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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 Seven


—leave off for a bit and try to sleep himself. I don't know. Yes? No. Never mind. This is hell indeed. But I'm sure I've mentioned that.

So where were we? Ah yes. But wait a minute. You've a strange look on your—and you're breathing like...

As the great Dirk once muttered, It doesn't smell of sex in here, yet somebody else has been...

Diddling my readers, eh? Bastard.

Here I'm plugging along, doing my meager best and feeling the pride of storytelling swell in my own bony chest like ripe fruit, and then bam: like that, someone comes up from behind and takes over. So who is the little shit, eh? No idea? Right right.

You and me both, pal, are in the dark on this one.

And by the by: thanks a hell of a lot for sticking with me, you bastard. You're all literate whores, you are.


I think I need some sherry. Didn't think it would come to this, truly I didn't. Pour me another there, would you? Little shit. If matters weren't quite what they are, I'd give you a kick in the ass you wouldn't soon forget, I can tell you that. You little shit. Stealing a dead man's audience. Me here dead and minding my own, just amusing myself with muttering and then there he is, presenting his naked ass to me and stretching manfully over my prone, flush-cheeked readers.

Christ. Et tu, gentle reader?

Another. And keep them coming. I'm just going to sit here for a while, if you don't mind. But of course you don't. You're very kind, if somewhat promiscuous. Thank you very much. Just bring the decanter over here, will you? Cigar? Yes, I know, but you don't live long anyway, what?

I can't tell you how comfortable this Morris chair is. Consider the ingenious patented device (1901) that allows the back cushion to be adjusted to five different heights while you do little more than lean forward, as if a nurse were about to slip a pillow under the small of the back. Second notch now, there we go: enough of an incline to nestle comfortably into the back cushion, but not so much that the head is forever fighting its way back upright. Just before I died, I had the chair's cushions replaced—a difficult decision, that, turn-of-the-century textiles being what they are, but a century's worth of cat piss has its way of making even the most beautiful cushions seem like the adulterous mattresses of the devil himself.

Only Wilde, I suspect, luxuriated at the prospect of a good cushion, though, I am quick to add, that grumpy birch-bender Frost is the only writer known to have worked from within the comfy confines of a Cook & Cos. Automatic Chair.

But I digress.

Where were we, then? Ah yes. The bump on old Arb's orb and what not. Very well, then. We'll chat about that other matter later then, shall we? So here goes:

Secret Agent Exposed!

In the meanwhile, Arb being temporarily indisposed (read: dead, maybe), our man Onion sits idly in his office and, suppressing the urge to slip open the bottom drawer and remove yet another concealed Boy Talk Dirty (though stale by now; thirty sneak previews already), he instead sets onto his lap the purloined papers for which he'd expected Arb's arrival and begins reading them slowly to himself.

Random notes, mostly. The scribblings of a mad man, you might even say. Page seven: penciled half-sentence down the length of the right margin (first trombone bought from relative; age ten) then a splay of ink running perpendicular to it (Tex not gay) and everywhere else the tight script of a man who writes in the bowels of a library and knows time makes room for the researcher. (Oh the days and nights I passed in that entropy-denying stillness: around me endless sheets of archived info and all the while the world beyond meaningless and even, for the moment, never having been.) Page nine: more tight script with sundry-inked marginalia, in the right corner of which appears the following sentence: "HM becomes spy for OSS, 10/6/41."

Yes, dear reader, you read that rightly: our mild, bespectacled Müller was—gasp—an agent for the OSS!

Granted, it's a bit of a let-down once you read the third paragraph on page thirteen and come to understand the position's usually banal responsibilities—too often little more than ensuring that certain data reach certain eyes, the regular spy stuff, ho hum ho hum; but really, though. It's such a charming notion, isn't it, dear Müller laying down his trombone to advance the Allied cause? But it wasn't rare, really, even among the Notables of the Golden Age of Patriotism; they seemed to think their stature required it. (Quaintly patrician, what?) A little research might yield much. What, for example, was John Huston really doing in San Peitro? But, that, of course, is another story, and already our sly Müller has slipped out of the club. There's only time for me to say this: small though his role might have been, it did require one interesting change in his life...

