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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 Nine

Duty Calls Again

It's a blustery, gray world through which our Woody strides the next morning, entering the newspaper building casually with a bag of burritos and hot sauce under his arm and a pair of soul-inspiring yellow sunglasses across his eyes. HARD CUT to the burritos hitting Arb's desk and, due to the simultaneity, seeming to make his desk phone ring.

—Desk of Hatpence, says Arb.

—Yes, I'm trying to reach a Woodrow Arbuckle.

—Arbunkle. Speaking.

—Mr. Arbuckle—


With the phone cradled on his shoulder, Arb unsheathes a burrito, folds back its tortilla shell and draws a bead of hot sauce down its length.

—Yes, I'm calling from the prosecutor's office.

—I'm already busy for dinner tonight.

—Sir, I'm calling to give you your court date.

—Shoot, says Arb, as he rolls the burrito back up into a tube and biting into it lustily.

—Jury selection for your trial for first-degree murder will begin on December twenty-first of this year.

—I'll have to check my calendar and get back with you.

Arb hangs up and immediately dials Crobe. The donkey-famed secretary tells him Crobe is in court, so Arb leaves a message about the court date. As he sets the phone down, it immediately rings again. Promiscuous thing.


—You're innocent, Arbuckly.

—Thanks for your support. To whom am I speaking, please?

—What? Oh. Duty here.

Suck suck. Slurp.

—Lieutenant Duty, eh? Still dreaming?

—Voices, Arbuckly. They're saying you're innocent.

—And you believe them?

—They've never been wrong. Of course...


—Nothing. Nothing. Anyway, I'm going to shift my antennae, so to speak, and see if I can't help get you out of this knot.

Arb preps another burrito.

—How kind.

—That includes speaking to the prosecutor in your behalf.

—You're kidding. Christ. What, exactly, did the voices say?

—Eh? Oh. That it's not a two-headed trombonist. It's two trombonists with one head.

—There you go, Lieutenant. You've got a pretty good suspect description there. If I see two gentlemen sharing a head, I'll let you know.

—Quite. (Slurp.) Quite.


We Interrupt this Broadcast

—Look, let's cut the dear reader crap, all right? I was on Müller's plane and I'm telling you, something was mighty fishy about this guy on the end, see? Kept his hood up and everything and it should've been Cookie, the happiest guy of the bunch and there he is refusing even to show his face. I'm telling you this: it wasn't him. Plain and simple. That wasn't Cookie. Do you hear? Christ. Anyway, old Heinie's been fuming like a tanker up here, watching that faggot fret and strut his stuff, and he just wanted me to tell you that—


Ignore him, dear reader, ignore him. Ixnay on the aggotfay, by the by. Sensitive about that stuff, you know. And—


Anyway, if you ask me, from what I hear, that guy they got to stand in for Heinie was a little too keen on the Siren, and from the way she was ruffling her tail feathers, she wasn't exactly ignoring him either, if you know what I mean, so if you ask me, I'd have to say—


Christ. Will you please shut up? Eh? Hello? Nothing else, then? No? Very well then. Thank you.

Now where was I? Christ. Now I've lost my place. Read it back a bit, would you? Bastard. Crashing my little cotillion party like a drunken frat boy, he is. I'll give him a taste of it, though. Let's see now:


Sensitive about that stuff, you know. And—


Ah, yes, there we go: And I've no idea who that is or what he's talking about (lying here, of course, but Christ; give us dead our due: we have to follow story rules too, you know), so let's just keep moving, as dear Arb has placed a call to Herr O's office and arranged for O to ride shotgun across the river to cover the state fair.

Let us go then, shall we? (Not you, you bastard. Them. You're staying here.)

Lost Souls

With the crowds like country bumpkins teeming fairwards, our heroes are forced to park in a yellow field a half a mile from the fairgrounds and ride up to the gate in a wagon pulled by a small-headed man on a tractor.

O (bouncing): Tell me again: what's the story?

—Zoma the Wild Boy.


—You'll see.

What's with the glasses?

—Trying to bring light into my darkened soul.

I see.

A few moments of pleasant riding pass, the field gleaming golden under the rain-big clouds like it belongs in a Hardy novel, and then the tractor pulls up in front of the gates, around which a line snakes sinuously. Obediently, our pair queues up behind a teenaged girl—who sizes up Woody with a practiced eye—and a bald, suspicious man who is, presumably, her father.

O: Why do you write these stories?

Arb (shrugging while offering the girl a hint of a wink): Money. Why else? Money for me, money for the media. All of us paid by the aging suburbanite who peruses the Flair section in hopes of feeling young again. Ah, I remember, they'll say with Zoma spread before them, the time me and the frat boys got a hold of that heifer, and, boy, did we—I say. That's a bit much, old man.

