray drapes A y it seems had gotten intothe machine and shorted out the polyphase stepquotdown directional widget Otherwise every thing went like a ream Antiquity and the Middle Ages were recreated then the period of revolutions and reforms which gave thampmachine a few nasty jolts and then civilization progressed in such leaps and bounds that Trurl had to hose down the coils and cores repeatedly to keep them from overheating A Towards the end of the twentieth century the machine began to tremble rst sideways then lengthWise for no apparent reason This alarmed Trurl he brought out cement and grappling irons just in case But fortunately these weren t needed instead of jumping its moorings the ma chine settled down and soon had left the twentieth century far behind Civilizations came and went thereafter in fty thousandyear intervals these were the fully intelligent be ings from whom Trurl himself stemmed Spool upon spool of computerized history was lled and ejected into storage bins soon there were so many spools that even if you stood at the top of the machine with highpower binoculars you wouldn t see the end of them And all to construct some versi er But then such is the way of scienti c fanaticism At last the programs were ready all that remained was to pick out the most applicable else the electropoet s educa on would take several million years at the very least During the next two weeks Trurl fed general instructions into his future electropoet then set up all the necessary logic circuits emotive elements semantic centers He was 46 The Cyberiad about to invite Klapaucius to attend a uial run but thought better of it and started the machine himself It immediately proceeded to deliver a lecture on the grinding of crystallo graphical surfaces as an introduction to the study of sub molecular magnetic anomalies Trurl bypassed half the logic circuits and made the emotive more electromotive the ma chine sobbed went into hysterics then nally said blub bering terribly what a cruel cruel world this was Trurl in tensi ed the semantic elds and attached a strength of char acter component the machine informed him that from now on he would carry out its every wish and to begin with add six oors to the nine it already had so it could better medi tate upon the meaning of existence Trurl installed a philo sophical throttle instead the machine fell silent and sulked Only after endless pleading and cajoling was he able to get it to recite something I had a little froggyff That ap peared to exhaust its repertoire Trurl adjusted modulated expostulated disconnected ran checks reconnected reset did everything he could think of and the machine presented him with a poem that made him thank heaven Klapaucius wasn t there to laugh imagine simulating the whole Uni verse from scratch not to mention Civilization in every particular and to end up with such dreadful doggereli Trurl put in six clich lters but they snapped like matches he had to make them out of pure corundum steel This seemed to work so he jacked the semanticity up all the way plugged in an alternating rhyme generator which nearly ruined everything since the machine resolved to become a missionary among destitute tribes on far ung planets But at the very last minute just as he was ready to give up and take a hammer to it Trurl was struck by an inspira tion tossing out all the logic circuits he replaced them with selfregulating egocentripetal narcissistors The machine simpered a little whimpered a little laughed bitterly com n ig3939 uagrillquot 0 11111 W 4 urJUlFll539 394IaIIUlCll39quot l39lllll 39 ll e vrl39 39 5 9 we 0 An I H I J A l P E39 39quot39quotuse 5 Vi quot 39339 as pp 39sgt a 41005 11 3 39 39 iI nIno0 uni I I 4quotquotT 1 n I s K r 39 r q r ii p C 39 1 f quot 39 HI Hun V 1quot f h 1I39A39rquotali quoti quotquot quot q 49551 III 9 X g pF till 2 quotquot if quot 4 9 I II n O quot39 quotquotquotquotquotquot39 duh y 24III quotquot39 aa IIII ill 4 rs 3 3 l39s F in I 39 U l 9 39 L 39 r I u MI npup quot quot quotquot 3 IIII u l39 39393939 39 39393939393939 3939393 39quotgnuOldquot399 quotquotquot 3939z 3 lt 39 34195 g y quot quot 39 n39quot39 quotquot 03947quot nacu P39 r aim v 393939n39IIIIIuIInn339vTuvvab013 p 5 quotu39u IIIIilllIIII39IUlI 00 39 39 quot 3939I ll I 9 ll My 9 y 9rm I 1 2quot 39 39 n 8 Z 39 j 39 K T39393939 33quot ft 48 The Cyberiad plained of an awful pain on its third oor said that in gen eral it was fed up through life was beautiful but men were such beasts and how sorry they d all be when it was dead and gone Then it asked for pen and paper Trurl sighed with relief switched it off and went to bed The next mom ing he went to see Klapaucius Klapaucius hearing that he was invited to attend the debut of Trurl s electronic bard dropped everything and followedso eager was he to be an eyewitness to his friend s humiliation Trurl let the machine warm up rst kept the power low ran up the metal stairs several times to take readings the machine was like the engine of a giant steamer galleried with rows of rivets dials and valves on every tier till nally satis ed all the decimal places were where they ought 539 to be he said yes it was ready now and why not start with something simple Later of course when the machine had gotten the feel of it Klapaucius could ask it toproduce poetry on absolutely whatever topic he liked Now the potentiometers indicated the machine s lyrical capacitance was charged to maximum and Trurl so nervous his hands were shaking threw the master switch A voice slightly husky but remarkably vibrant and bewitching said Phlogisticosh Rhomothriglyph Floof Is that it inquired Klapaucius after a pause extremely polite Trurl only bit his lip gave the machine a few kicks of current and tried again This time the voice came through much more clearly it was a thrilling baritone sol emn yet inniguingly sensual Pev t 0 tay merlon g gumin gots Untle yun furly p izzen ye Confre an ayzor ayzor ots Either de furloss bochre blee Am I missing something said Klapaucius calmly watching a panicstricken Trurl struggling at the controls The First Sally A 49 Finally Trurl waved his arms in despair dashed clattering several ights up the metal stairs got down on all fours and crawled into the machine through a trapdoor he ham mered away inside swearing like a maniac tightened some thingwfed at something crawled out again and ran franti cally to another tier At long last he let out a cry of triumph threw Xbturnt tube over his shoulder it bounced off the if railing a d fell to the floor shattering at the feet of lltlapau cius But Trurl didn t bother to apologize he quickly put in a new tube wiped his hands on a chammy cloth and hollered down for Klapaucius to try it now The following words rang out i Mockles Fent on silpen tree Blockards three afeening Mockles what silps came to thee In thy pantry dreaming Well that s an improvement shouted Trurl not en rely convinced The last line particularly did you notice If this is all you have to show me said Klapaucius the very soul of politeness Damn said Trurl and again disappeared inside the ma chine There was a erce banging and clanging the sputter ing of shorted wires and the muttering of an even shorter temper then Trurl stuck his head out of a trapdoor on the third story and yelled Now try it Klaupaucius complied The electronic bard shuddered from stem to stem and began Oft in that wickless chalet all begorn Where whilom soughed the mossy sappertort And you were wont to bong Trurl yanked out a few cables in a fury something rattled and wheezed the machine fell silent Klapaucius laughed so hard he had to sit on the floor Then suddenly as T rurl 50 The Cyberiad was rushing back and forth there was a crackle a clack and the machine with perfect poise said The Petty and the Small Are overcome with gall VVhen Genius having faltered fails to fall Klapaucius too I ween Will turn the deepest green To hear such awless verse from Trurl s machine There you are an epigram And wonderfully apropos laughed Trurl racing down the metal stairs and inging himself delightedly into his colleague s arms Klapaucius S quite taken aback was no longer laughing VVhat that he said That s nothing Besides you had it all set up beforehand Set upl77 pYn Oh it s quite obvious the illdisguised hostility the poverty of thought the crudeness of execution All right then ask it something else Whatever you likel Go on What are you waiting for Afraid lust a minute said Klapaucius annoyed He was ny ing to think of a request as difficult as possible aware that any argument on the quality of the verse the machine might be able to produce would be hard if not impossible to settle either way Suddenly he brightened and said Have it compose a poem a poem about a haircut But lofty noble tragic timeless full of love treachery retribu tion quiet heroism in the face of certain doom Six lines cleyerly rhymed and every word beginning with the letter 3 And why not throw in a full exposition of the general theory of nonlinear automata while you re at it growled Trurl You can t give it such idiotic The First Sally A 51 But he didn t nish A melodious voice lled the hall with the following Seduced shaggySamson snored She scissored short Sorely shorn Soon shackled slave Samson sighed Silently scheming Sightlessly seeking Some savage spectacular suicide Well whatdo you say to that asked Trurl his arms folded proudly But Klapaucius was already shouting Now all in g A sonnet trochaic hexarneter about an old cyclotron who kept sixteen arti cial mistresses blue and radioactive had four wings three purple pavilions two lacquered chests each containing exactly one thousand medallions bearing the likeness of Czar Murdicog the Head less Grinding gleeful gears Gerontogyron grabbed Giggling gynecobalt 6o golerns began the machine39but Trurl leaped to the console shutoff the power and turned defending the machine with his body S Enough he said hoarse with indignation How dare you waste a great talent on such drivel Either give it decent poems to write or I call the whole thing o Vlfhat those aren t decent poems protested Klapau crus Certainly not I didn t build a machine to solve ridicu lous crossword puzzles That s hack work not Great Art lust give it a topic any topic as diflicult as you like Klapaucius thought and thought some more Finally he nodded and said a Very well Let s have a love poem lyrical pastoral and expressed in the language of pure mathematics Tensor alge bra mainly with a little topology and higher calculus if 52 The Cyberiad need be But with feeling you understand and in the cyber netic spirit Love and tensor algebra Have you taken leave of your senses Trurl began but stopped for his electronic bard was already declairning 39 Come let us hasten to a higher plane VVhere dyads tread the fairy elds of Venn Their indices bedecked from one to n Commingled in an endless Markov chain Come every frustum longs to be a cone And every vector dreams of matrices Hark to the gentle gradient of the breeze It whispers of a more ergo diczone In Riemann Hilbert or in Banach space I Let superscripts and subscripts go their ways Our asyrnptotes no longer out of phase We shall encounter counting face to face I ll grant thee random access to my heart Thou lt tell me all the constants of thy love And sowe two shall all love s lemmas prove And in our bound partition never part For what did Cauchy know or Christoffel Or Fourier or any Boole or Euler Wielding their compasses their pens and rulers Of thy supernal sinus oidal spell T Cancel me not for what then shall remain Abscissas some rnantissas modules modes A root or two a torus anda node The inverse of my verse a null domain The First Sally A Ellipse of bliss converge O lips divine The product of our scalars is de ned Cyberiad draws nigh and the skew mind Cuts capers like a happy haversine I see the eigenvalue in thine eye I hear the tender tensor in thy sigh Bernoulli would have been content to die Had he but known such a cos 2 cf This concluded the poetic competition since Klapaucius suddenly had to leave saying he would return shortly with more topics for the machine but he never did afraid that in so doing he might give Trurl more cause to boast T rurl of course let it be known that Klapaucius had ed in order to hide his envy and chagrin Klapaucius meanwh e spread the word that Trurl had more than one screw loose on the subject of that so called mechanical versi er Not much time went by before news of Trurl s computer laureate reached the genuine that is the ordinarypoets Deeply o ended they resolved to ignore the machine s existence A few however were curious enough to visit Trurl s electronic bard in secret It received them courtc l ously in a hall piled high with closely written paper for it worked day and night without pause Now these poets were all avant garde and Trurl s machine wrote only in the naditional manner Trurl no connoisseur of poetry had relied heavily on the classics in setting up its program The machines guests jeered and left in triumph The machine was selfprogramming however and in addition had a special ambitionamplifying mechanism with g1ory seeking circuits and very soon a great change took place Its poems became di cult ambiguous so intricate and charged with meaning that they were totally incomprehensible When the next group of poets came to mock and laugh the machine re 54 The Cyberiad plied withan improvisation that was so modern it took their breath away and the second poem seriously weakened a certain sonneteer who had two State awards to his name not to mention a statue in the city park After that no poet could I396S1S39l3939 the fatal urge to cross lyrical swords with Trur1 s electronic bard They came from far and wide carrying hunks and suitcases full of manuscripts The machine would let each challenger recite instantly grasp the algo rithm of his verse and use it to compose an answer in exactly the same style only two hundred and twenty to three hundred and forty seven times better The machine quickly grew so adept at this that it could cut down a rstclass rhapsodistwith no more than one or 39 two quatrains But the worst of it was all the thirdrate poets emerged unscathed being thirdrate they didn t know good poetry from bad and consequentlyhad no inkling of their crushing defeat One of them true broke his leg when on the way out he tripped over an epic poem the machine had diust completed a prodigious work beginning with the wor s e w Arms and machines I sing that iorc d by fate And haughty Homo s unrelenting hate Expe1l d and exil d left the Terran shore Thp true poets on the other hand were decimated by Trurl s elecnomc bard though it never laid a nger on them a First an aged elegiast then two modernists committed sui cide