The US Government issued our man Müller a Double, the spitting image and no mean trombonist (and a Norwegian, no less), to make the occasional club appearance in Müller's stead for, shall we say, special occasions? And that, dear reader, will soon prove important.

Each to Each

Poor O, rather frazzled by now, becomes alarmed at the sharp crinkling sound my notes make in his otherwise silent house and—with a paranoia worthy of a teenaged, tea-haired boy couched uncomfortably with a loudly chugging hookah in his childhood bedroom and the parents a mere twenty feet away—poor O, as I say, reaches out and clicks on the TV to muffle the rustling. Happily, as it turns out (strange how this happens again and again, isn't it?), the channel he allows the TV to show us is just then about to broadcast a rather significant movie—one, in fact, that sends chills down O's bony spine—and he has just spastically, breathlessly shoved a tape into the machine and hit record when the phone beside him rings.

For O, then, a white-world moment of...in a word: terror. Ice-veined, the plaster walls and blood-filled heart likewise as glass: see-through, brittle, breakable. Another ring, and then a hand somehow lifts itself, hypnotic, swings slowly toward the receiver and lifts it to bloodless O's ear.

O: Hello?

—Blurblip heh heh blurhehblip.

O: What's that again?

—Blurblip heh heh blurhehblip.

O (shutting off the TV and, for some reason, squinting): Eh? Come again?


O: Woody?


O: Woody? Is that you?

—Himehimehime...him. Yep.

O: What's wrong with you? Where have you been?

—Him me. Who you?

O: It's Onion, you oaf. Who do you think?

—Ehhhh. Don't know. Phone number—don't know. Came somehow: Voice from Above. Blurblip heh heh blurhehblip.

O: Christ. Look, you're not going to believe what Blister—no. Not on the phone. Not on the phone. Where are you now?

—Who me?

O: Where are you now?

—Floating over a cardboard sea.

O: What?

—Outside Candy T. Nipples. Apartment. Wahoowa. Quarter: chinkchinkdial. Then you: hello?

O: Right. Stay there. Do you hear? Don't move. I'm on my way.

—Who you?

O: Christ. Just stand where you are, you nit.

Then: bang goes the receiver, up springs Onion—and out onto the street with a bang himself. By the by: a bit rough there on poor scrambled Arb, weren't we, old O? Remind me to get you ruffled up a bit in the next transmission. Teach you a little empathy, what? You closet fairy.


But back to the Arb—for what wondrous work has the malign stroke wrought since last we heard his babble? For does not our hero, now joined by the notes-clutching O, pose mendicant-like under the street lamp's illuminated cone, he and the Onion like two Masonic brothers exchanging wordless bits of occult knowledge?

What is divinity, says Arbunkle finally, sighing,

if it can come

Only in silent shadows and in dreams?

From brother Charlie: nothing; gawking.

Shall she not find in comforts of the sun, continues the Arb,

In pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else

In any balm or beauty of the earth,

Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?


—Wallace Stevens. Sunday Morning.

—I thought you hated poetry.

—I make exceptions.

Onion: I see. Quite. On this murder charge you're facing, I've some rather important—

Arb: I wonder by my troth, what thou, and I

Did, till we loved? were we not weaned till then,

But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?

Or snorted we in—

Onion: I think they're a few things you ought to see. Old Blisterkunst wasn't so daft as we might have—

Vex not his ghost, interjects Arb, finger lifted. O! Let him pass;

he hates him

That would upon the rack of this tough world

Stretch him out longer.

Well said, dear Arb, well said. On the rack indeed, dear boy. O that I too had received merely the tap-tap on the back and found myself likewise different, rather than lifeless dead. A demented, muttering king, perhaps, spouting poetry and soiling his trousers on the odd day out to the mall.

O (lifting papers): I think it might help your case if you perused these a bit.

