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
let's leave the Onions to their dirty work, shall we?
For after a night of note-sleuthing, our hero-journalist
Arb is finally given an assignment, small though it be,
and after a final cup of coffee and perusal of your humble's
slanty penmanship, he steps into the dawn-lit dew-wet
Dasher and is away—and surely you agree: following
Arb even into hick hell is preferable to lingering over
the limp Herr Onion and his travails, no?
that it's much of a story; a summer-long, grass-crinkling
drought combining with a few spotty soakers to destroy
this year's crop of Hanover tomatoes—or whatever's
in season in mid-August. Let's say, oh, soybeans, shall
we? Knee-high lumps of dry-crackly greenery and nothing
to do but hump back and forth over them like a heat-stroked
Suffice it to say: no Spring corn, no
Shropshire lads (no more of your humble either, come to
that; rotting away beneath the desert-dry sod, what? my
oh my); just dear Arb and a hick in a plaid shirt stretched
button-bursting taut over what appears to be a belly heavy
to the office, then; still sweating and typing out the
miserable piece: ring ring.
Arbunkle: Marvin Hatpence speaking.
Ar: Excuse me?
—Ah ee um Duty here...That you,
Ar: Arbunkle. Yes.
—Mr. Arbuckly I've got a question
for you. Do you know a woman who calls herself a siphon
or maybe a siren?
—Or a two-headed man who plays
Ar: Of course not.
Duty: Um. Having these dreams, see.
Either thing make any sense?
Ar (considering, despite himself): Two-headed
—Yeah. Wearing little granny glasses.
Chills down the Arb spine for, in a
flash: image of love-child Müller, granny glasses,
trombone and all.
Duty: Arbuckly? You there?
Yes, he says. But I don't know what
you're talking about, Lieutenant.
Duty: Um yea uh. Just checking. Keep
dreaming about it, you know? And oh, Arbuckly?
I almost forgot, says Herr Duty. (Pause
while a butterscotch finds its way into the moist eager
mouth and then:) Expect a call from the DA's office. Need
to give you a new court date and (slurp suck smack) all
sudden-electric hero rips the story from its typewriter
sleeve (for being a purist he refuses the monitors that
sit in square-faced judgment on the other desks), sprints
the length of the hall, deposits the story on his editor's
desk, and, shouting a goodbye over his shoulder, makes
for the elevator, where, doors closing and time for nothing
but a valiant leap, he bumps briefly but jarringly into
the Director of Personnel. But no time for her, of course,
scorned though she be, for it's back to the Dasher and
the piles of whispering notes, for surely, you must be
thinking it yourself: might they mention a, shall we say,
them like a sniffing hound, then, from one end of the
table to the etc., for siren-scenting Woody sees the whispering
piles in a different way now, as anyone would who is told
the house he's wandered into conceals not merely spiders
but a beautiful woman as well. Sniff sniff up and down,
clue-mad, yet turning up nothing but a giant how-could-he-have-missed-it...
as the nose on my—or rather, your—face. Look
at the page numbers: one two scribble scribble three then
hmmm missing one two...must be—dare we say it—fifty-one
pages missing here?
Arb, of course, thunderstruck at the loss, for all men,
be they meat-lovers or no, love the hunt. Thus supine
among the scrambled notes he is found, half-dead merely
at the thought of missing a siren's song.
What happened? says Candy Tabitha, surveying.
No response for almost a minute, and then it all comes
out in a dry sob: Duty, the dream, the two-headed trombonist
and finally the siren, all so crazy-sounding that Candy
T sees nothing for it but to call in Onion Charlie, who
surely among the world's disparate peoples can touch some
forgotten chord of sanity in the poor blubbering Arbunkle.
pass, during which Candy T treats Ar as a shock victim—stabilize
environment and wait for assistance—and finally
the Onion arrives, himself looking rather wan, yellow
and even feverish.
is—but need I tell you, who are yourself so empty-eyed?—such
a soul-emptiness about porn obsession; how many have I
seen walk thus into a room as does our Onion now, thoughts
no longer and all the urges sucked dry and yet the pages
still pulling? True loneliness coming, of course, when
even the soul has left, when only the shapes on the page
seem to move, speak or have names. Just so, after reaching
the first Boys Talk Dirty on the final stack tucked
beneath the sink in the guest bathroom, has Onion's soul
slipped from him; and in the empty Tantalus stare he casts
over the anguishing Arbunkle is the recognition of both
his lost soul and the need for yet more of the dirty mags
that are themselves soulless and unquenched.