leaping o a clid that unfortunately happened to lie hard by the road leading from Trurl s place to the nearest ham station There were many poet protests staged demonstrations demands that the machine be served an injunction to cease and desist But no one else appeared to care In fact maga zine editors generally approved Trur1 s electronic bard writ T he liirst Sally A 55 ing under several thousand different pseudonyms at once had a poem for every occasion to fit whatever length might be required and of such high quality that the magazine would be torn from hand to hand by eager readers On the street one could see enraptured faces bemused smiles some mes even hear a quiet sob Everyone knew the poems of Trurl s electronic bard the air rang with its delightful rhymes Not infrequently those citizens of a greater sensi tivity struck by a particularly marvelous metaphor or as sonance would actually fall into a faint But this colossus of T inspiration was prepared even for that eventuality it would immediately supply the necessary number of restorative ron delets Trurl himself had no little trouble in connection with his invention The classicists generally elderly were fairly harm less they con ned themselves to throwing stones through his windows and smearing the sides of his house with an unmentionable substance But it was much worse with the younger poets One for example as powerful in body as his verse was in imagery beat Trurl to a pulp And while the constructor lay in the hospital events marched on Not a day passed without a suicide or a funeral picket lines formed around the hospital one could hear gun re in the distance instead of manuscripts in their suitcases more and more poets were bringing ri es to defeat Trurl s electronic bard But the bullets merely bounced off its calm exterior After his return from the hospital Trurl weak and desperate nally decided one night to dismantle the homeostatic Homer he had created 39 But when he approached the machine limping slightly it noticed the pliers in his hand and the grim glitter in his eye and delivered such an eloquent impassioned plea for mercy that the constructor burst into tears threw down his tools and hurried back to his room wading through new 56 The Cyberiad works of genius an ocean of paper that lled the hall chest high from end to end and rustled incessantly The following month Trurl received a bill for the elec tricity consumed by the machine and almost fell o his chair If only he could have consulted his old friend KIapau ciusl But Klapaucius was nowhere to be found So Trurl had to come up with something by himself One dark night he unplugged the machine toolc it apart loaded it onto a ship ew to a certain small asteroid and there assembled it again giving it an atomic pile for its source of crea ve energy Then he sneaked home But that wasn t the end of it i The electronic bard deprived now of the possibility of hav ing its masterpieces published began to broadcast them on all wave lengths which soon sent the passengers and crews of passing rockets into states of stanzaicrstupefaction and those more delicate souls were seized with severe attaclcs of esthetic ecstasy besides Having determined the cause of this disturbance the Cosmic Fleet Command issued Trurl an o cial request for the immediate termination of his device i which was seriously impairing the health and wellbeing of all travelers h At that point 39lquotrurl went into hiding so they dropped a team of technicians on the asteroid to gag the machine s output unit it overwhelmed them with a few ballads how ever and the mission had to be abandoned Deaf techni cians were sent next but the machine employed panto mime After that there began to be talk of an eventual puni tive expedition of bombing the electropoet into submission But just then some ruler from a neighboring star system came bought the machine and hauled it o asteroid and all to his kingdom NOW Trurl could appear in public again and breathe easy True lately there had been supemovae exploding on the 5 F x The First Sally A 57 southern horizon the like of which no one had ever seen before and there were rumors that this had something to do with poetry According to one report that same ruler moved by some strange whim had ordered his astroeng1 neers to connect the electronic hard to a constellation of white supergiants thereby transforming each line of verse into a stupendous solar prominence thus the Greatest Poet in the Universe was able to transmit its thermonuclear crea tions to all the illimitable reaches of space at once But even if there were any uuth to this it was all too far away to bother Trurl who vowed by everything that was ever held sacred never never again to make a cybernetic model of the Muse 118 A rnmcsss or MABS cries that I be taken from the arena and be made a member of the hordes of Warhoon a Finally there were but three of us left a great green warrior 39 of some far northern horde Kantos Kan and myself The other two were to battle and then I to ght the conqueror for the liberty which was accorded the nal winner Kantos Kan had fought several times during the day and like myself had always proven victorious but occasionally by the smallest of margins especially when pitted against the green warriors I had little hope that he could best his giant adversary who had mowed down all before him during the day The fellow towered nearly sixteen feet in height while Kantos Kan was some inches under six feet As they advanced to meet one another I saw for the rst time a trick of Martian swordsmanship which centered Kantos Karfs every hope of victory and life on one cast of the dice for as he came to within about twenty feet of the huge fellow he threw his sword arm far behind him over his shoulder and with a mighty sweep hurled his weapon point39fore most at the green warrior It ew true as an arrow and piercing the poor devils heart laid him dead upon the arena 39 Kantos Kan and I were now pitted against each other but as we approached to the encounter I whispered to him to prolong the battle until nearly dark in the hope that we might nd some means of escape The horde evidently guessed that we had no hearts to ght each other and so they howled in rage as neither of us placed a fatal thrust Just as I saw the sudden coming of dark I whispered to Kantos Kan to thrust his sword between my left arm and my body As he did so I staggered back clasping the sword tightly with my arm and thus fell to the ground with his weapon apparently protruding from my chest Kantos Kan perceived my coup and stepping quickly to my side he placed his foot upon my neck and withdrawing his sword from my body gave me the nal death blow through the neck which is sup posed to sever the jugular vein but in this instance the cold blade slipped harmlessly into the sand of the arena In the darkness which had now fallen none could tell but that he had really cigar ea In the Atmosphere Factory 119 nished me I whispered to him to go and claim his freedom and then look for me in the hills east of the city and so he left me When the amphitheater had cleared I crept stealthily to the top and as the great excavauon lay far from the plaza and in an untenanted portion of the great dead city I had little trouble in reaching the hills beyond u an6 4 IN THE ATMOSPHERE FACTORY Twenty For two days I waited there for Kantos Kan but as he did not come I started off on foot in a northwesterly direction toward a point where he had told me lay the nearest waterway My only food consisted of vegetable milk from the plants which gave so bounteously of this priceless uid Through two long weeks I wandered stumbling through the nights guided only by the stars and hiding during the days he hind some protruding rock or among the occasional hills I trav ersed Several times I was attacked by wild beasts strange un couth monstrosities that leaped upon me in the dark so that I had ever to grasp my long sword in my hand that I might be ready for them Usually my strange newly acquired telepathic power warned me in ample time but once I was down with vicious fangs at my jugular and a hairy face pressed close to mine before I quotknew that I was even threatened VVhat manner of thing was upon me I did not know but that it was large and heavy and many legged I could feel My hands were at its throat before the fangs had a chance to bury them selves in my neck and slowly I forced the hairy face from me and closed my ngers viselike upon its windpipe Without sound we lay there the beast exerting every e ort to r39339 120 A PRINCESS OF quotMARS reach me with those awful fangs and I straining to maintain my grip and choke the life from it as I kept it from mythroat Slowly my arms gave to the unequal struggle and inch by inch the burn ing eyes and gleaming tusks of my antagonist crept toward me until as the hairy face touched mine again I realized that all was over And then a living mass of destruction sprang from the surrounding darkness full upon the creature that held me pin ioned to the ground The two rolled growling upon the moss tearing and rending one another in a frightful manner but it was soon over and my preserver stood with lowered head above the throat of the dead thing which would have killed me The nearer moon hurtling suddenly above the horizon and lighting up the Barsoomian scene showed me that my preserver was Woola but from whence he had come or how found me I was at a loss to know That I was glad of his companionship it is needless to say but my pleasure at seeing him was tempered by anxiety as to the reason of his leaving Dejah Thoris Only her death I felt sure could account for his absence from heris o faith 0 4 I knew him to be to my commands By the light of the now brilliant moons I saw that he was but a shadow of his former self and as he turned from my caress and commenced greedily to devour the dead carcass at my feet I realized thatthe poor fellow was more than half starved I my self was in but little better plight but I could not bring my self to eat the uncooked esh and I had no means of making a re When Woola had nished his meal I again took up my weary and seemingly endless wandering in quest of the elusive water way At daybreak of the fteenth day of my search I was overjoyed to see the high trees that denoted the object of my search About noon I dragged myself wearily to the portals of a huge building which covered perhaps four square miles and towered two hun dred feet in the air It showed no aperture in the mighty walls other than the tiny door at which I sank exhausted nor was there any sign of life about it I could nd no bell or other method of making my presence known to the inmates of the place unless a small round hole in In the Atmosphere Factory 121 the wall near the door was for that purpose It was of about the bigness of a lead pencil and thinking that it might be in the nature of a speaking tube I put my mouth to it and was about to call into it when a voice issued from it asking me whom I might be where from and the nature of my errand 39 I explained that I had escaped from the Warhoons and was dying of starvation and exhaustion You wear the metal of a green warrior and are followed by a calot yet you are of the gure of a red man In 39 color you are neither green nor red In the name of the ninth day what manner of creature are you I am a friend of the red men of Barsoom and I am starving In the name of humanity open to us I replied 39 t Ilresently the door commenced to recede before me until it had sunk into the wall fty feet then it stopped and slid easily to the left exposing a short narrow corridor of concrete at the further end of which was another door similar in every respect to the one I had just passed No one was in sight yet immediately we passed the rst door it slid gently into place behind us and receded rapidly to its original position in the front wall of the building As the door had slipped aside I had noted its great thickness fully twenty feet and as it reached its place once more after closing behind us great cylinders of steel had dropped from the ceiling behind it and tted their lower ends into apertures countersunk in the floor A second and a third door receded before me and slipped to one side as the rst before I reached a large inner chamber where I found food and drink set out upon a great stone table A voice directed me to satisfy my hunger and to feed my calot and while I was thus engaged my invisible host put me through a severe and searching crossexamination Your statements are most remarkable said the voice on con cluding its questioning but you are evidently speaking the truth and it is equally evident that you are not of Barsoom I can tell that by the conformation of your brain and the strange location of your internal organs and the shape and size of your heart Can you see through me I exclaimed 122 A PRINCESS OF MARS Yes I can see all but your thoughts and were you a Bar soomian I could read those quot Then a door opened at the far side of the chamber and a strange dried up little mummy of a man came toward me He wore but a single article of clothing or adornment a small collar of gold from which depended upon his chest a great ornament as large as a dinner plate set solid with huge diamonds except for the exact center which was occupied by a strange stone an inch in diameter that scintillated nine di erent and distinct rays the seven colors of our earthly prism and two beautiful rays which to me were new and nameless I cannot describe them any more than you could describe red to a blind man I only know that they were beautiful in the extreme The old man sat and talked with me for hours and the strang est part of our intercourse was that I could read his every thought while he could not fathom an iota from my mind unless I spoke 39 I did not apprise him of my ability to sense his mental opera tions and thus I learned a great deal which proveC10fimmense value to me later and which I would never have known had he suspected my strange power for the Martians have such perfect control of their mental machinery that they are able to direct their thoughts with absolute precision The building in which I found myself contained the machinery which produces that arti cial atmosphere which sustains life on Mars The secret of the entire process hinges on the use of the ninth ray one of the beautiful scintillations which I had noted emanating from the great stone in my host s diadem This ray is separated from the other rays of the sun by means of nely adjusted instruments placed upon the roof of the huge building three quarters of which is used for reservoirs in which the ninth ray is stored This product is then treated electrically or rather certain proportions