Sam, you wretched little man,
Here is what you asked for. Not all of it, because some of it embarrasses me. I’m flattered that you want to put the most hellish and embarrassing part of my life on your site for all the world to see, but some of it goes too low. So I owe you, we did write some good songs together – I guess – and thanks for the faith you had in me as a lyricist blah blah, but look: these are diary entries, and nevermind that I tried to fix them up, they’re still diary entries from a low point. So be careful what you put up there on the internets.
Not that I think that many people will visit your wretched little site (you sad little man), but all that aside, they should. You do good work. Not that I’m a judge. But be aware that you might do yourself great harm in publishing this stuff there.
Besides, it’s becoming painfully obvious that I can’t write, or don’t want to do the work, whatever. Those hours I spent wondering where to put commas? I’ll never get them back.
I took your advice and went through all the bullshit of copyrighting the stuff, but you could have told me it was going to cost me money.
Otherwise, Boston is cold as shit, the job is okay, I think I found someone to write with, the pregnancy is going fine (with me anyway since I’m not the one who’s pregnant ha ha), and women continue to hate me. I took your advice there as well, choosing not to be bothered about it, since short term things are fine enough and lack drama, the last part of which is crap. I’m still wondering why I create drama or hang with those who do, but always in the back of my tiny mind is your thing about my life looking like some stupid tv show that even I wouldn’t watch. Brutal but effective.
Leave out the parts about you, and tell Larry to keep the light on – I’ll be back.
amitiés (can’t spell French)
Inorganic Blossoms Bloom
I don’t know, It was just something I had to go through, you know? But at least I knew I was really living. Oh yeah. – L.M.
When I woke I laid there with my eyes closed, hoping to fall back to sleep. It seemed like the dead zone had lasted only about four or five hours before the alcohol blossomed into a sugar rush. I knew it was daylight because the blood vessels in my eyelids were backlit by the hateful sun, so I drifted, watching the baroque mandala patterns, diving down until a blue jay in one of Daryl’s trees cawed like a rake through my nerves.
When it finally shut up – maybe Daryl had popped it with a pellet – I heard regular breathing that wasn’t mine. I opened my eyes and saw, inches away, the graceful back and hips of a woman. I did what I had to do.
Beginning, I remembered my name, but not the previous night. Somehow I knew it was Saturday and therefore I wasn’t late for work, so that was okay. Lately I had been recovering a few shards of pride in showing up on time.
My bed was five feet away from the living room door of The Hovel, my rented trailer. I was on my side, facing the back of a woman who was also on her side facing the wall. (If nothing else, always know where the door is.) I slept in the living room to be close to my one air conditioner, which was humming and wheezing as it labored to cool off my eight-by-forty. This was Louisiana in September, hot and humid.
I tried again to remember something, anything. The shape before me was pleasing, gentle ocean swells under a sheet. Still I remembered nothing, and me no more hungover than usual for a weekend. My memory was a dark pool, and the word blackout forming on its surface made me feel like a cat up a tree, a cat afraid of heights. I turned my head and looked around the room. Through a crack in the flowered curtain I could see harsh sunlight on a dusty brown panel of my El Camino. Seeing my jeans on the floor, I leaned over for my Mickey Mouse wallet and found less money than usual, but obviously I had been buying for two. I had a sudden urge to call someone but there was neither anyone to call nor a phone. Next I scanned the checkerboard floor tiles for either a ripped condom package or the soldier himself. Nothing. The sleepy anxiety felt sideways. Yes, I had blacked out, but everything was in its place except the woman. How much should I worry? Her shape formed a soothing cradle for my anxiety; there was no reason to get excited.
The woman’s face was turned away and obscured by a rat’s nest of tortured red hair, medium length. Propping myself on an elbow, I leaned over and gently pulled it back. A wide face and broad cheekbone, eastern Europe perhaps, and almost familiar. The closed eye that I could see was a huge orb behind an up-slanted eyelid, and the broad nose on the wide face was another un-American activity. A slightly receding chin and a full lower lip underlined a charming overbite. Like any man would do, I carefully peeled back my mother’s pink sheet to see more.
