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Full text of "Quad: The Literature and Arts Journal of Birmingham-Southern College"

Quad 




Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

Lyrasis Members and Sloan Foundation 



http://www.archive.org/details/quadliteraturear1995unse 



Quad 



The Literary & Art Journal of Birmingham-Southern College 



Editor-in-Chief Finley Bullard 

Layout Editor Steve Davidson 

Poetry Editor Carolyn Hembree 

Fiction Editor Heath LaGrone 

Art Editor Leslie Nubv 

Faculty Advisor Dr. Sandra Sprayberry 



Editorial Policy 

Quad, the literary magazine of Birmingham-Southern College, was founded in 
1940 and is published annually. The editors encourage undergraduate submissions, 
which are reviewed anonymously bv Quad staff members. Quad is funded by the 
Student Government Association. 

Primarily an undergraduate publication. Quad also accepts ait, literature, and music 
submissions from students in the Adult Studies program, faculty members, graduates, 
and affiliates of Birmingham-Southern College in the tall. Submission policies for the 
magazine are subject to change from year to year. Inquiries about current submission 
policies may be sent to Quad, Box 741, Birmingham-Southern College, Birmingham, 
AL 35254! 

The views expressed in Quad are those of the artists and authors and are not 
necessarily those of the staff, faculty advisor, Publications Board, SGA, or the adminis- 
tration of Birmingham-Southern College. 

Copyright 1994 by the editors of Quad and Birmingham-Southern College. 



Birmingham-Southern College, 900 Arkadelphia Road, Birmingham, AL 35254 




Oil/Pastel- 10.125" x 13.785" 



Catherine Brown - Elk of Love 



Contents 



Cover Art: 






Front 




John Irons - Shelter 


Back 




Joev Williams - Stillness 


Fiction 






If I Were A Good Man 


4 


Virgil P. Fowler 


The Flute Man's Story 


14 


Allvson Fertitta 


Meanie 


21 


Helen Chandler 


Gretel 


40 


Adrianne Simon 


Agarella 


49 


Julie Dvkes 


Poetry 






July 11, 1994 


9 


Laura LInderwood 


Morning Toast 


10 


Clay McCaslin 


Indian Summer 


1 1 


Robert Wingard 


A Girl Smokes 


1 1 


Thomas Diasio 


Barefoot on Red Brick 


14 


Dannv Milner 


Carbon Hill (A Short, Happy Life) 


13 


Leslie Nuby 


BSC 


20 


Jonathan Edwards 


Meathooks 


30 


Carolyn Hembree 


Bluebeard Speaks. . . 


32 


Finlev Bullard 


The Cool Cat Cafe 


34 


Carolyn Hembree 


Intentional Ice Skating 


36 


Danny Milner 


ten o'clock news 


38 


Jennifer Kelly 




38 


Peggy Fackliss 


Opus I 


45 


Chris Lasseter 


we hate and are each other 


46 


Leslie Nuby 




48 


J.T Ennis 


Edward Hopper's New York Movie. . 


.54 


Finlev Bullard 


Xanadu 


56 


Clay McCaslin 


Art 






Elle of Love 


2 


Catherine Brown 


Alicia 


12 


Catherine Brown 


Zelda 


27 


Tori Simpson 




31 


Catherine Jones 


Shelter 2 and 3 


28-; 


19 John Irons 




29 


Brandon Mcintosh 


Too Many Pills 


35 


Catherine Brown 




37 


Catherine Jones 




39 


Thomas Diasio 


Before, During, & After Chemo 


44 


Catherine Brown 


Evasion 


47 


Brandon Mcintosh 




55 


Eric Sullivan 



If I Were A Good Man 



. . .Thursday in Los Angeles another John Doe was 
proclaimed dead. Apparently the night's freezing con- 
ditions took this man's life in the doorway of the 
Sherwood Forest Apartment complex. A Miss Clair 
McGraph found the body as she was leaving her apart- 
ment. At a brief graveside sendee on Friday, a woman 
asked if anyone had any words to say. No one did. 

...A New Mexico man was convicted of engag- 
ing in sexual acts with his daughter and was sentenced 
to 12 years in prison. Prosecutors said the abuse oc- 
curred a year after the man and his wife were divorced 
and he was given primary custody by a Navajo tribal 
court. 

...In Los Angeles, a local chapter of Mensa, the 
organization for people with high IQ's, is under fire 
from some of its members for publishing articles ad- 
vocating the extermination of people who are home- 
less, retarded, or old. 

THIS JUSTIN... 

Reports around the globe confirm the evidence 
that a race of Yeti have descended from the Appala- 
chian Mountain chain somewhere in Tennessee. Thev 
seem peaceful and wise. Thev are suspected to be tied 
in with the sudden increase in the homeless popula- 
tion, possibly forming a coalition. Do thev have a 
hidden agenda? Sources report references were made 
to Nixon AND "voodoo economics". UN troops are 
now being sent to surround and apprehend these sav- 
age conspirators. Thev ARE considered dangerous. 
The significance of this is uncertain. Film at eleven. 

That is all for National and International News 
at 6. This is Dean Dinning reporting from New York. 
Have a good night. 

...I'd Talk With You More Often Than I Do 

"...When the Lord restores the captive people, 
Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad. Amen." 
Psalm 14 

About a half an hour later... 

Finally averting his eves from the snow-filled 16 
inch Magnavox, Frank catches a glimpse of his per- 



sonal caterers again reinforcing their punctuality by 
not only preparing his meal but spreading this entree 
across his buffet bv promptly 6:30. 

"Ah well, let's dig in bo vs. What's for dinner 
tonight, Jules?" 

"A superbly boiled lobster complemented by 
stuffed crab and topped off with the finest sauted mush- 
rooms." 

"Thank you my dear sir, I do give my compli- 
ments to the Chef." 

"I will tell him, Frank, I'm sure he'll be delighted." 

"Oh, and before I forget, a bit of Zinfadel for the 
meal if you will." 

"Why of course, how silly of me to forget. I 
must be going quite mad." 

"Mad? Did you say mad?" 

"As a hatter, Frank. As a hatter." 

"Never call yourself mad, sir, for mad is you are 
not. Now if you were to serve the head of John the 
Baptist on a silver platter, that would be mad. 

"Quite mad indeed. I beg your pardon. 

"I believe I'll turn in quite early tonight, so make 
sure I'm in bed by 9:30 if you will." 

"It's already taken care of." 

Strutting like the rarest of birds, Frank eloquently 
sits at the head of his dining table reciting his arro- 
gance. 

"I'm going to opium dens! Yes, opium dens, dens 
of vice and criminals' hangouts, Mother. . .They call me 
Killer, Killer Wingfield, I'm leading a double-life, a 
simple, honest warehouse worker by day, bv night a 
dynamic czar of the underworld, Mother." 

Relentless applause filled the room as Tennessee 
Williams rolled from Frank's moudi and into the ears 
of his dearest of friends. Only from Frank did thev 
ever hear such beauty, for thev seldom read themselves, 
and more seldom went to see a performance. Their 
entertainment is usually tied to the TV This is true 
especially for Ernest. Ernest is a hardcore addict. From 
Seinfeld to Sesame Street, there is no stopping the man. 

"Shit, I forgot! I have to finish my letter," ex- 
claimed Frank. 

"You better hurry if you want to get to bed by 
9:30." 

Frank wanders towards a lamplit table in the cor- 
ner housing a back broken green spiral notebook. This 



little green notebook is an asylum for poetry, journal 
entries, letters, and other life-sucking genius. And 
Frank does serve the head of John the Baptist in his 
subtitles and marginal thoughts. 

About twenty minutes later, the Chef tactfully 
interrupts Frank and reminds him of his bed time re- 
quest. With brief salutations Frank prepares himself 
for another night of melodic dreams and sleepless back- 
aches. 

'Tm gonna turn in, guys. Ya'll take it easy. 1 '' 

"Well I'm gonna head on, Frank, 111 see ya bright 
and early," retorts Ernest with a sly grin. 

"All right, well have a good night and stay outta 
trouble." 

"Hell, I can't do both." 

"Well do whatever suits yer fancy. I'll See ya 
'round." 

Finishing his nightly preparations, Frank takes 
die worn shoes from his weathered feet and, although 
not a very religious man, prays his nightly request: 

...I pray the Lord my soul now take. Amen. 

Dear Clair, 

I suppose we diverged at the wood. We're sup- 
posed to learn from our history, not dive head first 
into an empty pool. How quickly you must forget. 
Even the historical mighty monarchies had a bum 
queen or two. You're quite a queen aren't you— just 
like daddy I might not be all that, but I'm a man. I'm 
not quite a pickle, but Em a man. Are you happy ? 
Rose of Sharon how I love thee. And almost in the 
words of Dr. Seuss: 

Be True To Thy Brother, 
Frank 
Tonight 

Self Defense Seminar 
6:00 P.M.--9:30 P.M 
Andrew D. Knedlik Civic Center 
S6.00 per person 

Good evening, Em Sergeant William S. Ranev 
and Em here to teach vou the basic skills of self de- 
fense. Let me begin bv telling you that almost ninety 
percent of the people on the streets are out to get you. 
First we will begin bv demonstrating a few basic holds 
and maneuvers. Initially the vagrant will attempt to 
lure you in by using certain hooks such as asking for 
change. The first rule is to prevent this from hap- 
pening. To do this... 

Leaving the seminar, the night appears even 
gloomier than ever. The clouds seem to erase the full 



moon and the clear night air takes on the disgust of a 
smog. Her normal air of confidence broken doesn't 
allow her newly found defense comrades to see her 
tiger-like business tact and her I-will-eat-you-alive so- 
cial control. As she crosses the ill-lit threshold of the 
parking deck, she senses a mild chill of danger in her 
pores. Goosebumps of sorts, but not so pleasing. Fi- 
nally she catches a glimpse of what her senses are tell- 
ing her. There is a mild mannered man sitting be- 
tween two cars shielding his weathered body from the 
cold night wind. In an instant she tenses her muscles 
as she hurriedly walks to her car. 

"Ma'am, Em just here to preach the word and 
collect an offerin' to help the boys at the shelter. Do 
you believe in the word, ma'am?" 

"Get the hell away from me!" 

"Please, ma'am, could you help save a soul to- 
night?" 

She feels like Custer staring with her fiery eyes 
into the eves of Crazy Horse on the banks on the Little 
Big Horn river. She is the sultry bitch with tire in her 
eves formulating the answer. Crazv Horse will not 
kick Custer's ass this time. 

As he raises his arms in peace, Clair, drunk on 
adrenaline, fears for her life. As her pepper spray burns 
his flesh and blinds his eves, Clair jumps into her '86 
lime green pontiac, slams into reverse, and acciden- 
tally hits the vagrant as she quickly darts to her house. 

NEWSFLASH 

.-1 43 year old homeless man by the name of Ernest 
Monroe died this evening of hemotrh aging mid a concus- 
sion eeiused by a severe blow to the lower torso and head. 
An investigation indicates that this gentleman was struck 
down by mi automobile across from the Andrew D. Kiicdlie 
Civic Center. If anyone has any information pertaining 
to this crime please call the crime center at 587-4213. 

On this third day of December, in the year of our 
Lord... 

"Ernest, my man, how did ya get down here to 
us folks and start showin' us the way," says Emory. 
"How did the word touch you, friend." 

"All my life. ..No. I won't start out like that. I 
would not lie to vou mv friend. Ya see, I went to 
seminary in about '69. I was a pretty straight fella all 
through high school. I was makin' As & B's and I 
truly had a passion for God. Well I was ordained in 
the Baptist church bv the time I was twenty-three. I 
had a wonderful life with a beautiful and lovin' wife. 
She was my high school sweetheart. A year after I 
was preachin' down at Covenant Baptist Church, my 
wife took her own life. I found some old buddies of 



mine I knew in high school and I started doin' a little 
drinkin 5 . Bv this time I had done already left the church. 
I started drinkin more and more and smokin a couple 
of joints now and then. Mv buddies were on the move, 
so I went with them up to New York Citv. That's 
when I was introduced to acid. There wasn't any pa- 
per acid-it was just tabs at the time. I spends a tab of 
Purple Haze & the high was long lastin\ but I had 
somebody to watch over me so I didn't trip out too 
bad. I didn't have a bad trip the first time. Another 
time that I took it— what I did was decide to take a tab 
by myself. I took a tab of black... no thev called it 
macrodot. A mixture of orange sunshine or black 
macrodot or somethin'. Well anyway I had a bad trip 
and it kept me high for about four or five davs. I had 
to go to the hospital 'cause I was so frantic where I 
thought I was goin' crazy because it kept me up so 
high, vou know. And I just couldn't come down. The 
doctor had injected me with somethin' to bring me 
down." 

"Thorazine?" 

CC I don't biow but I figured that the LSD and the 
Marijuana was just messin' with mv memoir so I de- 
cided to try a new drug. That was the summer of '69- 
-the Mav of '69— no the summer of '71. I started 
snortin' cocaine & also started snortin' heroin because- 
-fhev call it speedball-because thev mix it together and 
snort it. You know- -toot it. You know. The rush so 
high-boom. I like to get high. The first time I got 
high it made me sick. You know, throw up— vomit. 
But after that you just be mellow, blasted for about 
tour or five hours. You understand what I'm savin'?" 
One night I happened to pass out. You understand. 
O.D. Thev had to rush me to the hospital. I didn't 
have no pulse, no respiration, no heartbeat, no nothin'. 
Clinically dead reallv. Bv that point of mv life I didn't 
know where I was. Bv the grace of the good Lord, 
I'm still here. After that I left New York and came 
back down here. I needed to spread the word. That 
was mv true callin' to the Lord. Nobody was gonna 
let me preach down here though. The Baptist church 
had even takin' away my license by that point. That's 
when I found the mission here. They let me preach 
for my keep and I get to spread the word of my savior 
Jesus Christ. That's why I'm so thankful for this place 
right here. Emory my good man, that's about it. We 
better round up the troops "cause it's about time to 
start spreadin' that word again. Help me out willva." 

"Sure, man, no problem. Hey guvs let's round 
up, it's time for the word." 

All of the men at the mission unreluctantly wan- 
der over to the rows of chairs in front of the podium 



as Emory hands out a beaten up hymnal and the King 
James Bible to each man. With his weather worn ex- 
perience on his scarred and hunched over body Ernest 
begins to speak his heart as even' man in the room has 
his mind locked on every word Ernest savs. They love 
this man. Thev respect this man. He is the one inspi- 
ration they have left. 

". . . There they are in great dread, for god is with the 
righteous generation. Ton would put to shame the counsel 
of the afflicted, but the Lord is his refuge. Oh, that the 
salvation of Israel would conic out of Zion! Wlien the 
Lord restores His captive people, Jacob will rejoice, Israel 
will be glad." 

^ Psalm 14 

...I'd Understand The Spaces Between Friends 

On this twenty-seventh day of August, in the year of 
our Lord, Frank Delanor McGraph slowly steps from 
his father's cherry red BMW onto the mysterious land 
of Buxbaum Institute, a most respected menagerie five 
miles away from Wanky Willie's Billiards and Tittie 
Bar. 

"This is where millions of young boys have, over 
a four year period, been transformed into young men," 
says Mr. McGraph who often frequented the place 
when he was in college at Buxbaum. 

"Oh, yeah dad, sure." 

"You sure as hell won't find no faggots there." 

