the Remembered Saints: My Life and Subsequent Death
Execution of the Sun"
Among the Jellyfish"
of the Manfestation"
Cake and Double Talk"
the Remembered Saints:
My Life & Subsequent Death
forward, then, for sadly our Herr O makes it safely through
the darkness and now stands rather raggedly next to our
dear Arb, while before them the lodge fire cracks and
—Things have taken a surprising
turn, says Arb, sipping his hot toddy and nodding at the
—What?, says O, lost in thought.
Oh. CT. Womb-walled. Quite.
Arb glances at CT, sitting on a leather
couch on the far wall and glowing beatific in the firelight.
All the best laid plans, Arb mutters.
Shaking his head ruefully.
O: About ready?
Arb glances at his watch, shrugs.
What the hell, he says.
lodge's auditorium is long and narrow, and it does much
to dampen the Polartec-laden yuppies (boisterous and downright
flushed-gushing from the toddies) until they see the bar
that runs down its length. The stage is dark, with a single
mic stand catching the meager light and throwing its shape
back to the crowd. Our four settle into seats near the
front, silent and—DOLLY up there, Karl, and TRACK
down the row, will you—brooding like windowless
monads. Then the lights dim, the stage is lit, and the
Humpback Apparition and an old man limp from the wings.
Heads bowing grimly for a moment while
the crowd adjusts to the Humpback, and then the old man
tilts the microphone and produces a blue and gold kazoo
from his shirt pocket. Glances at the Humpback, who nods
slightly, and then he lifts the kazoo to his lips.
is like nothing the crowd has ever heard, the kazoo weeping,
laughing, crying out indignantly and swaying coquettishly
over them like Onion's Cosmic Whore. Toddies forgotten,
they gawk as the old man steps from the mic, seems to
offer the Humpback her turn and then waves her off. Frozen
moment then, as if the world has stopped on its end, and
then the old man swaggers to the mic and tilts the silver-fluted
kazoo heavenwards and bleats a single, sustained note
that surges upwards in a rush and takes with it in its
afterburn the whole audience in a swooning swoop, sudden-frighted
and holding onto his heels and climbing, breathless, for
all they're worth. Beside him: tap tap tap goes the Apparition,
her claws keeping time against the bony, summer-cottoned
thigh. Then, even as the kazoo climbs and shreds and climbs
and sheds the last ounce of earthly weight and bursts
forth into a place of pure golden light, the old man steps
back, diminished, and the Apparition sways, places a clawed
hand around the mic and...
sings a single, high-pitched note, more
a sustained scream, really, the cry of a spurned lover
alone on the heath, a single sustained flash of anguish
that raises the hair of our heroic foursome and even makes
dear Onion think he's wet himself but no: such is the
delusion one feels in the presence of otherworldliness.
For seeming minutes floats the note,
dipping rising, swooping, crying dying, over the audience
and then, of a sudden: silence. And the Apparition stumbles
back into the old man's arms and together, as our four
wipe the warm tears from their cheeks and blink light-startled,
the Kazoo Twins shuffle off the stage and vanish.
then, from the Arb. Shall we?
Onion [looking about]: I've got to pee
Sighs and impatient glances among the
others, and then he is crossing the room with its crackling
fire and its wooled-up, ad-prepped yuppies to the Gents
and with little more than a creak, he slips ghostlike
into the stall. He closes his eyes briefly while the briefs
open their cottonmouth and then, eyes slitted downward,
he spies—in a nondescript twist of newsprint and
cheap magazine colors arranged like a nest next to the
porcelain—a torn page from, yes, that's right:
Boys Talk Dirty #69
and, cringing, he can't keep himself
from picking it up and reading:
I'm gonna do you, Señorita,
With much gravity and a sense of sweeping,
white-water-frothy fate, he turns the sheet over and views
the torn photo, the legs spread to reveal the pink, puckered
orifice that, like a newborn, seems foreign and sun-frighted,
and then, with a listless, lifeless, twitching release,
he lets the page drift in a draft of toilet-cooled air
and, after it sets down baby-soft onto the eau de toilet,
he sinks it deep into the bowl with a great stream of
gold-shimmery, fate-denying piss.
