I quit my job Ain’t got no money Seems I have To leave this town
Turn up the jazz. Yas yaz. The stuff where the horns are so gone you cannot hear the lyrics but you know somewhere in between there are hallowed vocals. Nobody knows. Nobody need know what you’re saying. Howling out.
Everybody needs somebody. I need my dancing shoes.
I need my goggles. Is this cap a diary, a script, or a play? Does everybody on this planet talk with their lips off to one side like that or is it an experiment while we wear these breath keeper masks?
Who will answer? Ed Ames asked that one time on his record. I know because Columbia sent it out by mistake. That is not a Deep Purple! I shouted but it was windy that Wednesday and no one heard. I followed horses then and could not name the street where the post office was built.
Anyway, all I want to tell you is there are voices in this cap. I heard them alright. They sneaked up and joined hands and formed a circle while I was contemplating the absence of the moon.
The Trawl, he says, probably through lips pulling just slight wee to the right. And I say aloud behind my jazz mask, oh I see, JK. I see.
Dep? Sacré Dieu! (I concur with the, "Moo!") Can it really be you? Oh please say it is true. And that you'll remain forever.
Or has someone summoned your ghost? Is the cat around? They do not live a long time I have heard. In any event, sweet nostalgia. Your presence makes me wish to be nicer, a gentler reader, a kinder prick.
Camp's Psych Ward is something of an anomaly. A missing word in the second sentence along with clunky grammar almost saw me bail before finishing the first paragraph. But there's an authenticity to it that makes the copious errors in execution and form appear nearly deliberate (but only nearly). I was attracted to the work's topicality, its present-day relevance. References to LGBTQ, BLM and Covid (albeit the old strain, not the new improved, even scarier offering) abound. The writing sports abundant idea, observation and opinion. I didn't personally care for the narrator, but which only made it more real. Like it really could be memoir, truly autobiographical. And, unlike so much of what I read, it didn't seem a total waste of time. Despite stories of my father's, from his years as a supervisor at Chicago State Mental Hospital back in the 60's, I might've even learned a thing or two.
So why am I carrying these pages and, with only small reluctance, rather than passing them upwards for further review by the bookish bovine and well-read fish thing of our hallowed Terminal, instead feeding them, sheet by sheet, into the deluge beyond The Portal? One may, and should, ask. Well, partly, though we are very open here genre-wise, it is because it struck me at times as crafted to another's guidelines. You know the type. "We welcome stories from marginalized..." which I always interpret as, "Please no binaries, neurotypicals or whites." But mostly it was just for grievous lack of editing.
I was decent shape, in decent shape.
She’s was in here because Ick!
but this a testament to her age. Suggestion: read over your work, sentence by sentence, backwards... or at least forward a few times before subbing.
It’s caused the end of marriages that were already on the rocks to begin with already. Seriously, two already's and a to begin with?
Peculiarly, she also a highly observant Catholic... Find the missing word.
Bonjour, mon ami! Oui, Roxy. It is I the original as who else could I be? Did I hear a low mooing from the hall a few minutes ago? Bulldust?
Doomey is on vacation or boxing his way through Christmas? And what of the cool Carol?
The cat sleeps but Rimbaud indeed lives still. He is more hungry than ever though. Look out your lunch.
Does Ted still bring surprise lunch sometimes? Oh I see from looking around much has changed. Or else remained the same. Who can see with these new dark glasses I had to wear to get back from wherever I've been. Disguises are not so simple as they used to be.
We must, one day soon, unless of course the world ends before then, have a séance or a pipe dream.
In the meanwhile, Ted's given me a bit of work while I replace my hammock and resole my shoes. Things seem to be pretty much handled here but it's nice to be welcomed. It's cold out there on the river.
[Deplancher’s wearing some kind of babooshka over her half I combed hair. The faded fabric’s all yellow roses and red stars and purple leaves. There’s a jingling sound as she step slides a barefoot across the tiles, a shoulder bag heavy with worried looking cap slapping against her hip. She’s humming but it’s not for the listener to know whether the tune is one of melancholy or joy. Sometimes these things, like so much else in the world, depends upon the one interpreting and assumptions overrule even the rational in these days of expectation and wont, which really are all days.]
So it is, dear Rimbaud, we are probably allowed in this dingy room one at a time unless safely distanced, masked like bandits, unsniffling, and appropriately suited. Lonesome is what some might call the ambience befallen this once vivacious haunt. Flick your tail why don’t you. Let’s imagine the unfolding of these latest caps through visuals projected against these crumbling unwashed walls.