"Whatever dad." 

"Remember-No leaving campus vour first semes- 
ter. No associating unless it's pussy. It will interfere 
with your grades. If you make out good, vou may get 
to bring your car second semester. We love you and 
we'll call you tonight." 

Bv this point, though, Frank isn't reallv listening 
anymore. Frank knows that this day is not just an- 
other day. As he looks across the campus, Frank imag- 
ines several paths chaotically pulling at each other— all 
of them emerging from Frank's worn sneakers. Be- 
side him stands a sign with arrows pointing in the 
directions of each and every path. One sign says, "to 
die end of your rope" as another savs "through the eye 
of die storm." Frank does not have time to read them 
all but at last glace he smiles as he notices the paths "to 
the place where laughter lives" and "to courage's den." 
Frank knows now that he is in for.. he doesn't know 
what he's in for. 

"...Frank! Frank! Frank! Are vou daydreaming 
again? Dammit I'm gonna pull vour ass outta school 
if vou do that anymore you sorrv ass. Go gi\e vour 
momma some suger. Look! You made her cry!" 



"Sorry, I love you momma. See ya dad." as he 
kisses one unit and coldly shakes the hand of the other. 

On this twenty-seventh day ofNorembei; in the year 
of our Lord, lounging on a green velvet couch periodi- 
cally pierced bv the mark of a cigarette as well as stained 
bv a distinct odor mixed of piss and nicotine, Frank 
sips on a bottled beer. Taking another sip of beer and 
a drag from his Camel, Frank thinks about the changes 
he's gone through in the last few months. 

"All my life I've learned that Christ is my savior, 
niggers are black, money is the key to life, and faggots 
are the key to death. Most everything I've always 
known to be 'the truth 1 is a complete delusion. I've 
lost my noodle. Maybe I just abuse it too much. I 
stroke the kitty all I want and I still feel less than a 
man. Maybe I just abuse it too much." 

"Hev Frank," cries the twangv voice of Allie, "get 
off that bum ass of yours and let's go do somethin'." 

"Like what?" 

"Oh, I don't know, let's go rent a movie or 
somethin'." 

"Oh yeah, that's real fuckin' productive." 

"If you're gonna be that way, you can just get out 
of my damn apartment." 

"You wouldn't do that. You love me too much." 

"No I don't, I hate you. 

(Simultaneously underneath their breaths) 

"Bitch!" 

"Bastard!" 

Quicklv Frank grabs her and kisses her, falsifying 
and mocking their entire argument. 

"I thought you hated me!" giggles Frank as Allie 
kisses him back." 

"Well I guess I got over it." 

Neither actually remember how thev initially met. 
Somehow they were both just hanging out with mu- 
tual friends and showed up at... well hell if anybody 
actually knows. Nonetheless they eventually ended 
up, just like even' other day, watching T.V in Allie's 
downtown apartment. 

"I really can't watch a movie right now Allie, I've 
got to work on this play for class. You wanna help 
me? O.K. You read Amanda and I'll read Tom." 

Amanda: I don't believe that lie! 

Tom: I'm going to opium dens! Yes, opium 
dens, dens of vice and criminals' hangouts, Mother... 

On this third day of December, in the year of our 
Lord. . . 

"Hey Frank," cried the twangv voice of Allie, "get 
off that bum ass of yours and lets go do somethin'." 



"Like what?" 

"Oh, I don't know, let's go rent a movie or 
somethin'." 

"If we're gonna do somethin', Allie, then let's 
really go do somethin' for a change. I'm gonna go to 
the first street shelter and help out tonight. You're 
welcome to come along if vou want. Ya see, my heads 
just goin crazy. I've never cared and it's comin' back 
around. All I'm savin' is if I were to cry, who would 
see, Allie. Nobody! I look in the mirror and say, "Hey 
daddy!" I'm real fuckin' confused right now, Allie, 
and I think if we do somethin' it may help me get 
things straight." 

"Are you on another god-damned altruist kick 
again, Frank. What's been up with you lately. You've 
been goin' nuts over every little nothin' that comes 
along.. .All right, I'll go with you. I need somethin' to 
make me feel like a hero for a week or two." 

"It's not like that. It shouldn't make you feel like 
a hero. 

"Whatever. Let's just hurry up and get goin'." 

At the shelter... 

"... Wlicn the Lord restores the captive people, Jacob 
will rejoice, Israel will bcjjlad. Amen. " 
Psalm 14 

About a half an hour later... 

"Hi, I'm Reverend William J. Mooney, but you 
can call me Chef. You two must be Frank and Allie. 
We sure do appreciate your help. You can go on into 
the kitchen if vou like, were gettin' ready to serve din- 
ner. Let me just go right ahead and tell vou that ninety 
percent of these people from the streets are not out to 
get you. So don't you fret none. Most of these fellas 
are pretty good guys." 

"I appreciate you lettin' us help out," says Frank, 
"I'm probably gettin' as much out of it as they are. 

"Yeah, it kinda makes me feel like a hero!" 

"Shut up. Bitch." 

"Sorrv, Frank, I was just bein' honest." 

"These bovs get to bed at 9:30 "round here so we 
better call "em to dinner," replies the reverend. 

Rev. Mooney then leaves the two with the food 
as he rounds up his 'children' for supper. 

"It's time for supper, bovs," cries the reverend. 
"Will someone give the blessing? How about vou, 
Ernest." 

"Yes sir, I'll be glad to. Bless this food to thy 
bodies and thus to thy service. Amen." 

"Amen," the men cry collectively. 

Soon the pack of hungry men begin to nudge 
their way through the line. An elderly man of about 
fifty or so wearing a tattered Buxbaum Institute 



sweatshirt catches Frank's eve. As soon as the stranger 
reaches him, he begins to speak. 

"Ah well, let's dig in bovs. What's for dinner 
tonight Jules?" 

"Well, we've got mashed potatoes and chicken." 
replies Frank. 

"Thank you my dear sir, I do give my compli- 
ments to the Chef." 

"I'll tell him for vou, Fm sure he'll appreciate it." 

"Oh, and before I forget, a bit of Zinfadel for the 
meal if vou will." 

"Well there's some tea in that container over 
there." 

"Crazv old coot!" 

"Don't say that, Bitch. He's just a little confused. 
It could happen to any of us." 

After dinner is served, Frank curiously wanders 
over to the queer old man in the Buxbaum rags. Not 
sure of what to make of the situation, Frank decides to 
hold back for a few minutes. Out of the corner of his 
eve, Frank glances at the television onlv to catch a few- 
seconds of a news brief on the National and Interna- 
tional News at 6. 

...Thursday in Los Angeles another John Doc was 
proclaimed dead. Apparently the nijjhts freezing condi- 
tions took this man s life in the doorway of the Sherwood 
Apartment complex. A Aliss Clair Alcgraph found the 
body as she was leaving her apartment. 

At a briefgraveside seiricc on Friday, a woman asked 
if anyone had any words to say. No one did. 

Finally averting his eves from the snow-tilled 16- 
inch Magnavox, Frank again slowly approaches the 
stranger. 

"Hello sir, how are you doing?" 

"Quite well, stranger." 

"I was wanting to talk with you for a moment— if 
vou don't mind... I was wondering how vou... well, 
actually I mean how... I mean, you seem so content." 

"I am."--" Actually I'm extremely happy." 

"How do vou mean? I don't quite follow." 

"Years ago I was in college at apparently Buxbaum 
Institute when I had a vision of— well, of this place - 
the place where laughter lives. I had a tough time 
makin' it here. I really had to go through the eye of 
the storm before I made it though. I'm no crazy- 
don't you think that. At least I didn't end up in the 
steam tunnels below the school or anything. I just 
realized I was hurtin' people, especiallv my friends- 
playin' 'em just like they was a game and all. There 
was no sincere love or care in me. My love was just 
my lay. She was "my bitch' to train. I trained her 'til I 
cried. That finally ended. I think I'm a man now. I'm 



not much of a pickle, but at least I'm good. 

...You'd Never Cry Another Tear Again 

Why is daddy screaming? It's such a beautiful 
day. Whv are vou suffocating vourself, vour head cov- 
ered under your white patterned comfort as you're 
curled fetallv with vour toes peeking out? Whv is the 
blanket not big enough to protect you? Are vou cry- 
ing? Whv? What are thev like? Have you seen one in 
a long time? No. Whv then do vou not see one in 
him. Whv do vou stav then? Because of me? Do vou 
love him? Well why then? Because he takes care of 
vou? He also creates the bruises that need to be taken 
care of. I know vou love me. I'll do better next time. 
Take my hand and we'll go awav together. I know we 
reallv can't. ..but one day... I love you mommy. 

He: Whv does he do it? 

She : Daddy saws that it's to train vou to grow up 
right. He says if va got discipline and va got monev 
you'll always be happv. 

He: Why's daddy always trainin' her to grow 
up right? I thought she was already grown up. 

She: I think he's just settin' an example. My 
teacher always says that grown-ups always set examples 
for kids. 

He: You know a lot Clair. Guess what. 

She: What Frank? 

He: I showed mv girlfriend my thing. 

She: That's against the law! 

He: No it's not. 

She: It's against God's law! Daddy told me I'd 
go to hell if I ever saw a thing. He showed me his 
once so I'd know what not to look for. It was kinda 
funny lookin'. Felt like a pickle, but not quite as lumpy 

He: Mine don't feel like a pickle. Feels more like 
a noodle. 

She: Yours is wrong then. I'm gonna be good. 
I'm gonna be a good millionaire queen when I grow 
up. 

He: Daddy says I'm gonna be a man when I 
grow up. I guess I'll be a man when I grow up. I'm 
gonna be good at it though. 

Momma! Clair says she gonna be a millionaire 
when she grows up. She savs she's gonna be a good 
millionaire queen. What were you gonna be when 
you were little? I don't understand. I think I'm gonna 
go to bed before he comes home. O.K. I'll be sure 
and say mv prayers. Night-night momma. I love vou. 

...I pray the Lord mv soul now take. Amen. 

God Listens To The Prayers Of Bums And 
Little Children. 

— Virgil P. Fowler 



July 11,1994 

After supper I walk 

into the back yard 

to throw potato peels over the fence 

and watch the owls that live 

in our lightning-struck pecan tree. 

If the mosquitoes can he stood 

I'll watch the birds wing out over 

the soybean field 

into a heavy summer dusk. 

When thev flv back I can see their faces. 

Of course I try to make 

something too-meaningful out of all this — 

owls bring wisdom to my twenty-first 

summer, etc. — 

but it turns out that thev are simply 

one more thing that amazes me about this 

home place: 

that such an old house can still hold up 

thundering life, 

that I go home every summer and never get 

bored. 

— Laura Underwood 



Mornine Toast 



egg yolks and jelly 

on the kitchen table 

another morning 

inside my skin 

before the dav comes crawling in 

the comfort of my buttered toast 

mv electric guitar 

screaming 

the answers I never found 

the questions 1 haven't thought to asl> 

the solitude I continue to choose 

was born to choose 

it is the sum of me. 

today is a cold dav 

air molecules brittle 

and snappv 

the way i like them 

taking walks beside old houses 

peering into each one 

wondering about their secret lives 

as perhaps someone wonders 

about the secrets behind my door 

the comfort of my buttered toast 

the kinds of drinks i fix 

when i'm feeling lonely 

last week i took to smoking cigars 

something new 

the eternal craving 

a reminder of sugary promises 

i made as a bov 

to people i never talk to anymore 

their memories remain 

as the icy feet of someone in my bed 

on a cold morning 

like the one i'm statin"; into now. 



in mv head 

1 have created a voice 

the voice of a nymph 

who trills it when i love her 

excites the child in me 

the one that fished for crawdads 

and played in solitude 

in a world of manufactured dreams 

i have created a voice 

that makes me feel that way again. 

even now with my buttered toast 

my egg yolks and jelly 

my forgotten promises 

and my mounting weaknesses 

behind my closed doors 

and my walls of suspicion 

behind all of mv manufactured dreams 

i can hear that voice 

i can feel that way again. 

— Clav McCaslin 



10 



Indian Summer 

The dav is wrapped in velvet, 

a momentous pause; 

The sun strokes the skin 

with sensual distraction, 

relaxing the soul. 

Do I hear sirens whisper 

In silent loveliness? 

Duty and destiny seem far away 

and so unreal. 

But then it passes 

and I push on. 

— Robert Wingard 



A Girl Smokes 

Gently, gingerly, her hand pulls me from my pack, sliding me 

between her fingers. 
She brings me to her lips. 

She drags in a slow breath as she touches her flame to me. 
Inhaling my essence into her own bodv, the warmth fills her. 
Her shaking slows, and she relaxes her grip around me. 
She pauses a moment, pondering what I do not know. 
Then she draws in another breath, and another. 
I burn down slowlv, losing myself in her and our surroundings. 
As I reach the end, she rubs me out and walks away. 

— Thomas Diasio 



1 1 




Black and White Photograph - 7.25" x 9.25" 



Catherine Brown - Alicia 



carbon hill (a short, happy life) 

when you leave 
i want to sav: it was easy 
for vou was 
it not 

w r ipe mv own hands clean, lav blame — 
in the half-light i distort 
your image, shrink you 
lace my fingers together, curl over 
your head, trap you against my palm 
trace the subde curve of cheek as 
vou slip along valleys engraven there 
or 

gnash my teeth 
over your weeping eve 
until only pulp remains 
lash out concealed anger 
let fall a steady drip of viscous hatred 
pull you 
down 

with me 
into this impossible longing, 
puerile yearning: say yes ves ves it 
can be done 

when vou leave i will surface in the faces 
of others you meet 
when vou nightmare i 
will be the woman who 
thrust you from her womb 
the woman whose fluttering heart stalls 
a sister 
lover 

confidant 
the girl whose name vou mouthed with 
illicit lips 

choked with a love-cry, a smoldering crush- 
this is not over yet. 

— Leslie Nubv 



The Flute Man's Story 



Mv name is Lamar Roberts, otherwise known as 
the Flute Man. I don't know if you heard of me; I was 
the flute player at Rockefeller's, up until last week. 

I'm a musician; I'm a floutist. Thev say I'm the 
best. That's what I've heard, everywhere I go that's 
what I've heard. I'm the best. I've been plaving the 
flute for 23 years. 

Flute Man loves publicity. Lamar, I don't know 
what he likes. He loves his children. Other than mv 
mother, couple of my sisters, and my, and mv chil- 
dren. . . that's pretty much all I got. 

Right now, my children are fifteen, fourteen, thir- 
teen, twelve, nine, seven, two and a half, and two. 

Homelessness became part of mv life here in Bir- 
mingham. 

I was, urn, battling a crack problem in, well I 
still am, and going to college at Three Rivers Com- 
munity College and carrying a 3.032 grade point av- 
erage with a crack problem and a fiancee and two fami- 
lies. 

One thing I want to get straight is people think 
addiction has got to do with drugs. Addiction does 
not have to do with drugs. It does not have to do 
with alcohol. It doesn't have to do with cigarettes. 
Addiction is a disease; those are just symptoms. 

I've been an addict for thirty vears. I'm thirty- 
four years old. 

