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
Important Clue from our Boys in Blue
fish (into whose tank our heroes have tumbled) being of
course long dead and floating—though before the
last went, the black one with whiskers and the flaky skin
problem, he managed to gorge himself on three guppies
and the right arm of my plastic diver—our heroes
have merely to deal with the explosion of broken glass
and the instant forty-nine-gallon pond into which they
fall like flopping fish themselves. Spared the flip-flip
appeal of water-starved fishes (where to put them? the
toilet? but then there'd be the matter of retrieving them,
or at least returning to feed them periodically—thank
God they're already dead and gone to meet their Aquatic
Creator in happier waters), Onion and Arbunkle have merely
to dry themselves, sputtering, and wait for the sirens
that never come. Five minutes, ten, and finally, no longer
dripping, they rise and then, in a gesture borne more
of instinct than boldness, Onion reaches over and clicks
on a lamp.
having once glimpsed the humble's abode and over a shielding
shoulder at that, Onion C is intrigued by its ornate clutter,
its hint of the Orient and the suggestion—tasteful
not lurid—of the profane. Thus the New Man turned
Wide-Eyed Naïf in the New World: standing, squashing
flat the unnoticed fish, and reaching, again through instinct
rather than etc., for African fertility fetishes, photos
of past lovers grinning naked under Mediterranean suns,
the odd porn mag left opened on the shelf by a lifetime
subscriber sudden gone. While—yes, sadly, for there
seems no hope any more for that final moist meeting, does
there, except with that oaf Onion—in the meantime
our hero Arb chooses merely to retract his scrotum and
consider vomiting into his cupped hands like Boy #2.
But this is only the sitting room, intended
merely as mood-setter; for clues they must pass through
it, into the dining room, around the table with its bowl
of mold-spore bananas and pears, through the kitchen to
the back room with its linty furnace—where, after
an hour of fruitless findings, our keen-witted couple,
Hardy Frank and Hardy Joe shall we call them, finally
find what they have been sent to find.
desk merely—the very one, indeed, at
which I supposedly sit while whiling away the sherry-sodden
night with these wandering tales. Rather sad, really,
now that before it like sheepish bullies stand our two;
its top pitted and no more than an arms-length in any
direction and above it no moon to inspire. Yet beneath
it, stack after stack of pretty-boy porn, enough to whet
poor Onion's appetite yet again: stooping (and thus creasing
the stashed office copy of Boys Talk Dirty); riffling
through the stacks while Arbunkle, like the pigs who'd
searched the house at Duty's request, turns away in disgust.
Saying: fucking faggots.
Mmmmm, agrees Onion. And then, when
the Arb's back is turned, he stuffs porn into his shirt
and pants for all he's worth.
forward to Charlie's office; doors locked, shades drawn,
splashes of shiny raw youth splayed over desk, table,
floor. Stroke stroke stroke—I say, what's this?
For as our Onion turns a page out slips the note—like
a messenger grown weary with waiting and nearly, now that
after all these months its moment is near, forgetting
its message, but there it is, finding itself lifted by
the Onion's hand and tilted up to the light, where it
If for any reason I don't survive
the making of this book, I hope that someone shall find
these notes, someone who sides with me, and finish it
for me before the others get to them first; for if they
do, all is lost.
And on the back, in clearly printed
block letters, is the number of the University of Virginia
library study carrel containing the long-anticipated clues
that will, yes, quite possibly, crack the case. For you
see, dear reader, your humble suspected the end might
be near, and thus penned the note thus lifted, thus read.
And did he also, you think, send dear old Onion into the
office to whet his appetite for the blue boys—playing,
as it were, the liberator?
