There is no such thing as mundane disbelief on the wretched, glittering streets of New Orleans. No doubt lives among the connoisseurs of gin and light. No hesitation hides behind distorted Mardi Gras masks, only creatures moving lithely through the crowd of wayward travelers. The city breathes in a cacophony of sound. Even the steel factory rattles distantly, like a drum beat. Yet, as Thomas O’Clery stood in the braking trolley car, inhaling the piss and bourbon stench of the city, he felt only a cold numbness. Neither the driverless carriages, or the preternatural weight of hot summer jazz, like a voodoo queen’s curse, could frighten or arouse him. Not anymore.
Beachum stops at the Bi Lo to get his latest prescription filled. While he’s waiting he looks for something to kill the cat, some kind of poison. He looks up and down the aisles. It appears that grocery stores do not carry poison anymore.
“Where would I find the poison?” he asks the pharmacist
“What kind of poison are you looking for?” asks the pharmacist. He acts as if the mere contemplation of such a question has given him indigestion.
“Something that will kill a cat.”
The pharmacist sighs. “There are many things that will kill a cat,” he says stapling a sheaf of instructions and disclaimers six inches thick to the bag containing Beachum’s prescription that no one, least of all old Beachum, will ever read.
“Can you recommend something?”
The pharmacist shakes his head sadly. “No,” he says.
Nineteen is the number of times I stabbed my father. One in each forearm, shoulder, thigh, calves. Neck back stomach balls. Between two ribs the knife plunged and pierced one lung, two, and caught on a shard of bone, a tendon shred. Wrench tug free. I’d pictured each puncture in detail one by one. Not over and over on loop like some freak but while waiting for the bus or falling asleep I thought about the order of it, in and out and back in, the quiet shrill of it. Muscle rip against blade, bone scrape against metal.
I first saw the sculpture about a month ago, walking to the Cumberland Farms with Matt to get beer and some papers. It was shimmering under the late day’s sun in the back of a fenced-in yard. Even from a distance, I could see the long spindly legs of the black metal spider clinging to the delicate netting of its web, waiting for prey. I was mesmerized.
Acton had never spent much time contemplating writer’s block. This had everything to do with the fact that he had never previously found himself its victim. Perhaps everything is too strong a word. Acton had no trouble considering the ins and outs of things and events he had no personal experience with—although these things and events necessarily carried with them some intellectual element that sparked his curiosity in the first place. Writer’s block, as an idea, had never presented such an element to command his attention, and on top of that, it seemed too cliché a notion to even deserve it. Nevertheless, the prejudice of abstraction doesn’t always hold up under the weight of actual experience, and he now found writer’s block to be a fascinating object of examination.
Acton was at his desk, unable to write.
Here we are at week 210.
I don’t know about anyone reading this but there is a tradition in Ayr that showcases all that is bad with writing. It is the weekly release of the local newspaper.