That's right. Mv first addiction was large black 
women. It's an addiction. How did I come to that 
realization? Uh, there's a lady. There's a lady when I 
was a kid, and I just thought the sun rose and set in 
her ass, \seuse my language. Excuse my language but 
that's the way it is. And, one day I was sitting on the 
floor, I was sitting on the floor and she didn't see me, 
and she wore dresses all the time. I mean, I was four, 
but I was sitting on the floor on my butt. I was prob- 
ably this high. And she came and she stood right over 
me. She didn't even brow I was standing right next 
to her, and I could see straight up her dress. And. . . 
the things I saw on her, I was just amazed. And then, 
I mean she had, and her legs were bare too. And uh, 
she rubbed, she rubbed, her leg rubbed up against my 
14 



face, that's how she realized I was down there. But 
the feeling I felt, vou know that they sav about love, 
that thev sav love is a feeling that you feel when vou're 
about to feel a feeling that you've never felt before? 
That was the feeling, and I mean I was high, it was a 
high. It was, when I felt her leg rub against mv face, 
I mean it was almost. . . like a high. And she picked 
me up, and I couldn't stop laughing. I mean, I was 
buzzed. I just wanted to do something, to, I don't 
know what. 

So anyway, I've been an addict for thirty years. 
Being an addict means that vou. . . your mind just 
works a little different than other people's. And things 
that seem like thev would be, just everyday rational 
things to do, and uh, and uh, for the addict it's, vou 
know, irrationality is the order of the day, you know. 
Intelligence has nothing to do with it, addicts are 
among the most intelligent in the world. You know, 
uh, Sigmund Freud was an addict. Cocaine. Sigmund 
Freud is the father of cocaine in the United States. He 
brought cocaine to America. He was the one that 
told, put it in! Put it in that soda! That's a good, 
that's a good, that's a good idea. 

Yes. Sigmund Freud got reallv pretty stupid in 
his later years. Yeah, he introduced cocaine, he thought 
cocaine was the wonder drug, vou know, could cure 
so many problems because it gave people such a feel- 
ing of well-being. See, it was a quick fix-it for him, so 
he figured it was good for everyone. But it wasn't. Of 
course, he had a lot of bizarres and ideals, I think he 
had a big, uh, addiction problem in the first place. 
You know, I think he was an addict of all that, way 
back, blaming a lot of things on other people in your 
life instead of looking at yourself. That's what, uh, 
that's what Freud's specialty was, it's just vou. . . it's 
because you hate your mother, cause she never let you 
have a dog or she uh, vour dad beat you because, he 
was that kind of person, he was in that kind of posi- 
tion. 

Uh, vou know, back to me though. Being, uh, 
being a musician has gotten me where, has gotten me 
where I am now, has gotten me to. . . make so many 



comebacks. That's always been mv loophole in lite, 
you know. I mean right now I have nothing, I have 
no clothes, I mean I lost everything, recently. I just 
had, just came back from a broken jaw, I mean a dislo- 
cated jaw, and a broken nose, which is still broken. 
And uh, all that was because of drugs and women. 
You know, I let a woman get me into a position where 
someone snuck in the house while I was having sex 
with her. And that woman I didn't really even know, 
which was really not my style, but being an addict, 
someone's just offering me free sex, sort of welcome 
to the neighborhood type deal and I was like wow! I 
was kinda impressed. So I took it. Not thinking. 
Feeling too good. You know, one thing about being 
an addict, you can't feel too good. And you can't feel 
too sad. You kinda have to, you know, uh, police that. 
And my problem is I have a thing where I like to feel 
too good. And I always end up losing a lot, cause I'm 
not too careful and there's over here, there's the devil 
sending me the big black woman with the big butt. 
And the next thing I know, I'm putting myself in a 
position where I can get hurt, or robbed, or some- 
thing. 

How'd this happen? Okay. I was this close, I 
haven't seen my son in a decade, he doesn't eyen know 
I'm his father, my fourteen year-old son. I finally 
tracked his uncle down, I'm kind of resourceful. They 
all live here now. And I, I moved in with him, and the 
next day I's gonna hopefully get to see mv son. And I 
haven't seen his mother in a decade either, so it was 
gonna be really interesting. So, when the woman, when 
this happened, it was my. . . son's uncle's stuff that got 
stolen. Vacuum cleaner, VCR, mail order, and a few 
other things I guess, But people in his neighborhood 
convinced him that he had, that I had done it, and I 
didn't do it. I was, but I panicked, instead of calling 
police, or something like that, I ran out looking for 
the people. I got back, there was a note on the door 
saving that, "Abu won't be a free man tomorrow," and 
all this whole crazy stuff. So then I found, so then I 
went out and looked for some more and I came back. 
And when I was coming back I saw him, and he was 
coming at me, and there was two other guvs coming 
down behind me in the alley And then when I real- 
ized what was going on, I took off running. Thev 
caught me. All I had on was a pair of shorts, pair of 
tennis shoes, and a t-shirt, and a pair of short, real 
short white socks. They caught me, thev beat me on 
the. . . kicked me, stomped me. I got up, ran, they 
caught me, beat me, and stomped me, and I ran again, 
and they caught me beat me stomped me and I got 



up, and somebody veiled fivc-O and I got up and ran 
and one guy had tripped me. When they yelled five-O 
thev all took off running. Five-O of course means the 
police, you know; like the Hawaii Five-O. That's the 
street thing now. That's police. That's how I ended 
up. I wish I could make him know that's how it hap- 
pened. I was just being a sucker. 

And I was extremely sexually active, as far back 
as I could talk. 

I was, at the age of five I had two girlfriends. 
One was named Tracy Smith, she was my black girl- 
friend, and Theresa Sawyer, she was my white girl- 
friend. And, I w r as over at Theresa Sawver's mother's 
house I guess, mavbe a couple of years ago, and, in 
Springfield, Ohio, she told me, she said, "I remember 
when you asked Theresa if vou could show her your 
thing, and she said, ' Well, I have to ask my momma.' 
She went, and she came and asked me, ' Lamar said, 
can he show me his thing?' " and she said, "No, you 
tell Lamar that he, to go home and to take his thing 
with him." She caught us behind the couch, with our 
pants down rubbing butts, stuff like that, vou know. 
That was at five years old. 

I come from a family of eggheads. So is my wife. 
She's sicker than I am, though. My wife is really sick. 
She gots multiple, she has Multiple Personality Disor- 
der, she's an alcoholic, calls herself a recovering drug 
addict, but she's a alcoholic so I don't, I don't know. I 
know she still drinks. I haven't seen my wife 
since... March? I haven't seen her since March. 

We got married October 12, 1980. She started 
abusing me, uh, April 18, 1981. Emotionally, men- 
tally, physically, uh, what kind of specifics would vou 
like? I lived in a true twilight zone. Mv wife tried to 
kill me with icepicks and, uh, she has a personality 
named Lisa that hates me...uh, I mean she almost hit 
our daughter Miechela with an icepick trying to kill 
me. Miechela jumped in between us, screaming hys- 
terically stop! stop! stop! and when she almost hit 
Miechela with the icepick I just picked her up and 
pinned her against the wall. I told her, I said you're 
gonna have to stop this right now or else I'm gonna 
have to kill you. I wasn't, there was nothing else I 
could think of to do. Mv wife abused me over ten 
years, she made me feel like a ghost in my own house. 
If I said the sky was blue, she'd get someone else and 
say "Hev! What color is the sky?" My wife really made 
mv life a pure hell. Uh, that's how cocaine came into 
the picture, in a way. I found this stuff, I said, "Oh, 
Ginger would love this!" And I found out Ginger 
was crazy about it. And that made it. I was, at that 



IS 



point I was so far gone, trying to grab on to some sort 
of life board for my marriage. 

It was October, October 12, 1987, uh this was 
when she started smoking. I went into a $4736 a 
week treatment center on December the 26th, 1987. 
I staved for seven davs, then I woke up. I had a night- 
mare all that night, and uh, I called my bodyguard, 
this is in Atlanta, I said, "Troy, come and get me 11 ... 

And when he got there, I said, "We need to hurrv 
and get to the house. Ginger got my check." I made 
like S615 a week take home, and uh, Ginger had my 
check, and was having a crack parts'. The dream was 
real. I dreamed where the party was, I dreamed the 
people who were at the party, I dreamed evervthing 
that happened. And it all happened. When I got home, 
Ginger had $240, had paid no bills, had bought no 
groceries. I said, "Do you know what I have to do 
now? I have to take this money and go buy crack with 
it! So I can sell it, so I can make this money back. 

So anyhow, anyway. Being married to the wicked 
witch was defmitelv a bad thing. 1 used to have women 
come up to me and offer to sleep with me because 
thev know how bad my wife treated me. See, our sex 
life was also hell. This was the equivalent to foreplav 
and evervthing else, "Come on, hurry up, let's get this 
over with before I... change my mind." Mv wife was 
verv wicked, wicked. Well, not was, she is. She just 
had a baby by her twenty year-old boyfriend. That's 
her seventh child, her ninth pregnancy. We had six 
children. 

I should start this from the beginning, I'm sorry. 
I lived, I'm from Springfield, Ohio, I was a profes- 
sional musician in Ohio. I was born in Springfield, 
Ohio, into a family of eggheads. My father worked 
for International Harvesters for thirtv-eight years, and, 
uh, he also sold real estate. We had a very extremelv 
comfortable life. And he owned properties and I 
worked on the properties. Mv lather and I were among 
the vers' first of the YMCA Indian Guides program, 
started back in the sixties. Fathers and sons: pals for- 
ever. Mv father was, when people ask you, they say, 
"Who's your hero? 11 I never really grew up with he- 
roes, but my hero was mv dad. Mv dad was a hell of a 
man. He was hard and soft, he was smart, he was uh, 
naive. He was old fashioned, he believed that time 
could stand still. He was a mystery, yet he stayed com- 
pletely in reality. 

I started out life with two sisters and two broth- 
ers; today I have three sisters and one brother. All of 
daem older. In 1986 I found out I had a sister I didn't 
lmow I had. Mv oldest brother turned gay, no my 



second oldest brother turned gay, and my other brother 
died in Vietnam. 

So, anyway, at the age of, well, at the age often 
or eleven, I saw 7 mv brother spending a hundred dol- 
lars a day on heroin. I said, if I get one person like 
him, and I figured if, I figured like a hundred percent 
markup, I said I could, I could make a fortune. Yeah. 
One person is gonna spend a hundred dollars a week 
on a drug, I said, in the seventies, that could make me 
rich! So greed was always part, you know, big part of 
it, part of being an addict. 

Todav I should say that I am on the recovery, so 
a lot of those things aren't part of me todav, because a 
lot of mv knowledge is starting to become wisdom. 
You know it's a damn shame that it took me to end up 
in the Salvation Army 

Anyway so I started selling drugs at the age of 
twelve. I started selling pills, and of course everything 
had to be reallv clever and elaborate. I didn't stand on 
the street corner selling drugs, so I came into pills. 

I was doing evervthing in an organized fashion. 
I was a drug dealer, not a drug pusher. I had a paper 
route, and even though I lived in a middle class to 
upper middle class neighborhood, I had drug addicts 
on my paper route. I had 120 customers, so it wasn't 
easy. I sold drugs on my paper route to the customers. 
And uh, I always kept fairly large amounts of mari- 
juana so, you know, sometimes I'd even sell a little bit 
of that, if someone just asked me about it. But bv the 
age of thirteen I had graduated to selling heroin, which 
was my objective in the first place. I set up a shooting 
gallery, which is a place where you sell heroin, and the 
people shoot the heroin, md sir there and lie, .md slob- 
ber on themselves. And uh, of course then that meant 
I had to earn' a gun. 

Guns are easy, just like that, just like now you 
could go buy a gun from anyone. And, you know, if 
you're an organized drug dealer, getting a gun was 
like, I need a gun, I need a snub-nosed thirty-eight, or 
I coulda said I wanted solid nickel, someone would 
have made sure that's what I had. Cause money is not 
the only thing we got, it's power. You know, you could, 
power is a primitive mind. As long as vou present your- 
self as powerful, people will look at you as something, 
someone with power. 

Yeah. It's all just part of the. ..it's all bullshit. 
What did Eddie Murphy say? "Being a cop is all bullshit 
and experience." Yeah, bullshit and experience. Even 
if you don't have experience, vou can bullshit experi- 
ence. If you know just enough about anvthing, or 
you can pick up on things real quick, you can bullshit. 



16 



They call it ' Fake it till vou make it. 1 You can do that 
in just about any situation in life. I worked for a mar- 
keting firm. I didn't know anything about marketing. 
I told them I said, well last year I made $300,000 
selling marijuana, and I gave S25(),()0() to corrupt of- 
ficials. But the point was they were kinda impressed 
with diat, that from March to August I could make 
$300,000. 

I started out telemarketing, and I moved up 
to Marketing Specialist, and that meant I would babysit 
clients, stuff like that. Rut vou know, just being an 
ideal man. It's easy. It's really easy. 

Bv fourteen, I had shot a man, at close range. I 
mean, I probably shot a few, in gun battles. You know 
cause uh, heroin's very territorial. It's not like crack 
where you fight for blocks, where you're standin'...no, 
heroins a, customers are territory And if you sell, if I 
take part of your clientele you're a really big business 
man. If I take enough of vour clientele away, it'll start 
being a problem. You know, people will start to try to 
get rid of vou. 

It's big business, it really is. It's sad that drugs 
have to be such a big business, but we unfortunately 
have a drug-laden culture. Drugs are everywhere in 
the United States. People take drugs to wake up, to 
go to sleep, to make them feel things that thev could 
feel all bv themselves. We take drugs to medicate. But 
then, I wish I had realized this way back then. I would 
have never started. 

And, at the age of fourteen I got out of the drug 
business. Cause it's not like the mafia. I was just 
fourteen, I could walk away I was just a kid. And uh, 
it was mv organization, so it was kind of easy. And, at 
the age of fifteen, I was accused of federal bank fraud. 
The FBI had me take thousands of handwriting tests. 
I cried and cussed 'em out, cause I was supposed to be 
the victim but they were making it like I was the sus- 
pect. Then I told mv dad, who was like, very influen- 
tial in the community and he went down there and he 
went off on them and I didn't tell him I had already 
went off on them. So I made him look kind of fool- 
ish, in a way He understood me being upset, but be- 
came home and he went off on me. 

Oh, I did get a whipping, when I was four years 
old, for smoking a cigarette. My dad was cool, he 
smoked cigarettes. I just wanted to see what it was 
like. I took a cigarette and lit it on the stove and went 
outside to swing. After a while I heard a door slam, 
so I threw that cigarette on the ground, stubbed it 
with mv foot and kept on swingin'. Next thing I knew 
I was airborne, in the house, and at the phone stand. 



And, uh, my lather beat my ass. 

I started smoking on March 28, 1972. In fact, 
that's the first time I ever got high off of chemicals. I 
smoked my first joint, my first cigarette, well, offi- 
cially for the next six years. What else? Oh, I did 
some coke. Seemed like I did a blue tip, I took my 
first drink of wine. I hate alcohol; vou can't pay me to 
drink alcohol. 

I mean I did drink it though, as a teenager, you 
know, now and then, a couple of swallows out of a 
bottle. When I was standin' around with mv buddies. 
I remember a time when I was a teenager and we used 
to drink wine and go to fights. We'd take the wine 
and go up behind someone cause vou know they're all 
hvped up, watching everyone fight. You walk bv some- 
body you just keep on walking bv, vou don't stop. 
You SLAP somebody across the back of the head, and 
vou keep on walking. Thev turn around and what do 
you think they dor They hit the first person thev see. 
that's exactly what happened. And we would just do 
that, we'd just walk along and POW! and then we'd 
get a little further down and POW! and by the time 
we walk through the crowd, there's at least ten more 
new fights. And we'd just stand on the outside and 
drink our wine and say look, aren't they silly! We'd 
just crack up, cause we were bad people. Yeah, we 
were bad people. That was when I was in junior high, 
you know, that was kid stuff to me. 