Bit of the Gothic
so over the river and through the woods zoom vroom zoom
Herr Dasher goes, carrying our Hardys howling like feral
dogs now that the scent of the hunt is refreshed. Your
humble's note like a treasure map between them, of course,
though it took some explaining and hero Arb is still,
in the back of his pretty head, not sure how it came to
be in sweating Onion's spit-shiny hand. Parking as always
atrocious; finally settling for a shady cul-de-sac a mile's
hike from Mistuh Jeffuhson's Univuhsity, a long walk during
which poor Onion, give him his due, holds up better under
interrogation than did our hero Arb when questioned about
the pesky lack of alibi that would lift Herr Commandant
Duty's worrisome charge of murthering your humble.
like Arb I must likewise squirm shift squirm my way past
that sticky pesky lack; bear with me and all shall be
in the end clear. For already, can it be true? Our twosome
already crossing the Lawn, passing the statues and sad
summer students and, gasp! climbing the steps of the library
once so fondly visited by your humble? Then, paper out,
carrel number checked with student behind checkout desk
and: whisk! through the swinging doors and into the stacks
go our heroes!
of course since either has worked the stacks, so naturally
there's a little confusion. Left? Right? Straight ahead,
dear chaps, straight ahead and...down the stairs they
But my! what odd stairs they are: the
landings no more than narrow hospital-green closets and
the tunnel-walled steps linking them iron-and-cement and
steep. Indeed, winding down into the bowels, punchy with
vertigo, our heroes can't shake the feeling that it is
their heads that lead, leaning three steps beyond their
stumbling feet, feeling alternately like mountain-savvy
rams and acid-crazed hound dogs and then whoosh! through
another swinging door that opens onto another shaft of
green, another descent, and yet another. Until, hearts
and memories and even names lost, our heroes emerge dizzy
but grinning on the dim-lit basement floor. In the distance,
a lone grad student, paler than the palest bottom-of-the-sea
fish, lifts his head over the lip of his carrel and then,
forlorn, sinks again into its unseen depths.
few moments wasted matching carrel numbers to the treasure
map and then, in the back corner: bingo.
But of course it's a mess. How could
it not be after all these years? Hundreds of coffee-stained
pages of notes stacked helter-skelter like mating snakes,
and on top, bottom, likewise everywhere, book after book
about...lift the spines to the meager light, please, dear
Nazi Germany, swing jazz and, on the
spine of a thin, obscure monograph, the name of the little-known
trombonist and band leader...
there. It's finally out, burped up like a slick dark seed:
yes, my secret love child is none other than the Great
Forgotten Heinrich, who lived under the shadow of the
Great Immortal Glenn, touring the country with a band
of tough guys who could swing almost as well as
Miller's front men; almost on the verge of widespread
success, and then came the war with the Nazis and the
problem of promoting a band whose leader answered to a
Kraut name. With an umlaut, no less.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, for
already, voices raised, the thrill of the successful hunt
turning your humble's humble carrel into an everywhere,
our heroes are the intendeds of the grad student's offended
hrumphs and, enthusiasm quelled, they see nothing for
it but to scoop the mess wholesale into cupped arms and
bear-hug-waltz their way across the room and...
the winding stairs go our Brothers Hardy, up up up and
finally back through the swinging doors and into the lobby,
where, startled by sunlight and feeling slightly agoraphobic
now that the world has expanded again beyond the narrows
of a library carrel, they don't see the Humpback Apparition
hovering like a fanged phantom next to the circulation
desk's rubber plant and dressed thus: lime-green sweater,
purple skirt, white knee socks, and well-worn slippers
that one might see on...yes, damn it, on our old friend
Mr. Lee. Only after checking out the books do they hesitate,
collect their wits and realize—oh my God—they've
left the treasure map in the carrel for anyone to find.
So back down goes Onion, pursued by
Humpback Apparition. Yes, yes, she's still two floors
above poor quivering Onion, who hears merely the clump-shuffle-clump
of what must be steel shoes, coming after him down the
winding stairs like a rusty thresher, but your humble
knows the sound and I'll say no more for poor Onion, nearly
pee-wet with fear of the over-the-shoulder-pincer-grab-twist-shriek,
is now run-flying downwards, leap leap smash, leap leap
smash, while from behind comes the relentless clump shuffle
clump shuffle clump.
