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Domestic Crude, Vol. 1, No. [1], 1982
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Domestic Crude, Vol. 1, No. [1], 1982 - File 001. 1892. University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. December 16, 2018. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/crude/item/145/show/100.

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(1892). Domestic Crude, Vol. 1, No. [1], 1982 - File 001. Domestic Crude. University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/crude/item/145/show/100

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Domestic Crude, Vol. 1, No. [1], 1982 - File 001, 1892, Domestic Crude, University of Houston Libraries, accessed December 16, 2018, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/crude/item/145/show/100.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Domestic Crude, Vol. 1, No. [1], 1982
Alternate Title Domestic Crude, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1982
Contributor
  • Krause, George
  • Lopate, Phillip
Publisher Department of English, University of Houston
Date 1892
Language English
Subject
  • Creative writing
  • Poetry
  • Art
  • University of Houston
Place
  • Houston, Texas
Genre
  • periodicals
Type
  • Image
  • Text
Identifier OCLC: 9582873
Collection
  • University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
  • University of Houston Archives
  • Domestic Crude
Rights In Copyright: This item is protected by copyright. Copyright to this resource is held by the creator or current rights holder, and the resource is provided here for educational purposes. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without permission of the copyright owner. Users assume full responsibility for any infringement of copyright or related rights.
Note Incorrect issue number, 2, printed on front page.
Item Description
Title File 001
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I, •r ~Ilk • \I, • I t,. • 1h.,i " "' ,_,.,,, .; I ,I,.! ,,. ~ • ., \, I !k· r ~•1 I .I,. . .,,,! « 1,,.. m,· ti- T ! t.uth u lh ....... ,,,. 1, • '·" 1.,, I''" u• "" l••I' ,h.n•• r 11 h.• In, 1•'-• -I J,..,,. ll• 11,." ••·loqu .• 11 •" "" • , .... "" I 1,.,. -I,·•• .u,,l ,•h.,.1," •h,u~• th.•• •!.u~I" -~h l••to , 1,t1 .,1 . .,,, '"•• •·• Hth•.,llth.•I•• '" ,, o 1, •• , DOMESTIC CRUDE -~- Volume 1 Issue 1 - ';}~G.,(__ /JS !>o ~ e t:, ?Jlo1 /7& y V, I μ__..._,._ I /./.Gallegos ----------------------------------- Staff Design Faculty Advisors Chris Amanti Jane Sweet Asim Catherine Austin Philip Barr Dianne Cauble Clifford Crouch Lynn Doyle Brenda Goffney Kay Greer Pat Kimbrell Linda King Dorinda LeMaire Barbara Michels David Oliver Lois Puglionesi Teri Ruch Jack Stalmaker Jean Stephenson Derry Templeton Janes Young Donna Owens Design: George Krause Litera ture: Phillip Lopate For futu re issues, submissions of poetry, prose, photographs and line drawings should lie sent with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Fu11di11g was provided for this issue by the Office of the Dea11 of Arts a11d Hu111m1ities, The Academic E11rich111e11t Council, a11d Student Service Fees of the University of Houston. Subscription rate: $3.50 per year for two issues. Monetary donations to the magazine will be gratefully accepted. DOMESTIC CRUDE clo Phillip Lopate English Depart111ent Roy Cullen Building University of Houston Houston, Texas 77004 Materials 111ay be s11/1111itted by a11y 111e111ber of the Unii>ersity of Ho11sto11 fa111ily: st11de11ts, faculty, workers, al1111111i. We also welco111e you to joi11 the staff. Table of Contents -~ 2 Pattiann Rogers At the Break of Spring 2 Katlrlee11 Cambor Sisters 6 George Manner A Kinship 6 George Ma1111er Ideas I Don't Understand - 7 Ja111es Cleglzom October Night on the Gulf of Mexico J. J. Gallegos 7 P/zillip Lopate My Drawer 5 Doug Turner 8 Jane Asim last day of dyeing 13 Jean Stephenson 8 Lora Dewey Fi11ley Elegy for a Descendant of the Half Bloods 18 Carol Gerhardt 9 Lora Dewey Fi11ley A Difference of One 26 Carol Gerhardt 10 Kari11 Hex/,erg Bra11dt My Hobby 33 Doug Turner 11 Drew Derrix Te111pleto11 Recital 12 Drew Derrix Te111pleton Morning, Apt. 201 12 Ja111es Myers Paris Night 14 George Klein Masques 17 K.L.R. Ga111111il/ San Sebastian 17 Lawrence Broclr Eve 17 Lawrence Broclz Lilith 17 Elizal1et/z McBride Vapor Trails 19 Teri Ruc/z Bliss 20 Mark Ski1111er Roland Pfeiffer 23 Ly1111 Doyle Friday Nights on the Floor 24 Ly1111 Doyle Summer Resort 24 Kay Greer Terra Clara 27 Alva Knott Jo/z11sto11 Wild Goose 27 Alva Knott Jolr11sto11 You Have To Be Quiet To Bag A Deer 27 David Oliver On Monday and the Devil 28 Tlro111as Lux Sleepmask Dithyrambic 29 Jessica Greenbau111 Muff 29 Jessica Gree11ba11111 Water #2 30 Susa11 Warren Story 31 Barbara H. Michels Babe's Case Pnltin1111 Rogers ---------------------------- At the Break of Spring Caddis fly larvae, living in clear-water Streams, construct tiny protective cases Around themselves with bits of bark, Grass and pieces of pink gravel in mosaics. Little temples, Felicia calls them. Albert loves temples and knows a man who lives Beside one, the northern wall of his cottage Being the temple itself. He can imitate perfectly The running of twelve tone bells announcing birth or death. Gordon wants to study the pattern of clear Running water covering caddis fly larvae in sunlight And compare it to the pattern of running bells announcing Death in the clear morning as seen from below. Felicia thinks caddis fly larvae can fo rgive any sin Because they live inside temples underwater Continually in the state of baptism. Christ called the body a temple. Cecil loves bodies and thinks Sonia's is a mosaic, Dark and unseen, lit as if by light underwater. To completely cover Sonia himself Is a baptism of sin Cecil is afraid to perform. Felicia likes to believe the morning sky Is a temple immersed in light and by running Across the open lawn to the arbor house, she herself might Become the twelve tone sounding of its multiple bells. Sonia, walking beside the stream after dark, thinks Any temple continually immersed in the light Of its own birth and death, has earned the right to ca ll sin A baptism of performance, clearly forgivable. 2 Kathleen Cambor • Last February my sister called to say, "Please, Claudia, you've got to come home. Mother's in the hospital again." What Susan didn't tell me was that she herself was having an affair with a priest. She saved that news for when I got there. The priest came after the unemployed deaf man she had met in a sign language class and the divorced Jewish doctor who had aban­doned his wife and only child . "You sure can pick them," I said. Then I wanted to bite my tongue before the words were out of my mouth, knowing that it never worked with her when I was flip. We were standing at the baggage claim at the airport. My plane from Chicago had been two hours late, I was tired , and, after the news about the priest, I was wonder­ing, only ten minutes on the ground, why I had come home. A man in cowboy boots and a leather jacket pushed me as he strained to get his bag from the conveyor belt, and I almost fell into my sister. I was pressed against her by the shoving crowd so that our faces were only inches apart. It was closer than I wanted to be, and I was struggling to right myself when I saw that she was crying. "You think I'm wrong, don't you? That this affair is really wrong?" She shouted to make herself heard above the noise around us. "Not now, Susan," I mouthed, looking around at the airport fu ll of people. Settled in her car a short time later, with my suitcase filling the small back seat, I Sisters thought I'd try to be more helpful. "You know, it's not really a question of right or wrong. Whatever makes you happy seems to me to be the issue here. And, frankly, this priest business doesn' t sound too promising." Susan took a Kleenex from her purse and blew her nose. " It's very hard for both of us," she said. "The first night that we spent together, he didn't even take off his clothes. He just lay there in the dark and we talked, and then he cried." She pulled out of the parking lot onto the highway. I pushed my hair back from my face and rested my head against the car window, and its coolness, chilled as the window was by the winter wind, made me realize that I was sweating. The heater was too much for such a small car and it made the air thick and dry and stifling. I fumbled to undo the buttons on my coat. " Is that as far as it's gone?" I asked evenly. " Crying in the dark?" "No. No, of course not. We're having an affair. He comes over to my place as often as he can but it's not easy for him to get away from the rectory without answering a lot of questions." ''I'm sure it isn' t." "I don't know what to do," she went on. "I think I should be happier. That, if this is love, it should make me happy. But it doesn' t. And then I keep thinking, sup­pose Mother were to find out." I wanted to say, "What is it you think she can do to you? You' re not a baby any­more." But I didn't ask. I remained silent and pressed closer to the door on my side of the car, my sister and I almost hidden from each other by the darkness, our faces lit only by the glow from the speedometer and clock that shone dimly on the dash- board in front of us. Besides, I already knew what Mother could do. With blood oozing from her sliced wrists she could pick up the phone and call Susan and just like that she could stop us and bring us away from our own lives and back to her again. Susan is a caseworker with me ntally retarded adults. The place where she works is a day care center in the basement of a church. People who have been institution­alized for years a re sent home and given to Susan and her co-workers for rehabilita­tion . She does everything for her charges. She washes them, teaches them to eat, changes soiled pants, and drives the van that takes them home each night. She uses M&Ms for rewards. She spends months teaching some young man, retarded, deaf, schizophrenic, how to take the change out of his pocket and put it in the fa re box of the bus. Forget that there is no job that he can do, that there is no place fo r the bus to take him. She has family conferences with his parents to report enthusiastically on his progress, and they nod apprecia tively at her and look at each other, exhausted and worried. It is noble work; no one could deny that. But I wish she wouldn' t do it. Sometimes she's hurt. Someone turns on her in unexpected rage and she comes away with a bruised arm, a cut lip. "He didn't mean to," she says when we talk on the pho ne, and I say, " o! Of course not. I understand that. But that doesn' t make the blood less real, it doesn't take the pain away. You've got to find another job." But I know she won't, just like I know she won' t leave Cleveland and my moth­er. Six months after I packed all my things in my Volkswagen and d rove away I wrote to Susan and encouraged her to get out. "Dear Susan," I said, "You' ll die the re with her. Find a place to go and run to it as fast as you can, and don't look back." But I didn't ask her to come to Chicago. The day that I left I drove past my mother's house in the early mo rning and almost stopped to say good-bye to Susan, to explain, but I was afraid that she would beg to come along and I knew I didn't want her with m'e. It's been eight years now, and I'm well settled in Chicago. I edit a small publica­tion put out by the library at the university and the work suits me. I like taking words and phrases and ordering them into clear concise ideas. I like being alone. My little office has a desk, a chair, and a black and white Chillida print on the wall above my desk. I have one plant, but it always looks wan because I forget to water it. There is no view from my window, only a brick wall. There are days in that little room when it seems that I am completely alone, the last person in the world, with no con­cern about who will walk in the door or call on the phone. No worry about what I will be required to say or do. And I am always disappointed when I hear a voice, and I'm forced to remember where I am. "How is Mother?" I had to fo rce myself to ask, and the sound of my voice shattered the silence in the car and made Susan jump. "All rig ht. The cuts were superficial, but messy, lots of bleeding. And I was scared when I called you. Really, there was blood everywhe re. But the doctor says it was just a gesture. Not a real suicide a ttempt." As if the distinction mattered. As if it had ever mattered. "I don't want to see her tonight," I said. "It's late, I'm tired . We' ll go to the hos­pital in the morning." Susan seemed to know not to object. When we were child ren, my sister and I believed that Mother would kill herself. She talked about it all the time, and tried to do it twice when we were growing up. An aunt of mine once said that Mother got depressed when we were babies, when my fa ther left. I suppose that's true, but I don't know. My mother never talked about it and my recollections of that time and of my father are brief and dim-an old brown fedora tha t he wore, his large pla in hands. I have no clear memories of those years to sift through, no real sense of the re being some earlier happier time when he was there. For me it had always been Susan and me alone with Mother in the small frame house that was dingy with neglect: Mother in the kitchen, crying when we came home from school, locked in her room on holidays, turning on us if I spilled my milk or if Susan tracked muddy footprints on the rug. "You' re no help at all. You' re such bad girls!" she would shout. "One day I'll be gone. I' ll kill myself and then you' ll be sorry." At the slightest provoca­tion, the tears, the threats, the details . . . "with a razor blade" . .. " from the East Street bridge" ... "all those sleeping pills." Susan be lieved her. When she was no more than six, Susan would sit o utside my moth­er's bed room door all night, hoping that her vigil would keep the unthinkable from happening. I would find her there on one of my trips to the bathroom, her knees pulled up beneath her chin, rocking back and forth , shivering in the cold and dark­ness, and take her back to bed with me where we would lie huddled together. Sometimes Susan dozed with her head pressed into my shoulder and her arms wrapped tightly around one of mine so that I couldn' t move. I always pre tended to be asleep and lay awake and silent wait­ing for morning to come and for the sound of Mother's door opening, her foo ts teps on the stairs. I worried , too, but I was older than my sister and had convinced myself that if Mother killed herself, I could manage. I could get my breakfast, pack a bologna sandwich and a cookie in a brown bag for my lunch . I had spent long hours in front of the mirror learning to make pig tails at the back of my head , mastering the com­plicated business of twisting hair tha t I could not see, so that when other little girls could barely brush their hair, I could make two braids in mine, and even tie bright ribbons at the ends. I could man­age. Every morning was a rehearsal for the day tha t Mother would be dead . I memo­rized the phone numbers of the ambulance service, the fa mily docto r, and the priest. I made Susan wait outside the back door whe n we came home from school, and I walked in alone, hand trembling on the doorknob, throat tig ht, and only motioned to my sister to come in when I heard my mother stirring in the kitchen or saw her shadow cast across the hallway by the after­noon sun. I tried everything I knew to help Susan learn to get alo ng. I stood endlessly at the mirror with her, holding her hands, mov­ing her fingers, trying to teach her how to braid her hair. But she could never get it. One day, during one of o ur lessons, she cried, "My arms are tired, Claudia. I can't do it anymore'" and let he r hands fa ll down to her sides, sullen and pouting and sud­denly, before I knew what happened I slapped her across the face so hard that the force of it cut her lip and left my hand stinging. "Baby!" I shouted. "Stupid, stupid baby! I can' t do everything! Don't you see? I can't do everything'" and would have gone on if I hadn't been stopped by the sight of our reflection in the mirror. Susan was shrinking from me looking small and with­ered as I stood over her, my arms stiff, fists. clenched , screaming. When I stopped my voice ra ng in my ears, and I hid my face in my hands, ashamed of what I had done. 