By Jonathan Webber

        I ordered a cheap chicken dish; my date from Burley, Idaho, had a  
bowl of creamed celery soup. We asked for caviar just for fun and the waiter  
said, ''You have to order a meal.'' The bill was already thirty-five dollars 
we should have expected that in the Eduardian Room of the Plaza Hotel.  
Just before dinner, we had taken a ride around Central Park on a  
horse-drawn carriage. The coachman let the Clydesdale's hooves slosh  
around in wet December snow for a few extra minutes, and he received  
more money for a tip than we had paid for a round-trip ticket in and out  
of Grand Central Station from Chappaqua, New York. When we were  
younger, we just looked, window-shopped, and admired from a distance;  
now we had to take it all in before leaving the East
        Even before we could legally drive, we could walk to the train station  
and take the nonpeak express train into the city for only $2.35 round-trip.  
We would ask our mothers for a ride when it was cold. But often we would  
stay home; to the left of our house was the sleigh riding hill. I broke my  
leg there showing off at my brother's birthday party. On the other side  
of the house was the basketball standard. We would shovel the snow off  
the driveway and hope that the ball wouldn't bounce into the stream in  
the front yard and freeze . It made it harder to make free throws
        We knew winter was over when we could take off our shoes and walk  
in the freezing water of our stream. In spring and summer we could catch  
frogs in it. The stream made a great border for all our baseball, football,  
and lacrosse games, except when the ball got wet or lost in the woods  
towards the south end zone. The front yard shrank as we got older. When  
we broke windows, we got the cul-de-sac to play in. The ball would still  
end up in the stream, so then my dad would take us to the harmless high  
school fields to play
        Chappaqua was always like that. The adults wanted it peaceful and  
serene and constant to contrast with their eleven-hour day in the city. And  
the parents could afford whatever they wanted. Maybe I should say the  
companies they worked for could afford it, but thinking about it, the  
companies worked for our parents. They owned or operated Union Carbide,  
Sperry Ram, IBM, Head, Olin, Rachile, Tyrolia, HBO, Eastman Kodak,  
Reader's Digest, and Time-Life Inc. That was just my graduating class
        We said good-bye to our classmates in our New York City style. The  
graduation party started at 2:00 in the afternoon. We got on Greyhounds  
and went down to the piers where our ferry took us to Fire Island on the  
tip of Long Island to Le Dock, an exclusive restaurant we had rented. There  
were two choices, steak or lobster, but most of us were either too full from  
the fresh shrimp, clam, and oyster bar or too drunk. Later that night, our  
ferry took us to the west side of Manhattan Island and up the Hudson  
river to where another ferry was waiting with the Sugar Hill Gang. They  
rapped and reggaed until 2:30 a.m., and most of us didn't even notice  
the George Washington Bridge or the Manhattan skyline. Mr. Giraldi could  
afford parties like that; his advertising agency had just come up with the  
slogan, "Tastes great, less filling." By 4:00 in the morning, we were back  
in our quiet Chappaqua beds, away from the lights and the noise and  
the traffic .  
        The city offered an endless fantasy . We didn't work or live thereWe only used it when it was convenient. There were crowded New Year's  
Eve parties at Times Square, and 4th of July fireworks we could see from  
the sixth hole on the Whippoorwhill Golf Course-walking distance from  
our house. It was on much higher ground than the Mt. Kisco Country  
Club course or the Seven Bridges course. This made it possible to see the  
fireworks twenty miles away. There were the Bicentennial celebration and  
the Centennial of the Statue of Liberty and the 1980 Winter Olympicswhen our hockey team beat the Soviets. We were there-everyone wasSometimes it was better on TV in comfortable, unchanging Chappaqua.  
        What was hard about leaving New York was not being able to attend  
all the events waiting for us. We could see the Yankees in the World Series  
and buy a hot pretzel and a cold hot dog at the stadium and then watch  
the next game on ABC Sports. We could see Chicago, Marshal Tucker,  
Boston, or James Taylor in concert at Central Park for $2.50 and listen to  
the album later in quiet Chappaqua. I had the chance to watch Pele score  
for the Cosmos and Wilt Chamberlain put in 100 points against the KnicksWe could see the Giants or the Generals, not to mention the Mets, Jets,  
and Nets. We would stand in line at noon at the big red TCKTS sign at  
Duffey Square and get Broadway tickets for half price or less for that night's  
performance. If it was too expensive, we could go off Broadway, or down  
to Greenwich village, or to the Hard Rock Cafe, or to Rockefeller Center,  
or Lincoln Square, or the Museum of Natural History and Modern Art        While packing for Provo, I realized we had seen more than the average  
tourist. We could get up thirty-four floors, almost one-third of the way  
to the top of the Empire State Building, without paying. We weren't  
tourists waiting in line for the 112-story Twin Towers speed elevators. We  
wanted the pizza and the cheap egg rolls from the street vendors. We would  
try on $9,000 sequin jackets at Gucci's and compare them to other shops  
on Fifth Avenue: Valentino's, or Bergdorf Goodman, or Fortunof, or  
Giorgio Armani, or Sax Fifth Avenue. Then we would finally buy a bagel  
for a quarter. The Staten Island Ferry is still a quarter also; it has been  
for forty years. We watched the man with an orange afro and a test tube  
with some dice in it hanging in his ear. These things we could own--and  
the flowers sold on 28th Street and Sixth Avenue. We owned the clowns  
and jugglers in Central Park and the mimes in Washington Square Park,  
surrounded by NYU
        We owned it all from peaceful Chappaqua. The church was smallbut important; we didn't know why we should come to BYU if there were  
215 girls working as mother's helpers in a three-ward radius. The coast was  
ten minutes away, and the crowded, dirty beaches were ours. It was five  
miles to the Connecticut line and its New England shopping malls. It was  
forty minutes to the first ski slope and less than two hours to Vermont  
and the best snow in the East. It was two-and-a-half hours to Philadelphia  
or Albany. It was five hours to Boston or Washington D.C. It was forty-two  
hours to Provo. 

Sea Gull

By Lance Larsen

        I finish with the lawn when the mail truck pulls up. It's Saturday.  
The afternoon breeze has gotten hung up in the canyon, and the leaves  
of the transplanted aspens refuse to quiver. Above the street, a sea gull  
glides a vigilant circle, surveying by turn each house on the cul-de-sac. His  
wings are grayish, his body a dazzling white, and every few moments he  
beats the air to stay afloat. He shimmers in the heat--any moment he  
might melt into sky. With the rumbling of the mail truck, his cries and  
flapping are a silent ballet.  
        Sandwiched between a bank statement and an ad for time-share  
condominiums somewhere in California is Jamie's letter--her scrawls not  
cursive, not print, but something in between. She writes:  

                 I don't know how to tell you the things that have happened to  
                 me since I graduated. One thing is very good. I have a 
                 boyfriend . . . 
        The cars, the snaking television aerials, even the pieces of gray  
lawn that separate the houses seem suddenly hazy. Only Jamie's wordsAnd behind her words the slowness of her voice:  

                The bad thing is that my brother, Jess, who is nineteen, was killed  
                on April 12 in an auto accident. He was driving. He was killed  
                instantly. I wish you could have met him at graduation. He drove  
                all the way up that morning, even when he had to work the night  
                before and the next day. He looked so handsome that day. It was  
                the last day I saw him.  

        Her words would have come carefully. Perhaps she was sitting at her  
kitchen cable, dirty breakfast things pushed aside; or under a tree; or in  
her room, sitting cross-legged on her bed, surrounded by familiar voices-- 
Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, T. S. Eliot--voices that wash across the dark  
creases of her mind, giving taste and texture to her world, helping her to  
focus her poet's eye.  
        The postmark reads' 'April 19.'' Already a week has passed, a seven-day  
string of getting up, stumbling about, and trying to sleep things off. I  
want to ask her things. Has she gone walking by the lake, searching for  
answers in the churned water? Has she tried to write? These details seem  
        Her father--or at least the him lurking behind her poetry--is a sinewy  
man with rough hands, quick to anger but gentle enough to comfort a  
splinter of a girl. Sometimes he leans over a balcony railing to survey the  
dusky green of Virginia. When the wind blows hard dust, he is in Vietnamleaning into the turbulence of a landing helicopter. On quiet mornings,  
he stands in the corner of a Paris bar at closing, while the waiters busy  
themselves stacking chairs. I think of Jamie's loss as the slow uncoiling of  
a snake. I consider my own losses--the family Siamese when I was six, later  
a grandmother I hardly knew. But these didn't leave me with a chunk gone,  
with a leg gnawed off. I am whole.  
        Outside, I look for the sea gull, but there is only sky. I lie in the grass,  
supine, my legs close together, my book blocking the sun the way Jess's  
lids must have blocked artificial light. I become Jess. For the longest time  
I do not move. No blood, no organs, I am stone. No air stirs my lungs.  
My hands lie across my chest, but I forget which hand is which, which  
fingers are intertwined. Heavy, I sink into the grass, the blades pushing  
up around me. The rain will come, and the wind. Together they will chip  
away at me until I feel myself melting into loam
        I imagine the visitors, a slow current of downward peering faces:  
cousins, friends of the family, an aunt who used to plant kisses on Jess's  
forehead until the smell of powdered lilac lingered in his hair, a high school  
algebra teacher, a neighbor who used to let Jess ride his horses. And toward  
the end, Jess's friends. A girl he kissed in the school parking lot when  
everyone had gone home. Friends from work. And behind them, the boys  
in his car. Someday they 'd pry into the why of it, but by then, solaced  
by the embrace of soft wives, the answers would lose their edge. And Jamie's  
there-with her careful smile and cowlicked bangs.  
        She'll come back slowly, losing herself in the petals of a shrivelled  
rose or the tangled mane of a filly. Poetry will help. And the starlings that  
tear a black wedge across an orange sky. Wet leaves damming a gutter, the  
smell of rain. The lyrics of Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen. They will  
        In the evening I sit down to dinner with my mother; Dad is out of  
town for the week. We talk quietly. Later, I go outside and the crickets  
are so loud that after a while I do not hear them. Nothing exists but the  
night and these parked cars, brittle as pods. The moon is up, a half-crescent  
of white above the neighbor's house. As a child Jamie might have wished  
for a wedge to soothe a scraped knee, but tonight the moon just hangs.  
Following a preset course, it pulls at dark, malleable oceans but changes  
nothing, heals no one.  
        I get in my car and drive west. It is Lana Howard's wedding reception  
at the Holiday Inn. Inside, I pass the bar. Above the clink of glasses and  
the laughter, a guitar accompanies a nasal voice singing about empty bottles  
and mothers-in-law. In the hall is a sign: HOWARD~JAMISON WEDDING 
PARTY. A table near the door is piled with elegantly wrapped gifts--
toasters, silverware, and tumblers. At the other end of the room where the  
sound system and dance floor are set up, the rabies are packed with people.  
        Lana is walking toward me. She has on a taffeta dress with  
bills pinned across the front--some fives, but mostly tens and twenties        "Hi," she says, taking my hand . ''l'm glad you made it. Eldon and  
everyone from pricing are over there.'' She points to the far corner. I nod  
and ask her how the ceremony went. "Fine," she tells me. I compliment  
her on her hair then ask about the bills.  
        She giggles, partly from champagne. "They're from everyone who  
wants to dance with me one last time. I've made over two hundred dollarsTom has most of it in his pocket.'' She says something about making a  
call and hurries out.  
        For a moment I think of leaving. The hall would be empty. Outside,  
behind the hotel, shielded from the rushing cars, I could sit on the grass.  
Neon would bathe me; bugs would dance in the artificial light as they  
did when Jamie and I would sit on the hill behind the library. We looked  
at the trees. And beyond them Saint Joseph's steepled roof and the lights  
across the lake. Once we talked of summer. Jamie told about planting  
geraniums and watching snails weave iridescent ribbons in the dust. And  
I told her of sea gulls-how on mornings heavy with wet air they would 
circle, a shifting gyre of gray and white, how one, brighter than the restwould hang close to shore, marking vigil. I told Jamie that and she nodded  
and we looked to the lake
        A waitress brushes my arm. I pick my way past tables of bald men  
wearing polyester suits and women working thin, brown cigarettes. Smoke  
and music and scratchy voices fill the air.  
        At the corner table I say hello to everyone from pricing, shake a few  
hands, and laugh when Eldon tells me that I'm late, that he thought  
I wasn't coming. A reggae song begins and Christin, married and with  
three kids, asks me to dance. I move to the music the way I do when I  
feel it, and no one knows the difference. Christin tells me I dance well;  
she wishes she were still in college.  
        A maid hands out small bags of rice and the DJ. announces the last  
song. It ends with a flurry of drums, and everyone spills into the hallway,  
forming a tunnel the couple will pass through. I see all this from a distance.  
The tunnel of dark suits and backless dresses-pinks and whites and corals.  
The blur of moving arms. The white and green Blazer, stuffed to the roof  
with presents, backed up to the open doors.  
        Lana and Bob emerge from a side entrance, arm in arm, giggling.  
Everyone cheers and begins throwing rice. Soon they'll be saying their  
good-byes. They'll break off into couples and walk through the parking  
lot. Lana and Bob will check into a bridal suite somewhere, while the guests  
hurry along bare highways. I wait, then go outside. Above me against the  
stars, nothing moves.  
        Back home, the TV is on in the family room. Mother looks up from  
the sofa, asks me how the reception was. She tells me "Camelot" when  
I ask her what she is watching. Despite the theatrics and singing, the fall  
of the kingdom seems real. She turns off the TV and says goodnight. I  
watch the curtain blow. I imagine myself padding upstairs, standing at my  
mother's doorway, looking in at her. Propped in her bed, her glasses on  
the tip of her nose, she would be reading a best seller. I could talk to her.  
I could bury my face in the blanket, my eyes closed, and talk.  
        Instead, I go to my room. I undress quickly, dropping my shoes to  
the floor, letting my pants and shirt fall where they will. I switch off the  
light. In the darkness, I reach out my hand and feel the wall. I think of  
bleeding knights, a vanquished queen, of my mother upstairs, tossing across  
the width of her king-sized bed, of Jamie hugging herself into sleep.  
        At the foot of my bed, a patch of moonlight quivers, moving in perfect  
time with the aspens, dipping a degree, then sliding back into place. The  
heater comes on, the ducts filling with air. And in my mind the patch  
of light changes into a dazzling gull with wings that unfold a feather at  
a time. Beating a slow rhythm, the gull rises with healing in its wings,  
above the earth and moon, bidding all to follow--a kingdom, a sister, a  
boy plucked before his time.  