—What? says O.

—There, says Arb, pointing.

As the line congas forward two steps, Charlie O glances past Arb's pointed index and finds a decapitated, fly-specked squirrel flattened out on the pavement next to them. There is no sign of the head. (Ask Charlie: he looks around for it thoroughly.) Then click click click up comes a woman and peers down at the squirrel as if she were looking over the edge of a well.

—Is it dead?

—Er, yes, says O, thinking, charitably, that she's retarded—though in her frumpy dress, she looks like somebody's lost housewife.

—It was run over, Herr O adds.

—After it was dead?

At this, Woody laughs openly.

—No, says O. I think that's what killed it.

—Where's its head?

—I don't know, says O, and with that he turns his back on both the woman and the squirrel, and eventually it is O and A's turn for tickets.

Woody stepping up to the window, smiling.

—How many? says the woman behind the glass and bars, not looking up.

Arb (flashing his press card): I'm from the press. Doing a story on Zoma the Wild Boy.

Blank stare through the glass: You're what?

Arb: Writer. Zoma. Story.

Ticket woman: Let's see that press card.

The ticket woman gesticulates wildly at a club-footed security guard, and together they study the press card. Finally the guard shrugs, and the woman waves Arb through.

Arb (pointing Onionward): And he's with me.

—Is he from the press?

Arb: He's my photographer.

—Where's his camera? sputters the guard, triumphant.

Onion: I can stay here and wait.

Cowardly O steps away from the gate, but Arb grabs his arm.

—Look, says our hero. My newspaper's giving you guys a little free publicity, so I think you can cut me some slack. This guy's a photographer, but he's helping me write the story too. All right?

The ticket woman looks at the guard. The guard shrugs.

—Go on through.

—Piece of cake, says Arb, once they're out of earshot.


Inside the grounds proper, the grandstand and a strong stench of manure conspire to blind our two; then a man appears, leading the two offending horses. The larger of the two horses still shitting lumps of half-digested grass, across which Arb leaps youthfully.

—Excuse me, calls out Arb. Could you direct me to Zoma the Wild Boy's tent?

Man: Whut ewe sa-ee, dare, bar?

Arb: Eh?

Man: Ah sa-eed, whut ewe sa-ee, bar?

Arb: Ah. Yes. No problem, Onion. I understand this man's affliction. Could...youuu...diiii-rect...meeee...to...Zooo-maa...thee...Wiiild-Boy-'ss...tennntt?

Blank, dirt-dumb look then a flash of indignant, stung pride.

—Awl dem wairdoes ovuh dare, he says finally, throwing his free hand to our heroes' left. An ah he-uh dey takin ap-lee-kay-see-uns, bars.

—Right ho, says our man Woody.

Herr O thanks the hick and runs dutifully after Arb, who is already navigating through the flickering-neon-lit game tables that smell of green peppers and vomit, past the line for the Ferris wheel (drip drip), and, momentarily, they step onto what, to reassure themselves of their own normalcy, the general public calls Freak Row.

A half-empty beaten-flat dirt path, with rows of luridly painted trailers and tents lining either side. One trailer's sign claiming a woman with three heads is confined within its beat-up walls. Another that it has a man who changes into a gorilla every fifteen minutes. Near the end, the obligatory mermaid's trailer. And next to it, at the very end, the tent for Zoma the Wild Boy, with a row of fantastical signs hanging over its low entrance.

Sighing, Woody flips to a fresh page of his notepad and jots down notes:


  • Zoma the Man-Eater: picture showing naked Zoma chasing sailors back to ship.
  • Zoma and the Jungle Beast: naked Zoma wrestling something or another; maybe the Leopard Woman from the old Tarzan movie?


Charlie O still studying the naked Zoma when our Arb grabs his shoulder.

—Come on. Let's get it over with.

Ducking under the canvas sheet that conceals Zoma from curious spectators and then a sudden, startling darkness from which slowly emerge the flickering shadows of a surprising number of people, mumbling and jostling (O Unreal Freak Tent). Our heroic two elbowing their way to the front, gruffly, where they find that a blond-headed teenager, toward whom Onion feels an immediate, guilt-ridden attraction, is standing on the other side of a waist-high curtain in a pair of skin-tight brown-corduroy Levis and a yellow shirt left unbuttoned to show his youthful, hairless chest, the left nipple of which is rather deliciously pierced by a small brass ring. His right ankle, the flushed-face Herr O finally notices, is chained to a spike driven into the ground. Indifferent and ignoring the crowd, the boy folds his arms over his pierced chest and studies the packed gray dirt under his feet. Hanging by a rope over his head, a sign warns that


Zoma bites the heads off of small animals. No pets.


—Wonder if Zoma got hold of our squirrel.