of re ned electric vibrations are incorporated with it and the result is then pumped to the ve principal air centers of the planet where as it is released con tact with the ether of space transforms it into atmosphere There is always su cient reserve of the ninth ray stored in the great building to maintain the present Martian atmosphere In the Atmosphere Factory 39 123 for a thousand years and the only fear as my new friend told me was that some accident might befall the pumping apparatus He led me to an inner chamber where I beheld a battery of twenty radium pumps any one of which was equal to the task of furnishing all Mars with the atmosphere compound For eight hundred years he told me he had watched these pumps which are used alternately a day each at a stretch or a little over twenty tour and one half Earth hours He has one assistant who divides the watch with him Half a Martian year about three hundred and fortyfour of our days each of these men spend alone in this huge isolated plant I 39 Every red Martian is taughtquot during earliest childhood the principles of the manufacture of atmosphere but only two at one time ever held the secret of ingress to the great building which built as it is with walls a hundred and fty feet thick is absolutely unassailable even the roof being guarded from as sault by air craft by a glass covering ve feet thick The only fear they entertain of attack is from the green Martians or some demented red man as all Barsoomians realize that the very existence of every form of life on Mars is dependent upon the uninterrupted working of this plant One curious fact I discovered as I watched his thoughts w that the outer doors are manipulated by telepathic means The locks are so nelynadjusted that the doors are released by the action of a certain combination of thought waves To experiment with my newvfound toy I thought to surprise him into revealing this combination and so I asked him in a casual manner how he had managed to unlock the massive doors for me from the inner chambers of the building As quick as a ash there leaped to his mind nine Martian sounds but as quickly faded as he answered that this was a secret he must not divulge From then on his manner toward me changed as though he feared that he had been surprised into divulging his great secret and I read suspicion and fear in his looks and thoughts though his words were still fair Before I retired for the night he promised to give me a letter u 124 A PRINCESS OF NIAIBS to a nearby agricultural officer who would help me on my way to Zodanga which he said was theinearest Martian city But be sure that you do not let them know you are bound for 39 Helium as they are at war with that country My assistant and I are of no country we belong to all Barsoom and this talisman which we wear protects us in all lands even among the green men though we do not trust ourselves to their hands if we can avoid it he added And so goodnight my friend he continued may you have a long and restful sleepyes a long sleep And though he smiled pleasantly I saw in his thoughts the wish that he had never admitted me and then a picture of him stand ing over me in the night and the swift thrust of a long dagger and the half formed words I am sorry but it is for the best good of Barsoom As he closed the door of my chamber behind him his thoughts were cut 0E from me as was the sight of him which seemed strange to me in my little knowledge of thought transference What was I to do How could I escape through these mighty walls Easily could I kill him now that I was warned but once he was dead I could no more escape and with the stopping of the machinery of the great plant I should die with all the other inhabitants of the planet all even Dejah Thoris were she not already dead For the others I did not give the snap of my nger but the thought of Dejah Thoris drove from my mind all desire to kill my mistaken host Cautiously I opened the door of my apartment and followed by Woola sought the inner of the great doors A wild scheme had come to me I would attempt to force the great locks by the nine thought waves I had read in my host s mind Creeping stealthily through corridor after corridor and down winding runways which turned hither and thither I nally reached the great hall in which I had broken my long fast that morning Nowhere had I seen my host nor did I know where he kept himself by night I was on the point of stepping boldly out into the room when a slight noise behind me warned me back into the shadows of a In the Atmosphere Factory 125 recess in the corridor Dragging Woola after me I crouched low in the darkness Presently the old man passed close by me and as he entered the dimly lighted chamber which I had been about to pass through I saw that he held a long thin dagger in his hand and that he was sharpening it upon a stone In his mind was the de cision to inspect the radium pumps which would take about thirty minutes and then return to my bed chamber and nish me As he passed through the great hall and disappeared down the runway which led to the pump room I stole stealthily from my hiding place and crossed to the great door the inner of the three which stood between me and liberty Concentrating my mind upon the massive look I hurled the nine thought waves against it In breathless expectancy I waited when nally the great door moved softly toward me and slid quietly to one side One after the other the remaining mighty portals opened at my command and Woola and I stepped forth into the darkness freebut little better off than we had been be fore other than that we had full stomachs Hastening away from the shadows of the formidable pile I made for the rst CIOSSI3903d intending to strike the central turn pike as quickly as possible This I reached about morning and entering the rst enclosure I came to I searched for some evi dences of a habitation There were low rambling buildings of concrete barred with heavy impassable doors and no amount of hammering and hal looing brought any response Weary and exhausted from sleep lessness I threw myself upon the ground commanding Woola to Stand guard 39 Some time later I was awakened by his frightful growlings and opened my eyes to see three red Martians standing a short distance from us and covering me with their ri es I am unarmed and no enemy I hastened to explain I have been a prisoner among the green men and am on my way to Zodanga All I ask is food and rest for myself and my calot and the proper directions for reaching my destination 39 it4 126 A rnmcnss or LIABS They lowered their ri es and advanced pleasantly toward me placing their right hands upon my left shoulder after the manner of their custom of salute and asking me many questions about 39 myself and my wanderings They then took me to the house of one of them which was only a short distance away The buildings I had been hammering at in the early morning were occupied only by stock and farm produce the house proper standing among a grove of enormous trees and like all red Martian homes had been raised at night some forty or fty feet from the ground on a large round metal shaft which slid up or down within a sleeve sunk in the ground and was operated by a tiny radium engine in the entrance hall of the building instead of bothering with bolts and bars for their dwellings the red Martians simply run them up out of harm s way during the night They also have private means for lowering or raising them from the ground without if they wish to go away and leave them These brothers with their wives and children occupied three similar houses on this farm They did no work themselves being government officers in charge The labor was performed by con victs prisoners of war delinquent debtors and con rmed bach elors who were too poor to pay the high celibate tax which all redMartian governments impose They were the personi cation of cordiality and hospitality and I spent several days with them resting and recuperating from my long and arduous experiences I When they had heard my story I omitted all reference to Dejah Thoris and the old man of the atmosphere plantthey advised me to color my body to more nearly resemble their own race and then attempt to nd employment in Zodanga either in the army or the navy The chances are small that your tale will be believed until after you have proven your trustworthiness and won friends among the higher nobles of the court This you can most easily do through military service as we are a warlike people on Barsoom explained one of them and save our richest favors for the ghting man 39 When I was ready to depart they furnished me with a small In the Atmosphere Factory 127 domestic bull thoat such as is used for saddle purposes by all red Martians The animal is about the size of a horse and quite gentle but in color and shape an exact replica of his huge and erce cousin of the wilds i 39 The brothers had supplied me with a reddish oil with which I anointed my entire body and one of them out my hair which had grown quite long in the prevailing fashion of the time square atthe back and banged in front so that I could have passed any where upon Barsoom as a full edged red Martian My metal and ornaments were also renewed in the style of a Zodangan gentle man attached to the house of Ptor which was the family name of my benefactors 39 They lled a little sack at my side with Zodangan money The medium of exchange upon Mars is not dissimilar from our own except thatthe coins are oval Paper money is issued by individ uals as they require it and redeemed twice yearly If a man issues more than he can redeem the government pays his creditors in full and the debtor works out the amount upon the farms or in mines which are all owned by the government This suits every body except the debtor as it has been a dif cult thing to obtain su cient voluntary labor to work the great isolated farm lands of Mars stretching as they do like narrow ribbons from pole quotto pole through wild stretches peopled by wild animals and Wilder men When I mentioned my inability to repay them for their kind ness to me they assured me that I would have ample opportunity it I lived long upon Barsoom and bidding me farewell they watched me until I was out of sight upon the broad white turn pike 1 She spent the next few months scavenging the dormitories for stray shreds of rag and bits of lint Then once the surveillance imposed on hervvas eased she sorted her nds pressed them into a ball and crossstitched them together until she had an embryo Secreting it away inside a pillow she entrusted it to the Olmes sisters who set it out in the moonlight to ripen I In the night the old women gathered in the dormitories They pressed close together striving to form one discrete being one sin gle grandmother mumbling magic formulae their bodies massed to form a sort of anthill that they called the incubator At the center of this mound Laetitia Scheidmann and her closest allies ferulized and educated their grandson Those on the outer fringes took it upon themselves to stand guard in the darkness of the extin guished lights Several night nurses ventured into the corridors during this delicate stage of gestation and vvhenthey returned to make their report they were already no longer alive I4 Will Scheidmann Four orquot ve decades later Laetitia Scheidmann presided over the tribunal convened for her grandson s trial This took place onthe high plateaus one of the rare regions of the globe where exile still had some meaning The clouds scudded past eroding the little deserted hills scuffing the ground as they skimmed by accompanied day and night by Whistling by a breathy Asiatic ute by skirling organs N o campground lay within sight and yet the geography of the place offered an unbroken vista stretchingfar into the distance up to a dark line marking the spot where the steppe began to give way to the taiga It had been years since any nomad last drove his herd this way The tribunal convened outdoors in a spot some two hundred meters from the yurts down a trail carved out by the hooves of thelivestock At the center of a small yellowish depression stood a post to which Scheidmann was tied and againstwhich he would be allowed to lean as the sentence was carried out The old women sat or squatted on the grass unhurriedly hearing the case One session followed upon the last tediously since the outcome had been decided long before The trial had been going on since spring Scheidmann was bound by a rope that stretched around his stomach and under his shoulders The rope stank of camel sweat of res fueled With dried dung of fat The skin diseases that had tormented him since childhood had abruptly redoubled in severity and from time to time in the course of the day his I5 39 a39 hands were untied so that he could scratchhimself He spoke in his own defense I 0 Yes it was I who signed the decrees that re established the capitalist system he explained and yes it was I who placed our economy back into the hands of the ma osi And he spread his arms in an attitude of regret that he hoped would work in his favor when it came time for the verdict But the old women sat visibly unmoved by his charades and he let his arms fall to his sides again then said It s a terrible thing to say but for years a great many people had been longing for just that And he paused for afew seconds waiting for the saliva to come back into his mouth after this lie The fact Was that he had consulted no one before taking that step He alone had argued for the return of the exploitation of man by man he was the sole perpetrator of the crime Then he repeated 39quotquot It s a terrible thing to say In the sky the clouds were tearing apart like livid rags ripped gowns trailing scarves and the mists behind them had gone a more uniform leaden gray Very occasionally an eagle appeared not hunting not circling over a nest of marmots but speeding straight ahead migrating toward what was once the region of the camps very likely lured by the promise of a more abundant supply of food The days were Warmer now but the old Women still sat bundled up in their lambskins crosslegged their ri es on their knees smoking in silence as if solely preoccupied with thgargma of the herbs and mushrooms packed into their pipeg Baroque Perilbroideries adorned their lthy overcoats and the palms of their hands and even their cheeks for even now they did not entirely neglect their appearance and some of them here and there had made themselves up with chain stitched needlework And so they sat impassive facing Will Scheidrnann their tanned skin scarcely more wrinkled than a hundred yearold s From time to time Laetitia Scheidmann posed the prisoner a 16 question or urged him to speak freely or more clearly or to