The Turtle

By Melissa Knudsen

        The week before Thanksgiving when I was seven, I learned that turtles  
are indestructible. That day at school we had taped on the wall a six-foot  
tall paper turkey with twenty-five feathers-one for each of us to write our  
name on and color. I crayoned my feather purple and green and wrote  
"Melissa" on it, then added Toby's name since he was my first pet.  
Elizabeth Frazier, who sat next to me, snickered. "She wrote her turtle's  
name on her feather,'' she said. Danny Stringer and Jimmy Bullinger  
        The kids in my class still called me "the new girl" even though we'd  
lived in Riverside for a month and a half. Elizabeth Frazier hated me since  
my second day in class because Mrs. Smurthwaite let me take home one  
of the pollywogs she used in a lesson about frogs, and my little brother  
Todd poured it down the kitchen sink.  
        ''So you let the pollywog get killed,'' Elizabeth said, winding one  
of her white braids around her finger. ''If I'd taken him home he would  
never've gotten killed. I'd've put him in a vase on the bookshelf where  
my brother couldn't get him.'' She pointed her pencil at me. ''But of course  
you didn' t think of that.'' Jimmy Bullinger turned around and raised his  
        A couple of weeks after the pollywog died I heard Mom tell Dad that  
being broke was no excuse for letting us miss our childhood. I guess that's  
why they let us keep the turtle. That's also why we went to the drive-in  
four times that fall. Each time we went Todd and I put on clean pajamas  
and tennis shoes, crawled into the back of our Dodge with pillows and  
a blanket, and squealed all the way to the drive-in, anticipating hot  
popcorn. Once we got a chocolate-dipped ice cream that melted over our  
fingers. Before the movie started we'd play on the swings, tinny music  
sounding over the loudspeaker; after the movie started we'd fall asleep,  
shoes full of sand.  
        We went to the drive-in for the first time the night before I found  
the turtle. That night I was allowed to invite Scotty, the boy next door;  
he was my age, blond, and freckled. He usually rode his red bicycle over  
to our yard to play after school, but we hadn't been allowed to play with  
each other for a week after Mom found us giving each other moviestar kisses  
under a blanket on the front lawn. That night, though, Scotty went with  
us; Mom pulled me into the bathroom before we left and told me to act  
like a lady. Scotty wore his pajamas to the drive-in too. We played on the  
swings and Scotty told me his dad had bought him some fish. After the  
movie started Mom looked over the front seat at Scotty and me several times  
and then we fell asleep
        After we went to the drive-in Scotty invited me over to see his fishHe had three striped fish and two goldfish and I sprinkled food on top  
of the water and watched the fish close their mouths around the flecks.  
I only helped Scotty feed his fish three times; Mom said I shouldn't go  
over to Scotty's very often. Scotty's father was fat and he smoked in front  
of the TV in his undershirt. He rarely said anything to me except "Hi there,  
Sugar," so I didn't know him very well, but Val, Scotty's mother, came  
over to our house often. She and Mom would wash and set each other's  
hair on Saturdays; they'd drape old towels around their shoulders, brush  
purple cream on their hair, and cover their heads with plastic bags. A couple  
of Saturdays after I found the turtle I was stacking bobby pins in piles,  
watching Val set Mom's hair.  
        "It must have been awful living with Jim's relatives," Val said        "It was more than awful. It was hell. I'm sure I had a minor breakdown  
while we were living with Polly and Merlin. I told Jim then that I didn't  
care if we lived in the street; I'm never living with relatives again."  
        I went outside to play with the turtle. The day I found him I was  
still heady and glad from the drive-in the night before and Elizabeth Frazier  
was at home with the mumps. On top of that we made china handprints  
at school. Mrs. Smurthwaite brought a little furnace to school and we pressed  
our right hand in clay, scratched our names around the print, and fired  
it to blue porcelain. I walked home from school whistling, stepping  
carefully, holding my glass handprint in my flat palm        When I passed the stop sign two blocks from my house, I stopped  
and stared across the street. I crossed. I'd only seen pictures of turtles, so  
the one pulling himself along the sidewalk was monstrous. His shell was  
great squares of hard, smooth, mottled brown; his neck strained forward,  
black eyes staring straight ahead, stubbed legs scraping warm cement. I  
set my lunchpail on the sidewalk and ran home, holding my handprint  
with both hands.  
        Mom was hanging clothes on the line, diapers and towels snapping  
in the wind
        "Mom! I found a turtle! Come quick!"  
        She took a clothespin out of her mouth. "What, Honey?"  
        ''There's a turtle on the sidewalk, just a few blocks down. Come on,  
I'll show you. It's huge!"  
        She turned to look at me. "A turtle on the sidewalk? Are you sure?"  
        I hopped up and down. "Mom, of course I'm sure. Come on."  
        She sighed, dropped her clothespin in the basket, and followed me        The turtle was still there. He stopped crawling when our shadows fell  
on him.  
        ''It is a big turtle,'' Mom said. ''I wonder who owns it.'' We stared  
at him.  
        ''Maybe he escaped from the zoo,'' I said
        "I doubt it," Mom smiled. "He must belong to someone. But who?"  
She looked up and down the street. "We'd better take him home until  
we find out who owns him.''  
        That night after dinner Mom told Dad to ask around the  
neighborhood. He came back after an hour, shaking his head. "No one  
seems to know who owns it,'' he said. ''The lady across the street stared  
at me as if I'd told her we'd found a giraffe on the sidewalk."  
        So the turtle became our pet. Dad said it was a desert turtle and he  
didn't know where we would put him once it got cold, but until then we  
could keep him in the plant potter around the tree in our backyard. Even  
though I found the turtle, I let Todd name him Toby because he started  
to cry when I suggested Priscilla.  
        I was the only one in my class who had a turtle. When I told Elizabeth  
Frazier about our new pet she tossed her braids and said, ''Make sure your  
little brother doesn't kill him." But the other kids were impressed. Lisa  
Clayson and Susan Hutchins came over once for a tea party and we dressed  
Toby in my doll's clothes while Scotty called us "sissies" from behind his  
fence and threw pieces of bark at us. I was always excited to play with Toby  
after school. Todd was usually already lying on the lawn singing to him.  
I'd tell Toby stories about Princess Melissa and Toby her faithful steed.  
Sometimes I'd make Todd a prince. We fed Toby wilted lettuce and cabbage  
and carrots--once the spinach we saved from dinner--and we tried to feed  
him cotton candy and apples and yogurt. I laughed when Toby's mouth  
snapped on my fingertips.  
        We had Toby for several weeks before we got ready for Halloween. At  
school we were carving jack-o-lanterns, cutting witches out of black  
construction paper, pasting smiling ghosts on the windows, and arranging  
a fall display out of purple corn and striped gourds and apples. Mom started 
going to work with Dad every day and we had a babysitter named JanetSometimes I'd come home from school and find her smoking and kissing  
her boyfriend on the couch. I went over to Scotty's more often and we  
made birds' nests out of playdough and colored over the House and Garden  
magazines in his garage. I looked at the pictures of the smiling women  
with tall, stiff hair like my mother's; I traced over the apron-waisted woman  
pointing at an oven and holding a roasted chicken on a platter
        As Thanksgiving approached I asked Mom if I could send Aunt Polly  
and Uncle Merlin a letter for Thanksgiving and tell them about our new  
pet. She pursed her lips and said, ''Ask your father.'' Dad helped me write  
"Dear Aunt Polly and Uncle Merlin, Happy Thanksgiving. I have a turtle  
now. His name is Toby. Love, Melissa.' 
        We lived with Aunt Polly and Uncle Merlin for two months before  
moving to Riverside. It rained a lot there and the empty field across the  
street from the house turned to mud. I had to cross it to get to school.  
One morning I was late because I'd been crying that I didn't want to go  
to school and one of my boots stuck in the mud. I limped home, mother  
spanked me, and I had to go to school anyway.  
        Uncle Merlin was a psychiatrist. Aunt Polly had crinkled dark hair  
and small eyes. Their two daughters were thin and pasty, wore curlers to  
bed, and listened to Burt Bacharac songs on the radio. They tried to teach  
me the words to some of them. One afternoon I came in through the  
screendoor and I heard Polly and Mom talking in the kitchen
        Polly's voice was shrill. "If you and Jim are so poor that you have to  
live with us, why does Melissa have a new pair of pants? Don't deny that  
she has new clothes because she showed them to me last night.''  
        Mother's voice was quieter. "Polly, we're not hiding anything from  
you. I bought those pants with green stamps. She has to have something  
to wear to school.' 
        Polly slammed a plate on the counter. I went down the hall to our  
room. Not long after that we moved. Polly's girls waved good-bye, the radio  
droning from their bedroom window
        Dad sent the letter for me the same day we colored the turkey at school.  
That afternoon Todd and I were building Toby a house out of leaves. Scotty  
and I weren't allowed to play with each other again because Janet caught  
us giving each other moviestar kisses in the closet. Mom was home that  
day doing laundry.  
        Scotty climbed over the fence.  
        "What are you doing here? I'm not allowed to play with you," I said.  
Todd poked his tongue out at him.  
        Scotty put his finger on his lips. "Be quiet. Listen, Danny's over at  
my house and he wants to see the turtle. He says he'll pay us a nickel.  
Then we can buy some candy.'' He winked.  
        I shook my head.  
        ''Come on, I'll just borrow him for a minute and then I'll bring him  
back. Then I'll buy us some candy.
        I looked at Toby, then at Scotty, thought about the candy, then finally  
nodded. "O.K., but bring him right back.''  
        Scotty grinned. He picked up Toby and carried him over to the chain  
link fence between our yards. He set Toby on the ground and climbed  
halfway up the fence. "Now you hand me Toby and I'll just put him on  
top of the fence while I climb over.''  
        I looked at the fence for a second, picked up Toby, and handed him  
to Scotty. He set Toby on top of the fence
        Todd, Scotty, and I watched as Toby wobbled, lurched, then fell on  
the cement on the other side of the fence. Scotty's mouth fell open. I  
screamed, "You've killed him!" and scampered up the fence. Toby was  
on his back. Green innards oozed onto the cement. I climbed back over  
the fence and ran inside
        "Mom! Scotty's killed Toby! He fell on the cement and his insides  
are running out!"  
        She stared at me for a second, then wiped her hands on a towel and  
ran outside just as Val came out of her house. They stared at Toby. Scotty  
started to whimper. I just stared.  
        Val said, "What are we going to do?"  
        Mom turned to me. ''Run inside quick and get two spoons. Quick!''  
        When I came back out with the spoons Todd was kneeling by Toby,  
crying. I handed Mom the spoons. She gave one to Val. They looked at  
each other and knelt on the pavement
        Mom turned Toby over. His shell was smashed. She took out the pieces,  
scooped up some of the green innards, and spooned them into his backVal helped. Mom started to cry.  
        Then they put his shell back together like a jigsaw puzzle; Mom  
brought out a roll of masking tape and they wound it around and around  
Toby until he looked like a mummy. An hour later he was crawling around  
the backyard.  
        I didn't tell anyone at school what had happened: I knew what  
Elizabeth Frazier would say. A week later we found out Toby belonged to  
an old woman who lived three blocks down and we had to return himMom said it was just as well because we 'd be moving again soon.  
        I went with Dad to take the turtle back. Dad looked at his feet as  
he told the woman not to remove the masking tape under any  
circumstances. I asked her if I could visit Toby sometime. She smiled and  
nodded. I returned almost every day after school to give Toby some lettuce  
or tell him a story. The masking tape was still holding Toby together when  
we moved a month later. 

Corned Beef For Dinner

By Cherry Douch

        Ted would leave, once more, today. He stood, holding his cordless  
pyjamas up, looking out the bedroom window. The hills behind his wife's  
house folded toward each other like a bunched quilt; humps of her violets  
grew on the edge of the orchard. She was not in their bed
        Huia's hand was on Wehe's shoulder as she squeezed the sleep out  
of her eyes. "It's five o'clock," she said. " Rain's stopped and the tide's  
right. You want to go with me?" She did. She pulled herself out of bed  
on Huia's hand. She looked at her mother and laughed. ''You have pikaru,''  
she said.  
        "Sh, you'll wake the others." She pressed the crust from the corners  
of her eyes, and smiled.  
        At the tank stand they shared the same basin of water. Huia poured 
the wash water around the base of a baby orange tree        Wehe took the spears from the shed and started downhill with her  
mother. She was a springy reflection of her. They dragged their feet through  
the wet grass, Wehe a half step behind. They spoke to Bunny and scratched  
her nose as they went by. Bunny was their cow. Wehe said, ''Doesn't Bunny  
have the most beautiful eyes?''  
        Summer hunger was in the air.  
        They crossed the railroad tracks and broke the surface of the sand with  
their full, flat feet. A few crabs paraded. Wehe wondered how they could  
see where they were going. The tide was turning, coming in, the water 
excited, distorting the shapes of the shells beneath.  
        Huia went into the shallow water of her favorite channel, noiseless,  
spear raised. She whispered, "Look, there's one sleeping in the sand." It  
all looked like sand to Wehe. Her mother had the flounder speared and  
in the ket before she could focus her eyes. She followed, trying to be quiet,  
watching the gulls, thinking how flounder were different from kahawai
        When they had caught five they started home, picking mushrooms  
as they went. Wehe liked the underside of mushrooms. They looked like  
fish's gills. They didn't see Bunny as they came up the hill, but when they  
got to the kitchen, she pushed her head over the hedge and mooed through  
the window. Huia gave the flounder to Wehe, reached for the bucket and  
rattled it. "I'm coming Bunny,'' she said. Wehe began washing and gilling  
the fish as Huia put warm water in the bucket, put on a large bath towel  
apron, and headed toward the bail. She could hear Sam at the woodpile,  
smell the chips as they flew
        Bunny was already standing in the bail, tossing her head, swishing  
her tail. ''Hang on girl.'' Huia came through the gate, looked at Bunny's  
tight bag. She pulled one rope around the cow's rump and the low one  
around the near leg. She poured warm water into a can and washed Bunny's  
teats. The cow moved and moaned. ''Easy girl.'' She poured the rest of  
the water over her hands and wiped them on her apron.  
        She pulled the stool under her, the bucket between her legs, pressed  
her cheek against the cow's belly and hummed poi waiata to the rhythm  
of her milking. Bunny let down her milk but did not relax till almost a  
minute later, when she loosed her cud, closed her eyes and began to chew        The cat came for his snack and Huia squirted him in the mouth. The  
cat seemed to lick to the rhythm of his song
        Later, as she came up from the bail, Wehe met her with a small bucket  
half filled with warm water. Huia poured an equal amount of the milk  
into the water, and took it to the calf tied to the peach tree. The calf wagged  
her tail and pumped her front legs. Huia wet her hand with the half milk  
and put it in the calf's mouth and pulled it sucking into the bucket to  
drink on her own. The animal kicked and gulped, till, drooling milky saliva,  
she looked up from the empty bucket. Huia then moved her to another  
tree for its shade and clean grass.  
        Inside Wehe had put away the milk and Sam had lit the stove and  
filled the kettle. Ted came in. "No porridge?" he said.  
        "No, flounder and mushrooms," said Wehe. "But I'll make you  
porridge if you'd rather, Daddy.
        ''Please,'' he said and smiled at her.  
        Ted watched Sam make the tea. "You going to fix the east fence?"  
he said
        ''Yes,'' said Sam. ''The gate too.''  
        Ted said, "Good. I guess I'll hoe kumara. Good crop this year."  
        "If they don't get blight," Sam said.  
        ''Yes.'' Ted poured himself a cup of tea, then poured his saucer full,  
and drank from that. He buttered some bread and worried it while Wehe  
dished up his porridge. He didn't use the milk she put on the table. Instead  
he put spoonfuls of porridge on his bread, sprinkled it with pepper and  
ate it with big bites. Huia came in as he was leaving. ' 'Aren't you running  
late?'' he said
        "Yes, I stopped to weed my flowers. The freesias smell wonderful."  
       "Just don't overdo," he said. "Can we have marmite and lettuce  
sandwiches with cocoa for lunch? Would be nice,'' he said.  
        "I'm" sorry," Huia said. " The slugs ate the lettuce and we ran out  
of cocoa. I need to go shopping. You can have marmite though. There's  
a big jar of that.'' Ted shrugged and left. Wehe watched him walk up to  
the cliff. He sat under the blue gums for an hour. A train went by. Wehe  
counted the trucks it was hauling. The train smoke smelled pleasant, not  
like her father's cigarettes. Maybe she'd suggest a pipe, she thought. Some  
pipe tobaccos smelled like ripe fruit. She saw a hawk circling over the  
swamp. She saw her father watching it too. It never dived, just kept circlingShe saw him kick a couple of clods off the cliff and head home        Later she watched him check on the graftings he'd done in the apple  
orchard. The Ballarat had taken well to the Golden Delicious.  
        For lunch there were marmite sandwiches and lemonade, not so badThey went back to work. Ted didn't ask about dinner. While he was still  
working Huia brought him a thick crust from the bread she'd been baking,  
butter melted on it. He smiled his pale smile. "Good bread," he said        "I know," she said.  
        ''Cheeky woman.'' He slapped her behind. She wished she had  
cabbage to go with the corned beef for dinner. Back at the house, Bunny  
was mooing through the window again. On her way to the bail she heard  
the cornstalks rattle where Wehe was collecting puha. "Put it in with the  
meat when you go up,'' she called. Wehe waved and smiled. Ted was hoeing,  
his back stiff, his stroke awkward. He had no hat and his bald head was  
turning red. Sam's hammer was hitting the paddock gate.  
        Huia didn't sing to her milking
        When she came back the corned beef and puha were cooking, and  
Wehe was peeling potatoes. Huia sat and peeled too, her cracked fingers  
moving fast and easy. Ted came in, dirt freckling his red skin. He sniffed.  
"Corned beef for dinner?"  
        "Yes. I'm sorry there's no cabbage."  
        "You going to tell me it's good for me?" he said.  
        "It is," she said.  
        ''I'd rather eat like an Englishman,'' he said
        ''Wehe made bread pudding for dessert tonight. Extra eggs in it for  
        "Good," he said. But his smile dropped
        He washed at the tank stand then went for another walk. He was gone  
a long time.  
        He came back and the others had eaten. He ate meat and potatoes  
and a big bowl of bread pudding. As he drank his tea, they watched him.  

