A Veritable Holy Triumvirate of Literary B-Days

(How to begin? With the most influential?)

On this day in 1947,
Stephen King was born. Some years after his birth, on a summer day during between my 5th and 6th grade years, my parents were at work and I saw on our coffee table my father’s library copy of Stephen King’s IT. I read the first scene – where the little boy follows his newspaper boat coated in paraffin as it coasts along a rainwashed gutter into the sewer and the hands of Pennywise – I read that scene and was hooked. I could only read about 20 pages to my dad’s 100 because for whatever reason I didn’t want him or my mom to know I was reading the book (shame at reading a book with so much cursing? Or one so violent?). He finished the novel and returned it to the library before I even got 1/8 of the way in – but that didn’t matter. A few years later I found his paperback copy of Skeleton Crew, snagged it, and read at night. My 8th grade year, King kept me up late to tales of tigers in elementary school bathrooms, oil-slick water monsters, self-cannibals, and the horrors of time travel. I read those short stories over and over again, until I got comfortable enough to let my parents see me reading such graphic stuff. (And, simply happy to see me reading, they could’ve cared less. I’m well adept at imagining way off-base reactions.) After my love for King was out in the open, every trip to the library was chance to grab an unread King novel. So comes my 9th grade year in a new high school in a new town. I didn’t really have many friends early on tha year so I spent my nights (and most of my school days) reading King’s novels. From August of ’89 until the end of ’90, I read every King novel available at the time. I even played sick so I could stay in bed and read The Stand. My friends and I would trade between us whichever King novels we hadn’t yet read. We peppered our speech with certain snippets of King’s dialogue that had made us laugh until we cried. I recall Christine having a vast majority of these great one-liners but the one I remember the most we lifted from The Stand – The Kid screaming, “YOU DIG THAT HAPPY CRAPPY?” and something else about Coors being the only beer ever made – we made King’s words our own. We pondered the ultimate outcome of Roland’s quest for The Dark Tower. We debated our favorite works – mine then was The Stand but now is The Shining. King’s books, Castle Rock, Derry, and Mid-World were our refuge from Small Town, USA boredom. King made us all want to be writers. When we ran out of King novels, we reread them or switched to John Saul (yuck), Dean Koontz (slightly better), and Clive Barker (wow!). Up until my senior year, when I again moved, talking about King’s books was a big part of our bond. Even after my move, I’d write back to my boys asking if they’d read King’s latest – Dolores Claiborne, Gerald’s Game, Nightmares and Dreamscapes, Insomnia. A few years later, after I had a year and half of college under my belt and was much more widely read, The Regulators and Desperation came out. I read The Regulators and said to myself, “That’s it. I’m done with King.” (At this time I was reading a lot of Beat literature and King just didn’t seem to measure up, especially that terrible novel.) I didn’t even read the companion Desperation because I was so offended that King would waste my time. I did read Wizards and Glass upon its release and was happy that King didn’t fuck up The Dark Tower but I could never, and haven’t yet been able to bring myself to read anything but new The Dark Tower books (which don’t even do anything for me, insofar as the writing is concerned). So now my project is to go back and reread some of those books I loved as an early teen. I want to think that the writing is as good as I remember. King is, if nothing else, an amazing storyteller. He spins yarns and characters like no one else. I’m just not yet certain if he’s a talented writer to boot. Even if those old books aren’t as good as I remember them, the affection I felt for them at the time will always be as good as I remember it. Stephen King, thanks, man, for writing books that my friends and I actually cared about and wanted to discuss. Thanks for making characters that entertained, frightened, and reflected us. John D. and Jesse W., we’re 10 years past our last conversation about books. I hope you’re both still writing. I hope that you still call your friends in the middle of the night just to tell them what a fucking good book you’ve got in your hands.

On this day in 1934,
Leonard Cohen was born.

Everybody KnowsEverybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful
Ah give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you’ve been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

And everybody knows that it’s now or never
Everybody knows that it’s me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when you’ve done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old black joe’s still pickin’ cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the plague is coming
Everybody knows that it’s moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there’s gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that you’re in trouble
Everybody knows what you’ve been through
From the bloody cross on top of calvary
To the beach of malibu
Everybody knows it’s coming apart
Take one last look at this sacred heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Oh everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows.

