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Reginald Blisterkunst, Ph.D.
Among the Remembered Saints: My Life and Subsequent Death
Pluto Wars

Greg Chandler
"Bee's Tree"
"Local Folk"
"Roland's Feast"
"Pond Story "

Doug Childers
"The Baptism"

Gene Cox
The Sunset Lounge

Clarke Crutchfield
"The Break-In"
"The Canceled Party"
"The Imaginary Bullet"

Jason DeBoer
"The Execution of the Sun"

Deanna Francis Mason
"The Daguerreian Marvel"

Dennis Must

Charlie Onion
"Love Among the Jellyfish"
Pluto Wars
"Feast of the Manfestation"

Chris Orlet
"Romantic Comedy"

Daniel Rosenblum
"A Full Donkey"

Deanna Frances Mason
"The Daguerreian Marvel"

Andrew L. Wilson
"Fat Cake and Double Talk"


Among the Remembered Saints:
My Life & Subsequent Death

Reginald Blisterkunst, Ph.D.

Part Three

A Second Brush with Death

From one night-black route to the next, long and silent, our fearless foursome ride, Onion Charlie at the helm with wife beside, while behind, beneath a musty Hudson Bay blanket, snuggle Arbunkle and Candy Tabitha, the former so preoccupied with thoughts of the dead that he almost ignores the hands groping, pulling back the belt buckle and popping loose the buttons beneath. More turns and a long stretch of black road and finally Onion Charlie turns right at the elementary school whose mascot Indian head grimaces silverwhitepink under the sodium vapors. Still further, then, through a long corridor of trees that will lead them, sure as rain, to the point where the living have traditionally chosen to seek the dead.

One mile, two; nothing but woods and signs forbidding trespassing. Then behind the line of trees: fields of soybean and lettuce, from which lurches a family of deer: papa mama and bambi. Onion smashing the brake pedal for all it's worth; gasp-shrieking from the car's four mouths startling the deer more than the brakes' screech. Then hop-hop they go, across the road to munch lettuce. Whew; brow wipe; collective sigh. Then another mile, where at last the expected railroad appears at an unexpected spot.


—Is it here? says Onion Cindy to Candy Tabitha, who years before had visited the dead with a date whose single pre-occupying thought had been meeting Jim Morrison's ghost.

Candy Tabitha: I'm not sure.

Cindy, not yet willing to discuss with her husband the reason she had disrobed before their mutual chairman, stares at the twin tracks of steel and sighs.

Finally: map unfolded, routes traced and...I say, old man—this route crosses the rails in two places.

—So which is it? from the car, collectively.

Blank stares and crumbling noises while the map is folded, and then, no one willing to climb out alone and yell for your humble, Charlie-at-the-helm-Onion drives through the trees one mile exactly to the next railroad crossing, which is, if anything, even less inviting. Again more blank stares until Candy Tabitha, she of the car's youngest eyes as well as the hardest, etc., plucks out of the blackness a dim, familiar shape.

—I remember that, she says, pointing.

The others strain, come up with nothing.

—There, again pointing, and then, as if it were a ship sliding into a fog-shrouded harbor, the house appears.

Window glass gone, doors popped from their frames, clapboards bone-white with weathered age. Beside it a tree manifests itself, stretching its limbs to cuddle and conceal the house.

—We got out here, Candy Tabitha says.

No door handles are turned, nor is it suggested. Eight eyes in four uncertain and suddenly rather frightened heads peer into the darkness. But this is not the vigilant watch the spirit world demands; this is merely fear of the dark, a pitiable trait among four adults. Finally, it is the helmsman who speaks.

—I think it's the other spot.

Grumbling, disagreement, half-hearted effort to get out of the car and confirm the sight, and then the car is started, turned around and driven back to the first crossing.