        Ted got up from the table, went to the bedroom and began putting  
things in a sugar sack. Huia came up behind him.  
        "Will you come back this time?" she said.  
        "I always have," he said
        "Don't go,'' she said. He threw the sack over his shoulder and headed  
for the door.  
        Wehe blocked his path. ''Daddy,'' she said
        ''Pip pip Gadget,'' he said as he stepped around her and through  
the door
        Wehe and Huia stood under the pear tree and watched him go. The  
calf and her mother watched too. He stopped, picked a barberry leaf from  
the hedge, then turned and looked at them. He waved the leaf, then  
continued down the hill. They watched as he disappeared beyond the cliff  
base onto the railroad tracks. They went inside
        Huia picked up a pair of Ted's socks. She sat down on their bed and  
began to wail softly the way Maori women do at a tangi, swaying with the  
rhythm of her noise. Her voice was high, sweet, and ragged.  
        She stood up, pulled a blanket from her bed. She put the girl on  
her back, wrapped them both tight. They looked joined-a hunch-back.  
She paced up and down, wearing a path by the bay windows. Sam  
murmured to himself as he washed the dishes. The curlews cried, craning  
their necks toward rest.  
        Much later, she stopped, brought Wehe inside and put her to bed,  
like a baby. She skimmed the milk, gave the cat some cream, and went  
outside again. She spread her blanket and sat down, quiet. Sam watched  
his mother from the shed, Wehe watched from inside the house. Huia  
wailed again once or twice through the night, but low, almost under her  
breath. Sam did not move.  
        When morning came, Bunny went to the bail. Sam found the bucket  
and started down
        "No son," said his mother. "I like to do it." She walked toward the  
cow bail, singing her poi waiata, the cat padding behind her.  

