1 Cover –
6 Fiction – “The Chimp of the Perverse” by Thomas Shane
12 Photography – five by Keith Moul
17 Poetry – three by Clinton Van Inman
20 Fiction – “Bleached” by Seth Slater
30 Artwork and Poetry – Variations by Marianic and Jean-Pierre Parra
40 Fiction – “Krylon” by William Southern
43 Music – “Our Anthem” by Renee Goust
44 About Us
This is where I write something nice about five years later and we’re still transmitting this crazy project, something about being inspired by all the wonderful things that have been sent to us, about passing on this beautiful work, and about how the passage of time alone can’t account for how we’ve been able to keep this thing going, that there’s something else, something about carrying something, something about communicating, about storytelling and putting words into sentences or pictures or framing something in such a way that creates a narrative, and if we can somehow continue to provide a space for transmitting all this creative energy, then we are such happy lucky people. Warmest,
– Christina Phelps
Clinton Van Inman was born in England, graduated from San Diego State University, and is a retired high school teacher living in Tampa. His poetry reflects rural themes as he grew up in the South and admires imagistic poetry.
Marianic and Jean-Pierre Parra are two French artists enrolled in an alliance of painting (where the entire surface of fullness and emptiness is in play) and poetry (where everything is suggested by words). Painting then borrows from poetry to compose a poetic painting, and poetry is in painting to help understanding. Painting, poetry, both arts as reference for each other in a fruitful dialogue that affirms creative imagination drawn on irreducible differences. Marianic Parra (painter and sculptor – exhibitions in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Sacramento, Los Angeles, London, Barcelona in 2015) and Jean-Pierre Parra (writer) live in the south of France.
Thomas Shane is a contributing editor of Arcadia Magazine, where his stories are featured monthly in Online Sundries. His story “Channel Surfing” can be found online at Per Contra, “The Catbird’s Cry” at Mount Hope. His work has appeared in numerous other magazines over the years and in the anthologies Fresh Water and When Last on the Mountain: The View from Writers over 50. “The Chimp of the Perverse,” he tells us, was inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Imp of the Perverse,” which was a parody of something or other by Washington Irving. It is dedicated to suffering writers everywhere.
Seth Slater is a senior at Oregon State University pursuing an English Degree with a minor in writing. Seth writes poetry, short stories, and nonfiction. He spent his formative years (from ten to sixteen) in the Islands of Fiji, immersed in Indian, Fijian, and British culture. When asked what culture he identifies with most, he smiles and shrugs, “The Fijian’s called me a Kaiviti, which means white-man with a Fijian heart. I love that title.” Seth’s writing is gritty, humorous, and unapologetic; painting the beautiful and ugly in equal light. Seth defines his main theme as truth. He believes the author must tell the truth, “even when it hurts or, rather, especially when it hurts.” Seth plans to pursue a MFA at Oregon State University after graduating with his B.A.
William Southern (not his real name) lives and works, loves, laughs, and cries, in Duluth, Minnesota. He has been published in Carve, Other Voices, The Danforth Review, Apt, and Cricket Online Review. He has not written much in the last year, mainly because he is mentally reorganizing the self-torture of writing to the point where he once again likes what he does. He also recently celebrated his 200th rejection notice by attending an AA meeting. “Krylon” explores the world of karmic meaning found by attempting to order randomness, a study that gets little attention.
9.21.2015 – trans lit mag begins transmitting issue #14, “transmitting.”
The Chimp of the Perverse
by Thomas Shane
I’ve always considered it bad taste, if not bad luck, to write about the process of writing. Plays, films, musicals about the process of making plays, films, musicals—Fame, for example, Chorus Line, I know I’m dating myself, but what was that one by Bob Fosse where he insisted on sharing his open heart surgery with us?—they bore me to tears. The vanity of it! I mean, you can gaze endlessly upon your own navel if you want to—it’s a free country, right?—but don’t insist I look in there too. Now, writing is every inch the hell that acting, singing, and dancing are—writers sweat blood by the pint to get their seemingly effortless effects, believe me—but that doesn’t make it interesting. When, to entertain us, an elephant dressed in a frilly pink tutu undertakes to balance herself on a giant wooden ball while twirling a flaming baton with her trunk, I appreciate that wholeheartedly, the artful incongruity of it all. But even more I appreciate her not going into detail about the countless hours she spent figuring out how to do it, if you know what I mean. Am I making sense?