'Tm sorry," I said through my fingers. 'Tm sorry." The next day I took some money from my mother's purse when she was in the bath room and on the way home from school Susan and I stopped at the barber­shop that we passed each day. I told the man how we wanted Susan's ha ir-bobbed was the word I used-and when he was fini shed, we smiled at each o ther in the mirror and I brushed my fingers through her bangs as I pushed them to one side. "I like it," Susan said. "And it'll be easy to take care of," I added, paying the barber and taking her hand. We held hands a ll the way home, some­thing that she always wanted and we ra rely did. It didn't seem to matter to us that we would be in terrible trouble when my mother saw what we had do ne. It would be worth it. Susan would be able to comb her own ha ir, and I wouldn' t have to hear the sounds of my screams again. Intermingled with my mother's misery were brief periods of warmth and effus ion. She who rarely touche d us would become despera te to be close. Even as a little girl I knew such times would be brief and the enticement of them could be dangerous, could tempt us to hope, to let down the guard that we worked so hard at building. I stiffened when Mother came near me for a kiss, slipped out from under her hand and moved away when she reached to stroke my hair. But Susan was so little and wanted it so much sometimes she would give in and sit curled in my mother's lap and I'd watch from the shadows knowing how she'd cry when it was over and the lap was gone, how she'd come to me and how tired I would feel when I put my arms around her and said, " It's all right." Once when I was reading, my mother touched my arm to get my attention and, soft as her fingers were, it felt more like a slap than a touch. And I ran from the room crying and couldn't stop, and the place on my arm hurt all day, as if I had been bruised. Charles touched that same place on my arm the first time that I met him. It was at a party at my friend Marcia's house. I had lived in Chicago for three years and knew almost everyone in the room, but I was standing off alone, sipping my wine, looking out the window when Charles approached me. I must have seemed an­noyed when I turned to face him because the first thing that he said to me was, " I'm sorry." He stepped back as if he might just walk away and then went on. "I didn't mean to bother you. But Marcia thought we ought to meet." He paused. "She thinks we have a lot in common." She was right. We stood at arm's leng th, suspicious and guarded, talking about the wine, Marcia's skill as a photographer, the food we were fingering but didn' t eat. He was shy and didn't look directly at me, but at his hands or out the window as if he knew it would be better that way. I liked him and was pleased when he called me a week later and asked me to dinner. We went to an Italian restaurant and he wore a three-piece suit and seemed quite comfort­able even though all the men around were wearing sweaters and jeans. He told me about his work as a consultant for a large engineering firm and how he loved the absolute predictability of figures and equa­tions. He smiled when he talked about his work and it changed his face completely for a moment, but then he was serious again and blushing as if he was embar­rassed, as if the smile had been too inti­mate. I had never been in love before, although I'd known a lot of men and slept with some of them. I liked those relationships, the passion, the brief closeness, but was always glad when they were over, happy to start again with a stranger. But things went differently with Charles, perhaps because of the traveling he does, the time we spend apart. When I can't go with him on his trips it means long separations for us and that's fine . I like to be alone in my bed. When he is in town we spend most of our time together, but Charles keeps his own place. Sometimes I think we should get married and I even wonder if I'd like to have a baby. But I only mention it when I'm sure that Charles doesn' t want to, and I can count on him to pull away. 3 Once we went to Athens. We stayed of stairs. Susan fumbled with the lock on like those of an old woman who has nursed with a friend of Charles' from his busi- her door and then reached in first to turn too many babies, let her breasts bear too ness school days arn;i took an hour's drive the lights on so that I could see. I squinted much weight. I pulled my bathrobe tightly one night to a little seaside restaurant where against the brightness of the ceiling light, around me and asked her for an extra blan­we could pick our own fish, freshly caught. then focused on the large room-the ket and pillow for sleeping on the sofa. I We ate outside and listened to the Aegean shabby overstuffed sofa and green chair, turned my head when she brought them lap at the rocks below the table where we theplantssetaboutincoffeecanswrapped to me not wanting to see the hurt in her sat. They cooked the fish and brought it in brightly colored Con-Tact paper, the eyes, knowing that she wanted me in bed whole to our table where our friend insisted poster of the wine and fruit that I had sent with her, wanted to huddle together again that Charles and I eat the cheeks, the most from Greece fixed with masking tape to as we had when we were children, and delicate part of the fish, always reserved the wall. The kitchen was short and nar- that I couldn't. And, sitting silently on the for special guests. He showed us what to row, widening slightly at one end to ac- sofa in the darkness after we said goodnight do, how to remove that tender meat, and commodate a tiny table and two vinyl- and Susan went to bed, I wished that I had we savored each small bite, washing it covered chairs. The bedroom was too small never come. I rubbed the back of my neck down with Greek wine, laughing. But for the double bed and dresser that almost with my hand thinking maybe tomorrow when we finished there were hollows left filled it, and I recognized the yellow che- I'll just go home. I'll get up early in the where the cheeks had been, small holes nille bedspread. It had been my mother's morning and put my nightgown and tooth­that made the eyes seem large and opaque and the triangular tear that I could put my brush in my suitcase and say to Susan, "I in the moonlight, gave the fish a gaunt finger through as a child was still there. won't go to see her. You do what you want andtorturedlook.Icouldn'teatanymore. Susan's stuffed animal collection sat to but I'm going home." I was almost I only pushed the chunks of fish about on propped across the foot of the bed, old asleep, half imagining half dreaming that my plate and wondered why I felt so chilled and worn from too much childish cuddling. conversation when I heard a noise from by the Aegean breeze. I was holding the teddy bear she had slept Susan's room and realized that she was The day before I left Chicago to go to with as a baby, stroking his velveteen coat crying and the sound of it made me cover Cleveland I told Charles that my mother when my sister called to me from the other my ears with my hands. hadmadeanothersuicideattemptandthat room. And I wondered if in some early un-i was going home. He wondered why. "Claudia, come and sit. Talk to me." remembered time my mother held my "What's the point?" he asked me, looking She asked how I was, about my work father's hand and mine and took us for up from his desk. I had stopped at his and Charles, and I said "Fine," to every- picnics in the park, or if she rocked me in office on my way home from work to tell thing the way I did when we talked on the the afternoons singing softly in my ear, or him. I had hoped that he would help me phone. I knew it didn't matter. nursed me in their bed between them, my somehow--encourage me to go, ask me to She told me everything about the priest. skin touching theirs, under their blanket, stay, kiss me good-bye perhaps, but he "His name is Paul. Well, Father Paul. I my father fingering my baby hair. I am didn't. watched him for a long time from a dis- afraid that those things did happen, and " It's not the first time, Claudia, and it tance. He's tall," she said, and pulled her that what I got from my parents dimin-won't be the last so why bother?" knees up under her like she did when we ished so much what they had between Before I could speak he was looking were children, "and wonderful. I watch themthattherewasnothing left.Andwhen down at his work again, and distracted, him with the people in the parish after Susan comes the breast is dry, my father but I answered anyway. church, the way he smiles or puts his arm gone. There is nothing left for her. It is as if "I don' t know. It's been so long since across the shoulder of an old man and I every bite of food I took left hollows in I've been back. I feel as if I ought to go for want all that for myself. But with me he Susan's cheeks, each day I spent in the Susan." comes here and goes so quickly after dark I sunshine left shadows beneath her eyes. I had never seen Susan's apartment. I wonder sometimes if he was ever here at And I wonder, my head aching, if that's hadn't visited Cleveland since I left, but it all, or if I've only dreamed about his touch- why I don't ever find much pleasure in looked to me just as it always had. No ing me." what I have. renovations, no elaborate remodeling of "He says he' ll never leave the Church." Susan grew quiet. The crying stopped. I old houses in the neighborhood was evi- There were tears in Susan's eyes. "And, of pushed back the blanket, and went over to dent in those streets where we grew up. I course I've told him that I understand." my suitcase, aware that the first flickerings had heard about it happening in other parts "Of course," I said. of daylight had turned the sky from black of the city, but not where we lived. The I listened for a long time. We ate grilled to gray. I found some hangers in the closet paint on the doors and window frames sandwiches and canned tomato soup. I by the front door, and shook the wrinkles was chipped, the awnings were faded and had to light the gas stove because Susan from the dresses that I'd brought, think­worn from eight more years of weather, was afraid to. I asked, "What are you afraid ing that I should light the stove if Susan and as we drove down the street to Susan's of?" and she said, "That it will blow up. and I were going to have coffee before we house, I even saw the '59 Buick in the That I'll put a match to it and it will blow went to see Mother. I took the hairbrush Pattersons' driveway that they had when up in my face and kill me." With the from my purse and brushed my hair back we were children. I had been pleased when matches in my hand I turned to look at her until the last of the nighttime tangles were Susan had gotten her own place, an apart- sitting at the table in the edges of the gone, and, without realizing what I was ment on the third floor of an old house, lamplight, making ripples across the sur- doing, I began to part my hair as I did even though it was only a few blocks from face of her soup with her breath. I moved when I was a child. And I had to stop, and my mother's. They had dinner together to go to her, say something, or put my arm put the brush down, and remind myself every Sunday. I have often wondered what around her, but I thought better of it and that I don't wear pigtails anymore. they talk about, and if Mother uses the instead struck the match and lit the stove good china now that it is just the two of to make the coffee. them or if she is still afraid it will get Later that night, when I came out of the chipped, if she uses the placemats and bathroom after changing for bed, Susan linen napkins I sent for Christmas last year was standing naked, about to slip her arms or if she's saving them the way she used to into her nightgown. Her skin was pale save every pretty thing we had, for the and mottled, her thighs lumpy, but it was special occasions that never came. her breasts that were so striking. They We dragged my suitcase up three flights were long and pendulous, hanging down 4 -Doug Turner 5 George Manner ---------------------------- There is a need like the wind that carries scents to deer in the inevitable clearing, a need to speak about the meaning of shadows that collect behind the heart, a darkness throbbing near the lungs' great tents. But even my hands are empty now since touch has left them. Oh sure I could walk out, sit beneath the tree in a one-tree field and wait for winter. Or I could fish deep in the mind, be pulled in to drown. But friend, we each carry in our throats the same flaw: sometimes a swallowed sca r, sometimes a wafer soft with rain, and we both love forgetting. At dawn we search Thursday's sky for the mother tongue. It makes little difference that I see a vulture and you see a cloud shaped like a wren. Both a re birds, both have hearts too near the skin. If we held them in our palms we could feel heartbeats penetrate our pulse: the re is much confusion. Still it cannot last forever. The evening without a name is coming. The speech that has thrown us together will draw us closer. We will meet outside ourselves. 