The Smiling Man

By John David Wolverton

        You could no longer distinguish single words or even voices.  
Out in the dining hall the inmates' shouting broke in waves  
against the wall, reverberating from the farther wall. The floor  
thrummed like a guitar string. Most of the cooks were backing  
away from the service doors. They would take a step, glance back, take  
another step, ready to run for the escape exit. Only three of the cooks re- 
mained with Fletcher, who lay on his back with a bloody nose, clawing  
the wall with one hand, unconscious.  
        "What's going on out there?" Willis asked from within his office.  
He'd been cracking nuts behind his desk with a pair of old steel pliers  
and eating them. He was balding, with puffy eyes and a mouth wide  
enough to swallow a cat.  
        ''Fletcher wanted to see what was going on out in the dining room.  
He was out there for maybe thirty seconds before they beat the hell out  
of him and threw him back in here.''  
        Willis jumped up from his chair, looking from side to side. ''Are the  
doors open?" he shouted        ''No-only the one he was standing by.''  
        ''Watch the phones,'' he said. He dropped his pliers among the nut  
shells and ran past me, out of the office and up to where Fletcher lay by  
the stove.  
        I was already by the kitchen phone-the one Control One would call  
on if they called. The phone had no dialing mechanism, but Control One  
could call in, and usually called through the kitchen phone when they  
wanted to get a count of the inmates. Willis and the three cooks stooped  
over Fletcher. Willis yelled something that was lost in the roar. Then they  
pulled Fletcher to a sitting position and made him lean his head back to   
stop the bleeding. They were all wearing their white cooks' uniforms;  
Mueller was wearing a blue baseball cap
        When I'd let Fletcher in with the inmates, the light from the high  
windows didn't reach the floor. It kept the room and the men in darknesstheir prison-blue uniforms faded gray. Fifty small tables had already filled,  
and men were lining against the walls and sitting on the floor. Maybe a 
dozen had brought spears. Others took clubs, iron pipes, and knives from  
beneath their pant legs and from under their shirts. We'd turned off the  
culinary lights, so the only light in the room had been a slash of sunlight  
that burned into the murals above their heads. In the murals thirteen  
left-handed Indians chased buffalo across barren plains. Painted ponies  
twisted under the clash of bodies, the jumble of hooves; their frightened  
eyes peered through blood-spattered death masks. The Indians never diedThey leapt majestically to the backs of the buffalo, ripping with knives,  
breaking hatchets across shaggy backs. The buffalo shook their enemies,  
panted, stumbled, fell, rolling bloodshot eyes at the sky. I resented the  
left-handedness. In first grade, my teacher said, "Don't write with your  
left hand: that's the Devil's hand!" She made me stuff my hand under  
my belt loops. She cut her toes off with a lawn mower the day before  
Halloween and had to quit. The artist should have known better than to  
have painted himself, with his left hand, doing all that killing. A left hand  
is the hand of the artist, the poet. He should have known: God created  
the earth with his left hand
        Franklin, the new cook, was sitting on a cutting table with his feet  
tucked up under his butt in a fetal position like a gargoyle on a cathedral  
wall. He was panting. He had frightened rabbit-eyes.  
        A couple of cooks were still trying to peek through the cracks in the  
doors to the dining hall. One of them pulled Fletcher to his feet. Willis  
jiggled the handle on one of the kitchen doors, then checked the electronic  
lock on the big blue service doors, and finally had one of the cooks on  
the far end of the kitchen check the knob on the other little regular door.  
He ran back to me. ''I'm going to stay out here for a minute," he yelled  
over the roar of voices. ''You stay by the office phones.''  
        I took three steps into the office and stopped. Willis coming in behind  
bumped into me.  
        "Do you feel something?" I asked.  
        Willis hesitated. ''You mean tension? Yeah. Felt it for days.''  
        It hung in the air like electric cobwebs that brushed your face. ''No.  
Not that. Fear. Do you feel fear?"   
        "You mean you're afraid, Animal?" He chuckled tight lipped.  
        Why didn't he think I was capable of emotion? "No--I feel fear--I 
smell it in the air." I looked over my shoulder. "Is this room secure?"  
        ''Well-yeah. Yeah. I think so,'' he said.  
        ''Are all the knives checked in?' 
        Willis' pupils didn't constrict. Nor did his nostrils flare or his lips  
quiver. "Yeah, they're in.
        I envisioned inmates hiding in the office, waiting for a signal to jump  
the guards to get to the knife lockers and the keys. I edged past the desks,  
turned the corner in the L-shaped room, and left Willis' line of sight. Willis  
stayed by the door. There were only four places in the room where anyone  
could hide; three were the cooks' coat lockers which sat in a row against  
one wall, and the other was a crack between some shelves. I touched the  
coat lockers with the back of my hand. There was a faint quivering there.  
I dragged the back of my hand across the locker and stopped. The quivering  
became stronger
        "Animal, you see anything?" Willis whispered. I didn't answer. Each  
of the three lockers was large enough to hold two or three men. None were  
locked. I jerked the door open and stepped back.  
        In the bottom of the locker, trying to conceal himself with coats, lay  
a thin, red-haired inmate, shaking like a trapped mouse. He was pale and  
he watched me from the corner of his eye, then turned to blink me away.  
Grabbing him by the shirt collar, I threw him to the floor and stepped  
on his back. I felt the lockers for movement. No one else was there
        "Find someone? Who was it?" Willis asked, stepping around the  
corner and looking at the inmate on the floor.  
        "It's Jeffrey Owen." I patted Jeffrey's legs and back, searching for  
weapons. Turning him over, I checked his sleeves and belly. When I was  
satisfied he was clean, I grabbed his wrists and dragged him across the room  
to the wall by the desks
        "Was he in the locker?" Willis asked
        I nodded.  
        "How long do you think he was in there?"  
        ''The last time I saw him back here was about forty minutes ago,''  
I answered.  
        "Is he dead?"  
        "Poor beggar looks suffocated to me," Willis said hopefully, cracking  
a nut with his pliers. It sounded like small bones breaking. His eyes bulged.   
He devoured nuts. The volume of shouting in the dining hall rose; someone  
        "Naw, hasn't suffocated. He was looking at me when I opened the  
door." Willis brushed some papers aside, sat down on the desktop, and  
stared out into the kitchens. Jeffrey felt clammy. He began to moan and  writhe.  
        Fletcher stalked into the office holding paper against his bloody nose  
and spat: " Willis, call Control One. Tell them it's gonna blow any minute.  
Have the SWAT team watch the back door." Turning to me he pointed  
and said, ' 'Animal, what is that inmate doing in here? '' Out in the culinary  
the clamour continued. Not yet, I thought. When they rise it will not be  
with a roar, but a shout.  
        "I found him in one of the closets. He's practically unconscious. It's 
Jeffrey Owen." I pulled Jeffrey over to the wall and leaned him against  
it. Willis was dialing Control One
        "Jeffrey Owen? Your secretary?"  
        ''Yeah,'' I answered
        "Old Animal sniffed out another one," Willis said, glancing at  
Fletcher, then looking at the phone's mouthpiece
        " Wha . .. what was he doing in here? " Fletcher asked. I looked up  
at him. ''It could have been part of a plan ... .''  
        "He was just hiding ," I said, looking down at Jeffrey's thin arms.  
        "Yeah," Fletcher grunted as he rushed back into the kitchens.  
        "Control One?" Willis asked, too loudly. "It's about to break. No  
we haven't evac . . . " He dropped the phone. "Animal, you take the  
phone. They cut me off. Tell them to get the SWAT team out back. And  
get that inmate out of here! ' ' Willis ran after Fletcher, leaving me alone  
with Jeffrey. Willis and Fletcher were ashen faced, like bones, and they  
jerked like marrionettes as they walked. I wondered what to do with Jeffrey.  
I figured he couldn't do much harm, so I left him lying in a heap on the  
floor and grabbed the phone
        From the desk I could see into the kitchen. Risenmay stood in front  
of the entrance of his meat cooler, wielding a boat oar that was kept to  
stir the steam pots. He looked like a white walrus with his yellow moustache,  
sagging jowels, and cook's uniform. He considered himself intimidating.  
Franklin still huddled on the cutting table, rocking
        No one was on the phone when I picked it up. I'd heard that Control  
One could monitor the phones by patching them into the intercom, making  
it possible to hear what was happening everywhere at once, so I gave my  
message and decided not to say anything else unless something important  
happened. Jeffrey started vomiting and sobbing. I turned to watch him.  
He'd flopped over on his belly. One thin arm was stretched out in front  
of him, and the other held him up for a moment
        "You gonna be okay?" I asked. He didn't answer.  
        "Gonna be okay?"  
        ''Give me a knife,'' he whispered
        "Not today," I said.  
        Jeffrey laid his head on the floor and brushed back long strands of  
dark red hair.  
        ''Mark, kill me.'' He was serious and I considered it. At times I'd stood  
in the towers at night with the windows open, letting the rain wash over  
me, gripping my rifle in freezing hands, wishing some loser would climb  
the fence so I could shout my warning and blow him away. It had been  
so long ago it seemed as if someone else had done it. I told myself that  
Jeffrey's request was not unreasonable: if the riot came, he'd just be one  
corpse among many. If I were willing to kill a man for climbing a fence,  
I should be able to kill a man for mercy.  
        "You're afraid the riot won't come." Jeffrey took a deep breath,  
"Mark, will you please kill me?"  
        "No," I answered softly.  
"Then--damn you--give me a knife so I can do it myself!" he  
        ''No.'' I glanced out toward the main kitchen doors.  
        "Mark, do you know what I am?"  
        Hearing him use my first name so often grated on my ears. I nodded.  
        ''I'm a whore! I'm a whore!" he screamed. "I do it two, maybe three  
times a day for protection. My lovers protect me. Do you know what happens  
to whores in a riot?' '  
        I kept nodding. I had been called in to help mop up in New Mexico.  
I wondered why so many of the corpses were bald until I saw the men had  
been burned to death with cutting torches. Then there were the strangled  
men in the cells and service tunnels; and sometimes . . . . I knew what  
to expect better than he
        ''They kill you! They use you to death! All of them-maybe fifteen,  
sixteen.'' He gagged and vomitted again. I started laughing.   
        He wobbled to his knees and glared. Maybe it was just the tension,  
but I couldn't stop laughing.  
        ''You should see yourself. You' re such a mess,' ' I said. Jeffrey stared  
up at me, then glanced down and self-consciously brushed at some vomit  
that clung to the pocket of his shirt.  
        "You once told me that only a man could really love another man,"  
I said. ''You were so seductive I almost believed you. I almost swore off  
my wife for a week. And now you're telling me you just do it for  
        Jeffrey didn't answer
        "You'll go a long way for protection," I said
        Voices mingled in a scream, followed by a rise in the shouting. I felt  
like it lifted me. Walrus dropped his boat oar and wallowed full tilt for  
the back door, his key ring jangling at his hip. There was a flash of white  
as another cook passed him.  
        I turned to Jeffrey. His mouth hung open. I jumped over the desk  
and yelled, '' Get the hell out!' ' then grabbed his arm and started pulling  him.  
        Jeffrey yelled over the roar, "Are you taking me with you?"  
        I hadn't considered. I pulled his arm so hard I was afraid it would  
dislocate. He struggled to his feet. We bolted from the office and followed  
the back wall past the refrigeration rooms. Jeffrey was limping        We were halfway across the kitchen when Willis stopped me with a  
wave of his hand. ''Animal! What are you doing with that inmate!' '  
        ''Locking him in the basement.''  
        "Not the basement. The elevator," he ordered. Suddenly all the cooks  
were piled at the front of the escape door. Sounds of shrieks and fists  
slapping on flesh came from the dining hall. Some men chanted ''Burn  
it down. Burn it down. Burn it down.' ' Others yelled ''No!' ' while some  
just screamed. It was too early to tell who would win. The cooks stopped  
and huddled around the door, ducking their heads in embarrassment at  
having begun to run too soon. The change in rhythm, the ripple in tension,  
had been a warning. I wondered if anyone was being beaten to death and  
if anyone could stop it.  
        "The doors are down!" Jeffrey said in astonishment. I glanced over  
my left shoulder to the heavy folding doors-glorified garage doors really 
that separated us from the crowd of inmates in the dining hall. We were  
told that the doors would hold for about three seconds in case of a riot.   
         "You don't think we'd leave them up with this going on do you?"  
         "I've just never seen them down in the daytime," Jeffrey answered.  
He stood up straighter.  
        We passed the cooks to get to the elevator; Fletcher grabbed my arm.  
        "Where are you going with that inmate?" he yelled.  
        ''Locking him in the service elevator--Willis' orders.''  
        Fletcher hesitated, knowing he had the authority to command me  
to do otherwise. "Hurry it up!" he finally said.  
        We went through the escape door to get to the elevator. I took off  
my key ring and unlocked the elevator door. Jeffrey took a step.  
        "Will I be safe in here?" he asked.  
        I pondered the merit of lying. "It's a death trap," I answered. 
        Jeffrey staggered back. "How?"  
        ''The screens,'' I said pointing to the heavy-duty screen roof and walls  
in the elevator. '' If someone wants to kill you, all they have to do is throw  
flammable liquid through the screens. You die of smoke inhalation if you  
don't burn.''  
        ''They'd never think of that.''  
        ''That's what those three blacks thought last week,'' I said. (They were  
inmates his lovers had burned in their cells.) Then I nodded toward the  
fifty-five gallon drum of oil that sat in the far corner of the room
        Jeffrey stared at his feet. He tensed as if to spring, then held his  
stomach as if he'd vomit again as he stepped into the elevator.  
        I locked the door and pushed the down button.  
        "Will I be able to get into the basement?"he yelled as the elevator  
        ''The basement door is locked,'' I answered. The elevator door was  
made of thick wood, but it had a two-square-foot section of heavy screen  
for a window. I watched him descend.  
        "Can I break it down?"  
        I gauged the thinness of his arms, the roundness of his shoulders.  
"Probably not," I answered. Probably not a chance in hell. "If you can  
get the door open or tear down the screens and get into the office, hide  
in the compressor rooms, in a corner. Don't go into the service tunnels.  
They'll crawl in there to hide from each other-the tunnels are deadly."  
I remembered tales of inmates dying in the tunnels. One little body-builder  
named Johnson told a group of inmates a story about crawling into a tunnel  
to hide during a riot and meeting a man in the darkness. The man stabbed   
him in the neck with a screwdriver and they fought in the cramped tunnel.  
After strangling his attacker, Johnson found that it had been an old  
cell-mate-one of his best friends. He warned, " If you 're ever in a riotput your back against the wall and kill anyone who gets near you. I don't  
care if he's your best friend. I don't care if he's smiling. I don't care if  
he's weaponless. Kill him." I hoped Jeffrey would remember those stories.  
        ''Thank you, Animal,'' he said solemnly. As the elevator reached the  
bottom, I flipped off its lights
        The volume of the roaring had evened out again; the white plastic  
walls shimmered in unison with the voices
        Since I was near the loading door, I considered opening it and keeping  
it ajar to speed our exit if the inmates broke. But it was against prison  
policy to have both the loading door and the escape door open at the same  
time, so I left it closed. Instead I wandered back to the escape door and  
stood in the doorway, watching the cooks. Most of them stood just a few  
feet in front of me, huddled together, smoking cigarettes and speaking  
in whispers. I didn't join them. Mueller, the little German, wanted to start  
breading the pork chops for dinner. Walrus said he'd help and they ran  
into the vegetable cooler to get some eggs for breading. The other cooks  
ignored them and huddled together in their white uniforms with their  
white faces. They all thought they were being some kind of heroes; they  
wanted to be there when the walls came crashing in so they could tell their  
grandchildren about it. I just wanted to go home
        "Hey, Animal, you still up there? " Jeffrey yelled from the elevator.  
I didn't answer
        "Animal, you up there? " His voice came louder. I didn't want to talk  
to him, figuring he'd be dead in a while anyway
        "Animal, answer me! " he screamed. I turned, wandered around the  
corner, back to the elevator shaft.  
        "Yeah, I'm still here," I yelled through the screen
        ''Oh," he paused, not sure what to say. "Is it really true?--what you  
said about swearing off your wife for a week."  
        "No,'' I chuckled. "I was just teasing you, man." I liked that wordman. It sounded so colloquial.  
        "Oh. I really believe it, you know--that it takes a man to really love  
another man. Women can never really relate. They're all either prudes or  
bitches,' ' he stumbled over the words, trying to sound casual.  
        ''Women aren't easy to understand,' ' I conceded.   
        ''Yeah, I know what you mean.''  
        I cocked my head and listened to the rhythmic chanting. The voices  
were blending into one voice; the speed of the chanting was picking up.  
        "Hey, Animal, what's Sandy like?"  
        That he knew my wife's name threw me. I didn't know where he got  
his information, but it wouldn't have surprised me if he knew I had a cat  
named Custer.  
        "Hey, Animal. Do you still believe in all that about God?"  
        Jeffrey had asked me about my religion three years earlier when I first  
started working in the prison. I hadn't been to church more than three  
or four times since then. The last time I went we sang a song which said  
"Jesus bid the prison doors unfold.'' It gave me a sick feeling        ''Yeah, I guess I still believe it.''  
        "I don't," he said. "My parents tried to cram it down my throat for  
years. I don't believe it. How can you believe in God?"  
         "I don't know, sometimes you just feel it. The way you can feel another  
person in the room when it's dark and quiet."  
        "You think you can feel when another person is in a room?         ''Sure,'' I said. He'd be thinking I was crazy
        "If you didn't know I was in the elevator, do you think you could  
feel me here?' 
        "Of course, I always know when someone's in the basement.        Jeffrey seemed to consider it for a long time. I could picture him  
counting the times I'd caught inmates in the restricted area of the basement.  
Or the time I got a sense of urgency on the way to work and drove eighty  
miles-per-hour all the way from Pleasant Grove. When I got to work, I  
ran down to the basement and found Salinas nearly beaten to deathSometimes inmates went to the basement to take drugs or fight. More often,  
just one person would go there to huddle up on some flour sacks, rock  
in the darkness, and try to achieve the illusion of being alone, unwatched.  
I knew how they felt. Sometimes I wanted to huddle in that darkness tooThere were rumors that I had microphones or alarms in the basement so  
I'd know if anyone was there. He knew I was telling the truth        ''Can you feel me here now?" 
        Closing my eyes, I sensed him as a dark spot at the edge of my  
        "Aw, you just smell me or something.''   
        I wondered. I couldn't let a butterfly pass without listening for its  
wings. I'd stand in the forest and try to unravel the descent of one leaf  
among a thousand falling leaves. I would hone every sense, then drag them  
across the cold stone floors of the prison
        Closing my eyes I tried to separate Jeffrey's smell from the other scents  
in the room. A gentle draft rose from the hot basement. I took a long  
whiff, discerned the smells of mold and dust, Jeffrey's vomit and body  
oils, the familiar smell of the prison-laundered clothing, flour, the musk  
of mice, and beyond them, ... yeast? And apples? Applejack?  
        "Aw," I muttered. "Someone's making brew in the basement again.        Jeffrey started chuckling
        "Who is it? Wait. It's Vigil, isn't it?"  
        Jeffrey snorted and pounded on the elevator door.  
        "I knew it! I saw that little wetback in here yesterday. And he had  
sticky-looking hands.''  
        "We told him not to!" Jeffrey laughed. "We said you'd catch him.  
He just said, 'All I want is a leetle drink for Chreestmas.'"  
        I heard someone walk up behind me. I glanced at the white of a cook's  
uniform, then Schaeffer whispered in my ear, "Get your coat and stuff.  
We're supposed to get ready to go. We just got a call from Control One:  
riot on A-block, inmates trashing the place, multiple fires." I noddedSchaeffer left
        "What'd ya say, Animal?" Jeffrey yelled.  
        "Yeah, he'll drink water on A-block for Christmas. Hey, look, I gotta  
        "Hah! You put that together pretty good, Animal. You know, you  
scare folks sometimes.'' He was just trying to delay me
        "Yeah, I gotta go.'' I liked scaring folks--the right kind of folks        "Hey, Animal. Do you sense God in prison?" he asked too loud.  
        ''Well, he's supposed to be everywhere, but I haven't felt him here.''  
        "Me neither," Jeffrey said
        "But he's supposed to be here-even in prison.
        There was silence
        "Maybe he's over in Minimum Security," he said. "They get  
everything over there.''  
        His fishwife accent made me laugh. It was almost like the old Jeffrey  
was back. Listening to the shouting and cries in the dining hall, I looked  
out the escape door into the kitchen. The cooks were still standing around, 
enjoying their adrenaline rushes too much to think about leaving. I stepped  
back next to the elevator.  
        "Hey, listen," I said quickly. "Why don't you try stepping off the  
elevator and standing on the sill by the door. I'll try bringing the elevator  
up enough so you can crawl underneath it to hide.''  
        "Get under the floor of the cage?''  
        "Yeah, if you're skinny enough to let the elevator slip by you."  
"What if it squishes me?"  
        ''It won't squish you. There's an automatic cutoff if anything touches  
the face-plate by the door.  
        "No. I mean what if I get squished under the elevator cage?"  
        "It doesn't go down that far. There's about a three-foot clearance space  
there that the repairmen use." I suspected that inmates sometimes hid  
under the elevator when I did my security checks.  
        "Okay, give it a try," Jeffrey yelled.  
        I hit the up button. The elevator rose for a moment, then stopped.  
        ''Give it another try,'' Jeffrey said. ''I hit the face-plate by accident.''  
        I pushed the button again. The elevator rose a bit more and stopped. 
I jiggled the switch a few times till the elevator wouldn't give anymore.  
        "How are we doing?" I asked.  
        Pants and grunts came from the shaft. Finally he answered, "My thighs  
are wedged in tight. I can't even get my arms under it."  
        I could go down and disconnect the fuse that operated the safety  
features of the elevator-but that would require about two-and-a-half  
minutes. It would take another minute to get Jeffrey under the elevator.  
Judging by the din coming form the culinary, it didn't sound like there'd  
be time.  
        The sound of approaching footsteps made me turn. Franklin was  
watching me with his rabbit eyes, afraid to disrupt my conversation.  
        ''Willis wants you,'' he said.  
        ''Okay.'' I expected Franklin to leave, but he stood there shaking and  
licking his lips.  
        "Hey, Jeffrey," I called, "I've got to go for a minute. If l don't make  
it back in time to do anything else, just remember to keep close to the  
inside wall, huddled down, so no one can see you from up here.'' And  
dodge the oil when it comes, I thought.  
        ''Yeah, yeah. I'll do that,'' he answered. ''Hey, Animal. Know what?  
When I got up this morning, getting a haircut was the most important  
thing on my mind,'' he giggled
        I walked out remembering the bald men in New Mexico.  
        Willis was standing by the office door, telephone in hand. I waited  
for him to speak.  
        "Where you been?" he asked
        "Locking Jeffrey Owen in the elevator. Need me for something?"  
        "No, I was just wondering where in the hell you were . We need to  
be ready to evacuate. I want you to stand by the escape door and hold  
it open till they start trying to break in. If the inmates try to force entry  
through the service doors, I want the escape door closed in no less than  
three seconds. Understood?"  
        ''Three seconds,'' I nodded
        I took my post and waited. The chanting continued. There were no  
more dissuasive shouts, just the steady throb of ''Burn it down . Burn it  
down. Burn it down." Standing at the door, listening--that's when I knew  
it would really happen. The cooks were still gathered in their circle, except  
for Mueller and Walrus, who were cracking eggs four at a time. I noticed  
that the motion of their bodies was in rhythm with the chanting: grab 
some eggs; burn it down. Crack some eggs; burn it down. Dump the shells;  
burn it down. One of the eggs had fallen to the floor. I stared at the perfect  
top half-shell, with the yolk spilling yellow beneath it. Once there was this  
scullery worker, a weasle named Gray. He begged me for an egg, but didn't want to give it to him, thinking he'd throw it at somebody. He was  
so persistent I gave it to him. He took the egg and sat at a table all  
afternoon, delicately wrapping it in some rusty barbed wire that had fallen  
from the fences, ignoring the cuts he got. When he finally got it wrapped  
in a perfect little cage, he ran around the room showing it to people,  
pointing to the egg resting among the barbs, and saying, "That's me!  
That's me!" Then he went to his cell and hanged himself.  
        I turned my eyes from the egg and listened to the sounds of the  chanting
        The cooks stood in their places, oblivious. They were childish idiots  
playing Russian roulette, planning to dodge when they heard the click and  
bang. I looked at Walrus. He'd probably die. Maybe Richardson would  
too, from where he was standing. They were cooks-even my bosses were  
cooks. I could understand their watching and waiting; they spent their lives  
watching and waiting for pots to boil. I could understand their lack of  
concern for the fairy in the elevator; they concerned themselves with the  
serving of things to be eaten. In such moments of clarity, life seems a very  
good joke. It made me smile
        But I am a guard, I told myself.  
        The pounding voices halted. The cooks turned and began to run  
toward me. There was a whoosh of indrawn breath and one commanding  
scream from the cafeteria.  
        Then rose the shout. The floor felt like a rolling wave under my feet  
and I looked past the cooks running toward me. I could see the shapes  
of heads denting the big, blue service doors as inmates rushed against them.  
The little wooden doors on either side of the kitchen splintered under the  
pressure of bodies. I watched the faces of the passing cooks: Fletcher's eyes  
darted back and forth as he ran; Mueller's were glittering and dangerous;  
Rabbit eyes and Walrus were both crying. I began to swing my door closed.  
Inmate Kavika ran into the kitchen with a tide of sky-blue uniforms behind  
him. He stopped, cocked his arm, and threw something at Willis, the last  
in line, a few steps from my door. Willis was yelling, "Get out," waving  
his pliers and looking for stray cooks. Kavika's homemade brass shurikin  
grazed Willis' forehead and hit the wall behind him. Bottles and pipes   
hit the wall and shards of glass spattered around us. Ceramic tiles began  
falling from the roof, and the inmates all stopped and shielded their heads.  
I thought the roof was caving in until I saw that the metal tracks for raising  
and lowering the service doors were being ripped from the ceiling by the  
pressure of bodies shoved against the doors. None of the inmates made  
it halfway down the row of ovens before I swung my door shut.  
        It was only twenty feet to the exit. The cooks opened the back door  
and an icy blast of air hit me; I double-locked the escape door while they  
ran out. Willis waited in the doorway, sillouetted by cold sunlight. I watched  him
        ''Why are you standing there? Come on! '' he said. The sun on his  
white uniform and his wide mouth reminded me of a frost-covered toad        ''Why are you looking at me like that? What are you doing!'' he yelled.  
        ''Getting Owen out.'' Outside, the warning sirens started, permeated  
by the belch of riot horns
        ''Leave him! That's an order!" he shouted, pointing the pliers at me.  
The action struck me as being very strange, as if he thought the pliers held  
some power over me
        "Get out!" I yelled back
        "Leave him!"  
        I punched the up button, turned and waited. I knew Willis wouldn't  
report me; or at least if he did, I didn't care. Someone began beating on  
the escape door with something metal. There were yells to tear it down.  
        I've failed, I thought. The demons are at my door, and it is within  
my power to save only one man. I smiled. The pounding on the heavy  
escape door grew more insistent; and there was scraping, as if they were  
tearing the walls down with crowbars. The door was supposed to hold for  
five minutes-but then the bullet-proof glass around the control rooms  
in New Mexico was supposed to hold for five minutes, and it had held  
up for only twenty-four seconds. Willis slammed the back door shut and  
took off running
        The elevator's trip up took sixty seconds. It seemed longer.  
        "Are you letting me out? Are you letting me out?'' Jeffrey kept sayingHe was jumping up and down and climbing the wire walls inside the cage  
of the elevator.  
        In that moment I felt great peace. The hammering on the doors  
became a distant rushing. I watched, unconcerned, as the door  
dented like thin aluminum. I realized the door would be down within a  
minute. It didn't seem to matter.   
        Someone with a pry bar beat on an old metal plate crookedly welded  
to the escape door. He broke the plate at the weld, pushed the bar through,  
and used it as a lever to pry the plate free. The plate peeled back like the  
page of a book. A six-by-six inch hole opened at eye level. The hammering  
slowed for a moment while an inmate's eye passed in front of the hole.  
        "Hey, there's a guard in there!" he yelled.  
        "Who is it?" several voices yelled above a background of screams.  
        A black face passed in front of the hole, was pushed aside. A third  
face appeared.  
        "It's Animal," the face said.  
        ''Animal?'' someone yelled. I recognized the voice of one of the inmate  
cooks, Nathan Stoneman. ''Let me talk to him.''  
        Some black I didn't recognize said, ''Yeah, let the man talk to him;  
let the man talk to him.''  
        Nathan's brown eyes appeared
        "Hey, Animal, buddy, what are you doing in there?"  I nodded toward the 
elevator. "I got Jeffrey Owen locked in the  elevator. I'm taking him out."  
        "What's that?" several voices asked.  
        "He's taking Owen out," Nathan said.  
        "All right! All right!" the black man and several others said.  
        Nathan tapped nervously on the side of the door, the ring on his finger  
sounded small and tinny against the sounds of the riot. Only one person  
was still beating on the wall. "Hey, uh, Animal," Nathan said, "why don't  
you, uh, open this door and take us out with you?"  
        I paused for a very long time, as if considering. 'I'd like to, NathanI'd really like to. But if I open this door, you know that you and I could  
never get it closed again.''  
        ''Let me talk to him,'' someone yelled, and Nathan was shoved aside.  
        A mop handle with razorblades gouged into one end of it was clumsily  
thrust through the hole. I stepped aside, watching it clatter to the floor.  
There was a smack and a scuffle; Nathan reappeared at the hole.  
        "Hey, I'm sorry about that, man. I didn't see it coming," he said.  
        "That's okay,'' I said. "I did.
        "How much longer is it going to take?"  
        ''About twenty seconds,'' I answered, thinking, if you hurry you can  
get me.  
        "Twenty seconds?" he paused. "You got it man. We'll guard the  
        "We'll guard the door?" the black man asked.  
        "Yeah," Nathan said.  
        "You mean we will guard this door?"  
        "Yeah," Nathan answered.  
        "Damn right!" someone else chimed in
        "Far-out! We're guarding this door!" the black man said.  
        The pounding ceased. There were screams and sounds of glass breaking  
in other places, but everything was quiet by the door. I knew they'd want  
payback and considered. Finally I laid the basement keys on the floor.  
        ''I'm leaving the basement keys here for you," I said. "When you  
get done with them, put them downstairs in Vigil's hooch bucket.'' There  
were whoops of laughter from behind the door and exclamations of ''All  
right!" and "He's my man!"  
        ''You guys stick together,'' I continued. ''In about six hours everyone  
is going to get hungry. They'll all head here. So when you see them coming,  
don't try to kill every gladiator carrying a stick. Just talk them into joining  
your side. Bargain with the food." 
        The lights went out as the prison power supply was shut down.  
''Just keep your heads and this whole thing can be over tomorrow." I stared  
at Nathan a moment before opening the elevator
        Nathan nodded. The elevator was stuck a couple of feet from the top,  
but now that the power was off, the in-built security systems were defeated;  
I was able to unlock it without waiting for it to come the rest of the way up.  
        Jeffrey stepped out like a woman in high heels who is afraid of turning  
an ankle. I stooped to pick up the spear that had been thrown at me        We walked out the back door, pulling it closed behind us, and headed  
slowly down the ice-covered loading ramp toward the fences. Cold sunlight  
burned our eyes, but we floundered ahead; soon we'd grow blind to it,  
and it wouldn't have power to harm us anymore. I warned Jeffrey to stay  
close to me and to stop when he reached the first fence, knowing he'd  
get shot if he tried to climb it. He might get shot anyway if the tower guards  
were too nervous. I wondered if I'd be able to cut small bushes with my  
spear. I suddenly decided that I was going to grow a garden with rose bushes  
in it--and I would prune them with the spear. And I would pull the earwigs  
and aphids from the leaves with my fingers and put them in quart jars  
and release them in the woods. And if the thorns cut me, I'd bleed on  
the ground, and my roses would be redder for having been watered with  
blood. It was cold and I was shaking. I looked over my shoulder; every  
window in the prison seemed to be shattered already; smoke was pouring  
from the laundry and C-block; someone screamed, "My God, My God,  
Save me!'' and a crackle of rifle-fire answered from tower one
        And there will be weeds in my garden, I thought. There will be plenty  
of room for weeds. Tansy ragwort, thistle and dandelions. And when they  
are in bloom, I'll walk around them so they don't get crushed. I was so  
tired, I just wanted to get home and get to bed, to curl up in the darkness  
for a long time
        Jeffrey was sobbing. "What are you smiling about?" he asked.  
        I hadn't realized I was smiling. Do I always smile at the wrong time?  
''Maybe it's because I feel a great and peaceful presence, moving through  
the basement," I said
        Jeffrey wiped his eyes with his shirt sleeve and glanced up. I pictured  
my white teeth smiling and was suddenly very afraid they would crack and  
fall out and get lost in the snow.  