—It's not worth it, he finally
says, from the bottom of a soulless well, after our hero
has recovered the energy to repeat his story. It's not
worth it, he repeats, then rises and, without the slightest
noise, is gone.
the mere presence of a non-presence is enough to cure
our Hero's ills and, manfully restored after days of cerebral
wandering, he rises from his bed of notes and retires
blissfully to the boudoir with the Bearer, who is herself
no mean siren, what? But there is one thing Woody left
out of his oft-repeated Duty story—i.e., his court
date with destiny. Plain slipped his mind, if it ever
registered, until he reaches into his crumbled pants pocket
and finds not the third condom he'd expected but a small
white business card on which is written, above the Director
of P's number, the name and number of Crobe and Crobe,
Attorneys at Law. And before the third condom is found
and put to use, a call is placed to the Crobe's 24-hour
hotline and an emergency appointment arranged for our
hero the very next afternoon, if you please.
Speaks; Shadows Fall; the Siren Calls
see, Mr. Arbuckly—Arbunkle—of course, let's
see...ah hah. Here we are. Yes. Murder first degree. Interesting
case. Remember reading about it now. So that was you,
huh? Oh no no, excuse me, I didn't mean to imply you'd
actually popped the Blister—exactly. Well well.
Knew the deceased, did you? I see. Care for a butterscotch
candy? Can't live without them myself. Just a minute while
I—ah. There we go. Better than cigarettes. How did
you hear about us anyway? Mimi! Good God! Mimi? How is
she? Haven't seen her since she moved to the newspaper.
We dated in college. Good old Mimi. You're not—no,
of course not. Well let's see. Did my secretary get all
the information about—here we go. A real looker
isn't she? My secretary, I mean. Really turns heads. That's
her in the commercials, if you've seen them. Just between
you and me, she's had a wild past, if you know what I
mean. Might as well tell you right now so you don't hear
it somewhere else and wonder why I'm keeping it secret:
she used to be a porn star. Had an act with a donkey.
Got her big-time attention and brought her up from south
of the border. Oh she's California, all right, but Mexico's
the breeding ground for all your porn industry. Oh yes,
little-known but true. All those Greek beaches you see?
Right down there in Mexico. Check them out with a magnifying
glass, sometime. Plain as can be, once you know how to
look at them. Look for the sombreros in the bushes. The
locals love to watch. And they want to change the trial
date, huh? Man, I'm tired. Been working overtime for weeks
now. I've got mono, you know. Had it for two years now.
My doctor says it's like AIDS, a lifetime condition. Who've
we got on the...Duty, huh? A know-nothing. Broke some
damn-fool Ferris wheel throat-cutting a few years back
and thinks he's Sherlock. Don't worry about him. And I'll
have a word with the prosecutor about your case. Went
to college with me and Mimi. Always trying to put his
hands on her ass. Met him yet? Fat-assed and bald. Even
back then. Yep. Yep yep. Damn—piece of wrapper on
that last butterscotch. Look at that, will you? Probably
foreign-made. Well, I tell you what. From what I read
here, Mr. Arbuckly, our only problem is this alibi. Now
let's just go over it real quick once-over, shall we?
But before we do, let me just recommend that you not wear
that shirt in court—little white rabbits going around
saying eat me is all fine in Mexico, I suppose,
but on the stand it looks a little bad-assed perverse,
if you catch the drift. Now how about that alibi?
Heart not in it but...stroke. Crinkle
page turn. Wan. Stroke. Only in the eyes the cry for help
while with the hands...stroke. Cindy of course who knows
where, what with all this talk of the mesmeric Mao. Almost
a longing for her, now that she seems lost. Or rather,
now that he seems so. Near sobbing, then, Onion
Charlie sets Boys Talk Dirty vol. 51 aside and
picks up vol. 52, the last issue your humble ever received
and the last one awaiting Onion's perusal. Heart not in
it but...stroke. Sigh. Looks a little Mexican, that one
does. Hmmm. Oh well. What's the use, he thinks. Getting
an inkling of how absurd he is, sitting thus on a toilet
and staring at two men in leather tank tops scoop-cut
to show pink-tinged ring-pierced nipples.
I'm gonna do you, señorita,
like that donkey did that beetch.
Not that again. Nearly a groan, this
time. Sick of it by now, really, and thus tossing the
whole damn thing aside but then...
What are those pages all over the damn-fool
ring. Onion here. I've found those missing notes. Don't
ask where. If you want them I'll meet you at school.
little time to think of the voice that seemed to come
from the bottom of the well, off goes Woody, still reeling
from the wandering Crobe and not even leaving poor Candy
T a note to tell her the good news, and a long time she'll
have to wait, because trouble lurks yet again for our
hero, this time in the form of a crow bar, silhouetted
and cocked in the dusk-drawn shadows below.
the sun nearly gone and the building almost empty,
—Honestly, sir, if I'd known
he was a faggot I wouldn't have—
Not to be vulgar, but to quote bespectacled
Benny: What the fuck was that?
