Living in such a state          taTestaTesTaTe          etats a hcus ni gniviL
 of mind in which time         sTATEsTAtEsTaTeStA         emit hcihw ni dnim of
 does not pass, space         STateSTaTeSTaTeStAtE         ecaps ,ssap ton seod
 does not exist, and         sTATeSt        oFOfOfo         dna ,tsixe ton seod
 idea is not there.         STatEst          ofoFOFo         .ereht ton si aedi
 Stuck in a place          staTEsT            OfOFofo          ecalp a ni kcutS
 where movements           TATeSTa            foFofoF           stnemevom erehw
 are impossible                              fOFoFOf             elbissopmi era
 in all forms,                             UsOFofO                ,smrof lla ni
 physical and                            nbEifof                   dna lacisyhp
 or mental -                           uNBeInO                      - latnem ro
 your mind is                         UNbeinG                      si dnim rouy
 focusing on a                       unBEING                      a no gnisucof
 lone thing, or                      NBeINgu                     ro ,gniht enol
 a lone nothing.                     bEinGUn                    .gnihton enol a
 You are numb and                    EiNguNB                   dna bmun era ouY
 unaware to events                                            stneve ot erawanu
 taking place - not                  -iSSuE-                 ton - ecalp gnikat
 knowing how or what               THiRTY-FiVE              tahw ro woh gniwonk
 to think. You are in                03/28/97              ni era uoY .kniht ot
 a state of unbeing....                                  ....gniebnu fo etats a



EDiTORiAL by Kilgore Trout



by Kilgore Trout

Welcome, ye faithful zine readers, to the Good Friday issue of State of unBeing. Yup, that's right. On this very day, almost 2000 years ago, some wacky guy got killed by the Romans for trying to become the King of the Jews. I'd consider that to be a pretty crappy way to spend the Easter holiday, myself. I guess they crucified people instead of hunting for Easter eggs. Now there's a story you can tell your kids to keep them in line. "Johnny, if you don't behave, we're gonna crucify you on the lawn."

Like I mention elsewhere in the zine, I'm already damned. And somehow I think putting this zine out isn't helping my chances too much. At least I get to take a lot of people with me. So, in accordance with Good Friday and thanking Jesus for what he did for us on the cross, we declare that the theme of this issue is paedophilia.

Yeah. Having sex with small children. You read it right.

We really didn't intend for this to happen. Honestly. And even if you do point out that there are only a few pieces that deal directly with the subject, that's a lot closer to a themed issue than we've ever come. Besides, it kinda fits in with the holiday, and with Jesus in general. I mean, didn't we all sing the song "Jesus Loves the Little Children" in Sunday School? And let's not forget Matthew 27:51, when Jesus was crucified and "the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom," signifying a loss of innocence and separation from God, which you must admit, is a result of paedophilia.

At the very least, maybe I'll get some nice email from some groups who feel that I need to be saved. Then we can beef up the really small letters section.


I guess I should comment on the Heaven's Gate group that committed suicide in San Deigo county. It's about damn time, I say. Mass suicides reduce the population AND make people think they're getting out of their bodies so the great recycling can take place, or even off to the planet Sirius (as was the case with the Order of the Solar Temple.) The thing that pissed me off was that on the news, everyone was calling this a tragedy, when it seemed quite obvious to me that these people really wanted to do this, and if it made them happy, it makes me happy. Naturally, most of the Waco news stations were trying to distance the UFO cult from our good friend David Koresh. Even though our Heaven's Gate friends could draw a mean web page, I bet they couldn't rattle off guitar licks like ole Cyrus. And that's a damn shame.


March issues are always hedgy in my mind. I'm always dreading spring break and what that is going to do to my writers, since I know what it does to me. It makes me extremely lazy. Especially since I didn't go out of state this year. But, lucky for both you and me, this issue is nice, big, and juicy. In addition to the aforementioned paedophilia theme, there are more of the usual "unusual" SoB fare. Sometimes I think we should take a camera down the halls of the hallowed Apocalypse Culture offices and show you, the reader, exactly what goes into putting together a zine like this. Naturally, there's a coffee machine in every room. For some reason, a few offices have a lot of blood stained in the carpet, but that's only because our steam cleaning service says we're about three months behind on our payments. I figure he could cut us some slack since we employed him just about every other day. Most of the writers use computers to compose. Luckily, being the editor, I get to choose the music that is pumped through our state-of-the-art sound system that goes to every office, and when people slack off, I like to unleash the Spice Girls. That definitely gets people working again.

We may start arranging tours for those of you who are near the area. If you'd like to visit, e-mail me. Of course, you'll have to be killed after the tour since seeing too much of the ACP offices isn't good for your health, but it'll be worth it.

Trust me.


I need to address a couple of minor technical points before I let you go. It seems that I actually have some sort of life at college now, amazingly enough, so if you haven't received a response to email that you have sent me, well, don't feel like you're the only one. Keep bugging me, and I'll get around to it, but I'm doing good to get the zine out right now.

Also, we are in the process of updating the SoB FAQ for the first time since Spring of 1995. For those of you with bio's in the FAQ, we'd like to ask that you update yours if need be. For those of you without bio's in the FAQ, well, if you have written for the zine in the past and have pieces in at least four issues, we'd like you to send in a bio. Check out the old FAQ for the format and style we use. For those of you without bio's in the FAQ who haven't written anything for the zine, tough luck. I'll be sending out individual emails to people, but who knows when the hell that'll get done. And seeing as how this is going on a CD-ROM compilation of e-zines, well, don't disappoint me. ;) See you folks next month.


Uh, Clockwork, if you get this, I need to know where the hell you are.



[only two letters this month makes this section look rather pathetic. shame on you people.]

From: Steve Donnelly
Subject: communica


does this address work?
     profoundly befuddled

[yes, komrade steve. this address works. and i also know where lenin's real body is being stored.]

From: "Gregory D. Greicius"

please put me on the mailing list for your zine, as i truly enjoy
the illuminating and baggage free articles by hagbard et al.


[you have been added. i find it quite funny that you talk about the articles written by "hagbard et al.," seeing as how hagbard hasn't written anything in about, oh, fourteen issues. heh. and he even promised me something after one of his improv comedy shows, too. oh well. maybe if he finds out he has some fans, he'll start writing again.]



Kilgore Trout

Crux Ansata
I Wish My Name Were Nathan
Kilgore Trout
Nemo est Sanctus
Water Damage

Gregory D. Greicius
Komrade Steve


[=- ARTiCLES -=]


[Editorial | Next]

[Noni attends a New Year's party]

by I Wish My Name Were Nathan, with Crux Ansata and Noni Moon

"Sssssh, be quiet!" I whispered at Ansat as he peeked out from behind the tree, his army fatigues rustling against the bark.

"She can't hear that," he replied. I looked carefully over his shoulder, straining my eyes in the dark to make out the figure walking on the sidewalk ahead. The moon was full, but the trees were plenty. Shadows lay everywhere. I kept on losing my concentration, catching the reflection of the ambient light off Ansat's eyeglasses.

I thought I heard something odd, and it turned out to be him, calling out, "Nooooooni..." in a haunting falsetto. Several yards ahead, Noni Moon stopped dead in her tracks and looked back. "She might hear that, though."

"You bastard!" I cried, jerking Ansat to the ground out of sight. "At least make some effort!"

"It's no fun if she doesn't get frightened," Ansat replied with a grin.

"Hush up, and wait until she starts walking again."

We both craned out our necks from behind the tree, trying to discern Noni's figure in the darkness. I finally caught her running across the street at a distance. I pushed Ansat forward and we followed.

It was an art to run so silently on the concrete where scores of leaves still lay from the winter. Only occasional light scuffing sounds were audible, resembling those of a wayward squirrel, or maybe a larger leaf being blown across the pavement by a light breeze. The effort involved in our stealthiness reaffirmed the seriousness of our hunt.

We continued to follow Noni down the left side of the street. The moonlight wasn't shining on this side due to the tall buildings hulking over the sidewalk. Ansat and I, wearing dark clothes, were nearly invisible in the shadows. Noni also wore dark clothes, though, so we had to watch carefully to gauge the subtle light differential between her body and the sidewalk ahead.

"These streets with no lights rock," he whispered.

I experienced a sick sort of fascination with following Noni. It wasn't as if we didn't know where she lived, what her phone number was, or where she kept that secret flagon of Kentucky vodka. The mere thrill of the hunt enthralled us, an excitement that isn't gained through words or ideas, but only through the act itself. The source of such fascination was beyond intellection.

Where Noni turned left behind a building, we waited and peered around the corner at her retreating figure, now exposed in the gaudy orange streetlights. We couldn't follow her down this path without escaping detection. But we had planned it this way. From earlier observations, we knew she was getting close to her car.

"Okay, nice and easy," Ansat said, as we ambled casually across the street to his car. "You think she recognized it?" I asked. "'Course not," he said confidently. Frankly, I didn't even recognize it. We got into his car and pulled out slowly, in time to trail Noni.

"Gotta stay about ten yards behind her," I said. "You never know if she'll look back."

"Doesn't matter," Ansat replied. "I doubt she can see through all that blood smeared on her rear windshield."

"What?!" I cried, peering ahead. "What the hell?!"

"Like I said, it's no fun if she's not frightened."

And with that, Ansat jammed down on the accelerator and in a screeching of tires zeroed the intervening distance. Noni's car jerked forward in sudden acceleration as well. Apparently she had noticed the blood, because in her fright she'd taken off without her headlights. Ansat blinked his lights at her, and her lights came on. She also sped up.

"Oh damn, she's getting away," Ansat said. "Hope she doesn't head for any stoplights, because her brakes don't work."

"Jesus Christ, what did you do?!"

"I cut her brakelines or something."

"We're supposed to be stalking her, not killing her!"

"It's no fun if it doesn't end in death," Ansat said matter-of-factly, still with that mischevious grin.

"Oh man... good lord... oh god!" I moaned. "You know, you sure seem a lot different in e-mail."

"And I didn't know you'd be such a wuss. But we already discussed that. I need to concentrate here."

I watched in horror as we tailed Noni down the road. She tried her brakes a few times. The brake lights lit up, but her car didn't slow. I writhed in agony, anticipating the stoplight ahead. What would happen to her?