6 A Kinship for Ray Beard George Manner ---------------------------• Ideas I Don't Understand 1 The absence each day becomes friendlier, each night retreats further. It has even changed its sound slightly, abcess. At first I considered touching each freckle on my stranger's back with the tip of my tongue but I was afraid they would disappear. Or burn again into the one dream of air, rinsed of dust and all odor except that of grass cattle whisper to before they eat. 2 The assumption, a banked garden of flowers . And each time you swallow, one of the flowers disappears, becomes a lump in your benign throat. A phrase arises about how you hate, love, crave a forty year old woman whose wishes tell again the same bathetic story. Forty-five minutes s taring at your hand as if it would deliver you, you approach the mirror not looking for reflection. Eyes closed, you smile into the Gulf. 3 Tire avoidance, and k110wing that word from a mirror frosted by mine and other breaths just after speech. A finger traces the unreasonable hieroglyph of an oak leaf with winter a live inside it across the mirror's surface. Finger of hand of arm of shoulder of mind tracing a leaf, trachia of wish so near the heart, how can one well afford to speak? James Cleghorn -------------------------- October Night on the Gulf of Mexico A thin breeze off the water murmured between the stilts of unlit cottages, long ranks diminishing down a narrow beach. In the rising moon, no wave lifted from the Gulf of Mexico. Rig-lights glittered across the lower stars. At a cottage window, waiting, maybe for a wave to sweep all down, I counted to the farthest rig, and dozed by the moon-whitened sill. I woke, and the moon was gone beneath those coastal waters. Dim freighters churned near a tanker's hull, a charred mass tilting under, smoldering red inside. And a few last stars hung like rig-lights on an iron derrick. Beyond them, a bell was calling, "Come, sink into the open sea." And the stars followed. Phillip Lopate • My Drawer I am looking through the top drawer of my bedroom dresser this morning-some­thing I almost never do. I have a reticence about examining these articles which I don't quite understand: it's as though the Puritan side of me said it was a waste of time, if not faintly indecent. Since I have moved my socks to another drawer there is even less reason to visit these redundant objects. Six months go by without my doing any more than feeling around blindly for a cufflink. My top drawer is a way-station in which I keep all sorts of miscellanea I can­not bear to throw away just yet, but that I fully intend to, the moment things get out of hand. So far the drawer can take it. It is too early for triage. But this morning I have an urge to make an inventory of the drawer in a last attempt to understand the symbolic underpinnings of my charac­ter. In it I find a pair of 3-D movie glasses. A silver whistle. A combination lock in good repair but whose combination has long been lost. A strip of extra cuff material for the legs of my white linen suit-should I ever grow an inch or two I can sew it on. One plastic and one aluminum shoehorn. A button that says Boycott Lettuce. Keys to old houses and offices. My last pair of glasses before the prescription changed­who can throw out a pair of eyeglasses? Two nail clippers. Cufflinks. A pair of rusty unusable children's scissors. A windproof lighter I won at an amusement park; too bad I don't smoke. Oh, and lots more, much more .... But before I goon, shouldn't I try to approach this mess more systemat­ically: to categorize, to make generaliza­tions? One category which suggests itself is gifts I have no particular affection for, but am too superstitious to chuck out. (If you throw away a gift, something terrible will happen: the waste basket will explode, or you'll never get another.) They include this pair of cloth finger-puppets which I suppose were meant to give me endless hours of delight while sitting on my bed pretending to be Punch and Judy with myself. Because I work with children, peo­ple keep bringing me juvenile toys-magic sets, mazes with ball bearings, paddle­balls- confusing the profession with the profession's clients! Over the years I have been given a whole collection of oddities which do not really amuse me or match my sense of perversity. Nothing is trickier than bringing someone a novelty gift, since each person's definition of cute or campy is such a private affair. Now we come to my "jewelry." Most of these items wandered into my possession toward the middle of the Sixties during those few seconds in American history when it was considered progressive for men to wear medallions and layers of neck­laces. In my top drawer I find an imitation elephant-tusk necklace, a multicolored string of Amerindian beads, and a hodge­podge of what I can only call spiritual amulets-tangled-up chains and rings that are supposed to contain special powers or that symbolize the third eye. Usually these ornaments were given to me with the explanation that most men the donor knew would be too uptight to wear jewelry like this in public, but that I was free enough so as to be at peace with my feminine side. Little did they know. Each and every one has landed in my top drawer, enough for me to open my own jewelry stall at a street fair. Other mementos of hipper days include a large brown velvet Kings Road bowtie, a pack of moldering Bambu cigarette papers, and both Dump LBJ and Impeach Nixon buttons. I find it hard to throw away polit­ical buttons-as hard as it was in those days actually to wear them. There is also a badge from a conference with the words "Hi1 I'm--" and my name on it. Toward the back of the drawer are my war medals: my high school American History award with its peagreen/navy/blue/peagreen tri­color, my yellow-and-white-ribboned En­glish award, the silver badge from the Fire Department for best fire prevention essay. Glory days! They do cheer me up when I see them, though they are as useless now as the keys that no longer fit any door. Those keys belong to the category of thing~ I kept to be on the safe side. For instance, an official bank card for cashing checks, no good to me now since I no longer go to that bank, but what if it were to fall into the wrong hands? I find also a wristwatch case with midnight blue lining that seemed too pretty to part with, and that would make an excellent box for safety pins or-whatever. Oh, and a suede­looking drawstring purse that once held a bottle of overpriced shampoo (I seem par­ticularly susceptible to these packages for luxury items). I realize I'm fooling myself when I say I will someday find a use for .these containers. How can I when I ignore them for months at a time and forget that they're there? They live a hidden life in the back street of my consciousness. Perhaps the drawer's purpose is to house objects that arouse only half-digested desires never fantasized all the way through. That is why I must not look into it too often. There are secret fantasies even I am not supposed to understand. Even more than desire, they seem to have the power of arousing guilt: that is, they have fixed me, each and every one, with the hypnotizing promise not to throw them away. I find myself protecting them with an uneasy conscience, like someone whom I caused to be crippled and who now has the upper hand. I suppose if I were to examine the derivations of each of these keepsakes, many would call up some road not taken, some rejection of possi­bility. Or perhaps they are secretly con­nected to each other by surrealist logic, like the objects in a Joseph Cornell box, and if I were to Jay them out on the top of the dresser I could put together the story of my subconscious mind .... When I consider my peculiar, fitful rela­tion to the drawer as a whole, I have to think back to the original top drawer: the one in my parents' house when I was seven and eight years old. There was nothing I liked better than to sneak into their bed­room when everyone else was out of the house and to approach their large dark 7 mahogany dresser with its altar atop com- must have left it behind, as she did this posed of the round reversible mirror, the frayed pair of panties. Do you know we wedding photograph, the stray hair- almostmovedintogether,beforewebroke curlers, and the Chinese black-lacquered up for the very last time? And finally, the music box where my mother kept her most forbidden object of all: the five-and-ten Woolworth jewelry. Then, taking my time, I.D. heart with Kay's name on it. Since I I would pull open the three-sectioned top have forbidden myself to brood about her drawer by its brass handles .... What was anymore, I must open and shut the drawer so fascinating about rifling through their very quickly to skip seeing it, and inevit­drawer? I used to find nothing very unu- ably I do catch sight of that heart-shaped sual: some objects of obscure masculine button, the sort that high school sweet­power, like my father's leather travelling hearts wear. She gave it to me in our first case, a shaving brush, a pair of suspend- year, and thinking I didn't love her enough, ers, a wallet with photos of us, the chi!- she accused me of being ashamed to wear dren. Then I would go over to my moth- it in front of my friends. She was right, of er's side of the drawer, and visit her course-I have always been wary about bloomers and her gypsy scarves. I would advertising my heart on my sleeve, whether pick up each item and smell the perfume: political or amorous. Kay was right, too, Arabia! ... Then back to my father's side, that in the beginning I did not love her for some clues into his stolid, remote, enough. And now that I do, and she loves Stakhanovite personality. In the middle me not, I faithfully continue to wear her section was no-man's-land, with elastic pin, in my top drawer. It has the place of bands, garters, pipe cleaners. Once, it honor in that reliquary, in my museum of seemed to me, I found a deck of porno- useless and obsolete things that stand ready graphic playing cards. Am I imagining this? to testify at any moment to a ll that is never Isn't this rather what I kept looking for lost. and not finding? I know I came across the rumored box of prophylactics, which my older brother had assured me would be there. Yet these balloons did not thrill me much, or as much as they might have if I had only been seeking "dirty things." I was searching for, not clarification, but a mystery, the mystery of masculine and feminine. Certainly I was looking for the tools of sexuality that held together the household, but this went further than mere rude instruments: it included everything that made my moth~r so different from my father and that still enabled them to share the same life, as they shared this drawer. The drawer recorded without explanation the ordinariness of this miracle that had given birth to me. And now I live alone-Oedipal child that I am. The contradictions of my top drawer stem from my own idiosyncracies and not from any uneasy cohabitation of two crea­tures of the opposite sex. To pry through their things, I see now, was a kind of pre­masturbation. Where better to indulge than in the bedroom of one's parents? Even now I must be affected by that old taboo against self-abuse-in going through draw­ers, at least-which explains why I go through my own top drawer with embar­rassed haste. My drawer has its secrets as well. To honor the old prying and bring it down to earth, so to speak, I keep a box of prophy­lactics. Also, toward the back, I am ashamed to admit, are a few of those ads handed to me in the street for massage parlors: " Beau­tiful Girls-Complete Privacy-One Price .. . Tahitia-Gives You Just What You Expect!" and an awful color photo of two women in a bubble-bath with a grinning curly-headed man. These are also kept just in case, to be on the safe side .... A squashed-up tube of diaphragm cream, with just enough in it for one more go. Kay 8 jane asim ------------------------------ last day dyeing the sweater i knitted is finished now, warm fall colors, dyed to last when all the leaves abandon-reds, browns, rusts and gold, gold to catch the sun in your hair and break a hundred hearts when you leave, or maybe only one. or maybe only one. here, try on the sweater-feel how warm and soft against the skin, how the colors come together, each hand-dyed to match the next and compliment the pattern, blending like so many paths in a forest converging on a tiny stream, then coming out the other side. then coming out the other side. Lora Dewey Finley -------------------------- Elegy for a Descendant of the Half-Bloods Close to ears of the wind, he lays his head upon new pillows of re-packed soil, his eyes attentive to the chant of numbers. He worked his toes through blankets of earth the colors of frozen fire. He drew pencils across dust, danced through engineered mysteries, walking in his polished black shoes. But we have whispered in the absence of our goodbyes, (For Ray Gilbreath) caught the sound of his hands whirling in paper on the wind. I cry out for yet another life cut down as a tree broken by our battle with war. I whisper "Cherokee, Tsa-la-gi." I repeat his white name, but this cave in my throat hollows the long way to my side and earth is empty of the sound of his voice. I hear fingers thrum on deer skin across an absent drum. We wrap our arms around his echo. Lora Dewey Finley--------------------------• ~ A Difference of One (For Lisa 011 Her O11e-l11111dredt/1 Day) The trees on Nam San Mountain are interwoven with light, an upright carpet of greens and gold. Wind ski tters th rough branches whe re the day floats . /11 Korea, they hang a 111a11 who cuts a free without per111issio11. Lisa's hair is fragile- floss ends unraveled from a scrap of fog. On a summer day; her eyes a re wide, wheels for her wo rld to turn upon. Every day they grade the /1eaches at four o'clock. They erase the day's footpri11fs so they 111ay see the marks left /1y any new intruder. But today, Lisa is one-hundred days old. Here in the yellowed light beside a pumpkin-colored tree, she tilts her head to watch the wind's hum. Perha ps she hears three languages, the accents braided together inside her ears-each sound beating on its own tiny d rum. In Korea, a half- blood natural child, i1111oce11I as a tree, is left to die in the woods. Beneath the sky of my living room, I gaze at the image of her face. My field birds hear her sing. My hands hold the sun as she turns on the bed mat of her night. I await a glimpse of this child, who will help me crack the bones of a new star. At four o'clock they grade the beaches. Every day. 9 Karin Hexberg Brandt • Pretty Miss Wilson wrote in a neat script on the clean, green chalkboard: My Hobby. Then she enclosed the two words front and back with a perfectly matched pair of quotation marks. As Rebecca copied the words into her tablet, she tried to make her letters as beautiful as those of Miss Wilson. Dissatisfied with the way they turned out, she tore out the first page and tried again. And then again. She was still concentrating on this seemingly impossi­ble task when Miss Wilson