One retraced mile later, the helmsman steers cautiously onto the mud-splattered shoulder, the ship's headlights scanning over beer cans, cigarette butts and empty packs, candy and hamburger wrappers, and a single condom that, in the headlights, looks like a child's legging and causes hrumphs and throat-clearings all around.

Helmsman: This has got to be it. All the trash, the shoulder, etc.

Still, no one moves. Then, unexpectedly, it's Onion Cindy, clucking and stepping heavily onto the debris. Soon, goaded, the others follow. And are surprised by the heat that rises from the road, the moisture that pushes through the swampy marshes beyond the trees.

Except for the strip of sky over the tracks, the road is dark. Looking one way, back into the city, the strip is pink; the other way, navy-blue with star-dots.


One hundred thirty-five years ago, a train loaded with Confederate war-wounded crossed this road, then only a deer path. It entered the woods here at full steam, aiming to cross the marshes before nightfall. Less than a half a mile later—mere seconds of travel—the locomotive encountered Yankee-twisted tracks. For a moment, train and passengers floated, then tumbled, twisted, screeched, ceased. The conductor, who had invented a prototype of the kazoo and had even sold forty-nine to wounded soldiers, was thrown against the door. When the train finally fell, he was decapitated by a falling wood ax. It is this man who haunts this place, pacing the tracks, lamp lifted, searching in vain for the head that will make him whole again and let him slip completed into that world we dare not question and yet forever seek, paradise.


Road, woods and marsh oblivious to all this, of course, croaking twittering chirping and generally ignoring the cars that bring the supplicants seeking news of the other side (which, of course, the conductor couldn't give them anyway, never having been there himself. Imagine what form a dialogue with the conductor would take: Seen my head? No? Have I what? I wish. Sure you haven't seen that head? Damn. Damn. Here somewhere. What?). Normally, they come intoxicated, their courage propped up with chemicals, but Arb & Co. huddle together sober, frightened of the forest and its hidden mysteries.

Cindy (whispering): Well?

Clearing of throats, foot-shifting.

Charlie: Which way?

Glances up and down moonlit tracks. In the starlight, they beckon, and each of our four, in their own way, wonders whether they might be better off just breaking away and...each wanting to follow the tracks alone despite...

A pair of headlights bobs through the trees accompanied by the drone of a motor making its way toward our four. Like deer they lock legs, wait; heart-throated. But the droning motor nudges its way onto an unseen road and drifts into the trees on the city side of the tracks, eventually dwindling to a whisper...and is gone.

Another collective sigh, legs lifted, stretched. Eyes searching the woods, the tracks, then turning as a pack on our hero.

Together: Where?

Hero: Momentarily.


Hours pass. Sitting on the hood, leaning on the fenders, lying on the ground, sitting on the tracks. First staring back into the city, then turning to stare into the marshes. But nothing. Finally they break up into separate couples, like strangers on a beach, Onions to the tracks, Candy Tabitha and our hero back to the car hood, where they lie under the stars and stare up wordless: fingers-interlocked. Near four o'clock, a shooting star streaks across the strip of sky, the length of the tracks. Ar and CT so busy shrieking and pointing that at first they don't hear the Onions' simultaneous shrieking.

Then, in a terse whisper, Onion Charlie: He's here.

Vaulting from the hood, sprint-flying to the tracks: a collection of pink dots hover playfully several hundred yards into the marshes.

—Jesus Christ.

Hesitation, then tentatively, slow as a mine sweeper, Onion begins walking down the tracks toward the lights, which dart and dodge, oblivious. The others watching, not moving. He reaches the edge of the woods, turns back to beckon. The lights dissolve. Become nothing. More waiting, but they don't return.

—Marsh gas, Woody says, reason regained. Firm in his fickle faithlessness again, yet with a hint of let-down.