Oh hell, who cares, nobody reads anymore anyway, right? I know I don’t, or at least I try not to. I don’t read books; I don’t read newspapers; and, God knows, I don’t read magazines, print or online. I don’t even skim the tabloids at the supermarket checkout counter. Not that I’m illiterate, far from it; nor, forgive me, have I become the least bit dumbed down, despite, I’m sorry, corporate America’s best efforts. I mean, I’m at the point where I eschew movies and television too, cable and streaming included. So, it isn’t the culture that’s made me this way, not directly, I mean to say. No, I have my own, purely professional, reasons for this reticence. Unfortunately, to explain myself, I’m going to have to break my own rule about not writing about writing. But then, I suspect, nobody cares about that rule anyway. And however proud I am of my, till now, steadfast adherence to it, pride, as I have to keep reminding myself, is a sin. Not that this is going to be easy for me. Far from it!
The creative spark, let me begin by pointing out, is an exceedingly delicate thing. How diligent the artist must be, at every turn, to prevent its extinguishment. (I say “artist” because this is the traditional, if somewhat sanctimonious, term used to denote the human agent of intentional creation—as distinct from procreation, which any schlemiel can get involved in. I was, as I say, surpassingly reluctant to get into all this, but now that I am in, I’m in with both feet.) A seemingly innocent suggestion by a well-meaning friend, the tiniest hint of doubt, the merest momentary distraction, and poof! The spark is out. So you have to guard it most carefully deep inside the most sacred, secret chamber of your soul. Then, when the right idea presents itself, you gather the tinder, stack the wood, and touch your spark to it. Voila! War and Peace.
Now, you will say if you put a monkey in a room with a typewriter—or is it a dozen monkeys? I forget—anyway, monkey or monkeys, you lock them in with a typewriter, and an endless supply of paper, and give them enough time, sooner or later, inevitably, they’ll write War and Peace (or On the Road, at least). Well, frankly, that doesn’t trouble me at all. What troubles me is when you’re waiting on line at the checkout counter, thinking your own thoughts, and all of a sudden you become conscious of that Janis Joplin song where she says “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” floating liltingly out of the supermarket sound system, all muted strings or accordions or glockenspiels or what have you—I mean, where in hell do they find musicians so desperate they’re willing to be lobotomized so they can record this soul-killing drizzle? What could they have possibly done that was so evil that they would have been condemned to spend the rest of their lives paying for it in this ignominious fashion?… But I digress.
If you are an artist, your inner life is all you have, but it is constantly being nibbled away from without. This is very draining. Before I quit going to the movies altogether, which was quite some time after I quit reading, I would find myself shielding my eyes from the trailers, knowing full well that some story idea that had been quietly gestating in my mind was about to be preempted by one or another of these former-comedian-musician-turned-actor-writer-director-producers whose latest epoch-defining offering would be coming soon to a theater near you. Or maybe it wouldn’t be the story, it would be the setting, or a snatch of dialogue, or the title of the thing, or, I don’t know, the name of the director of photography. Whatever it was, I’d invariably come away with the feeling that my private innermost keep had been plundered somehow. It makes you go limp when that happens, let me tell you.
Reading was worse, of course. Particularly if you were focused on one particular publication or another, in hopes one day of placing a piece with them. Can you imagine what it’s like to see your latest idea right there in black and white, staring up at you from the page? The climactic scene in the cornfield, for example—have you seen the latest by what’s-his-name, Mr. Man Booker shortlistee?—he’s already done it. The dinner party, the bedtime story, the mountain climbers, the boys in the bleachers—the priest!—done! All done! Even favorite words you’d been stockpiling, words that nobody’d used for years, like “puckerbrush” or “bloviating” or “kibosh” or “mingy,” or old family expressions, like “All right, sir” or “See-stoo?” or “Buddy-boy!”—some facile new writer suddenly comes along and—whoosh!—they’re snatched right out from under your nose. And once that happens, suddenly they’re inescapable, like the flu. Judas Priest! Can’t you see how this might get to a person?
