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  • Archives:
    February 2009

    8. Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style

    By Peter Wild

    Any external or social action, unless it’s based on expanded consciousness, is robot behavior.
    —Tim Leary

    It takes five seconds, brothers and sisters.

    One . . .

    Alfie Vedder became untethered shortly after stepping out of the Highland-green Ford Mustang parked askance, motor running, on Warren and Forest.

    Two . . .

    He looked up once at the nearest street light, which wasn’t a street light any more given that it’d been smashed out in the riots, and he shook his head, even as he fumbled in his pocket for the Zippo.

    Three . . .

    He retrieved the bottle from the interior of the car, his partner Tuck saying Getonwithit from the shadows on the driver’s side, sparked up the lighter and lit the rag shoved like a gag in the bottle’s neck.

    Four . . .

    Rag lit, he stepped and he jogged and he stepped and he jogged and he grunted and he hurled the flaming bottle across the street, a glorious clumsy parabola that he didn’t stay to watch, too busy was he climbing back into the Mustang, sense drowned out in the engine roar.

    Five . . .
    . . . Read More.

    7. The Sculptor’s Funeral

    By Willa Cather

    A group of the towns-people stood on the station siding of a little Kansas town, awaiting the coming of the night train, which was already twenty minutes overdue. The snow had fallen thick over everything; in the pale starlight the lines of bluffs across the wide, white meadows, south of the town made soft, smoke-coloured curves against the clear sky. The men on the siding stood first on one foot and then on the other, their hands thrust deep into their trousers pockets, their overcoats open, their shoulders screwed up with the cold; and they glanced from time to time toward the southeast, where the railroad track wound along the river shore. They conversed in low tones and moved about restlessly, seeming uncertain as to what was expected of them. There was but one of the company who looked as though he knew exactly why he was there; and he kept conspicuously apart; walking to the far end of the platform, returning to the station door, then pacing up the track again, his chin sunk in the high collar of his overcoat, his burly shoulders drooping forward, his gait heavy and dogged. Presently he was approached by a tall, spare, grizzled man clad in a faded Grand Army suit, who shuffled out from the group and advanced with a certain deference, craning his neck forward until his back made the angle of a jack-knife three-quarters open.

    “I reckon she’s-agoin’ to be pretty late agin tonight, Jim,” he remarked in a squeaky falsetto. “S’pose it’s the snow?”

    “I don’t know,” responded the other man with a shade of annoyance, speaking from out an astonishing cataract of red beard that grew fiercely and thickly in all directions.

    The spare man shifted the quill toothpick he was chewing to the other side of his mouth. “It ain’t likely that anybody from the East will come with the corpse, I s’pose,” he went on reflectively. . . . Read More.

    6. Beauty Stolen From Another World

    By Louise Erdrich

    While browsing through the library stacks at University College in London, I was approached by a handsome Eurasian doctor who pretended to be interested in the book I was skimming, The Milk of Paradise, by M.H. Abrams. The year was 1979 and I was on a college exchange program. The doctor said that he would like to make me an omelet. For some reason, perhaps the novelty of the omelet pickup line, I allowed him to lead me down the street and then, after some hesitation, in which he assured me that his roommate was home, I got into his car, a brown Mercedes-Benz. As we drove to his place I realized that I’d done something foolish and dangerous and, if not bizarre, at least very unlike my Midwestern upbringing. The more so when we got to his flat and his roommate turned out to live in the next apartment. There was a sturdy wall between the two, surely impenetrable to screams, and I made the doctor introduce me to the neighbor so that if I “disappeared into night London,” as the provost of the college had darkly warned during our orientation, there would at least be someone who could identify my face from pictures on the news. Then I did go into the apartment with the doctor, who actually seemed quite harmless.

    We entered the kitchen. He broke the eggs expertly against the pan, one-handed, and he did not chop up onions or peppers with a big chef ’s knife, as I feared, but merely added some cheese, which he grated from a block with a little aluminum mill. I ate, and as I did so, I thought that perhaps he really had just taken me across the city to feed me an omelet. But when I was done he asked if I would like to take a bath while he answered some telephone calls, and again I knew I’d done something foolish and that I should turn back. He grew charming and persuasive. As though humoring a skittish horse he gently drew me toward his very masculine bath—all tiled in black and white—with a magnificent soaking tub. The door had a sturdy lock. . . . Read More.

    5. Burn Me Up

    By Tom Piazza

    Fuck you. Fuck you. Stay the fuck out of my dressing room. I’m not the fucking janitor here, and I don’t want you the fuck in my dressing room.” Billy Sundown stopped hollering at the club owner for a moment as he opened the door to his dressing room and saw his younger sister, a middle-aged woman in a pink blazer that was too tight on her, sitting in a folding chair. “Hey, Georgia,” Billy said. “How you doin’? You need anything?”

    “Hi, Billy,” she said.

    “No, man,” Billy started up again, turning to find the club owner still there, “I’m not foolin’ with you, son. I’m not too old to cut you a new asshole. And why wasn’t the piano tuned, as is stipulated” —he paused on the word, for effect—“in my contract?”

    The club owner, whose father had been in grade school with Billy, stood there, looking at Billy’s Adam’s apple, unsure what to say. Billy watched him for a second and shook his head pityingly. “Come in here, son,” Billy said suddenly. “You look like you need a drink. You look like you’re gonna pass out. Come on in. Give us your tired, your weary . . .”

    He held the door open and the club owner, a pale, nervous man of thirty-four with a receding hairline and a halfhearted mustache, walked into the small, cramped room, nodded to Billy’s sister, and sat down next to some stacked-up beer cases, wiping his forehead with a handkerchief. It was springtime in Memphis, but inside the Alamo Show Bar it was always some indeterminate season of extremes, with hot, torpid air smelling of beer and sweat suddenly giving way to blasts of freezing air from the overworked air-conditioning system. . . . Read More.

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