You know, hopping the fence at the game when 
you got a pocket full of money they finally catch vou 
and they put you out, and then you just pay your way 
in and laugh at 'em. Stuff like that, weird stuff. The 
ambulance people would let you in a lot, let vou sneak 
in the ambulance. I got into games very successfully 
when I had a pocket full of money. Course, I had $50 
grand in Swiss bank accounts. 

That was when I was selling heroin, at thirteen, 
fourteen . that's another story altogether. I lost that 
money It's still there in the bank account, I lost it in 
the account. I was fourteen when I lost it. Who cares? 
Money is something that is like time. You always have 
it until it's gone. You know, you always have time 
until vou don't anymore. And when you don't have 
time anymore, you're laying in a box, four feet under- 
ground. Thev don't bury people six feet deep any- 
more. Four feet under the ground, holding your breath 
forever. 

Fifteen, federal bank fraud, okay we're past that. 
After that I tried to be a pretty normal kid for the next 
two or three years. I grew a beard at the age of fifteen, 
no I wasn't normal! 



r 



Come to think of it. At the age of fifteen is also 
when I learned to run big cons, uh, real estate cons. 
How to sell real estate that doesn't belong to vou. I 
worked for this team of con men and ladies. Thev had 
this real estate con going and thev taught me how to 
do it because I caught them trying to sell property 
that my father was selling legitimately. Thev asked 
me, "What do vou want?" I said I want vou to teach 
me what you know, so that's how I learned how to do 
cons. 

These people, they didn't really sell real estate. 
Thev set up a real estate office in town, get so many 
deposits, and break. Get out of town. Go to another 
town. 

I did that for about three months. Then, at the 
age of sixteen, oh I forgot to tell you. I'm a trained 
masseur. See, my mother always said I tried to do too 
many things at once. At the age of twelve, I learned 
how, I started training to give massages. For the next 
eighteen months I trained with this African guv. I 
give the best massages. I just didn't think it would be 
a good thing to try to do here in Birmingham. 

Mv major in school was music. Of course. Some- 
thing I could just take home with me and drop mv 
bookbag at the door and go lay down and get up and 
still get a A. 

Being, I don't know, being a musician, it's not so 
much what I do, it's who I am. It's no matter what 
anvone's taken from me, or what Fve taken from my- 
self, that's the one thing that's always remained con- 
sistent in mv life since Fve been a professional musi- 
cian. Well, I say all mv adult life. I'd say, for the last, 
at least half my life, I've been a professional, quality 
musician. 

So at the age of five I met Duke Ellington. And 
Duke Ellington told me something Fve carried with 
me. Fve tried to use it all through my life. And it's a 
good piece of advice, but it's not advice, it's a fact. He 
said, "I want you to always remember, before you can 
plav the songs that you wanna play, you're gonna have 
to plav a whole bunch of stuff you don't want to plav." 
You know, vou can't play what you want to play at 
first, you play what thev want you to plav. Then vou 
can play what you want to plav That's, that's, that's a 
fact of life, that's a universal law, and anvone who gets 
around that is just fortunate. 

I have severe ID problems, identification prob- 
lems. I don't have a regular job. I would be playing 
music, I need a flute so bad. Fve had twentv-five flutes 
of my own. The reason that Rockefeller's kept the 
flute is because I haven't payed for it yet. I used to 



come home to the Salvation Armv in a white limo. I 
started in December and it all ended just this Monday. 



The following is from an interview with Harry 
Keplinger, Jr., the General Manager of Rockefeller's 
on 20th Street South in Birmingham, where Lamar 
plaved as the Flute Man from December to mid- Janu- 
ary. The interview took place on Januarv 26, 1995, 
almost a week after the interview with Lamar. 

What Keplinger said helped me to both under- 
stand and verifv a lot of what Lamar had said because 
he backed up the story that Lamar told me. I wasn't 
sure how much I could believe until I heard from an- 
other person who knew Lamar that some of his sto- 
ries were very true. Keplinger spoke freelv about his 
brief professional relationship with Lamar and praised 
his musical talent, but not the way he lived his life. 

Keplinger said he sometimes takes in homeless 
people and gives them some food and a chance to work, 
if thev seem capable. Lamar approached him in De- 
cember and arranged such a deal. 

HK: He was very well spoken, urn, he started 
name dropping. He knew lames Yerby, the guy I had 
in here who was the band at the time. And, then he 
asked if James were here, and James wasn't here at that 
time in the daytime. Then he asked me what he would 
have to do to get a meal, and, because he knew James 
and because of his, the wav he carried himself and spoke 
I invited him in and told him I just, you know, I fed 
him from next door. And then I called James up and 
got him down here so that he could, uh, so that we 
could see about trving to help him out, get him off 
the, you know, get him on his feet. He told me he had 
a crack problem, he spoke honestlv. So then, we made 
arrangements and got him, paid him a little bit of 
monev. You know you can't give them too much 
money when thev Ye been down, because then thev go 
right back down. And, we all tried to work with him, 
and everv week there was a different story after pay 
day Any time he came into money, I think he's still 
doing stuff. He would be the last one to admit it. But 
then the last, the last thing was, uh, he'd moved in 
with this guy, and the guy kept calling all day The guy 
had said he'd stole all his stuff. Did Lamar tell you all 
that? 

ALF: Yeah, he did. 

HK: And then the guy beat him up. 

ALF: Yeah, he told me all that. 

HK: Then, I have a business to run, I can't, you 



is 



know I can only go so far. I mean, we, we, I tried to 
work with him for about a, I guess over a month. 
Renting a room and trying to, I got him a flute, I still 
own the flute. It's in there in the drawer. 

ALF: Yeah, he told me that because he hadn't 
paid for it, it was still there. 

HK: That's all, all that's true. 

ALF: And, when exactly was it that he came to 
you, or that you found him? 

HK: Urn, I really am not very good with dates. 

ALF: A couple of weeks or a month? 

HK: It's been over a month, Uh, it was back 
before Christmas. 

It was back probably around the fifteenth of De- 
cember. 

ALF: Aid when was it that he quit with you, 
or. . . 

HK: It's been a couple of weeks. 

ALF: A couple of weeks? 

HK: It was the night that he called. The guy had 
been calling us, hassling us all day about the, about 
wanting Lamar. He said he'd stole all his stuff, and uh 
I had too much going on, and too many other people 
depending on us to keep on keeping on. 

ALF: Okay, I sat down with him the other dav at 
the Salvation Army and did an interview with him 
and he was telling me all of this, and our interview got 
cut short because they had to close up the office we 
were sitting in, so he didn't get a chance to tell me all 



about Rockefeller's. He told me that he had played 
there and that he just, he kept referring to himself as 
the Flute Man... 

HK: Yeah, what that deal was, I was in the 
office and I told my Club Manager Bern; I told him 
to call Lamar up here so I could, you know so I could 
get with him, and he said Lamar four or five times. 
Lamar was sitting at the bar and just didn't hear 
him. I said, "Holler Flute Man." The second he said 
Flute Man, Lamar turned, "Yes?" So, obviously, that's 
what he felt better with. 

ALF: Right. That's what he saw himself as. 

HK: Yeah. 

ALF: That's cool. Was he really good? 

HK: Yes. He was very good with the flute, very 
good Flute Man. If it wasn't for the, uh, drugs, uh, 
he'd be a great asset to himself and to society in gen- 
eral. But he's got a drug problem. 

ALF: Do you think if he gets clean, he'll be able 
to, v'all might want him back? 

HK: Do you think he will get clean? Do you 
think he can get clean? 

ALF: I honestly don't know, I... 

HK: I don't think so. 

ALF: I don't think so, just the story he was tell- 
ing me, I mean the history he's got with it... 

HK: He'll newer be clean. 

— Allyson Fertitta 



19 



BSC 

Once there was a man who lived in outer space. 

He did not know diis; For 

He did not know he was alone. 

He never made a hit movie, or 

Wrote a best-selling novel. 

In fact, he didn't do anything. 

He just lived there. 

One day he met a man 

Who was not from outer space 

With a giant red hair barette. 

the man from outer space looked at him 

The strange man looked back ( He 

Was from Clarkenwellc). 

The man from outer space said "Hello 11 . 

The strange man said something back, 

But the man from outer space didn't understand. 

He turned his head and the 

strange man vanished. 

The man from outer space lived there; 

He didn't write books or make movies. 

he didn't know he was alone, 

Because he was alone and had no awareness of it. 

He loved his cat, the Lord. 

— Johnathan Edwards 



20 



Meanie 



The last time I saw William was ten years ago. 

We were both living at the Hospitality House 
shelter for women and children in north Birmingham. 

It was a Saturday morning, and we were playing 
outside in the backyard— patches of coarse grass nearly 
covered by a portable utility shed and a swingset, and 
a square of gravel with enough room for about three 
cars. The whole yard was surrounded by a chain-link 
fence. 

Saturdays had always been me and William's day 
to do some serious playing. 

Summer refused to leaye— just like it always does 
in Alabama. September was just as bad as August. 
Already the temperature had reached 80 degrees, and 
bv noon it promised to reach at least 95. And it was 
awfully humid— Mama used to say that humidity does 
to the air what flour does to chicken broth. 

Rut the heat usually made me happy, because— if 
it was an especially hot Saturday— Miss Ann would let 
us turn on the sprinkler for at least a half-hour after 
lunch. Since school had started, though, William didn't 
want to play in the water with me. He'd been saying 
it was sissy and that playing in the sprinkler is a little 
kid's game. It sure takes away a lot of the fun of sprin- 
klers when you don't have anybody to nan with through 
the water. 

Just now, though, we were sitting on the rotting 
back steps listening to William's new bright yellow 
transistor radio, and I was checking for exotic worms 
and spiders underneath the stones in the prickly grass. 

We looked up at the same time at the group of 
about live young bovs--two white and three black- 
walking by outside the gate. They were yelling loud 
calls at me, like "Hey, baby you lookin' fine," and 
"Ummm Ummm Good, girl, that's what you are." I 
blushed and bowed my head between my knees. I 
couldVe gotten up and gone into die house, hut I 
wouldn't want to risk looking stupid in front of any 
kind of boy-especiallv junior high boys. 



After the boys passed, we sat there in silence for 
what seemed like ten minutes. 

"Man, those dudes are bad," said William. 

"Yeah," I said. 

I never argued with William. He was a whole 
two years older than me and a lot taller and much 
cooler. I knew he only played with me because I was 
the only other kid at the home. He'd never said it, but 
I think he liked me because I was the only friend he 
had who let him have his way all the time. Plus, even 
none of the boys in his grade liked to catch lightning 
bugs or worms or spiders and keep them in jars as 
pets. 

We'd spent most of the summer collecting jars 
for our bugs--we figured peanut butter jars would do 
the best, so we ate so much peanut butter that Miss 
Ann had to buy a new jar just about every week, and 
when she wan't looking, one of us would sneak the jar 
from the trash. I don't think she would've gotten mad, 
but we pretended she would so our scheme would be 
more fun. William was great at schemes, and he taught 
me a lot that summer about how to be sneaky when 
you want something that's against the rules. 

But lately William didn't want to look for bugs 
or even sneak into Miss Ann's chest of drawers and 
look at her huge bras. He was getting to be real bor- 
ing. 

"I'm bored," he said. 

"Me, too. What do you want to dor" 

"I want to get out of this stupid place-that's what 
I want to do." 

William turned his head and looked at the house. 
He looked at it like he'd just declared it his most hated 
enemy. 

"Don't know why that old Miss Ann won't let us 
play outside this yard. She just don't want us to have 
no fun." 

I didn't understand William. Ever since school 
had started, he'd been talking real bad about Miss Ann 



21 



and his mama and his teachers. 

"Mv teacher's a big fat bitch," he would say, or 
""Miss Ann sure does have a big ass and a big mouth," 
or "Man, my mama don't know shit about nothin'." 

I had been agreeing with him when he talked like 
this, partly because he scared me a little bit, and partly 
because I was hoping he'd forget about how much he 
hated them so we could have an adventure or some- 
thing. 

But this time I looked up at him and asked, "Why 
vou got to always talk bad about everybody?" 

"Look, kid, it's a part of growin' up— you start to 
see that all these people that is telling you what to do 
ain't always right. They ain't perfect, but they cop this 
attitude where thev think nobody's right but them and 
they can just order everybody around like a slave." 

"Yeah," I said. 

William sure was different than he was in the 
summer. And real mean sometimes, for no reason at 
all. One time I brought home a balloon from school- 
-Beckv Smithers' mom had brought them and some 
cupcakes for our class because it was Becky's birthday 
My balloon was red, and it said HAPPY BIRTHDAY 
in big black letters. There were only two red ones in 
the whole bunch, and me and Tommy Barnett got to 
them first. 

I was going to keep my balloon in my room and 
tie it to my bed, but when I showed it to William, he 
took out his pocket knife and popped it. The explo- 
sion startled me, and when I looked down my balloon 
was nothing but little shreds of red rubber on the gravel. 
I cried, but William told me he'd beat me up if I told 
on him. I could already tell today would probably be 
another day like the balloon day. 

William stood up and walked over to the utility 
shed. He came back with a beat-up volleyball that he 
started throwing against the side of the house. 

William sure frowns a lot lately He's getting an 
up-and-down crease between his eves. I wonder if 
William likes me at all anymore. I wonder if William 
will ditch me for a group of ugh" bovs. 

"Hey, William," I called/ ' 

"What?" he snapped. He was standing there 
frowning. His face was flushed, and the glow of pink 
peeked out from under his mass of freckles, making 
his skin blend in with his shaggy, rust-colored hair. 
His eyes were fixed on me. He looked like a cartoon 
character, and he stood with his weight on his left leg, 
balancing the volleyball on his right hip. 

"Are you friends with those bovs that walked by?" 



"Mavbe." 

I licked the sweat off my upper lip. "You better 
watch out. My mama said bovs that walk around to- 
gether veiling at people like that are no good— she savs 
they're in a gang." 

"Yeah, well, I can't say nothin' about no gangs." 

"Why not?" 

"I just can't say nothin' "bout diat. Nope, nothin'." 
He just stood there looking at me for a minute— then 
he started throwing the ball against the house again. 

By this time I had watched enough soap operas 
and had enough experience with kids at school to know 
that if I acted uninterested, people would usually tell 
me what they said thev weren't going to tell. 

"Oh. OK. I'm gonna go inside and get some 
coke." 

"Yeah. You wouldn't understand about all diat 
gang stuff anyway. You're just a little kid." William 
was testing me. 

"I don't care about it anyway You probably don't 
even know nothin' anyway." I was fighting back this 
time. I was doubting him to his face. I hoped he 
couldn't see how nervous I was. 

"Yes, I do, little girl." William walked over to 
die steps and stood there, still staring at me. 

"I know more than you could ever dream of 
knowing," he said. 

"Oh, yeah? How?" 

"Man, you girls, vou think it's all so simple. But 
it ain't. See, I joined a gang, and..." 

