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A Disappointing Child

Merrill and Ellen had a child named Tommy who amazed everybody when he was young because of how good he was at jumping. Merill and Ellen had had a lot of disappointments in life and they were very very hopeful that something would come of Tommy, but as it turned out, it never did. He came in close to the top at the jumping contests in their city but never made it into the big jumping contests, despite all the hard work his parents did, making sacrifices so he could enjoy the aid of experienced coaches. He became depressed and began to overeat, which made him too heavy to jump. A local boy challenged him to a jumping contest when he saw his ribbons in the apartment and he lost and fell and broke an ankle. Merrill died somehow, and later so did Ellen. A lawyer I spoke to said she died on purpose somehow to get her son the insurance money. I know that after her death he threw a big party and I saw him in the back in a caftan and sunglasses and we talked for a little bit about the peculiarities of our elementary school. I was very happy to learn that Tommy was not disappointed in himself. No, he was happy with his massive ass on the couch, entirely unable to jump, or to elicit a jump in the heart from others.

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Mickey and J

Gerry couldn’t sleep. Why? People who can’t sleep their minds can’t stop asking them questions. Questions they can’t answer but they can’t say: stop asking. Or they don’t want to.

In Gerry’s case the question was — what happened to Mickey in the last moments before Mickey died. The detective did not answer questions like that. Gerry was embarrassed to ask. But then when they were wrapping things up after the trial, Gerry asked the detective. The detective said: Yeah I’m not going to answer.

Not going to answer? Why not? Cause it was too…too horrible? The way Mickey had died, the way they had killed Mickey? Or something else? Not I shouldn’t answer but I’m not going to answer.

Gerry’s marriage ended. How couldn’t it? There were questions Gerry had to ask that nobody else could answer. But if what you really want is an answer to a question and the other person can’t give it, doesn’t it make what else they have to give, seem like it’s not worth keeping?

Even if you think you shouldn’t be the sort of person who thinks things like “what a person has to give you is not worth keeping” you might discover that you are that sort of person, and that’s what Gerry discovered. Same for “even if you think you don’t drink”.

J entered Gerry’s life then. How? By a ping on social media and then a meeting in real life. Gerry knew J from the news reports and the trial. J said J had been there with Mickey in Mickey’s last moments. J came over for dinner and after dinner J told the story. J stayed the night and never went home. Gerry would hear J tell the story when they were together. Mickey was gone, but Mickey was also there, when they were in bed together and Gerry was looking in J’s eyes and J was telling the story of Mickey’s last moment.

Maybe a life is like a cheese or a cake — one piece of it has the flavor of the whole — and maybe that means the last moment is the whole life? Not sure, thought Gerry, not sure. But maybe. Maybe was enough to sleep.

Mickey had not been brave like in a movie, but Mickey had been beautiful. Mickey’s last moment was beautiful. Mickey’s life had ended maybe better than Gerry’s would, some day, in the hospital with the tubes. Gerry could believe Mickey was a beautiful soul. Gerry could believe not that it all made sense in some hallmark movie sense of all made sense but, maybe some sense in which it didn’t make you stupid or a sucker to say maybe it made sense.

The detective sent Gerry an email and a request to meet for coffee. Gerry got there early and order a Frappucino and waited for the detective who got there late. The detective said look I’m not good at making small talk and maybe I shouldn’t get involved. They all said to me I shouldn’t get involved but it just didn’t feel right. What? asked Gerry. I think you ought to know about J. What ought I to know about J asked Gerry

The detective told Gerry the story of what had actually happened. What had happened with Mickey had not been beautiful at all, and J had made it happen so it didn’t happen to J.

I just wanted to be close to you, J said to Gerry later. I wanted to be close to Mickey and when I couldn’t be close to Mickey I thought I would find you and I would be close to you.

You wanted Mickey to forgive you? Gerry asked J.

Yes.

You want me to forgive you?

Yes.

Gerry sent J out of the house but then Gerry went out of the house as well and got in the car and drove down the highway. God it was dark, God the upcoming headlights were blinding, God my head hurts, how my head hurts, thought Gerry, God how it hurts.

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Gentlemen of the Emperor

“I’m bored bored BORED BORED BORED!!!” said Cunning Love and slapped her own face, so hard she broke a nail. “You spent so much time painting those nails and now you’ve broken them.” said Thinking Wolf and stretched his legs out in front of her as if he were bowing at the feet of Cunning Love, but he was not — he was only stretching. ‘I wish I broke them all! I wish I had a nuclear bomb and I could blow up everything!” “Not me, I hope.” said Thinking Wolf and got up and trotted over to the dish where he had been given a treat – a fat baby.

