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Hook and wrap

Wednesday 12/12/18

Last night a friend remarked to me, "If you staked any other writer with just two of your stories--let's say 'First Responder' and 'Find the Edges,' but I could pick any two--and one op-ed where you say things no one else will, better than anyone could, and there was nothing else, they could make a career of that. That's what so fucked about this. They would go around getting paid to speak and they would not even have to write fuck all again and they'd be 'the genius who wrote 'First Responder.' This is like some horrible fucking joke engineered by hateful, envious freaks. It makes you wonder about so much the rest of the world and the reasons that everything is done for."

It is shortly after ten o'clock on this Wednesday. I slept too late--until half past seven--and now I am physically, spiritually, emotionally exhausted, after what I have just given to complete this story. If I had composed nothing else in my life, let alone thousands of things, and this was all I ever did, it would have been enough to make of me something, and keep me in this world after my physical death.

I am talking about the story "Pillow Drift," that I began last week. The final 1500 words were written this morning, so in the end it finished at 5500. There is no story in horror literature like this one, and there is no love story like this one. It is beautiful and it is brutal. I need to proof it a couple times now. But this is the penultimate section. The story will be a film at some point. As I was composing it, I was consciously aware of the words, "this is a film, this is a film waiting to happen."


The snow had become a purple, mottled color, like the inside of a clam shell whose luster had dimmed but remained vaguely iridescent, having evaded the pails of children for another summer’s season.

The tops of the mounds, in their row by row accession, had the quality of deployed rictuses, their upside down smiles all pointing at the car.

When Waldy had met Kris, he was having what his friends termed a lads’ weekend in Cambridge, but it was really just him and his buddies Gus and Dave going to a bunch of old movies at the Brattle Theatre and hanging out at a dive bar called Beowulf’s in the guise of picking up women, which none of them had the courage to try to do.

His friends felt younger to him than he himself felt, a subject, of course, on which he made no comment. Larders, be there any of a social variety, are not exactly over-stocked with close companions. On Sunday they walked down to the Head of the Charles Regatta to watch the rowers race. The river’s surface, with the sun behind the clouds, called to his mind the smooth steel of a frying pan, its cold, flat grays waiting to feel a flame’s kiss of heat, and then, when the sun penetrated the vapory fissures in the clouds, the uncirculated nickels he and his dad collected.

“You mean they’ve never been touched by human hands?” Waldy would say when he and his dad were at the coin shop.

“Nope. They’re straight from the mint. Penny, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar, silver dollar. There are these robot arms, I guess, that guide the coins onto the felt, then it all gets slabbed beneath plastic. And every year there is a new set.”

Kris was wet when he first saw her. She was on the banks with her racing team. They looked cold in the unflinching late October air. But not Kris. She was the lone member of the team standing up as her crewmates rested on the shore.

“What are you staring at, Nutter Butter?” Dave had asked. That’s how awkward they were, Waldy thought, inwardly flinching. But this was the first time in his life, as he looked at this young woman, who was now looking back at him, that he was not going to make any effort to shield himself from potential embarrassment.

“Oh shit, he’s going in,” Gus had remarked after Waldy had uttered a quick “be right back” that no one would have been able to understand even if he had said it loud enough.

Two wet tangled strands of hair fell over her left eye. She reached up with her thumb and hooking them away wrapped them behind her ear. He would see that gesture many times in the future, and each time he saw it, it would register with him that she was now ready and forever present to hear what it was he had to say.

She didn’t do it with anyone else. He looked and looked, like a surveyor utilizing a theodolite designed to decode the mysteries of human body language, but the gesture was entirely reserved for his company.

And each time she did what his mind jocularly, but lightly, tenderly, with sweetness, called her hook and wrap, he loved her more than the last time she had executed the maneuver. Each and every time. Back to the first time, on the banks of a river, where so much excited chatter fashioned a sibilant, aleatoric symphony of the human voice, and bodies leaned against bodies for better views of racing action, college roomies high-fived, people flirted, old friends ate and drank, many laughed, and Waldy, dimly processing all that was happening around him as one processes a passing shadow out of the corner of the eye, came to think that in his future he would know love.

