the Remembered Saints:
My Life & Subsequent Death
out onto a glowing summer dawn: grass glistening, birds
chirping, etc., and in the distance, over the hill, the
sound of an unsuspecting boy pedaling himself and forty-nine
newspapers toward our sleeping hero.
For it is dear Arbunkle lying thus beneath
the pink azaleas, legs extended and, in dream, forgotten.
Snoring baby-soft and shifting occasionally from the bugs
that, in dreamland, are merely the tickling fingertips
of a naked lass who calls herself Bambi Ticklepuss.
Then over the hill comes our newsboy,
whistling and finding that, despite his tender, unthinking
age, he is strangely moved by the heavenly return of sunlight.
Even in youth, splendor—true beauty—is occasionally
noticed, and thus it is only in passing that he sees the
protruding feet, and by then of course he has ridden over
them and provoked the ire of their keeper: Arbunkle, shrieking
phlegmatically, clawing his way upright as the newsboy,
splendor forgotten and pants piss-soaked, leaps from his
bike and scurries, slipping and gasping, back over the
hill whence he came.
gasping and spewing from Arbunkle, of course, the weight
of the unseen bike and its newspapers lying across his
legs like a knife-poked corpse.
Framed! his mind shrieks. I've been
In the distance, retreating, the shrieking
newsboy, shouting murder.
And finally our hero, who is a slow
riser, pulls himself from beneath the azaleas, frees his
legs and, finding no body and seeing nothing else to do,
opens one of the newspapers and begins reading.
on E4, next to a photograph of a man sticking his head
into a giraffe's boot-shaped mouth: Journalists Needed,
in large, bold letters.
cut to close-up of our hero, shaving himself in the squeaky-clean
john of the Amoco Quickie Mart. Scraping with an old razor
he'd found in the Dasher's glove compartment. Then the
final rinse and face lifted for the tight shot: new man.
On the way out, falling into a distorted
imitation of normal life, he orders two dozen dinner fries
and a coffee to go and consumes them in the newspaper's
the Onions commute to the department in a bubble of silence;
egg spermless with only ten hours respite before that
final flushing. Traffic terrible, as always; circling
a statue, Onion Charlie rides over the curb and flicks
an angry, twisted finger at the car beside him.
—Slow down, his wife says, secretly
naked and plotting beneath her knee-length coat. I may
Charlie (to himself in a hissing whisper,
concealing the words behind a blast of the horn): Not
you, you barren sow.
—We don't want a miscarriage on
top of everything else, do we?
—Of course not, dear, he says,
and they slide back into their bubble of silence as if
it were a warm bath whose waters promised solitary immortality.
Hoary Head of Formalists (orange juice
container tilted over cup but nothing coming): Damn.
Candy Tabitha (looking up from mag):
—Empty, says the HH of F. Didn't
I ask you to refill this?
Candy Tabitha (head back in mag; nonchalant):
HH of F: Where's it gone, then?
CT: Night fairies?
HH of F (under breath, head inside refrigerator):
Onion Charlie (appearing suddenly from
the hallway; alone): Trouble?
Slipping the umbrella over his wrist,
glancing at his empty mail slot and finally joining HH
of F inside the refrigerator.
—I said, trouble?
Candy Tabitha: His orange juice has
gone missing again.
CT: Every day this week like clockwork.
HH of F: Blast it all.
He lifts the container again, a drip
that might feed a newt finding its way to the lip and
making the lonely plunge into the HH of F's dry cup. Anguish,
mouth and soul parched. Then, the memory of the committee
fight still strong, the Hoary Head shuffle-struts down
the hall to Mao's office to lodge a formal complaint.
Immediately, Candy Tabitha is beside Onion Charlie.
—Where is he?
—You know who. Woody.
—Oh. I don't know. He's not staying
with us anymore, you know.
—Well, I know that. But he hasn't
called or anything.
—Maybe he's been arrested again.
The door opens and from the hall appears
the childless Frau Onion, advancing with a fury.