As synchronicity would have it, I saw the movie Pump Up the Volume and then shortly thereafter got to hear the above song (which had been haunting me) when it appeared on a mix tape. Living in Small Town, USA, with the nearest real record store an hour and a half’s drive, we didn’t hear much new music outside of what was on the radio and when the occasional person would circulate some new tunes around town. My friend Nurse and I saw Pump Up the Volume not out of any great desire, or even because we knew what the movie was about, but because it was a new release on the video store shelves. We watched it, loved it, bought the soundtrack when we made it up to the record store, and played that soundtrack only to hear Concrete Blonde covering “Everybody Knows”. Now that wasn’t the version Happy Harry Hard On played before he went on air. Almost the exact same week, Nurse’s friend Kim busts out with this mix tape of tunes. I wish I had a copy of that tape today but it was loaded with great music: Peter Murphy, The Misfits, old RHCP, but, more importantly to me, Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows”. I listened to this song over and over and over again – letting Leonard’s deep voice rumble in my body while I studied over those haunting lyrics. I moved my senior year of high school, leaving Nurse in Small Town, USA. That same year, I picked up Leonard’s I’m Your Man, the album on which “Everybody Knows” appears. LOOOOOOOOVED IT – memorized it. Nurse visited once and saw the CD and said, “You didn’t just buy this for that one song did you? Cause this is a good fuckin’ album.” Funny enough, I didn’t pick up another Leonard Cohen album until a few years later when my friend Packer, who had every Cohen and Tom Waits album, loaned me a few of Leonard’s earlier records. I was blown away. Cohen was/is brilliant. A singer/songwriter/wordsmith that few can match. Songs of L. Cohen, Songs of Love and Hate, New Skin for an Old Ceremony – buy them, study them, and let those songs seep into your pores.

Famous Blue RaincoatIt’s four in the morning, the end of December
I’m writing you now just to see if you’re better
New York is cold, but I like where I’m living
There’s music on Clinton Street all through the evening.

I hear that you’re building your little house deep in the desert
You’re living for nothing now, I hope you’re keeping some kind of record.

Yes, and Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear
Did you ever go clear?

Ah, the last time we saw you you looked so much older
Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder
You’d been to the station to meet every train
And you came home without Lili Marlene

And you treated my woman to a flake of your life
And when she came back she was nobody’s wife.

Well I see you there with the rose in your teeth
One more thin gypsy thief
Well I see Jane’s awake —

She sends her regards.
And what can I tell you my brother, my killer
What can I possibly say?
I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you
I’m glad you stood in my way.

If you ever come by here, for Jane or for me
Your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free.

Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes
I thought it was there for good so I never tried.

And Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear

— Sincerely, L. Cohen

Nurse, I did buy I’m Your Man only because “Everybody Knows” was on it. Sa Rah and I do that kind of thing all the time, actually. We heard a Franz Ferdinand song and liked it so Sa Rah picked up the record and you know what? The whole thing rocks. Same thing with Electric Six. It’s kinda like when you bought that Michel’le record just because “No More Lies” was on it.

On this day in 1866,
H.G. Wells was born. I knew about War of the Worlds growing up. I’m not sure how because I never read it or heard the radio version until later in life. Probably my dad told me about H.G. Wells when we watched a movie version of the novel or something. In high school, on a whim, I picked up The Invisible Man and read it, and was blown away. The book was was nothing like I thought it would be. You know that book was published in 1897? I don’t know why, but that fact really amazes me considering the subject. Wells was an insanely prolific author. And the only books I’ve read of his are the ones published before 1910. Don’t know why I never picked up the books published after that. Someday I might. But I can tell you that films and pop culture renditions of Wells’ novels don’t come close to doing the novels justice. I suggest The Invisible Man because I’m awfully partial to the experience I had of having my preconceptions destroyed. I appreciate that very much.

In other news,

PKD fans, learn!

Vonnegut fans, rejoice!

Comments

i think i prefer ellison’s invisible man. but i enjoyed this entry none the less. i remember staying home from school reading the stand as well. what a time in life. no guilt over spending a day in bed with a book. nothing other to do really.

Posted by: rubigimlet at September 21, 2004 11:00 AM

Man… Vonnegut is a bad mother… While you’re on the subject of Cohen… Are you a fan of Nick Cave? Some of his lyrics and style remind me a lot of ol’ Lenny.

Posted by: Brandon. at September 21, 2004 11:50 AM

what makes you prefer one over the other, rubilicious?

i definitely agree with the nick cave/l. cohen comparison, brandon, although i haven’t given nick the attention he deserves.