I craned out my neck, watching for the traffic on the cross street. Luckily, there was none. Noni could safely coast right through the light, and... but suddenly, a mad idiot came accelerating from the left, seeing his light turn yellow!

"Oh, shit!" I screamed, watching in sheer horror. Noni's brakelights came on, flashed a few times as she prayed pointlessly for something to happen, and... she stopped. Ansat came to a stop behind her. We waited for the light to turn green. And we drove on.


"You really believed that joke about the brakes?"

"Well, yes, dammit!" I yelled. My whole body was cold and numb.

"Jeez, Nathan, you've taken too many drugs."

"Listen here, you don't know anything about my drug use. I've only...."

"Shut up. Noni's almost home."

I leaned back in the seat, drained. I'd had a few good ones pulled on me before, but.... In clarity of vision, I realized that there was no blood on Noni's back windshield, either. It was a thin veneer of mud. She'd probably driven through a puddle or two. I didn't say a word.

We parked in an empty spot several yards down the street. We watched Noni get out of her car and head up the stairs to her apartment. She didn't appear agitated at all. "I can't believe none of that fazed her."

"She didn't notice any of it," Ansat explained. "It's the ancient Catholic art of being invisible. I acted earnestly like an anonymous driver who just happened to be behind her all the way home. You just got upset because I was playing with your mind."

"Isn't being invisible an ancient Taoist art?"

"Shuddup, nature-boy, you know I don't believe in that stuff."

We got out of the car and wandered up and down the sidewalk while we made plans. We knew Noni had a habit of forgetting she was walking around naked in her apartment, so we decided to climb up a tree and drop down into her balcony where we could peek into the window. "Isn't it easier to just walk up those convenient stairs?" I asked him. "No fun," he replied.

It must have been about three in the morning when we crouched down in the balcony and peered in between the blinds in Noni's window. We could see that she was sprawled out on her couch watching CNN, making sarcastic comments at Larry King about his interviewing style. It was humorous to watch, but unfortunately she didn't get naked and didn't notice our silhouettes in the window. Neither of us had mastered the ancient Catholic art of staying awake, either, and we fell asleep.

When we woke up, it was daylight and Noni was gone. I looked around and there was no sign that she had noticed us or defaced our bodies in any way. "You know, we're really bad stalkers," I said.

"I assure you, she didn't even notice us. C'mon, let's go find her."

We took the stairs down.

* * * * *

"Let's hunt down that blue-haired biatch," Ansat said, and we again boarded into his car and drove off. I didn't know where we'd find her, but I kept quiet as we headed into downtown. It must have been around eleven A.M. that Saturday when Ansat pulled into an empty parking space along the Drag.

"I'm hungry," he said, heading into Metro. I watched in bemusement as he bought a hammerhead, a large double-espresso coffee. I ordered a lemonade and a croissant.

We walked upstairs and beheld Noni sitting at a table reading a book. About one other person was there. Some quiet Suzanne Vega music was playing. Ansat walked right up to Noni's table and set down his coffee.

"Hey, Ansat and Nathan," she said amiably, smoking a Kamel Red. "Was my porch comfortable?"

"No?" I said, confused.

"Why didn't you ring the doorbell?"

"Your doorbell is broken," Ansat said.

"Oh. Why didn't you knock?"

"I dunno. We, like, didn't even try the doorbell," he replied, lighting up.

"Were you expecting us?" I asked.

"Uh-huh," Noni said. "Ansat called and said you two were going to interview me."

"We are?"

"Didn't you get the memo?" Ansat asked.

"What memo?" I asked.

"The interoffice memo dated March 17."

"Sheesh! You know I don't have an office yet!"

"I told Captain Moonlight you could have his."

"Oh! Well, damn! I'm sorry, I guess I wasn't listening," I admitted. "Say, it's Noni Moon! Hi, Noni!"

"Hi, Nathan. I read your article last month. I didn't know those long-ass stories of yours were generated by a computer."

"Yup, yup.... I'm currently working on a female character generator for the program."

"How would you do that?"

"Right now, I'm thinking of just copying the male character generator and adding features like self-consciousness, awkwardness, and self-pity," I joked.

"All your male characters are like that," Ansat pointed out.

"Oh! Oh yeah. Well, that just saved me a lot of work."

"Ansat, your 'Pages from a diary' are really fascinating. You really keep a diary?" Noni asked.

"I used to, until Kilgore stole it from me and started publishing parts to jack up the issue size. I'm gonna kick his ass."

"I didn't know he did that!" Noni said. "Why didn't you stop him before last month?"

"I like the compliments."


"C'mon, Noni, time to get interviewed," he said. "Spread 'em."

"This is really strange, you know. I really don't have much of anything interesting to say," she admitted, putting her book away.

"We'll make up something interesting if it doesn't pan out," I said.


"Um, do you have any paper?" Ansat asked her.

"No, but I have my tape recorder."

"Can we steal it from you?"

"Um, no!"

"Aww, damn. That means we'll have to be sneaky," Ansat said to me. "Go ahead," he said to Noni, "turn it on."

"Alright. So, why are you interviewing me?" Noni asked.

"Hey, we get to ask the probing questions," I interjected.

"Alright, sorry about that."

"So, Noni, why are we interviewing you?" I asked.

"Ahem, I don't know."

Ansat and I looked at each other. "You know, we always gave nice, long, thought-out answers to your questions. Try harder. Here's a different question. Who are you?"

"My name for SoB is Noni Moon, and you both know that already. I was born in --"

"Boor-ing!" I cried. "Who are you really?"


"Unlike with us, you haven't written anything personal yet. No one knows what kind of a person you are. Tell us that."

"Oh, I see," she said, fidgeting in the metal chair. She stubbed out her cigarette and lit another one, took a long drag and started speaking. "I guess I like asking questions, you know, finding out about people. That's sort of obvious. People fascinate me, especially writers."

"Heh," Ansat said, stroking his knife.

"That's why I wanted to do all those interviews. I could never write about myself."

"Does being one of the very few female writers put you in a strange position?" I asked.

"If getting kidnapped is a strange position, then yes," she chuckled, with a nod to Ansat. "I tend to notice something about State of unBeing," she remarked. "Too phallocentric. Revolution, existential angst, romantic murder, Dr. Graves, all that."

"Foul! Dr. Graves is long dong -- er, gone -- okay?" I emphasized.

"Sure, sure, whatever. I saw him prancing around the SoB offices last June."

"Yeah, he's still with us, Nathan."

"Sheesh! Like I'd know!" I pouted.

"He's been asking about you," Ansat said.

"Wow, really?"

"Ahem!" Noni interrupted. "The zine is very dark, too. I think you all have very dark minds."

"You trippin', dog!" I protested. "We only write that way. In person, all the writers I know are very humorous and sociable... after dark. Hmmm."

"And sometimes in the mornings, eh?"

"When we're awake, yes," Ansat said, swirling coffee around in his glass. "Our minds aren't exactly dark. It's more like, an unexplored and scary abyss, or something."

"So I've heard. Why is there the big difference in the writer and the written?"

"When you interviewed us, it was because we got to talk about ourselves," Ansat chuckled. "The rest of the time, we like to sit in dark corners and weep. Either that or cruise local BBSes and start debates that end in the opponent's self-immolation."

"I bet pretty soon more females will come across SoB and start submitting," I suggested.

"I hope so. Maybe if we advertised SoB on Usenet in some other newsgroup besides alt.bill-bixby.dead.dead.dead."

"I sorta thought this was my interview," Noni said, agitated.

"Okay, go ahead, sorry."

"Back to the original question, something like being in the enviable position of being a female writer for SoB. I don't even consider myself a writer. I just copy down things people say."

"Stop belittling yourself!" I cried out. "People love you! You've got spunk! You've got charisma! You've got blue hair!"

"I'm thinking of changing it a different color."

"Noni, DON'T DYE!"

Ansat and I looked at each other and just laughed. Ansat lit up another cigarette.

"'Informative articles, literary trash, AND bad puns!'" Noni suggested.

"Oooh, we can work that into Kilgore's new header."

"Ah yes, the ubiquitous new header. Is he ever going to come out with another format?"

"No, that's just a passing fancy. He's uncomfortable with stasis."

Noni waited in silence, and finally said, "Oh! No joke?"

"I guess not."

"Go on, ask me more questions."

"You go to UT, right?" I asked.

"Yup. I'm deciding whether to major in journalism."

"Ah-hah, journalism! See, you have something to do with what you write."

"I'm also itching towards English or computer science or philosophy."

"And you have something to do with what you read."

"Noni, I think it'd be cheaper if you quit college and learned from reading SoB," Ansat suggested. "It's a hassle to switch majors."

"By the way, speaking of switching, this interview bothers me. It seems so final. I mean, I've practically interviewed all the Texas writers. I told Kilgore I was leaving, but I don't want to stay away forever. But I feel like if I stick with SoB, I'd have to branch out in new directions. What else could I do?"

"Literary criticism. It's fun, it makes people think, and you can make it all up."

"'This piece just explodes with itchy comedy, sewing together a pastiche of blurry boundary-busting genres into a postmodernist collage,'" I expounded. "'If only I knew who was speaking.'"

"Hey -- maybe you could do parodies."

"Hmmm, maybe. Is Kilgore gonna keep on threatening libel if I make fun of him?"

"He's a college student. He doesn't have enough money to sue you anymore."

"That's a relief," Noni said, finishing off her coffee. I noticed Ansat's was all gone. I was halfway through my lemonade. She stood up and hoisted her empty glass in the air. "Anyone want refills or anything?"

"Yeah, could you get me another hammerhead?" Ansat asked, fishing money from his pockets. "Tell them to make it strong this time."

"Um, nothing for me," I said. She headed downstairs.

"That biatch ain't letting loose," he said, scooting over into her chair.

"She's prolly nervous. Clockwork, Hagbard, and Dark Crystal Sphere dot-dot-dot said that she was biting her fingers throughout their interviews. Kilgore and I never noticed that."

"Are you in some way trying to blame that on me?"


"I showed her a good time, that's all. Heh."