Candy Tabitha (even as she speaks regretting
it): Oh, Cindy, have you seen Woody?
Cindy (having already stormed past CT):
I hope never to see that murderer again, dear. No time
to chat now. I've got something to raise with the Chair.
But (hand on Mao's knob) if you take my advice, you'll
steer clear of that man. It's when they're out on bail
that they get desperate. You may be next (this last bit
said while gaining momentum; then she plunges into Mao's
office, pulling the door shut behind her with her right
hand while with her left she grips the lapels of her coat,
under which she is naked and sweating; a moment's silence,
then the rather strange sound of three disparate voices
joining in a single, choked scream of shock and fear).
Arbunkle sighs. It's true. I'm out on bail.
The Director of Personnel (whom, despite
her being ten years older than him, our randy hero finds
whoppingly appealing) frowns judge-like over her oversized
designer frames: But of course you're innocent.
Ar (hands lifted): Of course.
The Director hesitates, glances at her
notes, says: It doesn't pay much.
Arbunkle shrugs, little-boy look doing
its best but not quite finishing her off.
—I really think we should see
what the jury says first. It would look bad after all,
if you were found guilty of murder, wouldn't it?
Ar (smile of an angel): But I won't
D of P: Quite. Well then. Welcome aboard.
It might be wise, by the by, to write under a pseudonym
until everything is cleared up. How about...oh, say: Marvin
To which Arb, smiling, says: Marvin
Hatpence, c'est moi.
D of P: There it is, then. And may I
recommend a good lawyer?
She takes the pen from her desk, sets
it to a scrap of paper, and writes: Winston Crobe; Crobe
and Crobe. And then, after checking the Rolodex, she writes
two numbers, first the lawyer's and, beneath it, her own.
cut to Hero Arbunkle climbing tangled from bed sheets
that seem to grip like the legs of a stubborn octo-; the
Director of Personnel snoring quietly all the while. Vertigo
from the sheet wrestle and then, when the floor returns
to its proper, our hero steps naked and flaccid onto it.
From the street, a mix of voices. Ar at the window. Peek:
pigs. Dart back. Ice-veined. Peek again: pigs. Hero heart-throated.
Three patrol cars, three polyester pigs
to match. Camped out in front of the D of P's. Waiting.
Arb scrambles for clothes, coming up with the D of P's
panties and, not finding his own, slipping them oversized
and empty over his boy-sized hips. Then the pants, foot
slide foot slide zip button, and finally the shirt, in
the left sleeve of which he finds his underwear. He stuffs
the Y-fronts in a pocket, checks the side window. Pigs
still. A fourth car pulling up. Thoughts of the back fence
occur, but of course the fourth car is now parked next
to the Director's driveway, not ten feet from our hero's
No escape. Dead End. Blind Alley.
he draws himself up, opens the door, steps out. A moment
on the steps—a proud man that, eh, Lieutenant? yes,
proud but sadly guilty, snap on the cuffs, Sergeant—and
then dear Arbunkle is crossing the lawn, unstopped. Next
door, a housewife steps from her porch and likewise walks
to her car.
Arbunkle checks the rearview: cops laughing,
coffee-swilling. Key in ignition. Woody vroom, housewife
vroom. Arm over the seat for the driveway descent. Back
out, back out, stop. Cars coming. Endless line, staggered
out just enough to tease. Perched on the tip of the road,
Ar watches the cops and finally spots the radar gun in
the front car.
Speed trap. Lousy speed trap.
Whoo. Our hero free again.
Slam. It's the housewife, car idling
and she now crossing the lawn.
I'm having difficulty getting out of my driveway. Do you
think one of you could stop traffic for just a moment?
Blank stares from the pigs and then
coughing and scrambling to be the first.
—Please, let me.
—Be a gentleman, Bill, you—
—Damn it out of my way, can't
you see she's...
And finally a pig waddles into the road,
arms lifted. Screech, stop. Pitter patter housewife, slam.