Beatific smile from the Arb and then: Very well. Let us go then you and I.

Right right, from the O. Let us go and hear the sirens sing each to each. Sure. You know, I liked you better before.

A Half-Step Below Perfection

In good time, then, dear Arb, head clearing within the rather stern confines of a Scandinavian chair in Herr O's stark-white living room, takes up the proffered stack of notes and steps lightly onto the surprisingly brief paper trail leading, in good time, to your humble's murtherer. Nodding occasionally, oohing and ahhing, even, and then he looks up to Charlie:

—I see. A double then. Makes sense.

Herr O nods, a little disappointed that it's come to that, three phrases rather casually delivered with three periods to mark the rests, but still...there's the trump card to play, and he strips the notes from Arb and turns to the TV but—must I do everything around here?—nudge nudge drift, a tiny note breaks free from the papers and glides serenely floorwards.

—What's this? says O, stooping.


Charlie O tilts the note lightwards and discovers in the margin a witch's brew of a script, full of seeming nonsense:




Arb: I say, coffee was a bit off that day, what?

O: It's a code.

What ho, dear O. You've got it exactly. Carry on, then, old man.

—Let's see now, he says, leaning over the script with earnest zeal.



Sadly, fully two hours have passed with the Hardy Bros. staring myopically dense and then, finally, here's the pay-off: O shrieks and wakes me from a fitful nap with a cry of:

—I've got it! Look!

Oh, don't look so self-satisfied, Onion. It's a simple code, and you, an ex-philosophy major, should have recognized it by reputation, if not by deduction, for the great Ludwig Wittgenstein—like Heinrich, a transplanted German-Austrian; like you, Herr O, a closet homo—used the same code, merely the alphabet turned backwards (a=z, b=y, c=x, etc., for all you English majors). I used it, as did dear Witty, when I feared others might casually glance Blisterwards. Never guessing, of course, that vengeance für meinen Mörd would depend on a pair of idiots. But that's neither here nor there now, I suppose, for look: our heroes are leaning back from the transcribed message which, emerging from the detectives' stooping shadows, now reads:




But what, pray tell, did I mean by that?

—Mean anything to you?

—Nope, says Arb. The fag was loopo. That's about all I'm getting.

Oh, the pain you bring me, dear straight-arrow Arb.

—Well, then, that was a waste, what? says O, or something like that, I suppose, though I, freshly stung, don't hear it all so well right now, as you might imagine. (Teasing, teasing man! I will think no more of you.)

And so, discombobulated (what a delicious, decadent word, though, what? Truly, a Wildean fraud-word, best muttered while supine on ornately carved fainting couches), our heroic duo begins putting papers away, shuffling and straightening the stacks like lost, haunted souls, until O, with blinding speed, slaps his forehead with a skin-crackling kirsmack.

—Cripes, says he: I almost forgot the trump card.


—You're not going to believe this, says O, beaming, but just as I was leaving to meet you, I noticed that Forgotten American Classics was going to be running a—

Wait a minute, says Arb. I'm bonked blind and you're watching cable?

—It was on in the background, says O. Anyway, check this out.

O hits play and sits back with a canary-eating grin. Static from the screen and a glimpse of some limp wrist introducing the film and then, fade to black...


Main title over sounds of a band warming up:


Symphonic Girlfriends


Credits roll over a plain, striped background, almost like a curtain, with the words appearing in tasteful deco lettering.


Directed by
Archibald Mayonnaise


Arb: Mayonnaise?

O: I think he did some work with the Three Stooges.

Arb: Ummm.

Credit background dissolves into the OPENING SCENE with the camera TRACKING stage left and discovering various musicians warming up playfully against a simple white wall in what we soon discover is a recording studio. Third man in—Lester Bristow—beats out a strutting, boastful beat and sneers street-tough at the camera, then the camera finds a trombonist warming up but no—it's not Müller, nor his Double—and still more tracking and then, obliquely, from the camera's right shoulder, comes our man, gliding into frame with the tiniest smirk and lifting the ungainly instrument as salute. Not to us, mind you, for we are invisible, as far as Müller's concerned, but to the band itself, who nod and wave enthusiastically as only people in forties movies can. But my, what a confident stride he has for such a plain, studious man. Enough to re-think one's fundamental notions, what? So masculine! A German Elvis? No, no, I'm afraid not. But perhaps, methinks, something better? After all, it's the ones who keep themselves secret—harboring secret dreams—that are most interesting.