Creation, let it be known—apologies to the Bible—is not from nothing. It’s from that spongy, festering mulch pile called, variously, the collective unconscious, or the universal soul, or … but I forget the German word. Everything and everybody feeding on everything and everybody else, that’s the point. The object is to feed on it before it feeds on you! Face facts. As much as you or I might wish it to be otherwise, it is impossible to be original. If, some years back, out of the blue (or so you thought), you happened to be thinking about, I don’t know, the ancient Celts, let’s say, you now know there were a couple million other people out there thinking about them too, and a handful of them found a way to make a damned good buck off it besides. Culture? Ha! It’s chew ’em up and spit ’em out. Feed the maw. And the race—with the pace of it accelerating ever more recklessly—is to the ungodliest, most ruthless, most hyperthyroidally swift.
Your thoughts are not your own. In the heat of creation, though, this sad fact can be made to work to your advantage. What artist doesn’t know the secret pleasure, in the course of creating a work of art, of suddenly finding the world positively lit up with heretofore unnoticed pieces of the puzzle. There is a German word for this too, or perhaps Greek. All at once, everything begins to play into your hands. It’s hard for even complete strangers to avoid giving you priceless material for the work—a stray phrase here, a funny walk there, the postman whistling some long forgotten tune—these are like gold nuggets lying out in the open that only you can see. At one moment the world is dark and hostile; then you descend into the work. Now, suddenly, there is a great burst of light, and all of creation lies servilely at your feet. Such sweet surrender!
In the end, though, it comes down to who you know, and who knows you. You make your work of art, and call it good. You send it around. They send it back. Time passes. The work languishes. Slowly but surely, piece by piece, the competition—these are the sharpest sort of operators, remember—nibble it away. A phrase here, a scene there, a patch of dialogue, a character’s name … must I describe the process all over again? It’s like what happened to the fish in The Old Man and the Sea. Alas, in the end, it is unbearable.
Perverse as it may seem, we will our own destruction, as that great American, Edgar Allan Poe, so perceptively demonstrated time and time again. I have an acquaintance, a rather successful businessman, who’s always made it a point, when we meet, to feign interest in my career, such as it is. Not long ago, quite by chance, I encountered this man in the street, and he took the occasion to make it known to me that a certain magazine I once favored, whose quality had declined during my abstinence, or so I’d heard, had regained in recent years its editorial edge. “You should check it out,” he said, as he turned to go. Then he stopped, shook his head, and reached into his attaché case. “What am I saying?” he chuckled, “take mine,” and to my horror, pushed the fateful magazine into my hands.
“But …,” I said.
“I only get it for the cartoons anyway,” he said.
“No, no, I can’t,” I said, but knowing nothing of my resolve to avoid all reading matter of any kind, he just waved me off and, smiling smugly, briskly went his way.
An icy chill crept into my heart. At first, of course, I determined that I would throw the magazine into the first trash receptacle I came upon. But as I walked along, and no receptacle presented itself, my resolve weakened. Suppose it has changed for the better, I thought, might not new editors, with fresh eyes, be more receptive to my work? I looked at the publication rolled up in my hand. What harm could it possibly do to take a quick glance? My mind began to race. Quick glance, quick glance—soon I was repeating the phrase over and over until it was coming out in a low, but nevertheless audible, groan. I was walking vigorously now, faster, faster, until, at length, barely conscious of the fact, I’d broken into a run. The sidewalk was full of people. Mumbling to myself, “quick glance, quick glance,” I dodged and darted, oblivious to everything and everybody but the searing heat of that accursed magazine throbbing in my grip—I was possessed!—until, as if by some unseen force, the crowd parted before me and I came to a stop, at last, in the relative safety of a dark alleyway. I was panting. For a moment (forgive me, dear Edgar, but you are public domain) I experienced all the pangs of suffocation. I became blind, and deaf, and giddy; and then some invisible fiend, or so I thought, struck me with his broad palm upon the back. Frantic, I opened the magazine and began roughly flipping through its perfumed pages until my eyes settled on the single brief work of fiction it contained. Fiction, I thought to myself, nobody reads the fiction anymore, what possible harm can come of it if I just take this one little peak?