be silent for a few hours so that his accusers might re ect onhis case Let me remind you Scheidmann resumed after such an in terruption and as he spoke he peered into their imperturbable faces let me remind you that in the cities there was nothing left standing but vacant buildings and blackened stumps of what once i used to be buildings and that in the forests and countryside we d long since lost count of the regions where the vegetation had gone mauve or lilac or myrtle and let me also remind you that the livrsfdck had beeiijsnd to speak carried off on a wind of death and plague and that you yourselves A sudden gust sti ed his words From the grazing lands the wind brought the braying of camels and an occasional odor of suint Unanimously the jury narrowed their eyes Scheidrnann tried to read the opacity and gray transparence of their stare but he found nothing in his grandmothers eyes He offered them a gaze that they re ised to receive In any case he concluded there was nothing left We had to re establish something The old women shrugged their shoulders They sat lost in the hallucinations of their smoking pipes in memories of union meetings and evenings at the nursing home in the days before capitalisrn s return and also in the calculation of the number of bullets they had left for Will Scheidrnann s execution and in the childhood songs now ooding back into their minds and in their plans for the end of the afternoon milking the evyg gathering their dung setting it out to dry before feeding it to the re tidying up the yurts stirring the curds lighting the ovens making the tea I7 Emilian Bagclathvili We could scarcely see our hands before our faces and someone probably Bagdachvili asked me to open the window Making my way toward the tiny rectangle on one Wall I felt for the latch and pushed it aside rst casually then suddenly leaping back in alarm There was something strange about the feel of the shutters My ngers had sunk straight into the wood A trap asked Bagdachvili urgently I don t know I said The shutters were now beginning to droop The hinges had rusted through and the wood had decayed Light came pouring in as the breach slowly widened The boards fell to the ground with a muf ed crash Outside the cabin there was nothing but dust and at once a red cloud swelled up before the window The dust didn t settle but formed a curtain that billowed and roiled and ponderously writhed concealing the countryside beyond Emilian and Larissa Bagdachvili did not appear to their best advantage in this dim light stippled with orange and carmine gray They looked as if they d been dragged for some distance through bloody clay left in the sun to dry out and crack up and only then endowed with some semblance of human form We were hardly more attractive ourselves By ourselves I mean Sophie Gironde which is to say the woman I love and me We d been following alongside the Bagdachvilis without enthusiasm or pleasure since the entrance to the tu el 18 No way out had been cut from the pine log walls Eifgunf ourselves in a space without doors The only exits were the window and the trap doofby which we d entered On occasion the cab1n s occupant might have climbed through the window to come in or go out but in all likelihood he generally used the tunnel The cabin s occupant answered to the name of Fred Zen He d put an endto his life a few months before We knew little more of him than that I don t recall Bagdachvili ever bringing us together before this operation it was in the tunnel as we felt our way through the darkness that he rst told us of Zen He himself Bagdachvili admitted that his knowledge of Zen was purely second hand distorted and unreliable Fred Zen had lived a dis creet and quiet life mostly in prison where teaching himself from 39 sketchy manuals he d learned a number of exotic languages He wrote short texts of palpable gloominess never having resigned himself to the crumbling of humanism and had thus authored several collections of stories un nished autobiographical and rather mediocre In truth Zen was more a linguist than a creator He preferred dictionaries to novels After his liberation he d come up with the idea of compiling a lexicon of slang terms from the camps This was what he was working on just before his suicide BagdachVili s sources had gone on to mention another specialty of his Wary of the nature of the reality he was forced to inhabit he defended the security of his oneiric realms by laying traps for any intruders who might nd their way in metaphysical ypaper snares for the unwary Bagdachvili scanned the cabin s interior It was almost empty furnished only with a cot a chair and a table A manila folder and two notebooks lay atop the latter As Bagdachvili passed by a series of creaking mechanisms lurched into action pelting him with giant taranm g to him and made themselves unpleasant had they not long since become mummi ed in their lairs Sophie Gironde had never found herself in the presence of a spider without something unfathomable inside her coming to I9 the fore She observed those black reboundings offBagdachvili s legs those black scatterings over the floor and she bit her lip Bagdachvili s sister went and rested her forearm on the win dowsill Little by little the dust cloud was clearing Beyond the young woman s very gray hair the outside lay revealed at last and now we could take in the panorama that Fred Zen surveyed day after day on his return from the camps rustcolored dunes an arid eld a railway line a signalpost atop which someone had rigged a windmill wheel We might as well not have come said Bagdachvili We were all disappointed Bagdachvili had sat down at the table and now he was paging through the notebooks blackened with Zen s handwriting the hand of an ex prisor1er tired and dejected still immature despite the experience of several decades incarceration Scorpions rained down over Bagdachvili s baldmhead from a receptacle concealed in the ceiling For a moment no other sound could be heard than the pages rustling under Bagdachvili s hands and theiquiet patter of arthropods like a faucet dripping into a sink The creatures were inactive inert no doubt dead as well They landed on Bagdachvili or on the table Bagdachvili sent them ying to join the spiders shriveled cadavers Now and then the scorpionscaught in the wool of Bagdachvili s sweater He swiftly detached them never taking his eyes off the pages before him as he brushed them away He was sitting with his back to us After a minute his voice could be heard once more He s only got one slang term for barbed wire he murmured And what is it asked Larissa Her brother made no reply He began a vague shrug of the A shoulders then suddenly froze as if paralyzed We stood motionless as well for some time saying nothing thinking nothing The minutes passed Some of the cadavers on the oor had begun to stir clumsily 20 Their systems might have been reacting to the light or to the odor of crushed int or to the sounds emerging from our mouths Those creatures scrabbling over the oorboards meant nothing good to me Sophie I said I had some di culty speaking Nothing came to my lips but a few scattered phrases of Khmer a language of which I know next to nothing Iwould have liked to come closer to Sophie Gironde to ee to embrace her She d gone off somewhere I don t know where 2I ll Djaliya Solaris Borodine saved the life of a mouse He d always liked mice and it V pleased him to think of saving a life What then transpired showed him that his in uence over the destiny of this world s underdogs was minimal but for the moment at least he d spared the rodent a brief agony that might well have been excrucia ng He pulled it from the jaws of an orange cat He d corneredthefeline in an impasse between the sink and the trash can It was just seven o clock in the morning The kitchen was still submerged in the serenity of the nocturnal hours the hours when nothing happens when everything that lives lies in slumber when things mold and decay away from the light inquota silence troubled only by the old refrigerator s motor going on and off with an agonizing clatter Everything seemed still asleep apart from Borodine and certain animals The cat was fat and silken with plump whitestriped cheeks and an air of utter sovereign disdain for the world It didn t give up without a struggle At rst it eluded Borodine s clutching hand but at last perhaps suddenly visited by a surge of terri ed respect such as humans often inspire in others it abandoned its resistance Under its chin came Borodine s begging hand and the cat casually dropped its gray offering The mouse was quivering wet with spittle and fear and all at once it sank its sharp teeth into one of Borodine s ngers the last phalange of the right index the one nearest its jaws Borodine yelped in protest and clutched the beast all the tighter 28 Now Borodine went out unsure what to do with his captive A moment later he was in the street and then he was on the other side It was autumn the linden trees were yellowing the chestnut trees losing their fruit and most of the swallows had moved on The adult males as well There was far less traffic on the avenues 5 insnmmer As their numbers dwindled the cars had begun to widen for the winter and to change their shape already the steeringwheel was neither on the right nor the left and the driver s seat had migrated with it to the center of the cabin The cars were generally piloted by women with huge eyes and sparkling golden pupils their hair gray or translucent their gaze xed on the road ahead never blinking never smiling lazily veering onto the sidewalk as if they found the controls ever so slightly foreign One of these women braked to a halt just before Borodine ending a fty meter skid Her name was Djaliya Solaris as the plate af xed to the bumper announced The asphalt glistened The car had stopped on the sidewalk a single pace from Borodine A discreet clattering of valves could be heard and the awless purr of the engin he headlights were en crusted with insects the hood bore signs of a recent collision with an owl suggesting that in other circumstances in circumstances oi l ltiner than urban this car could reach a considerable speed The driver stared with intense impassivity at a point somewhere inside Borodine Borodine knew his place in the universe and found it hard to imagine any Contact between hims elf and the woman at the wheel He tried to tell himself a story in which she might gure in which they might both gure some episode of banal or extraordinary complicity but nothing took shape in his mind Women with enormous golden eyes with long translucent hair women who killed owls were not from the same world as he Djaliya Solaris lifted her hand from the wheel in a gesture that to her mind could only express an unambiguous invitation a 29 xv perfectly legible sign Borodine walked around the hood of the car Through the windshield Djaliya Solaris s eyes continued to stare emitting amber waves that he didn t know how to interpret He found himself face to face with that gaze that vibration a secret storm whose rhythm and power he could not comprehend and he lowered his eyes In her face he found too many unknown sentiments unveri able transports of the soul perhaps a certain openness an emotional openness or an irnploring appeal or on the contrary rage or perhaps disgust or an entomological curiosity clinical and cold 39 Unable to reach any certainty on this point Borodine thought of placing himself in mental contact with the mouse struggling in his st and now clawing at the esh of his ngers But there too true communication communion even the very concept of communion withered in the very first second The animal s snout w Fand uninjured nevertheless from thetopof its back where the cat s jaws had clamped down over it a drop of blood oozed Finding itself raised toward its captor s mouth and eyes the mouse wriggled vehemently and fell once again into a feigned coma Poor little idiot thought Borodine 39 Djaliya Solaris pressed a button The window nearest Borodine lowered With a twinge of terror he looked down the deserted avenue then leaned into the opening A ood drifted from the car a perfume of sophora and rosewood Hello Djaliya You don t mind if I call you Djaliya asked Borodine Give me that said Djaliya Solaris Her words were ones that anyone could understand but her intonation was so devoid of decipherable thought that Borodine took fright Thrusting his hand into the opening he dropped the little creature on the seat Djaliya Solaris snatched up the animal exactly oneeleventh of a second after its four tiny paws came to rest on the moleskin then notwastinga moment she sent the window climbing once more toward the roof She seemed to have no irther 30 interest in Borodine Already the car was moving forward already it had advanced by a meter and the front left tire slid elastically off the curb Borodine s story ends there Did Djaliya Solaris strike up a personal relationship with the mouse Did she eat it Did she bring about Borodine s disappearance Did she after a moments thought draw him into the Vehicle And in this latter case did she strike up a personal relationship with him Or did she eat him as well 39 3I if 12 Varvalia Lodenko Varvalia Lodenko laid down her ri e took a deep breath and said Oh mindless men Oh spineless women Before us lies the land of the poor a land whose riches belong only to the rich a planet of ayed earth of forests bled ash dry a planet of lth a vast expanse of lth oceans that only the rich can cross desertsnpolluted by the playthings39ahdquot blunders of the rich we see before us cities whose keys lie in the hands of the multinational ma a circuses whose clowns are controlled by the rich televisions devised for their entertainment and our stulti cation we see before us their great men standing high atop a pedestal that is nothing other than a barrel of bloody sweat shed by the poor or yet to be shed we see before us the glorious stars and all knowing celebrities who for all their much vaunted dissidence never once express any opinion that might in any way undermine the longterm strategies of the rich we see before us their democratic values conceived for their own eternal preservation and our eternal inaction we see before us the democratic machinery that obeys their every bidding and deprives the poor of any meaning il victory we see before us the targets they have singled out for our loathing always subtly with an intelligence far beyond our poor folk understanding and with a gift for duplicitous language that obliterates our poor folllt wisdom we see before us their ght against poverty their assistance to 32 the poor their emergency aid programs we see before us their free distribution of dollars