began to ex­plain the assignment: "For tomorrow, class, your homework will be to write a one­page essay about your hobbies. After they have been graded-and remember, neat­ness counts- I will choose the best ones and read them aloud in class. We' ll also put them up on our bulletin board for par­ents' night. Any questions?" Ernie, the chubby boy who always made rude noises after lunch, raised his hand to ask whether or not it had to be written in "cursive." Rebecca frowned to herself: "Of course, it should be in cursive." At the school she used to go to they hadn' t been allowed to print since the beginning of third grade. After Miss Wilson told him, " Yes, of course, Ernie," Rebecca looked around the classroom, hoping someone else would raise his hand to ask the more important question- the one that would elicit from Miss Wilson's pretty red mouth the explanation of that mysterious word on the board: hobby. But no one did- not even Gabriel, who could hardly speak En- 10 My Hobby glish and was so dumb he had to be held back in fourth grade twice. He was from South America, and Rebecca was a little afraid of him-not because he was foreign and not because he was so much bigger, but because he always smiled at her in a strange way and whispered strange words to her across the aisle, words he knew she didn't understand . Then he'd laugh and pull at her blond curls. She knew he was teasing her, but it was not the same kind of teasing. the other boys did out on the schoolyard when they ran up behind her, grabbed her lunchbox, called her a "Yan­kee," or pushed her off the swings. These boys made her angry, could make her cry, but Gabriel made her feel afraid and she didn't know of what. All the rest of the day, Rebecca kept hoping someone would ask Miss Wilson what a " hobby" was, but they didn't. If this had been Green Hills School, if it were old Mrs. Thomas in front of the class instead of pretty Miss Wilson, or if her best friend Virginia had been there instead of back in Connecticut, perhaps Rebecca herself would have raised her hand to ask. But she didn't. At the end of the day, after everyone else had left the room, she walked up to stand before Miss Wilson's desk. But Miss Wilson was busy with some papers, and after Rebecca stared at the top of her head, where the pretty red hair was parted neatly in the middle, and smelled her cologne, she knew she would not be able to let Miss Wilson know how ignorant she was. She turned toward the door quietly, hoping that her teacher hadn't noticed her. But from behind her back she heard in a beautiful voice shaped just like the hand­writing on the chalkboard, " Yes, Rebecca? Did you want something?" Rebecca didn' t even turn around as she said, "No, Miss Wilson," and hurried out the door, her face hot. As she came out of the yellow brick build­ing, she was relieved to see, at least, that the boys who always teased her were nowhere around. The playground swings were empty for a change, and for a moment she contemplated taking advantage of the opportunity. But then she remembered that Miss Wilson was still inside the school and could possibly see her through the win-dows, so she went home. That night after dinner, before her poppa fell asleep in his chair behind the news­paper, she asked him about the "hobby." Across the room, Rebecca felt her mother look up from her knitting in surprise. Nor­mally, it was to her mother whom she turned for help in her schoolwork; con­versation with Poppa was usually "How was school today, Rebecca?" followed by "Fine, Poppa. I got an 'A' in spelling," or "I got a gold star in arithmetic," or 'Tm in the bluebird reading group-that's the best, you know." Rebecca didn't know why she felt her poppa should be the one to ask about this particular question, and it sur­prised her to see that he was pleased she did. He took a long time in answering, looking up the word with her in the big Webster's and explaining the other words they found there, like "occupation" and " leisure"-words that she kind of knew but not really. As he explained, Rebecca became very quiet. What if, after all this, she should discover that she had no hobby? What was she going to do then? Her pop­pa's patience and kindness emboldened her to put this question to him as well. He laughed then- but not in a mean way-and pulled her up into his lap in the big chair. "So, the little white mouse is afraid she doesn' t have a hobby? Well, not to worry, little one-you do. In fact, you have a cou­ple that I can think of. Remember the stamp-collecting book that Grandpa sent you? Well, stamp collecting is a fi11e hobby. And what about your Brownie camera- the one your mother bought for you to take to camp? Photography is a fine hobby, too. Take your pick." As Rebecca hugged her poppa for giving her this wonderful infor­mation, her mother said, "You'd better get busy now, Rebecca. You won't have much time to write your essay before bedtime." She w'anted very much then to prolong this moment with her poppa-maybe he would help her to write the essay, too--but he put her down from his lap and gave her a little pat as she went to her room to get her tablet. Sitting at the kitchen table, she stared at her paper for a long time before she wrote as neatly as she could her first name in the upper right hand corner, where Miss Wilson always liked to have it, and then on the top line: "My Hobby." Below this, in imitation of her books, she wrote "by Rebecca Ruth Goldstein." Then she stared at the paper another long time as she tried to decide whether to write about the stamp collecting or the photography. She had lost interest in the stamp album not long after her grandpa had sent it to her. It had lain in the bottom drawer of her chest since before they had moved. And the camera had been rather a disappointment. The two rolls of film she had been given to take to camp had yielded less than a half dozen pictures that contained anything recogniz­able. The one of Virginia was the only one she had taped to her mirror; the rest had gone into the drawer with the stamp album. The longer she thought about it, the longer she felt that neither topic was interesting enough to make Miss Wilson read her essay aloud in class, much less pin it up on the bulletin board. Finally, she decided she would write about both, hoping that somehow the quantity of her hobbies would make up for the lack of quality. She carefully added an "s" to the word on the top line of her paper but deciding that that didn't look right, she erased both the " s" and the "y" and wrote "i-e-s." Then, she tore that sheet of paper from her tablet and copied what she had written onto another sheet. "Re­member," Miss Wilson had said, "neat­ness counts." And no matter how carefully one erased, the erasure always showed. Rebecca knew that most of the other chil­dren didn't care about things like this, but Rebecca didn' t often compare herself with other children. After she had written "My hobbies are stamp collecting and photography" care­fully indented, just enough but not too much, two lines beneath her name and had gone on to give the particulars about her stamp album and her Brownie camera, she had a nice, perfectly shaped paragraph. But was it enough? It still seemed unin­teresting, and, besides, Miss Wilson had said a "one-page essay." So she began to think about how she could make her essay more interesting, more lengthy, more sure to be heard aloud in class. She began to write about what kind of stamps she had in her collection and the wonderful places they had come from. She wrote about how many she had, how rare they were and how expensive. She wrote about how her poppa had had to take her album to the bank so that it could be safe from thieves and in case of fire and hurricanes. She wrote, too, about how her camera had come in a black bag with lots of " attach­ments" and about how she had once been standing in front of her big white house in Connecticut taking pictures of her best friend Virginia when a terrible car accident happened right on her street. And about how when her poppa called the news­paper to tell them about the pictures she had taken of the ambulance and the bod­ies, the newspaper people had come to her house to buy the pictures and had printed them on the front page of the paper. As she went on, the writing became eas­ier and easier, and Rebecca forgot all about trying to make her handwriting look like Miss Wilson's. When the essay was done, it filled almost two pages, and as Rebecca read it over, her face grew hot as it did when Gabriel whispered to her in class. Not really wanting to be done with it, she copied it all out again on clean paper, and at the bottom she wrote "The End" and under it a s ign that looked like this: ~ . She hoped very much that her mother and her poppa would not ask her to read the essay to them. Although she was proud of her work, she felt just then that she would prefer keeping it to herself. And she went to bed imagining what "'My Hobbies' by Rebecca Ruth Goldstein" would look like up on the bul­letin board on parents' night. In the morning, after the children had handed in their essays and were doing the next lesson in their spelling workbooks, Rebecca kept glancing up at Miss Wilson to see whether or not she was grading them. At one point she thought she had seen her paper, but she couldn't be sure. Finally, after lunch, the time came for the reading aloud. Miss Wilson stood in front of her desk with the stack of papers in her hand and said that she would not be read­ing anyone's name. Rebecca felt an edge of disappointment at this, but it disap­peared as she imagined once again how the prize essays would look pinned up on the board. The first essay-probably by a girl- was about a horse and the second about model cars. Everyone knew the third essay was by John, the class clown, because it was all about his hobby of writing essays about his hobby of writing essays. Rebecca tried to listen attentively, but as each essay was read that wasn't hers, her growing anxiety and disappointment kept getting in the way. After each one, Miss Wilson would say a few words about how good the essay was and how it could have been a little better-things like organization and spelling and neatness---things that Rebecca felt very confident about. Finally, when she had just about given up all hope of ever hearing her words on Miss Wilson's lips, there they were. They seemed to Rebecca to fill up the room and spill out through the windows onto the playground. And as Miss Wilson moved from the first paragraph to the second, the children stopped fidgeting, sto·pped snif­flingand dropping things. And when Miss Wilson read "The End," a ll of them sta rted talking at once: "Wow! Who wrote that?" "Whose is it, Miss Wilson?" "Come on, tell us." They were all looking around the room trying to discover the author on their own, and Rebecca sat very still waiting for Miss Wilson's comments. "Hush, class," she said. "This is a very well-written essay as you all can see, but there is one very big problem with it-a serious problem. Who knows what it is?" All the students, includ­ing Rebecca, were dumbfounded, and Rebecca felt her face growing very hot. "The problem, of course," said Miss Wil­son, " is that this essay is not true. It's what we call fiction- a story. When things that are not true are put into an essay, they are merely lies. The person who wrote this essay has deliberately lied in order to im­press you. There are two lessons to be learned here, class---one for the writer, whom we hope will not be writing any more lies, and one for the rest of you, whom we hope will not always believe everything you hear." Rebecca Ruth Goldstein made it through the rest of the day without crying. And she made it through the rest of that particular school year although, all in all, it turned out very badly. She lost the fourth grade spelling bee, dropped down into the red­bird reading group, and had a birthday party to which nobody came-all of which she unquestionably felt she deserved as just punishment for being a liar. It was years before she could tell anyone about the incident, and when she did, she always laughed and defended herself by saying, "But she never told us it had to be true." Drew Derrix Templeton ------------------------- When Michigan is dark wet green and mosquitoes whine at the doors, the heat makes damp curls on my neck in the Allendale church . I am awkwardly thirteen in my too-small confirmation dress, the June night hugging my skin. I walk down the a isle to recite my catechism, the Hungarian Rhapsod y, for an assembly of parents. Students scuff their feet in the pews, someone's baby cries. The piano yawns wide, solemn; I have never played a baby grand. Beneath the lace, my shoulders itch, and bent knees drip sweat. I cannot remember the Commandments, Liszt's crescendos. Warm eyes wait, my mother nods, eager. My fingers know the way, Liszt, have 111ercy. The Friska tumbles out: staccato, vivace, into blessed silence. The offering is received. Tonight the heat brings memories that curl into fingers long unpracticed, and stirs forgotten chords, prayers the pianist no longer plays. Rec i ta I Drew Derrix Templeton ------------------------- We are wrapped lightly in the cool of Sunday morning. The straight green light from the open door falls gently across our knees, the twice-read paper. Our comple teness­threaded with birdsong, the purr of the cat-is sliced with raw volume, electric guitars and screaming vocals from 203, and our walls throb bass. In our honeycombed lives, unseen neighbors intrude on each other, the stucco walls meaningless boundaries for air. We eat Brie and a French loaf in bed, never mind the crumbs, and wait for the gift of quiet, the green day hemmed with wind and the sound of birds. 