I began to read.
“I’ve always considered it bad taste, if not bad luck, to write about the process of writing.…”
Perhaps you read it too, if, that is, you read at all. There it was, the dreaded thing, my story, word for word, paraded out under the byline of some currently en vogue anthropoid or other. In any case, your honor, you know the rest. I awoke from my swoon, and what you referred to at the sentencing as my “one-man crime wave” ensued. What I did was wrong, and I apologize. Good editors, as you instructed the jury, are indeed hard to find. But if you understood anything about the perverse terrors of the literary life—this so-called process of writing—I believe you would sooner or later come to understand what I am about to tell you.
You are what you read.
by Keith Moul
HI 186 Oahu Honolulu Waikiki
CA 142-1 SF Pacific Ocean
OR 110 US 101 Coquille River Lighthouse
WA 242-1 SR 103 Long Beach
Sunday’s best looked untouched
As if saved for a day that
Never did come
Those fine china dishes
Piled under some obscure
Painting of a farmhouse
And piles of old photos
Next to miscellaneous items
That must have once been treasured
But today only marked down
An additional twenty percent.
I’d Rather Be
I’d rather be a handful of ashes
Than a truckload of dust.
I’d rather be unknown
Than a big bronze bust.
I’d rather be a meteor than a moon.
Or a lake than a lagoon
Or a knife than a spoon.
But of all the things
I’d rather be with you.
It was no accident my coming here
For they must had known long before
I wandered to their farmhouse near
That soon I would knock upon their door
And wait until the storm would clear.
Call it more than a good neighbor’s sense
In snow to leave a porch lamp lighted
Or post the sign upon the picket fence
For those in need are all invited
Fate could find no better coincidence.
by Seth Slater
Stephanie just stepped out to buy us some time. Tom’s dead; we just got the call. Apparently, a bus full of cheerleaders skidded across some black ice and slammed into his Geo Metro. Of course, the poor bastard wasn’t wearing his seatbelt. Click it or ticket, they say. It should be click it or die. I told Steph this morning it was too dangerous to drive, but I’m not entirely sure she heard me. She was pretty blissed out.
We made love this morning, after she got home from her graveyard shift. The cat, Cheshire, watched from the chair next to the bed, licking her paws, as if to say, “Good show, sir. Good show.” I was on top. Her stethoscope was draped around her shoulders and she smelled of rubbing alcohol. I love that smell. It’s sterile and stringent and gets the blood pumping. I performed beautifully. She felt no obligation to fake it. That’s what I love about our marriage: we don’t lie to each other. She lay there overcome with an ecstasy so pure if you snorted it it’d kill you. Her head was turned, denying me her gaze; frustrating me. I turned to see what she was looking at. The closet door was open. I could see my favorite tweed jacket hanging up and a purple suitcase underneath it. She was imagining me in tweed then. I look really nice in tweed. I look really nice in tweed and she looks sexy as hell in scrubs. Scrubs say I have a bedside-manner, but if you manage to get me into bed, it’ll be rough. But not too rough. I bruise easily.
Forty-five minutes later, I rolled off of her, breathing heavy. My hand flew to my neck; blood pulsed furiously against my index and middle fingers while I counted with the clock on the wall. Satisfied, I laid my head down on her breasts and watched the snow out the window swirl. Her head was still turned away from me.
“Tom is coming over, remember,” she said.
“Do you think my heart is beating too fast,” I took her hand and clasped it around my wrist.
She pulled her hand away, pushed my head off of her chest and stood up. “I’m going to take a shower.” Her eyes smoldered and the sides of her mouth tugged out a smile: lust. “Maybe the showerhead can pick up where you left off.”