to keep us poor and them rich their dismissive economic theories and their ethic of hard labor and their promise of universal riches to come in twenty generations or twenty thousand years we see before us their omnipresent organizations and their agents of in uence their spontaneous propagandists their in nitely expanding media their heads of family scrupulously faithful to the most luminous principles of social justice as long as their children have a guaranteed place on the right side of the scales we see before us a cynicism so well oiled that the merest allusion to its existence not even an attack on its mechanisms but simply an allusion to its existence 39 ns you to a place of invisible marginality close to madness far from any drum far from any follower I stand before all this in an empty land speaking wordsgthat expose me to insults and condemnation we standquotbefore all this which by rights should stir up a worldwide tempest of rage a pitiless surge of extremism ten decades at least of pitiless reorganization and reconstruction by our own rules free of all religious logic free of the nancial logic of the rich outside their political philosophies without a second thought for the howling of their final watchdogs before all this we have stood for hundreds of years and still we have not found the way to plant the idea of insurrection at the same time and on the same date in the minds of all the billions of poor folk to whom it has never yet occurred how to make it take root and nally ower Let us nd the way to do this then and let usvdo it Here ended Varvalia Lodenko s speech Behind the yurt the ewes began to stir The sound of voices in the darkness had rst disturbed them then lulled them and now it was the silence that reawakened them The old women had lit a re a few meters from ayurt The light of the ames re ected off their tanned skin and glowed in the depths of their eyes staring into the darkness but seeming scarcely open at all It was a magni cent Iune night The constellations could be 33 quot9 read from one horizon to the other and the heat of the day rose up high into the sky up to the quotstars shimmering bringing with it the odors of the steppe while ecks of Wormwood and nocturnal ies brushed our faces Varvalia Lodenko was dressed for travel in a blue silk jacket and a marmot fur chasuble with embroidered trousers donated by Lae this ou small head as if shrunk by a team oflivaros hoping to lend it a less mummi ed look the Olmes sisters had stuffed her cheeks and even her eyelids with rolls of Mongol felt Her limbs had also been reinforced wherever a cr d Her right arm which in case of a confrontation would have to withstand the weight of the ri e and the force of its recoil was encased in bracelets ornamented with crow feathers and bear ir by Marina Koubalghaiquots hand There Varvalia Lodenko sighed That s what I ll say as an introduction S PBG There was a murmur of approval and then silence fell over them again The assembly of crones would now meditate for an hour or two ruminating one last time over Varvalia Lodenko s speech searching for any awkward spots they might have missed before Despite all the care they d collectively lavished on this manifesto they knew they still had time to correct any lingering aws before Varvalia set out into the vast world of misery wordiness for instance or slackness of style over the re She tossed in a twig She was a tiny Woman of wizened appearance and yet if everything went according to plan it was she who would rekindle the spark that would set the plains a re again 34 13 Bella Mardirossicm Suddenly the hens on the seventh floor began to cackle quietly at rst then with hysterical stridence There was somebody coming or maybe a fox or a weasel Still the dog hadn t barked Bella Mardirossian pushed away the dishrags covering her naked body and sat up on the edge of the bed bathed in sweat The light of dawn ltered into the room the rising sun had just begun to vanquish the darkness As was often the case in reality or in her dreams two geckos were watching motionless from the ceiling It was hot and humid in the way that leaves your hands limp that starts a trickle of brine under your arms and over your thighs and makes it hard even to breathe When I say you I am thinking of her Bella Mardirossian and no one else obviously because no one else lived in the towering building where she made her home She hadn t slept well She remembered opening her eyes several times in the silence and suffocating darkness This was how her nights went by from May to October waiting for a coolness and rest that never came Her windowpanes were long gone but there was precious little fresh air ltering through the tight weave of the mosquito nets stretched over the holes Bella Mardirossian rose and stood for some two seconds up right and unclothed She gazed wistfully at the jerry can full of clean water lled the day before from the tap on the third floor in the little apartment she used as her bathroom She would have liked 35 a quick rinse but there was no time The hens raucous cackling urged her to hurry downstairs at once Grudgingly she put on the underwear she d worn the day before and the day before that and then a sleeveless dress she d cut from a brown poplin coat The nonexistence of several buttons left it gaping open at the chest She kept it closed with a piece of string I Downstairs the hens were going wild The cries and clucking had only grown louder in the last few moments Bella Mardirossian pulled on her rubber boots and shut the bedroom door behind her She set off down the hallway then down the first steps This was all happening on the eleventh oor the uppermost one not yet fallen into complete disrepair It had rained the week before The steps made a watery sound beneath her feet She could feel the suction in her legs as if with every step her booted heels were sinking into bloody mud then suddenly pulling free Everywhere everything was wet Water streamed over the walls fedby puddles still stagnating amid the debris on the roof A broken pipe trickled quietly at the bottom of the elevator shaft Broad black pools stood on every landing slowly spreading Two flights irther down Bella Mardirossian heard the distant appeals of her dog from afar from another building that the dog sometimes visited reappearing two weeks later starving and exhausted riddled with vermin its body covered with bites The odor of excrement and poultry was growing The daylight as well 39 After another two ights of stairs she stood before the hen coops The hens were ying this way and that crashing together stirring up clouds of stench and pestilence She could see their frenzied eyes through the bars their twitching tails their graceless wings They showed every sign of an inexplicable terror The roosts rocked back and forth encrusted with droppings Dirty feathers sank or oated to the floor landing gently amid the guano or suddenly caught up in a fresh whirlwind Three eggs had 36 1 I I j quot V E 32 12 39 been broken but there was no sign of blood or of bodies The hypothesis of invading predators quickly faded from her mind and a prowler remained only a very remote possibility For more than a year no newcomer had appeared in the city What if iris Enzo Bella Mardirossian suddenly asked herself Maybe he s managed to reconstitute himself Maybe he s found a way to come join me Enzo she whispered Without much hope she peered through the broken elevator door then into the front hall of apartmentyoz where a number of coops had been set up and where someone might have been ableto conceal himself if necessary The hens were no quieter than before No one answered her calls The little window at the end of the hall had been enlarged one day witha pick and mattock leaving a gaping hole halfway up the wall Outside the sun was slowly emerging into the world Bella Mardirossian went tostand in the light opening her eyes to revel in the dazzling brightness then closing them again She couldn t stop wondering Maybe it s Enzo s ghost trying to appear to me She stood before the landscape not looking at it before the magni cent sun before the empty ruins before the towering facades standing black in the morning silence before the expanse of debris like some megalopolis after the end of civilization and even of barbarisrn before the memory of Enzo Mardirossian before that equally dazzling memory Brickred spots oated lazily under her eyelids As every day she thought of throwing herself into the abyss There was really nothing rational holding her back Enzo she murmured Enzo Mardirossian Little brother I need you so I miss you I miss you so 37 Iwas leaning against the bar in a speakeasy on Fiftysecond Street waiting for Nora to her Christmas shopping when a girl got up from the table where she had been sitting with three other people and came over to me She was small and hlonde and whether you looked at her ee or at her body in powderblue sports clothes the result was satisfactory Aren t you Nick Charles she asked I said Yes 0 She held out her hand I m Dorothy Wynant You don t to quot member me but you ougn to remember my father Clyde Wynant You I Surequot I said and I remember you now but you were only a kid of eleven or twelve then wererft you Yes that was eigrt years ago Listen remember those stories you told me WereIhey mic Probably not How is your father She laugaed I was going to ask you Manama divorced him you know and we never hear from himexcept when he gets in 5 the newspapers now and then with some of his carryings on Don t you ever see him My quotglass was empty I asked her what she would have to drink n u l v 1 of s 9 2 I 39 3939 st W 139 quot 1 1 so 5 L391 7quot quot s 391 Ia quot h H 3 A 39 I r I 1 l M o 3 3 5 25 quot 39quot 35 3 Z5 5 3 52 quotquot P1 3 J 31 gig 1 1 V i 3390 39 399 3911 A 9 g 9 39 r 3 1 I v I 39e go if I Ct p 4 2 L 39quot J a 3 r 39 3 cs 39 5 er a 1 J Te 2 LI 39 5 I w V I5 9 err is L ah 4 39 3 g I L n 4397 41 7 gt u r M 139 145 A J W3 3 I 3 39 aw 39 4 to ea e rquot quot s 4 DASPHELI HAIVIIVIETT she said Scotch and soda I ordered two of them and said No I ve been liyirtg in San Francisco slowly I d like to see him Marnma would raise hell c she pf it out but is like to see him 39 e He s not where we used to live on Riverside Drive and he s trot ia the phone book or city directory lWl39i39 his lawyerquot I suggested Her irece brightened Who is he It used to be a fellow named Maosomethingor other that s it Herbert Macaulay He was in the Singer Build 1 x z me a rzielte she said and went out to the telephone y e hack smiling I found him He s just round the corner on p Avenuequot Your father The lawyer He says my fathers out of town I m going round to see him She raised her glass to me Family teunidi1quots397Look wiay doift 0A jumped up and punched me in the belly with her front Ieet Nora at the other erid of the leash said She s had a swell aftemoon knocked over a table of toys at Lord amp Taylor39s scared a o woman silly by licking her leg in Saks s and s been patted by P policemen satede introductions My wife Dorothy Wynant Her father m ooze a client of mine when she was only so high A good guy if was fascinated by him Dorothy said meaning me a real llere deeemhze and used to follow him around making him tell me experiences He told me awful lies but I believed every vaord I D You look tired Nora I Letls down P p said she had to go back to her table She shook ds 4 Nora We must drop in for cocktails they were THE THIN MAN 5 5 living at the Courtland her mother s name W35 l0139 T1553 11 W We would be glad to and she must come see us some time we were at the Namandie and would he in New York for another week or two Dorothy patted the dog s head and left us We found is table Nora said She s pretty lf you like them like thatquot She grinned at me You got types 39 i H nly you darlinglanky brunettes Wltll wlcked jaws Quinns last niglmt etchings And how axhout the redhead you wandered oil with at the That s silly I said She just waited to show me some French U 11l t li Vquot T 39 tf t j at Qtagrgl I 0xK T was a wrong3g at started it the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not Much later when he was able to think about the things that happened to him he would conclude that n e except chance But that was much later In the beginning there was simply the event and its consequences Whether it might have turned out differently or whether it was all predetermined with the first word that carne fromquot the stranger s mouth is not the question The question is the storyitself and whetheggliot it means something is not for the story to tell I As for Quinn there is little that need detain us Who he was where he came from and what he did are of no great i importance We knew for example that he was quotthirty ve years F oid We know that he had once been married had once been a father and that both his wife and son were now dead We also know that he wrote books To be precise we know that he wrote mystery novels These works were written under the name of William Wilson and he produced them at the rate of about one a 94 year which brought in enough money for him to live modestly in K a sn1ailNew York apartment Because he spent no more thanfive or six months on a novel for39the rest of the year he wasqfreeto do as he wished He read many books he looked at paintings he went to the movies In the summer he watched baseballpon television in the winter he wentto the opera Morethan 1r 4 THENEW YoaK TRILOGY aelse however what he liked to do was walk Nearly every day rain or shine hot or cold he would leave his apartment to walk through the city never really going anywhere but simply going wherever his legs happened to take him New York was an inexhaustible space a labyrinth of endless steps and no matter how far he walked no matter how well he came to know its neighborhoods and streets it always left him with the feeling of being lost Eiost not only in the city but within lthimself as well Each time he took a walk he felt as though he were leaving himself behind and by giving himself up to the movement of the streets by reducing himself to at seeing eye he was able to escape the obligation to think and this more than anything else brought him a measure of peace a salutary empti ness within The world was outside of him around him before 139 him and the speed with which it kept changing made it irnpossi 39 hole for him to dwell on any one thing for very long Motionwas of the essence the act of putting one foot in front of theother and allowing himself to follow the drift of his own body By wandering aimlessly all places became equal and it no longer mattered where he wasQn his best walks he was able to feel that he rwas nowhere And this finally was all