Is someone using a leaky cell phone
in the next cell? Odd to use that vulgar word "faggot"
though. Mere coincidence? No intended slight for your
humble? Who the hell knows; in this dank basement of forgotten
hell, anything's possible, I suppose. Let's let it slip
like water from a duck's etc., and move on. (Watch your
backs, though; we may not be alone, what?)
Meanwhile, the sun nearly gone and the
building almost empty, Lieutenant Duty pulls the blanket
and pillow from his office closet and prepares himself
a bed beneath the window. Nothing unusual here, believe
it or not, for our poor, lonely Lieutenant, widowed some
fifteen years now, has spent the last two months thus,
sealed alone in his office's shiny-tiled silence, awaiting
sleep and the dreams of the beautiful siren who sits on
the sea walls of his dreams and sings of the splendid
worlds beyond the waves, where all shall frolic and none
shall die. But tonight she sings of more than he expects,
and by the time he lifts his head in tomorrow's light,
we shall all be a little the wiser, what?
Dreams Sweet Melodies
audience of servicemen and their dates falls silent as
the Siren steps up to the microphone and begins singing.
The way she moves her hips is reminiscent of that sensual
sensation, Helen Ward, but because of her being so damn
skinny, really-just-bones-only, not quite causing the
crowd to swoon, yet, somehow—the voice's sincerity?
the woman's distant staring?—the crowd is despite
itself drawn into the swaying figure's web and, collectively
and breathlessly, thoughtlessly and simultaneously, as
bees or ants must, they see in the woman all that Beauty
could dream of expressing in front of a sixteen-piece
To the soldiers in the front, she seems
no more than a child, really, the boy-thin hips swaying
like a barely noticed breeze under the straight, canary-yellow
dress that catches the light and seems to swell out like
a wind-catching sail. The men themselves weightless and—grasping
at her hems like bone-hard schoolboys—drifting high
over the deep blue sea; no shape, neither wave nor land,
can diminish the purity of their ascent. In the back rows,
of course, a different story, for here it is only the
voice that floats, hemless, like a great finger that extends
and retracts at slow-dance pace, beckoning, beckoning
The two-headed trombonist-leader, setting
the trombone against his right head's mouth, begins leading
the solo while with his left head he turns to the audience
and nods recognition.
As the Siren sways, so sway the men.
All as one, a single flame tipped by a single flicker,
the movement ripples down from the stage: dancing, ducking,
swerving, hovering, worshipping and being worshipped in
one single gesture. At various moments, the Siren seems
a sister; a spurned lover; a soothing, caressing mother.
Mourning, seducing: the men sway, and the Siren sways.
And from the Siren's throat comes the honeyed notes, from
the Siren's throat comes the honeyed whispers and the
honeyed non-words that fill the air with, in brief, crotch-tingling,
Why can't I let you know, the
Siren, a wilted, lost flower, wails, the song I long
to siiiinnnnnng? The beautiful rhapsody of love and youth
and spring. The music is sweet, the words are true: the
song is yoooooouuuuuu.
With that final, sustained note, many
of the men break free from the Siren's spell and begin
crying. Suddenly, unexpectedly alone: like lost children,
Behind the microphone, the Siren appears
for a moment lost in her own private reverie. Then the
band folds its wings around her and settles swanlike among
the fallen world of broken, unfinished notes. The Siren
steps away, smiles hesitantly into the blinding lights
and is soon ushered away by the band leader, his right
head courting her while his left works the crowd, his
trombone, like his glasses, gleaming strips of cold metal
And then, from the shadows of the wings,
steps a man who is the spitting image of the trombonist's
right head, if not exactly his left (something subtle
in the eyes, we suspect).
bejesus, Duty shouts. The office is empty, dark. Holy
bejesus. For a moment, a night-sweats stare at the gleaming
tiles and then, with the big-lunged flourish of a pearl
diver, he plunges into the pillow and chases his Siren
back to the ocean floor.
Nothing but a voice now, in the darkness:
We're just happy to be over here, sir.
Then silence. And such is the darkness
and such the silence that even your word-filled though
worldless narrator begins to wonder if he shouldn't—
Look, buddy, you need to help me
because...you see...I don't think that Blister guy is
going to be able to—Yeah. That's right. Write him
out altogether. You and me both, pal. You see those stripes?
I didn't get them buggering—yeah. That's right.
OK, look. Here's what I need. If you could reach this
number right here, let's see, Christ, without a light,
how can I, no wait I remember, it's—
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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.