New Page 1

..:: CONTENTS ::..
   Volume I, Issue II

..:: POETRY ::..

..:: PROSE ::..
..:: ART ::..
..:: REVIEWS ::..
..:: ETC ::..
   Contributor's Notes

..:: ARCHIVES ::..
   Volume I, Issue I
   Volume I, Issue II
   Volume II, Issue I
   Volume II, Issue II
   Volume III, Issue I
   Volume III, Issue II
   Volume IV, Issue I

Adam Benforado


2:00 PM 8/3/2000 

     She did not notice the woodpecker. The first things she noticed were the seven tiki torches. They lay, splayed out on the lawn, her lawn, like palms after a hurricane. The car door hung open. A swallow ducked. Her jaw held tight like a rabbit trap. Only her fingers, twinkling like wavelets, warned of the tremor beneath the surface, some small dark thing welling up, expanding in silent fury. 
     She circled and bent. Broke from her gyre. She gathered each one against her yellow pantsuit and marched to the garage. She dumped them behind her husband's fiberglass shell and ran back to assess the damage. She crouched down. 
     Her hand brushed the grass as if it were hair. She traced over the muddied tracks of dancing and felt the indentations of heavy feet. She lowered her nose and swore she could smell where a bit of alcohol had spilled from a glass or mouth.


8:17 AM 8/4/2000 

     When she awoke, Christian and Pietro were in the backyard. They had brought their families who were sitting down by the river eating Egg McMuffins. The two men were talking as they sifted fertilizer over the dew. When she appeared at the front pillars, Christian had moved on to watering. She stiffened. 
     In bare feet she ran to Christian and yanked the sprinkler from his hand. 
     "Here," she pointed a rigid finger. "Do you see that it is browner here? Are you even looking? I am paying you and you come up here for a job and you are not even looking!" 


1:20 PM 8/3/2000 

     On the way out to East Hampton she stopped at Friedo's for a plain bagel, no cream cheese. She parked a bit down the way so she could duck into Banana Republic afterward. The man behind the cash register was sweating above his eyebrows. 
     "I'll have a water with that, thank you." 
     "Sure, sure" 
     The man filled a plastic cup from the tap and placed it on her tray. 
     "No, thank you. I'll have a water with that," she repeated. 
     He stared at her. 
     "Sure, okay. You wanna Peligrino or . . .?" 
     After she left, the cashier turned to the cleaning lady who was also his wife. 
     "Get out of the city and they think they're in Mexico, eh seņorita?" 


4:17 PM 8/4/2000 

     She was watching a squirrel find its way down a tree. It made a rapid descent before halting at the base of the trunk. There it hung, like a bat, sniffing the air. She eyed its form. Below its mouth appeared a large black tumor. She felt a familiar repulsion, a nostalgic turning of the stomach. 
     Her son had had a pet mouse as a child. In old age it had grown immense tumors all over its body. She had waited each day for it to die and it had refused. She had told her husband to kill it and he had refused. It came to her then in dreams -- the same tumors appearing on table legs and cooked chickens. Sometimes on her own face. And still the mouse would not die. When her son went off to tennis camp, she took the cage and dumped it in the river. She told him it had escaped. 
     In this squirrel it seemed to have returned. A plague, she thought. It must not touch this ground. She eyed the grass. Like letting vermin into your own bed. She broke from the door and grasped out for something to hurl at this curse, this infection. She found a vase and launched it at the tree. It smashed into a thousand satisfying pieces. The squirrel scurried to a high branch. Something fell from its mouth. A miracle or a nut, she thought. 


3:05 PM 8/3/2000 

     There was a pearl earring lying in the grass. Its match was nowhere to be seen, nor the ear from which it had fallen. The owner had long since left, had hopped into a Mercedes convertible and slid away past stoplights and other Mercedes and then, finally, a few farms. 
     The grass by the earring was of the crab variety. Unruly grass. Crass grass. City sidewalk stock. It had appeared suddenly on the scene. No one remembered planting any seeds or watering. A spontaneous generation, like the fruit flies in the air. It could survive on spilled Pepsi; thrive in a crack in the asphalt. The edges of the stalks were yellow, but it was not going to die. 
     The earring had not caught anybody's eye. It was large and glossy. The most expensive type. The highest quality. It looked most like a child's plastic bead. It had been many people's family heirloom. It had lasted centuries. It could be crushed with a light footstep. 
     Later it would be glanced by a beetle toe. A dog would sniff near by. A candy bar wrapper would come to rest near the clasp. And with the first raindrops it would slowly begin to disappear beneath splashed dirt particles; would drop beneath the stalks; would become a globular brown to be truly forgotten and truly lost.


9:00 AM 8/4/2000 

     In the shower she washed her hair with a calculated efficiency and began soaping up the rest. She worked her hands from the bottom upward. The radio was playing a Barbra Streisand tune. When she tried to sing along she couldn't remember the words. Under her arm she felt something that she had not noticed before.


1:01 PM 8/3/2000 

     Her husband, Franklin, was in a canoe. He would go surfing in the afternoon on small waves. He had escaped earlier and planned to do so again later. He felt spent from the previous evening. Heavy. The paddle seemed to stick in the water. He had to fight to bring it out. His wife would be arriving and it would be best to be farther up. 
     He could still make out the house. It had been fortuitous to find such a wooded lot. Now there was almost nothing around on that kind of scale. He looked at the four massive brick chimneys and felt suddenly embarrassed. These chimneys which his wife had insisted on. With their elegantly rounded corners and delicate stone caps. They were extravagant and silly. Like men with top hats and abalone cufflinks. She would gild the trees, he thought. 
     There were two egrets at the bend and they flew up as the paddle scraped the side. Beside him a dead carp floated by and then two more. He watched as a crow attempted to pull one from the river. He watched as it struggled, its feet unable to able to span the girth. Wings flapping madly. Trying. Lifting it an inch. Two inches. Wings beating. And then the fish suddenly came free, alive almost, and splashed back to the water. 


10:43 AM 8/3/2000 

     She was looking at herself in the mirror. The saleswoman was holding two skirts in her left arm while she gesticulated with her right. The shop smelled of perfumes and well manicured fingernails. 
     "I do think that is preferable. You've got to have balance," said the saleswoman. 
     "Yes, but what about the bonnet?" 
     "If you're going to get the hat, the thick belt is out. If you go with the long skirt, I think you really must switch to the sleeveless. Not too much, not too little." 
     An older man in a red sweater was shopping for his 20-something girlfriend. He said, "The First Law of Thermodynamics," and smiled. 
     "No," she replied. "Goldilocks."


3:10 AM 8/5/2000 

     Franklin thought he heard a raccoon in the garbage and jumped to his feet. He buttoned on his robe and went to the bay window. At first he thought someone had placed a white rock there beside the oak. He put on his glasses and saw his wife spreading grass seed, hunched like a vulture. 
     He almost went to her then, crouched over in the lawn, her naked torso caught in the deck lights. To shield her. The moon was only a sliver. To pick her up. He made a movement, reached a hand to the glass, and realized he could not bear the weight.


//   Advance   //