Posted by: jdoublep at September 21, 2004 03:09 PM

Oh boy… Definitely need to pick up the Murder Ballads album, and Let Love in… I could make you a copy and trade it for a loan of comics, if our schedules ever coooperate.

Posted by: Brandon. at September 21, 2004 03:43 PM

thanks for reminding me of my first love affair! (yes it was SK) the first man i ever spent days in bed with.(did everybody stay home from school to read The Stand? he still makes me want to be a writer. I wasn’t crazy about Desperation either, but if you read The Regulators, it does give you a real sense of his mastery of the craft! he tells the same story, with the same characters, in a different setting and with different roles in the story. And…I’m STILL waiting to see how The Dark Towers comes out! I’ve been anticipating it since I read the Gunslinger in the 9th grade. Not his best writing, maybe, but a great story!! what are you reading now?

Posted by: m at September 21, 2004 07:52 PM

I’m very much anxious to see how The Dark Tower turns out but, I didn’t at all like the writing in books V and VI. I enjoyed seeing how the story progressed and am ready to see how the entire series winds up (although King’s foray into Po-Mo narrative techniques arrive to the party almost unfashionably late).
Now, I’m reading Daniel Dennett’s Freedom Evolves (philosophy of free will) and Douglas Rushkoff’s Ecstasy Club (about 40 pages into this one – about a gang of SF ravers – sort of a Beat lit for dance/cyber culture).

How about all of you? What books are on your nightstands?

Posted by: jdoublep at September 21, 2004 08:15 PM

i’m not a sci-fi fan baddabulbous

Posted by: rubigimlet at September 22, 2004 09:19 AM

you’re a closet sci-fi baddabadass, rubicon! (that would be the name of a sci-fi convention about you)

Posted by: jdoublep at September 22, 2004 03:58 PM

“I even played sick so I could stay in bed and read The Stand.”

Weird. I did the exact same thing at the exact same time, give or take a few weeks.

Posted by: toby at September 23, 2004 11:33 AM

toby, did you tell your mom you had captain’s trips?
i didn’t – but in hindsight i think that would’ve been funny.

Posted by: jdoublep at September 23, 2004 12:53 PM

A Veritable Holy Triumvirate of Literary B-Days

Eventage Recapage

Spent the majority of Sat. PM working on my Chunky A research page (finished Sun morn). Sat night – we went to Dodo’s fiancé Jesi’s 30th birthday party. Dodo worked real hard to decorate the party spot and it seemed as though a lot of Jes’s friends showed up to celebrate. I didn’t speak to many of them, choosing to spend my time catching up with Dodo, Fly Guy, and Eco and Chrissy, all of whom I rarely get to see. I did meet Jesi’s cousin, Dave (I hope I remembered that correctly), a freshman at K-State studying Psychology and Metalsmithing. He was an interesting cat. We talked about the economics of Montana. When asked if MT was as economically thrashed as AR Dave said probably so. Arkansas is my gauge for the economic failure or success of a state. Sa Rah drank some margaritas and they made her sleepy because she’d rolled hard that afternoon. Sleep beckoned early and we succumbed to its call.

Sunday morn, we lounged about like old farts, watching CBS news. Phil Collins is on his farewell tour, by the way, so if you feel it calling in the air you better get some tix to see him. Sa Rah headed off to practice and I worked on the Chunky A page until I remembered I had a CCN meeting to attend at 1:00PM. To the Crave Café I headed. The meeting wasn’t very well attended, due either to the switch of dates or the Chiefs game (probably a combination of the two), but it was nice to see Duane recovered from his recent gall bladder surgery. Poor guy – 28 years old with gall stones. We talked a bit about the upcoming 24-Hour-Comic Fundraiser and a bit about next year’s comic art showing and independent book convention, which should be quite a humdinger of an event.

At home, we caught this dramatic report while watching NOW with Bill Moyers.

We decided to catch a film last night and use those free movie passes my boss gave me Friday. Vanity Fair struck our fancy. Good film. Beeeeeeyooteefull costumes and sets – a helluva period piece. I’m not too familiar with Thackeray’s novel but I enjoyed the thematic juxtaposing of issues of class and war. One thing I couldn’t help notice was the similarity between Vanity Fair and Gone With the Wind – both set against a wartime backdrop, both feature heroines willing to do what they feel necessary to be successful. There’s even a similar line spoken by both Rhett Butler and Rawdon Crawley – both men say something along the lines of, “That’s your misfortune,” when each wife tells her husband that she loves him. Granted, Scarlett was a born aristocrat and Becky is struggling to be a society-type, but the similarities between the two characters and their stories still struck me. At any rate, if you like period pieces and witty social commentary check it out.

