Stratemeyer hired generations of hacks. They wrote under pseudonyms known to millions of children. The kids pictured these authors’ handsome faces, imagined their happy, fulfilled lives. The pseudonyms weren’t pen-names. Those are for individuals. What Stratemeyer pioneered was the house name.
You are not even an insect evading a predator. Instead, you sit on the floor breathing, because really there is no choice in this life but to allow air in and out of your lungs thousands of times an hour.
I hesitated, these guys had reputations, and I'd almost gone to jail with them before behind some failed purse snatching caper, and, there was Skillet, one of his eyes glared straight at me, the other one gazed above my head.
The noise. It was louder here. No comparison. The rattling, the crashing, the overwhelming dissonant vibration that was nothing like white noise, no, nothing like a relaxing sound one would put on to study, to sleep to…
With a rifle in his hands, he calmly surveyed the horizon. Squinting in the appropriate manner, he was aware of how he looked. Last night’s bug bites were long forgotten. The time was not long after noon, and he was on the track of his kill.
There was no opportunity to have a black friend in my home town. Now, I noticed African-Americans at the university. Or I noticed them in order to stay away from them. They were different from me. That’s what I thought.
“Pull a few of your buddies out of the drink with a fish gaff, and the gung-ho stuff is never the same... Smell the beaches the day after a landing,” he added, his speech slow, seemingly labored, “before the burial details go to work.”
I can forgive myself for ordering the remote, faceless killing of the enemy. But I will never, repeat, never forgive myself for turning these kids, math geeks and gear heads, into killers. Not for this war, anyway.
Like – I didn’t know that the “sensible” degrees weren’t much better for being “marketable”….that since the Wall Street crash, most companies got wise to the fact that they could underpay everybody, hire part-time, withhold benefits.
The scab-beggar steps to me on the street and asks for some dry wounds. He can see that my arm is full of crusty layers and he's already eying a big wound on my elbow, the one I wanted to buy a pack of smokes with.
Why couldn’t people see the country growing? See the unemployed disappearing along with the refugees. There was less crime, no abortion, prayers in schools and the wall around America was one of the wonders of the modern world, it outshone China´s wall.
Beginning with appeals to authority, we tend to believe we were born because we exist, we’re be(ing) here now and also, everyone knows you can’t have a chicken without an egg. But for some reason, being born is not always enough. You need more proof than that.
And what difference does it make if a man gets drunk and takes his pet goat for a walk anyway? This is America, the Land of the Free, and you would think a man should be able to drink a little and fall in a ditch without some busybody calling the cops on him.
Then one day, a miracle. Erasmus found an ancient Steinway Concert Grand in a curio shop. It emptied my account of all the credits I had earned, plus some. It came to the house on one of the few days people went out without respirators.
I found my dear friend Aif today. He was sitting in a coal mine shaft, outside of the Arctic, whispering something frozen and long dead, into the air. His body was so badly broken, and malformed, I hardly recognized him.
He detailed the frame’s ornamental grooves and the corners of the glass with the rag and his talons. Afterward, Lacy Dawn looked as good as new. Skinner re-hung the picture. For an hour, he watched her and she watched him from different angles as the planet’s suns set.
To improve upon bathroom habits of those who had little concern about decorum or reputation and ignored all portable loos, the ministry voted to infuse them with 24-hour streaming videos of yesterday’s news. It figured that encouraging natural, daily bowel movements among the masses rather than only the privileged, would go a long way towards cultivating positive attitudes regarding human hygiene.
Each morning, he dresses the way a cowboy would dress if he were a peer of Roy Rogers or Gene Autrey in the Saturday Westerns of his childhood. He wears newish-looking cowboy boots, of course, and spurs that never fail to jingle, jangle, and jingle once more.
From inside the Mercury I watched a bunch of pigs running and squealing all over the road and scurrying off into the woods. My dad motioned to me. The woman in the car that pulled over on the other side of the road started yelling at us as she was on her cellphone with what I assume was 911.
His hands had so many bumps and wrinkles that I was reminded of the roots of an ancient tree. But life! The left one flashed up and down the neck of the guitar. Scales. I recognized the pattern his fingers made: e-sharp minor. A theoretical key. Onetwothreefour; theoretically.
And so the monster rose up like some cataclysmic amalgamation of wild animals real and mythical with every serrated and razored and fire-bearing and pus-oozing body part imaginable and now my eyes were not having trouble staying open at all as I stared in disbelief and panic at the conglomerate monster which kept rising and rising until...
After a few more days it felt like we were the ones sheltering Max. She became frail and sickly, her skin paling more every day. We only really saw Max during meals, and conversation always felt perfunctory and wooden.
The girls on his campus were not the ones who made fun of the way he walked, the way he rolled his eyes, of his pathetic attempts to climb ropes in the gymnasium, a task required for some reason of all students in the Education Faculty even those who, like him, expect to teach secondary history and certainly not primary school physical education.
“Is the complaint you are making simply your own account of events or are you taking into consideration the possible extenuating circumstances of the alleged abuser – who of course might view this whole thing rather differently. I mean, is it possible that your own behaviour may have precipitated this extraordinary reaction?”
I’d probably end up as one of those sad-assed ghosts that never accepts death and wanders back and forth on this stupid boulevard full of nail & beauty shops, convenience and dollar stores, black barber shops, fast food, chicken eateries, drive-thrus, bars and bistros, the Middle Eastern Market—
And there are some hard truths. Most Buffalo elders notch their winters with salt, Vicks, and canned trout. They grouse about snowbirds and higher taxes. You can get mugged with ease on Clinton and Sycamore Street. Some folks still wonder why there’s plenty of coloreds around.
The year was 1965, and while the relocation programs had kind of become used up—that is, officially unpopular with program developers—the push now was to somehow develop the existing reservations and keep Indians at home.
Perhaps Gottlieb's body had never been found and is awaiting one of those nostalgic youngsters who join an annual search for the remains that, if found, are reburied with Soviet-era pomp, usually without a name, because only the lucky few are found with their papers, still legible, on them.
“There was a boombox and dancing and guns going off. It got real crazy. I must have blacked out. Next thing I know, it’s the cold light of dawn, and I’m waking up woozy and almost naked and freezing, and Todd is beside me, naked too and passed out.”
“My kids aint gonna be looking at traitor shit out the kitchen window everyday for eight years.” Her voice was hoarse but tough. “Flip your flag back around right, or we’ll find a way to make you, Lithuanian.”