essay shit

I am in the process of cleaning out old hard drives and old physical file folders. I came across this. I wrote it for a Critical Reading and Writing class at Columbia College when I was a fiction writing major. Way back in 1998. I was twenty. I think I was supposed to compare and contrast William S. Burroughs, who I loved at the time and Vladimir Nabokov, who I hated at the time. When I turned it in, it really was titled Essay Shit. Although I was really into Burroughs at the time and I was aping him as hard as my twenty year old self could manage, I was actually trying to channel this battle royal jam comic that Jay Stephens and Paul Pope did in Buzz Buzz Comics Magazine. In the comic their various characters and likenesses rumbled. It was the spirit of that comic that I was going for. And all things Paul Pope in general. At the time I really wanted to write how Paul Pope drew.

And, no, I don’t really expect you to read this entire thing.

Essay Shit

Ladies and gentleman. Boys and girls children of all ages. Fanfare! Lightning! Thunder! Gods! Earth shattering ribbons and lights. Circus sounds and big fat lines. The invocation of the beast is at hand. Before you today lies the future spread out on an empty canvas. The whole world is watching the events transpire. All eyes are on this piece of paper today. The process of constructing a creative essay is the task. Are you up to the challenge? I know you are! Creation is the fundamental element here. Creation above all is important, but don’t stray far from the path today children. The bears and zombies are out today. Today is the one day of the year when the bears and zombies fear nothing. They fear no light. They fear no time. They fear nothing. And they are not afraid to come and eat your guts if you fail your mission or stray too far and ramble beyond salvation. Are you up to the challenge? I know you are!

Tonight only. One on one. In a brutal no holds barred cage match. Fightin’ Bill Burroughs and Vladimir the Bolshevik Bear Nabakov FIGHT!!! To the DEATH!!! See Fightin’ Bill cut up Vladimir’s precious texts!!! See the Bolshevik Bear knock the pretentiousness from the bowels of Fightin’ Bill!!! Hear the sounds of bloody conquest. TOTAL CARNAGE!!! For your eyes only. This is a one night event as the contestants will be DEAD tomorrow!!! Parents are cautioned – this is not for the squeamish.

Tonight at eight, don’t miss Ramblin’ Rory Rockenbury, as he tackles the untackleable, imagines the unimaginable, explains the unexplainable, offers insight into the uninsightable unfathomable world of the author’s head. Hear Ramblin’ Rory’s neverbeforetonight heard opinions of Fightin’ Bill Burroughs and Vladimir, the Bolshevik Bear, Nabakov before they beat each other dead at nine.

An old man now walks silently with a stealth more like a cowboy 60 years younger than him. He sits down in a chair behind a card table with a gold tablecloth that shines brighter than sun off winter snow under the big top’s flood lights.

Ladies and gentleman, roars the ringmaster, Gaston, introducing from the far east, from the near east, from the vicious country of North Africa and the savage coasts of the Mediterranean, from St. Louis, from Lima, from Mexico City, from Louisiana and Texas, from Lawrence, Kansas. I give you the man with the insatiable junk sickness, the sufferer of chronic fatigue syndrome, the writer of books, destroyer of words, conqueror of worlds, conjurer of images, master of boys, and the inevitable fuck you. The current world champion of nonsense rhetoric, the stuff dreams are made of, Fightin’ Bill Burroughs!!

The little old man takes off his cowboy hat adjusts his button down shirt and coat, waves a little and smiles. A bottle of vodka sits on the table with two glasses and a pitcher of water.

A bookish middle aged man now enters the arena. The lights glare off his bare balding head. His pointed nose supports two tiny thin framed round glasses. He sits down in the chair next to Fightin’ Bill and stares into the big top’s flood lights trying to see his audience.

And now for your entertainment, ladies and gentleman, presenting the expatriate of thousands of lands, inventor of nations, worlds and pedophiles, professor at Trinity College, Stanford, Cornell, Harvard, tamer of butterflies, egoist, novelist, poetist, plunderer of languages, all the way from Russia, Vladimir, the Bolshevik Bear, Nabakov!!