Warming House

By Randy Hawkinson

        It was early morning. When I answered the phone two people began  
talking on the other end. One said Ben had locked himself in the bedroom  
with her, and the other said to hurry. One thanked me and then they both  hung up
        My mom and dad walked into the kitchen. I told them. My mom  
sobbed and my dad peeled his pajamas off his belly.  
        My mom said she thought the doctor said Ben's mom was getting  
better. She asked what had happened. I didn't know. My mom sighed.  
Then my dad said that someone should call Ben's football coach at the  
University of Minnesota, that he could coax Ben out. My dad shook his  
head and my mom said we'll take some banana bread for Ben and Beth,  
and here, eat these doughnuts. Then we all drove over.  
        Uncle Ferdy opened Ben's door. He was holding a fifth of Old  
Forrester. He said nothing, then wiped his mouth on his sleeve. His red  
nose bobbed as he bit his lip. Then he smiled at me and I said Hi Booly  
to him.  
        The bedroom door opened into the living room, so everyone was there
A plant was tipped over on the carpet. Everyone walked around the dirtMy mom said my dad's name. Ben's younger sister, Beth, was sitting on  
the couch, crying
        One of the police officers, the younger one, mentioned the possibility  
of bloating or smell. He said in Vietnam he and some others came across  
this teeny little dead granny " gook" in her hootch. My mom pinched a  
bead on her rosary and said a prayer. He said she was puffed up fatter  
than a pig and stinking worse than anything he'd ever smelled. Then he  
and his partner and the doctor walked up to the bedroom door and asked  
Ben to come out. Ben told them to shove it. Then he called the doctor  
a liar. Someone said there wasn't enough air.  
        Father Lafontaine called out to Ben that there were rough spots in  
everyone's life. As he spoke he waved his white hands and moved his frocked  
arms in great slow arcs like someone rowing a boat in a dream. Ben swore  
and kicked the door and said sure, and to tell him all about it
        Everyone started talking, saying they knew what should be done. Ferdy  
took a drink and stomped his foot and grunted. The young cop, the heel  
of his hand smothering his squawking walkie-talkie, told Ferdy to cool his  
jets and take it easy on the circus water. Ferdy stumbled over to me and  
offered me a drink. I said I'd better not, Booly. Then he took one and  
said Ish, that's good, and wound his way through the bodies and round  
the dirt. Beth blubbered and bawled and my dad said we should call Ben's  
        Then Father LaFontaine draped an arm around me and led me up  
to the door. Someone said someone open a window. My cheek cooled on  
the smooth varnished wood. I listened. The doctor said he wasn't a liarand then no one moved and I almost said Ben. My dad told the cops that  
when Ferdy got drunk on bourbon he turned into Booly Boolosh. Beth  
blubbered and gasped for air, and then the bedsprings squeaked. Booly  
who? the cop said, and my dad said Boolosh, Norm Boolosh, Minnesota's  
fullback. Then the bedsprings squeaked again and Ben said my name. His  
nose was plugged. He was inches away. He tried to clear his throat and  
say something
        Everyone started moving around and talking again. Ferdy tucked his  
bottle under his arm like a football, stiff-armed the air and plowed his  
way into the kitchen. The doctor paced. My dad wiped the back of his  
neck and said oofta, it's sticky in here, eh, and that this was a job for Coach  
Salem. Father LaFontaine swung his arms again and said Ben, my son, we  
know, we know, and the doctor said he wasn't a liar. The old cop lifted  
a hand above his head and said the humidity must be up to here. I leaned  
against the door and let my hand fall from my cheek. Beth tried to say  
        Ferdy walked back in carrying a bag of potato chips. The young cop  
said she could even be stinking and bloating now because it happens faster  
in the humidity and heat. Ben leaned on the door. He told Father  
LaFontaine that he could go plumb to hell.  
        He yelled it
        My mom pinched another bead and said a Hail Mary. Ferdy laughed  
and blew bourbon through his nose. Beth tried to stop crying. The young  
cop whispered was this a puzzle palace or what. His partner said it was  
just the frequency of this crap, that's all. Father LaFontaine touched the  
door and said to Ben that yes, yes, it's hard, but that we should let Him  
decide when-but Ben just yelled it out again and swore and kicked the  
        Nobody talked. My mom pinched another bead and the tips of her  
fingers turned red. Beth started bawling again. Ferdy mingled, offering  
chips. The officers peeled their uniforms off their skin, and my mom's  
fingertips turned white. Then Ferdy asked who remembered the words to  
"In the Cellars of Old Cloquet High."  
        Then the doctor yelled into the bedroom something about why he'd  
said what he did. Father La.Fontaine sighed. Someone's skin glistened. The  
young cop said he'd bet his left arm that she was puffing up like a  
baloo-but someone said someone please open a window. My dad wiped  
his face and said the solution was a phone call away. Beth shuddered. I  
lifted my fingers from the knob, and pressed the backs of them to the  
door. Ferdy started humming
        Ben said that he had to pee. He asked me if I would bring in an empty  
pitcher. He yelled that if anyone else tried to come in they were dead meat        The room was dimly lit from the closet light. Ben thanked me for  
the pitcher. His bicep jumped when he grabbed it. He asked me to lean  
against the door so it would click. The young cop said if he had it his way  
Booly Shmooly would be on his way to Duluth for the cure, and Ben  
wouldn't-but his partner said it was simply a matter of frequency        Ben turned away from me. He'd held it for a long time        His mother was all lumped under the bedsheet. Ben said oofta. Ferdy  
stopped humming and said there wasn't enough air around to dry a June  
bug's butt, and then started humming again. Ben put the pitcher on the  
window sill and squeezed me and said after he'd lifted weights and run  
sprints he just found her there. Here. He said he'd started shaking and  
then yelling and then Beth came in but he shoved her back out and locked  
the door. She'd called the priest. He said he'd strangle the doctor. Ben's  
square chest heaved. Ferdy began to sing. My dad asked why someone  
wouldn't just pick up the phone and call Ben's coach. Beth whimpered  
and choked, and the doctor said that what he'd told Ben was no different  
than what he'd told the Pollard boys about their father last week. My dad  
said Mother of Mary and one of the cops asked Ferdy what the hell his  
real problem was, anyway.  
        Ben's chest glistened, and then he held his breath too long and  
squeaked. He swore and coughed and looked at his mother. He pointed  
to the sheet over her face and said he didn't know what the hell else to  
do, and that the doctor had lied. Ben's fingers wiggled. He flexed his upper  
body and tried to clear his throat. The old cop said frequency.  
        Ben did push-ups. He asked me to count. His forearms bulged and  
the muscles on his back wiggled like snakes. He pushed and pushed and  
I counted out loud. The blue Chippewa throw rug wrinkled under his feetFerdy sang. Ferdy sang and sang and sang. When I said fifty Ben stopped  
and stood up. His chest was gorged. Then with the heel of his hand he  
tried to smooth the sheet that draped her. He patted one side smooth,  
but then the other side wrinkled, so he started shuffling back and forth,  
squeaking and pinching and patting and in different voices saying words  
and names and other things. He pointed to the pitcher and said who would  
believe it and pinched a wrinkle. His bottom lip turned inside out
        Ferdy sang the refrain and started over
        She was just lumped under the sheet. Beth bawled and bawled, then  
tried to say something, but a walkie-talkie squawked about a 10-41 in  
progress at Stella's Bar, and that a back-up and something else was needed,  
and then someone said someone open a window before they croak.  
        Then Father Lafontaine called out to Ben and said we know not the  
time or place. For a moment everyone listened. Then the doctor yelled that  
lying wasn't the word for it at all and the young cop again prophesied  
bloating and Ben, with his pumped pectorals and milk-jug forearms and  
striated back, pinched at the wrinkles and patted the lump and between  
squeaks talked fracture, saying things in different voices like so many radio  
stations crowded too close in the night.  
        Ferdy gurgled another verse.  
        And then Ben crumpled onto the bed. He breathed and looked  
around and said my name and looked at me. And I said his.  