Her idea of a joke. Her delivery could use some help, but I chuckled. I don’t think women are inherently funny. They can’t deliver punchlines. I read this article by Christopher Hitchens, where he said women don’t have to be funny because it’s not biologically wired into them. Survival of the fittest, Mortey, and natural selection, that’s my motto.
Anyway, Stephanie disappeared into the bathroom and I heard the water turn on. Truthfully, I had forgotten about Tom; Tom, my favorite bother-in-law, my only brother-in-law. He always made me feel queasy for some reason. I think it was his cheap aftershave. Just thinking about that smell made my stomach lurch and I felt last night’s tacos ready for exodus. I walked into the bathroom, sat upon my throne, and picked up the newest Harvard Health Journal.
“Of course, I remembered about Tom,” I raised my voice so she could hear me over the water.
“Should I get the guestroom ready?”
“Don’t you mean the kid’s room?”
“Yes, the kid’s room,” I said, louder.
“Well,” I stood up and examined my work. The color looked right. Not too hard, not too soft. I thought about having Stephanie check, but was too hungry to wait for her. “I’ll get breakfast ready.” I flushed. I walked over to the sink and turned on the hot water. I soaped up, rubbing the suds in between my fingers and all the way up to my elbows. My mother always told me that if you sang “Happy Birthday” twice while washing your hands all the germs would die. I used to think it was the singing that killed them. Granted, I no longer sing “Happy Birthday” out loud. That would be silly. I’m a grown-ass man. I hum instead. I hummed “Happy Birthday” the required amount of times and then rinsed with bleach.
I turned to look at my wife. All I could see was a smudgy impression of her behind the glass and, for a brief moment, I forgot what she looked like. It reminded me of when those streakers run across football fields butt naked and the networks have to pixilate the picture because public nudity is frowned upon and no one wants their five-year-old to see some random dude’s junk and be scarred for life. Psychiatrists are expensive. I shook my head out of the clouds. I pulled on some sweats and then headed for the kitchen. I put on a pot of coffee and counted my blessings; another convention from my mother. Old habits die hard, Mortey.
I was thankful that we lived only a block away from the hospital. In the event of an emergency, it would take approximately eleven minutes for an ambulance to get here. I know because I timed it. The first week we lived here I had a heart attack which turned out to be a panic attack which turned out to just be me misinterpreting my hearts thump-thwak-thuddings. I don’t speak heart.
I was thankful that my wife was a nurse. In the event of an emergency, my wife could resuscitate me, give me the Heimlich, and stab me in the ass with an EpiPen thick as a redwood so I wouldn’t go into anaphylactic shock. Also, statistically, married men live longer. Look it up, Mortey. It’s true.
I was thankful Stephanie had quit smoking and eating meat. Cancer kills. Veggies vitalize. Cancer is not contagious, but secondhand smoke is deadly. Deadly enough to kill you. Deadly enough to kill you dead right into death. Yup, it’s pretty serious.
After I had the coffee brewing, I opened up the freezer to get the blueberries for my fruit smoothie; you know, to keep the mail moving. Blueberries were my mother’s favorite fruit because of all the antioxidants and vitamin C; keeps your immune system in “tip-top shape” she used to say, you know, before she passed. That’s when I first saw you, Mortey; when you walked past her hospital room five minutes before she croaked, literally, croaked. That’s what happens when your lungs fill up with fluid. I knew it was you, because you were dressed in all black. Then I saw you at the funeral. You were in the back. I came back to talk to you, to ask you some questions about time, but you disappeared. I’ve been trying to figure out how to reach you ever since.
I tried to tell Stephanie that I saw you, that it was really you, but she said I was just taking my mother’s death hard, too hard. I didn’t know that was possible. Every once in a while she’ll look at me weird, out of the corner of her eyes. Maybe she needs new glasses.
When my mother passed, Stephanie used that wonderfully cliché phrase, “it was her time.” That’s not true. It wasn’t so much that it “was her time” as it was she just ran out of time. And if we were out of time to begin with, you wouldn’t be a problem. I’ve come up with this idea that time isn’t real. We as humans came up with it and our bodies evolved to fit into this lie. It’s a manmade construct, like religion. All we have to do is knock the number eight over on its side, put that symbol all around the clock and tear off the clock’s hands. Or, get this, empty hourglasses. Ingenious, I know. I really should patent that.