“Doggie?” said the Fat Baby who had just learned to talk. It was his first word, and as it happened, his last.

“Oh you’re horrible.” said Cunning Love.

“You just wanted to blow up everything and you are shaming me for taking my breakfast?” said Thinking Wolf.

“Don’t you dare throw my words back in my face!” said Cunning Love and sucked on her finger. The broken nail had torn the quick. She tasted a little blood on her tongue. It was good. “What if he had grown up to be my lover?”

“What if he had grown up to be my breakfast AND dinner?” said Thinking Wolf “Times change and we are changed by them.”

Cunning Love smiled. She was happy that she owned Thinking Wolf. The other servants of the emperor did not have one. She did.

“Come, let us go to the Hall of Moral Cripples and mock that one with the huge nose.”

“We always do that.” said Thinking Wolf. “I thought you were bored.”

“I am.”

“So why don’t we do something new?”

“What would you suggest.”

“Let’s sneak into the seraglio and bite people.”‘

“You always want to bite people.”

“I know what will make me happy.”

“You know you cannot simply go biting harem girls.”

“What if I do it in a complicated way?”

“And just what would that be?”

As Thinking Wolf explained his plan down to the smallest detail — which was what to do with the blood and what threats would be used to quiet the victims — Cunning Love felt her dark mood lifting. The sun passing through the diamond shaped panes of glass painted rainbows on the marble, and the tinkling of the fountain seemed to both mock her and suggest that this whole scene before her was unreal; that like the water from the fountain it was issuing forth from a deeper source, becoming a thousand momentary jewels, and then returning. And yet it was as real as anything, as real as Thinkng Wolf’s pink tongue.

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Frog Spawn and Fire Lion

i

Frog Spawn and Fire Lion were brothers.

Fire Lion was a being of glory and Frog Spawn looked like a glob of spattered shit.

When people saw Fire Lion their hearts were in their throats. They said “oh!”. They said “If I only lived to see Him my life would have been enough.” Fire Lion beamed to bring such joy to their lives, although he didn’t need their acknowledgment. He shone like the sun.

Frog Spawn could forget that he looked like a pile of gobs of shit — sometimes. But when he saw the broad beaming smiles and tear-damp eyes on the faces of those who saw the beautiful face of Fire Lion, and heard the gasps when they looked up in the sky and saw the flaming trails of his letters — when he wrote “Believe!” and “Joy!” and “Magic!” and “Sexy Man” — he remembered that he looked like shit, that he smelled like shit, that he was cowardly and jealous and afraid.

Their father died. Their mother died. They were alone.

Fire Lion looked at Frog Spawn and Frog Spawn felt condemned in his eyes. Frog Spawn looked at Fire Lion and Fire Lion didn’t even notice that he was looking at him.

They heard the voice from the Endless Pit.

ii

They crept to the edge of the endless pit and fell down and it felt like they would fall forever. In fact they did fall forever. They burned up in the atmosphere and then they fell past the edge of Space Time. They had fallen forever but forever ended — how can that be? They passed beyond the world of form and the world of sense. They entered into the world of jewels.

Fire Lion was a jewel of light. Frog Spawn was trillions and trillions of dark crystals that sucked up every droplet every photon every tiny piece of light from Fire Lion’s jewel.

They were in darkness.

They were both very afraid.

iii

It was morning. The meadow had grass, and crab grass, and purple-stemmed goose grass, and dandelions and galan soga, and buttercups, and each leaf and each stem had a droplet of water condensed on it, at least one, sometimes many, and the phallic mushrooms had pushed their way up in the night. Frog Spawn was a serpent. Fire Lion was a beautiful woman.

A dark blight spread through the meadow.

A rabbit was lying on its side breathing hoarsely, gasping for breath — ants were crawling into its nostrils, and biting its eyes. A broken dragon fly was dragging itself by its forelimbs. A toad snapped it up with its tongue.

A cold wind blew, hail started to fall. The sun went out.

Darkness, darkness, darkness, for so many years — of course they weren’t years because there was no sun.

iv

A chiming or vibration in empty space.

v

A black ocean with the surface vibrating in time to the vibration of air.

vi

Air and water mixed together.

vii

The face of a man in agony giving birth.

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