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    December 2010

    48. Hyacinthe
    49. M. Olive
    50. Baudet
    51. Scouarnec
    52. Mme. Roger

    By Félix Fénéon

    HYACINTHE


    Finding her son, Hyacinthe, 69, hanged, Mme. Ranvier, of Bussy-Saint-Georges, was so depressed she could not cut him down.

    M. OLIVE

    What?! Children perched on his wall?! With eight rounds M. Olive, property owner in Toulon, forced them to scramble down all bloodied.

    BAUDET

    On the riverbank at Saint-Cloud were found the saber and uniform of Baudet, the soldier who disappeared the 11th. Murder, suicide, or hoax?

    SCOUARNEC

    In Le Havre, a sailor, Scouarnec, threw himself under a locomotive. His intestines were gathered up in a cloth.

    MME ROGER

    Lit by her son, 5, a signal flare burst under the skirts of Mme. Roger, of Clichy; damages were considerable.

    *

    From Novels in Three Lines by Félix Fénéon, translated by Luc Sante. Translation © 2007 by Luc Sante. Used by permission of New York Review Books.

    47. The Fir-Tree

    By Hans Christian Andersen •, with Illustrations by Lilli Carré

    . . . Read More.

    44. The Death of Mother
    45. The Death of —
    46. The Death of James

    By Amelia Gray

    THE DEATH OF MOTHER

    Mother became the object of our curses. The first caused a rash to climb up her arm like a creeping vine. She saw it when she was cleaning a breakfast dish and set down the soap to idly scratch.

    “What in the fine hell,” she said. Ours was a poor curse and performed in a hurry. If she had consulted the proper sources, she could have stopped it all before it happened. Blessedly, she is the type of woman to ignore a runny rash, to slap on a bandage should it commence to crack and gush. This woman was the type to ignore a heart murmur on the occasion of her child’s sixth birthday. She would want to die on an Easter weekend so as to save the church lilies.

    The second curse happened soon after, when each fingernail on both hands began to darken. She scrubbed them with the acetone polish remover we had gotten into the previous summer with the fireplace matches. It made her nails smell like a burned grocery bag. Layers of nail commenced to flaking off into shaved-looking piles under her hands.

    “It must be that dish soap,” she said. We nodded. At night we curled quiet under goosedown and carved incantations into our palms.

    She yelled from her bedroom in the morning and we rushed in to find her hair gone from the top of her head, that lovely yellow hair she would comb nightly, clumped on the pillow like a sleeping creature.

    That was enough. She said, “W.S., get the car keys and drive Mother to the urgent care.” We sure did, all of us looking like a funny family sharing the Caprice Classic’s front bench, us fiddling with the radio station while she sobbed, nails black as a boar and clutching a bag of her own hair on her lap as evidence for the ladies in the clinic.

    We still had to wait an hour and a half. The waiting room inhabitants breathed in unison and the room expanded and contracted like a lung. One man had cut his finger open and another looked ill from drink while a woman next to him ate a hamburger sandwich from the top down, first removing the upper half of the bun and licking a gob of mayonnaise from the toasted bread. . . . Read More.

    43. I’ll Take You There

    By David Williams

    She was in the clawfoot tub. She was in there with her flesh and her bones and some suds, reading a book of stories. Ivy Coldwater was her name. She had a short glass of beer on the yellowing tile floor beside one of the claw feet. She took a sip of beer and set the book, spine up, on the side of the tub. She sank low into those suds. Ivy figured if the world ended right then, and wouldn’t that just be the way, she’d at least be clean and only slightly tipsy.

    She wondered how the world would end. She thought maybe a flood. It would just rain and rain some more, carpet tacks and carpenters’ nails, the great sky unsheathed. And then Ivy Coldwater, of general delivery, Prophet, Mississippi, would float away in her clawfoot tub, on the current’s whims, to heaven or hell or the swamps of Louisiana.

    Ivy loved clawfoot tubs. Once, as a little girl, she saw one walk across the bathroom floor. This was in the big house on Peabody Avenue, up in Memphis, before her daddy became a white-collar criminal and was sent to country-club prison and her mama took up with God and lost her sense of joy and wonder.

    The tub took three steps on its claw feet and then seemed about to break into a run. But it did not. Tub water sloshed and then settled as the clawfoot tub hunkered anew. No more did it move. The tub seemed enormously proud of itself, still and all.

    When Ivy drew a picture of what she’d seen, the tub was up on its hind legs, dancing something like The Dog. Bathwater was up to the tub’s ankles—Ivy had given ankles to those claw feet and short lengths of shapely legs, too, and a body that bowed and swayed. Ivy had seen her mama dance The Dog with a perfect stranger. . . . Read More.

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