And so, trombone to lips, our man Müller stands as the lower point of a trombone triangle (the other two trombonists—see them there, at the top corners of the frame?—long forgotten, sadly) winds up the band inside an elaborate swing number while the cameras move around fitfully for odd angles (look at that one, Karl: a bit too artsy-fartsy, eh?). Then comes the vocal track, with the camera sliding stage right and finding—good God, yes—the Siren caressing the cantaloupe-sized microphone with a single, soft touch and then from within the confines of a heavily starched canary-yellow dress and an awkward, Hollywood-botched platinum perm, comes the voice of an angel.

—Good Lord, says O. Who's she?



—I said, uh, mumbles Arb, transfixed, I think I said, um: I don't know, sport.

—Heavenly voice, says O, his face warm with the first tears trickling down his cheeks.

—I say, Arb says. What not, eh?

—Blip, agrees O.


A big-boned, beefy saxophonist—Tex, actually—wearing a crazy-patterned Hawaiian shirt breaks ranks and joins the Siren for a bit of a duet, though it's as if a light switch is being turned off every time he takes over. By the time the song ends, after a lengthy and fairly good trumpet solo, our heroic twosome's in tears and feeling, for all they're worth, as though the world is timeless and that the Siren herself stands before them in the flesh, smiling down at them beatific and caressing their wet cheeks with the warmest and softest of hands.

It is enough, I dare say, to make Herr O swear off Boys Talk Dirty, if only for the rest of the day.

But wait—a dumpy man with no hair calls out from the engineering booth that the trumpet peaked out too high and that they'll have to do it all again, and our two cringe, knowing that beauty and perfection can never be duplicated and is that bald bastard going to ruin it all?—but no: good old Heinrich, knowing the vagaries of art, merely shrugs his bulky shoulders and says, in a rather heavily German-inflected English:


Vell, next time point your horn avay from the mic.


And thus: stiffly, having descended into the ranks of Hollywood extras, the brilliant, golden-voiced, swaggering musicians gather music sheets and try their best not to look at the cameras because dammit, this could be their big break, you know, sure it's a shit movie, but they wouldn't have gotten the gig if they weren't already pretty big, and Heinrich is telling them that this could make them colossal if they play it right, let Hollywood make you look like a stiff a few times if they have to, but boys: no more hot-plated sauerkraut and potatoes if we hit the Hollywood big time.

Our Heinrich's right, of course: the rest of the movie is a forgettable lump of coal. Or, in a word: shit. Bad acting, pedestrian story line, etc., and worst of all...no more Siren. Why, precisely, is unrecorded. Perhaps the director feared his crew couldn't hold up against another performance. Who knows. Beauty is like a rainbow: it gains presence by its rarity. However that may be, our heroic twosome, cheeks dried, wait in vain for her return and find nothing to catch their attention (except one line that burns through O like a hot arrow: You were crazy to get married. Companionship is all right, but there's no point in carrying it to extremes.) until the last scene, when the band returns to the recording studio and after a final, jaunty tip of his trombone and a single, strangely prescient shrug that seems to accept Fate in all its death shrouds, our man Heinrich begins a sad Norwegian love song—the last thing, you must admit, you'd be expecting here in celluloid-deep Hollywood, but then again, within hours of wrapping the shoot, poor Heinrich will be airlifted to Scotland under the cover of leading the auxiliary Army band and begin training for a fateful—or is it fatal?—flight into Norway, and thus, under the circumstances, perhaps the mournful song of Norway deserves our attention, even when it's played by a band of thugs and tough guys who, without their Siren, just happen to be a half-step below perfection...

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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