Anyway, so, I was getting the berries when Stephanie walked out dressed in black tights, her favorite pair of leather boots, and a jumper; dressed like she was going somewhere. And she looked pretty, because she was wearing makeup. I bought her some of that super-sensitive-anti-allergen stuff, that way my face wouldn’t swell up when we kissed. She said it was sticky. Lipstick is supposed to be sticky; thus, the name. Thank you, Miss Captain Obvious.
“Smoothie?” I asked.
She shook her head. Her cellphone rang and she jumped. She pulled her phone out of her pocket and walked back down the hall.
I don’t own a cellphone. They cause cancer. It’s a fact, Mortey, scientifically proven by scientists in science labs with scientific degrees in science. I read it on a blog. Millions of unsuspecting people use cellphones every day, putting that malignant device right up to their heads or keeping them down by their junk or even putting them in their bras. And these teens, texting all the time, not knowing that their fingers might have to be amputated because of tiny malignant tumors the size of fly’s eggs. And then how will they communicate? Tell me, Mortey. They spend so much time with their thumbs and phones they’ll be useless; half of the working class will have to quit their jobs to teach kids how to use their words.
Words like Stephanie used in the hall, with perfect enunciation.
“Hello,” she said. “Tom…I have some money. Yes, enough...Okay…yeah… No, he has no idea… Bye.” She reappeared around the corner, a pack of cigarettes in her hand. She slammed the pack against her palm. “I’ll be outside,” she said.
I watched her walk out onto the deck, slightly irked. I hadn’t seen Stephanie smoke for a couple months. It must have been Tom. He stressed me out too. He was always in between boyfriends. He was always asking for money. He was always that kind of gay that gets on your nerves because he’s just too bubbly and estrogen pumped. Why he would drive from New York to Boston just to visit, on a weekday no less, escaped me. His boyfriend must have kicked him out for not getting the mail or forgetting to take out the trash or choosing the wrong red wine. The guy’s impossible to live with. I think he had a crush on me.
I finished making my smoothie and sat down at the table. I reached for my vitamins and began popping them back. Stephanie came back in, shivering and smelling rank. She sat down across from me and placed her head in her hands.
“Everything okay?” I asked.
“Fine, just a headache.”
“Tom will be here in thirty minutes.”
“Okay,” I said.
“Would you go out and get us some wine?”
I looked out the window, at the swirling snow, and looked back to Stephanie. She wasn’t looking at me. “I think we have some wine in the cupboard, Steph.” I got up, walked to the cupboard, and pulled out a bottle of pinot noir. “See?”
She nodded. She put her head down on the table and closed her eyes.
“I have something you could take,” I offered. I had Aspirin and Tylenol and tramadol and oxycodone and –
A muffled “no, thanks” floated up from the table.
I returned to the table and sat down. I reached out and grabbed her hand.
“I love you,” I said.
She pulled her hand away. “I’m going to go lay down on the couch.”
One hour passed and still no sign of Tom. I scrolled through WebMD trying to pinpoint why my shoulders ached. They do that sometimes. It’s not a sharp pain. It’s more of a jolt or a soft ache, almost electrical. I finally narrowed it down between fibromyalgia and facioscapulohumeral. Both start with F. Both are bad. My money’s on the latter. Fibromyalgia’s almost too conventional, like gluten-free diets and all that other progressive bullshit hippies buy into. They’re nuts.
Also, I had Stephanie perform a routine oral-cancer exam. She kept looking at the clock, so it took a while, but I was free of any unusual bumps or white lesions. I tried to convince her to check my balls for testicular cancer, but ended up rolling them between my fingers myself. Again, bump free.
Bump free, cancer free, worry free; that’s my motto, Mortey.
Three hours later, Stephanie was getting worried. That’s when the phone rang. I was checking my blood pressure.