And then, with a stall-slapping exeunt,
he strides somewhat forcefully among the living.
says Arb. I suppose we should—
—Yes, agrees Mme. Onion, I definitely
think we might—
—Let's go, says M. Onion, ironed-jawed.
Move 'em out.
The others follow: stride stride goes
the suddenly, vigorously manly Onion, Duke-like and willing,
seemingly, to strike down an opponent's horse with his
bare fists, and, in a clump behind him: shuffle shuffle
glance about shuffle shuffle sheepish grin.
Bar empty at this hour, of course, lights
dim and the chairs looking fake-chrome cheap. Momentary
confusion and then a voice from afar bellows:
Can I help you?
Cringing at the sudden, hidden baritone;
Can I, etc.
This time the notes are traced back
to the bar, where a burly man with rolled-up sleeves and
a handlebar mustache that looks sturdy enough to perform
pull-ups on stands ready for a fight.
Arb: Ha. Um. We were actually—
Looking for the Humpback, Charlie says,
in a previously unheard baritone.
The man's face clears and he smiles
cloudless with recognition: Backstage. Use the side door
Out goes a hairy, thick-wristed arm,
pointing, and past it struts Charlie, with a swagger worthy
of a ten-gallon chapeau. And behind him follow
the Shuffle Club.
maze of hallways with ribs of gas pipes overhead and then
they all end at a single, rather unassuming door. A moment
with an ear pressed woodward and then, nothing spied,
Onion raps precipitously. A sound of shuffled feet working
unhurriedly toward them and then, unexpected drama, the
door throws itself open and the Apparition stands before
—Excuse me, says Onion, deflated
by the sight. Wrong room. I—
Arb: We'd like a word with you.
A grimace from the Apparition, who is,
as always, wearing lime-green socks, and then, with a
shrug, she steps into the hallway and croaks: Yeah?
Arb: yes. We would like to discuss with
you the murder of a man named—
Reginald Blisterkunst, mumbles Onion
Cindy, mesmerized by the Apparition's humpback.
Never heard of him, she says and turns
back into the room.
—How about Heinrich Müller?
It's Cindy again, wakeful now and pushing.
The Apparition stops, arrested, as something
hidden in the room begins shuffling its way toward her.
—Who is it, says a voice.
No one, the Apparition croaks.
More shuffling and then her kazoo partner
appears in the doorway behind her. He's wearing a sweat-stained
sleeveless t-shirt and khakis, and he squints at our heroes
with a cataract-induced befuddlement.
Another summary from Arb: We'd like
to discuss, etc.
Can't help you, the man says, turning
back into the room.
—Mum? Dad? says yet another voice
from within the room.
Momentarily, a gleaming nipple ring
appears from the darkness, and Zoma steps into the light.
—Zoma! exclaim Charlie and Arb.
—This, croaks the Humpback, is
—Impossible! You can't—
—What ho, I say. You're—
To which the Wild Boy merely shrugs
and stares, scratching restlessly at the brass ring.
Look, says Charlie, finally, we're not
interested in seeing somebody killed over this, you know.
We just want my friend here to get the charges dropped
against him. So if you could just tell us enough to do
that, we'll leave you alone and never tell anyone we met.
The Humpback starts to swing the door
shut, but Cindy—give her her due—steps up
speedily and thrusts a foot doorwards. Raw furor flashes
over the Humpback, then she steps away, shrugging.
—We have nothing to prove, she
—Maybe I did give that guy a little
something, says the old man, returning to the doorway
and rubbing his bare arms absently. I'm not saying I did.
And I'm not saying I didn't.
Arb: But why would you—
—I didn't say I did, the man says.
Arb: Yes, but—
—I knew Müller, you might
say. Yes, the man says, rubbing his eyes. In fact, I worked
in his place, occasionally. You know, his stand-in.
—But that would make you...
Wry grin from yes, dammit, you've guessed:
—Oh my God!