—The squirrel, says Arb. Back at the—

—Oh yeah.

A sharp popping noise leaps from a speaker overhead, and after a whine of feedback a deep-voiced man tells the crowd that


You are all in this tent against the best advice science and society can offer.


Immediately, Zoma unfolds his arms and lurches toward the waist-high curtain that separates him from the crowd. A backwards ripple passes through the tent. Then, with a horrific grimace, he screams and throws two black handkerchiefs into the crowd. A pair of teenaged girls shrieks and runs out, barely ducking under the flap that keeps people from seeing in. CLOSE-UP of our man Charlie, who is, despite his best efforts, mildly unnerved. An old man in the audience throws the handkerchiefs back to Zoma; Zoma winks at the man as he stuffs the handkerchiefs back into his shirt.


Zoma is a Lost Soul.


Zoma paces to the end of his chain and back, sticks his right index finger into his nose and makes a show of pulling his finger out and chewing on its tip.


Found in the backwoods of North Carolina, lost, abandoned, without parents, an orphan, he was taken to the Child Psychology Department at Duke University and has been studied closely as a unique phenomenon.


Zoma moans and reaches out for a small child standing near the curtain. The boy, braver than most, refuses to move back. Zoma reaches down, slips the chain off his ankle. A few women in the audience gasp. Chuckling in a low, sadistic voice, Zoma looks around the tent and steps toward the boy. The boy takes a tentative step back against his father's legs. With panther-like slowness, Zoma crouches down, lifts the curtain and stretches his arms out toward the boy's legs.


Thank you for visiting Zoma the Wild Boy.


Zoma drops the curtain and returns to the center of his enclosed area.


Our next show will resume in fifteen minutes.


Onion watches Zoma chain his ankle back to the spike and wonders if that's all. As the crowd behind them pushes to get out of the tent, Zoma takes a Snickers bar out of his pocket, and Arb tap-taps impatiently on Onion's bony shoulder.

—That's it. Let's go.


Onion (ruminating on the car-bound tractor): Are you worried about the indictment?


—It's a serious charge.

—I've had worse, says Arb, heroically.

A shrug from O as the tractor stops. They walk to the car without speaking. Then, pulling out of the field:

Arb: Remember when we swam to Williams Island for your bachelor party?


—And how cold the water was?

—Like ice, says Herr O.

—I think about that a lot, you know.


—That's freedom, says Arb. You know.

—Uh huh.

—You can't ever recover that feeling.

—I know.

Turning back onto the road, the fence clicking past and leaving Zoma and the Ferris wheel and the lurid appeal of abnormality behind. Momentarily, the traffic slows to a crawl. Herr Dasher inch-inch-inches a bit and then, as the traffic locks solid, rain starts beating against the windshield rat rap rap rap rat like it wants to bore its way into the car. Wipers on maximum speed but to no effect, so they sit listening to the rain drumming on the car. Then suddenly—

The rain stops.

Arb: That was abrupt.

Onion nods, just as the wind starts up again. A few dead limbs come down out of the trees and blow across the road. Then an enormous branch, laden with pine cones, slides across the road and jumps up onto the Dasher's hood, where it perches momentarily, raven-like, before the wind sends it rolling off again. Woody and the O laugh, listening to it slide across the car.

Then hail begins to fall. At first, like little pieces of hard candy, broken-off nipples cracking against the windshield, then larger and coming down so thick our two can't see the car in front of them. It's like a shroud being drawn over them—first over Herr Dasher's nose, then over its hood and finally, as your humble crosses the Barrier and appears gray and blinking before our two, even the tips of the windshield wipers in front of our heroes' faces disappear in a wind-swirled cloud of white, and I'm gone: blip. Arb and O gawk, saying nothing, but the noise of the ice is so loud they probably couldn't have heard each other anyway. Just before it lets up, poor Herr O whispers forlornly to himself:


I'm going to die.


Like the world is ending. Throwing his arms against the dashboard and feeling the drumming of the hail vibrate into his very bones.

—Don't worry about me, Woody yells over the ice. I'll never die in a prison, I'll tell you that. Ice storm, maybe, but no cell for old Arb.

Charlie stares at his friend like he doesn't recognize him. Then Arb laughs and thrusts a digit knuckle-deep into his right nostril. Sunglasses askew.

—Wild Boy Zoma wants to live, he shouts. Zoma wants life.

He grunts, and the shapes of the cars around our two become white-gray outlines through the white-noise hail. For a moment, Herr O thinking:


Those cars are empty and have been for a hundred years.


Looking at Woody and feeling suddenly like he'd never survived the naked swim to Williams Island, as if they had lost their way under the water and drifted into the dreamy death of lost souls.

—I remember the water was cold, says O. But the wind was warm. And we slept on the beach and I've never been warmer.

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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