I sat there looking at him. I rolled my eves. Sweat 
was tickling the small of my back and the backs of my 
knees. I knew he was getting ready to tell me some 
kind of story. 

"You know, I just wanted to fit in, to be part of a 
group. It just seemed like the thing to do, I was just 
bored with school and everything so it seemed like the 
thing to do. Plus, people like us-we got it extra hard 
L cause we're homeless. We're shelter kids— we gotta try 
hard to fit in, 'cause we don't got what a lot of kids 
got. Gangs is a good way to fit in." 

"Are you still in it?" 

"Nope." 

"Why not?" 

"Well, see, I got tired of it. But they got a rule 
that savs you can't get out once you're in, so I had to 
pretend to die." 

"You had to do what:" 

"Pretend to die. See, I was runnin' from 'em, 
and they shot at me, and the bullet hit me in the chest. 
Only, I had this blood pack on and it was full of fake 



22 



blood, and when thev shot me it busted and I just Laid 
there and they thought I was dead." 

"Well, didn't thev see you at school the next day?" 

"Nope. This was last year, when I went to Lin- 
coln. The next day my mama let me go to Lake Hills 
school. 11 

"Wow. 11 I was impressed. "Hey—don't people in 
gangs do drugs? That's what my third grade teacher 
told us last year." 

"Oh, yeah. I mean, you gotta at least try some 
stuff" before they'll let you in, you know, to see if you 
can hack it." 

"Drugs are bad. They kill you." 

"No thev don't, stupid. Not if you just do 'em a 
few times." 

I sat there staring at the ground. 

"Do you know anybody that's died for real? 11 

"Yeah, I know a nine-year-old guy that got shot. 
He's in the hospital right now; and they're doing an 
autopsy." 

"What's that?" 

"It's when thev cut your body open and take out 
all vour parts and look at 'em to see if you had any 
drugs in you." 
" "Did he?" 

"Oh, yeah. See, he got shot because he didn't 
"pay up" to some guvs for his drugs." 

"That was mean. Why didn't they give him 
awhile to pay them back?" 

""Cause they wanted the money then." 

"Well, my mama says sometimes if you owe some- 
body a lot of money they let you pay it back a little bit 
at a time, like the people at the bank." 

"This wasn't no bank, dummy. Besides, he'd 
spend any money he got on drugs." 

"What drugs did he do?" 

"Oh, everything. Crack and even-thing." 

"Didn't his mama know?" 

"No, she didn't know nothin' til he got killed." 

"Who shot him?" 

"The people he owed the money to, idiot!" 

"Oh." I could tell I had aggravated William. I 
was tired of talking about drugs anyway I wanted to 
play in the basement. 

"Hev--vou want to go exploring in the base- 
ment? 11 

"Nah. I'm tired of doin 1 that." 

Silly boy! How can you get tired of going to the 
basement? I love to sneak into the dark, cool, base- 
ment. There are all kinds of old relics, like old news- 
papers and old boxes full of stuff, and building materi- 



als like doors and window panes stacked against the 
walls. It's the best place for an adventure. Plus, there's 
this little room that we always go into--alwavs acting 
like we're just exploring— and when we get in it we 
pull down our pants and look at each other. Some- 
times we take all our clothes off. 

I have fantasies about going down there after 
school with Jeffrey Sinister and kissing. French kiss- 
ing. And nobody knows we're there, so we can kiss 
for hours. I usually think about this when I'm King 
awake at night. It helps me get to sleep. 

"You're no fun anymore," I said. 

"Well, I just don't want to play vour stupid little 
games anymore." 

"Oh, come on. Please? Let's go explore. I'll let 
vou be the good guv" 

William was silent for a minute or two. I could 
tell he was thinking real hard. 

"OK. The only way I'll play is if you be my slave." 

"What?" 

"You have to be my slave and do anything I tell 
you to do. That's the only way I'm gonna play. Take 
it or leave it." He crossed his arms and cocked his 
head to the left side. 

"It'll be fun," he said. 

"Whv do I have to be your slave?" 

"Because I want you to. It'll be fun. We can 
pretend that I'm Batman and you're Robin--like, you're 
my partner, but I get to tell you what to do." 

Since he'd brought up Batman and Robin, I re- 
laxed a little. We always had fun playing Batman and 
Robin. Anvwav, William always told me what to do 
and I usually did it— like going to get the football or 
asking permission from Miss Ann to watch her TV 
This time wouldn't be an\ T different. Plus, I like the 
colors in Robin's costume better than Batman's. 

"Hey kids, lunch is reach;" called Miss Ann from 
the kitchen window; 

"OK," I said to William. "We'll play it after 
lunch." 

"Yeah. Whatever." 

We both ran inside the back door into the kitchen. 
Mv mouth watered at the sight of peanut butter and 
jelly sandwiches and potato chips on the table on pa- 
per plates. I would never get tired of peanut butter, 
even though William and I didn't need any more jars 
(we had eight). 

We wolfed down our sandwiches and chips. 
"I hate milk," said William. "I want some 
coke." 



23 



"No, sir. You have to drink milk with vour 
lunch. You can have coke with vour snack this after- 
noon," said Miss Ann. 
"That's stupid." 

"You better watch that sassy mouth, young 
man, or I'll send vou straight to your room for the 
afternoon." 

I looked him straight in the eves. I raised mv 
eyebrows and gritted my teeth, reminding him of our 
game. 

Just shut up and drink your milk. Why do 
vou always have to argue? Why do vou always have to 
be right? You're gonna mess up our day Please just 
shut up for the rest of lunch. 

William took three sips of his milk and got 
up from the table. I followed him. 

"I'm sick of peanut butter," he said as we ap- 
proached the back door. 

Miss Ann pretended not to hear him. "Will- 
iam," she said sweetly, "on your way outside, would 
you please take this old crib mattress out to the 
dumpster?" 

"OK," he said, and he carried the mattress 
out the back door. Then, instead of taking it to the 
trash, he threw it under the back steps and said, "Fll 
do it later. She pissed me off." 

I want to tell you that you'll get in trouble if 
vou don't do it now. I want to do it for you, so our 
afternoon doesn't get ruined. But I kind of admire the 
way you act so cool and tough and don't care, and it 
makes me wish I was cool, too. 

We walked around to the side of the house 
and down the steps to the basement door. It was al- 
ways unlocked. The latch was broken-Miss Ann had 
been saying for months that she was gonna get Mr. 
Jackson to come fix it. 

We stepped inside onto the cool, concrete 
floor. There wasn't much light, except from three little 
windows. William walked straight into the little room. 
He turned around and told me to come on and I said 
we should at least pretend we're looking for the bad 
guvs because Batman and Robin were always looking 
for bad guvs. He said OK, we're looking for the Joker, 
so come on. 

I followed him into the little room. There 
was one tiny window, half of which was covered with 
a board. I could barely see him. 

"OK. Don't forget: you're my slave. You have 
to do what I say." 

All I want to do is play pull-down pants, I 
thought. I don't know why I have to be a slave. Wil- 



liam sure has gotten weird. 

"OK. Pull your pants oft." 

"You have to, too," I said. By now mv eves were 
adjusting to the darkness, and I could see his outline 
and I could almost make out his facial features. 

"No, I don't." William deepened his voice and 
said, "Do as I say slave." 

I don't like this, I thought. Why do I have to be 
so agreeable all the time? Why do I always have to be 
the one to give in? 

I pulled down my pants and mv panties. Thev 
dropped down around my ankles. 

Batman moved closer to me and stood about two 
inches from me. He said, "You have to let me do this. 
Robin always has to let Batman do whatever he wants." 
The next thing I knew I was on the ground on my 
back. 

"Ouch! That hurts!" I said. 

William was sticking his finger somewhere I 
didn't even know I had, and it felt like he was cutting 
my flesh open with a razor. 

I wish you would stop this. This doesn't make 
me get that throbbing feeling like when we look at 
each other or look at Playboys. This hints. 

I started crying. He still wouldn't stop, so I 
started screaming. He covered my mouth with his 
other hand. I hit him on the back and then I started 
punching at his face. He took his hand away from 
down there just long enough so he could grab my arms 
and pin them to the floor with his knees. Evil hand 
again. 

Oh God this hurts. I'm gonna have to get sur- 
gery to get sewn back together. 

William took out his finger and took his other 
hand off my mouth. I started to let out a scream, but 
he slapped me hard on the left cheek. 

"You're a stupid girl. If you don't know how to 
play fair, then you shouldn't play at all. If vou go and 
tell anybody about today I'll get a gun and I'll kill 
vou, I will. You're no fun at all. Sissy Crybaby Little 
bitch." 

Bv this time, I could see William's face clearly, 
his crooked teeth, straight mouth, and a small nose 
that turned up slightly on the end. He was wearing 
that frown, and he had red splotches all over his face 
and neck. 

"I'm not your friend anymore," I said. "I wish 
you would die or move away." 

"Well, I don't care. You've never been my friend, 
so I wouldn't care ifyou jumped off a cliff today You 
can't even play fair." 



24 



William stormed out of the little room and I heard 
the basement door shut. 

That afternoon I stayed in my room and cried for 
a long time. Mv room was upstairs. Everybody else 
was either gone somewhere or downstairs, so nobody 
could even hear me wailing. I cried so loud it made 
mv throat hurt, but nobodv came to check on me. I 
don't know what I would've said if somebody had come 
up and asked what was wrong, because I figured Wil- 
liam would stand true to his promise to kill me if I 
ratted. 

I pulled out my black tape recorder—the one I 
got for mv ninth birthdav--and I rewound the tape 
that was in it. It was a tape of me pretending to be a 
disc jockev and doing commercials. I pushed record 
and plav and sobbed into the microphone. 

I hate you because you are meaner than anybody 
I know, I thought. You used to be my friend but now 
I hate vou. You 1 re the ugliest, meanest bov in the whole 
world. I wish vou would die. 

I woke up two hours later. I was still hurting. 
My hair was plastered to the right side of my face, and 
my neck was sweaty. I stood up and I had to pec. It 
burned bad when it came out, like when I had a blad- 
der infection last year. 

I went back to my room and shut the door. I 
was bored. I wanted someone to play with, but I 
wouldn't dare go downstairs. I pulled out the box of 
papers I had saved—old junk mail and receipts Mama 
or Miss Ann had let me have— and I played bank. I got 
tired of that, so then I made price tags out of torn-up 
notebook paper and put them on everything in the 
room. I pretended to talk to customers and to take 
their monev. Then I pretended I was the cashier at the 
movies— all the movies were "R" rated, so I pretended 
to turn lots of children away. I even made a sign out 
of construction paper that said R RATED: NOBODY 
YOUNGER THAN 17 ALLOWED. 

I had to pee again. I walked down the hall to the 
bathroom, but this time the door was locked. 

"Hurry up, I gotta go!" I said. 

"Shut up," William said from inside. 

B-v now I didn't even care about what he'd done. 
Sure, I was still scared of him, but I also knew that I 
couldn't make it to the downstairs bathroom. 

"Hum'! Hurry! Pleeeeeze! I really have to go 
bad!" 

Silence. He is just trving to make me mad. Prob- 
ably just standing at the door laughing. He wants me 
to pee in mv pants. 



Just then an explosion went off in the bathroom. 
It startled me so bad I almost peed. 

"Whaf're you doing in there? You better hurry, 
or I'll tell Miss Ann that you wouldn't let me in the 
bathroom!" 

Miss Ann ,\m.\ my mama and William's mama all 
rushed up the stairs, like three sweet potatoes running 
a relav race. Mama had on her robe and her hair was 
in curlers, and William's mama was wiping her hands 
on her green polvester housedress. Miss Ann looked 
at me as she untied her dirty apron and laid it on the 
stair case. "What happened?" she said slowlv, and when 
I just stood there, she veiled, "What was that noise?" 

I am peeing now. I can't stop. It's running down 
mv legs into mv socks. My ears are still ringing from 
the explosion. 

I started crying, half because I was scared of get- 
ting in trouble for peeing in my pants, and half be- 
cause I was scared they thought I'd made that noise. 

"I don't know," I said. "It came from William." 
I pointed to the Bathroom door. "It's locked. I was 
just waitin' to pee." 

Miss Ann knocked on the door and said, "Will- 
iam? Honey? What are vou doing in there?" 

Silence. Oh he's doing it to them, too. He's not 
gonna let anybody in the bathroom all night. He just 
wants attention. 

William's mother stuck the side of her head to 
the door. "William?" she called. "What are you plav- 
ing with in there? Are you playing with a gun?" 

Silence. Whatever that noise was, I thought, I 
hope he hurt himself real good. Mavbe he died. Then 
we'd be rid of him. Meanie. 

Miss Ann rushed back up the stairs with an icepick 
in hand, breathing fast and hard as she hurried to the 
bathroom door. She poked the icepick into the hole 
in the doorknob. She wiggled it from side to side and 
then she pushed the handle hard with the palm of her 
hand. The pick thrust into the lock and the door flew 
open. 



William was lying stomach-down in a big pool 
of red. There was even red splattered on the wall. But 
I was onlv able to get a glimpse for a second or two; 
it's hard to get a good look at something when the 
huge, round hips and thighs of three grown-up women 
are blocking your view. 

Mama turned and shoved me to the top of the 
stairwav before I could see any more. Miss Ann started 
sobbing. William's mama just stood there staring at 



25 



him. 

"Mama, William's just fakirf it. He's done that 
before-vou know, acted dead. He probably got a blood 
pack and busted it on top of his head so we'd think he 
died. 11 

Mama came over to me and put her arm around 
my shoulder, nudging me to go down the stairs. "'No, 
honey, William is dead. He really did shoot himself in 
the head. 11 

I squirmed out of her reach and crossed my arms 
and pouted my lips, just like Fd seen my favorite soap 
opera actress do when she was in a light with her boy- 
friend. 

"I don't believe you, 33 I said, "William's too stu- 
pid to do something like that." Besides, I thought, 
twelve-year-olds don't kill themselves. The only people 
I ever hear of doing that are old people. I know he 
faked it all just so he could see me wet my pants. 

"Go downstairs, honey, and take a bath and 
change clothes." 

"Mom, I'm trying to tell you it's a joke!" 

"Go downstairs NOW!" Mama screamed. 

I was going to keep arguing, but by this time my 
legs were sticking together and my pee was starting to 
smell, so I gave in and went to get a bath. 

As I ran my bathwater, I was thinking What if 
William really killed himself? Is it my fault for wish- 
ing it? Mavbe so, but the world's a better place with- 
out stupid people like him. 

He deserved it. There wasn't any s^ood in that 
kid. 

Now every time I hear about somebodv killing 
themself, I think how they must've done something 
bad to deserve it and that they know the world would 
be a much better place without them. Oh, I've for- 
given William by now; but still the same, some things 
are just meant to be. 