Thin, bony shoulders. I put her near my own age – early to mid-forties – judging from skin that crinkled like paper near her armpits. Her skin was a french fry color, and a tanning booth could have caused premature dehydration, but with age sometimes you just know; we recognize each other. I leaned over further and lowered the sheet, causing her to fall from side to back, sighing, laying herself out like a fallen statue of a standing woman, arms perfectly aligned by her sides and legs slightly apart. I raised the sheet again like a man just doing his job. The woman was tattooed and studded like a snow tire. Several small metal ornaments had been punched into her torso. In her navel were two small dumbbells, and her augmented breasts were scarred underneath and crowned by pink nipples pierced by rings connected, by God, by a little chain. The whole design suggested good traction in mud or snow. Her hands were balled up into loose fists; colorful tattoos snaked up both arms. Lots of silver rings and exotic bracelets. The thinness of her body, even with those breasts, made her seem aerodynamic, as if at any second flames would shoot from between her legs and out she goes, head-butting through the flimsy wall and skimming across the weeds. Then, I guess, she would rise majestically over the neighboring pasture, ornaments sparkling in the sun; the two old swayback horses would look up for a second then back down to their grazing. The image was heightened by a little racing stripe of dyed red pubic hair, like a flame decal with dark roots. It hurt my head to bend down and look, but yes, there was a glint of reflected light nesting within her stubbly pubis. Another little dumbbell pierced her labia, tarnished as if scored by a fiery exhaust. These things are common now, but not then.
"Ahem," I said quietly.
Wearily I laid back again to rest my neck and saw on my bedside milk crate the remains of a vodka and tonic in one of my purple plastic Mardi Gras tumblers. I took a warm sip on my way to brush my teeth and relieve pressure. My face in the mirror was its usual hangover cartoon, splotchy with squinting eyes below the thatch of dark, graying hair doing its light socket thing. I worked my teeth. Now that my breath was fresh and minty, what to do?
Check out the tattoos. You're young, I said to myself, and curious. I didn’t want to bend down, so balancing carefully by the bed and trying not to jangle any change that might be in the pockets, I picked up my jeans with my toes and put them on. I crept in again and studied her like I would some exotic animal I had just run over. She snored quietly, her nasal passages making the sound that my dad had called a peanut whistle. To this music I perused the black, red and purple renderings of fantastically vicious creatures that crawled up her veined, muscular arms. Winged griffons and suchlike wove in and out of vines whose thorns dripped bright blood. I considered her a curiously fine woman beneath the unnaturalness of the breasts and the vivid colors and metallic scrapyard grafted onto her. Certainly a collection of parts from various outside agencies, and it was immediately obvious where I would have found such a person: a strip bar. Another stripper.
She opened her big eyes and turned her head toward me. I wasn’t ready for the beautiful, almost heartbreaking smile that bloomed on her face, which was horsey (as she would describe it later) but horsey-pretty. The overbite almost made me smile too, that and the spaces between her teeth. I was shocked by something that surpasses beauty, a thing of actual importance whereas beauty has none, but right now I don’t know what to call it. So much of writing is the naming of things, and it occurs to me that I’m not up to the task.
“What’s up?” I asked, my voice croaking from disuse.
“No,” she said in a small voice. Our faces were close.
“Too drunk.” She closed her eyes and the smile was gone.
“Hey,” I said. “I’m still drunk.”
“Not what I ... forget it. Sleepy”
It hit me then what she had meant. “Oh, too drunk for biblical knowing. Me or you?”
“Anything,” she said, annoyed.
“No.” She opened her big eyes again and turned to me. “Smile.”
“No.” I don’t take orders. “Coffee first.”
“Coffee?” she asked, then inched closer to me, grinning coyly. “Coffee? Got some?”
I got up and rattled around in the kitchen, which was maybe six feet away – really, at the end of the bed.
“Hey,” she said. She was sitting halfway up. “I was drunk too. Do you hurt anywhere, got a new bobo?”
“No, why?” I liked the way her breasts hung down, since I was supposed to. I don’t think I like the fake ones, but at least hers weren’t too big. I was married for a long time so I didn’t know much about such things.
“I might’ve bit you," she said. "It’s happened. Enjoy the news that you ... failed. Be happy.” Then this painted and bespangled stripper whose name I didn’t know fell back into the pillows and laughed at me hoarsely, studs and bangles rattling faintly. It was like being laughed at by a drawer of office supplies.
“I’m happy,” I said sullenly. “If things get better I’ll have to hire someone to help me enjoy it.” I took coffee from the freezer, shook the bag and judged it to have enough for us both.