12 Morning, Apt. 201 James Myers ----------------------------- She walks with me and hungry eyes appear in the dark coming from lonely faces. Circus figures do pirouettes yet their masks fall off when they see her face .. . The sword swallower could tear out his guts if she should pass so near. Faltering concentration causes the fire thrower to bungle every other throw . he cannot take his eyes off her ... She is not my kind .. Dining out on cha rcoal briquettes stamping regrets on slender razors . . . She is not unkind she tells me so with her eyes but our walk must come to and end for there are too many who see her now and smile. Par i S Night -f ean Stephenson 13 George Klein • When Bombay was far behind me, I got down from the bus and started walking along, trying to hitch a ride-I didn't really know how it was pone here or if it was possible. Thereweren'tthatmanycars and it took me a few minutes to remember that cars drove on the left over here just as in England. But at least here was the coun­tryside, villages, farmers in bullock carts, water buffalo, goats; and as I walked along the road, I felt comfortable splashing through the monsoon puddles with the smell of animals and warm mud. Toward the end of the day, a monsoon shower blew up, the sky grew black, the branches and leaves on the trees turned over, the leaves white like the bellies of dead fish, and the rain came pelting down. A while later, the sun came out for a min­ute; the mud and road smelled of steam and earth, and the sun set. Exhausted, I rolled myself into my poncho under a ban­yan tree-I was lying in the mud, but so tired I didn't care. I put my head on a root and slept, dreaming of Liu. I woke up for a second when they hit me. I couldn't get out of the poncho; I was all tangled up, arms, legs, everything­feet were all around me. I was knocked out. The water brought me around. I wasn't in my poncho, but spread out on it, in the middle of a field, a lantern hissing and faces shining in white light. They were in a 14 Masques circle and I was the center of the circle, a dazed point on his back-and everyone was looking through my stuff. I thought, if they're disappointed they're going to kill me. I noticed they were wearing shirts and saris and they had very long hair and were wearing nose drops and earrings and anklets, bangles, and other matching acces­sories; in other words, they were chicks. My head was pounding. I felt very strange; something was not quite right. They were all gabbing: it was Ram Lal this and Ram Lal that; they were gabbing and bickering, waving their hands around. They had deep voices, awfully deep voices for chicks, and they inspected my passport and a couple of my knives, got the switch­blade figured out pretty quick and started snapping it open, waving it around-easy, ladies-and fighting over who was gonna get it. I kept my lids all but closed. Then I thought, okay, I've had enough of this stuff, time to split, and I jumped up. I forgot I was dizzy and staggered and fell just as they gave a big yell, but I got my footing and started to run. They tackled me-hard-brought me down and started to beat me and hit me with sticks (I later learned they were lathes) and kick me, and suddenly one chick raised a long curved knife which I later learned was a kukri. I screamed just as someone grabbed her wrist. I don't know. That might have been it. Right then. But Ram Lal called them off ... her off. He was their leader; that was another thing. They weren't chicks. I guess that night Ram Lal decided I'd be useful to them and maybe got a kind of crush on me. He was a little shorter than I was, with hair as long as a saddhu's-or mine for that fact. He had a handsome face with large light brown eyes, lighter than most Indians. But the main thing was he had speed- he was quick- he was clever, and he commanded the others with abso­lute authority. They were afraid of him; they really didn't know how many bolts of magic he might be able to deal down on their heads. That night they set right into it. They had my passport and everything else. I couldn't do a thing. They held me down and pierced my ears with tips of daggers. They smeared my ears with ointment and hung heavy silver rings through the bleeding holes. They made me put on a big tribal skirt, a sleeveless vest covered with small mirrors like armor with embroidery swirling in between them. They had to crush and squeeze my hands until I screamed to slip the gold bangles up onto my wrists. By now, when the others saw how Ram Lal was fitting me up, they started getting jealous because he was blowing some of their best jewelry on me. Ram Lal sat with the lantern hissing in front of him and insisted and that was that. No one wanted to mess with him. He took toe rings and anklets out of a pouch and put the rings on each of my toes so it was painful to walk at first. The anklets had bells on them. Every step I took made them jangle. Here I come. When they dressed me, I was still dazed from the beatings and from the daggers being poked through my ears. The blood was drying on them-so when Ram Lal told me to stand, I staggered. He directed me to turn to the lantern light. He smiled. He liked it. His hunch about my white skin was going to be proved right-another thing that would add to his power. When I realized what they were going to do with the dagger, I fought again, and they had to fight to hold me down, though Ram Lal wouldn't let any of them hit me too hard. I struggled until I started knocking some of the mirrors off the blouse, and then Ram Lal came over and slapped me and said something I couldn't understand, but the way he looked at me almost stopped me. When I kicked him, he laughed out loud. He kicked me back and stared at me. His eyes were strange. I got feeling numb. Hands covering every inch of my head so I couldn't move, they pushed the tip of the dagger through the back of my nostril. At the bit of the iron I ground my teeth. I wished they were at least chicks .... They set a guard on me. I finally fell asleep. In the morning, they washed the blood off my face and put some medicine on my ears. Then Ram Lal brought a small gold nose-drop out of his pouch and they fas­tened that in my nose. Eventually, Ram Lal and I became lov­ers and got to understand each other, he teaching me some Marati, I teaching him some English. We passed information back and forth with our eyes, not in a faggy way, but in a way of understand­ing- this guy is bad news, this situation is going to get out of hand in thirty seconds, heads will get bloody ... that kind of thing. The first few times, I followed along with the troupe, but didn't try to do any­thing. I was still tan enough from the boat and crossing the equator-the equatorial sun-so that I looked dark enough to pass off as Indian and wasn't really noticed. If I thought it to my advantage, I wrapped a half-sari about me and pulled it down completely over my head, holding the cor­ner in my teeth like the chicks did for a quick little purdah while still digging what was going on by staring through the cloth. Even on the road, as we would pass in two's and three's, I'd notice the farmers in their bullock carts, the women, the children, everyone giving us wide berth. They'd see us coming and they'd cross the road. Weddings were the big thing. During the wedding season we'd travel all up and down through Maharastra and Gujarat. Oh man, Ram Lal knew all of the rich ones, all of the important days. He'd map the whole thing out so that we'd make· a sweep from one place where there would be two weddings-we'd hit 'em both-to the next place and so on and so on. We'd show up outside the gates of some Big Brahman's place and you could see from the look on the chipossi's face right off that he was thinking: oh, man, now we're in hot water, the master's going to be out plenty and these guys are bad news, no telling what curses .... The wedding party would come out to the gates to get a glimpse of us, and sur­prise, there we'd be stoned from todi­wine which came from the sap of the todi­palm. And also, they had some very fine hemp bhang and gunja, or in plain English grass and hash, and we'd crank up a few drums, finger cymbals, flutes, harmoniums and shenais, then dance up a storm for them, hump and grind a nd dance in trances. They didn't really have any choice but to watch. They'd look at each other uneasy as if they weren't sure how they were going to get out of this .... But the main way they were going to get out of our dancing was by paying us money-plenty of money. You see, Ram Lal was known among our kind as a very potent man, a man to be reckoned with ... a man of powers. And one way of keeping these powers from descending on you and your family in the form of the bridegroom being struck impo­tent, zonk, a womb being scorched bar­ren, a child being born with two heads or no legs, or the old man dropping dead or developing leprosy, was by paying Ram Lal. So we'd dance and the bread would fly. Ram Lal would indicate by a certain very cool look that the head of the house had the right idea, that really, basically, he was doing just fine, and after a little more danc­ing, he'd really get the idea ... which was our signal at the clap of his hands to do a few more numbers. We'd stop and money would come from the wedding party. I loved it. It was like rain. I ., •• ' In several cases the people treated us badly. One family we heard afterward was in a te rrible car accident- the old man fell asleep at the wheel, veered, hit a water buffalo; the bride was killed, it took the police two hours to get the animal out of the woman's lap; the old man was paralyzed from the waist down and hasn't said a word to this day. The police came hunting for us, but they didn't look too hard because they might have caught us and then if Ram Lal ... if ... Ram Lal insisted I keep my face and arms covered and stay out of the sun as much as possible because he wanted me nice and white. I have funny eyes, kind of grey green around the outside of the iris, maybe light brown in the middle, and a spot of black pigment in one iris. They have lots of col­ors, really, and Ram Lal liked to stare into them. He'd nod and shake his head as if he were staring into my head and thinking pictures on the inside back of my skull. I didn' t care much for this pastime of his. He taught me to put my eyes into a kind of trance look. When I'd faded nice and white, he put kohl around my eyes­which is like black eye shadow-since we were getting dressed up to go to a big wedding. He said to me: When I tell you, you come forward, up close to the bride and groom. Dance slow in one spot and s tare through them until they cover your feet with money. Don't move until they're covered. At this wedding, I danced forward and tranced up my eyes like Ram Lal taught me. I stood in front of the bride and groom. I don't think they had tied the s tring on the ir wrists yet, but here was this bea utiful young girl, maybe sixteen or seventeen­shy, blushing, in a gold Benares sari-and her groom, a nice-looking young guy, maybe twenty, the two of them almost like fawns, and I felt really kind of mean, and also sorry for the young girl, but I danced closer and closer, and dancing in one spot, I moved my feet up and down slowly so the only sound was the jangle of the bells on my anklets. I swayed in front of them; then, just her, like a cobra; and by the spot of black pigment, I raised my hands slowly over my head, and her eyes never moved from mine. Even in the heat, the coins were cool as they started to sprinkle my feet. Then there was the feathe ring of bank notes on my feet and ankles like birds' wings. I sud­de nly realized what Ram Lal had taught me to do with my eyes-and what I had known in the jangle of the ankle bells-was to hypnotize he r. My arms me t, forming a vault over my head, and my ankle ts janglP<i_ c;oftly; the bangles on my wrists jangled together as I raised my arms higher. I knew that she was hypnotized, and suddenly I felt so sure, I looked away from her eyes, looked down into the circular mirrors of my tribal vest and saw the thou-sands of splintered faces of the bridal party, of Ram Lal, of the troupe, the servants, the bride, each one reflected in each of the mirrors, each of the mirrors flashing like a beam of sunlight on a wave. I looked down over the left side of my chest, then arched my back slightly, still softly stamping the jangle of my ankle be lls like the whisper of a telegraph. I looked down at the faces reflected on my back; then, turning slowly back to the bride, I peered down on my right side and was instantly blinded by thousands of suns. It was to my right or it must have been in the East; my eyes ached, and I suddenly thoug ht: what am I doing here?-where am !?-how did I get hung up in a group like this? I've got to go find Liu. Ram Lal was very pleased with me-as a lover, as a chela-student. . .. Ram Lal was pleased that I could go into a wedding party and knock 'em dead, bring the gold out of their pockets. I started getting my own reputation. No o ne knew who I was or where I came from. I had various names-the one with pigment in his eyes, the white one, and so on. It was a gas watching the brides right off look into my left iris, searching for a black spot-yes, it's him! I'd nod for Ram Lal who would s tart a smile because word had already been here ahead of us and it would be a cinch . I don't think he was jealous. It was more bread for everyone. I don't know how long Ram Lal had been considering this next move, but one time the show wasn't proceeding so well-a very uptight wedding party, no money. I'd been dancing in trances in front of the bride, but no thing was working. They were getting ready to heave us out. Ram Lal clapped his hands and got us all dancing, not frenetic, but a very steady, very slow, menacing kind of dance, Duleep playing the deep drum, very slow, very loud, like it was tolling, boommm . . . boommm ... Ram Lal danced slowly through the troupe over to me and stared straight into my eyes, looking up slightly because I was talle r- though I always thought of him as taller-and he put his arm around my waist and taught me the first curse. It was humid, very hot and close, flies swarmed in the air; it was the season for chills, convulsions, viruses, fevers, un­nameable diseases, bad water. I didn't even know what it was and maybe that was why Ram Lal taught me­because there was no power if you didn't know what it meant. Maybe he thought I'd forget. Whatever I said, the coins cooled my feet in the dust. They had to pay plenty more that day to buy the curse back off. Ram Lal took the curse away himself, but only after hours and hours, ple nty of money ... not until the old man got down in the dust, stretched out his hands, and cried. I didn't like Ram Lal for that and wouldn't sleep with him for a few nights after. He loves me so much. And now I'm worth more than ever. He watches my every move. I've really gotta find Liu; he obviously knows I'm thinking about Liu. We're getting rich. The other members of the troupe have grown afraid of me. The hell with Ram Lal. But he really turns me on, too. Compared to him, Pretty Blue was-nah, I loved Pretty Blue, just different. But I'm almost a prisoner of Ram Lal. I'd s plit, but what if he curses me? One day Ram Lal took me aside. His arm encircling my waist, we strolled slowly along while he spoke: like a broth­er, like a father, like a son, like a lover, in all these ways, and so many other ways, I love you more than any o ther person; you are the most beautiful faced person, the most beautiful of movement ... Ram Lal told me lots of other things. We made love. The sudden chalky seawater gag of him in my throat. We slept. After washing in a s tream, he said: Now my lover, I'm going to teach you some simple tricks so if I am ever hurt or killed or cursed to death or you a re being hunted, with these tricks you can survive anywhere in the world . He taught me to crush a light bulb in a handkerchief and eat the glass. He taught me how to get out of chains and