— Helen Chandler 



26 




Ink -8" x 10" 



Tori Simpson - Zclda 
























- 







Graphite - 23" x 28" 



'■■-• '"■' 



■% 



PS 









John Irons - Shelter 2 and 3 



Meathooks 

Mister 

I am a poet 

with hands that don't work 

A couple of cheap mutes I've got 

no good broken botdes I blow on 

No good thev are shot 

But the poet in me's bursting at the seamms 

steeped waist deep in thunder 

my organs cramped in a capsule of complaints 

Mv sharp bitter fruit of a tongue 

knows its job to sting sting sting 

See it's these two liars forsake me 

unhandy hands that know the pattern 

but won't sew 

the thick skins of a poem 

Meat that beats and splats 

frying in animal tat 

marking itself into music 

It's as easy as that 

and shouldn't a woman's hands know 

these chores well enough 

Not mine 

So I've traced back mothers ago 

to find the dug up root 

a name for them 

overlooked or misplaced 

on a label in a pile of old clothes 

No good 

There's really only one thing left 

they can do 

Now I'm praying to you with my tat hands 

for the name 

that might ring a bell 

Pour this poet out whole 

Or Mister if you could give 

the absolution of a perfect reader 

to these 2 

taciturn traitors 

the lost romantic gesture 

1 loss each 

— Carolyn Hembree 



30 




Watercolor - 22.5" x 30" 



Catherine Jones - untitled 



Bluebeard Speaks Out at the Tavern 
About Love 



Well, I tell you, I was cursed from the beginning! 

Look at my face, will you? 

Oh yes it feels normal, sirs 

It gets beer on it as usual beards do 

and food and dirt and spit. 

But it remains always 

blue blue blue ! 

Like the sky and the ocean 

and the occasional moon! 

Ah yes. Horrid, 

unnatural blue 

for a beard I mean. 

And the day they stabbed me through my side 

(See mv scars, sirs? 

No, no, here! the two above my hip!) 

Well, I looked like the British flag! 

Ah, you laugh, but it was ghastly! 

I crawled out of the house like a crab 

and 

to the chemist 

not a moment 

to spare. 

And 

All I did, sirs 
was give her the key! 

I gave her money and clothing and sex sex sex 
Why she begged like a lapdog! 
(So shameful, that begging and begging!) 
And I warned her I warned her of mv room! 
No crime in that, Fll say! 
Whv, the wretch disobeyed me! 
I had a few- 
skeletons in the closet 

but only a few, sirs, nothing to frown at, I tell you! 
(What are you frowning at?) 



No woman worth all that, Fll say. No no\ 

I wonder what she's doing now probably 

stealing some other man 1 s 

prized heart 

which he thought he had locked away 

for eternity 

eternity! 

And I tell you 

(and Fd swear it on mv cursed beard! ) 

even now she is turning this man's 

key, 

(Ha ha!) 

as if she had that very heart 

swinging on a chain like a ticking watch 

a trinket for her box! 

So now, gentlemen! 

Are your ladies keeping all your hearts 

in little forbidden 

closets, cases, 

little cupboards? 

Cubbyholes? 

Hmm ? 

Sirs, 

I will now tell you the moral! 

(Fve made up a good 

solid rhyme: 

But you will see now how / am the beting; mongrel!'! 



And 

Her brothers were mean 

five of them 

larger than houses! With ogre's teeth 

and eyes like fire! Hair of lizard's tongues! 



Please! 

My good friends, do not marry or couple! 

Women, my friends, are far too much trouble! 

If then 

we all sit and our faces still sneer, then 

Wilhelm, good man! 

Bring us all 

one more beer! 



32 



-Finley Bullard 




Photograph- 8"x 10" 



Brandon Mcintosh - Untitled 



34 



Cool Cat Cafe 

I don't call myself lonely 

just because I like shadow dancing up 

and down the length of my room 

riding on the souls of dance hall junkies 

like waves 

Let me give you a rundown of the evening's events 

at The Cool Cat Cafe 

buhm buhm buh buh buhm 
Un for get ta ble 

Sweet Nat King Cole and my shadow balances its arms 

and I'm a plane catching birds in my palms 

as I take off 

dizzy with love 

light as a bubble on the surface of his voice 

a darling 

But burst climbing down radio static 

supporitng a sad sax 

Lover Man mv shadow building into a rainstorm on the wal 

drenching the room too 

lonely to give a damn about die rain 

Billie Holiday deep down and real as an old woman 

who can hardly remember her first kiss 

lover man oh where can vou be 

and we end stretching out mv back on the wall 

arched as a taut bow 

holding her last note until I break 

into a slow tornado rolling my way down the room 

touching down when I feel like it 

Cry Mc n River with Ella's sweet croon 

over the big bass some tat man slapping that thing 

and Ella's sending a telegram 

splitting the clouds like a missile 

from me to you 

daddy go 'head 

and the end of the song starts 

swinging 

the rain's beating 

against my door like a heartbeat 

and I'm getting tired of this poem 

I might just have to get up and groove 

start some shadow dancing 

even if people might think I'm lonelv 

if my pillow could talk imagine nil that it would say 

what they don't know is 

I'm slow jazzing mv wav to heaven 



-Carolyn Hembree 




Photograph- 9.125" x 7.25" 



Catherine Brown - Too Many Pills 



35 



Intentional Ice Skating 

Gliding languidly passed 
the inching pace 

kept bv mv mechanical steps, 
he becomes calligraphy, 
swirling in conti 
The vibrant sheet dulls. 
Glints and flashes pulse: 
butter pats in a warming skillet. 

Mv two nail files drag 
through a sand box. 
The teetered dance 

molts into amusement. 



He speeds awav, giggling silentlv. 

Small flakes on naw mittens are 

mv licked fingers in the sugar jar. 

— Danny Milner 



M> 




line etching- 8.825" x 11.75' 



Catherine Jones - untitled 



r 



ten o'clock news 

and the shades close on the scene 

and the shades close on the scene 

the mother looks down "such a tragedy" 

the neighbors say as they 

look away with whispering "well, I never!' 

imposing with your 

problems? 

Look! You can't turn away! 

horrid scene bloody with 

holy righteousness 

"close the shades, please" 

— Jennifer Kelly 



I found half-colored coloring books. 

I sought out the fain 7 tales whose endings 

were past my bedtime. 
I nursed back to use dolls that had been 

carelessly abandoned. 
I took these ruins, and I built a tiny fortress 

of my childhood. 
And, this time, I did not leave until I wanted to. 

— Peggy Fackliss 



,;s 







Photograph - 4" x 6" Thomas Diasio - untitled 



Gretel 



Once upon a time there lived a heroine who was 
neither very beautiful nor perfectly mannered. Al- 
though it was golden hair that filled the pages of the 
fairy tales read to her as a child, GreteFs hair was steel 
grev. Instead of having the snow-white skin of the 
fairy tale princesses she had so loved, GreteFs com- 
plexion was rather sallow, almost olive. Her face was 
a good face, interesting, but not beautiful. Her skin, 
once sun-kissed and sprinkled with little reddish freck- 
les, was now deeplv lined and covered with brown 
liver spots. The full rosebud lips that, in her dreams, 
had kissed a thousand princes, were now rather thin 
and cracked. 

"Welcome to Sunm'vale, Mrs. Grimm," the viva- 
cious nurse chirped. "I know that you'll love your 
new home." 

"This," Gretel sneered, wiping dust from an ag- 
ing stame, "This will never be home." 

"Well, I certainly hope that that attitude wears 
off. Thinking that wav onlv makes things worse for 
evervone involved. Believe me." 

"Whv did vou choose to come to stay at Sunny- 
vale, bv the wav?" Lily continued, leading Gretel down 
a plushlv carpeted hallway 

"Well, it wasn't my choice, that's for sure. My 
children don't want to look after me anymore. Even 
my grandchildren have lives of their own. You know'?" 

Upon reaching the open door at the end of die 
long hallway, GreteFs tension began to ease. The room 
had a big picture window along one wall which looked 
out onto an enormous fountain in the center of a 
pebbled courtyard. Adorning the fountain, a stonv 
family of ducks issued water from their petrified sky- 
ward bills. From the comfortable looking window 
seat which seemed perfect for reading, Gretel could 
see the forest looming in the distance. Smiling, Gretel 
had to admit that the room was pretty nice. She grudg- 
ingly began to realize that maybe this wasn't going to 
be so bad after all. Even the little details like the bou- 



quet of fresh flowers on the nightstand beside her beef 
were attended to. In fact, it was almost like her own 
room at home. The cherry wood bed with delicately 
carved legs was just the land she liked, and it even had 
a down comforter, like the one she and Jacob had used, 
thrown over the patchwork quilt to keep die chill out 
of the room. 

Later, in the solitude of her new bedroom, Gretel 
thought about how much she missed Jacob. If onlv 
he'd been able to hang on for just a few more months, 
then maybe she would have been ready to go too. 
But now, without him, the empty room echoed her 
quiet sobs and only magnified her loneliness. 

Sleep somehow eluded Gretel that night. She 
longed to roll over and see Jacob there beside her, 
clasping the corner of his flannel pillow in his fist like 
a litde child fighting off a bad dream. Frightened of 
this strange new bed, Gretel finally, shamefully, pulled 
out the security that she needed to sleep, a battered 
cornflower blue volume of fain' tales that Jacob had 
given her for her twentieth birthday. Opening the 
gilt-edged book to the elaborate frontispiece, she slid 
her finger longingly over the faded inscription that 
Jacob had written so long ago. She sat up half the 
night, rereading the tales that had been her only com- 
panion for so many months. 

-X--*-* 

After having fallen asleep while reading about 
the fantastic world of Jacob's stories, the reality of the 
next morning was an unwelcome sight to Gretel. 
Throwing on her pink terrvcloth robe and fuzzv house 
shoes, she padded down the hallway and out into the 
commons to grab a cup of coffee. Filmy shafts of 
sunlight found their way from the bay window to the 
polished hardwood floors through a tangle of honey- 
suckle vines, and the laughter of the visiting children 
beyond was infectious. 

After dressing for the day, Gretel nestled herself 
in the corner of the cushioned windowseat. Restino; 



40 



her cheek against the pane of glass, she pulled a smooth, 
shiny object from her shirt pocket and rested the heavy, 
glittering memento in her palm. A knock on the door 
interrupted her reverie. 

"Oh, whv that's a lovely pocket watch, Mrs. 
Grimm. Is that yours?" asked Lih; opening the bot- 
tom half of the creaky Dutch door. 

"No, silly girl. Women don't carry pocket 
watches. Nobody does anymore, but men used to. 
This one belongs to. . .belonged to my husband," 
sighed Gretel, correcting herself. 

"Well, it's very nice, 11 said the nurse, handing 
Gretel two flimsy white paper cups. "You have a nice 
day, now, Mrs. . ." 

"My husband, he was a famous writer you know, 11 
Gretel interrupted. "Maybe you've heard of some of 
his..." 

"Yes, well, Fm sorry that I can't stay and chat 
with you, but it's nearly noon and IYe got to get 
everyone's medicine handed out in time, 11 said the 
nurse, heading towards the door. 

"You have a nice day, now, Mrs. Grimm." 

As soon as Lih' had rolled away her squeakv medi- 
cine cart, Gretel focused her attention on the gold watch 
once more. She'd always loved the engraving of the 
little girl and bov, holding hands in front of the great 
forest that was etched on the watch's cover. After all, 
the watch had been her wedding present to Jacob and 
if she placed it against her cheek and closed her eyes, 
she could almost imagine that she had her head on 
Jacob's chest again. 

Flipping the ticking watch over and over in her 
hand with her thumb, Gretefs mind began to wander. 

As a voting girl in Vienna, Gretel was the only 
daughter of a poor woodcutter. Together with Gretel's 
mother, Rosa, the little family barelv scratched out a 
living. Gretel was coddled and cared for by her ador- 
ing mother, but because she was often absent-minded 
and daydreamed about the fairy tales that her mother 
would wistfully read to her, Gretel was not a favorite 
of her practical, miserly father. It was precisely be- 
cause of these fain,' tales that tension often arose be- 
tween her parents. Whenever problems would arise at 
home, Gretel would retreat into the forest. When she'd 
journeyed to the deepest part of the wood she would 
sit under her favorite oak tree and dream of how such 
adversities would make her a better heroine. In her 
sadness, Gretel was simply more beautiful to am' ador- 
ing princes who might be watching her close by. 

Still lost in her daydream, Gretel threw open the 
shutters of her picture window to let in the fresh air. 



Franz, the orphaned cat who wandered around Sunnv- 
vale eating the scraps of bread meant for the birds, 
hopped up onto the sill, hungry for attention. 

"You see, Franz," Gretel explained to the obese 
calico, "when I was a little girl I always imagined that 
I was so important that someone was always watch- 
ing me, waiting at the edge of the woods. But times 
have changed. People around here, they treat me just 
like a nobody," Gretel said sadlv. "Don't these people 
know I've got stories to tell?" 

"Come sit on my lap, darling," said Gretel, pat- 
ting her lap. "Yes, that's a good bov You see, I've 
always wanted to do something big, to be somebody 
interesting. Jacob gave me that chance. Jacob made 
me immortal." 

Gretel thought about the day she had stumbled 
upon Jacob in the forest. At sixteen, her silly day- 
dreams had caused her to wander out too far and, as 
night was falling, she forgot the way back home. All 
at once, Jacob galloped up on his midnight steed and 
asked her if he could assist her. She stayed with him 
for dinner that night, and afterwards, as he gallantly 
took her back to her cottage, he told her 

about a little trick she could use to keep from 
losing her way the next time she came for a visit. 

As time passed, Gretel found herself near Jacob's 
house more and more often. She was drawn to his 
vivid imagination and, during die coldest winter nights, 
thev would sit on his bearskin rug in front of the lire 
and tell each other stories that ended happilv ever af- 
ter. 

However, many of Gretefs favorite stories were 
about the orphaned animals that Jacob had rescued 
from the forest. His cottage, a shelter of sorts, was 
tilled with white mice who had lost their tails, frogs 
that had been discarded from the rough hands of little 
boys, and even a wolf he had found caught in a hunter's 
steel trap. Gretel and Jacob would laugh for hours 
about the things thev thought the frog prince or the 
grandmotherly wolf would sav if only thev had voices. 

In the months and years that followed, Gretel 
came to think of Jacob's little cottage as her own and 
the two of them as one and the same. Some nights, 
sitting there in the hazy glow of the firelight with Jacob, 
Gretel would sometimes forget that she was not alone. 
Although she occasionally took Jacob's presence for 
granted, when he went away she would touch the 
things that he had touched, hoping that a small part of 
him would remain there on her fingertips. 

"Granny," two little voices whispered in unison, 
jolting Gretel back to the present. "We came for a 



41 



visit, Granny" said Hannah and Joseph, poking their 
heads above the bottom half of the Dutch door so 
that only their eyes and foreheads showed. 

"Oh, mv little angels!" Gretel exclaimed, hugging 
the children as tightly as she could. "Granny is so 
glad to see the two of you. What a wonderful sur- 
prise!" 

"What a pretty new dress you have, Hannah," 
Gretel remarked, fussing with a piece of white eyelet 
around the collar. 

"And look how you Ye grown, Joseph. Why, 
you'd think I hadn't seen you in months!" said Gretel, 
jutting out her chin with pride. 

"What a pretty kitty-cat," said Hannah, reaching 
out to Franz with sticky fingers. 

"Who cares about some dumb old cat? I want to 
hear a story Granny," Joseph whined, putting both 
hands on his hips. 

After sitting transfixed through all of "Sleeping 
Beauty" and "Thumbelma," the children began to fall 
asleep towards the end of their Grandma's favorite. 

"All their worries were over,'" Gretel continued, 
in spite of the slumbering children at her feet, "and 
they lived together in pure happiness.'" 