“Funny,” she cackled. When the cackling subsided, she said, “Hey, you’re not naked, like me. Take off your pants. But who won the fight?”
“Fight?” The coffee filter was being uncooperative.
“Forget it. I like guys who look like they’ve been around. And you were kinda nice.”
Nice. My neighbor Ginger’s cat, Shithead, walked up to me from under my little table and uttered a truly pitiful sound. It was useless to wonder how he got in. I looked down at him while he sat and scratched an infested ear. “Don’t you wish you had hands?” I asked him.
“Take off your pants,” the woman said again.
I don’t like taking orders, don’t like being told to smile or take off my pants. I dropped them where I stood while watching the coffee in my mother’s old percolater come splashing up into its little glass nipple, wondering what the manual had called it. I stared at it while the lady stared at me. Nice, I thought, watching the boiling water turn from clear to dark. Presumably we’d already seen each other completely; I just couldn’t remember. I looked at my feet for a while then poured our coffee and brought the lady a cup, feeling naked and stupid, then looked for some tuna for Shithead.
Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself, I’m a Man of Wealth and Taste
The name's Roy, last name's Dugas, just like Degas the painter only different. It's Cajun French, and if you'd told me a couple of years ago that it's a funny name I would've said, So, not from around here, are you? And I would have added that it’s not like it’s some Slavic name made up entirely of consonants. I tell you all this, and now you can pretend that I hear you mispronouncing my name as you read, and that I’m annoyed.
Roy’s the name, fucking up and learning poorly is my game. I’m from South Louisiana, and I recently ruined my life. However, you should know for the sake of balance that I am, by the grace of God, newly employed at this time in the pest control industry. My name is on my shirt across from the Maison de Bug logo on the other side; see that stylized dead roach with it's little legs up in the air? You can catalog my misfortunes, but having my name on anything is proof that I exist, dead roach or no. And the shirt was free.
The origin of the Dugas name is unknown to me, even if it can have an ineffable dignity to those of us who claim it, but when time passed and I got to know my boss, I asked Larry if he couldn't have come up with a better name than Maison de Bug. Looks shitty next to my name, I said. “Isn’t Maison Sans Bug what you’re really after?” I asked, and he said, “No, we’re the house of people who know bug.” And that started us off on one of our arguments that I like so much, even though winning is impossible. Let me share some joy.
“I came up with a good name, Dugas, so shut up. I know my people.”
“No you don’t, Larry. I am your people.”
“You’re outside of my polling group. I took a poll, cousin, and you weren’t in it.”
“Who’d you poll?”
“My wife, my son, and my two daughters.”
“Your dog, that yappy little shit, did you poll him?”
“That yappy little shit, as you call our precious baby, eats bugs. Why shouldn’t he have an opinion?”
“God, Larry, you’re gonna poison him.”
“You think I’d spray my own house?”
And on and on.
Larry Chautin (sho-tan, but don’t pronounce the n) came up from the little town of Gueydon (gay-don, but don’t pronounce the n) and bought old Mr. Nevue’s extermination business with his wife's inheritance. His wife then modernized the accounting, and Larry, being at least as sharp as her, started advertising on the local French radio and TV shows in both languages, and doing it – bless his heart – without looking local-stupid like the others who use the more tried and true marketing technique of yelling at you, may God cane them in Purgatory. But, as I was saying, Larry preferred the more sinsister charm of honesty, and forthwith added to Nevue's clientele until he could afford to hire me on. We’ve also since taken in a disgruntled Terminix employee or two, but they tend toward drink, like house painters.
Larry is Old Cajun, and like a lot of them he’s a brick, physically: dark and a little below average height, solid with massive forearms and big, strong hands that feel like soft wood and are good to shake. His people are built like farmers, descended as we all are from Gallic peasant stock. My generation ate different food, so we’re long boned, taller and more sickly. Neither of us live long.
When I call on the old Cajuns I talk the mix of the local patois and the school French learned from my Grandmere Allie, a retired teacher, and the clients not intimidated by schooling or modern French laugh at me to my face while pouring me coffee. Anyone as stupid as I am should be in jail, so I really don’t mind the laughing. I’m supposed to be smart with my degree from the U of Southwestern Louisiana, while my customers out in the country maybe finished some high school. They know the risk of Higher Education – that’s called “elite” now – but they’re happy for me anyway, even though none of these proud folk will let me get an inch above my raising. They’re instinctive and instructive. Like Larry said at the end of one of our ridiculous arguments – where we pretend to be dumber than we’re afraid we might be – "The higher a monkey climbs, Dugas, the more you can see his ass."