he ever asked of things Lto be nowhere New York was the nowhere he had built around himself and he realized that he had no intention of ever leaving I it again In the past Quinn had been more ambitious As a young man he had published several books of poetry had written plays critical essays and had worked on a number of long translations But quite abruptly he had given up all that A part of him had died he told his friends and he did not want it coming back to haunt him It was then that he had taken on the name of William Wilson Quinn was no longer that part of him thatcould write CITY or cLAss 5 books and although in many wa continued to exist he K nplonger existed for anyone but himself He had continued to write because it was the only thing he felt he could do Mystery novels seemed a reasonable solution He had little trouble inventing the intricate stories they required and he wrote well often in spite of himself as if without having to make an effort Because he did not consider himself to be the 39 author of what he wrote he did not feel responsible for itand therefore was not compelledto defend it in his heart William Wilson after all was an invention and even though he had been born within Quinn himself he now led an independent life it Quinn treatedghim with deference at times even admiration but he never went so far as to believe that he and WilliamWilson were the same man it was for this reason that he did not emerge om behind the mask of his pseudonym He had an agent but they had never met Their contacts were confined to the mail for which purpose Quinn had rented a numbered box at the post o ice The same was true of the publisher whopaid allifees 111011185 and royalties to Quinn through the agent 39 No book by 39 William Wilson ever includedan author s photograph or biograph ical note William Wilson was not listed in any writers directory39 he did not give interviews and the letters he receivedwere answered by his agent s secretary As far as Quinn could tell no one knew his secret in the beginning when his friends learned that he had given up writing they would ask him how hewas planning to live He told them all the same thing that he had inherited a trust fund from his wife But the fact was that his wife had never had any money And the fact wasithat he no longer had any friends 0a lthadl been more than five years now He did not think about his son very much anymore and only receiifly he had 4 am is THE NEW roar TRILOGY removed the photograph of his wife from the wall Every once in a while he would suddenly feel what it had been like to hold the threeyearold boy in his arms but that was not exactly thinking nor was it even remembering It was a physical sensation an aimprint of the past that hadbeen left in his body and he had no control over it These moments came less often now and for the most part it seemed as though things had begun to change for him He no longer wished to be dead At the same time it cannot be said that he was glad to be alive But at least he did not resent it He was alive and the stubbornness of this fact had little by little begun to fascinate liim as if he had managed to outlive himself as if he were somehow living a posthumous life He did not sleep with the lamp on anymore and for many months now he had not remembered any of his dreams 39 It was night Quinn lay in bed smoking a cigarette listening to the rain beat against the window He wondered when it would stop and whether he would feel like taking a long walkor a short walk in the quotmorning An open copy of Marco Polo s Travels lay face down on the pillow beside him Since nishing the latest William Wilson novel two weeks earlier he had been languishing His privateeye narrator Max Work had solved an elaborate series of crimes had su ered through a number of beatings and narrow escapes and Quinn was feeling somewhat exhausted by his efforts lOver the years Work had become very close to VQuinn Whereas William Wilson remained an absnact figure for him Work had increasingly come to life In the triad of selves that Quinn had become Wilson served as a kind of ventriloquist Quinn himself was the dummy and Work was the animated voice 39 Lthat gave purpose to the enterprise If Wilson was an illusion he nevertheless justified the lives of the other two if Wilson did not CITY OFIGLASSA 7 exist he nevertheless was the bridge that allowed to pass from himself into Work And little by little Work had become a presence in Quinn s life his interior brother his comrade in solitude 39 i W Quinn picked up the Marco Polo and started reading the first page again We will set down things seen as seen things heard as heard so that our book may be an accurate record free from A any Sort of fabrication And all who read this book or hear it may do so with full con dence because it contains nothing but the nuth Just as Quinn was beginning to ponder the meaning of these sentences to turn their crisp assurances overuinr his mind the telephone rang Much later when he was able to reconstruct the events of that night he would rememberi1039kjng at the iclogk 5931113 that it was past twelve and wondering why someone should be calling him at that hour More than likely he thought it was bad news He climbed out of bed walked naked to the telephone and picked up the receiver on the second ring C 1 7 Yes 39 Iquot There was a long pause on the other end and for a moment Quinn thought the caller had hung up Then as if from a great i distance there came the sound of a voice unlike any he had ever heard it was at once mechanical and lled with feeling hardly I i more than a whisper and yet perfectly audible and quotso even in 39 tone that he was unable to P if it belonged to a man or a woman Hello said the voice Who is this askedQuinn39 Hello said the voice again l rn listening said Quinn Who is this Is this Paul Auster asked the voice I would like to flu 3 f speak to Mr Paul Huster There s no one here by that name i quot 39 a 4 quot 39 39 n THE NEW YORK TRILOGY Paul Auster Of the Auster Detective Agency I m sorry said Quinn You must have the wrong number This is amatter quotof utmost urgency said the voice There s nothing I can do for you said Quinn There is no Paul Auster here I You don t understand said the voice Time is running out Then I suggest you dial again This is not a detective agency Quinn hung up the phone He stood there on the cold oor looking down at his feet his knees his limp penis For a brief moment he regretted having been so abrupt with the caller It might have been interesting he thought to have played along with him a little Perhaps he could have found out something about the case perhaps even have helped in some way I must learn to think more quickly on my feet he said to himself fl Like most people Quinnknew almost nothing about crime He had never murdered anyone had never stolen anything and he did not know anyone who had He had never been inside a police station had never met a private detective had never spoken to a criminal Whatever he knew about these things he had learned from books lms and newspapers He did not however consider this to be a handicap What interested him about the stories he wrote was not their relation to the worldquot but their relation to other stories Even before he became William Wilson Quinn had been a devoted reader of mystery novels He knew thatmost of them were poorly written that most could not stand up to even the vaguest sort of examination but still it was the form that appealed to him and it was the rare unspeakably bad mystery that he would refuse to read Whereas his taste in your or cuss 9 other books was rigorous demanding to the point of narrow mindedness with these works he showed quotalmost no discrimina tion whatsoever When he was in the right mood he had little trouble reading ten or twelve of them in a row It was a kind of hunger that tookhold of him a craving for a special food and he would not stop until he had eaten his ll What he liked about these books was their sense of pleni tude and economy In ithe good mystery there is nothing wasted39 no sentence no word that is not significant And even if it39 is not signi cant it has the potential to be so which amounts to the same thing The world of the book comes to life seething with possibilities with secrets and contradictions Since everything seen or said even the slightest most trivial thing can bear a connection to the outcome of the story nothing must be over looked Everything becomes essence the cen 7 39 I 39 with each event that propels it forward The center then is everywhere and no circumference can be drawn until the book has come to its end The detective is quotone who looks who listens who moves 39 through this morass of objects and events in search of the thought 39 the idea that will pullall these things together and make sense of them In e ect the writer and the detective are interchangeable The reader sees the world through the detective s eyes experienc ing the proliferation of details as if for the rst time He has 39 become awake to the things around him as if they might speak to him as if because of the attentiveness he now brings to them they might begin to carry a meaning other than the simple fact of their existence Private eye The term held a triple meaning for Quinn Not only was it the letter i 39 standing for investigator it was I in the upper case the tiny lifebudburied in the body of the breathing self At the same time it was also the physical 10 THE NEW YORK TRILOGY eye of the writer the eye of the man who looks out from himselfquot into the world and demands that the world reveal itself to him For five years now Quinn had been living in the grip of this pun He had of course long ago stopped thinking of himself as real if he lived now in the world at all it was only at one remove through the imaginary person of Max Work His detec tive necessarily hadto be real The nature of the books demanded it If Quinn had allowed himself to vanish to withdrawinto the con nes of a strange and hermetic life Work continued to live in the world of others and the more Quinn seemed to vanish the more persistent Work s presence in that world became Whereas Quinn tended to feel out of place in his own skin Work was aggressive quicktongued at home in whatever spot he happened to nd himself The very things that caused problems for Quinn Work took for granted and he walked through the mayhem of his adventures with an ease and indi erence that never failed to impress his creator It was not precisely that Quinn wanted to be Work or even to be like him but it reassured him to pretend to be Work as he was writing his books to know that he had it in him to be Work if he ever chose to be even if only in I mind That night as he at last drifted off to sleep Quinn tried to imagine what Work would have said to the stranger on the phone in his dream which he later forgot he found himself alone in a room ring a pistol into a bare white wall The following night Quinn was caught 05 guard He had thought the incident was over and was not expecting the stranger to call again As it happened he was sitting on the toilet in thequot act of expelling a turd when the telephone rang it was somewhat later than the previous night perhaps ten or twelve minutes I before one Quinn had just reached the chapter that tells of Marco Polo s journey from Peking to Amoy and the book was open on his lap as he went about his business in the t1ny bathroom The ringingof the telephone came as a distinct irritation To answer it quotpromptly would mean getting up without wiping hims lfa nd hf was loath to walk across the apartment in that state On the other hand if he finished what he was doing at his normal speed he would not make it to the phone in time in spite of this Quinn found himself reluctant to move The telephone was not his favorite object and more than once he had considered getting rid of his What he disliked most of all was its tyranny Not only did it have the power to interrupt him against his will but inevitably he would give in to its command This time he decided to resist By the third ring his bowels were empty By the fourth ring he had succeeded in wiping himself By the fifth ring he had pulled up his pants left the bathroom and was walking calmly across the apartment He answered the phone on the sixth ring but there was no one at the other end The caller had hung up The next night he was ready Sprawled out on his bed perusing the pages of The Sporting News he waited for thg stranger to call a third time Every now andthen when hls nerves got the better of him he would stand up and pace about the apartment He put on a recordllaydn s opera Il Mondo della Luna and listened to it from start to nish He waited waited At twothirty he nally gave up and went to sleep He waited the next night and the night afterquot that as well Just as he was about to abandon his scheme realizing that he had been wrong in all his assumptions the telephone rang again It was May nineteenth He would remember the date because it W35 his parents anniversa1y or would have been had 1115 Parents been alive and his mother had once told him that he had beenquot cur OFGLASS 11 lald quotquot fp 39 pitin39lquot l T 12 THE NEW YORK TRILOGY conceived on her wedding night This fact had always appealed to him being able to pinpoint the first moment ofquot his existence and over the years he had privately celebrated his birthday on that day This time it was somewhat earlier than on the other two nights not yet eleven o clock and as he reached fortthe phone he assumed it was someoneelse Hello he said 39 Again there was a silence on the other end Quinn knew at once that it was the stranger Hello he said again What can i do for you Yes said the voice at last The same mechanical whisper the same desperate tone Yes It is needed now Without delay What is needed T To speak Right now To speak right now Yes And who do you want to speak to Always the same man Auster The one whoquot calls himself Paul Auster This time Quinn did not hesitate He knew what he was going to do and now that the time had come he did it Speaking he said This is Auster speaking At last At last l ve found you He could hear the relief in the voice the tangible calm that suddenly seemed to overtake it That s right said Quinn At last He paused for a moment to let the words sink in as much for himself as for the a other What can I do for you I need help said the voice There is great danger They say you are the best one to do these things It dependsion what things you mean I mean death I mean death and murder That s not exactly my line said Quinn I don t go around killing people i T e CITYOFGLASS 13 4N0 iv Saidthe mice petula tly 1 mean the reverse Someone is going to kill you 5 Yes