"Speaking of that, did I see you drop something in her coffee?"

"I hope not."

Noni came back upstairs with two coffees. "Here," she said, handing Ansat the darker brew, from which he chugged a mouthful. "I didn't put any sugar in it," she added.

"That's fine," he said, grimacing. "Too much sugar gets me hyperactive anyway."

"Why'd you take my seat?"

"You gave it up."


We sat in silence for a few minutes and I watched them smoke and finished my croissant. I raised my finger to make a point when the speakers started blaring with Sunny Day Real Estate. I shot up from my chair and headed downstairs to go to the bathroom. Entirely coincidentally, I'm sure.

The bathroom was remarkably cool for the beginning of spring, probably having something to do with not being exposed to the sun. It was a theory. Preening myself in the mirror, I noticed I had a twig in my hair, probably from the porch we slept on. I felt silly and realized why Noni's eyes kept on flitting from my face to my hair.

I tossed the bathroom key back on the counter and headed upstairs to relate my anecdote. I reached the table and nobody was there. Noni's cigarette was burning in the ashtray, and her coffee, my half-empty lemonade, and Ansat's empty coffee glass looked abandoned. I fruitlessly looked downstairs and upstairs and sighed.

The tape recorder was still there, I realized dumbly, and was still running, too. I rewound it a little and replayed it. In the midst of the silence, the Sunny Day music appears. Then you can hear my chair moving, and my leaving. Then Ansat speaks up.

"Do you have a younger sister?"

"Yeah, why?"

"Oh, no reason."

After some silence, Ansat speaks up again, in a whisper barely audible above the wavering moan of Sunny Day's singer.

"Did you read Clockwork's letter?" he asks.

Noni replies, "Yes! What was it --" And then she falls silent.

A break in the recorded music told me that someone had turned off the tape recorder. After the break, I hear footsteps and a strange sound like sobbing or laughing receding from the microphone. And that's all.

I put down the tape recorder and played with the lemonade cap's plastic doohickey and sipped my drink. I was furious. I would have never imagined that Ansat would kidnap Noni again. Especially when we were both supposed to be handling the interview! And I didn't have a ride home now. Damn!

The angle of the light through the windows told me it was about noon now. In seven (or eight?) short hours, Hagbard would arrive with his mostly effective comedy troupe, and then later on, Kilgore and Jujube might visit. It was a nice day, I could wait.

I sat there for about five minutes, finishing up my drink. I realized suddenly, that unlike the suave drunk pouring the Samuel Adams while the pursesnatcher is running away, I really had no clue where to flick that bottlecap. My intuition was telling me that Ansat might not have kidnapped Noni after all. Who knows who turned off the tape recorder? I jerked my head towards the other side of Metro. The person who was sitting there had left. Maybe he took them!

I groaned and beat my fists on the metal table, causing the glasses and plate to bounce. I knew for certain that there was no God. I knew this because I'd prayed to Him every day for twenty years not to let me become a detective. And here I was, forced to find out things I didn't want to think about.

* * * * *

I put the tape recorder in my pocket and put away the glasses and the trash. I tried to remember the features of the person sitting on the other side of the building. It was a fun guessing game, since I couldn't make out any faces, much less genders, at that distance.

I approached the counter. "Hey, hi there --" I started.

"Whaddaya want, Bucky?" the employee asked.

"Uh, nothing to drink. I was wondering if you saw my friends leave."

"I wonder myself. Who are your friends?" he asked sarcastically.

"Well, there were only three people upstairs. Did you see them leave?"

"I saw four people leave. One guy was by himself."

"Aaaaaaah..." I pondered. "Well, thanks."

"Aren't you gonna buy something?"

"No... hey, wait! Who came in last?"

"This beefy black dude. He didn't buy anything either."

"Oh, wow," I exclaimed. "Well, I'm gonna go find them," I said pointlessly.

"Thanks for telling me, ya fucking weirdo," he muttered.

I ran outside, hoping to see something. No such luck. Hundreds of people were swarming along the sidewalks. What with all the time I'd wasted, God knows where they'd headed. I noticed Ansat's car was right where he left it. No clues inside.

My judgment of the situation and the variables involved led me to deduce that my best option was to go inside the Le Fun video arcade and play a game of Cruising World. I thought it'd be apt to drive recklessly through Germany. Maybe I'd see a digitized Clockwork somewhere get clobbered by a Lamborghini.

After my fifth game, I got bored and left the arcade, only to run into Ansat! "Ansat!"

"You sure expended a lot of effort to look for me, didn't you?" he snapped. His hair looked scruffier than usual, and his hands were damp with blood. I looked twice to make sure it wasn't mud.

"You're bleeding!"

"Don't worry, it's not mine," he said with a chuckle. "Glad I finally found you though. Something's come up. We have to find some information on a guy named Trapdoor Johnson."


"He took Noni with him, something having to do with Clockwork. C'mon, we can't hang out here any longer," he explained, gesturing toward his car.

* * * * *

[ Shortly afterwards, I passed out, only to wake up in my room at home. Apparently Ansat had slipped something into my lemonade. I don't want to wonder why.

Having Noni's tape recorder, I decided to go ahead and write about interviewing her. After I wrote this, Ansat read it, chuckled, and said, 'Oh, is that how you remember it?'

As for Noni and Clockwork and Trapdoor Johnson (???), no one will tell me what's going on. As usual. ]


"If God is all, how can I be evil?"

--Charlie Manson


[Prev | Next]

[previous page]

by Crux Ansata

0038 111996

Yesterday was wonderful. I took a nap after church, as usual these days. After I got up, I went for a walk and a smoke. As I was walking along Deercreek, leaving the subdivision so no one would see me smoking, I heard someone call my name. I froze, and then looked around, but didn't see anything, and was about to decide I had hallucinated the whole thing. Then I heard it again, and looked more carefully, and there was S., sitting alone in a clubhouse built by some of the kids of the neighborhood.

I walked over there. She no longer lives in the neighborhood. Fortunately for me, she had gotten into a physical fight with her mother on Friday. Her mother told her to leave, and then told her she couldn't go anywhere. S. tried to leave, and her mother hit her, and S. started to throttle her, realized what she was doing, and left. She had been sleeping at Br.'s house, and then hiding out at B.'s, but had run out of places to run to. She also had some nail polish she hated. During the day, we burned it -- and almost us -- along with the bottle, and the nail polish remover, and the bottle to the nail polish remover, and some plastic. Just about everything we could lay hands on.

Anyway, after she told me about the nail polish, and we smoked, I invited her to my house to use my black nail polish. She painted her nails, and then mine, and we used some of the black lipstick on each other, making quite a mess out of ourselves. We listened to music, and we talked. She has a background in magick -- apparently mostly voodoo -- and was familiar with both Lovecraft and the Decadents. I loaned her my The Satanic Rituals and my The Angels of Perversity. Then we went out to look for B.

Somewhere along the line, I invited her to spend that night at my place. It got down to forty six degrees last night, and she would have frozen out there, alone, with nothing but a sweater. So we hung out with the kids of the neighborhood for some time. I met a number I knew from talking to in the street but had never been introduced to. By the time Dad went to bed, all the kids had gone in except O. and R., and one other fellow whose name I forget, but who promised to come get me when he got his pot but never did. I'll have to track him down tomorrow and ask him what's up.

We came back home, and listened to more music, and talked more. She read some of my stories -- "Greece", the fragments of my love tragedy, and "Graveyard". She seemed to actually understand them. That's the cool thing about God. My emotions are important things, and I'm pretty stupid, so fortunately He tells me who I should be interested in, even when there is no apparent reason. About twenty two, as per Mom's request, she and I went out, and M. went for his shower and bed. We smoked some more, and I bought her a small meal at Taco Bell. It is not right for a kid to only have a bowl of cereal and one piece of really bad French toast for a whole day, but incredibly the small meal I bought her filled her up so much when she woke up the next morning she wasn't hungry.

After dinner we came back. M. was in bed, and so we were essentially alone. We shared a beer, and played with the make up again. My fingernails are black, but I cleaned off all the lipstick and most of the eyeliner. She put a lot on, because we both agreed that a lot of eyeliner looks good. She said I look even better in make up. She lay beside me, and I stroked her hair, and she fell asleep. She started awake once, but then slept soundly for a couple of hours. She seemed flattered when I told her I had laid there and watched her for most of two hours.

I woke her up at four. Mom was getting up at four forty five, and I had to have S. gone before my parents caught me sleeping with a fifteen year old runaway in my bed. When she woke up, I asked her if she wanted anything. I offered her water or milk, and she asked for a kiss. And so we kissed. I remember the dream, and how I dreamt I misinterpreted her signals. I hope it was what she wanted, and I hope she wasn't disappointed. She didn't seem to be. After we lay in each other's arms for about fifteen minutes, we headed outside.

It was still inhumanly cold. I pretty much forced my jacket on her, because she was shivering even in B.'s sweater. I forgot to mention: the night before, we were wrestling. Punching at each other and the like. At one point, I grabbed her, and we held each other. It was strange. I felt like I was spinning. I let go first, but we held each other for longer than could possibly be an accident.

I left her sitting on the curb at four thirty. I have heard nothing from her since, but she assured me that she would come by again, that she wanted to come by again. She emphasized that she wanted to.

I am so confused, but I have also been happy all day, like people describe a woman's post-orgasmic glow, or something. I don't know what I want, other than to hold her again.

But where does A. fit in? I don't know. I have already confessed to her in a letter she ought to receive Friday. I don't know what she will think about it. I certainly spun it as best I could. I gave her the information I felt she deserved to have, and none of the details I would have sparred to get out of her, if something like this happened. I told her we kissed, and that she spent the night, and that I will see her again. That is really all she needs to know, but I will have to select my words carefully next time we speak.

It is terribly amusing. I have spun so few details in so many ways. I spun the "she asked me to kiss her" angle for A. I spun the "no kid deserves to be cast out on the street; I just wanted to keep her warm" angle for Mom, and did it so well apparently not even M. realized it was a delicate spin. (It had to be delicate. She has not been reported a runaway, but Dad might still have to report me if I told him anything, so I had to be careful what hearsay he would get from Mom.) I spun it in two other ways for Kilgore and the folks on the boards. And now I have spun it again, here. Facts mean nothing; the theory in which we set the facts means everything.