I like Larry so much that it’s almost a sensual pleasure to type his name. The name itself means nothing; it’s just the handle of a soul that goes past the boundaries of its clothes. I’m enjoying liking people these days.
I tell both Larry and the clients that they’re lucky I can talk French at all, because my degree's in English. Then Larry tells me how I spent good money to learn something I already knew. The old folks enjoy it as well, saying they hope I know roach better than I know French. I’m sorely tempted to tell them that my ability with the language got me laid once in France, thank you, but that would be an example of getting above my raising. And it would be useless anyway; they care about getting laid but nothing about France, excluding a few old boys who had fought there in World War Two. I suppose I could tell some of them about it as long as a wife wasn’t around, but then they’d ask me if she was pretty and I wouldn’t know how to answer.
I’ve pretty much had it with pretty. Pretty is just luck, isn’t it? Why should people get so full of themselves about something they did nothing to earn? Pretty just sees itself.
So getting back to my point, I'm a college degreed individual. Who once got himself into smoking crack. And I’m supposed to know something; I paid good money to know something. But knowing anything beyond how to hold a coffee cup takes more than a few decades, apparently.
An Oily Patch
I take myself on an evening tour of my world for your benefit and that of my thirst. We commence in the little town of Scott, just across the Lafayette city limits – the two towns are connected now. I leave my sub-spartan lodgings and drive a few parish roads lined with comfortable houses large and small and spaced far from each other. The moon is up on my left, as full and luscious as an Oreo center and the color of rock cocaine in my fucking dreams. At the light I turn right onto what will become Cameron Street in Lafayette if I were to stay on it long enough, which I won’t. This fabled street, the avenue of my ruin, my boulevard of broken and above-mentioned dreams, is the scrapyard-bejewelled main drag in Scott, but I’ll leave it before it crosses over into the big city and even more scrapyards, body shops and other reputable businesses, windowless bars, one no-tel, and its humble little diner or two. Those civilized outposts of commerce will have to wait until I myself am more civilized; instead I turn into a parking lot of cars, trucks and motorcyles. This large and lovely one-story cinderblock pool hall with its karaoke korner and the little oil rig replica on its roof is called the Oil Patch. It’s been here a long time and it suits me, therefore I hate it. I seldom drank here in college; then, its clientele was mostly oil patch folk, roughnecks in from offshore and other supply-side workers, and they still come, but now it thrives equally well on an influx of bikers, townies, college students, and trailer trash like me.
I once dated the daughter of a previous owner. She was a willowy girl with gold-rimmed glasses, long brown hair and fine, soft down on her arms that I loved so much I would turn on my car’s dome light just to see it rise like a haze above her skin when I touched her in places. Apropos of nothing I tell you that I tried to please both her and myself, and I despair now that I didn’t have the words to express my regret and shame that she had such a brute for a father, a hairy man who left his girlfriend’s love notes out where his wife could see them, and who crushed out his Pall Mall cigarettes in the palm of his own hand. Just thought I’d mention, and to get you used to my little stories, all of which end with regret. You've seen them on TV, those people who claim no regrets. They can jump up my ass.
After going in and getting hit with the noise, music and cool, smoky air I greet Max, the bouncer, with a grunt I reserve just for him. He’s a shaved-headed grotesquerie, an ugly, frowning wall of a man. I know that Max disdains gyms, hardly needing to prove his point, but for some reason he’s into tanning, perhaps because it's popular with the other employees. This blunt box seems designed for nothing more than squeezing watermelons until they burst. He comes in handy now and then, seeing that a lot of folks here have no more sense than a melon after eight or twelve beers. I wish his presence was more of a deterrent to the bikers, but it’s Max’s style to let them pound each other until they’re tired, then separate them so no one actually dies or otherwise requires an ambulance or cops.
And now I pass a half dozen tables on my way to the big square bar in the middle. Karaoke hasn’t started yet, and the jukebox is playing Little Richard, whom I’m always happy to hear – “Long Tall Sally” or whatever that screaming masterpiece of shanty poetry is called. Along our path to the bar stools I catch bits of conversation that I pass on to you free of all fees and interstate taxes.