kill me That s right I am going to be murdered And you want me to protect you 39 To protect me yes And to nd the man who 15 50135 i to do it You don t know who it is I i know yes Of course I know But I dont know where he is Can you tell me about it I Not now Not on the phone There is great danger You T must comehere T How about tomorrow Good Tomorrow Early tomorrow In the morning Ten o clock Good Ten o clock The voice gave an address 0I1EaSt 69th Street Don t forget Mr Auster39You must come 39 T V Boft worry said Quinn I ll be there i 74err Pe 9quot 5VML ii I Veldt to scrub to fields to farms to these first tumbling houses that rise from the earth It has been night for a long time The hovels that encrust the river s edge have grown like mushrooms around me in the dark We rock We pitch in a deep current Behind me the man tugs uneasily at his rudder and the barge cor rects Light lurches as the lantern swings The man is afraid of me I lean out from the prow of the small vessel across the darkly moving water Over the engine s oily rumble and the caresses of the river small soifnds house sounds are building Timbers whisper and the wind 39 strokes thatch walls settle and oors shift to ll space the tens of houses have become hundreds thousands they spread backwards from the banks and shed light from all across the plain They surround me They are growing They are taller and fatter and noisier their roofs are slate their walls are strong brick The river twists and turns to face the city It looms suddenly mas sive stamped on the landscape Its light wells up around the sur rounds the rock hills like bruiseblood Its dirty towers glow I am debased I am compelled to worship this extraordinary presence that silted into existence at the conjunction of two rivers It is a vast pollutant a stench a klaxon sounding Fat chimneys retch dirt into the sky even now in the deep night It is not the current which pulls us but the city itsel its weight sucks us in Faint shouts here and there the calls of beasts the obscene clash and pounding from the factories as huge machines rut Railways trace urban anatomy like protruding veins Red brick and dark walls squat churches like troglodytic things ragged awnings flickering cobbled mazes in the old town culs de sac 2 China Mi ville sewers riddling the earth like secular sepulchres wasteground crushed stone l l 39 i ho5Pitallt t0391 V l39l7l0ClClt jail 16 M185 lfal with forgo m Volumes Old a 3 s s an meta c aws th Mzargr at Mt cargoes from the How co ld 1 39 u we not see this approaching IVhgt mck Oftqpogmphy is this that lets the 9 39 Pmwlina monster hide b at the traveller O ehmd Comer to leap out It is too late to flee The man murmurs to me tells me where we are I d onotturnt 39 Th 15 RQVBHJS Gate this brutalized warren around us Tliehiblil ting buildings lean a 39 39 35117751 each Other exhausted The r iver smears slime on its brick banks city walls 39 Water at bay Them is a we sti k heen from the depths to hold the I wonder how this looks from above no chancefor th 1 t hide then ifyou cam t t 39 l I 6 C1 y 0 and miles away like ii adult on the Wind you would See It om mile9 JV Sttleatg like a slab of carrion thronging W l7l 33 01 5 I should not think like this but I t I could ride the u dra th t Ewing 30 now I d 5 Q the Cl m 3 5 Vent Sail high over the prou towers ana shit on the earthbound ride the chao l h I 530056 I must not think like this I must not d th 395 a 1g tjwhere 0 is now me 7 OP H02 HOW not this notyer 5 Here there are houses which dribble pale dmbmg that nears E I mucus an organic 5i0l399Js are reriilered inaihbamllles lid 00255 from LOP Wmd0W Extra c houses and dead end alle Th Ml we muck which lls gaps between s bcwax h 7 5 mdscape I5 defaced with ripples as as melted and set suddenly across the roofto s S h 39 telligence has made these human streets their o P 39 mm or 61 ml wn lWres are stretch d t l7 lk 9 Ight across the river and the eaves held fast y mi y aggregates of phlegm They ham like bass Sm1 8 h scuttles overhead The bargeman hawks foul t th gs omet mg in 0 His gob dissipates The mass of spittlemditar ab 6 Water row streets emergequot We 61755 NWquot A train whistles as it crosses the river before it 39 d k look to in to the South d s on raise trac s I away and be swallowetflub p eglthslgemg the me Ofzmle lights rush is o 39 citizens We will Pass thea t lilo t gmLCthI5 behemoth that eats its c ories soon ranes rear from the gloom a new landscape of V 39 39 a aw 392 Perdido Street Station 3 like spindly birds here and there they move to keep the skeleton crews the midnight crews in their work Chains swing deadweight like use less limbs snapping into zombie motion where cogs engage and fly wheels turn I Fat predatory shadows prowl the sky g There is a boom a reverberation as if the city has a hollow core The black barge putters through a mass of its fellows weighed down iagith coke and wood and iron and steel and glass The water here re flects the stars through a stinking rainbow of impurities e luents and chymical slop making it sluggish and unsettling Oh to rise above this to not smell this lth this dirt this dung to not enter the city through this latrine butI must stop I must I cannot go on I must 39 I The engine slows I turn and watch the man behind me who averts his eyes and steers afecting to look through me He is taking us in to dock there behind the warehouse so engorged its contents spill out beyond the buttresses in a labyrinth of huge boxes He picks his way between other craft There are roofs emerging from the river A line of sunken houses built on the wrong side of the wall pressed up against the bank in the water their bituminous black bricks dripping Disturbances beneath us The river boils with eddies from below Dead sh and frogs that have given up the ght to breathe in this rot ting stew of detritus swirl antic between the flat side of the barge and the concrete shore trapped in choppy turmoil The gap is closed My captain leaps ashore and ties up His relief is draining to see He is wittering gru ly in triumph and ushering me quickly ashore and away and I alight as slowly as if onto coals picking my way through the rubbish and the broken glass He is happy with the stones I have given him I am in Smog Bend he tells me and I make myself look away as he points my direction so he will not know I am lost thatI am new in the city that I am afraid of these dark and threatening edi ces of which I cannot kick free that I am nauseous with claustrophobia and foreboding A little to the south two great pillars rise from the river The gates to the Old City once grandiose now psoriatic and ruined The carved histories that wound about those obelisks have been e aced by time and acid and only roughcast spiral threads like those of old screws 4 China Mi vi e remain Behiricl them a low bridge Brad Crossing he says I ignore the man s eager explanations and walk away through this lime bleachetl zorie past yawning doors that promise the comfort of trite clarlc aricl an escape from the river stench The hargematz is just a tiny voice now and it is a small pleasure to know I will never see him again I It is not cold A city light is promising itself in the east I will follow the trainlirzes I will stalk in their shadow as they pass by over the houses and towers and barracks and ojjices and prisons of the city I will track them from the arches that anchor them to the earth I rmast rzcl my way in My cloak heavy cloth unfamiliar and painful on my skin tags at me and I can feel the weight of my purse That is what protects the here that and the illasiorz I have fostered the som39ceofmysorrow and in shame the an uish that has hroii ht me to this reat weri this J S 839 3 dusty city dreamed up in bone and brick a conspiracy ofintlastry and violence steeped in history and l7 Zfl39 tZ ClCl0W I power this liacllarzcl heyoml my lcerz New Crohiizori quot39 quotP quot I6 Titus Groan Ah said Rottcodd I see your point Mr Flay But his lordship was not dying 39 No said Mr Flay he was not dying but teeth lengthen and he strode rs with long slow heronlike paces and the dust rose behind him When it had settled Rottcodd could see his angular parchmentcoloured head leaning itself against the lintel of the window Mr Flay could not feel entirely satis ed with his answer to Rottcodd s question covering the reason for his appearance in the Hall of the Bright Carvings As he stood there by the window the question repeated itself to him again and again Why Rottcodd Why on earth Rottcodd And yet he knew that directly he heard of the birth of the heir when his dour nature had been stirred so violently that he had found himself itching to communicate his enthusiasm to another being from that moment Rottcodd had leapt to his mind Never of a communicative or enthusiastic nature he had found it dii cult even under the emotional stress of the advent to inform Rottcodd of the facts And as has been remarked he had surprised even himself not only for having unburdened himself at all but for having done so in so short a time He turned and saw that the Curator was standing wearily by the Piebald Shark his small cropped round head moving toiaiid fro like a 39 bird s and his hands clasped before him with the feather duster between his ngers He could see that Rottcoddawas politely waiting for him to go Altogether Mr Flay was in a peculiar state of mind He was surprised at Mr Rottcodd for being so unimpressed at the news and he was surprised at himself for having brought it He took from his pocket a vast watch of silver and heldit horizontally on the flat of his palm Must go he said awkwardly Do you hear me Rottcodd I must go Good of you to call said Rottcodd Will you sign your name in the visitors book as you go out 39 No Not a visitor Flay brought his shoulders up to his ears Been 39 with lordship thirtyseven years Sign a book he added contemptuously and he spat into a far corner of the room As you wish said Mr Rottcodd It was to the section of the visitors book devoted to the staff that I was referring 39 No said Flay As he passed the curator on his way to the door he looked carefully at him as he came abreast and the question rankled Why The castle was lled with the excitement of the nativity All was alive with conjecture There was no control Rumour swept through the strong hold Everywhere in n d5i mitory and hall it was t e same Why had he chosen the dd And then in a ash he realized He must have subconsciously known that the news would be new tono one else 39 C w 0 l 1 l a 2 Titus Cram 1 7 that Rottcodd was virgin soil for his message Rottcodd the curator who l1VCCl alone among the Bright Carvings was the only one on whom he could vent the tidings without jeopardizing his sullen dignity and to whom although the knowledge would give rise to but little enthusiasm it would at least belnew 39 Having solved the problem in his mind and having realized in a dulhsh way that the conclusion was particularly mundane and unin spired and that there was no question of his soul calling along the corridors and up the stairs to the soul of Rottcodd Mr Flay in a thin straddling manner moved along the passages of the north wing and down the curve of stone steps that led to the stone quadrangle feeling the while a curious disillusion a sense of having suffered a loss of dignity and a feeling of being thankful that his visit to Rottcodd had been unobserved and that Rottcodd himself was well hidden from the world in the Hall of the Bright Carvings THE GREAT KITCHEN 5 As Flay passed through the servants arch1vay and descended the twelve steps that led into the main corridor of the kitchen quarters he became aware of an acute transformation of mood The solitude of Mr Rbttcodd s sanctum which had been lingering in his mind was violated Here among the stone passages were all the symptoms of nbald excitement Mr Flay hunched his bony shoulders and with his hands in his jacket pockets dragged them to the front so that only the black cloth divided his clenched sts The material was stretched as though it would split at the small of his back He stared mirthlessly to right and left and then advanced his long spidery legs cracking as he shouldered his way through a heaving group of menials They were guffawmg to each other coarsely and one of them evidently the wit was contorting his face as pliable as putty into shapes that appeared to be independent of the skull if indeed he had a skull beneath that elastic esh Mr Flay pushed past i The corridor was alive Clusters of aproned gures mixed and disengaged Some were singing Some were arguing and some were draped against the wall quite silent from exhaustion their hands dangling from their wrists or flapping stupidly to the beat of some kitchen catchsong Il1e clamour was pitiless Technically this was more the spirit which Flay liked to see or at all events thought to be more appropriate to the occasion Rottcodd s lack of enthusiasm had cQ 7LlS Golet I8 I Titus Groan shocked him and here at any rate the traditional observance of felicity at the birth of an heir to Gormenghast was being observed But it would have been impossible for him to show any signs of enthusiasm himself when surrounded by it in others Asquot he 3939moved along the crowded corridor and passed in turn the dark passages that led to the slaughter house with its stench of fresh blood the bakeries with their sweet loaves and the stairs that led down to the wine vaults and the 1 network of the castle cellars he felt a certain satisfaction at seing how many of the roysterers staggered aside to let him pass for his station as retainerinchief to his Lordship was commanding and his sour mouth and the frown that had made a permanent nest upon his jutting forehead were a warning 39 It was not often that Flay approved of happiness in others He saw in happiness the seeds of independence and in independence the seeds of revolt But on an occasion such as this it was different for the spirit of convention was being rigorously adhered to and in between his ribs Mr Flay experienced twinges of pleasure He had come to where on his left and halfway along the servants corridor the heavy wooden doors of the Great Kitchen stood ajar Ahead of him narrowing in dark perspective for there were no windows the rest of the corridor stretched silently39iaiVayquot It had no doors on either side and at the far end it was terminated by a wall of ints This useless passagewas as might be supposed usually deserted but Mr Fla t several gures were lying stretched in the shadows At the same time he was momentarily deafened by a great bellowing and clattering and stamping As Mr Flay entered the Great Kitchen the steaming airless concen tration of a ghastly heat struck him He felt that his body had