The Phone Call

By Tim Hansen

         I was told at the time I was old enough to understand that  
I was the exact reincarnation of John Wilkes Booth, and that  
when I finally became a man, I would, discriminately of course,  
kill the President of the United States in the coldest blood  
imaginable. Having such an honorable duty hanging over my head, I began  
to collect the President's series of stamps, pasting each one in my book  
with youthful fervor. I really thought that I might see one of these famous  
gentlemen walking along the rocky paths of our commune and bean him  
with my slingshot. You can imagine what a traumatic blow it was to me  
to find out that my mother's notions about me were only so much talk,  
and that she and her guru friend had been thoroughly zoned at the time  
they'd told me. Being Americans, they never saw the need to renege on  
the lie when they were straight.  
        I sit on the end of Pier 39. Three sea gulls play tag high above. As  
I watch, the biggest of them cuts away from the group and dips sharply  
to the right. It hangs a moment in mid-air. For a second, I don't think  
it's moving at all. Then it tips one dingy grey wing and swoops in over  
my head.  
        Behind me, someone screams. I turn just in time to see the bird glide  
in and tear a crab cup from the hands of a fat woman in a purple polyester  
kimono. The woman shrieks and pouts. She stamps her feet and wigglesThe crowd oohs and aahs as the sea gull makes a smooth arc back into  
the sky. I turn my face to the sun and laugh out loud. I think this is funny.  
        It's carnival time on the wharf-mid-July and noisy. I like to hide  
in the noise. I stare at the water far below and imagine the dorsal fin of  
a friendly bay shark slicing its way through the water as the hungry machine  
separates my legs from my body. I suddenly decide that I'm going to wait  
all night for the shark if I have to. It's not a bad thought. It'll get me  
through the day.  
        A while later, I hear a scraping noise off to my left. I turn to see a  
sea gull skidding in for a landing. It's the same one that attacked the tourist. 
It's a big one, with a large bluish patch of feathers forming a ring around  
its neck. It looks at me for a moment, and then comes up beside me. We  
both stare out at the water. After a minute, the sea gull talks to me.   
        "Some day, huh?''  
        I look over at the bird. It ruffles its feathers and snaps its beak. I decide  
not to say anything. I'm in no mood to talk. It's quiet for a while, and  
then the bird speaks again. It has a deep voice. I decide it's a guy        "Your girl leave you? 
        My resolve melts and I speak. "How'd you know? " I ask.  
"I could tell," he says, scratching at the pier with his foot, or whatever  
it is birds have. "My old lady took off a while back."  
        "Really?" I say. " Where'd she go?"  
         The bird stares out toward Alcatraz, where the waves are just beginning  
to slap at the shore
        "South," he says, kind of lonely and far off.  
        "I didn't think sea gulls flew south," I say
        The sea gull leans his head back and lets out a sharp coughing soundI think he's laughing
        "Naw," he says. "She went down to Acapulco with another guy.        "Tough luck," I say
        ''Tell me,'' he says
        Together, we watch the shadows swallow Alcatraz. Then the bird jumpsHe drops straight down, wings at his sides. He almost hits the water. At  
the last second, he tips his wings and goes straight up. In another minute  
I can't see him anymore.  
        Later, the sun goes down. No sign of a shark. I decide to go home  
and sleep this off. Maybe kick back on the bed and flip through my stamp  
book. Maybe not
        Walking home, I wonder if Gloria is in Acapulco with another guy.  

        I awaken to the sound of trumpets. They herald my arrival. They howl  
the swallows back to Capistrano. They announce another glorious broadcast  
day on KBAY-TV. I open my eyes, stare at the TV, and close them again.  
The phone rings.  
        "Hi, Ter. Gloria. I've been thinking__'.'  
        "Yeah, I'll bet you have."  
        "Please don't be upset. Forgive me. I want you back."  
        "Sorry, chick. I'm strong now.''  
        "W-what do you mean?"  
        ''I mean__'.'  
        I wake up and answer the phone. It's my landlord. He tells me that  
if I don't pay the rent by five-thirty, he's turning off the power. I tell him  
to go ahead, and send in the sharks while he's at it. He hangs up        Some people call me a cynic.  
        By eight-thirty I'm out of bed and in my bug. I cruise up Van Ness  
to a Chevron station and fill the tank. I hit a 7-11 on Bay and pick up  
a six-pack of Classic Coke from a pretty Vietnamese girl with a  
Florida-shaped birth mark on her left cheek. I slide an Elvis Costello tape  
into my cassette deck and head over the Bay Bridge.  
        Gloria lives in a red two-story house in Berkeley, about half a mile  
from the school. Since it's on a hill, some of the streets parallel each other  
in layers, and there are at least three streets higher than Gloria's. I claim  
these streets as mine. I prowl.  
        Gloria's car is in the driveway. A blue Subaru GL. If she's gone to  
Acapulco, she didn't take her own car. That's a good sign, I guess.  
        Three little kids are playing with a Water Wiggle on one of the lawns.  
Each time I pass, they get a little more curious. After thirty trips up the  
street, parents begin to join them. After forty, the streets are deserted. After  
fifty, a cop pulls me over.  
        "May I see your license, please?"  
        "I'm looking for my girlfriend."  
        "May I see your license, please?"  
        He kicks me out of the neighborhood. I don't even get to see her.  
        I drive down to Tower Records on the wharf and buy fifteen records  
on my Mastercard. I get depressed on the way home and go back. I buy  
five more. In the car again, I start to cry. I take the records back and beg  
the clerk to let me return them. She says no way. She says no refunds. She  
wears leather pants. What does she know?  
        When I get home, I leave the records in the car. If they won't take  
them back, then I'm going to let them melt.  
        The phone rings as soon as I walk in the door
        "Gloria." (I sound very cool and nonchalant here.)  
        "Baby," she says. "I need you. I'm ready to come back."  
        "I tried to tell you, Gloria," I say with a real sad tone in my voice.  
"But you wouldn't listen."  
        ''I know, I know,'' she cries desperately. ''I never should have scraped  
my key all the way up the side of your car.''  
        "Sorry, chick. I'm strong now."  
        "W-what do you mean?"  
        "I mean-"  
        I let the phone ring.  