First up: “You made twenty-six dollars? I can find that in my couch. Let’s have a telethon for your sorry ass.” To a table of buzz-cut college kids, the girls all pretty and probably a little too well-fed: “Stop pulling on that!” Slap. “It’s attached to the rest of me, you know.” Past a table of beefy boys in ball caps: “Is that your best offer? Shit. Playboy just offered me fifty free hours in the Busty Babes club.” Behind a table of speckled house painters who hadn’t yet gone home from work: “Told her she needed some turn signal fluid!” Laughter. Around a table of young women with their bare tummies pooching over their waists, all of them laughing and talking at once, creating an enormous shrill, than past some cowboys: “It’s a ready-made family. Just insert the Dad.” In front of a couple of thick-necked weight lifters and their pretty dates: “Oh, that’s no good, bra ... no, I know what she said. But she weighs that in each leg.” The word bra is Cajun English for bro.
I’ve attained the bar, my island or oasis, and a well-worn stool on the side farthest from some bikers, Banditos by the looks of them; I can’t see the backs of their vests or jackets. Business is light just yet, and three sexed-up-for-tips ladies waltz slowly back and forth behind the bar’s thick oak. When the bar gets more full they’ll move much faster, but right now they’re doing a warm-up tease. The blond that resembles ice skater Tanya Harding is Ellen; the brunette with a chest like a suspension balcony is unknown to me, and the thin redhead with the pushed-in face is Lilly, whom I don’t yet know well at this time. And here I’ll mention that I’ll be welcomed into the pants of one of these girls, but I don’t report this as if it’s particularly good news.
Lilly comes over and serves me a Bud. I start a greeting but an unshaven gentleman in a ball cap horns in. It’s not worth repeating what he said, because Lilly’s replies are more interesting.
“No, she’s fine, I’m tellin’ ya,” she tells him. “What you want? I mean, look at you, Romeo-where ... fart-thou.” Lilly fans herself with her slender hand and looks up at the ceiling. “Oh, the moisture, the moisture! Come on, let’s have some real drama ...What? Oh wake up, Carlo, beauty’s only a light switch away. You gonna buy her a drink? Get her a stiff one, what does she like? Here it comes.Order, order! I’ll give you a stiffie!” She laughs; he’s not sure he should – well-raised, no doubt, but its clear that he’s out of his league.
This kind of charming yet humiliating banter generates tippage out here in the weeds. Lilly serves up a mixed drink for the girl than walks to the register, knowing he’s watching her jeans before leaving, then she saunters over to me with a walk both mannish and enticing – a neat trick.
“You’re looking good tonight, Roy. That’s a sexy ... what is that you’re wearing? That’s some fine toilet water. Anyway, I could go for a swell guy like you, ya big lug.” Dazzling smile.
I like several things about Lilly, one of which is her use of words. She knows what era swell comes comes from, and that makes me think she’s smart, which is true but which, more importantly, is what she wants me to think. But other things bother me, and I’m a grump.
“Stop it, Lilly. Not your sucker tonight.”
“We’re all suckers,” she says, arms and eyes wide to embrace one of her tried and true double entendres that she’ll be using all night.
“And where’s my other beer? You know, Roy's loading dose.”
“Damn, Roy, sorry, I had the vapors from Quasimodo over there. Scrambled my little mind.” She bent to the cooler again.
“Further scrambled by my fall outfit and eau de toilette.”
“Crabby tonight, aren’t we?” She looks me straight in the eyes while popping my second beer; first one’s already gone. The jukebox is playing something modern and uninteresting. “Truth is, you clean up well. Not that I give a shit, and I know you don’t fall for it anyway. But you’re not the same old same old.” She smiles at me over her shoulder as she walks away. Great smile, a woman more striking than beautiful. Manipulative as hell but she knows it and she knows you might know it and does anything she can to make you forget it, just don't.
It’s all about scrambled minds, and it’s an okay start for the evening. The other customers give Lilly and the girls a lot more shit than I care to hand out in my worst moods, but it always bounces back into their faces. I, however, want whatever I say to Lilly to mean something as I try to dive one level deeper than the drunks I’m competing with. Lilly knows I’m doing it. This is her world more than mine.