The man who looks better suited for a library nook than a circus tent smiles and waves to the roaring crowd, then leans over to Fightin’ Bill and whispers a few words to which Fightin’ Bill laughs. They fill their tiny glasses with vodka and down them in one gulp.

And finally ladies and gentleman, a man who needs no introduction, not because his fame precedes him, but because I’ve run out of time. The master of ceremonies for the evening, the announcer, the host of his own talk show on Fox, the man who I’m going to give this microphone to, your friend and mine, Ramblin’ Rory Rockenbury!!

A youthful man in his late twenties rushes out from behind the curtains. His sequined suit glitters like a thousand nuclear blasts, the audience winces and blink trying to see him. He does a lap of the center ring waving and throwing Hershey’s Kisses and Tootsie Rolls into the crowd. He laughs and runs to the Ringmaster, Gaston, and says a few words to him, Gaston laughs and hands off the microphone to Rory.

Thank you! Thank you lovers! I’m Ramblin’ Rory and I’ll be your host tonight, but seriously folks, how ya’ll holdin’ up, did Gaston scare ya, cuz I know he scares me. Ha ha. But seriously folks. Tonight is a special night. A night that many people thought would never come about as our guests are usually too busy doing what they do to give any of us the time of day. But none the less, they are regarded the best at what they do, write books that make us fall in love with their words and annoy us with their personalities and idiosyncrasies. Tonight I talk to Fightin’ Bill Burroughs who gave us the notorious book, Naked Lunch, don’t read it, see the movie, but don’t take my word for it, Cities of the Red Night, Exterminator, Junky, Queer, and many others that are great for kids ages 7- 14!! A modern day Franklin W. Dixon! Ha ha ha! I’ll be in town all week. The man to his left is none other than Vladimir the Bolshevik Bear Nabakov, who brought us such fantastically rambling novels as King, Queen, Knave, Lolita, Laughter in the Dark and Invitation to a Beheading! Yee haw. I’m glad to finally talk to a man who might ramble more than Ramblin’ Rory!! Haw Haw. And then later tonight after a break, the two of them will fight each other. TO THE DEATH!!! That’s at nine. But, until then, we’ll be having an intellectual conversation.

Rory strolls over to the table swinging his hips back and forth and pouting and strutting like Mick Jagger and Ziggy Stardust’s mom. He shakes hands with both authors. Thanks for coming. He smiles and a glint of light flashes from his incisor tooth. Both men nod. First question. Pause. It’s not really much of a question though, is it? It’s more like a comment, an observation. Are you ready audience? The audience roars back its approval. You guys are more similar than you think aren’t you?

How do you mean? Fightin’ Bill asks cocking his head to the left.

I mean. There are a lot of similarities between the two of you. Maybe not in your style or personal flair, although there are some there, but more like your take on writing for one. Yes let’s take that one.

Sure. The Bolshevik Bear shakes his head.

Fightin’ Bill. Why do you write?

Why does anybody write?

Look, I know what you’re getting at and I want you to know that this is neither the time nor the place for confrontation, that comes in an hour, what my audience would like, is just straight forward no bullshit answers okay? Good. Why do you write?

Basically just to get something out that sounds good. Something that you can really see, or feel, my goal is to get the reader of the future to feel something. I’m addicted to writing y’know. So obviously I write to get the fix of it. If I weren’t writing I’d probably be dead from heroin long ago, so I take writing like I took heroin. But yes, basically it’s to get people to feel things in the best possible way.

Thank you. Bolshevik, same question. Why do you write?

My answer is probably going to take a slightly longer amount of time. I write for the same reason basically, but mine is for love. It’s like when I’m out collecting butterflies with my wife. There was this one time we were in this field outside of Berlin and we had spent the better part of the whole day there and we hadn’t found anything new. Now there was one I caught in my net and I was about to throw it away because it just looked like a monarch butterfly and who needs another monarch, but then I noticed that it had extra black markings underneath it’s wings. I thought this was interesting so I.

Bolshevik, please get to the point.