Closing the big volume of fairy tales, Gretel re- 
turned her attention to the purring feline on her lap. 
"Have vou ever heard that story Franz? Well, 
that's my storv. Jacob wrote it for me. He thought of 
me as a hero," she whispered. 

"I only wish that other people thought I was that 
important. Oh, I see the looks on their faces when I 
tell them my stories. Thev just think Fm some old 
nut," Gretel sighed. 

Franz, looking up at Gretel sympathetically 
stretched and yawned, turning around twice on 
Gretel's thin, shaky knees before snuggling down again 
to hear the rest of her story 

"Franz, you three are the only ones who seem to 
understand me at all," Gretel said, smoothing a stray 
chestnut curl that had fallen in Hannah's thick lashes. 

"You are the only ones that I can trust with my 
secrets and dreams," she sighed, depositing the sleep- 
ing children on her bed. 

*** 

Later, after the children had awakened from their 
naps and shared their lunches with Franz, thev remem- 
bered that it was time for their mother to pick them 
up. 

"Mommy Mommy," thev squealed, seeing their 
mother's car turning into the parking lot. 

Upon entering the building the children's mother 



was greeted by Gretel's nurse, Lily Noticing how 
worried she looked, Eliza became alarmed. 

"Mrs. Foster, can Dr. Carmicheal speak with you 
for a moment, please?" the nurse asked, leading the 
children's mother into the doctor's office. 

"Sure. Go play with vour great-Grandma some 
more kids." she said, motioning to the two wiggling 
children whose lips were stained red with Kool-Aid. 

"Have a seat, Mrs. Foster" Dr. Carmicheal said, 
motioning to a burgundy leather armchair in the cor- 
ner. "Let me get right to the point with you Mrs. 
Foster. 

We believe vour grandmother has a delusional 
disorder. It's one of the behavior excesses common to 
people with schizophrenia." 

"Schizophrenia?" asked Mrs. Foster, obviously 
shaken. "Aren't those the people with all those differ- 
ent personalities?" 

"No, actually schizophrenia consists of a group 
of psychotic disorders characterized bv major cogni- 
tive, behavioral, and emotional disturbances. I'm not 
saving that your grandmother has schizophrenia, Mrs. 
Foster," Dr. Carmicheal said gently "Delusional dis- 
orders are merely misrepresentations of reality. Nearly 
50% of schizophrenics have such delusions, but your 
grandmother isn't one of them." 

"Thank God," said Mrs. Foster, breathing a sigh 
of relief. "But what brought about your diagnosis, 
doctor?" 

"Well, although she functions adequately other- 
wise, Nurse Watts has noticed that she seems to have a 
prominent, systematized delusion. For some the de- 
lusions consist of the feeling that others are constantly 
watching them; others have grandiose delusions and 
believe that thev are extremely important movie stars 
or presidents." 

"But Grandma?" interrupted Mrs. Foster impa- 
tiently. 

"Well, it seems that vour grandmother believes 
that her husband was Jacob Grimm, the fairy tale au- 
thor. She's even been telling the other residents that 
he wrote 'Hansel and Gretel' just for her." 

"What?" Mrs. Foster laughed. "I don't know 
what she's told you, but mv grandma grew up in Los 
Angeles with a picture-perfect German father and a 
flighty mother who ran away to New York to be a 
writer." 

"Well, I guess Mrs. Grimms' mother's occupa- 
tion explains her love of stontelling," he chuckled. 
"According to the early psychologists, vour 
grandmother's home life makes perfect sense. You see. 



42 



it was once believed that the main etiology, or cause, 
of the disorder was a communication problem between 
mother and child, 11 said Dr. Carmicheal, leaning back 
in his swivel chair. 

"That's interesting," said Mrs. Foster. "But it is 
a little disturbing that Grandpa only died a few months 
ago and she's already forgetting his name and making 
up stories about him." 

"Well, that's part of the reason I wanted to talk 
to you. She seems to still be suffering from depres- 
sion," said Dr. Carmichael, adjusting his glasses. "The 
onset for this delusional disorder is often immediately 
after a period of trauma like death or childbirth. The 
most common and effective method of treatment for 
this disorder would simply be to provide your grand- 
mother with a strong social network. Being around 
the children is probably one of the best things for her," 
he concluded, rising from his chair. 

After stealing some of the glistening change from 
the murky waters of the fountain, the happy three- 
some, Gretel, Hannah, and Joseph, escaped into the 
forest behind Sunnyvale. 

"Oh great-grandma, I wish I had exciting stories 
to tell like you do," Hannah wistfully sighed. 

Gretel smiled knowingly and patted her softly on 
the cheek that was rosy and firm like a ripe peach, 
ready to roll off its hea\T branch. 

"This looks like a good spot," Joseph noted, 
pointing to a massive oak tree whose limbs were draped 
with wisteria yines. 

"So it does," said Gretel, spreading out her patch- 
work quilt under the tree's thick boughs. 



It was soon Gretel's turn to nap. The children, 
quickly tired of tickling their grandmother's nose with 
a feather they had found, ran off to play. As their game 
of hide and seek led them farther and farther from 
Gretel, the daylight dwindled and they realized that 
they were lost. 

"Oh Joseph, what should we do?" cried Hannah. 

"Stop whining, Hannah. I'll think of something." 

Remembering a trick from one of the fain' tales, 
Hannah shimmied up a tree to see if she could find the 
rooftop of Sunnyvale. 

"Joseph, Grandma is so smart," said Hannah ex- 
citedly. "There's something shiny on the ground and 
I think it's those pennies that we stole from the foun- 
tain. We have a way home now. Just like in the story," 
said Hannah, shimmying back down again. 

With that, the children skipped gingerly back to 
the home, stopping only to pick up an occasional penny 
along the way. In their excitement to get back to their 
mother, thev skipped right past the big oak tree with 
the wisteria vines. Gretel was no longer sleeping on 
the quilt, but the big cornflower blue volume of fain' 
tales was still turned to the pages of "Hansel and 
Gretel." Sening as a kind of bookmark, Gretel's beau- 
tiful pocket watch lay open, revealing the lovely, mother 
of pearl face that had ceased its ticking. 

— Adrianne Simon 



43 




Photograph - 9.25" x 7.25" 



Catherine Brown- Before, During & After Chewo 



44 



Opus I 

Headlights drift across vinyl siding 

At his destination he leaves 

paper and deadlines with his "78 Buick 

Inside he feels music 

From the lyre of the angels 

come sounds so sweet 

Thev cascade down on pure flesh 

he crecendos up the stairs 

There he sees his reasons for 

racing home every evening 

one in a blanket of blue 

the other in a cheap polyester skirt 

Is it the lack of perfection 

that makes this a masterpiece 

The moons first light dances on her 

bare breast and his softs chubby arms 

Instruments provided by the great composer 

Rhvthm kept by the rocking chair 

an open windowed audience 

duet by mother and child 

— Chris Lasseter 



45 



we hate and are each other 

why did we rain and swallow 
(fandy speaking swaying willow 

trees depress like pale faceless 

faces ) 
why did we clasp our numb hands 
together (swimming fishes are 
healing themselves with switchblade 
crucifixes ) 

why did we sob and whisper 
in ears 

words we knew were worn out at the knees and 
in the seat 

(we ascended from sheets with loathing; 
we hate and are each other) 
coldness visits us — the 
chill 

of something we named love 
believing we patented the emotion 

— Leslie Nuby 



46 




Photograph - 8" x 10" 



Brandon Mcintosh- Evasion 



We lay, 

sculpted together, 

molded by artist's hands. 

Smooth, supple 

willing to harden as one 

frozen in time. 

Animal pacified by a beauty 

envied by Heaven and honeysuckle sweet. 

An eternity for one more minute. 

Don't let go just vet... 

— J.T. Ennis 



4S 



Agarella 



Author's Note: "Agar" (pronounced "ah-ger") 
is the jello-like substance used in millions of labs world- 
wide to culture various forms of microbes. It's used 
primarily in flat, round petri dishes or in glass test 
tubes. There are hundreds of different types of agar 
and most denote their ingredients by their names. 

Once upon a time at a well-respected research 
center on a university campus, there studied a brilliant 
microbiology student named Anna. Anna continually 
astonished the biology department with her innova- 
tive experiments and the elegant vet concise and ex- 
planatory language of her lab reports. Naturally, she 
was one of her professors' favorite students and she 
consistently made the highest grades in her class. Her 
senior professor, Dr. Rhizobium, saw her as the one 
person who would carry on the tradition ot eloquent 
scientific writing and go even further inside ot single- 
celled organisms than he had. 

In Fact, Anna and Dr. Rhizobium had been work- 
ing on some earth-shattering research with an organ- 
ism known as Zoglea ramigera. Although well known 
for its role in the secondary stage of sewage treatment, 
Anna and Dr. Rhizobium envisioned a much greater 
destiny for the little bacteria (Tortora et al 690 ) . Anna 
and Dr. Rhizobium planned on using Zooglea 
ramigera and its gelatin-forming abilities to invent a 
new tvpe of environmentally-friendly rubber cement. 

Anna and Dr. Rhizobium worked feverishly 
in the lab, and both of them spent most of their spare 
time there. One Saturday, while Anna was preparing a 
flask of blood agar to be autoclaved, Dr. Rhizobium 
went to the copy room to xerox copies of the prelimi- 
nary procedures of the experiment. (Author's Note: 
The autoclave is the instrument used in millions of 
labs and medical facilities worldwide to sterlize glass- 
ware, agar, and anything else that needs to be decon- 
taminated. ) Inadvertently, he happened to interrupt a 
covert and informal business meeting being held in 
the copy room. Dr. Chlamydia and Dr. Shigella were 
conferring over something quite passionately and did 
not notice Dr. Rhizobium. 



"Blast it all, Shigella! Now what are we going to 
do? The CIA knows that someone in this area of the 
country has been selling to Iceland incredibly derailed 
genetic information on all of the germ warfare bugs 
the U. S. has developed!!" 

"Frankly, Chlammeister, I don't see why your 
Hanes are in such a wad! How is anyone going to 
find out the genetic maps are coming from us? There 
are at least five other places they'll have to check be- 
fore they suspect us. Bv that time you and I will be 
safely nicked away in our fully furnished, Western-stvie 
homes on the lovely and remote southern part of Thai- 
land, drinking beer and slurping down oysters! It just 
doesn't get any better than that." 

Before Shigella's criminal cohort could add a re- 
joinder, they both looked up and noticed Dr. Rhizo- 
bium, who appropriately suspected that Chlamydia and 
Shigella were as ruthless as they were greedy. Thev 
both jumped to grab Dr. Rhizobium, but he slipped 
awav from them and ran down the hall screaming, 
"Biological espionage!! Biological espionage!!!" at the 
top of his lungs. Chlamydia and Shigella followed 
hard on his heels. They ran past the secretary's office, 
the genetics lab, the chemical supply closet, and fi- 
nally chased Rhizobium into his own microbiology 
lab.' 

Rhizobium, Shigella and Chlamydia jumped over 
tables, ran around incubators and crawled under sinks. 
Thev tossed chairs and threw reagents. A bottle of 
crystal violet dye hit the wall and shattered, leaving a 
brilliant blackish purple stain to find its wav to the 
floor. Thev finally had him. Dr Rhizobium was cor- 
nered bv the multi-unit constant motion incubataor. 

"So now you're in on our little secret," Shigella 
said menacingly as he shoved Dr. Rhizobium up against 
the wall. 

"Don't you try to intimidate me!" Rhizobium 
was outraged. "You'll be sorry vou sold out. We don't 
even have germ warefare research here." 

"How naive you are for a Novel prize-winner. 
Dr. Rhizobium. Obviously, vou are even more of an 
optimistic dunce than I once perceived you to be." By 

49 



this time Shigella was in his face and Chlamydia made 
his comments with the fant imprint of a smile on his 
face. "I don't think you'll be able to make your tenure 
meeting on Friday. We want to test out one of the 
latest germ warfare techniques on a human vector. 
Don't vou just love the exhilaration of discovery?" 

"Haachcchoo!" A sneeze blasted across the room. 
Shigella, Chlamydia, and Rhizobium all jumped in 
surprise. Their eyes all turned toward the walk-in closet 
in the back. Shigella shoved Dr. Rhizobium to the wall 
even more violently than before, while Chlamy- 
dia walked slowlv to the closet. There beside the HB 
922iJS JiffvDecimate autoclave, crouched Anna, suf- 
fering from an untimely post-nasal drip. Her tall fig- 
ure was squished into a concealed corner but her 
bobbed auburn hair was easily visible. Chlamydia 
walked slowly to the autoclave and stood directly be- 
fore her. 

"You're insane if you think vou can get away with 
this! !" Anna leapt from her spot on the floor and tack- 
led Chlamydia. Chlamydia got away and grabbed a 
glass beaker, broke it on the black counter, and ran 
towards Anna with it. She, like her mentor was cor- 
nered. 

"Let's give these two a tour of our germ warfare 
lab. I don't think either of them have ever seen it," 
said Shigella, his eves glinting with glee at this pros- 
pect of a new experiment. 

"Both of you are sick. What kind of scientists do 
think vou are? Selling out the government that gave 
you the grants to do research with in the first place- 
that's despicable!" Anna was ticked off, to say the least. 

"My dear," said Chlamydia in his typically pa- 
tronizing way, "finding the more effective biological 
warfare with genetics is perfectly logical and it's per- 
fectly logical to sell them to the highest bidder—not 
the idiot who gives us the best insurance coverage." 

Shigella and Chlamydia hustled Anna and Dr. 
Rhizobium through the first floor hallway and down 
to the basement. As they entered the lab, Anna no- 
ticed that it was equipped with the best of everything, 
even by university standards. All of the instruments 
were digital and computer-driven. Every possible stain 
and reagent were lined up on long shelves like strands 
of multi-colored jewels on the back wall. They even 
had a state-of-the-art electron microscope. 

"Well someone has obviously been subsidizing 
your efforts". Anna was envious as she perused the 
well-stocked lab. 

"Yes, Uncle Sam will do anything in the name of 
science and warfare," Chlamydia remarked mildly "For 



the Nobel-prize winner, we will demonstate our best 
efforts. An elegant organism that is rare in this coun- 
try Gonnabi meahonda . I'm sure you're familiar with 
it. Fatality is practically 100% assured. We've altered 
the genes to ensure that death of the victim from en- 
cephalitis occurs within 3 to 5 minutes of the inges- 
tion of the amoeba from the nasal mucosa" (Tortora et 
al 554). 

"I suppose," pondered Anna, "that that particu- 
lar species of would be an effective warfare agent to 
lace ponds and streams with it since it is a typically 
water-born organism. . . ." 

"Anna, I can't believe you!! They're sitting here 
about to kill me and you're pondering effective distri- 
bution routes for the bacteria they're planning to use?" 

"Well, it takes my mind off of the situation," 
bristled Anna defensively Besides, she thought, we 
might be able to buy some time. Anna's logic had 
never been more wrong. 

"Quit this squabbling," commanded Chvlamvdia, 
"Anna does show herself to be much more perceptive 
than you sir." With that, he sprayed a fine mist up Dr. 
Rhizobium's nose. Dr. Rhizobium doubled over and 
grabbed his head and fell on the floor. First, he turned 
an incredible shade of navy blue. This was followed 
by a series of convulsions during which Dr. Rhizo- 
bium sang the "Three's Company" theme song in its 
entirety. Then Dr. Rhizobium's body froze completely 
He was dead. Although inwardly Anna was morti- 
fied, she allowed no emotion to escepe in her expres- 
sion. 