In other news,

Sa Rah has a brand new baby niece.

Six weeks until election day, kids.

Enjoy this beautiful day.

Comments

i was more struck by the fetishizing of the exotic other. that subversion of the occidental (aesthics or class systems) is romanticized by colonial powers but in practice, or in proximity, that other is very threatening and the ruling power loses some of the legitimacy to its claim to be more ‘civilized’ or culturally evolved. the colonizing power becomes just as savage in defending its social constuctions against outside influence.

Posted by: rubigimlet at September 20, 2004 10:27 AM

If you’re indifferent to God, c’est la guerre. Maybe… possibly… my URL will help you get the most outta your Finite Existence so I don’t fear for your soul.

Posted by: Catalyst4Christ at September 20, 2004 01:35 PM

thanks, catalyst, for the link. i don’t think you should fear for my soul so much as you should fear for people trying to navigate your URL. 🙂 that’s a busy site!
after going over your URL, i don’t think there’s much there that will be of interest to me.
further, it seems that what you mean by getting “the most outta” my “Finite Existence” is that the focus of my finite existence should be on some proposed infinite existence and i wholly disagree. i appreciate that you’re willing to gamble your limited earthly time in the hope of being rewarded with eternal life but please appreciate that i’m not a gambling man.
if your god is as perfect and loving as you say, it clearly will understand my position. so, again, please there’s no need to fear for my soul (or any others’ really. god can take care of the logistics. worry about yourself).
thanks for visiting BB!

Posted by: jdoublep at September 20, 2004 04:10 PM

Eventage Recapage

There’s something deviantly nice about having the afternoon off

I go into work yesterday morning and my boss says, “Take off at noon and here’re some free movie passes for you and Sa Rah (if she can take off).”
I grin and thank her and run away before she can change her mind. The downside to my haste is that I think I may have to go into work sometime today to make sure some travel arrangements were taken care of in my absence.
I e-mail Sa Rah to see if she can take off at noon and she can so we do and we decide we want some garlic mashed potatoes and wine.
The wine was yum. A Chilean table wine.


The taters were gone before I could snap a photo. That’s ok, those bastards gave me high blood sugar anyway.

Then we went to check out engagement rings so I could have some idea of what Sa Rah liked. She doesn’t wear jewelry and the whole looking for rings thing was humorous for both of us but we did see some pretty things. Jewelry salespeople remind me a lot of car salespeople (except for Nice Guy Tony). You can’t just look and ask questions – OOOOOOOOOOOOH no – God forbid you want to check out another store’s inventory/prices. I swear, when they found out we weren’t looking to buy it was like taking a pacifier from a baby. Their faces contorted to a point where we thought they would cry. Sorry, but who the fuck buys an engagement ring for their honey with her standing right there? And if you the fuck bought an engagement ring like that then you, sir, are an offense to reason and your honey has no class.

After rings, we went to see my momma, brothers, and niece. My niece is a monkey.

Then came nap time. Perfect way to cap an afternoon off.

We had all these plans for last night but wound up just relaxing at home. Burnt out from the week and lazy from the afternoon, I suppose. Thought about going to see Honey Baby at Davey’s Uptown or going to Funkytown to share some drinks with the KCRW. Instead, we hung here at the Creepy Crawlie Compound, told each other stories, smooched, and finally slept.

It’s raining this morning and I wonder why I’m up writing instead of sleeping in with the storm.

This afternoon – lunch at the Sahara Café for Sa Rah’s brother’s b-day, then our Sept. meeting of the CES, Sa Rah’s got roller derby practice, I’ve gotta mission to run while she’s at practice, and tonight is Jes’s 30th birthday party. Maybe all that’s why we decided to keep it chill last night.

In the end, I leave you with this – a post by Matt Fraction that’ll make your kneecaps tingle from election time blues cum folly .

There’s something deviantly nice about having the afternoon off

Of birthdays, those agey happenings,

On this day in 1883 William Carlos Williams was born. Little Willie grew up to be one of the most inventive, diverse, and influential of the Modernists.

Before I read Joyce’s Ulysses, WCW was my favorite Modernist (though I’m more knowledgeable about Pound). Willie’s book, Spring and All remains one of my favorite from the period and my own poetic work is inspired more by WCW than any other single writer.