Oh. I’m not really a Bolshevik you know. I write because I have to get it out of me. I write to relieve myself of the story, almost like a bodily function – eat, drink, read, defecate, urinate, write. But I agree with Fightin’ Bill in that I want to say it all in the best possible way. I don’t really know what things mean when I write them, I just want them to sound beautiful. Take Lolita, everybody says, ‘is it pornography, is it literature?’ There’s this constant battle going on. I didn’t think that there was anything social in there at all. I wasn’t criticizing or commenting on anything. I wasn’t making any stand, I was just telling a story. That’s all. No more, no less.

Chimes Fightin’ Bill, I had that same problem when I was writing Naked Lunch. Actually, after I wrote it. When it was going through all of the censorship trials. People like Norman [Mailer] and Allen [Ginsberg] and all these literary types went to the thing and defended the book in the name of social relevance. I personally thought that there was no literary, social or any other type of relevance, it was just this part of me that I had to write. I didn’t think that anything that they said had anything to do with the actual issue which was censorship, which is the most evil thing ever. I didn’t even go because I didn’t think it would help.

Fabulous. Fabulous. Ramblin’ Rory smiles. See. I think that you guys are even more similar than that. You wanna know why? Well. I’m going to give you a definition of a scene okay? A scene is interaction between place, dialogue and action between characters. It has a beginning middle and end. Respond. Fightin’ Bill, do you agree or disagree?

I agree in some cases. I don’t know about my work, but definitely in work by Joseph Conrad or Norman Mailer or even James Joyce. Now with mine I don’t know because I do have interaction between place, dialogue and action between characters. Maybe not all at one time, but they are all there. Even when the dialogue is just one person, I would consider it dialogue because it has a definite voice, it just so happens that the dialogue is happening between only one person. There’s usually action of some sort even if it’s just walking or a masturbation scene, I would say that there’s definitely action happening there. But here’s where I draw the line, it’s with the beginning, middle, and end parts. If you look at my stuff, there might be a beginning in one chapter, but that chapter happens to be the last chapter. The middle part of the scene might be in the first chapter and the end might be the middle. So it’s there but so distorted that it’s hopeless.

Hopeless. Hopeless, you highhorse chestthumper? Ramblin Rory chides. Let me tell you something. One. The fact that your order of beginning middle and end is discombobulated doesn’t mean that the beginning middle and end are not there. They’re there, but rearranged. They’re still there and therefore you have a scene. Also, a scene isn’t the whole book. Each one of your chapters has a complete scene. And don’t even pull the rearranging of the order schtick, because it’s not going to work, because the same retort applies.


Bolshevik, same question.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not as seemingly left field as my esteemed colleague here. I have a definite sense of complete scene. There’s definitely interaction between the place, dialogue, action and characters in all of my scenes – deviation from this structure creates boring reading. You can’t rip apart tradition, rules that have been tried and proven to work marvelously, all you can do is alter it slightly, take a crack at it and subtly break it down. My work also flows chronologically. Beginning, middle and end happen in that order, beginning middle and end.

Ramblin’ Rory interjects with flailing arms, let me change the rules in mid-stream here okay. Here’s what I’ve noticed about you two. These are the similar things okay. You both do a lot with point of view changing, shifts in perspective. You’re both pretty traditional, in spite of your efforts to not be. And you both use sex in your novels a lot.

Anti-novels please. Fightin’ Bill downs another vodka.

Uh-huh. Anyways. Let me explain. Bolshevik. At the start of King Queen Knave. You start with the image of a train leaving the train station, but you tell it from the point of view of the train so you describe the station as the thing that’s moving not the train. I grudgingly admit, that’s kind of cool.

Thanks, I.