And, now what? I have to see her again. The books, I could forget. The jacket.... "Give to those who cannot repay you." "When were you hungry and I didn't give you to eat? When were you thirsty and I didn't give you to drink? When were you naked and I didn't clothe you?" And how much of a reward can I expect, when she has repaid me so much already, listening to me, and, much more importantly, speaking to me. Really speaking to me. It made her uncomfortable that I spent most of the time listening to her, but that is what I like. I learn from people that way. I live vicariously, I suppose. She did more for me by talking than by listening. She did a lot by seriously reading my writing, too. She told me she is going to hang "Greece" up on her wall, and her copy is even missing the half paragraph I wrote today.

Two pages. I have to talk about something else. I could go on about it all day. I practically have.

I finished "Greece" today, and sent it to Kilgore. He confirmed receipt of the political essay, but thought the girl I referred to as being over last night was A. In the note accompanying "Greece", I told him he was wrong.

Is this love? Lust? Infatuation? She fits the archetype C. fit. She is the intelligent girl who has fallen through the cracks. But let us look at this as cynically as possible. Is this a martyr syndrome? Am I trying to suffer through her? Or do I see myself as some kind of savior? Both would be bad, and these are things I am going to have to work through before I see her again, although I'm sure I won't have them resolved by then. As rightly I should not. I have to talk to her about last night before I can have enough information to build my model. I have to make sure the kiss was what she wanted. I have to make sure I am not misreading her, like I did in my dream. At least I can expect a fair answer from her, and I can misdirect with the dream comments. She would take the dream seriously, and would confirm or deny.

And, worst, she could have kissed me because she felt obligated. That possibility tears me up inside. I keep it suppressed, but it keeps bubbling up.

But I said I was going to leave this topic. It is hard to do so. She has been in my thoughts all day, and there is no one, no one, to whom I can tell everything. Not even here. It is less that I can't trust people, or that there isn't anyone to talk to -- there isn't, but that is not the problem. The problem is I don't have everything worked out myself, yet.

But it grows late, and I have to get to bed. I have classes tomorrow, and since I spent the last two days in ecstasy, I have neglected my work. Fortunately, I don't have a lot. I read the essay I needed to read for Literary Criticism Friday, and I have read most of the chapter for Linguistics. I still have to finish the work for that, and tomorrow at noon I meet J. to prepare for the French oral exam. (S. had me teach her some profanity in French. "Tu est merde." She dreamt she was being told that by the neighbor's dog.)

I slept for much of today. From about six to about fifteen. I still have the black fingernail coloring, and the eyeliner is still tracely visible. And then today I mostly spent around the boards, as well as writing the letter to A. and the rest of "Greece". I ran into one of the guys around the neighborhood -- I still can't remember his name -- and one of the girls, possibly named Sa. But I have gone over this already.

So I suppose I'll stop here. I want to talk more, but what is there to say? And who cares, but me?

(Damn. It's that kind of talk that makes me get that sinking feeling in my stomach that comes from part of me thinking there is love involved. As I lay there with her I was so tempted to tell her I loved her. I felt it with my whole body! But it is too soon, and I'm not sure of her feelings, and the last thing I want to do is make her feel uncomfortable because she feels pressured. It is better to have her as a friend than alienate her by trying to be a lover. But that is not nearly so hard as the questions this raises with A. While she has been away, my feelings for her have changed. This was inevitable. I think we may still need each other. That is the story I tell so many times in "Greece". And yet, and yet. And yet I don't know. I don't know anything. I think... And I feel... But what? I don't know. I wish she was here now. I wish I could sit her beside me and ask her all these questions that are burning my soul. But I cannot. Even if she were here, I doubt I could even begin to ask. And, believe it or not, this was a twelve line diversion. What I set out to say is when someone or something is constantly on one's lips, when one is bursting to tell everyone what one has found, that may be the truest definition of love I have ever found.

(And yet I don't know. And I worry. And, most of all, I fear.)

0120 111996

[another page]


"Now I'm serving time in disillusionment. I don't believe you anymore. I don't believe you. I don't believe you anymore. I don't believe you."

--Dead Can Dance, "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove"


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by Pyromage

Why can't I tell you how I really feel? Why can't I bring myself to say the words whenever you're around? They're right there, right at the bottom of my throat, waiting to emerge, but I can't bring myself to say them. It's as if there were some unseen force, stuffing them back down into me, much as a bottled up emotion from some forgotten event. I've spent uncountable hours envisioning what telling you would be like, how it would feel, and what your reaction would be. I've spent mornings telling myself, "I'll tell her today, I'll tell her today..." But when the moment comes, the words aren't there and I ask you for a pen instead, even though I have an entire pocket full of them. Fear is not what keeps me from telling you, for fear in the proper amounts can be a great ally. It's more like a brick wall, covered with barbed wire and shards of broken glass. I know I can get over, but the climb is quite painful, and there are often many falls. I also wonder if you feel the same way about me. Does the same thing that keeps me from telling you, keep you from telling me? Perhaps it's some type of demon, whose only demise is the miracle that erupts when two people come together in love. If so, why did this demon have to choose my shoulder to sit on? On top of all the other shit, a demon is the last thing I need, especially of this type. It's not a regular type, one that can be beaten with fists, those are easy to defeat. This one is a thousand times worse, because it knows that very few people have the strength to fight it and win. I know I have the strength, I just have to find a way to surface it, to bring it up amongst everything else. I've always been the type of person that has to, and will win, and I know I can beat this, just like anything else. One of the universe's many virtues, is that the darkness of night, always brings the light of day. In the light of tomorrow, I know I will see you again. With me, will be the demon, strong as ever, but as I lie here I feel an edge, an edge that didn't exist fifteen minutes ago. Will tomorrow be the day? Will I defeat this demon once and for all? Well, even I know that there's no way to see that without the passing of time. But, as the hours approach, as the sky grows pinker, the words echo in my mind over and over, "I'll tell her today..."


"You know... for kids!"

--Tim Robbins in The Hudsucker Proxy


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by Kilgore Trout

If there's one thing that my friends and I do well, it's taking a really lame joke and beating it into the ground. The first few times, the humor is actually present, but after awhile the only pleasure derived is from seeing the tortured faces of those groaning in agony at the staleness of the joke.

There was the infamous cat named Bob who was run over who lived on for years in our taunts directed towards Doorway. It was a nice cat, really, but it was more fun to ask him where his favorite cat was, and then say, "Oh, that's right -- it's dead!" Walrus incurred many threats of bodily harm with his old one-liner, "Did I tell you that I had a dream that I could fly at Wal*Mart?" And, naturally, those of you who read the zine regularly are sure to have spotted quite a few examples as well.

I myself have been the target of quite a few of these recurring jokes, all of which, strangely enough, have involved females as the theme. There was the girl whose initials were M.M. and the accompanying line, "Hey, I bet she melts in his mouth, not in his hands" during my freshman year in high school. My senior year they turned a girl's name into the monster truck call "Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!" and made various quips about monster truck racing.

But the longest running, and possibly most infamous, has to be the accusations that I am a paedophile. Let me state right now that I am absolutely, one hundred percent not guilty of that charge. If I was, do you think I'd admit it? Hell, no. This article is an attempt to show the evolutionary turns and mutations that such a long-running gag can have. It's also a lot of damn good fun if you are one of the perpetrators and not the one being accused.

Especially in well-lit, crowded areas.

Of all the places for something to start like this, the local Dairy Queen somehow gained that distinct honor. This was in August of 1994, a month before I was about to start college. Griphon, Phadrous, IWMNWN, and myself were seated in one of the back booths, and a fifteen year-old worker came over to the table.

"You look familiar," she said. "Have we met?"

"No, I don't think so," I replied.

She then asked me if I knew a guy named Patrick from her hometown, which was about 15 minutes away, and I said I did. It turned out by some strange coincidence that she had actually written two poems for the zine under the handle Five Fingered Body Count.

For the purposes of this article, we'll call her Consuela. She's not even Spanish, but dammit, I've been wanting to use that name for a long time.

I only saw Consuela once or twice at Dairy Queen before she quit. There was only friendly banter, a "hi" here and a "hello" there. My friends, all with degrees in Reading Between the Lines, sensed some prime material for their pleasure. It started off slowly, with harmless lines like, "She's a bit young for you, isn't she?" or, "Robbing the cradle there, huh?"

And then, one night, Griphon and Phadrous drove to my house on a weeknight at midnight, got me out of bed even though I had to go to work at 6:30am the next morning, and took me to Whataburger. They then let loose their flurry of one-liners. A sample of that conversation is included here for your viewing pleasure.

[date: sometime in august time: around 12:40am]

KiLGORE: Guys, why the hell did you drag me out of bed to take me to Whataburger?

GRiPHON: To make fun of you.

PHADROUS: And Consuela.

GRiPHON: Yeah, I've been meaning to ask you. Has her mom taken off the training wheels of her bike yet?

PHADROUS: Hmmm. Maybe you could set me up with her kindergarten teacher.

GRiPHON: Just think. In a few more years, she'll have her driver's permit and it'll almost feel like a real date.

KiLGORE: Shut up.

GRiPHON: No, really. I mean, either of you can drive, and she'll finally have a bedtime that's AFTER dark. You'll actually be able to stay out late.

PHADROUS: Although you will lose the kiddie discount at the movies.

GRiPHON: And at restaurants, too. Of course, then you can go to a theme park cause she'll be tall enough to ride those rides.

KiLGORE: I can't believe I got out of bed to listen to this.

GRiPHON: [laughs maniacally]

PHADROUS: [laughs maniacally]

And on it went. Looking back, it seems fairly tame, but at the time and the prospect of getting up in a few hours, I was not a happy man. Usually something like this went on for a couple of weeks until everybody ran out of material and/or got bored with the joke. Then, like jungle cats ready to prey on a midday safari snack, we all waited for someone to do something stupid to fuel yet another fire.