straightjackets. How to hold my breath for long periods. How to take pain. He taught me tricks in controlling men with my gaze. He taught me to put a dagger through my arm in the space between my taut biceps and the bone. He taught me to swallow ha lf of a sword which he assured me was very good. He could get it down until the hilt clanked against his teeth. He taught me to handle venomous snakes-cobras, adders, etc. Simple things like how to slit a pocket with a razor for a wallet or papers. The first time I tried the mouthful of gasoline was like when I let someone come in my mouth once. I gagged and puked and wept and wouldn't try it again, but Ram Lal said it was the fear of the gasoline that was choking me and not the gasoline itself, and I said, forget it, Ram Lal, don' t give me any of that fancy talk, and puked again. The first time it was miserable. But I remember another first time. It was getting dark out. I blew the gasoline into the air across the torch, saw the eve-ning stars, calm and still in the purpling sky, disappear in the orange white blast of the fireball, felt my face scorch with the blast, then spat and cut it off like he'd taught me. (It can go back down your throat.) ... I sta rted laughing. The stars came back. He'd been standing right behind me with a blanket ready'to throw around me just in case, but when the fireball disappeared in the air, he dropped the blanket; he ran over to where l was. He was laughing hysterically and then kissed my lips, still sweet with gasoline fumes. (Kissing on the lips was something I taught him.) Above us, the low branches of a banyan tree were still crackling with flames-you could smell the scorched bark and the sap from some of the leaves. Ram Lal explained: With the things I have taught you-you will always be able to make your living anywhere in the world. People will always pay to see a man risk cutting his arm open, gag on glass, or catch fire. Always. Their secret hope is this time he slips and burns up. With this secret, they feel guilty; you can shame them. They want to see flames come leaping through your chest. They want to see your heart still beating in the fireball. They will pay to buy back the ghost they want you to be. I really loved Ram Lal at this time and didn't care that I wasn't free to do any­thing. l often kneeled and kissed the ground he walked on. I even thought I didn't care that much about Liu anymore, though I loved her more than ever, but didn't know it, perhaps the worst curse of all. So it was more of the same old thing. Like anything else, it gets to be old hat, me and Ram Lal and the boys, up and down the countryside, both of us now with big reputations, worth a lot to placate and buy off. And now Ram Lal was teaching me more and more curses because they were having such good results coming out of my mouth. One wedding we showed up and they had about three astrologers and a couple of saddhus hanging around ready to field our curses like infielders shifting around for a line drive hitter. I brought down every curse Ram Lal had ever taught me, all of them, pissed and mean as I could be, and when they threw money this time, I laughed and picked it up and ate a few of the coins and threw the rest back at the wedding party and the saddhus and astrologers. I tore the notes up into shreds and ate the shreds; I spat them out; I danced on them; I threw them at the saddhus so that when I caught my breath and looked down in one of the mirrors, I saw a look of terror horror and amusement all at once on Ram Lal's face. When I saw Ram Lal's lips moving quickly, I knew he was trying to ward off my evil. Maybe he thought I was possessed and maybe I am, but when I saw Ram Lal mumbling preventatives 15 and anodynes, I knew I had him on the run, I knew he could be had. I was no longer afraid of him, a t least completely afraid of him; soon, I'd find a way to split and find Liu, because now I knew I was going to find her. Out for a walk yesterday evening, at the edge of a field. Suddenly Ram Lal pops out from a ditch and says, where you head­ed, Wolfie. For a walk I tell him. He sure didn't believe that. He thought I was splitting. He took my hand and insisted on com­ing with me. Now I don't like that from anyone. Yesterday, he said he wanted to do a big show, two hundred kilometers northwest, small village. I'm tired of going in the wrong direction; I don't like traveling west, if only for a few miles. Each morning I see the sun come up, I want to go that way. East for Liu. Anyway, Ram Lal said we could knock off this show in pretty quick time. We were washing up by a s tream and I start moving my lips, a plain English curse, Goddamn your ass, Ram Lal, le t's move East for a change! Ram Lal was rinsing out a skirt when he saw my lips moving. He couldn't hear because of the rushing of the stream, but he dropped the skirt, and the current swirled it away down s tream. Ram Lal jumped back, then his lips started mov­ing, what? wha t? He laughed it off, but I knew he was afraid I'd laid one on him; the skirt was gone and I had him on the run. Finally, I said look, Ram Lal, you've been good to me, there's no getting around that, good to me right from the start when you could have let them kill me for the fun of it. You've been good to me and taught me life breath and meditation and lots of street arts. We've made a lot of bread together. And you've loved me. I don't want to be ungrateful, but let me go find Liu and then maybe we can work something out. I tried to be kind. He wouldn't hear of it. Fear of my leaving is making him irri­table. Impossible to live with. He curses everyone at the weddings now-bad curses no matter how much they pay. I feel guilty because indirectly it's my fault. When Ram Lal, dark circles under his eyes, lets the curses go, I repeat the anodynes as fast as I can to myself. I try to find someone in the wedding party to con­centrate on. I beam ••••energy•••• with my eyes••••. Sometimes I get through, some­times I don' t. Ram Lal might be jamming me, but I don't think he can curse them hard and jam me at the same time. Just because I wanted to leave and find 16 Liu, Ram Lal's curses go haywire, they screw up the entire sense of justice. When I see the old fathers quaking with fear at the weddings, I feel so lousy because they're getting gypped. They're not get­ting what they' re paying for. One time Ral Lal was so angry, he even tried my trick of eating the money-which pissed me off because that's my scene . Another show. Ram Lal wasn't doing too hot at all, monsoon making him irri­table. I finally had to step in and do the curse for him. Later, jealous and quiet under a tree, he stood on his hands and mumbled some funny little song; I couldn't catch the words, but anyway, I kept the anodynes going the whole time. Still feel uneasy, though, because he must know lots of ways of getting through, even though he swore at the time he taught it to me, that the chant of the four days would take ca re of anything. I've been jamming him as hard as I could. He's trying to pick me like a lock. I've lost ten pounds concen­trating on keeping him o ut. He's not liking the way I'm looking lately-a littled peaked, Wolfie .. Yeah, Ram Lal, I wonder why. You're looking a little thin yourself. We tacitly called a truce when we both lost another five pounds. Made up last night and made love, things good again. Duleep, Ram Lal and me war councilled up some new ventures. Ram Lal wants to s teal some kids and sell 'em to the beggar gangs. Young ones, he insists. Preschoole rs. We' ll get some of the shep­herd kids; we can sell them to rich old fags. The rest we ca n nab on the way home from school. No kids, Ram Lal! He called me a sentimental fool: Wolfie, I'll do what I please. We're stealing kids! Okay, Ram Lal, you steal kids and I won't ball you no more! Okay? Find your­self someone else. I'm moving EAST. I felt a curse knocking on my nervous system and jammed him .... His face immediately looked drawn and I knew I was younger and could wear him down on sheer animal energy-tho ugh he had the experience and the moves . He knew it too, but gave the whole thing up immedi­ately. Alright, Wolfie, how about this? Let's do a straight kidnap and ransom. Ram Lal, kids are out in all forms! I put a stop to that shit. Kids are where I put my foot down. Christ, Ram Lal'sdriving me nuts today. He's so uptight. Now he's accusing me and Duleep of having something going. Duleep' s practicing his juggling, and I've got a Iota full of gasoline we've siphoned from an ambassador. I've already put up one beautiful fireball- almost a perfect sphere except for the neck itself, and, amid shouts of atcha! and shabash! from the boys, I'm feeling pretty good, very fluid and limber, when Ram Lal sits down next to me and starts sharpening his daggers on a whetstone. Sunset, my favorite quiet time- next to sunrise-and he has to sit down right next to me and start screeching away with his blades. Now look, I ask you, impartially and fairly, isn't that inter­ference? Isn' t he hassling me? I'm not making any excuses, but I blew the next one pretty badly .. . and suddenly, the ball kind of fluttered and collapsed. The fireball was coming back at me; it was go­ing down my throat; I cut it off, ducked­something Ram Lal told me never ever to do-duck. The flame died about an arm's length from my lips. Lucky. I can' t jam him when I blow fireballs. He started right in. You are terrible. You can do nothing right. He picked up a torch, took a mouthful of gasoline and shot out the biggest fireball I'd ever seen; really, it was beautiful, high, round, perfect, and it seemed to stand for a s plit second, stretch, and inflate as though there were a big face inside puffing its cheeks like those hoary old faces of the wind in the corners of the 16th century maps. Mmmmmm. Ram Lal didn't even look at me. He flung the torch on the ground and walked away. Well, the re wasn't much I could do. I knew he was trying to take me over again, scare me, beat me down, and though I couldn't stand the thought of it, the gaso­line really had me terrified, but I had to do it. I picked up the torch out of the grass real quick like nothing in the world was wrong, like I wanted nothing more tha n to put one up in the air, and more, that Ram Lal's was ordinary, just ordinary. I think the boys sensed it was coming down to some kind of contest between us because they gathered around, I could see them in a circle at the edge of the torch light. I put up a real beauty. Ram Lal matched it. I put up another one. I'd never blown better fireballs. Ram Lal matched it. I swear it wasn't premeditated. I'm not that bad. It was when I had the mouthful of gasoline, it suddenly came to me, and maybe I was a little drunk or sick or stoned on the fumes, my head and eyeballs burn­ing with it; I was so liquid and black with the gasoline, and now the stars were out like phosphorescent seeds floating in the gasoline fumes in my sockets. I held the torch in front of my lips, saw Ram Lal in the corner of my eye, his arms crossed haughtily on his chest, the gold spangles shining in the firelight, and suddenly, I turned and spat the whole thing out across the torch. He looked transparent in the flames, almost as though he'd been x-rayed . He started rolling in the flames, his hair and clothes burning. He drew back his hand and threw one of the daggers. I could hardly take my eyes from his flaming arm to duck. The dagger came at me in flames, but he missed. Then I knew I was going to make it, and I threw the Iota of gasoline over him; in the flames I could see his lips moving, the fire starting to go down his throat, but he was still cursing me, and I suddenly broke through the circle and started to run across the field for the road. Some of the boys were trying to beat the flames out and I hope to God they did, he was so beautiful, and I didn't want to kill him. I just wanted to be free to find Liu again. I felt so sick for her, love, Liu, love, and some of the boys suddenly started to chase me. They were about thirty or forty yards behind, waving torches and throw­ing daggers, and they were gaining, when suddenly I stopped dead, raised my torch below my lips so they could see my lips moving, and I began to curse them- things to shrivel them, make them impotent, make them blind, make them gnaw their own arms and legs, things to make them go mad and things to kill them. They stopped dead. They made a lot of noise, but not one of them dared come forward ... I even walked back toward them, but they backed up. They were completely mine. I turned and walked across the field to the road without looking back once over my shoul­de r. On the road, I dropped my skirt. When I took off the tribal vest, I sud­denly realized a big part of me loved the vest and jewelry. So I took the vest and smashed it on the surface of the road again and again the way the dhobi smashes a shirt on rocks in the river again and again until my hands were bloody from the shattered mirrors and the vest was in rags. I was free to look for Liu. Elizabeth McBride -------------------------- Sometimes when you come to me I think of a mechanical bird standing on the edge of a glass, dipping its beak into the water. The street extends itself, branching into roads. Outside my window, river deltas-veins of life. I believe the pavement is breaking apart; I can almost smell the fresh bread. In this shadowed room, your arm curves over me like the arc of a street lamp. I am grateful for the light. Vapor Trails Lawrence Broch --------------------------- K.L.R. Gammill -------------------------- San Sebastian Beauty: never more than fragrance of cloves Borne on that salt air, as inlet mist deferred To blooming sun; that tangled hair, and earrings Caught by sun; those leather sandals gilt with dust That clung to bitter apples, washed with wine; That laughing, despe rate water-fight in spray Thrown off by fish-strewn harbor rocks, and strong Bare toes of mammoth women plying nets For fishing; brown sinewed arms in cotton sleeves Drying sweat with a hat-flick; and that dwarf, Smelling of bacon, from whose eyes the Virgin Shone and blessed the wilting flowers he sold. This it must have been that disarmed Charlemagne's Rear guard, on looking back from Ronceveaux. Lawrence Broch ---------------------------- Eve• Lilith I love each creature named by him I love, I teach their glad names to myself, and they Teach mine to me. And since that precious day 1 came from him, and for him, thinking of Just him, I see him and his God above In everything. And every day I say My prayer to him, and Him, and every day I think I hear them answered. Tha t is love. But sometimes, when he's sleeping quietly, He stirs and calls a name I do not know, And then he thrashes wildly, tears the ground, And wakes up sweating; then he turns to me, I search his eyes and find a darker glow, And then he takes me. I don' t make a sound. I sank when