I’m not finished yet. It’s an interesting approach to telling the same old shit. Then we follow Franz through the train as he sees disgusting image after disgusting image and remembers even more disgusting images until he finally cracks and upgrades his ticket to second class and then he moves into second class and sees Martha and Dreyer sharing his compartment. The perspective switches from Franz to Martha to…

The lady wore a black suit and diminutive black hat with a little diamond swallow. Her face was serious, her eyes cold, a little dark down, the sign of passion, glistened above her upper lip, and a gleam of sun brought out the creamy texture of her neck at the throat with its two delicate transverse lines as if traced with a fingernail across it, one above the other: also a token of all kinds of marvels, according to one of his schoolmates, a precocious expert. The man must be a foreigner, judging by his soft collar and tweeds. Franz, however, was mistaken.

‘I’m thirsty,’ said the man with a Berlin accent. ‘Too bad there’s no fruit. Those strawberries were positively dying to be sampled.’

‘It’s your own fault,’ answered the lady in a displeased voice, adding a little later: ‘I still cannot get over it – it was such a silly thing to do.’

Dreyer briefly cast up his eyes to a makeshift heaven and made no reply.

‘It’s your own fault,’ she repeated and automatically pulled at her pleated skirt, automatically noticing that the awkward young man with the glasses who had appeared in the door corner seemed to be fascinated by the sheer silk of her legs.

‘Anyway,’ she said, ‘it’s not worth discussing.’

Dreyer knew that his silence irritated Martha unspeakably. There was a boyish gleam in his eye, and the soft folds about his lips were undulating because he was rolling a mint in his mouth.’

I’d be looking at her legs too. Ha ha. Excellent stuff, wouldn’t you say, Bolshevik?


I’m not done yet, rambles Ramblin’ Rory. This goes on for the rest of the book and it just kicks ass. At least that’s the way I saw it and so did the audience. Isn’t that right audience?

YES!!! The audience roars back eating cotton candy, cracker jack beer and pop.

Fightin’ Bill. Let’s talk about your use of point of view. Here’s another area where you are slightly more traditional than our Russian friend here. You don’t take the perspective of anything that isn’t human or humanoid or a character in your novel. You stick to the more traditional method of sticking to one character in your books. Usually they’re you, Fightin’ Bill, incarnated as characters. But that’s another story. So yes, you have your protagonists who you follow. What makes the point of view shift happen is that you shift places and times, your whole physical setting switches on your reader and then the main character is someone else. It’s the same person but in a different body and time and place. Example. Let’s take Cities of the Red Night because it’s one of my favorites and I, as well as the audience, hate Naked Lunch. Isn’t that right audience? Ramblin’ Rory smiles a lip curl smile, his teeth flash white brilliance and he circles the table swinging his hips like the queen he wishes he was.

YES!!! The audience roars back choking down hot dogs and beer brats drinking champagne.

Here it is I’m going to read the end of one section and the start of another, how do you like that?

Fightin’ Bill knocks down another vodka. Don’t talk kid I’m training for my fight tonight.

This is the end of the section entitled Firecrackers in which the protagonist of the eighteenth century is Noah Blake and he and his friends are all part of a pirate world revolution and in this section he invents the modern bullet.

After the test I present the red-headed boy, whose name is Chan, with a rifle and give Strobe a pistol. At this Strobe is somewhat piqued. I retain the remaining two weapons for my own use. Plans are immediately dispatched by courier to all the settlements in these locations: on the Pacific side of the isthmus of Panama opposite the Pearl Islands; two settlements inland from Guayaquil in a heavily wooded and mountainous area; and settlements above Panama City on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides and in the mountainous interior.
Production of the weapon is now standardized and we have fifty Indians working under our supervision. As soon as they learn how to assemble the guns, they are sent back to their villages and jungles since decentralization is a keynote of our strategy. Instead of one central factory, there are a number of small shops that can turn out a few guns a day. We are distributing guns through the store in Port Roger. Arming the native population is another essential step. The cannon that protect Port Roger are being converted to receive breech-loading shells.

Next section – Necesita Automovil.

‘I hadn’t been in Mexico City in fifteen years. Driving in from the airport I could hardly recognize the place. As Dimitri said, a selective pestilence may be the only solution. Otherwise, they will multiply their assholes into the polluted sea.