Willie C could and did write just about anything. In my mind, though, he was first and foremost a poet. Willie knew poetry. Sure, there are folks today who know poetry but WCW – damn, he KNEW poetry. From Spring and All:

XIVof death
the barber
the barber
talked to me

cutting my
life with
sleep to trim
my hair –

It’s just
a moment
he said, we die
every night –

And of
the newest
ways to grow
hair on

bald death –
I told him
of the quartz
lamp

and of old men
with third
sets of teeth
to the cue

of an old man
who said
at the door –
Sunshine today!

for which
death shaves
him twice
a week

What I put down of value will have this value: an escape from crude symbolism, the annihilation of strained associations, complicated ritualistic forms designed to separate the work from “reality” – such as rhyme, meter as meter and not as the essential of the work, one of its words. But this smacks too much of the nature of – This is all negative and appears to be boastful. It is not intended so. Rather the opposite. The work will be in the realm of the imagination as plain as the sky is to a fisherman – A very clouded sentence. The word must be put down for itself, not as a symbol of nature but a part, cognizant of the whole – aware – civilized.

Happy b-day, Willie C Williams. Thanks for the wheelbarrows, the plums, and all the musings on New Jersey.

Ever your student,
J

Of birthdays, those agey happenings,

An Old, and Brief, Exchange About Poop

Eco on 06/12/2002 09:40:38 AM
To: jdoublep
Subject: between a rock and a hard place

dude, I’m stuck on a long call and I have to crap like a goose!

From: jdoublep
Sent: Wednesday, June 12, 2002 10:45 AM
To: eco
Subject: Re: between a rock and a hard place

poop dude
just plain poop
poop everywhere
poop frequently
poop to your colon’s content
poopsicle

Eco on 06/12/2002 11:10:19 AM
To: jdoublep
Subject: RE: between a rock and a hard place

pooped
pushed it out
pooped massively
pooped quickly
pooped like a race horse
flush…

From: jdoublep
Sent: Wednesday, June 12, 2002 12:09 PM
To: eco
Subject: RE: between a rock and a hard place

and down the hole it went
to join its turdy friends
on a journey to the sea
where all our caca ends

Eco on 06/12/2002 12:10:10 PM
To: jdoublep
Subject: RE: between a rock and a hard place

Man, I can’t think of anything else to add but…

And they lived happily ever after.

An Old, and Brief, Exchange About Poop

New China Mieville

Out of sheer curiosity, I googled China Miéville to find out what he’s been up to. Lo and behold, his latest novel has just been released, and I cannot wait to read it.

Miéville is hands down one of the most interesting and compelling authors publishing in any form today. I cannot recommend him enough. And when you do read him, make sure you bring along for the ride:
a) a dictionary;
b) a lack of preconceptions about what a genre novel is, and;
c) a strong stomach
Here’s a Washington Post review of the latest novel.

Seriously, read China. Tell your friends to read China. And then come back to BB! and tell me how you feel.

New China Mieville

9:41 AM Onward

Start –

Everybody and their momma’s blogging this: Johnny Ramone but damn, 3 down in 3 years. My brain hurts.

Photoshop class #3 last night. Blending! Belinda the Blender. An interesting lesson and much better than being at work. I came home afterwards and read a bit and hit the sack at 10PM. Slept so sound I didn’t stir a’tall when Sa Rah came home ½ hour later. Woke up at 3AM, noticed the TV was on, thought it was 11PM, suppressed my disorientation, said “Hullo” to me love (watching the TV), had a snack, went back to sleep, woke up at 6:30AM after dreams of NYC, a city that has been on my mind a lot as of late.

I’m excited. Bloom is now available for purchase.

PAUSE

10:03AM

At lunch, I should start transcribing my story-in-progress for Saturday’s CES meeting. I do the vast majority of my non-blog creative writing by hand. I tend to edit less that way and get more out. During transcription is when I edit most. This current story will be a mixed bag in terms of what’s hand-written and typed because I don’t think I’ll have time to finish it (i.e., handwrite it all out) before Saturday and need to get something into the group’s hands before Saturday afternoon, preferably by tonight. If I can finish – most unlikely – all the better.

The Book Peeps are on Walt Bodine, talkin’ ‘bout my good man, Truman Capote.

PAUSE

10:51AM

10 minutes ‘til lunch. Halfway through the day. For some reason I keep thinking this is Friday.