Unfortunately, that impetus wasn't provided by any of us. Griphon and I were walking down the Drag in Austin and came across some DragRats (the local name for the teenage homeless kids who basically live there). One of them said he'd tell us three gross jokes for fifty cents. Money exchanged hands, and he told us the jokes. Ironically, the three jokes all centered around sex with small children and babies, and the ragging began once again, this time with a more morbid direction. (The jokes the DragRats gave us are included in the joke listing at the bottom of this article.)

Naturally, I got tired of this. After all, who wants to be called a paedophile and a child molester all the time? Sure, it's some weird form of notoriety, but after awhile it just gets really old. I decided that the only way to get it to stop was to turn the tables and start making my own quips about paedophilia and up the ante a bit. I somehow found a few more tasteless jokes, and I was on my way to churning my friends' stomachs a bit.

Now everything has pretty much settled down. We find the paedophilia jokes a great way to test someone's humor level. They're also great at parties, and the looks on people's faces when you're the only one laughing at your own, sick joke is simply priceless.

Of course, when something truly inspirational comes along, my friends just cannot pass it up, and I can't say I blame them. I wouldn't either. Last Saturday, we were all walking out of Cronenberg's Crash when Clockwork turned to me and gave me a small piece of folded-up paper.

"Don't open it yet," he ordered.

"What's this?" I asked.

"It's from a Chinese fortune cookie from lunch, and I thought you should have it. Remember to add the 'in bed' part after you read it."

I slowly unfolded the paper and started laughing.

It read, "A great man never ignores the simplicity of a child."

* * * * *


The first three jokes were given to us by the nameless guy on the Drag. The rest were culled from various sources. Use at your own discretion, and read at your own risk. Parents seem especially offended at these jokes. Sometimes that's all the more reason to tell them. We like babies and children as much as the next e-zine; we just don't consider them sacred cows that can't be lampooned. And don't worry -- I damned myself a long time ago.

Q. What's the worst thing about eating bald pussy? A. Putting the diaper back on.

Q. What's the worst thing about having sex with a six year-old? A. Wiping the blood off of the clown suit.

Q. What do you get when you stab a baby? A. An erection.

Q. What's the best thing about a six year-old girl? A. Turning her over and pretending she's a six year-old boy.

Q. What's the best thing about getting a handjob from a six-year old girl? A. It makes your dick look really big.

Q. What's the best thing about titfucking a six-year old girl? A. Breaking her sternum.

Q. What's a bad thing to say in a Victoria's Secret store? A. Do you have these in kid sizes?

Q. What's the worst thing about having sex with small children? A. There are only so many places to hide a body.

Q. What's the best thing about having sex with small children? A. Smaller bodies are easier to hide.


"We will not go quietly into the night,
we will not vanish without a fight."

--Bill Pullman, Independence Day

"Would you like in a house?
Would you like them with a mouse?"
--Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham


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by Crux Ansata

[The following letter was written in an emotional time. For that reason, the biographical data cannot be trusted. The meditations on freedom, though, that make up the bulk of the text, retain their interest.]

27 December 1996

Dear Harlequin,

Did I ever tell you where I met Bobbi Sands? I expect I did, but I expect it was a long time ago, and you've forgotten. I'll tell you again. I'm sure I can't say I found her in any one place. She was a part of myself, and she was a universal archetype, and she was a role-playing game character, but she was also Alison Kelly. That was her real name. Bobbi Sands was as fake for her as it was for me -- and as real.

I had lifted her, too, from a book: The Magus, by John Fowles. You should read it. It is an excellent novel, even if Fowles thinks it his worst. I had only read the first part when I started writing about Bobbi, and that is where she mostly is. Fowles describes her in ways like this:

She had candid grey eyes, the only innocent things in a corrupt face, as if circumstances, not nature, had forced her to be hard. To fend for herself, yet to seem to need defending. ... She was bizarre, a kind of human oxymoron.

(I think Bobbi's eyes were blue; I don't remember. Doesn't matter, though. Facts are meaningless. Mere data points. What matters is the pattern, the formula.) Or:

Alison was always feminine; she never, like so many English girls, betrayed her gender. She wasn't beautiful, she very often wasn't even pretty. But she had a fashionably thin boyish figure, she had a contemporary dress sense, she had a conscious way of walking, and her sum was extraordinarily more than her parts. I would sit in the car and watch her walking down the street towards me, pause, cross the road; and she looked wonderful. But then when she was close, beside me, there so often seemed to be something rather shallow, something spoilt-child, in her appearance. Even close to her, I was always being wrong-footed. She would be ugly one moment, and then some movement, expression, angle of her face, made ugliness impossible.

When she went out she used to wear a lot of eye-shadow, which married with the sulky way she sometimes held her mouth to give her a characteristic bruised look; a look that subtly made one want to bruise her more. Men were always aware of her, in the street, in restaurants, in pubs; and she knew it. I used to watch them sliding their eyes at her as she passed. She was one of those rare, even among already pretty, women that are born with a natural aura of sexuality: always in their lives it will be the relationships with men, it will be how men react, that matters. And even the tamest sense it.

These were elements of Bobbi Sands, and passages that I kept in mind writing my own descriptions of her. This Alison was the one I fell in love with. She was the kind of a girl I would have wanted when I was the child I was then. She is not the kind of girl I would want as the child I am now. I fell out of love with her, and she died.

They are more, though, than just how she looked. Much more, Fowles describes how she felt; how she was. That dual nature, that vulnerable side. Or, again, like this:

There was a simpler Alison, when the mascara was off. She had not been typical of herself, those first twelve hours; but still always a little unpredictable, ambiguous. One never knew when the more sophisticated, bruised-hard persona would reappear. She would give herself violently; then yawn at the wrongest moment. She would spend all day clearing up the flat, cooking, ironing, then pass the next three or four bohemianly on the floor in front of the fire, reading Lear, women's magazines, a detective story, Hemingway -- not all at the same time, but bits of all in the same afternoon. She liked doing things, and only then finding a reason for doing them.

I especially like the way he joins being bruised and being sophisticated. Pain is growth, and that may be why I have come to hate change, whether one calls it "progress" or "decay".

I hope it won't give anything away if you read the book, but at a later point Alison dies. That was quite a shock; more of a shock than it should be when a character dies. It was a shock because I recognize Bobbi -- and a part of myself -- in Alison, but also because it came after Bobbi herself had died. And both Alisons Kelly died the same way. (Again, facts don't matter. They died of the same thing.)

Both Alison and Bobbi had reached the point where they ran out of options, because they were slaves. In trying to be free, they had enslaved themselves again. That had killed them.

To want to die is slavery. To want to live is slavery. To want is slavery. This is why Catholicism says martyrdom is the ultimate proof of human freedom, and why Christ said do not fear those who can only destroy the body. To conquer death you only have to die. Only by allowing oneself to be destroyed -- without caring one way or the other -- can someone prove themselves free. Not free to choose, but free to choose not to choose when one has the choice. To prove that even the freedom to choose is a slavery.

Tertullian said we have to believe Christ crucified, because it is ridiculous. Unbelievable. Most people laugh when they first hear that. I imagine I did. When I meditated on it, though, I realized its wisdom, and why it is still quoted today. There is no virtue, no freedom, in believing something that has been proven to you. Indeed, you have no choice. It is "proven". (It also betrays one's slavery to the prejudices of one's chosen kind of proof, since no proof can be had by humans.) To believe something unbelievable, though, is a free act. Surrealism, Romanticism, religion, these are human. Realism, Naturalism, materialism, these are animal.

You said that A.'s and my relationship was self- and mutually destructive because it was co-dependent. I no longer believe that. There may be some co-dependence on my part. That is betrayed by the fact that I always forgive her. But this co-dependence is by choice. The night I met her I chose to have a long term relationship with her, and the difficulties only prove that my choice is irrational -- and therefore free. Logic threatens to make slaves of us all. No, the main reason it is destructive -- to me, at least, is that she has the childish capacity for unthinking cruelty. ("This shows that, if babies are innocent, it is not for lack of will to do harm, but for lack of strength." Saint Augustine, The Confessions, i.7.)

All through our relationship, one of the things that has caused the biggest fights is her refusal to take responsibility. Her refusal to confess her choices. She flings around words and phrases like "have to", "can't", "no choice". That is always a lie. I can take easier a calculated slap in the face, an "I choose to hurt you", than I can an unthinking shirking of responsibility, an "I have no choice but to hurt you". She used to get very angry at me for not making decisions, as she felt it was. She never realized that I made decisions, and frequently these decisions were to allow decisions to be made. Freedom from choice. All the time, she was truly hiding her decisions, acting as if she never made them, but that they were made for her. She has never had -- in the time I have known her -- the innocence or the openness of a child. She will swear up and down otherwise, but she will be deceiving herself. She has not yet even begun to lose the childish lack of empathy, though, and her total self-centeredness. She will never, for all her claims, begin to grow up until she learns the meaning of the word "us".

For a marriage, it is better to have a woman. A comrade in arms. For an affair, though, if one wants to be happy, it is far better to have a child. A real child. I am much happier laying around with my fifteen year old female friends, watching them put on make-up or play with the cat or conspire against their lovers, than talking with A. But then, that is the essence of our relationship. We have the love thing down pat, but we have never either of us figured out the like thing. We have never liked each other very much. Love is a need, and a pain. One eats sweets because one likes the taste. Guilty pleasure, like taking a child. One eats food because one is hungry, a need, an emptiness, a pain. That pain is the love I feel for A. We neither of us have a choice -- but there I go again. Of course I, at least, have a choice. The desire for pleasure is the most animal slavery of all, but one: the desire to be comfortable. Pain does not make us human, but freely choosing to suffer does. No animal would do that. Setting a value on it, selecting an ideal, struggling for "freedom" or "power" or "pleasure" or to get someone into bed, these are all excuses, and they dehumanize us. They are not pure choice; they are a pathetic attempt at a barter agreement.

I was brought up with an all but religious reverence for freedom, but we don't have freedom unless we can freely give it up, and until even the desire for freedom ceases to be. And the desire to be able to give up freedom. All desire.

But I am going on about myself again. I don't know why you let me do that. I imagine you simply skip to the end of the letter -- where I say, "I hope you'll write soon" -- and wisely ignore the rest. So I won't bother writing it. Without further ado: "I hope you'll write soon", and, in the meantime, continue guarding the country.