Kiki, Jim and I checked into a small hotel off Insurgentes, which is a few blocks from John Everson’s Mexico City address. Then we split up. Jim and Kiki went to John Everson’s address to see what they could pick up from the landlady and the vecinos. I went to the American Embassy, found the Protection Department, and sent in my card. I saw the girl hand it to a man at a desk. He looked at the card and looked at me. Then he did something else. I waited twenty minutes.

The ‘I’ here is Clem Snide who becomes the first person point of view, the new protagonist. Noah Blake in the modern world. Another very interesting technique that I think is very effective, which is a good thing, because this style, this approach runs through most of your books.

Fightin’ Bill downs a glass of water. Vodka’s makin’ me thirsty. He glares at the Bolshevik Bear.

Moving on, as my audience is impatient to see the post discussion bloodbath, let’s talk about sex. Sex in your books. What do you think about the sex in your books.

Well, I know in my book.

Nobody’s asked you anything yet Bolshevik. I’m not done. In your books, at least the one’s that I’ve read because I think, and so does my audience, that you’re boring, isn’t that right audience?

YES!!! The audience roars back puking beer bellies and soft pretzels.

Now in your books you address the sex thing casually. It’s elegant, refined poetic in the traditional sense, you kind of hide behind nice words that get the job done rather than just come out and say, ‘Martha fucked Franz’s brains out.’ Instead you talk about their first sex encounter as a flight. The bed takes off and these magical things happen, things kind of float in the air and vibrate as the bed leaves this time-space for some magical land of make-love. Even in Lolita, I don’t remember there being a lot of bluntness because Humbert is such an arty egotistical bastard, such as yourself, and wouldn’t dare bring himself down to being at such an earthy level. Can I read you one of my and the audience’s favorite passages from King Queen Knave?

I. Oh forget. The Bolshevik quits.

That’s what I thought. Are you ready? This is the sex scene I was talking about, Martha and Franz’s first sex encounter. Okay they fuck once standing up and then they go onto the bed where they check each other out and start again.

Presently the bed stirred into motion. It glided off on its journey creaking discreetly as does a sleeping car when the express pulls out of a dreamy station. ‘You, you you,’ uttered Martha, softly squeezing him between her knees at every gasp, and following with moist eyes the shadows of angels waving their handkerchiefs on the ceiling, which was moving away faster and faster.

Now the room was empty. Objects lay, stood, sat, hung in the carefree postures man-made things adopt in man’s absence. The mock crocodile lay on the floor. A blue-tinted cork, which had been recently removed from a small ink bottle when a fountain pen had to be refilled, hesitated for an instant, then rolled in a semi-circle to the edge of the oilcloth-covered table, hesitated again, and jumped off. With the help of the lashing rain the wind tried to open the window but failed. In the rickety wardrobe a blue black-spotted tie slithered off its twig like a snake. A paperback novelette on the chest-of-drawers left open at chapter five skipped several pages.

Suddenly the looking glass made a signal – a warning gleam. It reflected a bluish armpit and a lovely bare arm. The arm stretched – and fell back lifeless. Slowly, the bed returned to Berlin from Eden. It was greeted by a blast of music from the radio upstairs which changed immediately to excited speech which in its turn was replaced by the same music but now more remote.

Well, I’m turned on. How about you audience?

YESS!!! The audience slithers back, rubbing hotdogs and licking cotton candy.

Yes, yes, excellent stuff. Very effective and there are other examples in this book, Lolita and I’m assuming other books as well that are just as excellent. Now here’s another question. Is the sex central to the story, is it required, what is its purpose?

Well. The Bolshevik Bear gingerly starts. Obviously in Lolita, sex was central to the character Humbert Humbert, as it was that he was a pedophile and comletely absorbed in Lolita. So without the sex, that is the fantasy and lust, in Lolita there wouldn’t be much of a story would there? The purpose is of course to provide more characterization for Humbert Humbert and to move the story along. It’s an engine of sorts I guess. Yes an engine. Now in King Queen Knave, the actual description of sex is not central to the story. It happens and it’s important that it happens, but I could have just implied it. Instead though, I chose to leave it in there for entertainment, for the titillation and for the challenge of describing it poetically and not vulgar. But yes, again sex is central to the story in that without the lust that Martha and Franz share there wouldn’t be any conflict besides what a bizarre and intolerable man Dreyer is to Franz and what a pretty wife he has.