        Once, in October, I was very sick. I locked myself in my apartment  
and refused to see anyone. Gloria used her key and came in anyway. She  
sat with me for two days, right next to my bed. She brought cold washcloths  
to bring down my fever. She read F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise  
out loud from start to finish. At night, when I started to shake, she climbed  
into bed next to me and held me.  
        I wake up in a sweat. The phone is ringing. My alarm clock has  
stopped, so I check my watch. It's two-thirty. The landlord has turned off  
the power early. I go to answer the phone, but my stomach climbs to my  
throat. The room tilts around me. The ringing is louder. I suddenly realize  
what I have to do. I figure if I go to the beach and hold my head underwater,  
the ringing won't be so loud. I head for the car
        I remember going to the beach once as a little kid with one of the  
communes. My mother was with a man in a torn-up army uniform. We  
were all down at the beach, and everybody took off their clothes and had  
a great time splashing around. The army man showed my mother some  
top-secret maneuvers on the dunes. I cried. Three or four really chesty girls  
came up to me, cooing poor baby and stuff like that. They scooped me  
up and took me out into the waves and threw me around like a sack of  
flour. I guess it was all right.  
        I tried to find my mother later on. I couldn't, and I thought I might  
start crying again, so I found my clothes, pulled on my pants, and set out  
across the dunes. I kept walking, holding back the tears, until I could see  
someone on the beach ahead. It turned out to be a little girl, about my  
same age, building a sand castle with empty Del Monte pea cans. I knelt  
down and started helping her. She didn't seem to mind. So we finished  
our sand castle, and it was a lot more fun than being thrown around like  
a sack of flour. Her parents owned a beach house that shot up from the  s
and like the trunk of a redwood. Her father came out and told her it was  
time to come inside for dinner. I was invited, and I remember that her  
parents were very nice people. I'm sure my manners were lousy, but they  
never let on. After dinner, the girl and her father and I went out to look  
at the sand castle. The tide had come in, and it was almost gone. The girl  
and I were all set to cry, but her father told us not to be upset, that the  
ocean was just taking back her own, as she did every night. We didn't  
understand it, but it sounded good. When I began to set off down the  
beach back to the group, the girl's father stopped me and pressed a  
five-dollar bill into my hand. I'd never seen one before. I went back over  
the dune and never saw them again. My mother took the money. I don't  
know what she spent it on.  
        So, I'm on my way to the beach. It's about a forty-five-minute drive  
in my bug. I turn up the tunes and coast along 101 at fifty-five miles per  
hour with the wind blowing steady from the east, and cooling expected  
later in the day. I sure hope Gloria doesn't get caught out in this heatHer Vuarnets might melt and stick to her nose.  
        Zappa comes on the radio. "Magdalena.'' I was thirteen years old in  
my Zappa days. It was just like any other phase, I guess, except when you're  
thirteen years old and you like Frank Zappa, you have a pretty fair chance  
of growing up diseased. I don't think I escaped in time; even a few years  
of Cat Stevens didn't help. Gloria still likes Frank Zappa, though she'd  
never admit it. I suspect she has a whole stash of Zappa and the Mothers  
of Invention in the back of her closet
        Anyway, after a while I get tired of coasting along at the designated  
speed limit and flick the hyper-space switch under my dashboard. The music  
of John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra playing the theme  
from Star Wars blares out of the two ace quality speakers I have mounted  
in the bug. I zip along through the stars, crushing planets like croutons  
and shooting Gloria with my lasers. I arrive at the beach in exactly forty-five  
        As soon as I pull into the parking lot, a phone rings. It's in a phone  
booth, blocking my way to the sand. But I'm brave, and I get out of the  
car and take a few tentative steps toward the beach. The phone continues  
ringing. I know it's Gloria, but I'm scared to answer, scared to think that  
she's been watching me and knows where I am
        Standing in the danger zone between the car and the phone. What  
do I do? I take a deep breath, grit my teeth on the seventh ring, and leap  
for the car. I land safely in the driver's seat and initiate take-off. John  
Williams and I are outa there. I laugh in triumph, the phone ringing in  
my ears as I fly down the highway. I'm pleased with myself.  
        I'm on the coast highway, heading south. I've got plenty of tapes and  
enough money to last for a while. I only wish Gloria could see how  
responsible I'm being with my life. A master of my fate, a ruler of mdestiny. Indiana Jones has nothing on me
        Up ahead, I see two white BMW's. Of the three available lanes, they  
occupy the inside and outside, travelling parallel at approximately the same  
speed. I am terrified. There seem to be two people in each car. Probably  
a group of weekenders down from Marin County, out for a pleasant picnic  
on the beach, complete with a metal picnic basket and straps to hold their  
wine glasses in place. I pop John Williams out of the tape deck and put  
in the theme from Mission Impossible. I sit up straight, turn up the stereo,  
scream real loud, and flip the hyper-space switch. I pass them easily, right  
up the middle. I refuse to live in fear
        The world outside stans to look less like northern California and more  
like southern California. I pull over at a truck stop to get some gas. I go  
inside to have a burger. I sip on a Coke while I wait. There's a guy in the  
next booth eating a salad. He's wearing tinted glasses and a red, white,  
and blue jogging suit. I lose my appetite. Just as I go to the counter to  
pay the check, the phone next to the cash register rings. One lady comes  
to take my money, another one goes to answer the phone. I want to tell  
the second lady not to pick it up, or at least tell the first lady to take my  
money. I begin to shake. I can't say anything
        The second lady holds the phone to her breast and scans the placeIn a panic, I throw my money on the counter and run. I burst out the  
door, dodge several gas pumps, and dive into my car. I'm outa there.  
        Gloria and I had been together a year and a half when she decided  
we should date other people.  
        ''Nobody special, Terry,'' she said, washing the dishes.  
        He's a millionaire. He's taking her to a basketball game on a Thursday  
night. Gloria hates basketball. I suggested a double date. Gloria scraped  
dried scrambled eggs from a plate.  
        Thursday night at seven, I was parked about a block down from  
Gloria's. A white BMW pulled up to her house. The guy got out, and  
he had on a red, white, and blue jogging suit. I figured he had to live  
in Sausalito or Corte Madera, that jogging suit netherland between the  
City and San Rafael. They still think jogging is chic there
        He went in and came out a couple minutes later with Gloria. He  
inserted her into the white monster and off they went.  With me in hot pursuit.  
        I've never been much of a basketball fan. I can probably name ten  
or more NBA teams, but I don't follow the games or anything. Still, there  
I sat in the parking lot, listening to the game on my car radio. Every time  
the crowd roared, I imagined that I could hear the Millionaire and Gloria  
cheering right along with them, refreshments of one kind or another  
sloshing into their laps. I'd have been inside watching them through  
binoculars or something, but I barely had enough money to buy gas.  
        By the time they came out, my back was all cramped, but I sat up  
bravely and followed them out of the parking lot. We headed over the  
Golden Gate and right down into Sausalito. The BMW pulled up in front  
of a massive condo, and I took cover in front of a semi-massive condo a  
block and a half down. Gloria and the Millionaire went inside. Twenty  
minutes later, I was out of the car and casing the joint.  
        They were sitting on the couch together, sipping wine and nibbling  
cheese. From my perch in a large, itchy bush, I shook my head. I'd always  
hoped nobody really did this stuff.  
        I sat tight until the guy started to make his move on her. I considered  
being cool and walking away from it all. I considered trusting Gloria to do  
the right thing. I considered getting in my car, paying the toll over the  
Golden Gate with my last two bucks, and going home to bed. I considered  
again and chucked a rock right through this guy's living room window.  
        I got out of jail five days later. Gloria wasn't waiting for me. She wasn't  
there to punch me in the arm, call me a big lug, and say she understood.  
She wasn't there to smile and say that she'd stay with me from that mo- 
ment on. She wasn't there at all.  
        So the sun sinks way too fast into the ocean, and I'm on the highway  
heading south. A sign tells me that L.A. isn't too far off. For a second,  
I consider turning around and heading home, but then it's too late.  
Everything slides downhill into L.A. Even me
        I fumble in the glove box for a tape, and finally latch onto one. It's  
dark in the car, and I can't tell which one I've got, but I figure it doesn't  
really matter. I figure wrong.  
        It's Lionel Richie: no one's cure for heartache. I listen anyway, because  
I feel I deserve the pain. Two weeks ago, I drove past a place selling wood  
stoves. A sign out front said:  
        I got all choked up when I read the sign. I drove straight to the Dairy  
Queen, where I bought a double chocolate-fudge sundae and dumped  
it on the ground in the parking lot, feeling very guilty. A masochist. That's  
        Lionel takes me within an hour of the City of Angels. I pull into a  
parking lot at a 7-11, go to the phone booth, and take the phone off the  
hook. Then I cry myself to sleep.  
        Three months after we'd met, Gloria and I were sitting on the couch  
at my place, watching Letterman. She was brushing her long, brown hair  
with thick, careful strokes. The brush would travel from the top of her  
head and move slowly down her back with a hollow, hushing noise. I asked  
her if I could try. She smiled and I moved behind her. Her hair tickled  
the back of my hands as the brush reached the end of each stroke. After  
a while, I dropped the brush to my side and ran a hand through her hair.  
Gloria reached back, and somewhere in the strands of hair, her fingers met  
mine. . . 
        Sounds of knocking. An ethnic guy with greasy, curly black hair is  
standing there, wearing one of those famous red and white 7-11 smocksHe is knocking and peering, peering and knocking. I sit up and roll the  
window down a crack. He doesn't waste any time.  
        "Hey man, you can't sleep here. This ain't no steenkin' hotel."  
        I make a quick mental calculation. Reseda, I think. No, not ResedaCorona. They still talk like this in Corona.  
        "I believe the term is mo-tel," I say.  
        "Huh?" he shoots back
        "Mo-tel," I repeat. "You take your car to a mo-tel."  
        "Tu madre," the guy says under his breath. "I got some friends who  
can move you to a mo-tel for sure!"  
        ''I'm sure you do," I say. "And I'd really like to stay here and meet  
them, but I've got a Circle K and two more 7-ll's to hit before I get full night's sleep."
        I back out fast enough to run over his feet if he's not quick. He isHe dives out of the way, and as soon as he hits the pavement, he's back  
on his feet with a big rock in his hand. He lobs it at my bug, hitting the  
back windshield and sending a spiderweb of cracks crawling to the roof  
of my car. I slam on the brakes, do a 360 for effect, and bear down on  
the guy. I hit the gas. He gets out of the way pretty quick, leaping up  
on the hood of a black Mustang. He twists around, trying to get my plate  
number. I keep my plates in the back window, and they fall down all the  
time. I give the guy one last laugh, back up, and get out of there
        I don't mind ethnics at all. It's stereotypes that bug me. 
        I avoid downtown L.A. altogether. I decide to hit the beach, so I get  
on the Ventura Highway and coast along in the slow lane. This is the  
territory where I spent a lot of my childhood. Gloria and I talked a lot  
about coming down here sometime, but we never did. So now I'm down  
here without her, and it feels good. The wind in my hair, the smog in  
my lungs, the spice of youth in my veins. It feels like death. Just like death.  
        There's a beach every other block down here, and not one is nearly  
as nice as it once was. I almost stop a few times. I want to find a beach  
without phones, where I can get some rest, but nothing feels right. Not  
        I am overcome with grief. The last six months wasted without calling  
her once. My foot grinds into the gas pedal.  
        Bugs can be pretty fast little cars, if you're lucky enough to have a  
friend who can work on them. I'm lucky. I'm up to 95 miles an hour and  
my little car is hardly sweating it at all. Then I get it into my head to plow  
into the back of a semi. I can see the collision, hear the crashing of glassThe truck is up ahead, three hundred yards to the left
        I won't feel a thing
        I cross two lanes with a quick jerk of the steering wheel. Horns blareI reach 100 miles an hour with a little more effort. I feel like crying but  
I don't. I just want to get to the truck as fast as I can and atomize a few  
particles. Gloria may even come to the funeral. That might be nice.  
        Just when it seems I'm going to get my wish, and the truck is only  
100 yards ahead, I glance off to the beach on my right. I slow down so  
fast I nearly cause a pileup.  
        It's the same beach. There's my mother, and the army man. There's  
the four chesty girls. There I am, being thrown around like a sack of flour.  
        I signal and get off at the next exit, making my way back to the beachIt hasn't changed much. When you see something you haven't seen since  
childhood, it usually looks larger or smaller than your memory, but this  
beach looks about the same. There's a family with a hibachi, frying up  
steaks, and about ten teenagers playing volleyball. It's amazing, otherwiseThe sameness of it all.  
        Except for the phone booth.  
        It's white and blue, a rectangular closet up ahead on the left. I drive  
up alongside it slowly. And smile.  
        Someone has torn the phone from its brackets. It won't be ringing  
anytime soon.  
        I pull the bug onto a small, sandy patch of parking lot and get outIt's an unusually cool day for an L.A. beach, but warmer than I'm used  
to. I get out, slip off my shoes, and toss them back through my open  
window. This is the place.  
        I walk out on the beach. It immediately puts me in mind of all those  
novels and movies where people go back to the places of their childhood  
and learn new and important things about their lives. The volleyball crowd  
is moving to the soothing strains of Van Halen. Nothing new and important  
for me there. The mother of the hibachi family is reading Green Eggs and  
Ham to one of her kids, a little blond guy wearing a red plaid bathing  
suit. There may be something new and important there, but I'm not in  
the mood.  
        I walk out and let the surf wash over my feet. The water isn't too  
mucked up; I could probably even swim in it if I wanted to. But the thought  
of all those novels and movies comes back to me, and all the cathartic  
ramifications of bathing in my childhood memories keeps me out of it.  
I kick up some sand and walk down the beach.  
        I know where I'm heading, but I try not to think about it too much.  
My analytical mind is too busy wondering what it will mean if the house  
isn't there anymore. And if it is, what if it's run-down, with paint peeling  
from the rafters? The symbolic possibilities are astounding.  
        It's smaller than I remember. That doesn't mean it's small, not by  
any means, but memory's a tricky thing. It's a respectable,  
expensive-looking place, and the paint isn't peeling from the rafters. A  
couple of other houses have sprung up around it
        A man's voice comes to me from the balcony.  
        "Nice day, huh?"  
        He isn't old, probably in his mid-forties, wearing red OP shorts and  
a yellow sports shirt with a baby stegosaurus on the left breast pocket. I  
        ''Nope, not too bad. Little warm, though.''  
        "Warm?" he laughs. "Kid, it's chilly today! You 're not from around  
here, I'd guess.
        "Up North.
        "Oregon, Washington?"  
        "No," I say. "Northern California. San Francisco."  
        "Oh," he says. "The Bay Area.
        It's always cracked me up how people say that like it's a dirty wordThe ''Bay Area,'' like it hurts them to say it. There was a time when San  
Francisco was known for its architecture and trolleys.  
        The guy doesn't say anything for a full minute. When he does, it  
isn't apologetic.  
        ''This is a private beach, you know.''  
        I look out at the waves. "No," I say. "I didn't know that."  
        "Yup," he coughs into his hand. "It is. You'll-"  
        Just then a really pretty girl walks up behind him and looks over the  
rail at me.  
        "Don't bug him, Daddy. He 's hardly a bum, you know." She smiles  
at me
        "Hi," she says. ''I'm Jenny.
        "Terry,'' I say
        The guy, who I guess is her father, looks at me distastefully. He doesn't  
want his daughter associating with any known "Bay Area" people        The girl walks down the back stairs and out onto the beach        "Jenny," her father warns, " I don't - 
        Jenny turns and looks up at him. The guy shuts up, and after a  
moment, he turns and walks inside
        Jenny looks me in the eye
        "Should I apologize for him?" she says
        "Is it your fault he's that way?"  
        She laughs. "Maybe. A little.
        We walk down to the edge of the water. She doesn't say anything for  
a while. I follow suit. Then, after a few minutes, she turns her face to the  
        "The 'Bay Area,' huh? "  
        "I lived there for about a year and a half in '82....'.83. In San Rafael.  
Dad couldn't understand it. He said, 'Where are you ever going to find  
a man there?"
        "Was he right?"  
        ''I married a guy there.''  
        ''Is that an answer?''  
        Jenny laughs again. She has a nice laugh
        ''He wanted a ride to work. I wanted a husband.''  
        She traces a circle in the sand with her bare foot. ' 'You been here  
        ''A few hours.''  
        "Staying long? 
        I smile. " Got any ideas?"  
        We sit on the beach for about an hour. The conversation is light, easyWhen it cools off a little bit, Jenny runs up to the house to get the hibachi  
and a couple of steaks. We fry them up and bake a couple of potatoeshave a little salad and some wine, and then go for a short swim. I use a  
pair of trunks belonging to her ex-husband, Jerry. We dry off just before  
sunset, climb one of the dunes, and watch the big guy go down. We're  
quiet for a while. Jenny pulls her knees up to her chin and rocks softly.  
        "You love her, don't you? " she says finally.  
        "Whoever it is you 're running from. You love her.
        "What makes you think I'm running?"  
        Jenny just looks at me
        ''Gloria,'' I say.  
        "Nice name. You love her? 
        "Have you told her? 
        "When was the last time?
        I hesitate a moment, then say: "Six months ago.''  
        Jenny nods. "I had a fern once. It didn't get enough sun in the back 
room where I kept it.' '  
        "We broke up," I say. "My fault."  
        Jenny turns to face me. "Really?" she says
        The tide comes in below us and the sound of the waves grows louder.  
A light, warm breeze starts up
        "Your folks rich? " I ask.  
        Jenny nods.  
        We talk until about three o'clock in the morning. Not too much about  
Gloria, a little about Jerry. Mostly we talk about music. Zappa and Hendrix,  
the Raspberries and Elton John, even Elvis Costello and Lionel Richie
        We sleep on the beach that night. At one point, I wake up shaking.  
Jenny holds my hand until I go back to sleep.  
        I don't dream
        At ten o'clock in the morning, Jenny takes me into the house. The  
place has changed quite a bit, but I don't really remember that much about  
        Jenny's father looks up at me distractedly from the kitchen table, where  
he sits reading the paper. Jenny leads me to the den and pushes me inside.  
She shuts the door, leaving me alone
        Alone, that is, except for the phone.  
        She answers on the second ring.  
        ''Hello? ''  
        "Gloria, it's Terry."  
        "Gloria, I love you.
        "I need you , Gloria. I'm sorry.
        At first I think she's going to hang up. Listening closer, I can tell she's  
        "Where are you?" she asks.  
        ''Come home, Terry.'' 