Back to separate couples again. Chirp chirp, hoo hoo. Otherwise silence. A few mosquitoes passing through stop to draw a little of the red stuff and then, after the moon has cleared the treetops and cast a blue-funk glow over the track and its haunted air, the Onions rise and wander down the tracks. The air is cooler now and, standing on the spot where Onion Charlie had stood when the lights evaporated, their thoughts drift lazy as the lights, each in their windowless world, feeling history and time as yes, as nowhere, as none. Then, in the distance, another droning motor.


Mad dash back to the road, feet slipping off the tracks slick as mud, grunting with fear. Ar and Candy Tabitha vaulting from the hood, Ar simultaneously struggling to button back his fly (yes, at it again).

Onion Charlie (guttural): In the car.

Panic; wasted, soap-slick movements: hands grasping and slipping loose, legs suddenly fallen asleep or dead even, rooted like trees as the motor hums nearer. Doors pop open; clumsy, over-sized bodies pile into the car suddenly grown two sizes too small, then: slam slam slam...slam. Silence. Through the trees, headlights. Not a breath from our heroic four. Nearer, nearer comes the drone, headlights scanning over them, and finally it appears, a small import, bubbling like a motor submerged in sea water. Blub blub blub blub, diminishing now, disappearing through the trees that lead to the second crossing. General exhalation from the car, then: sweat turns cold as the car is heard to turn and make its way back toward them.


Candy Tabitha, suddenly unfrozen, spastically clutches the flashlight at her feet and, with less thought than a tree, clicks it on.

Collectively: Off!

Recovering her senses, she struggles with the buttons and discovers that the flashlight offers two more options: flashing yellow light and a whining siren, each of which commence at the flip of their switches.

CT (near hysterics): Oh my God.

Our hero, likewise unfrozen, clutches the flashlight and begins bashing it ruthlessly against the back of Onion Charlie's seat. To no avail. As the mystery car approaches, droning, our questing quartet present a whirling light-and-sound show. Then, as the mystery car comes abreast, Arb manages to crush the light on the back of Onion Charlie's head. Lights out for both the flashlight and poor Charlie. Only Cindy, ignoring her slumping husband, has the foresight to peek into the mystery car and see nothing more than a forty-nine year-old man out of work and delivering newspapers to make ends meet. What she doesn't see though, is your humble, manifesting himself in the form of a nose and a right ear, riding low in the passenger's seat and finding himself wholly incapable of rising any higher.


Drone goes the mystery engine, smaller and smaller until it is merely a single halo of pre-halogen light, and then, too small for our terrified tetrad (minus blacked-out Onion) to hear, a gut-busting bellow explodes from within as our over-aged out-of-work newspaper boy sets his hand on your humble's right ear. Bellowing, shrieking, wetting himself and then falling lifeless onto yours truly, trapping me temporarily against a newsprint photo of a newly discovered two-headed toad. The pre-halogen halo drifts handless, then locks radar on the nearest pine tree and, leaping the ditch, plows bumper-first into it.

The noise is negligible, but perhaps something askew in the peripheral catches the eyes of our remaining three: the pre-halogen halo now turned to a single, cyclops-beacon shining back toward them and unmoving. Poor Arbunkle, thinking finally his headless prince had come, leaps from the car. But is greeted by no headless lantern-bearing train conductor in Confederate grays. Instead: the incessant droning of our ceaseless mystery engine, like the squirming legs of a bug on its back. By now, of course, the women have stepped tentatively back onto pavement and as Ar explains the beacon, Onion Charlie lifts his head from the wheel and stares about him. Sadly groggy and double-visioned, but nonetheless alive.

Minutes pass while the unseen Onion struggles to climb out, and then, our heroic four a foursome again, they watch the silhouette of the newsboy likewise climb out; likewise double-visioned but alive. Glances about, then, remembering, darts head back into car...but sees nothing awry. I, of course, having hocus-pocused back to this miserable darkness. Shakes head, disbelieving, then backs back onto the road and, deciding that the right-hand road of the two matches up to the world, he follows it through the trees and is gone.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12



About the Author

The 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.


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