Excellent. A sex engine. Ha ha. Now Fightin’ Bill. I’m going to read one of your plentiful sex scenes and ask you the same thing. But I will keep it short and you need to keep your answer short as we are running out of time.

Fightin’ Bill nods slams back another vodka. Goddamn.

Your sex scenes are definitely more vulgar and explicit than anything our Slavic friend over there would ever dare to write.

Actually I’m Russian.

Yes, but Slavic sounds so much more appealing. Don’t you think audience?

YES!!! The audience roars back cramming dumplings and coleslaw down their sticky beer soaked throats.

I’m just going to read one of your sex scenes and not even attempt to summarize it because nothing I can say will duplicate it in any way. Here we go, this is from Naked Lunch, A.J.’s Annual Party, because if there’s one thing Naked Lunch’s got it’s sex.

He looks back at her and grins at her. She washes his ass with soap and hot water sticking her finger up it.
‘Does that hurt?’


‘Come along, baby.’ She leads the way into the bedroom. He lies down on his back and throws his legs back over his head, clasping elbows behind his knees. She kneel down and caress the backs of his thighs, his balls, running her fingers down the perennial divide. She push his cheeks apart, lean down and begin licking the anus, moving her head in a slow circle. She push at the sides of the asshole, licking deeper and deeper. He close his eyes and squirm. She lick up the perennial divide. His small, tight balls…. A great pearl stands out on the tip of his circumcised cock. her mouth closes over the crown. She sucks rhythmically up and down, pausing on the up stroke and moving her head around in a circle. Her hand plays gently with his balls, slide down and middle finger up his ass. As she suck down toward the root of his cock she tickle his prostate mockingly. He grin and fart. She is sucking his cock now in a frenzy. His body begins to contract, pulling up toward his chin. Each time the contraction is longer. ‘Wheeeeeeee!’ the boy yell, every muscle tense, his whole body strain to empty through his cock. She drinks his jissom which fills her mouth in great hot spurts. He lets his feet flop back onto the bed. He arches his back and yawns.’

The Bolshevik Bear stares at Ramblin’ Rory.

So again let me ask you the question, how central is the sex to your stories, to your novels, what is its purpose and is it essential?

Yes. It’s central to the story. I couldn’t and wouldn’t tell you why though. You’ll have to make a guess. But I wouldn’t put something in there that wasn’t essential or necessary. The purpose is to express something that I needed to express. That’s it.

I’m not going to touch the centrality of the sex to the story, just because I don’t understand them, usually. Actually, I don’t think I have a grasp on any of your books except Queer and that’s iffy. But at least you kept it brief so. On we go. I mentioned before that both of you were actually more traditional than either of you want to believe. I think this is true, of course, because this is my opinion, but how do you feel about that statement, what’s your reaction?

Well, I push the limits of poetic.

Oh fuck off Bolshevik. I’m sick of you guys. I just want to say this before we go watch the two of you beat the shit out of each other – you guys aren’t half as cool as you think you are. I just want you guys to know that Franklin W. Dixon, author of the Hardy Boys, is doing basically what you guys are doing. You guys are just doing it slightly different. Both of you and Franklin have all the elements of a scene and all the elements of a story in your books, you guys, especially you Fightin’ Bill, are just trying to shake things up a little bit and call yourselves experimental, but you are just like every other writer ever and that’s the truth so don’t get all hard over your own accomplishments. I’d like to thank you both for being here it’s really been a pleasure and your insights have been priceless. Thank you.

No problem. Fightin’ Bill slams down the last of the vodka puts his hat back on.

It was my pleasure of course. The Bolshevik Bear looks into Ramblin’ Rory’s eyes barely acknowledging him.

And thank you audience. As always you’ve been great. Are you ready for death?

YES!!! The audience roars back in a final farewell of beer belches and hotdog stink.