“Yes,” she said, “This is she.”
I pumped with my right hand while the cuff around my left arm expanded.
“Yes, he drives a Geo Metro… Cheerleaders?”
I continued to pump before I was stopped by a scream.
“He’s dead! A bus full of cheerleaders killed him!”
Okay, in hindsight, that’s pretty ambiguous. It brings to mind a bus full of teenage girls, chainsaws in their painted nail-bitten hands, just waiting to go work on Tom who’s tied up in a chair or shackled to a wall or something. Since he’s gay, it’d be considered a hate crime. I’m not sure if that fits into the horror genre or is more of a porno.
“Who’s dead?” I ripped off my cuff and tossed it to the floor.
“Tom… Black ice. Car accident. He wasn’t wearing his seatbelt.”
“Why the hell did Tom want to drive over here in the first place? He should’ve known the snow was dangerous.” It was true. I try, when I can, to speak the truth.
Blood flushed into Stephanie’s cheeks before a downpour of hot tears trickled down. “You’re really un-fucking-believable, you know that?” Stephanie ran down the hall and was back in a flash, something purple in tow.
“Where are you going?”
“Well, I don’t know. I’ll probably go get a wax, get my nails done, and buy you some more goddamned vitamins.” She stopped at the door and swallowed. “It’s been a long time coming.” She opened the door and walked out.
It’s true. I did need some more vitamins. I was almost out. I like the chewy kind because you can chew them up and there’s less of a chance of you choking on them. It is ludicrous how many people die every year from choking on those horse-pill vitamins. Literally, thousands of people croak with vitamins in their windpipe. They don’t take the time to cut them up. Imagine going to that funeral. “Yes, we will miss him. He made an honest mistake. Everyone knows vitamins are a health hazard. He’s in heaven now, where angels will cut up his vitamins for him. It was,” of course, “his time.”
“Yes! It was his time!” I yelled after her. Then it hit me. What I really needed, what we all really need, is more time. I ran to the door, threw it open, and screamed down the stairwell after her, “Go get us more time! Go borrow, buy, or steal some more fucking time!”
I’m not sure she heard me. I’ve been meaning to ask her about her hearing, but I’m pretty sure it’s going. They have these new hearing aids now that are so tiny you can’t even see them, which is nice when you don’t want people to think you’re deaf. There’s such a stigma with deaf people.
Anyway, Mortey, considering the recent turn of events, this is my best chance to reach you. If you find this, you would have found it in Tom’s coffin, maybe even next to a dildo, hopefully unused. It’s worth a try. If you write back, please include an address where we can keep in contact. I have lots of questions, the primary question being: when are you planning to come and collect?
Steven D. Caridonchoyph
drawings by Marianic Parra
poetry by Jean-Pierre Parra
in the gap
between all the lines
the shadows hiding life
Marianic Parra 2015 « Variation I » Drawing Gouach on paper 29,7-42 cm
In the vertiginous frenzy
the new theater
Marianic Parra 2015 « Variation II » Drawing Gouach on paper 29,7-42 cm
Marianic Parra 2015 « Variation III » Drawing Gouach on paper 29,7-42 cm
carefree to know
In the whirlwind of endless lines
Marianic Parra 2015 « Variation IV » Drawing Gouach on paper 29,7-42 cm
in all fates
chained to what you must exceed
Marianic Parra 2015 « Variation V » Drawing Gouach on paper 29,7-42 cm
in the present
Marianic Parra 2015 « Variation V I » Drawing Gouach on paper 29,7-42 cm
enigmas deprived of purposes
Marianic Parra 2015 « Variation VII » Drawing Gouach on paper 29,7-42 cm
Overcome with fate
without an end
the game of meaning
in all analogies
the coupling dissolution of lines
Marianic Parra 2015 « Variation VIII » Drawing Gouach on paper 29,7-42 cm
out of yourself
Marianic Parra 2015 « Variation IX» Drawing Gouach on paper 29,7-42 cm
of all labyrinthine experiences
Marianic Parra 2015 « Variation X» Drawing Gouach on paper 29,7-42 cm
“Since we broke up, there has never been a time when I didn’t think of you,” she said. She pulled a cigarette out of her purse and said, “Unless I’m thinking of something else at the moment.”