Sleeping Out

By Lance Larsen

        Frank got the idea driving home from work. He crossed the ravine  
and was turning into Applewood Estates when he saw it-an orange pup  
tent set up under a willow. The ropes that kept the sides from sagging  
were pulled taut, and the flaps were open. Two rolled-up sleeping bags  
lay inside. It was McMichael's place, probably his twins pretending they  
were in the mountains. Frank was thinking how it would be for them 
bedding down in sleeping bags lined with cotton pheasants. Canteensflashlights, comic books, smuggled candybars
        When he got home, Barbara was at the stove, stirring spaghetti sauceShe had her hair in a bun and was wearing bermudas. He kissed her as  
he always did, a dry kiss on the mouth
        "So how was the meeting?" she asked.  
        "It was okay."  
        He picked up the stack of mail and the newspaper and went into the  
living room. Kerri was on the floor talking on the phone. She had on her  
suit from swim practice, a navy Speedo with yellow stripes up the sides.  
Trapping the phone against her shoulder, she rubbed lotion onto her legssmoothing the blobs until her calves and thighs were lathery white. She  
was only twelve, but already she was mimicking the teenage girls on the  
team: bobbed hair, nail polish, her mother's rouge and eye shadow. She  
laughed, rolled over on her stomach, then onto her back, her lips curling  
over her braces. Suzie was on the couch coloring.  
        "Hey, how are you guys?" Frank said.  
        Kerri pointed to the phone, then started laughing again. Suzie looked  
        "I'm coloring," she said. "It's a picture of the sky." He bent low  
to admire the purple and orange swirls.  
        Dinner went smoothly-no spilled food, arguments, or dead silences.  
Kerri and Suzie cleared the table, and Barbara brought in cheesecake. The  
phone rang, and Barbara went back to the kitchen to answer it
        A moment later she stuck her head in. "It's Janet," she said. "She  
and Bob want to know if we want to see Rampal tonight. They've got box  
        Frank looked up, took another bite.  
        "I was going to mow the lawn," he said.  
        ''Mow it tomorrow,'' she said.  
        He shook his head. "I really don't feel like a concert."  
She gave him a long look and went back into the kitchen. Frank heard  
the phone slam, then Barbara went upstairs. He looked at the cherry poised  
on his fork. The girls finished eating and slipped away from the table.  
He took the dishes into the kitchen, then went into the laundry room and  
changed into his running shorts.  
        The mower was in the shed. He checked the gas and oil and wheeled  
it out. He liked the smell of mowed grass and the way it felt prickly and  
even when he walked across it. He would sleep near the fence
        He mowed the backyard last because he liked to watch the sun going  
down across the gulley. Beyond the hedge, deep grass dropped off into  
the ravine. There was a creek there, and across the ravine, aspens and a  
few pines. In the evenings it looked as if the trees were pulling the sun  
into them-they flared red, then cooled into purple outlines
        He had never taken Barbara camping, never slept out with her. They  
always intended to camp by the lake where he had gone with his dad every  
October for the deer hunt. But Barbara got appendicitis, and by the time  
she was better, school started
        He thought about how it had been when they rented the studio  
apartment. At night he would pull the curtains together, turn the lights  
out, and the street lamp would filter through the space between them.  
The floor and the chair where his Levis hung would glow with dusty lightHe liked it then, when the room was so cold in the mornings that when  
he woke he could see his breath; and Barbara, if she were up first, would  
step from the shower, a steamy goddess, wrap a towel around her, then  
sit by the space heater rubbing her hair dry.  
        Sometimes she would pick him up for lunch at the library, drive him  
home, and before they would eat, sometimes before he was in the door,  
she would start peeling off her clothes. There was none of that now. When  
he had flown in last week, after being in Houston for nine days, she had  
hurried home, but not for him-one of her shows was being rerun. From  
his den he could hear gunfire and sirens, and when he had gone to get  
a drink of water, she hadn't looked up
        He made one last pass with the lawn mower, switched the engine off,  
and unhooked the grass catcher. The silence surprised him. His head felt  
light with the quiet, his hands tingly from the vibrations. He carried the  
catcher across the lawn, knowing the springiness of the grass, and passed  
through the hedge to the compost pile. The sun was going down. He  
couldn't see the creek because of the scrub oak. He could barely see the  
gazebo, just a corner sticking out from the foliage. He hadn't checked it  
in years. He shook the clippings free from the catcher and followed the  
path down. His sweat cooled on him, and he felt the breeze blowing past  
his thighs, the grass tickling his calves
        He looked back at the house and watched the lights being swallowed  
up. When he got to the bottom he saw that the pond was flooding the  
trees. A dozen or so trunks were sticking up from the water. Maybe the  
McMichael boys practicing with a hatchet. Then he saw how each trunk  
tapered to an uneven point
        Frank walked along the creek to where he could cross. He stepped  
on a rock and jumped to the other side. The gazebo was the same: just  
three posts sticking up and a two-by-four across the top. That first summer  
he and Barbara had picnicked there. He sat down on the edge closest to  
the water
        The evening noises were just right: frogs, crickets, the stream's  
gurgling, and a meadow lark calling for morning. He looked at the  
gnawed-off trunks-the bark still green. At the far end of the pond, the  
chewed aspens dammed the place where the water used to fall between  
two rocks. In his mind Frank followed the brook up through the  
subdivisions: Willow Creek, Tanglewood, Briar Estates. It was at least three  
miles to the mountains. Four bridges and a dozen culverts
        Frank looked back up the hill. He couldn't remember looking at his  
house from here. The lights were on in the girls' room and in the master  
bedroom. He would sleep down here tonight, instead of in the yard. Just  
throw down the pad, his sleeping bag on top. He smelled Indian  
Paintbrush. He had smelled it as a boy when he went to the city pool.  
Standing on the board, he could smell it through the fence-stronger than  
chlorine. He would hold himself still, inhale the raw air, feel the sun on  his 
back--everything still but the slap of the water. Then he would raise  
his arms, launch himself up, push back, piking, stretching for the water.  
After, drying on the cement, he would roll onto his back and watch the  
sun lick up his water image. Once when he was lying there, a shadow crossed  
his face. He looked up. It was Jamie. She lived three streets over. He looked  
at her body, glistening with coconut oil and water. He felt small beside  
her, skinny. Up on the board he felt okay, but not here, not with her  
dripping water next to him.  
        "You're really good."  
        ''Just practicing,'' he said.  
        "Me and Monica are sleeping out tonight," she said.  
        "I usually sleep out."  
        "Who with?"  
        ''By myself. Sometimes Travis comes over.' '  
        "Why don't you come see us tonight-to talk."  
        He shrugged.  
        ''After eleven,' ' she said.  
        "Yeah--okay," he said.  
        She smiled at him and walked away, her wet hair bouncing along her  
back, just the ends drying, a crescent of white showing at the top of each 
brown thigh
        He was at her backyard fence just before midnight. At first he didn't  
see them. He checked the backyard and the sides close to the house. Then  
he saw them between the flowers and a boulder. He went in through the  
gate. He could see Jamie's hair fanned out on the pillow, the curve of her  
body under the bag. When he was fifteen feet away, she sat up, turned  
toward him, whispered his name
        He looked at her. In the moonlight her face looked dark. Monica never  
woke up. They talked quietly, and when a calico cat jumped into the yard,  
Frank went and got it for her and brought it back to her sleeping bagThey sat there petting the cat together as it arched luxuriously under their  
hands. When the cat left, they both felt awkward, knowing it was just them  
again. They talked for a while, then Jamie reached out to feel the scar on  
Frank's chin from when he hit the board the summer before. She left her  
hand there. He didn't know what to do, so he took her hand and rubbed  
it along his face, tracing slow circles on his cheek. Then she guided his  
hand to her face, and he traced her jaw, then her lips, the line where her  
hair met her forehead, her narrow nose, the mole at the corner of her  
mouth. At first she guided his hand, then she let hers fall back. And all  
the time her eyes were closed, her head back on the pillow, her throat  
exposed. She moved her face toward him, then away. He touched her ears,  
her eyes, the hairs that lay in curls on her cheek. When he told her he  
had to go, she opened her eyes but said nothing. From the other side of  
the fence, he looked back. She was still sitting up.  
        Sitting in the gazebo, he understood something he had forgotten 
that the night was for touching the way the water touches the sand, the  
way the moon and stars burn circles in one's memory. Frank went up the  
hill slowly. He paused where the tall grass met the hedge. He stood there  
a long time, looking at his backyard and patio. The glass table, the chairs,  
the lounger, the speaker he had set up so Barbara could listen to the CD  
player when she was watering. Above the table hung a Japanese lamp that  
attracted fat hummingbird moths when they played bridge with the  
Jespersons. If he had said yes, he and. Barbara would be with them  
        He looked at the house, shuttered and painted, immaculate, not like  
the studio apartment with its stained brick and faded wallpaper, her Monet  
prints thumbtacked to the wall, his pictures of the Uintas. He looked in  
the kitchen window. The dishes were still on the counter, along with  
crumpled napkins. He went to the window of the living room. The lights  
were on, but no one was there except a bald man advertising macaroni  
on the television. The girls were in their room; Kerri sat cross-legged by  
the door, talking on a phone she had pulled in from the master bedroom,  
and Suzie thumbed through Dr. Seuss. He looked at them. They were  
long-limbed like Barbara.  
        Then he went to the bedroom window. His wife lay across the bed  
diagonally, one leg pulled up, the other hanging off the side, swinging  
back and forth, kicking the bed. She was reading a mystery novel. Frank  
went around to the front of the house. He stood by the mailbox that had  
his name on it, and looked at the front door, the step bright from a 100-watt  
bulb. The house reminded him of the homes you see on a tour on a  
Saturday afternoon when a realtor is promoting a neighborhood. He went  
        "Where were you?" she asked.  
        ''Mr. McGuire called. And I went out in the yard to get you, and  
you weren't there. Just the lawn mower."  
        "I went down to the gulley," he said. "There's a beaver. I saw the  
trees chewed off.''  
        He took off his running shorts and pulled on his surgeon greens, which  
he wore for pajamas.  
        ''I'm going to sleep out tonight," he said
        "Suit yourself.'' she rolled over and started reading her book. He put  
on his sandals, then brushed his teeth. She didn't say anything when he  
went down the hall. He went downstairs, changed the channel of the  
television, then flipped it off. A little later he heard his wife moving  
upstairs, the toilet flushing. He turned off the lights so that he was looking  
outside on the grass, silver in the moonlight. He went to the garage and  
took down his sleeping bag from the shelf, then his pad. He took them  
outside. He felt silly walking across the lawn, leaving behind his house  
with five bedrooms, his two daughters, his wife curled alone in a dark roomBut when he got beyond the hedge, he felt okay. The gulley was changed  
from the hour before. It seemed like a different country. The wind was  
blowing warm, and he could smell a muddy smell.  
        He unrolled the pad. The ends curled up as if it were a boat floating  
on the wood. He undid the sleeping bag, rolled it out, and from habit  
unzipped it all the way and checked it before getting in. Down in the  
bottom he found a balled-up sock, one of Kerri's from a slumber party
        The noises made him forget he was alone. The aspens were quivering  
in the breeze, and the water was smooth, except when the wind blew across  
it. He thought of the fish. Did they see the moon through the layers of  
shifting water? He heard a splash near the bank, saw a ripple moving across  
the water. It was the beaver, its triangular head cutting the water like a  
prow, the fat tail fanning behind. Halfway across, it slapped and dove. He  
watched, but he knew that the beaver could stay under for a long time,  
in secret places under the bank, where it would wait, resting, curling in  
on itself until it was ready to come up. He knew a story of a beaver that  
had saved some lost children, invited them into its den, served them teand salmon.  
        Frank took off his sandals and laid them next to the sleeping bagHe could feel the coldness of the night, his arms and chest prickling. He  
wadded up his T-shirt to use as a pillow. When he lay down, the stars pulled  
at him until he felt himself falling into the darkness between them. Then  
he was following the beaver, bellying along the bottom, nosing under a  
log, bursting past pale fishes, through moss, into the narrow channel, the  
warm wet den.  
        He woke with a start. The moon was overhead. He sat up, could see  
his shadow in the moonlight. He unzipped the bag. Kerri and Suzie would  
be snuggled in a room full of cloth animals and pictures of trees and aqua  
oceans that never moved. And Barbara would be in the bedroom, her arm  
thrown out, her fingers touching his pillow
        He went up the hill shirtless. At the hedge, he looked at the houseIt was dark now. He walked across the stiff grass and eased the sliding door  
open. The house was warm. He walked up the stairs without turning on  
the lights. But he didn't know this wall as he knew the walls of his house  
when he was a boy. He had to move slower. The door to the girls' room  
was open. He could see them there-Suzie curled into a ball, Kerri sprawled  
like her mother. He could see the clean faces, the smooth skin stretched  
over bone. He wanted to touch them
        Barbara was lying across the bed, corner to corner. If he were there,  
their legs would be touching. The single sheet was pulled down halfway  
across her back. She was wearing the peach-colored night shirt. One of  
her shoulders was pointing up, a hand dangled over the side. He lay down  
carefully, curled himself to her. He put his hand on her tummy and pulled  
her hair away from her neck. She turned
        "What time is it?"  
        "I don't know," he said.  
        He snuggled her to him and rubbed his hand up and down her backbut she kept her arms to her sides. Sitting up, he pulled the sheet down  
to the bottom of the bed. Barbara pulled her legs in.  
        "What?" she said
        He took her hands and pulled her until she was sitting up, then draped  
the sheet over her shoulders. 
        "It's okay," he said
        "What are you doing?
        "Don't say anything," he said. He leaned toward her and took her  
hand. On her knees, she crawled across to his side of the bed. When she  
stepped off, he led her out the door and down the hallway
        The sliding door to the backyard was letting in cool air. With his free  
hand, Frank pushed the door wider and stepped onto the porch. Barbara  
let go of his hand, pulled her arms in.  
        "Come on," he said. He held her hand across the lawn, the sheet  
dragging in the grass. At the hedge, he lifted her, hooked one arm behind  
her knees, the other around her shoulders, then carried her down the slopeShe was warm against him. At the gazebo, he knelt with her on the bagS
he rubbed up and down his arm, then took off the sheet, began to lift  
her shirt. He stopped her, took her hands gently, and laid her down. She  
looked around but didn't say anything. She was looking at the aspens and  
the water.  
        She looked around for a long time, and he held her hand. He pulled  
the sleeping bag over them, felt it cover them like a layer of night, felt  
the moon washing them. He traced circles on her cheek, explaining with  
his fingers exactly what it meant. 

I Keep at Home Under Key

By Gonzalo Rojas

I keep at home under key two serpents  
of the dynasties  
closeted apart: Prorsa (so Stendahl called her)  
is longer and moves stealthily, Versa,  
the undulant one; the two of them  
fly like swans through the air of the night when I bid  
that they make their ballet
daytimes instead they sleep curled up  
in seven, almost always in seven, in  
their dwelling place of glass. They dream they're  
the goddesses Nekhbet and Bouto who danced once like they do  
in The Book of the Dead.  

I use them to write the World, for this  
I give them milk and grapes, I let them play  
free among my papers; I like that they speak alone  
like I do, that they think  
their girlish thoughts from an immemorial  
splendor without fear of  
death: that is what I like.  

And how they laugh at every mad line  
that comes to me. Versa  
trusts more in what I do, and even  
caresses my ear. Prorsa the exact one  
allows me less luxury- not that way
she says: without  

Sometimes I open to them the other door of my skull and that is  
joy: they dance  
into madness, they fly  
through my imagination as if entering  
another galaxy, and  
let no one sleep in that mirror. The shattering  
begins with the cockcrow


Guardo en casa con Have a las dos serpientes  
dinasticas en  
trinche aparte: Prorsa (asi le puso Stendahl)  
es mas larga y sigilosa, mas  
ondulante Versa; las dos  
vuelan como cisnes cuando les pido  
que hagan su ballet en el aire por la noche; de  
dia mas bien duermen dobladas  
en siete, casi siempre en siete, en  
su morada de vidrio; suei'ian que son  
las diosas Nekhbet y Buoto que ya bailaron antes como ellas  
en El Libro de los Muertos.  

Las uso para escribir el Mundo, por eso  
Jes cloy leche y uvas, las dejo jugar  
libres entre mis papeles; me gusta que hablen solas  
como yo, que p1ensen  
su pensamiento de muchachas desde un fulgor  
inmemorial sin miedo a  
morir: eso me gusta.  

Ademas como rien de cada linea loca  
que se me ocurre, Versa  
es la que mas confia en lo que hago, y hasta  
acaricia mi oreja. Prorsa la exacta  
me exije menos lujo-asi no 
me dice : sin  

A veces les abro la otra puerta de mi craneo y esa si  
es alegria: bailan  
hasta enloquecer, vuelan  
por mi imaginacion como si entraran a  
otra galaxia y  
no dejan dormir a nadie en ese espejo. La quebrazon  
empieza con los gallos. 

Poem of the Peach Spring

By Tau Yuan Ming

        Tau Yuan-ming (365-427 A.D.) became a Chinese bureaucrat after a  
life of poverty, but he lasted only eighty-one days before tiring of his duties.  
He returned home to farm, tend chrysanthemums, drink, and write poetry.  
He wrote a story of a utopian society that lived beyond a spring in a peach  
grove. Less well known than the story is his ''Poem of the Peach Spring.''  
        The society that Tau Yuan-ming described lived in harmony yet  
violated basic tenets of Confucianism, which encouraged devotion to  
authority and to the state. Tau Yuan-ming responded more to Taoism, which  
often opposed the social stability and conformity of Confucianism. ''Poem  
of the Peach Spring'' condemns those frantic individuals who cannot accept  
patterns of nature-who seek self-improvement over the appreciation and  
enjoyment of the natural world
        "Poem of the Peach Spring" is composed in five-character lines,  
employing parallelism between couplets. This poem is typical of Chinese  
poetry in that allusion makes the poem very condensed. Some of Tau Yuan 
ming's allusions are to works as distant from his day as his is from ours.  
        The First Emperor referred to in ''Poem of the Peach Spring,'' Shih  
Hwang Ti (259-210 B.C.), is well known for his attempt to wipe out all  
previous history through burning books, scholars, and peasants. He is the  
scale in Chinese history against which tyranny can be measured: Mao  
Tse-tung once boasted he had destroyed more books and scholars than even  
the First Emperor


In the age when the First August Emperor violated heaven  
Sages hid themselves from the world.  

As Hwang and Chi in their times went to Shang Mountain,  
These went to the Peach Spring.  

Their footprints were buried as in mist,  
The paths of their coming, weeds and waste

Together they furrowed and sowed their land  
And rested with the setting sun.  

Mulberry and bamboo drooped with shade,  
Beans and millet were cultured in proper times.  

In spring the silkworms yielded long silkAnd the ripeness of fall brought no king's taxes. 

The roadways lost, travel to Peach Spring was forgotten.  
Together geese and dogs cackled and barked.  

The ancient rituals were performed,  
And the old clothing was worn.  

Children ran singing through the land
While grey-haired ones roamed to visit. 

From luxuriant grass one knew calm seasons  
From failing trees, the fierce wild times.  

No histories were kept, no chronicles,  
But years grew from their seasons.  

In harmony there was enough that pleasedWhy would they fret for knowledge? 

Their traces of wonder were hidden for five centuries,  
Until the age I discovered the divine borders.  

Their sincerity was not my flippancy
So I returned and left the land to its solitude.  

Now I demand of those restricted and restless:  
What do you know more than noise and dust- the world?  

I wish to walk on wind
In high places raise my search for harmony.