Woody says look at em. He points to the Guess-the-Weight game.
I says they’s just people.
No, says Woody. They’s suckers. Why they stand in line for that nonsense?
Well, I says. It’s something to do.
You’re saying they got so much free time they got to fill it with trash.
Don’t know, I says. They look happy to me.
Woody gets mad and he won’t give me no more cigarettes, so I walk off across the Midway.
Carsons moved Woody to the ring toss last week and he can’t work his old hustles no more. That’s why he’s mad.
O He, that Sis-Nancy, he all round everywhere. Got the best stories because he see everything.
You don’t see him, neither, sitting high up on the strings he build between the tree branches or the rafters of your hut.
Maybe catch him a fly. Maybe catch him a story, your own story.
You tell a story all the time, but you don’t know it.
Sis-Nancy, he see you telling it, catch him that story, wrap it up and keep it with all the others.
Maybe one day he bring it out, fit it in with the rest, but maybe not.
“Look, Daddy. I don’t want to fight. I was just hoping you’d come. Most of the parents are coming.”
“Probably want to see where their tuition money went.”
“You were the one who said I could go.”
“I said you could, not that you should. Art school? What job exactly does this prepare you for?”
“There are lots of successful artists, Dad.”
“Way more unsuccessful ones. You know what your degree qualifies you to do? To come back and live at home. Forever.”
“You’ve made your feelings clear, Father. Fine. Don’t come. I doubt you would understand my piece anyway.”
The secret of this universe is the toroid.
In this shape are contained the answers to all the ills of mankind, for the toroid is a self-renewing source of energy.
Look at how the toroid replenishes itself in the atmosphere of this planet, or in an electromagnetic field.
An unending source of free energy would end all wars.
With no further need for oil, empires would collapse.
The wealthiest men in the world would lose their power.
You see now why this information has been suppressed, why it is dangerous to even speak of it.
One day, perhaps.
Northfield is different than I remember. I’d figured that such a small place wouldn’t change much in ten years, but I’m wrong. Two of the bars the old man used to frequent are gone, turned into little shops that sell crafts and such. I walk into to the first one, remembering the last time I was in here. It was Ole’s tap back then. The old man was so drunk I had to carry him out. I was fifteen.
It smells like nutmeg and cinnamon instead of piss and beer and cigarettes. I buy a hat for ma. A surprise.
I waited up for him long as I could, but I was only seven. My sister come as promised and got me up just after midnight. “Is he here?” I asked.
“Let’s go see for ourselves,” she said and led me into the living room where we hid ourselves behind the credenza
Pretty soon, Da came in carrying pieces of a bicycle. He tried to put it together, having no luck on account of he was drunk.
Ma started belabouring him and then they fell to fighting over the pieces, swallowing drinks between.
“That’s him,” says my sister. “That’s Santa.”
Eddie was a fuck-up, always in and out of jail for petty crimes. When he got drafted in ’44, he figured at least that would keep him out of jail.
As it was, he barely made it through basic. All the time on the troop ship he prayed that it’d be over before he got there.
He was separated from the replacement group during an artillery bombardment and took off, spending a month with the Canadian MPs.
That’s when he decided he wasn’t cut out for combat.
He wrote a letter to his CO.
The next January the Army executed him.
More on Eddie here.
Walker and me make offers whenever the banks foreclose on a place. We come it low, and usually somebody else will win it. Fine by us, since we’ll get it sooner or later. City people see a farmhouse for a song and buy it, not realizing that the value will only go down.Nobody makes it out here since the town went under. After a year or five or ten, they’ll move on, sell it to us for what they can get. We go in and strip it of everything worth a dime, then burn what’s left to the ground.
The men in the house are speaking Spanish as they move from room to room.
We’re hiding in the bedroom closet. I can hear Jeff in my head. You should have listened to me. You should have been prepared. I’d laughed at him. A panic room. That sort of idea was why we couldn’t stay married. Jeff, always suspicious, even paranoid. His “go bag,” his guns, his three days of emergency food. Ready for anything. I couldn’t take it.
The men are coming upstairs. Janey starts squirming on my lap, this game no longer fun.
I wish Jeff was here.
The burning building had excited him.
He felt the burn of it begin to consume him, insatiable.
He closed his eyes and lay on the floor, the map spread beneath him, his arms wide.
He was a bat, soaring over the city, random in his flight.
He could see it in his mind’s eye.
He would cut up his pillowcase for wicks.
Many wicks from a single garment, their origin joining them forever in his mind.
He would set the fires, he would wait, he would watch.
There were all the houses, all the city, all the world.