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Monthly Archives: May 2004


Jake’s aware that people have died this summer, but it’s not made fact to him until he finds her, a block from his apartment.

His first thought is Don’t Move The Victim but it’s boiling out and he carries her inside. Her skin is dry and hot; her hair has been cut recently, too short. A silver bracelet gives her name as Holly.

Somehow he ends up riding in the ambulance. She wakes as they start to wheel her out. She’s holding a dirty black lump in one hand. She touches his lips, and the taste is sticky, gritty, impossibly sweet.


Harriet doesn’t know why the Royal shows morning movies–there are never more than a few cars in the lot. She wonders every time she passes, though. Until one day she skips work.

It’s cold outside, but the popcorn she buys from a sleepy-looking boy is warm and slick. Harriet slumps into her seat, and just as the lights dim, five Royal employees wander in and scatter themselves through the seats. They and Harriet are the only ones there. Everybody has popcorn. Nobody speaks.

The previews are starting, and Harriet’s understanding the why of morning movies, and what luxury really is.


Belinda read a Cosmo-Sutra and now she’s obsessed with the dynamics of fucking. She marks pages in books, working through them night by night: “This looks interesting!” she exclaims, and “No, tuck your left leg behind.”

She starts keeping a progress report with pleasure grades for each new arrangement. Eventually, logically, she splits this into his-and-hers. “After all,” she says, “it’s more accurate that way.”

It makes sense, and Ralph tells himself he’s lucky. He can’t help but feel ashamed, though, looking at his weekly card and its column of failing grades. He should try harder. Belinda always gets straight As.


Whoopi still shows up, not that anybody cares.

Sally weaves around another writhing pile of tanned young flesh and peers at the track. She doesn’t remember, but Dad told her Derby used to be different: the pomp was for the racers and their owners in the stands; the Infield was a bizarre sideshow.

When did that reverse, Sally wonders. When mint finally went extinct? When the jockeys first suited up in holographic ads?

She turns to the lawn, where two clown-strippers are riding a mechanical bull for hoots and thrown money. Behind her, brushed aluminum horses piston toward the starting gate.


“Yes,” says Jones, “my name is Jones Frederick.” He waits one second, then continues. “Now before you say what you were about to, let’s consider the consequences. What did you intend by mentioning that my first and last names appear transposed? To endear yourself to me? Surely not; you must have deduced that I’ve heard it from everyone I’ve ever met. To garner our companions’ favor by amusing them at my expense? Possibly; that’s why I beat you to it. Or is there something that I haven’t considered?”

Blankenship’s mouth clicks shut.

“Jesus, Fred,” sighs Shannon, “you always gotta do that?”


“Well, there’s no student scene,” says Rose. “First step in urban renewal. You need kids with free time, no money and a strong social network.”

“Reading your textbooks again?” asks Holly, scanning the grass. A moment later, she stoops, coming up with a four-leaf clover.

“No, my Hipster Handbook.”

“That’s worse.” Holly hands the sprig to Rose, who tries to slip it into her buttonhole and is vaguely surprised to find it occupied by another one.

“Hipsters decry gentrification,” she murmurs, “while simultaneously causing it.”

“You’re a born anthropologist,” says Holly, and picks her seventh four-leaf to place in Rose’s hair.


Ephraim wakes to sticky eyelids and sun. It’s very warm, and Leila’s still out. She’s kicked off the sheet and lies with toes stretched down to the footboard. She’s wearing her Jack’s BP t-shirt, cracked white letters on blue, rucked up to her breasts. Her panties are lime cotton.

He slides down, still sleepy, and burrows out to run his nose along her waistband. She doesn’t stir. He nuzzles down, feeling the rough cotton give a little under his lips. She’s very soft, but he just lets himself breathe over her: deep, warm breaths: waking her body without waking her up.


One of the empty cubes is starting to accrete stuff–first a chair, then a phone, now a workstation and some binders. There’s more every time DJ walks by.

Nobody sits in it after a day, though. She has the impression that the miscellany is building toward an invisible occupant: spontaneous generation.

“Know what I heard?” Kohler is telling Mott. “‘An employee is what a meeting uses to make more meetings.’ Huh? Right?”

DJ walks by the cube again and feels a sudden, slow horror. There are picture frames there now, but empty, without faces. Maybe not spontaneous generation after all…


It looks like a squiggly line with two triangles sitting underneath it.

“Yeah,” says Goshen, “all right! Edible shrubs here!”

Howitzer eyes him. “You get ‘edible shrubs’ from that?”

“There’s hobo signs for everything, man.” Goshen straightens from the fencepost.

“I think you’re screwing with me,” says Howitzer slowly. “What’s it really say? ‘Cops everywhere, leave new guy as bait?'”

“You shut up, man,” Goshen hisses.

“You shut up!”

“Applesauce babies! Blackamoor!” yelps Slebber, who runs his ethanol through used coffee filters.

“I said you best stop up that sass!” roars Goshen, and swings.

Later, the shrubs turn out pretty tasty.

The Jon, Brendan, David and Shaq Show

Somebody’s playing warm keyboard chords as they fade in from commercial. Probably a guitar, too.

“Boy, I’m glad it’s dinnertime,” says Jon ruefully.

David claps him on the back. “Me too… buddy.”

“The most important thing,” says Shaq, at the grill, “is that we learned about responsibility. It is not right to take on things you can not handle.”

“Yeah,” nods Brendan, taking a bite of burger. “No more adopting puppies for me. And Shaq, thanks for clearing that up!”

“It was no problem. Friends help each other.”

“We sure do!” exclaims Jon. “Hey, what’s in these burgers anyway? They’re great!