“I am Waldy and you are wet,” he clumsily offered by way of declarative sentence, and what one must consider one of those miracles of life occurred where two people on the same spot of turf started a journey of feeling the exact same way about each other, in a way one wishes someone would feel about them.

When Waldy awoke in the car he was alone. He simultaneously looked and reached to his left, then twisted to peer into the backseat, knowing before he did so that Kris would not be laying there. The keys were in the ignition. They had not been there before. They had been in Kris’s pocket. He did not know how long he had been out. When he had awoken with his father dead behind him, the blood coming from his belly button, heat still localized at the back portions of the tops of his legs, a throbbing ache where he normally never touched himself and was now too scared to, he could still feel the cold coming off the body. Waldy knew cold. His left foot felt more brick-like than his right. It only got like that after it had been immobile for an hour or two in very cold weather. He stamped it to get circulation back into it. And then, taking in a great pull of breath, like a diver about to plunge, he threw open the door, ran around the front portion of the snow-engulfed car, and threw himself racing into this diatomic, crystalline mist possessing more than meteorological agency. But Waldy did not care about that. He could only feel, he could not think. And what he felt, presumably for the last time, but after a long break in time, after the total loss of the feeling and its possible extirpation, was that he loved his wife. Had it left her unharmed, he even would have felt gratitude for the snow as it swallowed him.


Speaks for itself, doesn't it? The situation I am in does not speak for itself, because one could only come to know that such a thing can exist when facts and evidence and truths are presented to them. But the work? Anyone can see this for what it is. What they then do in following is a different matter.


It is the evening now. Walked three miles. Climbed the Monument once, ran up the first 175 stairs, a new personal best beating the old mark of 150. It is Tony Williams' birthday. One of my favorite jazz drummers. This is a radical approach to the instrument:

The Red Sox are going to move Betts back to second in the line-up this year--first use of "this year"--and put Benintendi in the lead-off spot. Current strategical planning holds that you hit your best hitter second. I don't know if I buy that. For the longest time the thinking was you hit him third. I'd rather have Martinez third--power and better at driving in runs. I guess I'm more unsure if Benintendi will be a good lead-off guy, though I think he has a career OPS just under 1.000 in that slot. Limited opportunities, but more than a handful. The timing is strange. I wonder if Betts asked for the move to be made because he wants more RBI so he can get paid more. Something strikes me as off with him. He's a bad postseason performer, and I felt like he pushed hard for the credit that night when he and his family dropped off some food for the homeless. He made a point of saying that it wasn't the first time, and it was his dad's idea anyway. I like him hitting lead-off in large part because he runs the bases so well. He's an exceptional base runner. Benintendi is not.

Off to a concert. I have a headache.


Home from concert--free performance of Messiah Part I at St. Leonard's. Probably have not been in that church in ten years. Full house. People had to stand in the nave and transepts, and all across the back and sides.

I am mostly only in churches for music and for studying architecture and stained glass. Though there is a church fifty yards from this hovel I sometimes sit in, just to sit there, to think, to ask what the fuck is going on here. Why what was given if this is how it was going to be, what more could I possibly do, what the fuck is being asked of me. In this church I composed, in my head, on March 21, 2012, the whole of "Lobby Lobsterson." This became the first of the Dark March stories. Anyway, it's also a church--it's technically a bethel--in which Herman Melville came up with the idea for Father Mapple in Moby-Dick. And Dickens also sat here, and Thackeray sat here, and Poe, and Cotton Mather preached there. It's this one, nondescript room. Small. Lot of literary and arts history.

Then I returned home and proofed "Pillow Drift" a couple more times. I watched Thunder Road and started After the Thin Man.

I am sporting mad scientist hair now:


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