he insisted on naming each animal, each plant. I knew their true names, but he wouldn't listen; and the othe r man sided with him. I whispered love to him, and tried to teach him what it really was, and he went blank, like when he prays; and again the other inan sided with him. I loved him, but I knew him; that angered them both . So I called a name he' ll never know, and left. Sanvei, Sansanavei, Samangalaf, go tell the men I won't re turn; tell his chattel, too. And tell her I came from adamah, not adam, and I know all their names. Then tell her I will see her husband in his dreams; and he' ll feel my hair touch his chest, and wake, on fire, and hold me when he holds her. 17 -Carol Gerhardt ----------------------------------------- 18 Teri Ruch • It is possible Te rrence meant nothing vindictive when he told me he'd be mov­ing to New York City next week and that he'd be living with the jazz singer April Gardner. Maybe he really thought I'd be glad our perpetual partings would finally become a single, permanent one. But I doubt it. His sorrow was not fierce enough, his smile not hidden . When I came home balancing a six-pack of 16-ounce Cokes in my right hand with a six-pack of Pepsi Lights in my left, to find our ste reo missing, along with the Bix Beiderbecke, Dizzie Gillespie and Duke Ellington albums, I stopped walking so suddenly that Martha, behind me with two bags of groceries, ran into my back and d ropped a head of lettuce. Terrence, twirling his trumpet and singing sweet whispers in the phone, stopped speaking. He hung up and told me this tale: Before we hear Terrence's tale, let us pause. About the author: Judy Plishker was born in Oshkosh, Wis­consin on December 15, 1957. Daughter of a Lutheran minister, she developed at an early age an overwhelming capacity for feeling guilt. Often she could be overhead crying, "God I feel guilty!" when brushing her teeth, when writing letters, when mak­ing love. Martin Luther once said when, at a cocktail party, someone confided in him her theory that J. Plishker suffered from a Bliss sick sense of sin: "This is most certainly true." About the narrator: The " I" of this story is not J.P. , but Hippolyta, a foolishly tense and trapped woman, confined by he r own confusion. We weep for this woman. An aside from an outside voice: This Judy P. is a bit too harsh . To be frank, she irritates me with her continual harrassment of Hippolyta. Back to what Terrence told Hippolyta: "On a spring eve fresh with flowers, April danced with her fri ends in a field. Like Tess, she was, but even more beauti­ful , and bare. She sang: 'Follow me; dry the tears; warm the snow where the rains never go. To our home by the sea, we shall fly. Follow me.' "She had only sung jazz before, Hip­polyta. I was trapped. I followed . "What a silly victim I was, Hip. Will you fo rgive me?" Hippolyta, hugging her hysteria to her­self, stood in apparent composure before Terrence, whose crow's-feet were twitch­ing. She was thinking of Bliss, the pianist in Terrence's group. Bliss was beautiful, always swinging himself in his seat to some inside beat. Being blind never bothered him. " It frees me," he said o ne night when drinking gin after a jam. Hippolyta knew he meant it and wished she could be as in love as he was with music. How she admired the way he smiled and held his to ngue between his lips while he played, his head moving fo rward and backward above the keys. " Bliss! Bliss!" the crowds would hiss. "Beautiful, brillia nt, blind, black Bliss!" Bliss never complained about living with his cousin's fa mily in a one bedroom house on the hem of downtown Houston. Ter­rence (or Terrence and Hippolyta, if she came to listen) used to give Bliss a ride to wherever the group would be playing that night. In the d usk his cousin's house and those next to it seemed sadly magical­torn sheets and T-shirts on lines in the front yard flapping slowly; children's voices whining or singing somewhere; an old man barely visible rocking on his porch; and, under it all, TV voices chattering. But what fa scinated Hip most about Bliss was his honesty and insight. From a pe r­son's voice, he knew their heart. Once, while Terrence and Lee were tuning up and she was sitting with Bliss as he fin­ished drinking, Hip noticed he seemed wistful and asked him why. He explained that a man a few tables away was ca lling another man his friend when he actually hated him. "Why wo rry over their prob­lems?" she asked. "All problems are mine," he answe red . As she touched his arm, he added, "Yours make me saddest." Then he rocked in his chair, humming softly and tapping his fingers. "Explain," she insisted. He stopped moving. "Terrence doesn' t love you and you don' t love him." Hip felt he had more to say, but, scared, she placed her hand on his lips . He was crying. Now Hip thought of Bliss. Then she thought of some thing else. She glared at Terrence and said : 'Tm bearing your fucking baby, trumpet boy." He smiled . Hip wanted to hit those trumpet-puck­ered lips. She wanted to see Terrence ache from the pain of the smack and from the pain of his vanity. Nowhere could you find a man so protective of his fine facial skin. "Get out," Hip yelled instead. Terrence didn't pause; he took his trumpet and left. Hip copes with the future abortion of her baby: Hippolyta had wanted three babies: a brown one, a gold o ne and an orange one. She preferred fall colors which would match the decor of her living room. Perhaps, she thought, they could sit on her credenza. Then, every week, when she dusted, she could rearrange them to alte r the effect. Visitors could use them fo r hat holders, or, with hands extended, the babies might serve as coaste rs for coffee cups. The vari­ety of uses abounded. I sat in a chair, hand on stomach. Martha looked at me as she did four years ago in Sharpstown Mall when, after accidentally discovering that we both had the same boyfriend, Gregg Leggio, we drank beer together in Good Time Charly's and real­ized that each of us disliked Gregg but liked each other quite well. We roomed together, then, for a year, until her friends began to sleep all over the house. When I had to step over Barry and Dean as they embraced on the kitchen floor just so I could get milk from the refrigerator for my coffee, I knew I'd had enough . I looked out the window and watched women and children leave the professional building across the street from my apart­ment. Martha unpacked the groceries in the kitchen. I could n't cry; I was too angry. Martha had too much tact to say so now, but she had warned me about Terrence. I would n't listen. "Have you never fallen in love with a voice?" I had asked her then. "My first fa ll was in high school when David Rex sang in 'H.M.S. Pinafore.' There's some thing sensual about voices, Martha. Maybe that's why foreign accents are so alluring." I had paused to see if Martha understood, but she said nothing. We were at her house at the time, and two of her roommates were fighting in one of the bedrooms. She seemed distracted, but nodded. 'Tm in love with Terrence Rivers' trumpet. I love the voice of his trumpet. It makes me want to cry, it's so beautiful." "But he's not beautiful. Nor is he sensitive, Hip," Martha said, finally looking at my eyes. "He likes himself too well to like anyone else. I'm concerned for you. Bas­tards can leave permanent bruises." "Thanks for the advice," I said, "but I'm a victim of myself, willingly." Now Martha was kneeling beside me. " Hip," she said, ' 'I' ll take you to the clinic." Tranced, I rose. I was imagining Bliss. Together we were rocking and singing a rhythm. Millions of voices were singing against us, using our beat as a base. Sud­denly I realized why Bliss had cried the day he told me of his fears for me and Terrence. But I lay in the hospital, anesthetized, while Bliss, with the group, left for New York City. II Two girls leapt between two bamboo canes. Two others clapped them to the ground, then up and together, and apart and down again, to the beat of "The Ele­phant Walk." One girl holding the ends of the canes glanced down at the cassette player in her lap, then licked a drop of sweat from her nose. It was July. Hip watched the two girls hop and the other two tap. She leaned against the stop sign and tapped her bare blistered toes on the hot sidewalk. With her teeth, she pulled the last bit of fudgecicle off its stick, tasting wood. She knew the pulse of her nerves. It was seething as the song of the locusts. Tense, she thought of her new job as a waitress which she'd held for three weeks now. She was calculating how much money she'd save by the end of August. A bird dropped shit on the sign, barely missing Hip's hair. I would have laughed had it hit. I'm taking over this na rrative now. Hip matters naught for the nonce. Hyper Hip, too tense, too trapped. She cannot get her mind off Bliss' blindness nor her own. Let me carry you, reader, away from Hip's hopelessness and beyond ner neurosis. We are in a helicopter. Please ignore the sound of the whipping propellers. Don't let them frighten you and don't feel dizzy from the height of our flight. Look! See! Below us, so small, so insignificant: Hip, a speck upon a street, an angled figure, kissed 19 by none but cared for, lonely though be­friended. How can we help this child? How can we help her if she first won't help herself? (Let me remind J. Plishker that Hip is helping herself. She has a job. She's mak­ing money. She got an abortion. So what if she never told Bliss that she loved him! So she slipped up. Give her a break. She's trying.) Hip slipped away from the pole, wak­ened from her reverie by the plop. You are pale, Hippolyta. You are as con­fused as the narrators of this story. You need the rhythm of play right now. Walk the block. Kick a rock. Hickory, dickory, dickory dock. Tick, tock. Who has broken Hippolyta's clock? Beautiful, one-breasted Hippolyta draws taut the string of her bow and aims as Amazons watch. Theseus does not flinch. He does not move. "I give you my arrows," he says. Hippolyta looks into the eyes of the war­rior. They are equals, this pair, and in love. She chooses not to shoot. III In Galleria I, Hippolyta leans on the rail overlooking the ice-skating rink. It's a Tues­day morning and she should be at work. But she quit today, and, to celebrate, she a te a piece of apple ~trudel from Helmut's, then cut her hair short as a man's. Last week she saw Marvin, a man she knew before Terrence. "Hey Hip how are you let's go to bed," he said. Last year she'd have done it, too, but sitting in Trader Vic's and sipping a Singapore Sling, she shook her head and shot him a refusal. "I know a man," she said, "who loves with­out looking and cares without screwing. He hears people's hearts from afar. You're heinous and I hate you." It was a pleasant evening. She remem­bered she had wanted three babies: a brown one, a gold one, and an orange one. She remembered that she wanted Bliss. Hip hangs her hands over the rail, lean­ing on her elbows. Below, a flat-chested girl skates figure eights, one over the other. Hip listens to the sound of the skates slicing ice and to the song on the PA: 'Tm Gonna Be Your Number One." She will reach Bliss, she decides. She will call him or write; or if need be, she will fly. Looking down, Hip sees that where the girl was skating, a single infinity sign remains. IV "We have an enormous demand for these pans in this part of the state," said the man 20 behind the counter, licking his lips. He concentrated on a Texas-shaped cornbread pan and, puffing words through thick cheeks, explained the s ig nificance of Houston cornbread as opposed to Amarillo cornbread. Hippolyta chuckled to herself as the salesman bantered. He was her tutor and soon she'd be selling these expensive sou­venirs. Through the display window she watched two women leave a shoe s tore, each with large broad-ankled legs sup­ported on tiny high-heeled feet. Perhaps there was a craziness to the place, Hip thought. Maybe she would enjoy working here. So much depended on perception. I've had it with Hip's hesitations. I've waited long enough. It's time to bring back Bliss. Harken how he hums while by the yogurt counter, fingering the glass and breathing in the smells, he contemplates the condiments. Now he sits nearby, a cup of plain vanilla yogurt on the table by his hands. Spoon in mouth, he taps the table like he would piano keys. Greetings to you, Bliss. I'm glad to see you' re back at last. Why took you so much time to realize you should return? "Well, I must be honest, J.P. I've noticed, in listening to your story, that you tend to discredit Hip. Lean more lightly on your pen, please, my friend. She asked me to come back. She couldn't find my phone number in New York, because I don' t have one, and she didn't want to leave a mes­sage with the group because of Terrence, so she wrote me, care of Lee, asking him to read the letter to me. But Lee read it to Terrence and he threw it away. Finally," Bliss said in earnest, "Lee confessed to me." A waitress looked up from the yogurt sundae she was fixing and s tared at Bliss. She considered calling a psychiatrist, but waited to hear the end of his s tory. "I called Hippolyta," Bliss said. " I had to hear it from her. I had to hear her voice." You wish to taste the tart bacterial tang of yogurt, Hip. You drop the cornbread pan and leave the shop. Entering the Yogurt Culture, you see Bliss. Bliss hears you . You hesitate. He does not move. You do not shoot. A kid flicks a raisin at your knee, but you, Hippolyta, flinch not. You walk toward Bliss. Bliss turns his face to you . This is Hip. This is Bliss. This is love. In Galleria I, Houston, Texas, 1981. Roland Pfeiffer Mark Skinner • Roland Pfe iffer was tall and thin. His trousers were too short in the legs and gathered at the waist by his belt that always flapped about in the front. Sometimes the older boys would grab his belt and pull him around for fun . Roland Pfeiffer's ears rested flush against his head. His pale gray ey"es were sunken in their sockets which appeared darkened as if he were wearing eye sliadow. Roland Pfeiffer prided himself in being the only seventh grader at Fort Caroline Junior High School to be tru sted to run the school supply counter alone. He consid­ered himself a successful businessman in the thriving world of pens, pencils, bind­ers and notebook paper. He ran an effi­cient supply business for the school. The counter was dust-free, orderly and open on time every morning. "NO FREE ERAS­ERS" was Roland Pfeiffer' s hard-nosed motto that hung in large print behind his head . Roland Pfeiffer's Adam's apple bulged when he craned his neck over the counter to watch Janet Williams standing in front of her locker, reaching up for her grammar book. He had dreamed of her ever since he had first seen her. He had watched her from across the wide corridor every morn­ing for the past two months as she stood in front of