Crux Ansata


[=- POETASTRiE -=]

"The poets? They stink. They write badly. They're idiots you see, because the strong people don't write poetry.... They become hitmen for the Mafia. The good people do the serious jobs."

--Charles Bukowski


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by Nomad

The road has been long my friend,
and we have come to it's end,
I must sleep, these old bones creak.
They drag me down to the earth to lay,
go my friend, because to day is my day.
We've done all the things we could
but there were things we didn't, that we should.
It seems as though I have fought so many battles
and my soul weighs heavy for their costs.
Please don't cry for me, I don't want you in misery.
Believe when I say to thee
that my soul will indeed be free.
Because I have done one thing true in my life,
the one thing that has been my tithe.
My love for you shall get me into heaven,
my love for you and my fellow man.
Now don't say those words that I would say
don't ask me to stay.
You know it's not possible
my lovely disciple.
I ask you, for me shed no tears,
but to believe I will always be near.


[=- FiCTiON -=]


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by Adidas

Wild goats, such as the Ibex, prefer to live in mountainous and rocky areas, although they can survive in all types of environments. There are five species of wild goats. Those involved in the discussion are Ibex, Daghestan tur, and Markhor. The rest of the goats involved are Domestic goats such as the Saanen goat, Toggenburg goat, Nubian Goat, Angora Goat, Indian Jamnapari Goat, and Pakistani Goat. Domestic goats produce 1 3/4 gallons of milk yearly. Domestic goats provide other products, too, such as meat, fertilizer, leather, and wool.

For these reasons, it can be suspected that wild goats and domestic goats do not get along very well. This is a short play about racism amongst goats.

                              9 Goats Involved
                        PD - Pakistani Dwarf Goat (DOMESTIC)
                        I  - Ibex (WILD)
                        IJ - Indian Jamnapari Goat (DOMESTIC)
                        DT - Daghestan tur (WILD)
                        M  - Markhor (WILD)
                        SG - Saanen Goat (DOMESTIC)
                        TG - Toggenburg Goat (DOMESTIC)
                        AG - Angora Goat (DOMESTIC)
                        NG - Nubian Goat (DOMESTIC)


A fairly sizable conference room in which a Nubian Goat, an Indian Jamnapari Goat, a Saanen Goat, an Angora Goat, and a Pakistani Dwarf Goat are sitting, sipping Cow Milk and comfortably discussing how they have been since the last Goat Convention.

NG: There's nothing better than this, eh boys?

IJ: Nope. The Annual Goat Conventions. A time when we can all gather to celebrate in our goatliness.

NG: I think we all remember each other from last year. How have all you been?

SG: Fine.

AG: Alright.

PD: Good, I guess. I'm not too excited about this whole meeting though. I'm not too sure about the Society these days. I mean, the International Goat Society? It's outdated.

[Enter Markhor]

NG: Hold on a minute, Markhor. This is a Domestic Goat only discussion.

M : Watch it, prejudiced bastard. This is the Goat Conventions and I, being a goat, can do what I please. You're so smug because you're a domestic goat. Well, let me tell you something...

[Saanen Goat pulls Angora Goat aside and whispers]

SG: Who let the Markhor in here?

AG: Wild goats think they're gods. I'll tell you what. There's gonna be some fights if that Bezoar doesn't get the hell out of here.

[Saanen and Angora rejoin conversation]

[Enter Daghestan tur and Ibex]

DT: Hey, is this the open discussion room?

M : I thought so, but apparently us wild goats aren't allowed.

I : What? The International Goat Society is against Domestic Goat - Wild Goat prejudices! This is a violation of International Goat law!

DT: This is an open discussion and no idiot domestic goat is going to tell me what rooms I can or can't enter.

NG: Wait up, let's just all get along for one day. It's the Goat Conventions, time for us to all be friends, not up in arms!

IJ: He's right. Sorry, Markhor, you all can join our conversation.

DT: "You all"? As if we're different? As if we're not good enough? As if I need your permission to join a conversation?

IJ: I didn't mean it like that. You all know what I meant.

I : Oh, "we all" do? You domestic bastards think you're all that because you produce milk and live on farms, do you? Pampered sons of bitches.

AG: Hey, my life isn't all that pampered!

M : Have you ever even seen a mountain?

AG: Well... no.

M : And you call yourself a goat.

I : Let's get out of here. I don't want to even be involved with these guys.

[Exit Markhor, Ibex, and Daghestan tur]


The main convention center in the International Goat Society sponsored Goat Conventions. A Toggenburg Goat (Domestic) bumps into Daghestan tur, on his way out from the conference room. The Ibex and Markhor are not far behind the Daghestan tur.

DT: Watch where you're going!

TG: Excuse me. I was merely looking for the open discussion room, might you know it's location.

DT: Yeah, it's the room we just came from.

TG: Thank you very much.

I : I wouldn't go in there though, if I were you.

TG: Why not?

M : Racists. A bunch of prissy domestic goats in there.

TG: Well, I'm domestic.

M : You're a domestic goat?

TG: Yes.

I : I thought you were just a young Bezoar.

TG: No, I'm Toggenburg.

M : Why were you so nice with us then? Most domestics would just push right through us without even apologizing.

TG: Well, we're all goats, aren't we?

[With this Toggenburg enters the Open Discussion Room and the wild goats, after meeting with this sympathizer, decide to reenter themselves]


Back inside the conference room, all nine goats now are in a conversation.

TG: So I says to Margaret, you can't tell me what to do, I've already done it!

[All goats laugh]

NG: I've got one, here goes. Three domestic goats and one wild goat are sitting at a bus stop. They're all waiting for the same bus. It's a really windy day, and when their bus pulls up the domestics get in but the wild goat doesn't because his mane flew up in front of his eyes!

[The Domestic Goats chuckle, except the Toggenburg. The wild goats look unhappy and the Markhor, known for his mane stares at the Nubian Goat]

M : I've got a great joke. Four humans are sitting around and thinking about what to have for dinner, then they all decide on domestic goat meat!

[The wild goats BURST out laughing while all the domestic goats gasp and growl at the crude comment]

IJ: I hope you catch pneumonia and die, Markhor.

M : Oh yeah, well, I wish parasites on you.

TG: Don't you see what's going on here? We're only separating ourselves further! For goat kind, we must unite! Let us all recite the Goat Pledge of Allegiance.

TG: I pledge allegiance, to the goats, of the International Goat Society, and to the animals, for which it stands, one society, under Goat, indivisible, with liberty, and justice, for all goats (Domestic and Wild).

PD: Your just spreading the International Goat Society propaganda. You're a fucking sympathizer. You're just as bad as the wild goats. Get the hell out of here.

IJ: Dwarf's right. The International Goat Society has had it's reign. It's time for some reconstruction. First thing out is the Wild Goats.

DT: You talking about us, bitch?

[Riots and fights break out in the conference room]

TG: Can't we all just goat along?

DT: I've goaten enough of these horrible goat jokes!

TG: It's only negoatiable as to whether or not there will be more.

PD: That's it!

[The Pakistani Dwarf Goat retrieves his rifle and proceeds to blow his own brains out. Only then did the goats realize the error in their ways.]

It takes horrible tragedies to make a society understand.
This will never be forgoatten.


"76. Flexibility

A newborn is soft and tender,
A crone, hard and stiff.
Plants and animals, in life, are supple and juicy;
In death, brittle and dry.
So softness and tenderness are attributes of life,
And hardness and stiffness, attributes of death.

Just as a sapless tree will split and decay
So an inflexible force will meet defeat;
The hard and mighty lie beneath the ground
While the tender and weak dance on the breeze above."

--Tao Te Ching


[Prev | Next]

by Morrigan, with help from Tori Amos's "Little Earthquakes"

"give me life."

walking down the street, her eyes slide to the side to spy on her body. she walks with head held up and spine straight to the sky. she strides past everyone on legs longer than they could be. against perfection sways floor length green velvet meant for dancing. for protection from the cold her upper half is coated in satin. at a look from an awe struck man, she tosses her head and revels in the long silky tresses the color of ripe wheat.

vague insistence pulls her into the limo that has stopped for her. with smoothness born of natural flawlessness she slips into its plush interior, at home in the splendor. unconcernedly, she sips the champagne in front of her, superiorly gazing out the window at the passing trees. once the car slows to a halt, she accepts the offered hand.

she is the center of attention. she is beautiful and an ideal conversationalist. she says the right things at the best time. her laugh is comfortable and unable to offend.

she is alive. she is society.

"give me pain."

her laugh is interrupted by the searing fire in her back. the millionth perfect party is splattered with red, leaking through the sequins. the knife clatters to the floor in absolute synchronization with her body. jealousy flees and is replaced with numbness: in the hand that unleashed her blood and the legs that let her waltz.

the scab itches beyond enduring and even though she'll never dance, her feet burn as if from days on end of the forbidden freedom. her hand is tired of explanations, her hearts aches with longing, she's half a world away, because that's as far as she can get.

she is alive. she is torment.

"give me myself again."

silence is all that greets her. freed from the world all around, her smirk hides behind itself. having been among them, she is now unshackled in her derision. refusing to condemn them without knowledge, she can now rest peacefully in knowing her contempt is beyond justification. so she watches.

and she buys a new knife.

she is alive. she is invisible.


"It will be a great day when education gets all the money it needs, and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to build a bomber."

--bumper sticker


[Prev | Next]

by Water Damage

I go off to war tomorrow.

The draft was banned. The body bags keep coming back. Yet, I go off to war tomorrow. Why? You don't know how many times I asked myself that. Always, the answer comes down to pressure. I'm not talking about seventh-grade peer pressure, when all the football players discovered pot, and they wanted you to, too. I could deal with that. This is a more subtle pressure, a more sinister pressure, and one that's infinitely more dangerous.

You see the posters and commercials everywhere. "Be all you can be." Hollywood produces an abundance of war movies, about the young hero who has to brave the dangers of combat, but even though his buddies die left and right, he remains alive. War is glorified everywhere. The Chinese are made out to be evil people. KKK membership and overall racism are at an all time high. There has even been talk of concentration camps...