A full thirty seconds of gaping all
around, here: one-thousand one, one-thousand two...then:
—If you were—
—But what were you going to—
—We were in love, the Humpback
says from inside the shadows. Heinie didn't understand,
the damn Kraut.
—Yes, but you killed Blister—
—I never said I killed anyone,
says the old man. Maybe he shouldn't have been in that
library so much. Too much dust, you know? Could poison
a man if he's not careful.
The old man swells to his full height
and spreads his chest. Arb steps back against Candy T
with an arm over her belly, protective, and Onion Charlie
steps back fearfully behind Frau O.
Arb (grudgingly): Well, we said we wouldn't
—But I didn't, says a hooded figure,
stepping out of the shadow of the hallway.
All eyes roll as one in their orb-beds
to stare ice-veined at the new figure, who stands for
a moment silent and then reaches to pull back his hood.
—The cameraman! exclaims Onion
Detective Duty, the figure says, mildly
correcting. And I'm also placing this man and woman under
arrest for the 1944 murder of the big band leader, Heinrich
You are, I assume (he says, continuing),
The Humpback Apparition lets her head
drop against her chest in a gesture that signals both
her defeat and the seeming growth of her hump, which rises
a good three inches with the effort.
It is I, she says.
All eyes on her, of course, and then
a rustle of cellophane draws the eyes back to Duty, who
stares for a moment blank-eyed.
Butterscotch, he finally says. Anyone
care for one?
End of Everything
The hurly-burly's done. Just a few odds and ends to track
down and then: exeunt. And so let us transport
ourselves to where we all, dear reader, shall end: a graveyard.
For among the odds and ends yet to track down is the chemical
state of your humble's sadly deteriorated bloodstream.
Yes, there's a few sharp ones among you. That's right.
For the slower ones, suffice it to say that this requires
the authorities to—dare I say it?—unseal the
hushed casket of my soul and exhume your humble's
A snow is falling, blanketing noises
and like cemetery dirt over the dead giving only a dim
echo-image of what lies beneath.
A surprisingly large crowd of faces
is packed graveside, so let's pan wide, shall we, Karl,
to take it all in:
First, of course—for truly if
these transmissions have recorded a tragedy, it is theirs
and not mine—come the Onions on opposite sides and
appearing intent on exchanging gunshots before the coffin
lid's split open like a dry log; then the camera pans
to Candy Tabitha (a glowing Madonna now; just look at
how the light is caught spellbound in the draped hair;
a thousand men must die, verily, when such maidens, etc.)
and beside her our hero, all charges dropped and trying
his best to look paternal and yet, even now, boy-hipped
and, yes, damn it, we'll say it, spunky as a horny terrier.
And then, among the sea of cops and dirty-nailed gravediggers,
stands our steadfast detective, Herr Duty, diligent as
ever and looking for all the world as if he's at the prow
of a ship and bracing for it to smack against a new continent.
What ho, Herr Duty.
And finally, last of all, there hovers
your humble, in ectoplasmic spirit, at least, peering,
eager as the rest, over the cops' doughnut-padded shoulders
and waiting breathless for that final tug, that juicy,
fat-part-of-the-bat crack of the crowbar under the coffin
lid as I am hauled moaning and groaning from the hole
in which I was last, as myself intact, seen.
Unlike Brother Homobowles—who
once to another said: I couldn't care less about what's
in that grave or all those conventions—I find myself,
against my will, eager to view nature at is finest, the
butterfly, as it were, becoming a caterpillar.
And so: creak creak tug go the ropes,
and together we lean graveward....
will make a beautiful corpse. Of this I am sadly sure.
These lines and creases will dissolve and I will become
a beacon of hope for this hated world, a symbol of the
—You see, they will say,
admiring me, even he has found peace.
This torments me. But I can do nothing
to change it. Each of them will carry away the memory
of an angel. So I will live on in this fractured way,
no doubt, like glass slivers stolen from a stained glass
window, and suffer a new life among the remembered saints.