Arb, notes under arm and thoughts on the alibi and what
he must conceal (more on that by and by), crosses the
Lawn only to be scared witless by a trio of gas-powered
leaf blowers coming up over a ridge like they riding an
escalator from hell itself.
back to Onion, leaping now into the basement floor and
startling hell out of our death-white grad student, who
in the turmoil drops three volumes of Whitman studies
on his left foot and will limp for months because of it.
Onion, startled into normalcy by Brother Walt's tumble,
crosses the room with an affected stride that does much
to recover his sense of manhood, until he looks over his
shoulder and sees in the doorway...the Humpback Apparition,
herself motionless, and grimacing a grimace that says
to stone-salt-sand-cement-still Charlie: you ain't a-going
nowhere. Death silence from the stacks and then, one two
three, the Humpback Apparition leans against the stairwell
door and, with an ungodly whishing sound, is gone.
who the humpback? No names yet, please. I've begun to
enjoy myself. But I shall admit: the shock of tomboy brown
belies her age, which must be, oh, let's see, say, sixty-seven?
And not to change the subject, but aren't you wondering
what Cindy Onion might have to say about flashing Chairman
I don't know what you're talking about.
Not looking away from the TV, on which
three babies in diapers prance about like fat deer.
So fuck off, she says.
Ah, sweet Cindy, girl of our dreams,
linger a little longer, won't you, for here, yes, headlights
sweep the walls and momentarily your breathless husband
shall arrive, ready to burst the seeds of your guilt,
if not your womb.
where Hardy Arby, now that Onion like a thief slips porn-laden
into the house? To Candy Tabitha's, of course; though
the Director of P sits all night naked under her robe,
it's to the Bearer of Hards that he drives, for let's
come to it, she's the only one he can trust, isn't she?
What are you sneaking around for?
I said, what are you—
Oh. Yes. (Smile from Herr Onion.) Tired,
I don't trust you, says Onion Frau.
(Sweat breaks out noticeably across
You're up to something, she says, but
before he can respond she has leapt from the couch like
a pregnant sea lion and blubbered out a confession: that
she'd been attracted to Mao from the beginning, that she
couldn't help herself, it was the way he was so forceful
in committee meetings and...so caught up is she in her
own bellyache soul-washing that she doesn't notice the
paper-crackle her husband's torso emits under her tearful
hugs. Several grim seconds pass thus, and finally Herr
Onion is released and allowed to climb the stairs to the
guest bathroom, where, in place of Arb's condom stockings,
he spreads out his porn-horde and, unbuttoning his trousers,
forgets it all: the carrel, the Humpback Apparition, and
even, after a few moments of naked swimming with the Greeked
Boy of the Month, that horrid confession of a love for...who
(stroke) was (stroke) it (stroke) again?
Arb and the Bearer pass the night playing connect-the-dots
with your humble's last, fitful efforts on that woeful
planet you so snidely call home and find, yes, as you
might have expected, the deep end of the pool is just
a little deeper than they thought.
that it makes sense quite yet. Days pass, in fact. Like
spring squirrels delightedly digging up winter nuts, they
root through the ankle-deep carpet of books and notes
and make several little piles on the kitchen table—piles
which, on the fifteenth reading, begin to speak rather
fluently among themselves. These several little piles
each in turn becoming several more little piles whose
vocabularies are small but almost scientific in their
precision. A picture emerges, or begins to, but even now,
this early, they are too...frightened? uncertain? newly,
unexpectedly small in a large, dark-cornered world?...to
discuss it even between themselves, when, late at night,
they finally roll into bed and—groping and grunting
a thing of the past, like yesterday's rosebud—stare
separate and speechless into the darkness around them.
Yet how beautiful they have each become,
passing from blinded spring-lust to your humble's freezing-sharp
winter knowledge. If we were to click-click time-lapse
our two, would it not be rather like a flower, a swelling
red tulip, growing erect and proudly full before our very
in the midst of winter?
of course the world beyond doesn't stop. Each morning
Candy Tabitha must leave her blindingly beloved Arb (for
truly love rests in companionship, doesn't it, rather
than in the sex? sad to realize this here, of course,
beyond the grasp of all and any, but one must deal bravely
with adversity, what?) for the short bike pedal into the
department where, after brewing coffee, she is the unwilling
witness to the unending saga to replace your humble.