Then gone. Cops return to coffee, leaning against fenders.
Our hero, blocked during the traffic stop by the pig named
Bill, watches traffic.
—Excuse me, he calls out, not
bothering to open the car door. Think you could stop traffic
for me too?
Bill sets his coffee down. Sir?
Our hero repeats himself.
Bill comes up the driveway. Sir, he
says, do you know what this uniform means?
Hero: Free coffee?
Bill: Step out of the car, please.
Hero: But I just—
Bill: Step out of the car, please.
Our hero glances over his shoulder:
the other three are coming up the driveway now. He opens
the door and steps out.
Tall cop: What's the problem, Bill?
Bill: Got a joker here.
Short cop: A joker, huh?
Bill: Doesn't understand what this uniform
Fat cop: How about that.
Bill: Let's see your ID, pal.
Our hero fishes through his pockets,
pulls out the Y-fronts.
Bill: What the hell's that?
Hero (holding the Y-fronts out to Bill):
Bill (knocking the Y-fronts deftly to
the ground): And just who's underwear are you wearing?
Hero: No one's.
Fat cop: Mind if we look?
Hero: Don't I have some rights, guys?
Short cop: How about that ID?
More fishing, then Arb hands over the
ID to Bill.
Bill (handing the ID to the short cop):
Call it in.
uncomfortable few minutes pass while the dispatcher runs
Arbunkle down. Then up comes the short cop, grinning.
Out on bail, he says. Murder.
Bill: Holy shit. We hooked ourselves
a live one this time, fellas.
Arb is then frisked by the fat cop,
who peeks down the small of our hero's back to get an
ID on his underwear. Fruitless.
Fat cop: Clean.
Bill (as if he hadn't heard the fat
cop): Just what are you doing in this neighborhood, Mr.
Hero: Arbunkle. Seeing a friend.
Hero: I'd rather not.
Bill: Uh huh. Got their underwear on?
Hero: Do I look like it?
Bill: That answer's almost as stupid
as my question.
Hero: Look, guys. Do I need to call
Tall cop: You got a lawyer?
Tall cop: What's his name?
Arbunkle fishes again, comes out with
the card. Winston Crobe, he says, of Crobe and Crobe.
Tall cop: Never heard of him.
Fat cop: Sure you have. He's the guy
with the secretary that—
Bill: Boys, why don't we let old Arbuckly
here pull out of this driveway and then see where he goes?
Chuckle, then another struggle to see
who gets to stop traffic. Sighing, our hero returns to
his car and glances up in time to see the Director of
Personnel pull back the shades and gape.
a dead man.
Onion Charlie pulls the phone from his
ear, looks at it, sets it back. Hello?
—I'm a dead man, Arbunkle says.
In a sped-up whisper. But I'm not crazy so listen up,
he says. That Blisterkunst bastard is alive. Or something
of him still is.
For you see, dear reader, while our
hero drove randomly across town with an escort of four
pigs, I had done the impossible: I crossed that line between
your world and mine; I, dead, spoke to Arb, living. First
went my brain, like a grotesque birth, gaping, reeling
into an unexpected world and blinking. Then my heart followed,
slipping like an afterbirth into daylight, with a message
for my hounded beloved. Only brain-head and heart, hovering
horrific over our hero, a horrid sight anywhere, but in
front of a Dairy Queen downright incomprehensible, sense-
and brain-denying. Yet, lipless, faceless, two hovering
lumps merely, I managed to sputter-speak.
Arb: He said to meet him at this swamp
where a train conductor was beheaded. He said if I don't,
I'm a dead man. That Crobe's a snot—that's exactly
what he said. Not worth a dime. None of them are. But
Blisterkunst is going to help me. He's going to set me
Onion (unimpressed): So we're supposed
to go to some swamp and help a ghost find his head?
Ar: Something like that. But it has
to be all of us. You, me, Candy Tabitha, Cindy. Game?
For a moment Onion Charlie muses, sizes
up his life. What the hell, he says.
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