And yet, even now, breath bated, I notice
something unsettling: I'm beginning to feel more and more
as if I'm less and less. A flashlight losing voltage and
growing wan and orange, as others think less and less
often of me. Even now, for example, Herr Onion's thoughts
are drifting to more sunny climes, and he scarcely has
time for thoughts of me, even when the gravedigger with
a dark mole beside his nose touches him on the shoulder
and asks him to step back please, you're blocking the
coffin's way, you know. And for Candy Tabitha: already,
the nurturing has begun, and the world has shrunk itself
to nothing more than a squirming, pitiable zygote. So
it is, around the circle: fewer and fewer synapses spark
for your humble, while all the while he breams full of
such recollections, such regrets.
Whitehead wrote of concrescences, moments
of shared, universal being. Such pinpoint perspectives
should surely come at one's exhumation, and yet, even
now, breath bated, I am dissolving, finally, resolutely,
from the minds of those who should have cared, and it
seems impossible, considering the matter graveside, that
I will ever manage to resurrect another such concrescence.
Such, surely, must be the final death.
[Pianissimo, then fade]
Good riddance. All right. So now
that it's all over, Heinie's saying he wants to go out
on something upbeat, you know, maybe Artie Shaw doing
Besume Mucho or something, anything to get the taste
of that damn fruit out of our mouths, because he just
wants everyone to forget everything they just read but
no Siren songs right now, he's still a little torn up
over it all and, oh yeah, one last thing: if anyone
knows what happened to Cookie, I'd just like to say—
so fast, there. No going gently here, damn you. Forget
old Blister, will you, now that his tale's told? Come
all this way, have you, only to bump old Blister off the
path once it's grown too narrow for two? I say: let's
take a pinch of snuff together now that it's over, what?
for I must agree: it has gone rather well. Rather.
I'll have none of that, let me tell
I'd rather send out a few ectoplasmic
flying monkeys to gather up the seething Dark One—fired
only yesterday as a juice thief and even now striding
into Mao's office and swearing, in a fiendish howl, to
destroy the world—and make a few sparks ignite the
sky rather than let you so deftly cast me into the darkness
forever while some damn Latin number swirls you all back
into happy denial of this grim realm I've so selflessly
tolerated while knitting this rather torrid tale.
Look at them all, though. Trampling—nay,
skipping—away from graveside, nary a backwards glance,
and your humble carted off unceremoniously in the opposite
direction to a coroner like so much filthy dirt. Not a
thought more than that, I suppose: a bit of an odor, what?
Old Blister's a stinker even now? Ha ha. Hop skip jump
and away with him.
And there we have it. A few car doors
bang shut, never to open in unison for old Blister, live
as long as they like. Oh sure, a few jokes around the
departmental coffee pot, once the results come back (poison:
arsenic, in a hurried scrawl), maybe a comment or
two from Herr O when he opens the door to receive my ashes
(for such he shall request, in a rare sympathetic moment)—
—What? Oh. Blister. Quite.
—but little more and, in time,
not even that.
No room at the crowded conference table
for the old spurned blister, it seems, or anywhere else.
So go on. Play your damn music. You were all in bed against
me from the beginning anyway, weren't you? Oh yes: I saw
the looks on your faces when that Heathen Intruder first
interrupted me: oh thank God, you all said, someone else.
Go on, then. Who was it told you the tale, though, who
was it kept you up at night, searching so artfully for
Heinrich's Siren? Fickle crowd, that before a dead man
smiles: go on. Enjoy your summers all. But watch yourselves,
I say: the world itself is too cramped for what's inside
Ah, yes. I see you are startled by this
sudden turn. But of course: how could it not be: for surely
you knew all along that:
But consider: does not the Dark One
before the sudden-lost Blister bootless kneel? A spurned
spawn hopping mad with newfound fire, what? And could
we not, shall we say, topple a world between us? Mark
a better's words: it will come, not in a rain-cloud, but
under a dry black veil, which no ray of sunshine shall
pierce. In advance of the mayhem, my deepest sympathies
and those of my ward, the Dark One.
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late Reginald Blisterkunst was a college professor whose
areas of expertise were Milton and the Metaphysical Poets.
Among the Remembered Saints was his first novel.
He also co-wrote Pluto Wars with Charlie Onion,
a frequent WAG contributor.