"So you plan to murder everyone who gets in 
your way? How efficient. It is a sad waste of some 
fine specimens of bacteria though." 

"You will be very impressed with our latest war- 
fare bacteria- Cinderellosispassivum ," gloated Shigella. 
"We haven't tried it out yet, but I know you'll be more 
than happy to help us work out the kinks!" He in- 
jected Anna's hip with a dark grev fluid before she 
could say another word. See Figure 6. The effects of 
the bacteria were almost instantaneous. 

"What have you done to me. ..Oh no! what's 
happening! My feet are shrinking! Good heavens I'm 
shrinking! Mv hair...What've you done to my hair, 
it's HUGE and blonde!! Where're my jeans? What is 
this thing? ! A ballgown? ! ! What are you doing to me? !" 

Shingella and Chlamydia laughed and danced 
around the room. "It's working! It's working! Now if 
only the brain effects will kick in! !" They both abruptly 
ceased their dancing and observed Anna with great 
interest. 



5(1 



Suddenly, Anna felt something shut down in her 
brain. All of her knowledge of science had somehow 
been enclosed except for the very small portion neces- 
sary to make agar. All of her years of hard work were 
trapped in some mental prison. She could not voice 
any reasoning skills at all. Only her emotions, her 
ability' to make agar and a sudden, uncontrollable urge 
to go out and buy a Roll-O-Matic sponge mop were 
left accessible. 

She looked in the mirror behind the door. She 
saw a petite blonde woman in a huge purple ballgown 
and glass slippers with a soft, beehive haristvle. And 
to top it all off, she was wearing a golden crown. She 
nearly fainted. 

"Heaven have mercy on me," she whispered, "I'm 
a fairy tale heroine!!" And with that Shigella and 
Chlamydia roared with hideous laughter. 

Shigella and Chlamydia wiped the tears of laugh- 
ter from their eves as they explained their twisted rea- 
soning to the devastated Anna. Bv turning her into a 
fairy' tale heroine, they effectively silenced the logical 
thoughts that were once the hallmark of Anna's scien- 
tific research. 

"You can tell people about us, but who'll believe 
some blonde chic in a ballgown!" Shigella giggled. 
"The beauty of it all amazes me!" 

Anna had to find some way to retrive her ability 
to communicate logically and reasonable— but she 
couldn't even remember her own name. Somehow, she 
had to avenge Dr. Rhizobium's senseless death at the 
hands of these madmen. 

Anna stumbled blindly out of the lab, not know- 
ing what to do. She felt like crying. She sensed intu- 
itively that she needed to stay in this place, to be here, 
but all of her scientific skills were gone except for the 
very' basic ability' to make agar. She wandered around 
the building in a daze, wondering what thev did in the 
genetics lab and what exactly was the chemical supply 
closet, anyway? 

"Excuse me, ma'am, but do you need some help?" 
A young woman with vehemently- lacquered hair and 
a stained white coat approached her. If Anna told the 
girl what had happened, the girl might not believe her 
or she would end up becoming Snow White. "I 
couldn't bear that to happen to anyone, much less this 
nice girl with big hair," thought Anna and shuddered. 

"I was wondering if there were any openings 
around here for a human relations specialist," Anna 
said, trying to make the most of her new intuitive and 
emotional skills. 

I'm afraid you're out of luck-the only opening 



we have is for a TA whose primary job would be to 
clean glassware and make agar.." 

"That's perfect!" exclaimed Anna. This way, she 
would be able to stay and keep tabs on Chlamydia and 
Shigella hopefully figure out a way to repay them 
for their lousv deeds. 

She was so absored in her own thoughts that 
she didn't notice that the girl was speaking to her. 

"What did you say your name was, ma'am?" 

Anna froze. She couldn't remember her name. 
All that she could think of was agar. 

"Agar." 

"I'm sorry, what did you say ma'am?" 

"Agar." 

The girl with big hair paused. She was politely 
irritated and began to methodically smooth down the 
hair behind her ears. "Your name is agar?" 

"Agar. . .hell!" Anna swore, trying to think of 
her name. 

"Agarella!" cried the girl. "What a great gim- 
mick! I guess you've made agar before, right? Wow 
I wish I could think up some name to help me land a 
job. Somehow "Bacteriella" just doesn't sound the 
same. . . ." She rambled on about something Anna 
could no longer understand. 

Anna sighed and accepted her fate for the mo- 
ment to be a dish-washing, professional agar-making 
fairy tale heroine. How unfortunate. She would have 
to do it, though. She had no choice. She was Agarella. 

Agarella spent her days up to her elbows in agar, 
surrounded bv petri dishes and sweaty from having to 
run the autoclave so much. She became legendary for 
her agar. All of it was professional-quality: evenly 
mixed, the right consistency; and the perfect amount 
in even' petri dish and test tube. Everyone in the lab 
always told her that she should go into business for 
herself. Agarella made all different kinds of agar: soy 
agar, blood agar, tomato agar, chocolate agar, and milk 
agar. 

Agarella spent every waking hour when she yvasn't 
making agar trying to tap into the logical mind she 
still possessed. She tried her hardest, but as soon as 
she would get a coherent, logical thought in her mind, 
another thought about the need for a more effective 
grout cleaner or a handsome prince would creep 
through her mind and all would be lost. Those jerks 
would pay for what thev had done. 

Shigella and Chlamydia appeared unconcerned, 
however. One of their favorite pastimes, aside from 
creating new and more deadly forms of germ yyarfare, 
yvas to torture Agarella. Shin°;ella yvas the yvorst. 



51 



"What's the bacteria in vour intestine? What, you don't 
know? Sweetie, every first-grader knows it's E.coli." 

One day, they drove Agarella too close to the edge. 
Both Shigella and Chlamydia had been drilling Agarella 
about the breakdown of glucose in the bodv and had 
even gone so far as to give her a copv of the pathway 
of reactions, but it was all Greek to Agarella. She threw 
the paper in their faces and then dumped a flask of 
boiling-hot blood agar on their laps. 

"You little witch!" they screamed in unison. Thev 
both ran to the men's restroom, hurling invectives to 
all those thev passed. Agarella sat down and cried. 
Now she had done it. Shigella and Chlamydia would 
surely come after her and no one would ever know 
what had happened to Dr. Rhizobium or to Anna. 
Suddenly, she felt someone tapping her shoulder. 

"Hev there, it's not like it's the Irish potato blight 
or anything!" A tall man with a shiny, bald head and 
moccasins on his feet was standing behind her. He 
had on a lab coat that was stained and well-used and 
for some reason, he kept cracking jokes about fungus. 

"Who are you?" Agarella was puzzled. 

"I'm your Fairy God Scientific Professional! Just 
call me F. G." He smiled and looked around the lab. 
"Whoa, this is a nice set-up!" 

"I wouldn't know— I just make the agar." Agarella 
was despondent. 

"I know who you really are, thought, Anna." 

Agarella was speechless. Something clicked in- 
side her brain at the name "Anna." Could it be? Was 
it true? "You've got to help me think logically again 
so I can nail Shigella and Chlamydia! Please help me, 
F. G.!" 

"No problem." He went around the lab gather- 
ing up all of his necessary items like a whirling der- 
vish. In a matter of minutes, he had made six different 
strains of bacteria colonize the entire surface of their 
petri dishes. The bunsen burners puffed into high gear. 
The centrifuge whirled like it was about to come spin- 
ning off. 

Finally, he seemed to have gotten all of the things 
that he needed. He scraped a little portion of all six 
bacterial strains onto an innoculating wand and with 
that, he innoculated the skin on the back of Agarella's 
hand. 

Agarella felt something at her feet. She looked 
down and her feet had grown out of the painful glass 
slippers without the slightest cut. She was no longer 
in a cumbersome ballgown, but in her favorite jeans. 
Agarella's hair came back to its original length and she 



threw off that stupid crown. But something was 
wrong. 

"Wait, I still have the urge to go grab a mop and 
clean out the fireplace, while waiting for some prince 
to drop by! Oh no! I'll never be able to think straight!" 

"Nonsense!" E G. grabbed one of the low-flam- 
ing bunsen burners and ran the flame back and forth 
across the scratch that he had made on Agarella's hand. 
At that moment, Agarella felt something break inside 
of her mind. All of the immense quantity of knowl- 
edge that she had acquired came flooding back with a 
force so powerful that it almost blocked her down. 

"Oh wow! I'm Anna again!" Upon her self- 
realization, something jumped off of Anna's hand. 
"Look on the floor, E G.!" 

There on the floor crouched a tiny, pulsating sil- 
ver speck. "It must be the bacteria they injected me with." 

"Just fascinating! It needs to be destroyed, 
though." F G. was thinkin ahead. However, just as 
soon as the words escaped his mouth, thev saw the 
silvery blob jump, turn green, and jump again. This 
time, the green blob hopped around on the floor, grow- 
ing and flashing from some unseen light source. 

"Wow! Just look at that thing mutate!" Both 
Anna and F G. were at a loss for words. Finally, in 
one blinding flash of magenta light, all of the commo- 
tion stopped. 

The explosion had been powerful enough to 
knock Anna and F G. fiat on their backs. Whev thev 
came to, thev were shocked at what they saw. In the 
middle of the floor sat a confused and dazed Dr. Rhizo- 
bium. 

"Good heavens! How did that happen? I didn't 
plan that!" F G. was thoroughly confused. Anna, 
however, had it all figured out. See Illustration 9Z. 

"When thev roughed us up, they must have con- 
taminated my skin with some skin cells of Dr. Rhizo- 
bium. Those contaminated cells of mine got mixed in 
with the bacteria and through genetic fusion merged. 
When vou removed the bacteria from its initial host, 
me, vou caused it to start mutating at such a rate that 
all of the bacterial genes were overcome and Dr. Rhizo- 
bium is the end result of the mutation!!" 

"Wonderful! Brilliant! We're both normal again!" 
Dr. Rhizobium looked relieved. Just then, Shigella 
and Chlamydia walked back into the lab. When they 
saw Anna, Dr. Rhizobium, and F G. standing there, 
thev ran for it. Anna, Dr. Rhizobium, and E G. chased 
after them, but lost the two around the student center. 
The following week, police found Shigella and Chlamy- 
dia hiding out in the men's restroom of the Burnished 



S2 



Steer Steakhouse in Hoboken, New Jersey. 

After Anna's and Dr. Rhizobium's testimonies, 
Shigella and Chlamydia were put away for life. In 
prison, thev were forced to host a talk show three times 
a week and invite their fellow inmates to he the audi- 
ence. 

Dr. Rhizobium and Anna continued their research 
with Zooglea ramigera and patented an environmen- 
tally-friendly form of rubber cement. Through their 
hard work and sacrifice, Anna and Dr. Rhizobium 
became the toast of first-graders everywhere. 

Anna eventually got her Ph.D in microbiology 
and went on to win a Nobel prize in biology for her 
work with one incredible instance of mutation shown 
by the species Cinderellosis passivum . See Figures 10 
A, B, and C. 

WORKS CITED 

Anna, The. Megamutation and You . New York: 
Nobel P, 1994. 

Chlamydia, Chuck. The Grimm Reality of Bio- 



logical Warfare . New York: STD P, 1993. 

Tortora, Gerard J., Berdell R. Funke, and Chris- 
tine L. Case. Microbiology: An Introduction . New 
York: The Benjamin\Cummings P Co, Inc., 1992. 

— Julie Dykes 



53 



Edward Hopper's New York Movie, 8:45 P.M 

As the 'thirties lens eloses up 

somehow this theatre stays open 

and the usher leads them all 

with a tiny light in her steady hand to 

This Week! Katherine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart! 

Ever\ r night there are new scenes 

in the aisles 

and she's seen them all 

a hundred times 



An older woman winces at her 

then at her husband 

Oh Darling, wouldn't it be better down there? 

She paws at the fox that hangs from her neck 

its little glass eyes looking down her dress 

No, I rather like this spot myself, Dear. Yes, I rather like it. 

He sniffs confidently 

Oh, you're so stubborn. He's just so stubborn. Can you believe him) 

He gives the usher a smile, winks 

The woman looks surprised, jerks her head to the side 

Hnipb. Well, alright then well just take this one, I suppose. 

Oh, and where can I leave my hat? 



A young woman freshly powdered 

gives her a quick smile, then turns to scope the audience 

No thanks. Sweetie, I can sec him from here... 

Her hand flaps fast at him like a pigeon's wing 

Hey 

Char-lee! 

Her feathered hat 

waves at everyone as she bounces past them 

He greets her a little 

as she takes off her fur he bought her 

for her 

anniversary 

hangs it like the flag of some strange country 

on the back of her chair 

and drops in her seat like a bomb. 

wall now 



picture so many times 



The usher finds herself against the 

until the intermission 

feels a little silly seeing thi 

especially that kiss 

she hates this part 

knows what the audience is thinking 

or doing in the grey light of this halted time 

she wonders if her boyfriend 

will ever kiss her 

die way Jimmy Stewart kisses Katherine Hepburn 



every night 

in the Philadelphia Story 

doubts it. 

She led a tall older man in 

earlier 

He was quiet 

and alone 

pleasantly alone 

(she could tell because he didn't smell 

like perfume) 

tipped his hat to her twice 

once when I showed him his scat, once when he sat 

She bows her head 

not watching 

the movie 

diinks about his smell in the dark 

a pipe smell. 



And 

Hopper's lens 

spares this kiss 

opens on this wall 

this light that is only spotting her 

hair, her black patent-leather heels 

this tiny flashlight turned off 

and this hand at her side 

this New York Storv 

of one real person in full color 

staring down the green carpet 

waiting for the lights to come 

up. 



54 



— Finlev Billiard 



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Eric Sullivan-"L/7zfr/7rtf" 



55 



Xanadu 



eat the hubbies 

train the train 

in my mind 

and in my eves 

gobble the river 

and lie in the bathtub 

in the bridal suite 

of angels and devils 

I watch vou make love to her 

like poiseidon's daughter 

reckless senses reeling 

on the ocean's ceiling 

cars pas bv 
thev don't see us 
they can't see us 
see us laughing 
at our stapled curtains 
our noble intentions 
such a lively pair 
let's get lost 
take fake names 
go down the road 
To iMexico. 

in my head 

my motorcvcle and I 

from Key West to Topeka 

ride the yellow lines 

not the lines on the floor 

not the lines in the water 

life here in the country 

makes thoughts bleed 

makes them bleed 

like 93 octane 

through the stucco ceiling. 



asia's in the hot tub 

soaking up the sensations 

i'm in the kitchen 

pouring some libations 

turn around 

and kiss the ground 

hide somewhere 

where you can't be found 

if i were me 

i'd dance with vou 

we'd dance to the sound 

of an irish tune. 

to this palace 

i consecrate 

the fruit i ate 

the fruit of my vineyard 

good fruit. 

barges on the river 

quiet boats in heat 

under the auspices of winter's breath 

the world succumbs to gentle Death 

the lifeless masts 

and the proud steel hulls 

ticlde the wind 

with rusty sighs. 

is there a natural rhythm? 
do vou smell it? 

sleep, hot and holy, 
visits at night 
but doesn't snuff out 
the candlelight 
sleep is a good time 
to have a home 
on a steep bank 
by an old river 
a very old river. 



-Clay McCaslin 



56 



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