“Honestly,” he said, “I know what you mean.”
He wanted a cigarette so badly that his eyes dilated at the sight of it. Just after they broke up he had quit smoking, to work out any leftover, ineffectual karma using the pain of deprival. Garbage karma, one of his friends called it, and it can only be exorcised through uncomfortable means. Now, seeing her with an unlit cigarette in her hand, looking up at him and smiling, a number of brilliantly colored urges came back.
“Do you not think it’s fate that we’re both here, right here and right now, after all this time of not seeing each other?” she said. She lit up, using a lighter that looked like small red cell phone.
“I don’t know about your karma these days,” he said, “but mine’s not been too good. So I’d have to say coincidence.”
“My karma’s never been better,” she said defensively. “Ask anyone.”
She took a long drag and stared at him, holding in the smoke, then she blew it out slowly in a single thin burst, her lips forming a tiny ‘o.’ To him she looked like she was exhaling spirit fog.
“Look,” he said, pointing at a building across the street. There was a boarded-over door on which someone had written a number with black spray paint. “If you add the first letter of my name to the first letter of your name, then subtract that from the year we first met, you get that number. Coincidence.”
“Wow,” she said. “My mother would call what you just did weird. Somehow, I do not.”
“It's a gift,” he said. “Not unlike the ability to levitate or to cause things to burst into flames.”
She took another drag, then threw the cigarette into the gutter where it lay smoldering. With great effort he resisted the desire to get down on his hands and knees and suck on the filtered end.
“Your ability to find meaning in random numbers,” she said, “I always did love that about you.”
“Could you be specific about what else you loved about me?” he asked.
“There you go again,” she said.
“Do you remember the time we were in the park, and that man with the yellow hat came up and asked if we’d take his picture, and you refused because, you said, taking his picture would steal his soul, and then he said he had no soul to steal, and then we noticed that he had no pupils in his eyes, at least what most people would call pupils, and you had nightmares about that encounter for weeks after?”
“Yes,” she said. She looked down at the ground quickly, then reached into her purse for a another cigarette.
“There was a car parked there, just up the hill from where we were,” he said. “The first three letters on the license plate were the same as the first three letters of your name, if you subtract 1 from your letters. I didn’t mention that at the time, I thought you were weirded out enough.”
“And that observation was left over from then, and now that you have brought it out you are free of the burden of not telling it?”
“Obviously,” he said.
She sighed and looked at the cigarette questioningly. “I wonder why that had such an effect on me,” she said. “Maybe, in a past life, someone stole my soul?”
“If that were the case you’d be looking for a soul, rather than so freely trying to give yours up.”
“Why did I know you would say that?” she asked.
“It just came out,” he said. “There was no premeditation.”
“That's how the other yous from your other lives, traces of whom are still floating around like invisible feathers, communicate with our world. When you don’t know why you say or do something, it’s really them.”
“That makes sense,” he said.
By now they were staring into each other’s eyes.
“Why don’t you come over to my place,” she said. “This is silly.”
“Is there much of me left there?” he asked.
“A little,” she said. “Not much, but every once in a while I hear you, or see you, or feel you. But vaguely, like a passing bird’s shadow.”
He looked down below his belly, then at her in the same place, and said, “I think we’re both starting to engorge. So I suppose it would be the natural thing to do.”
She sighed and took his hand. She brought it up to her face and rubbed her cheek against it. “Let the games begin,” she said.
“I said that once,” he said, “and a thousand voices cheered.”
“This does not surprise me,” she said.
“Look up there,” he said. There was a billboard on top of a building advertising a concert featuring a famous cellist.
“If you take the first four notes of his opening aria, divide their frequency by 10 and add 4, you come up with our initials.”
“So?” she said.
“Duhh, 10 is the number of months we went out, and 4 is the exact number of months since we broke up,” he said. “So... fate?”
“Yes, now it sounds more like fate than coincidence,” she said.
by Renee Goust
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