Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2011 with funding from
Lyrasis Members and Sloan Foundation
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
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,
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
John Irons - Shelter
Joev Williams - Stillness
If I Were A Good Man
Virgil P. Fowler
The Flute Man's Story
July 11, 1994
A Girl Smokes
Barefoot on Red Brick
Carbon Hill (A Short, Happy Life)
Bluebeard Speaks. . .
The Cool Cat Cafe
Intentional Ice Skating
ten o'clock news
we hate and are each other
Edward Hopper's New York Movie. .
Elle of Love
Shelter 2 and 3
19 John Irons
Too Many Pills
Before, During, & After Chemo
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
...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.
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."
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
"A superbly boiled lobster complemented by
stuffed crab and topped off with the finest sauted mush-
"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-
"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-
"You better hurry if you want to get to bed by
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-
'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
"Hell, I can't do both."
"Well do whatever suits yer fancy. I'll See ya
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.
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,
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-
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.
.-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
"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
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
"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."
"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'."
"Oh, I don't know, let's go rent a movie or
"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)
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
"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'."
"Oh, I don't know, let's go rent a movie or
"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
"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
"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. "
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,
"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
"Well, we've got mashed potatoes and chicken."
"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
"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
"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
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
She: Yours is wrong then. I'm gonna be good.
I'm gonna be a good millionaire queen when I grow
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
— Virgil P. Fowler
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
that such an old house can still hold up
that I go home every summer and never get
— Laura Underwood
egg yolks and jelly
on the kitchen table
inside my skin
before the dav comes crawling in
the comfort of my buttered toast
mv electric guitar
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
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
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
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
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
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
gnash my teeth
over your weeping eve
until only pulp remains
lash out concealed anger
let fall a steady drip of viscous hatred
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
the girl whose name vou mouthed with
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-
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-
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
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
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-
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-
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
It was back probably around the fifteenth of De-
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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-
"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
"Don't know why that old Miss Ann won't let us
play outside this yard. She just don't want us to have
I didn't understand William. Ever since school
had started, he'd been talking real bad about Miss Ann
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-
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
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?"
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."
"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
"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?"
"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
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
"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
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
"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-
"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
"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."
"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
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
"No, sir. You have to drink milk with vour
lunch. You can have coke with vour snack this after-
noon," said Miss Ann.
"You better watch that sassy mouth, young
man, or I'll send vou straight to your room for the
I looked him straight in the eves. I raised mv
eyebrows and gritted my teeth, reminding him of our
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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."
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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-
"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
"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
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
Ink -8" x 10"
Tori Simpson - Zclda
Graphite - 23" x 28"
John Irons - Shelter 2 and 3
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
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
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
the lost romantic gesture
1 loss each
— Carolyn Hembree
Watercolor - 22.5" x 30"
Catherine Jones - untitled
Bluebeard Speaks Out at the Tavern
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,
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
to the chemist
not a moment
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
which he thought he had locked away
And I tell you
(and Fd swear it on mv cursed beard! )
even now she is turning this man's
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
I will now tell you the moral!
(Fve made up a good
But you will see now how / am the beting; mongrel!'!
Her brothers were mean
five of them
larger than houses! With ogre's teeth
and eyes like fire! Hair of lizard's tongues!
My good friends, do not marry or couple!
Women, my friends, are far too much trouble!
we all sit and our faces still sneer, then
Wilhelm, good man!
Bring us all
one more beer!
Photograph- 8"x 10"
Brandon Mcintosh - Untitled
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
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
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
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
Photograph- 9.125" x 7.25"
Catherine Brown - Too Many Pills
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
line etching- 8.825" x 11.75'
Catherine Jones - untitled
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
Look! You can't turn away!
horrid scene bloody with
"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
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
Photograph - 4" x 6" Thomas Diasio - untitled
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
"Welcome to Sunm'vale, Mrs. Grimm," the viva-
cious nurse chirped. "I know that you'll love your
"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.
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;
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
"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
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-
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
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-
"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
"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.
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-
"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,
"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
"But Grandma?" interrupted Mrs. Foster impa-
"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
"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.
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
Photograph - 9.25" x 7.25"
Catherine Brown- Before, During & After Chewo
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
we hate and are each other
why did we rain and swallow
(fandy speaking swaying willow
trees depress like pale faceless
why did we clasp our numb hands
together (swimming fishes are
healing themselves with switchblade
why did we sob and whisper
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
of something we named love
believing we patented the emotion
— Leslie Nuby
Photograph - 8" x 10"
Brandon Mcintosh- Evasion
molded by artist's hands.
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
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
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
"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
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-
"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-
"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
"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
"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-
"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
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
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
"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-
"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
"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
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.
"I'm sorry, what did you say ma'am?"
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
"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
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.
"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
"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,
"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-
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
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
"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-
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-
"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
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-
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.
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
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
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
hangs it like the flag of some strange country
on the back of her chair
and drops in her seat like a bomb.
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
in the Philadelphia Story
She led a tall older man in
He was quiet
(she could tell because he didn't smell
tipped his hat to her twice
once when I showed him his scat, once when he sat
She bows her head
diinks about his smell in the dark
a pipe smell.
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
— Finlev Billiard
r k*^ ... ^
1^ Twttffi*"' -i
Color Photograph - 8" x 10"
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
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
and kiss the ground
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
the fruit i ate
the fruit of my vineyard
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
sleep is a good time
to have a home
on a steep bank
by an old river
a very old river.
TMr' ?;i> 5 'W