PAUSE

11:54AM

I’m not just now back from lunch. I did go over my allotted 30 minutes – but…that’s between you and me. Here’s what I got transcribed:

The stairwell door loomed green gray. Shari Leadbetter’s groan as she opened the door was nearly as loud as the door’s own ungreased complaint. Stairs if you care, stairs if you care, she silently repeated to herself. More like, stairs if you dare. The east stairwell of One World Consulting, Inc.’s home office discouraged use. One fluorescent bulb lit the bottom two flights. The middle section was marginally better lit – four bulbs that blinked intermittently. Shari never went higher than the eighth floor so she couldn’t tell you whether the top of the stairwell was bathed in pale light like some sterile, heavenly Super Center or showered with shadow like a foreign grocer’s in a strip mall. Shari’s six flights, two dim, four strobed, had been the bane of her existence for the past two weeks. A new diet, a new plan, a new routine, a new habit, a new mantra: Stairs if you care, stairs if you care.

FLIGHT ONE

Park far away to start your day.
Stairs if you care.
Water makes you hotter.
Be petite. Just don’t eat.

The words rolled like a tire in Shari’s head – A spare tire – and they matched a rhythm set by Shari’s feet smacking down on the concrete stairs. She’d borrowed the words from Sven Evensong’s book, Try It Diet. The words are mine. Sven gives them to his customers. Six flights of stairs to the office. Stairs if you care. And Shari did care. She made it to the sixth floor, less out of breath today than yesterday. Her hand on the door’s bar, she was ready to get a cup of coffee and start the day. She paused though and lifted her gaze to the water pipe that ran vertically along the wall, straight through the holes cut in the concrete landings. Is that a –

Snake in the Stairwell

? Well, it certainly looked to Shari like the tail end of a snake, wrapped around the water pipe and dangling loosely from the hole in the seventh floor landing. Shari looked back to her hands on the door’s push bar. She took a deep breath, tucked a few loose strands of thin, brown hair back behind her ear, let go of the door, hiked up her tan slacks, exhaled, and walked up to the seventh floor.

FLIGHT TWO

That is absolutely disgusting. Oh, Jesus, it’s like that snake Teddy bought Rand for his birthday. How the hell did it get in here? Shari, up close and examining the snake’s body. Dark green, right from the jungle, and thick as a manila folder rolled into a wide cylinder. Shari held her breath and reached out to touch the snake. “OH, JESUS!” The snake moved. Shari tilted her head to look up through the hole in the eighth floor landing. The snake wound up and around the water pipe through the eighth floor and – How long is this thing? All the way to twelve? Jesus?

Shari – on the eleventh floor landing. Snake – still constricted around the pipe, one more floor. Shari – out of breath. Up the stairs two at a time. Shari – sweat down her cheeks. Shari – one foot in front of the other, up the stairs. Shari – twelfth floor landing saw the long, too-dark monster wrapped up and around the small section of pipes in the corner. Snake – pretzeled into a knot. Eyes closed. Shari – stepped forward. One snake eye opened in a bemused laze. Other eye opened. Forked tongue flicked. Shari stopped. Snaked watched. Shari – breath, heavy, heavy still, palms clammed and damp.

The snake started to slither, undulate. A languorous ripple of muscle worked itself along the snake’s body like a pulse of energy slow moving through a viscous jelly. The knot loosened as the pulse came upon it. Undone now, the snake adjusted and slithered along the pipe above Shari’s head. The snake lowered itself down toward Shari. She stood still, the left side of her body numb and she couldn’t move. The snake came down to look her in the eyes.

In a drunken weave, the snake’s head bobbed in front of Shari. It moved down to Shari’s right shoulder, draped itself around the back of her neck, and raised its head back up to the left side of her face. The snake hissed secret and rumor into Shari’s ear. She listened. She was lissstening.

Shari lifted the snake from her shoulders and left it dangling from the pipe work as she mounted the final flight of stairs – Rooftop Access. A hint of smoke and exhaust rushed over Shari when she opened the door to the roof. I can see the mall. She turned south outside of the door. And the train station. Shari walked to the lip of the roof and looked over the edge. A few employees were smoking out front. Stairs if you care. Shari raised her right arm out to her side, hand outstretched – palm down. She curled, and then fluttered her fingers. If you try. She raised her left arm and did the same. You can fly.

FLIGHT THREE

And that’s my noontime post, kids.

9:41 AM Onward