her book locker, chatting with her friends. Her skirts were short and tight. Her calves were covered by her shiny white plastic BeeBop boots. He loved to watch her stretch up to pull her books from the top shelf. Her skirt would draw up to the tops of her thighs. She wore silky cream­colored panties. She was teasing him. He swore she was doing this every morning to tease him- to break him down! He loved her smell, her clear face, her long finger­nails. Once when she bought unlined paper from him, she handed him a quarter and withdrew her hand, lig htly rubbing it across his. She was teasing him! Janet Williams was a ninth g rader, a cheer­leade r, and very popular in school, and she was completely unaware of Roland Pfeiffer's gawking. That morning the corridor was crowded with students. The boys wore Gant shirts and corduroy Levis and smelled of En­glish Leather cologne. The girls all emu­lated Janet with their high plastic boots, short skirts and Heaven Sent perfume. Janet was bea utiful, more so than any of the others, Roland Pfeiffer thought. He wanted to touch her- to run his hands over her for just a second. He daydreamed about her while he sat in class. He humped his pil­low while he dreamed of her at night. He would awaken in the morning breathing heavily-his pajamas damp, his pillowcase stained. Janet Williams stood before her book locker. Across the clouds of cologne, the sound of snapping gum and penny loafers clicking on the tile floor, Roland Pfeiffer was closing up the supply counter. He stared at h e r inte ntly. He had to, he thought, he had to do it. If it only lasted two seconds- even one second-it would be worth it. Once- just once! Before she could turn around he would be gone- lost in the crowd. What possessed him? It excited him. His breath quickened. There was no fighting it! Roland Pfeiffer squeezed amidst the other student moving through the corridor. Janet faced her locker, thumb­ing through her looseleaf notebook while her girlfriend chatted away. Roland Pfeiffer loved the brunette hair that ran down onto her shoulders and halfway down her back. He loved the way it swayed when she turned her head to look at her girlfriend. He couldn't help himself! He hoped she would understand. He moved slowly with the noisy traffic of his peers. Locker doors were slammed shut. Friends yelled across • the corridor to each other. People sang out rock and roll lyrics. Roland Pfeiffer knew he would have to be discreet and fa st. Janet's light blue skirt hugged the curves of her bod y. The confusion swelled when the 8:30 bell rang. The traffic moved faster. Roland Pfeiffer grew nervous as he fidgeted with the I. D. bracelet on his right wrist. Janet Williams reached her hand up to the top of her locke r. Her skirt hem drew up around her behind. His palms sweated . Don' t back out now! Be bold! His heart quickened . He nervously jingled the brace­let on his waist. He had to do it. Passing her, he moved his hand down and groped it wildly across her behind. She gasped out loud. Her girlfriend's eyes widened . Roland Pfeiffer' s bracelet tangled itself with the elastic band in her panties. He dropped his books. She was pulled into the moving traffic of students. Roland tripped and fell; Janet fe ll on him. She cried and slapped at him. Later that day Roland Pfe iffer had tried to leave school when he got word that Janet had a boyfriend, David Silva, who was looking for him. He had tried his stomach-ache act out on the dean of boys, who was never impressed with the antics of seventh graders. At the bus stop the older boys held his arms while David Silva pulled Roland Pfeiffer's trousers down to his ankles. They pushed him about and watched and laughed as Roland Pfeiffer waddled around trying to keep his balance. Some of the other kids giggled out of fear, some shouted for it to stop, some walked away shaking the ir heads in disbelief. Roland Pfeiffer's trousers were tied around the top of the street sign. His books and papers blew alo ng the gutter with the passing of cars. He chased his homework assignments and pamphle ts down the street in his under­wear. David Silva and his friends stood around the street sign guarding the trou­sers from Roland. "You stay the hell away from her!" David Silva shouted at him. "Next time you mess with her I'll tear your arm off and beat ya' over the damned head with it!" The other tenth grade boys laughed. He reached home clutching his dirty books against his chest. They'll be sorry, he thought. I'll get back at them one day. And I'll get them good! Roland Pfeiffer slipped through his bed room window. His parents were at work. His key was in his trousers. Tears dried on his face. ''I'll get them. David Silva, I'll get you1" he thought as he washed himself off and put on clean clothes. "I can never go back. Never again." The laughter had frightened him. The smell of the older boys clutching his arms was sour and leathery. He opened a can of Campbell's Chicken Gumbo soup, then wrapped tin foil over the top of the soup can . How emba rrassing! She had cried and slapped at him. His wrist ached. His brace­le t was gone. He sprinkled Parmesan cheese into a cup and added water, then covered it with tin foil. The scrapes on his knees burned . He placed the soup can and the cup in the back of the cabinet under the bathroom sink. It works-he had done it before. The next mo rning Roland Pfeiffer was sick. "What is it, son?" His father sat on the side of the bed. "I feel terrible," Roland Pfeiffer moaned, gazing up at his father. "Where do you hurt?" His mother looked concerned. "My stomach," Roland murmured, let­ting a bit of saliva roll from the corner of his mouth. Suddenly his eyes opened wildly. He sp rang out of bed holding his mouth. His fa ther jumped back as Roland Pfeiffer bounded to the ba throom, nearly knocking his mo th er to the floor. He s lammed the d oor and locked it. He coughed loudly into the toilet, then quietly crawled over to the ca binet. He knew his parents would be listening at the door. He quietly swallowed huge g ulps of air as he opened the cabinet and d ug out the soup can and the cup that was stashed behind a box of tide. Roland Pfeiffer belched into the toilet and removed the tin foil from the soup can . "Roland, honey, a re you okay?" his mother called. He coughed as he poured the Chicken Gumbo Soup into the toilet, then removed the tin foil from the cup. He swirled the Parmesan cheese around in the water. Roland Pfeiffer knew that it would have smelled worse had he let it sit for two days instead of one, but she would never know the difference. "Roland? Can mommy help her boy?" He swallowed more air then took a large gulp of cheese water and swished it around in his mouth and belched it into the toilet. He had learned that it made an authentic sound. He poured in the rest of the cheese water and stirred it all together. He placed the empty can and cup back in the cabinet. "Okay, Roland, open up," his fa ther called . The ba throom door opened . Rola nd Pfeiffer crouched, holding his stomach; his mouth hung open . He breathed the cheesy smell into his mother's face. "My God, son." She covered her nose. "Get in bed! I'll call the school." She passed him and disgustedly looked down at the toilet. Roland Pfeiffer laid down in bed and pulled the quilt up over his head. He could hear his mother swish the large brush around in the bowl, then flush. Soon Betty Pfeiffer placed a pail beside his head. "Do it in this if you can' t make it to the bathroom next time." "Okay," he slurred . When his parents had left for work, Roland Pfeiffer was up. He threw the empty soup can away and washed out the cup. He wondered how long he could stay out of school. He looked in the kitchen cabi­net. Two cans of Chicken Gumbo remained; he could stay out two more days, then came the weekend. He wondered if any­one had taken his trousers off the sign post on the corner. He spent the morning watching game shows and reruns and eat­ing shredded wheat cereal. By noon, Roland Pfe iffer was sitting on the floor of his parent's walk-in closet, thumbing through his father's various nude maga­zines. Again and again he found himself flipping the pages back to the same pic­ture. She held whips and chains in one hand and a wooden chair in the othe r. She had that sultry look in her eyes and the inviting mouth. It was her' The brunette hair, the long fingernails, the same curves. "Janet!" Roland Pfeiffer shouted. He shook under her sensual sta re and pressed the magazine against himself. She slowly saunte red toward him. She tied him up with the chains and gagged him with the leather whip. She danced before him. She hit him over the head with the chair. "More Janet!" he heaved as he teethed the whip. "Janet, oh God' More'" "What are you doing?" His mother stood in the doorway. "Get up!" "Uh- I-" "Give me those'" She snatched the mag­azines away. He held the lump in his pajamas as he stood up to face her. "What do you think you're doing snoop­ing around in here and looking at these'" Betty Pfeiffer held the magazines in her fist. The light gla red on her glasses. Her lower lip was straight and tight. "Well?" His eyes roamed the walls. He could n't think. He passed by her and walked into his room. She trailed him closely. "Well? Are you going to tell me? I thought you were sick." Roland Pfeiffer laid down in bed and pulled the quilt over his head . She stood over him. "I was worried," she insisted, " I came home to see if you would eat something fo r me. And look wha t I find ." 'Tm feeling better," he said from beneath the quilt. "I could see that' I'm glad you made this spectacular recovery. You can vacuum the ho use this afternoon . That' ll he lp you regain your appetite." Betty Pfeiffer slowly shook her head, swaying the cha in hang­ing from the sides of her glasses. He lay before her. What could he say? Nothing! Think. He sho uldn' t have been so careless. He was willing to spend the rest of his life under the quilt. 'Tm serious," she demanded, "You are going to vacuum. Say something-talk!" 'Tm not feeling that good ." His voice was muffled. "If you're healthy enough to grunt and snort over those magazines, then a little work won't hurt you ." "I wasn't grunting and snorting!" He flipped the quilt from his face. "I was read-ing an article'" "On what?" she grinned. "I didn't look at the title." Betty Pfeiffer rolled her eyes back and turned; her rubber soled shoes squeaked against the tile. "Stay out of our closet. And stay away from those filthy magazines. I know that boys will be boys, but not in my closet you don't." Her dress rustled as she walked from the room. "I don't know why your fa ther keeps those things around anyway." The sound of her voice dimmed as she moved away. Roland Pfeiffer could hear her moving around in the bathroom; brushing her dark blond hair back and picking open bobby pins with her teeth. "I saw Kathy Gibson's mother today. She said that Kathy's throwing a Halloween costume party. Have you heard about it?" "Nope, not a thing." He stared at the ceiling. Everybody had been talking about it for days. She leaned out of the bathroom and looked down the hallway into his room. "It's supposed to be a big party. Drinks and snacks." A band too, he had heard. Outside with gas lamps on the large basketball court that Kathy Gibson's father had poured for her brother, Harold, when he thought he wanted to become a basketball player. Everybody would be there. "I think she said that there w·ould be a band playing also. Are you going?" Betty Pfeiffer appeared in the doorway of his room. "Nope." "Why?" "I don't know anything about it and I wasn't invited." She straightened her collar. "Mrs. Gibson said it would be fine if you came, and I told you all about it." "I don't have time to get a costume." ''I'll help you. We have three days." He hated when she pressed him. " o. I don't want to go. I don't have a date." "You're too young to have a date. I'm sure there will be plenty of kids who don't have dates. She said that she was sure Kathy would love to have you." Betty Pfeiffer's red lips parted as she smiled enthusiastically. "I'll make you a pretty costume." Her eyes lit up in excitement. He shook his head, "No." She bent over him. "Come on now." She softly stroked his hair. " You' ll look nice." Her smile persisted. Pinching his cheek, she used her high-pitched baby voice. "Mommy's boy will be the most haaaandsomest one there!" He thought she had grown out of this. Roland Pfeiffer turned his face to the wall. "I don't want to go." Her smile soured. "We've been over this before. When are you going to start going out and having friends?" She sat down on the side of his bed. She took her glasses off and let them hang by their chain. "When I was your age I always had friends coming over and I would go to parties and dances 21 every Friday and Saturday night." She tried to meet his eyes. Roland played deaf; he had heard it all before. He knew it by heart. Next she would breathe deeply and start pleading. Betty Pfeiffer exhaled quietly. "Roland, if you would ju,st give it a try I know that you would like it." "I don't want to." " Please give it one try- for me. For your mother. Please- I'm begging you-Have friends." "Come on, lay off- " "Go to the party." She nudged his shoul­der. "I don't want to. I don't like parties." "How do you know? You've never been to one." "Leave me alone." She stood quickly. "Well, I told Mrs. Gibson that you would love to go." She moved toward the door. "What?" "You heard me." "Why?" " It's time you got a push." She turned; her stockings scraped together. "Who else would have done it7" "I'm not going'" "Here' s Kathy Gibson's phone number." She handed him a slip of paper. "Call her. Tell her that you're too shy to go to her party. Then apologize to her." "No, you call." "Roland! It's for your own good! You'll be fourteen years old next month and you have never been to a party or a dance. It's time we change that. Your father thinks so too." ''I'm not going!" Roland Pfeiffer knocked the quilt onto the floor as he got up. "I don' t want to, dammit'" He crushed the slip of paper in his hand. "Don't talk to your mother like that! You know, you don't look sick at all." " I feel better." "Vacuum and mop then. I'm going back to work." ''I'm not going!" he screamed after her. "Yes you are. And stay away from those magazines." He had to go. She was sure to be there. Kathy Gibson was Janet's best friend . He had seen them together many times. What would Janet be wearing, he wondered. Would he be at the party and turn to see her covered in chains interwoven with leather whips? Would she beckon him from across the floor? He would be concealed by a mask and a costume that his mother had promised to make. Zorro, or maybe Superman, he thought. Batman was accept­able, but not Robin; he was too whimpish. His identity would not be known. No one wou
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