Marina and I used to come here sometimes when one of us had money that needed to be spunt, as my friend Blackie would say. Now that I come here alone, I’ve steadily developed a ritual. I sit quietly in my corner, watching all the girls go by, and take myself back to the time – hopping over my marriage to get there – when my first girlfriend’s Dad used to own this place. I want to say more about her. Gigi was annoyed that she had been born a little too late to be a hippie because she loved to smoke pot, and in a stoned state we deflowered each other – although I’m not sure I deflowered her. She led me to believe – under the assumption that I cared – that I would be her first, but I slipped in as easily as a greased lie, lying clumsily on top of her on our friend Steve’s little single bed while he, his dad and little brother were out in the living room watching the tube. No blood, easy as you please. We were both scared and nervous, but I had had no idea how nervous Gigi was until she passed out not long after I entered heaven’s gate. My memory stops there. I remember being concerned about hurting her, and there she was, splayed out naked and unconscious in the darkness, a dim sight that ruined the total recall of my rite of passage. It must have ended well because I think I’d remember if it hadn’t. Our next time had been at my parents’ house, and I remember putting a handkerchief just under her ass so I could pull out and not make a mess on the bedspread. Birth control for morons.
Gigi was a sweet girl. I don’t know why we broke up. I guess you’re supposed to at that age. I looked around for her then stopped, not wanting to see her here, which would devastate me.
Recently, when I think about the bastard of a father she had, her passing out that first time starts to make sense. I don’t think I was her first, and maybe she was terrified to unconsciousness that I would know, but just maybe that honor might have been his. I’ve heard that women or girls will go someplace in their minds when their trust is being horribly violated.
That part of the story aside, thinking about Gigi and our fumblings envelopes me in a kind of peace, a sad, warm and nostalgic movie inhabited by young innocents who were genuinely nice to each other. Later in our relationship Gigi had decided that the sex was wrong. I stayed with her, frustrated, and she felt bad for me. I get misty-eyed when I think of that – Gigi didn’t think that it was all about her. She did what she thought was right and was aware of the consequence I suffered. Abused, she could have withdrawn into her own world, but she didn’t. She had compassion, and I hope I learned some of that – I hope I haven’t wrecked it. I don’t think I have, because I would like to find her again and do something nice for her. Plant her a tree.
Two guys to my left are talking. I can hear the one facing me better. “His name’s Uncle Booger, I swear. Naw, I’m serious, bra! His brother’s name’s Poot. I shit you not ... In Oxford, Mississippi ... I know. Yeah, they’re a pair, huh?” Their talk drifts into my peacefulness. I welcome the crudity of men, a thing of wonder when it’s seated calmly. My gaze wanders. From the back, Lilly looks like Gigi. A Gigi who got kicked by a horse. Funny walk, pleasant.
“And get this. He had a chain hangin’ ‘round his neck with his initial.”
“Ain’t shittin’ you. The letter B.”
“You shittin’ me!”
“I shit you not, bra.”
Max comes over for the five dollar entertainment fee from everyone at the bar. I’ve just been paid my Friday’s wages, so it feels good to peel off the bill from my pocket wad, which is about to shrink in inverse proportion to a swelling in my liver. Just then a fight breaks out on the other side of the bar close to where a band is setting up. A guy is sitting on his ampIifier with his guitar; he tosses a few notes into the sound of breaking glass, then reaches between his legs to adjust one of the controls. This is odd, I think; they seldom have bands at the OP. Max forgets to take my five and saunters over to the far side, reluctant to get involved in fisticuffs amongst the bikers since they could pull knives or worse. The jukebox is playing Bad Moon Rising by Credence.
Among Lilly’s many stories was this one:
“I had to throw out a biker who walked in here with a gun! Fuck if I knew where Max was – son of a bitch walked in here, drunk, no shirt, with a pistol stuck in his pants. I mean, what the fuck, you know? He’s staring into space. I got in his face, ‘No shirt no service!’ and he stared at me all bug-eyed, finally noticing me. ‘You can’t come in here with a gun, are you fuckin’ crazy?’ and I pushed him towards the door. I don’t know what happened, but I’m still above ground.”
If this was a real book, there would be a shooting or some such literary device. It didn’t happen here, but I am reporting some other deaths. They’re just happening real slow.