But what of Hoary Head of Formalists?
by now you could guess: Hoary Head has been, is now, and
will for some time yet remain...
Bottoms up, HH of F.
But why the grin when, for the forty-ninth
time, no drop there comes?
Could it be because he has viewed the
tape that caught Herr Doktor Onion slipping like a thief
down the long hall, past the Hoary Head's hidden, purring
camcorder, to your humble's office door, which was, you
might recall, strangely unlocked and inviting?
damn it I've failed to mention what must be most
important at this, a turning point in our story—for
surely you've noticed we've nearly reached the treeless
halfway hill, where all becomes visible if not exactly
focused, and surely, after a bit of a breather and a sip
of wine, something must happen here, old Blisterkunst'll
come through, what?—namely, that on the morning
when, for the fiftieth time Hoary Head lifts the juice
cup and is gratified to feel merely the sand-desert-drop
slip across his tongue and to his tastebuds whisper:
Onion, Onion, so dry, Herr Onion, damn
—at that moment, Onion himself
enters the department and, thoughts elsewhere (hint: stroke
stroke), trips over the rug and—
Extreme close-up of Onion's grimace;
then, as his eye wanders from rug to the door, focus-pull
over his shoulder to reveal...
The Humpback Apparition, limping across
the sidewalk and glaring through the glass door at our
startled oaf Onion.
much might be made of our having finally surpassed that
omnipresent forty-nine (but you really must wonder if
it is only to be replaced by an omnipotent fifty, or in
the end, a modest fifty-one, like Fortinbras come to rescue
fallen Denmark), perhaps we should note this:
The Humpback Apparition is no such,
nor merely fanged phantom, for such hallucinations are
never shared except among Victorian heroines, and surely,
you would never say that our Onion and Hoary Head, who
stand together gaping and trembling, qualify as such?
merciful vanishing with an ungodly whishing sound this
time, I'm afraid, gentlemen. You'll just have to meet
her in the flesh like men, because clump limp clump limp
up the stairs she comes, rusty thresher egads, so terribly
terrifying in fact that poor flinching HH of F cracks
a crown and, sucking in air, must suffer the added pain
of an exposed dental nerve. But truly the sight is too
much for our two, who after a frozen moment, fall over
themselves to vacate the hall, leaving it for the Humpback
who, unseen now, merely stops at the door and glares.
tumble down the hall they go, hysterical and clawing clothing
and hair and skin; then, rounding the corner at Candy
Tabitha's desk, they fall full-tilt into, dare we say
it, yes, the Dark One himself, who is only too happy to
cover them both with his freshly poured black coffee.
But nothing much lost, really; it sobers the lot and,
after all, with the cracked crown, Hoary Head couldn't
have made the speech anyway (did I mention that today's
the final debate on your humble's replacement? my, how
I'm gibbering today; must be the darkness working on me)
and Onion (whose sap has not sunk, despite the scare)
is more than happy to return home for a fresh suit and
a little stroke-stroke before lunchtime, for truly, the
man's become a beast about it all.
it to Cindy, then, to witness and report on the Dark One's
finest hour, the moment when he rises to his feet and,
facing the Dykes for Austen, the Faggots for Forster and
the Marxists for the Party, he reaches into his bag and
produces a list of fifty students' signatures, each petitioning
that the Dark One ascend to the seat left vacant by your
humble's sudden leaving.
Forty-nine are forgeries, of course,
but that final signature, number fifty, is legit and comes
from the small, pale student whom the Dark One ushers
into the room before Chairman Mao can do more than heft
the petitions and marvel at their weight.
Onion Charlie (sated, over his chicken
curry): What did she say?
Onion Cindy: It's hard to recall. Each
time she spoke, she closed her eyes and fluttered them
like a bat's wings. It distracted us all. He's sleeping
with her, of course, and action may be taken (that last
said ominously, as the action would be taken by the man
who remains her dream-interloper, Chairman Mao). By the
way, I'm ovulating.
From the Onion man, nothing but a small
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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.