It's not that the adverts have a hypnotizing effect, or anything. At first, I just ignored them, easy. There were only a few, on only a few street corners, or only on TV a few times a day. The type of posters that I had seen in history books all through high school. Then, all of a sudden, there were so many!

I can't help but think of the movies, the posters. They're everywhere, and all my attempts to evade them fail miserably. It's like trying to swim while ignoring the water. You just can't do it.

Everyday, images of Johnny Soldier marching victoriously through a ruined Chinese village, images of burning crosses as national symbols, all rush through my head. How can I possibly resist pressure like that?

I don't HAVE to go. I'm not required to by law. Ever since the corporations got enough support in congress (by that, I mean bribing the senators), the draft was eliminated completely (the draft equals lots of young people at war; lots of young people at war equals no workforce). However, that hasn't stopped military enthusiasts from applying every type of societal pressure there is to me.

Almost every guy in my graduating class signed up as soon as commencement was over, as girls still hadn't quite got accustomed to this military thing, not to mention all the scandals. I remember images of the boys I grew up with roaring downtown to the recruitment office. That night, they had a big party. A real gala affair, lots of drinking, lots of "I may die tomorrow, so sleep with me tonight" talk. Lots of lonely girls after that night. Me, I stood back from all that. I was laughed at and all that rot, but I didn't care. I wasn't going to fight.

But, why? Why wasn't I going to go across the Pacific along with every other eighteen year old in the U.S.? Why wasn't I going to be all I could be? Pro-war fever was high and I had to admit that I was starting to catch it. However, I was scared. I didn't want to have to kill. I wasn't sure that my nation's ideals were ones I believed in, let alone ones I would die for. I thought the war was wrong. Whenever I tried to explain this to any of my teachers, or my family, all I got was worried looks. I was hoping they could shed some light on the situation, but all they said was, "You are misinformed. Your sources are bad."

What about their sources? CNN was more or less Uncle Sam's right hand, and a healthy dose of our defense budget was poured into propaganda of all kinds. I've heard about bills in Congress that would imprison people that spoke out against the government, much like the Alien and Sedition Acts. Everyone, everywhere, was calling for national unity. People thought this was a golden age for America, with everyone unified for a common cause. Everyone except the Chinese-Americans, anyway.

I was scared of dying.

I said earlier that the body bags were coming back. I don't know for sure what the death toll is up to, but I've heard reports that it's almost as great as World War II already. No one is phased, even though more than half the boys from my town are dead. Despite this, everyone in my town and in my nation is still adamant about the war, they all hate China, now. Uncle Sam's war machine rolls on.

Have you ever noticed how the name Uncle Sam sounds like Big Brother? Talk like that could get me in trouble, though...

My family is especially strong about the war. My sister repeatedly says, "If I were old enough, I would go and fight." All the while, my dad just glares at me. I always end up excusing myself from the dinner table when it gets to this point, and I go into my room to get away from it all. One night, I listened to the radio even though there was some war special going on. All night, I heard interviews with General this-or-that, telling everyone left that there was still time to sign up now. They sounded grave and serious, which they should be, fighting a war and all, but the words they used made it sound like an adventure, not a nightmare. Uncle Sam needs YOU...

The next morning, my dad left a note on the kitchen table for me before he went to work. It said that he was going to make me sign up if I hadn't by the time I turned nineteen. It left me so hurt all day, that I decided not to go to work. I just sat in my room and cried. I was devastated. Everything I had planned for went out the window. I was going to actually have to fight. Putting my trust in the propaganda, I tried to convince myself that it wasn't that bad. That it would be an adventure, I wanted so desperately to believe that.

Even my girlfriend is in war hysteria! She tells me to go every time I see her! This one really shouldn't matter to me, though. I'm dating the prom queen right now, and the only reason is that there really is no one else available. I'm the last available guy on Earth, it feels like.

It's been almost a year now, and another wave of children will turn eighteen and graduate, the pressure is about to be amplified. I wonder, is there informal pressure like this in China, now? No, of course not. I heard on the news last night that they were completely totalitarian. They FORCED people into the army, what kind of awful, uncivilized country would do that? Everyone there has to subscribe to the national religion. It's an awful country, and we are doing them a favor by...

I don't laugh at things like that. There have been numerous occasions where I actually BELIEVED words like those, maybe I still do.

I don't know what I'm going to do! My head feels like it's going to burst apart from all this! One day, a few days before I turned nineteen, I was sitting in my room, and I was on the verge of actually getting up to go down to the registration center. I was actually going to do this, put an end to everyone harassing me day and night, and I'd serve my country to boot. Pro-war propaganda was all over my room now, the army had been mailing me stuff for a year. I didn't feel like I wanted to resist anymore. That is, until I stepped outside. Everything seemed so quiet, so dead and sterile, and I just stood there, staring down the street. That's when I saw him. My best friend who lived down the street until he went off to China, was limping up the street to my house! His face was partially bandaged, and he was missing half his right leg, using crutches to support himself. Slowly, he made his way up the street and to me.

He told me of the war and what it had done to him, not just his body, but his spirit, too. He told me of the people he killed, of how false those messages of glory are. He told me how right I was not to have signed up, and he cried when he said that. I told him of my problems with my dad, and he listened. He told me that his wounds were bad, with indications of infection on his face. He said that he might die, and then he gave me two books.

The first was his diary. I paged through it quickly right there in front of him, looking at the dirt smudged pages filled with his trademark messy handwriting for maybe ten minutes before I remembered the other book. It was a copy of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five torn up and dirty, but all the pages seemed to be there.

Then he left, to go to the hospital. It was the last time I ever saw him.

I went back home and read the diary. It took me forever to decipher, but it was still legible enough. It told me graphic descriptions of what I had been afraid to ask about. It told me of the horrible things he was called upon to do to the Chinese towns they had come across. It told me of dead comrades, and it told me of apathy. The writing was so objective, not an ounce of feeling in any of it. It made my head spin, reeling from the feeling. It was an awful, black, cancerous feeling that started deep within my stomach, and crawled from there into my brain, where my urge to go war was, and the two had their own little battle. I shut myself away from the rest of the pro-war world while I absorbed the knowledge from the diary. My head was a in a constant stalemate, until I read the other book.

It took me a few days to read. It took me some more to think about what Vonnegut was really getting at. I never got a chance to finish my analysis of his message, because I turned nineteen. At the small celebration, my dad made the announcement to everyone present: I was going to sign up for the army the very next day. I was showered with praise from everyone I knew for deciding to join the army, and after awhile, I started to believe it all. Everything I had heard about the war, the posters, the commercials, the movies, the radio shows, my family, my girl, filled my head. I believed it all, and I was actually ENJOYING it. What I was doing was right. How could it be wrong at all? There was no one there to tell me what a horrible mistake I was making, no one to give me a book, no one to translate Vonnegut for me. The entire world was a blur. It's like when you're five years old, and your mom tells you she made a doctor's appointment for you to get your shots. You cared up until your appointment, but when you're actually in the car, going to the clinic, every thought is suddenly erased. Instead, your head is just kind of light and airy as you ride along...

It was like that. That night, sitting in my room, I wondered what it would actually be like, was my friend right? Or just delusional? I heard the doorbell ring from across the house, and as my parents were somewhere else, I had to answer the door. I almost didn't, because I wanted to sulk, but something drove me on.

My girlfriend was there, looking as radiant as ever. One of her friends had driven her here, and that was kind of odd since she usually drives me. We left, almost wordlessly, and went to a movie. Her behavior was different tonight, kind of detached, like she was just going through the motions, and not really enjoying herself. After the movie, we went to the lake. It was kind of her idea, because I really wanted to go back home and sulk. But she said it with such ferocity and, almost anger, that I really had no choice. I was far too confused. She looked me directly in the eyes, and said "I want to go to the lake." She had an attitude like...

My dad was all set to drive me in the morning, but I didn't show up. I was still at the lake, but not the part of the lake that my girl and I had been at the night before. I guess I might as well tell the story, because I'm not ashamed of what happened. The whole time we were at the lake, she was drawing closer and closer to me, and it got to a point, and then she came to a halt, and looked at me expectantly. She was all over me, then she just kind of stopped. I looked at her for maybe a minute, and then everything came together in my head. It explains her whole mood that night, she was expecting me to say "I go off to war tomorrow, so sleep with me tonight." She acted just like those girls had a year ago, with my classmates. I knew that if I did, I would have sealed my doom, it would have been like telling myself "You're going, tomorrow." Instead, I left. I didn't know at first why, something just seemed horribly wrong. I told her I was going to go piss, and then I ran to my car. I grabbed the Vonnegut novel from the back seat, and turned to a page near the end, and ripped it out. I threw the novel and the keys in the front seat, and ran off into the woods. This particular page of the novel had been in my mind all night, and printed on it was a picture of a locket a character in the novel wore, and printed on the locket were the words, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom always to tell the difference."

I ran and ran, around the lake to the other side, to the spot where my best childhood friend and I had always gone when we were little. It had been maybe five years since I've come here, and it was dark out, but I still found it. A small little patch of dirt by a very large fallen tree, the same as always. There I sat until morning.

What changed my mind about the war? The page I held in my hand did, or rather, it was the whole book. I figured it out, finally. I knew what Vonnegut was getting at. I knew why war was so bad. I knew why I wasn't going to go. I had always thought that going to war was one of the things I couldn't change, that it was as inevitable as sunrise. That morning I realized it wasn't, that I really didn't have to go. My dad may kick me out of the house, everything else may get royally screwed up, but I didn't really have to go.

I stayed out there for as long as I could, before the police found me. Of course, they had been looking for me for days, and now that they found me, they delivered me into the custody of my parents. Needless to say, I was thrown into the car, for a trip to the recruitment center.

All the way there, I remembered the propaganda I had seen talking about how the horrible Chinese were, because they actually FORCED people into the military...

I was signed up, and taken home. Tomorrow I was to report to city hall, to be transported to the nearest training base. I was locked in my room. I had thoughts of suicide that night, but they were trivial at best compared to the other feelings in me. Feelings not unlike the black, deathly one from the diary, or the wrenching one when I figured out what my girl was trying to do. I'm at peace, though, because I don't have to deal with any of this ever again. The doctor will give me my shots (pun intended).