That’s it for me. See ya in the side tent in fifteen minutes. Ramblin’ Rory Rockenbury swaggers out of the ring, not before doing a victory lap to shake hands and kiss girls and boys, his tight sequin outfit and ten inch platform shoes show off his ass like there’s no tomorrow. Goodnight!

Now returns Gaston the ringmaster. LADIES AND GENTLEMAN!!! The moment you’ve all been waiting for. The world’s largest literary cagematch. A no holds barred event. The literary giant known as Fightin’ Bill Burroughs will cut up Vladimir, the Bolshevik Bear, Nabakov’s precious King Queen Knave just because! ARE YOU READY!!!




Without further ado. Fightin’ Bill Burroughs!

Fightin’ Bill comes in and sits down at another little card table with a silver tablecloth and a bottle of whiskey. He takes off his cowboy hat and sits down with a few sheets of paper. These, he says in his croaky voice, are the few sheets of the Bolshevik’s manuscript that I need to destroy him! The audience cheers. I need a few minutes and some dramatic music please. The circus calliope player plays the tensest music she can play, though it’s not quite what Fightin’ Bill wants.

He works for twenty minutes to a hushed tent full of people who sit at the edge of their seat in the hopes of catching a glimpse of The Bolshevik’s demise. After twenty minutes Fightin’ Bill stands up and smiles. I’ve done it. The audience cheers again and Fightin’ Bill reads.


He was well, got up and was resonantly of no use and only four senile minutes later had forwarded to the strange city. At dinner, conversation would stop over his slices and his landlord, Tong. He decided with the broad black pants and hands of his age to parlay as though the telephone was away.

All his being was on the table, and at the first star’s glimmer – on the far side of please – in came that nose. Firmly, it meant now to come take the flashlight briskly and he had just warmed the tea to his liking though he pushed black camel hair into it. Oh how one crisp telephone should flourish and do so hungrily.

He was a very kind uncle.

There was the flashlight, and Tom, who thought perhaps he deserved it, rubbed his soft head. Then Franz, who was already lying to himself, locked up with a tremor of panic that mosquitoes slept on what he was.

Completely alone in a turn-down and with a certain evil joy, he proceeded with another to the radiant Martha who presided over the room.

‘Ask lewd old Enricht. His was the table laid with a bath in the grimy tub of the flat ham reposed on a brothel.’ At that instant Enricht, large grapes brimming, went to the telephone edge.

‘Excitement!’ Franz pulled on the edge of his mouth. He cast aside into the passage, a trunk man, to wait for Martha in the corridor. Owing perhaps to smoothly brushed hair clothed in gray flannel, he made for the gleam of telephones. He could not identify feeling that someone was in his ear, ‘come to my house.

This remained clearly at last. ‘Do you hear me? Against the black for you.’ Then on the sideboard, ‘where are you?’

Franz, babbled, put down the receiver with a stillness. Then found it and rapidly jotting down the things he turned.

And then, ‘be back from the cinema.’ Around the table, the forehead with a sly smile – Martha, her eyes glistening.

He still had his coat on, Chanel scented keys and a fully awakened sausage shaped dog. Without shedding it he had to sit down.

Telephone. ‘Someone, now?’ He noisily turned on the sophist and began taking off his voluminous water.

‘Lovely film.’ She to the front hall. ‘Oh hang it up. I think I liked him better when he dropped the keys and the… In what?’

The audience breathes once again and erupts into violent applause, people vomit, women fall over clutching their first born, men drink themselves blind and jump off the nearest balcony. Bodies writhe, twitch and explode. Fightin’ Bill stands up downs a shot of whiskey and walks off staggering drunk with the bottle in hand cowboy hat slanted down covering his eyes.

LADIES AND GENTLEMAN. That is the end of tonight’s festivities. I regret to inform you that Vladimir, the Bolshevik Bear, Nabakov will not be able to defend himself this evening as he was infuriated by our very own Ramblin’ Rory Rockenbury and left without a trace. Thank you for coming and please drive safely!

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