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Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’

Originally published in Doorknobs and Body Paint.

Outside. Rain. Train. Slicing. Inside. Deidre. Glossy. Manic. Derrick. Moustache. Newspaper. Wanted. Table. Glasses. Ice.

Derrick speaks. Shall I? Deidre answers. Please do. Derrick leaves. Deidre scratches. Ruddy cheeks. Black bob. Suitcase falls. Pops open. Marbles everywhere. Tommy’s present. Deidre cleans. One marble. One universe. Derrick has drinks. Deidre on knees. About bloody time. Two icy bourbons. My own glass! Tommy’s present fall? I threw them. Why would you? For the noise.

She pockets a marble. Derrick sips his bourbon. How old is Tommy? Deidre looks at him. Her frothy eyes bulge. I was just asking. Either three or four. Three, he is three! Derrick swallows thick air.

Seems like just yesterday, huh? Deidre snaps shut the suitcase. Ten marbles still roll around. Did you change your hair? It’s slightly rearranged, she smiles. Derrick pulls her to him. Deidre sits on his lap. And she fixes his moustache. One side seemed higher, bushier.

Someone knocks on their train compartment. Bug off, they yell in unison. Well I never, the trolley squeaks. We shouldn’t be mean like that. A marble hits Derrick’s big toe. Does Tommy Gun even like marbles? Deidre assumed all kids liked marbles. She begins to sob into herself.

Come here, sit down, you are everywhere. Deidre puts a marble in his glass. Derrick wraps his enormous arms around his wife. She puts another marble into her own glass. They pick up their amber glasses and raise them. Derrick speaks: tomorrow will be yesterday and today will be.

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Words That Can Never Die

1.

Not her too!

Fuck!

Not her!

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.

Of course,

she isn’t the first.

There have been Plath sightings all over the block.

Who doesn’t have the Bell Jar?

Wish they were safe in a bell jar right now?

Whatever I see I swallow immediately

Aaaaaaah!

Get the hose!

Shit!

Where the fuck

are the matches?!?

Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.

Chomp. Chomp.

Chomp. Chomp.

The eye of a little god, indeed.

She sees but she does not respond.

2.

January 20,

Still no sign of retreating, and yet I always knew this would happen. My fifth grade English teacher warned me about this. Mrs. Sherman. She never matched her socks, or any article of clothing for that matter. She spoke in fragments frequently and had a lot of obsessions. One was big garbage day, when two days a year no one had to pay for their garbage so everyone cleaned out their garages and toolsheds leaving heaps and heaps of old junk waiting on the curb. She also talked a lot about clowns, and how they were to be buried alongside an egg with their clown make-up painted on it. A clown’s make-up is very telling, you know, she would say. Each as distinct as a snowflake. Strange woman. But she was terribly frightened of books. Words that can never die, she’d say. This is why she became an English teacher. This is why she sought to master the amassing world of literature. There are far more books than people, she warned, far more books. She never owned any books. And she never, ever, under any circumstances stepped foot in a library. She read one book at a time. About one a day! Students fetched the books from the library for her. She would pay them in hard candy, but the students gladly did it to get out of her class for a couple of minutes. Everyone laughed at her. Until she had to substitute second grade one day, and the little girl, Carlotta Brown, skipping, carrying a ratty copy of Moby Dick in her arms, choked on the candy and died. Mrs. Sherman was fired. Never to be seen again. I wonder where she is now? Probably surviving. Probably the leader of a platoon.

3.

Mr. Sherman may or may not have died in a car crash or because of colon cancer. He may or may not be thinking of Linda in these bizarre times, as he would have undoubtedly called them. But one thing’s for certain, he certainly is not here, and for this, Linda is exceedingly grateful.

She used to mutter to herself a lot but now she outright speaks. “Mother fucking Dahl! The children’s books are always the worst!” The least likely to die, she means. They’re built like tanks, made to withstand the smudges, the rips and the tears, the banging, the throwing, some, even the bath! They’re almost indestructible, as they’re used to being used as weapons. And there’s something unsettling about the juxtaposition, like an adorable little kitten that murders.

Books can only utter the words within them, nothing more. So when One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish comes screeching, barking there’s something uncanny in the words: From there to here and here to there, tiny things are everywhere!

Even worse, the army of Bibles.

“Thou shall not kill! Thou shall not kill!”

Some mistranslations: “Thou can not kill!”

(No one should ever, ever be caught dead without a phial of holy water.)

Mrs. Sherman saw the signs. She felt the low rumblings on the steps of the public library. She heard the groans, the creaks from the pews. They were just waking up.

She tried to warn everyone. She tried.

She came out of the woodwork. She walked the streets, Mrs. Sherman, now just a little old lady. Marching. Yelling. She told them the end was nigh. Nigh, she said! They all laughed again.

They laughed and they laughed until the first book fanned open all on its own, without a breeze or a fan. It just popped open with a tiny vibration. Curious, the reader thought. Thinking it was a sign, he moved the book he was reading aside and turned his gaze toward Mein Kampf. Naturally, it was Mein Kampf, people said.

“The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force!” It shrieked and then it ripped the head off the poor professor’s body with one single bite.

This is when she put her plan into action and moved to an island. Because, as everyone knows, water damage is lethal to a book’s livelihood, save for a few industrial strength children’s copies.

But this was only step one. Wouldn’t you like to know step two? Aren’t you wishing you didn’t laugh at Mrs. Sherman?

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