I'm going off to war tomorrow.


"Against the haystack a girl stands laughing at me,
Cherries hung round her ears.
Offers me her scarlet fruit: I will see
If she has any tears."

-- D.H. Lawrence, "Cherry Robbers"


[Prev | Footer]

by Frater Nemo est Sanctus

"Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate,
for all things are plain in the sight of Heaven.
For nothing hidden will not become manifest,
and nothing covered will remain without being uncovered."

-- Christ, Thom. 6

The Tommy Fragment

[Continued from State of unBeing #5, May 1994 ]

Afterward, ansat never could remember just when she had fallen asleep. She was almost there when they started, though she was awake enough to snuggle into his arms; but less than five minutes into the half hour drive, she was asleep in his embrace, he feeling the gentle caress of her warm young body at every breath, pressed against him at regular intervals, and withdrawn slowly, tantalizingly.

He removed her shoes and socks, sliding her socks into her shoes and her shoes into his pockets. He toyed with her feet as he pulled her onto his lap, feeling her snuggle deeply into his shoulder. Finally, he could enjoy her press with none to see and suspect.

Arriving home, he cradled her in his arms precariously as he opened the door, and he gently laid her on the couch. Sitting with her a moment to make sure she was really asleep, he got up and headed for the kitchen, stopping along the way to pull a couple of pill bottles from a drawer.

He pulled a glass from the cupboard, and, filling it with milk, put it into a saucepan of water and set it to a low heat.

Waiting for the milk to warm, ansat pulled out a paper towel and, opening four capsules, poured the green powder onto the paper. Idly, he mixed the two shades with a long pinkie finger nail. Two ginseng, for energy and sexual excitement, and two valerian, a direct nerve agent to dull the brain. The milk would relax her, too, especially warm, ansat thought, tipping the powder into the gently steaming glass, but the idea was to overpower the milk with ginseng, and to keep sedation with the valerian. East Indian graveyard dust; ansat toyed with the old name for the deeper green powder. Turn you into zombei. He turned down the heat and stirred the powder into the liquid. Warm milk dissolves powders well, and it is always gratefully accepted by sleepy children.

He popped two ginsengs himself, and tested the milk. Not too hot.

He had a radiator in the doorway between his room and the living room, which was on the way from the kitchen. It was a happy little radiator, and kept his room nice and warm when it was on. Walking back to the living room, he passed it in his doorway, and tried to decide whether or not to put it on. Heat, in his opinion, enhanced sensitivity, but decreased performance. Harder to keep erect; easier to keep aroused. Most important, though, is that it is also a subtle trigger on the girl, and would make her, if awake, more aroused. With the tip of his boot he kicked the switch, and the happy little radiator radiated happy heat in its own form of arousal. By the time he was ready for the bedroom, the bedroom would be ready for him.

When he appeared back in the living room, the girl was just beginning to stir. He cuddled her shoulders from his position kneeling on the floor, and set the glass on the coffee table.

"You slept through the ice cream," he said, gently. "Your mother said to take you here. She'll be by to pick you up in twenty minutes or so." Almost as an afterthought, he offered the glass to her. "Here. Want something to drink?"

Gratefully, she took it. She wrinkled her little nose. "Smells funny."

He simpered. "Sorry. Left the bottle open in the fridge. You know how milk absorbs smells...." Thus placated, she drank.

He hoped the twenty minutes story would buy him enough time to avoid arousing her suspicions. He had read the pills took about thirty minutes to reach the nervous system. Dissolved, he had noticed they took effect faster, but he had been too impressed with his ingenuity with the milk and only belatedly realized milk would also coat her stomach. He hoped the pills would reach the stomach lining simultaneously with the milk. He suppressed an indecent ectodermic metaphor, and tried to find an inconspicuous way to kill a half an hour.

Needless to say, his nerves were tight, and though he knew the ginseng would calm them, he would have to wait for that. He began to wish he'd let the pills dissolve in his mouth, but no point in regrets.

He became aware she was watching him, bleary eyed, on the couch. The clarity of her gaze disturbed him. Unsettled him. He could tell she was tired, but she seemed nonetheless alert. Desperately, he tried to convince himself it was his guilty imagination, and looked for a way out, as if he were the prisoner.

He was shocked to find himself backing away from her, remembered an old stalking standby, and fished a packet of cigarettes out of his pocket. Wordlessly, he held them up -- as if for her approval -- and walked down the hall to the front door.

The cold air hit him like a slap, but he did not want to go back for his jacket, crumpled in a graceless heap on the kitchen floor. He pulled the door almost closed and lit up.

He forced himself to breathe deeply and watch the burn of his cigarette. He slowed himself so completely he almost jumped out of his skin when the door opened and she stepped out, shivering under a blanket clutched around her shoulders. Wordlessly, guilelessly, she snuggled against him; he could feel her nodding off. He put his arm around her shoulder and ran his other thumb over her lips. Her eyes slid shut, and this time she did not force them open. He rested his lips against her forehead, deeply breathed her hair, his cigarette forgotten in his flowerpot cum ashtray. No point in regrets. He ran his fingers along her naked legs, the faint, translucent hairs glimmering in the streetlight, and the only response was her tremor against him, and her knees pressed, shivering, against his side. He ran his hand under her knees and lifted her once more; carried her over to the bed.

The blanket discarded, he held her in an awkward sitting position, pinned between him and the overstuffed pillows. The skirt of her dress opened in a circle around her body like the bell of a giant flower, revealing the ends of a split stem, spread slightly, though not in an unladylike fashion -- had she been old enough to truly be called a "lady."

The dress had an uncomfortable stiffness around it, he thought, now that he was this close. As if it had stiffened in preservation, a rigor mortis of sorts, preserved since such an archaic outfit was standard. He liked the way the burgundy of the satin played against the flush of her cheeks in the heated room. He also enjoyed the hook get-up fastened down her back, retaining a slight indentation where she had been laying in his arms and the hooks had pressed into her otherwise bare flesh. He found himself idly rubbing the warm surface of her back, erasing these impressions, leaving her back as unmarked as he could manage after what his arms had effected. As he slid the bodice down her slender arms, the convoluted, Byzantine design running across the outfit gave way, revealing a maze of veins, guiding blood to her just developing breasts.

For a moment, I forgot to breathe, swept up in the ecstasy of losing myself entirely in the contemplation of a beauty I knew was too far above me to even be dreamt of until, with a heart stopping shock, it was bared to my eyes; with the same reverent ecstasy of a Russian monk studying, touching, kissing an icon of the Theotokos.

Or he. I don't mean I -- do I? The shock, even in memory, made me forget who I was supposed to be, the character I was affecting. There are times when words, however rehearsed, burn away like mist, like trust. Undressed, she has no more secrets; neither shall I. I am ansat, or he is Nemo, or something of the sort. One of us does not exist, and I am telling my own memoir. (And, while we are rending veils, despite my earlier show of machismo, this was my first rape. Phenomenally, at least. I had lived through it before. I had felt a girl's hands pressing me, with varying degrees of violence, their bodies in varying states of tension, and their minds in varying degrees of resistance. I had looked into the face of terror, and had looked with terror myself. In the ivory tower where I had spent most of my life thus far I had been victim and victimizer, and had lived it so many times I thought it was nothing, and that there was nothing I had not yet lived through, except to live through it in the flesh -- and, more importantly, in the flesh of another.)

The gown lifted off effortlessly, and with a sleepy moan she put her arms around one of the pillows, unintentionally hiding her lack-of-breasts from me. She half cooperated as I slid the last of her clothing down her legs and off her tiny feet. Undressed, she seemed more naked than humanly possible; so small, leaning away from me, shivering slightly in my bed.

The sheets were pulled down, and I did the same to her. I laid her on her back. I sat beside her, and watched sleep raise and lower her chest. Her lips were close together, one clutched between her teeth. She glowed ghostly in the pale light from the streetlight, still shining in around the curtains, emphasizing to me that nothing is every truly hidden. I ran my fingers against her face, tracing her eyes, parting her lips, stroking her throat, less with the conquering, deserved feeling of a warrior with his plunder than with the amazing shock of an undeserved grace. A theophany; surprised by joy.

As I became aware of myself again, the anamnesis fading, I heard the doubts, the voices in my head: Do I want her to like this, or do I want her to hate it, and hate me for it, and justify my hating myself through her hatred? Or do I simply want her to forget it, to not even realize the great evil I have done to her.

But I silenced them. The why was not what I wanted to contemplate now. I wanted to be swept away in the who. Having convinced myself she was asleep, I disrobed and lay alongside her, close enough to feel her radiating heat, but far enough away as not to yet touch. My nerves needed a moment more.

I must have overestimated the strength of the powders, I'm afraid, because when I pressed my tongue gently into her mouth, expecting to taste her sleeping saliva and yielding breath, her eyes shot open in a kind of distant, vacant terror. But I knew it was more surprise than fear, because one cannot truly fear what one cannot even begin to understand. I held her, I gently brushed her hair away from her face, and I didn't stop kissing her until her eyes got a little less wide, her body a little less rigid, and she slid a little further into the lethargy of the pills and the delicious exhaustion only a guiltless child can experience.

Her eyes slid shut, which I took for a return to sleep. Her body trembled, which I took for the natural movements of sleep and unconscious reactions to my caresses. If I could be there again, if it would not kill my soul to be so, I would look carefully at her eyelids. I suspect the eyes beneath were unmoving, staring rigidly at the ceiling behind the delicate sheath of flesh.

I do not beg your compassion. Quite the opposite: I beg your honesty. I have no fear of condemnation from anyone who observes how raptly he reads this rape. Does the reader think he is merely voyeur (as if that would prove merit; as if that would justify)? This may be more his memoir than he is anxious to admit. The reader is participant; co-author. The reader is participant; co-rapist.

When I came, salty fluid poured from my eyes. Stupidly, I was afraid my sobs would disturb her, when my caresses had even stopped doing so, but one can be compassionate to something one cannot understand no more than one can fear it.

My own sleep was less guiltless than her's, and my exhaustion less physical than moral. For both of us, this sleep was an escape.



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