received a blow Not only was the normal sickening atmosphere of the kitchen augmented by the sun s rays streaming into the room at various points through the high windows but in the riot of the festivities the res had been banked dangerously But Mr Flay realized that it was right that this should be as insufferable as it was He even realized that the four grillers who were forcing joint after joint between the metal doors with their clumsy boots until the oven began to give under theimmoderate 39 strain were in key with the legitimate temper of the occasion The fact that they had no idea what they were doing nor why they were doing it was irrelevant The Countess had given birth was this a moment for rational behaviour The walls of the vast room which were streaming with calid moisture were built with grey slabs of stone and were the personal concern of a company of eighteenrnen known as the Grey Scrubbers It had been their privilege on reaching adolescence to discover that being the sons of their fathers their careers had been arranged for them and that Tim Green stretching ahead of them lay their identical lives consisting of an unirnaginative if praiseworthy duty This was to restore each morning to the great grey floor and the lofty walls of the kitchen a stainless complexion On every day of the year from three hours before daybreak until about eleven o clock when the scaffolding and ladders became a hindrance to the cooks the Grey Scrubbers ful lledquot theirhereditary calling Through the character of their trade theirarms had become unusually powerful and when they let their huge hands hang loosely at their sides there was more than an echo of the simian Coarse as these men appearedthey were an integral part of the Great Kitchen Without the Grey Scrubbers something very earthy very heavy very rgal would be missing to anysociologist searching in that steaming room for the czlrnpletion of a C1I39ClC of temperaments a gamut of the lower human v ues Through daily proximity to the great slabs of stone the faces of the Grey Scrubbers had become like slabs themselves There was no expression whatever upon the eighteen faces unless the lack of quot expression is in itself an expression They were simply slabs that the Grey Scrubbers spokefrom occasionally stared from incessantly heard with hardly ever They were traditionally deaf The eyes were there small and at as COIIIS and the colour of the walls themselves as though during the long hours of professional staring the grey stone had at last reflected itself indelibly once and for all Yes the eyesquot were there thirty SIX of them and the eighteen noses were there and the lines of the mouths that resembled the harsh cracks that divided the stone slabs they were there too Although nothing physical was missingfrom any one of their eighteen faces yet it would be impossible to perceive the faintest sign of animation and even if a basinful of their features had been shaken together and if each feature had been picked out atrandorn and stuck upon some dummyhead of wax at any capricious spot or angle1t would have made no difference for even the most fantastic the most ingenious of arrangements could not have tempted into life a design whose component parts were dead In all counting the cars which on occasion may be monstrously expressive the one hundred and eight features were unable at the best of times to muster between them individually or taken an mama the faintest shadow of anything that might hint at the workings of what lay beneath Having watched the excitement developing around them in the Great Kitchen and being unable to comprehend what it was all about for lack ofhearing they had up to the last hour or two been unable to enter into that festive spirit which quothad attacked the very heart and bowels of the kitchen staff K But here and now on this day of days cognizant at last of the arrival of the new Lord theeighteen Grey Scrubbers were lying side by side row under the table one byone like so many barrels of ale as Titus Graan 0 tones beneath a great table dead drunk to a man They done honour to the occasion and were out of the picture having U hay wcc 39 d origh the clamour of the voices in the Great Kitchen that rose PR that changed tempo and lingered until a strident rush or a wheezy slide of sound came to a new pause only to be shattered by a hideous croak of laughter or a thrilled whisper or a clearing of some coarse throat through all this thick and interwoven skeinof bedlam the ponderous snoring of the Grey Scrubbers had continued as a recognizable theme of dolorous persistence 39 t In favour of the Grey Scrubbers it must be said that 111 was not until the walls and floor of the kitchen were shining from their exertions that they attacked the bungs as though unweaned But it was not only they who had succumbed The same unquestionable proof of loyalty could be observed in no less than forty members of the kitchen who like the Grey Scrubbers recognizing the bottle as the true medium through which to externalize their affection for the family of Groan were seeing visions and dreaming dreams Mr Flay wiping away with the back pf his claw like hand the perspiration that had already gathered on his browvallowedquothis eyes to remain a moment on the inert and foreshortened bodies of the inebriate Grey Scrubbers Their heads were towards him and were cropped to a gungrey stubblequot Beneath the table a shadoiihad roosted and the rest of their bodies receding in parallel lines were soon devoured in the darkness At rst glance he had been reminded of nothing so much as a row of curledup hedgehogs and it was some time before he realized that he was regarding a line of prickly skulls When he had satis ed himself on this point his eyes travelled sourly around the Great Kitchen Everything was confusion but behind the 0 of the shifting gures and the temporary chaos of overturned mixing tables of the floor littered witlistockpots basting pans l and dishes aylti oddments of food Mr Flay could see the main xtures in the room and keep them in his mind as a means of reference for the kitchen swam before his eyes in a claniniy mist Divided by the heavy stone wallln which was situated a hatch of strong timber was the gardemanger with its stacks of cold meat and hanging carcases and on the inside of the wallthe spit On a xed table running along a length of the wall were huge bowls capable of holding fty portions The stock pots were perpetually simmering having boiled over and the floor aboutthem was a mess of sepia uid and eggshells that had been oating in the pots for the purpose of clearing the soup The sawdust that was spread neatly over the floor each morning was by now kicked into heaps and soaked in the splashings of wine And where scattered about the oor 39 Titus Gratin 39 2 I little blobs of fat had been rolled or trodden in the sawdust stuck to them giving them the appearance of rissoles Hanging along the dripping walls were rows of sticking knives and steels boning lEZ1lVCS skinning knives and twohanded cleavers and beneath them a twelve39 foot by ninefoot chopping block irQShatched and holloy d by decades of long wounds 39 T iiae other side of the room to Mr F lay s left a capacious enormous copper a row of ovens and a narrow doorway acted as his landmarks The doors of the ovens were ying wide and acid ames were leaping dangerously as the fatquot that had been thrown into the res bubbled and Stank 39 Mr F lay was in two minds39He hated what he saw for of all the rooms in the castle it was the kitchen he detested most and for a very real reason and yet a thrill in his scarecrow bodyquot made him aware of how right it all was He could not of course analyse his feelings nor would the idea have occurred to him but he was so much a part and parcel of Gormenghast that he could instinctively tell when the essence of its tradition was running in a true channel powerfully and with no deviation But the fact that Mr Flay appreciated as from the profoundestof motives the vulgarity of the Great Kitchen in no waymitigated his contempt for the gures he saw before him as individuals As he looked from one to another the satisfaction whichhe had at rst experienced in seeing them collectively gave way to a detestation as he observed them piecemeal A prodigious tyriged beam warped into a spiral floated or so it seemed in the haze across the breadth of the Great Kitchen Here and there along its undersurface iron hooks were screwed into its grain Slung over it like sacks half lled with sawdust so absolutely lifeless they appeared were two pastry cooks an ancient paissomiier a ram with legs so handy as to describe a rugged circle a red headed l gumier and ve rczuciers with their green scarves around their necks One of them near the far end from where Flay stood twitched a little but apart from this all was stillness They were very happy 39 Mr Flay took a few paces and the atmosphere closed around him He had stood by the door unobserved but now as he came forward 1 roysterer leaping suddenly into the air caught hold of one of the hooks in the dark beam above them He was suspended by one arm a cretinous little man with a face of concentrated irnpudence He must have possessed a strength out of all proportions to his size for with the weight of his body hanging on the end of one arm he yet drew himself up so that his head reached the level of the iron hook As Mr Flay passed beneath the dwarf twisting himself upside down with incredible speed coiled his legs around the twisted beam and dropping the resttof I I GTGGTE PG with his face a few inches from that of Mr Flay at grotesquely with his head upside down before Flay 0 O save come to an abrupt halt The dwarf had then K pQ 0 on to the beam again and wasrunning along 1t390n3ll with 0 agility more likely to be found in jungles than in kitchens prodigious bellow outvoicing all cacophony caused him to turn his headaway from the dwarf Away to his left in the shade of a supporting p he could make out the vague unmistakable shape of what had been at the back of his brain like a tumour ever since he had entered the great kitchen SWELTER THE chef of Gormenghast39balancing his body with difficulty upion a cask of wine was addressing a group of apprentices 1 sodden jackets and small white caps The 1 PcFi 33Ch 9 5 shoulders or their supportTheir adolescent faces steaming wit e heat of the adjacent ovens were quite stupefied and when they laggheg or applauded the enormity above them it was with a craze dan f sycophantic fervour As Mr Flay approached to within a few yar t 0 the cluster another roar such as he had heard a moment or two earlier rolled into theheat above the wine barrel b h d The young scullions had heard this roar many times before ut a never associated it with anything other than anger At first conse quently it had frightened them but they had soon perceived that there was no irritation in its note today The chef as he loomed over them drunken arrogant and pedantic was enjoying himself a As the apprentices swayed tipsily around the wine cask their faces catching and losing the light that streamed through a h1ghW1Hdil0W they also in a delirious fashion were enjoying themselvgsvh ff 63 35 died from the apparently reasonless bellow of the chic c e an e sagging circle about the barrel stamped itsfeet feverishly and gave high shrill cries of delight for they had seen an inane smile evolving from the blur of the huge head above them Never before had they C1391JOyCCl S1lCl39l latitude in the presence of the chef39They struggled to outdo one Emot er in the taking of liberties unheard of hitherto They vied for avourf screamin his name at the tops of their voices They tried to catch his i eye The were very tired very heavy and sick with the drink and the I heat but were living ercely on their fuddled reserves of nervous 3 39 Titus Gman A 23 energy All saving one high shouldered boy who throughout thescene had preserved a moody silence He loathed Tthe gure above him and he despisedhis fe1low apprentices He leanedagainst the shadowy side of the pillar out of the chef s line of vision 39 Mr Flay was annoyed evenon such a day by the scene Although approving in theory in practice it seemed to him that thespectacle was unpleasant He remembered when he had rst come across Swelter howhe and the chef had instantaneously entertaineda mutual dislike and how this antipathy festered To Swelter it was irksome to see the bony straggly gure of Lord Sepulchrave s first servant in his kitchen at all the only palliative to this annoyanc39e being the opportunity which if afforded for the display of his superior wit at Mr Flay s expense 39 Mr Flay entered 39Swelter s steaming province for one purpose only To prove to himself as much as to others that he as Lord G39roan s personal attendant would on no account be intimidated by any member of the staff A To keep this fact well in front of his own mind he made a tour of the servants quarters every so often never entering the kitchen quothowever without a queasiness of stomach never departing from it without a renewal of spleen The long beams of sunlight which were reflected from the moist walls in a shimmering haze had pranked the chef s body with blotches of ghost light The effect from below was that of a dappled volume of warm vague whiteness and of a grey that dissolved into swamps of midnight of a voliime that towered and dissolved among the rafters As occasion merited he supported himself against the stone pillar at his side and as he did so the patches of light shifted across the degraded whiteness of the stretched uniform he wore When Mr Flay had rst eyed him the cook s head had been entirely in shadow Upon it the tall cap of office rose coldly a vague topsail half lost in a tful sky In the total effect there was indeed something of the galleon One of the blotches of re ected sunlight swayed to and fro across the paunch This particular pool of light moving in a mesrneric manner backwards and forwards picked out from time to time a long red island of spilt wine Itseemed to leap forward from the mottled cloth when the light fastened upon it in startling contrast to the chiaroscuro and to defy the laws of tone This ungarnished sign of Swelter s debauche taking the swollen curve of linen had somehow to Mr Flay s surprise a fascination For a minute he watched it appear and disappear to reappear again a lozenge of crimson as the body behind it swayed Another sensel ing and screaming brdke the spell and lifting his eyes he scowled about him Suddenly for a moment the memory of Mr Rottcodd in his dusty deserted hall stole into his consciousness and he was shocked to quotrealize howquot much he had gt4
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