And I despise your books, I despise wisdom and the blessings of this world. It is all worthless, fleeting, illusory, and deceptive, like a mirage. You may be proud, wise, and fine, but death will wipe you off the face of the earth as though you were no more than mice burrowing under the floor, and your posterity, your history, your immortal geniuses will burn or freeze together with the earthly globe.
The first time I saw Marnie naked she was lying on her back in an ambulance while two paramedics cut her yellow Burton shell off her torso. The zipper must’ve been caught on the fabric. The medical boys sliced her jacket and all the fleece underlayers right up the middle with a razor-sharp scissors as if she were a fish. They needed to get to her heart. Didn’t we all?
Lou was doing eighty on Trapelo Road. Eighty on Trapelo. “Where are we going?”I asked. I was tripping my brains out. Jimmy tells me we’re going to Lou’s to pick up a case. So I’m sitting back there saying to myself, “OK, this is OK. Jimmy wouldn’t do anything to put you in danger. Jimmy’s your friend. This is OK.” And we’re in like a fuckin’ wind tunnel.
He clung to Suzy. “At least the wine is good,” she said. They weren’t really mingling. They were doing something that was more like a stiff list, a drift and sway. The acoustics made it impossible to speak normally and so they found themselves shouting inanities then just falling mute. The noise of the place was deafening as a sea, and the booming heartiness of others seemed to destroy all possibility of happiness for themselves.
“Who are you guys?” I said.
Ritter answered. He was big, one of those fat men who don’t really have any fat, a corrections officer, as I was soon to learn, and a former heavyweight wrestler. He could burst a pineapple in his armpit and chuckle about it (or so I assume). Haircut: military. Mustache: faint. “We’re just a bunch of West Virginia guys on fire for Christ,” he said. “I’m Ritter, and this is Darius, Jake, Bub, and that’s Jake’s brother, Josh. Pee Wee’s around here somewhere.”
“Chasin’ tail,” said Darius disdainfully.
“So you guys have just been hanging out here, saving lives?”
“We’re from West Virginia,” said Darius again, like maybe he thought I was thick. It was he who most often spoke for the group. The projection of his jaw from the lump of snuff he kept there made him come off a bit contentious, but I felt sure he was just high-strung.
And there is Samantha, sitting in an idling Impala, a boxy number from the sixties. She’s smoking a cigarette and chewing gum, her hair streaked blond and clumped, like she’s been driving all day. I guess she’s been waiting for me. She slides over and opens the passenger door.
I get in and she puts the car in gear. That’s all it takes—just stepping off the curb, into a car, and it’s the two of us once again.
“You know what I don’t get?”
No hellos, no catching up. It’s always like this.
“I don’t get why there are no dog petting zoos.” She rolls down the window and lets her arm hang out. “Then nobody would have to be responsible for one full time. We could just pay our money and go into a yard full of really nice, fluffy golden retrievers and dachshund puppies or whatever.”
For the 22 days of its existence, the balloon offered the possibility, in its randomness, of getting lost, of losing oneself, in contradistinction to the grid of precise, rectangular pathways under our feet.
From Another World
Ruth was not particularly extravagant, In contrast to Carolyn,
who spent her allowance the day she received it usually on a
scarf or a baggy sweater, despite the fact that her dresser
drawers were filled with scarves and sweaters but Mrs.
Bridge did not approve of Ruth’s taste. Her allowance was apt
to go for a necklace, or a sheer blouse, or a pair of extreme
earrings. The earrings were impossible. Mrs. Bridge, whose
preference in earrings tended toward the inconspicuous, such
as a moderately set pearl, tried to restrain herself whenever she
caught sight of Ruth wearing something unusually objection-
able, but there was one morning when she appeared for
breakfast in Mexican huaraches, Japanese silk pajamas with
the sleeves rolled up displaying a piece of adhesive tape
where she had cut herself while shaving her forearms, blue
horn-rimmed reading glasses, and for earrings a cluster of tiny
golden bells that tinkled whenever she moved. She might have
gotten by that morning except for the fact that as she ate she
steadily relaxed and contracted her feet so that the huaraches
“Now see here, young lady,” Mrs. Bridge said with more au-
thority than she felt, as she dropped a slice of bread into the
automatic toaster. “In the morning one doesn’t wear earrings
that dangle. People will think you’re something from another
“So?” said Ruth without looking up from the newspaper.
“Just what do you mean by that?”
“So who cares?”
“I care, that’s who!” Mrs. Bridge cried, suddenly very close
to hysteria, “I care very much!”
Things Lizzie Has Stolen for Me
1. Two 100% cotton knit tops, multi-colored nubby boat neck and smooth cream scooped with large buttons down the front. The tiny curtained cubicle, I have tried on four things, the ones I want disappear down Lizzie’s tan pants. Then she switches the four-item tag with a two-item one that happens to be in her purse. Standing in the hall so the clerk is sure to hear, she yells, “Hurry up, I’ll meet you in the car.”