Dep, it really is so great to see you here again. Has the pandemic, you know the one, the one so endlessly reported upon today (I'm told that if one does a search on its name followed by any random 3-digit number, they will always get hits (I have tried this only twice, once with 546 and once with 337, but will not again because it is too disturbing)) driven you to illuminate this dark & hallowed (& lonely) place? If so, then surely good can come of anything. Pixels on a monitor, they are not the same as to smell and to touch, to sense another's presence. One cannot, contrary perhaps to Facebook's, Twitter's, et al.'s, fact checkers' wisdom, smile with only their eyes. Charity is no substitute for remuneration. I could go on. Actually, it is difficult not to go on. But that is not why I am cutting back on my caffeine.
I have read Bates' SF offering, Enemy. I liked the metaphor, its theme... whatever the correct term is: that we are our own worst enemies. But I found it too heavy handed. Like the zinc tablet and fish oil capsules I take with juice each morning, or every hit of acid I ever dropped except the first, a little hard to swallow. How, I wondered, can an entire tribe transmute back and forth between different breeds, each the other's mortal enemy, with no one but the MC noticing? Their timing must be impeccable, and their powers of observation limited. (Even though I speak only très peu Francais, I am sensing what sounds to me like a Frenchish lilt to my voice now, and must blame you know who.)
[Like a dog killing a woodchuck, or just to clear it, Rocks shakes his oddly misshapen head.]
Okay, Sir Steve, you probably wanted Deplancher. And for good reason. But you got me. Shit luck of the draw. Perhaps I'll grow less tactless under her example, but I ain't there yet. The thing I liked least about your SF was how much of it transpires in some historical fantasy realm. Its not-so-vague allusions to Star Trek's prime directive of non-interference in the affairs of primitive societies felt clichéd. And wrong. We would totally mess with anyone we could. We would bring them Democracy. And Commerce. And Religion. Then we would eat them. The goodness and wisdom of evolved humanity always irks me a little. Sci-fi should be cautionary. So I am going to pass, and place your pages into our Porthole to another dimension, of which we here have no understanding. Perhaps they will wind up in another universe at some far-flung past or future time. Or perhaps they will just fall down into the garbage strewn alley that runs behind our sad little office, to rain down onto the tents and boxes of the homeless who now reside there, and inspire in them hope for the future.
If I’d only known the welcome a wandering waif might receive, maybe I would have found the way back before now. Who knows? Merci, mon ami, I am relieved to know you are all still here and not yet too fat or the other.
But you know, Rox, I cannot say with precision how it is I’ve returned. The thing whose name I will not speak (there are a few now) definitely has put an abrupt end to my knapsack on my back happy wanderings to places without windows or addresses. Even I know there’s sometimes no place like home and it’s best to go there with haste.
The half naked truth is I didn’t know I left. I lost my key or temporarily exchanged it for another sans a door to unlock. Are you still listening?
My true or false identity. Who am I then and was I she who was even now? My advice is no advice except some countries maintain one way slippery passages and not from those wheres can places like here be reached. I guess I was there. Vows of silence. Stone houses. Yaks. Humans with missing teeth strange outhouses but loud hearts pounding, and potatoes. Wild horses.
Better not to look back. I am here now. Remember Ram Dass? He said that’s a good way to Be.
I’m a believer. Cap call. Here, Kitty Kitty.
Do I disturb you when I read the caps aloud while pacing like this?
Yes. It's wonderful. Old home week wrapped in a salmon-colored babushka. But remember this, all submitters are from here ib ub to be known as john and jane VCs. Once they can brag of a capital gain, that's when they become hole.
[DeP leans to reach behind a pile of what appears to be either dirty laundry or discarded rags. Her hand re-emerges holding a lamp that’s (cliché alert) seen bettah daze. She lifts her mask (which is, in case you’re wondering, in the cool design of a raven, the moon stealing one because DeP really digs the moon. And ravens. And makes faces behind that mask too) blows on the shade, coughs. She plugs it in.]
Ahhh, the pale blue light through which I view all things. Is it your beautiful heart beating under that old suit jacket, mon cher Boligard?
It that half charred ancestry.com pamphlet on the tiles your doing, sweet orphan Carol?
Quel surprise! Have you been gone long? I have missed you like you cannot begin to believe, even in an epic poem or big bottle of light albeit really good grape lineaged Prosecco.
Elbow bonk? Spin some Buddy Guy, peut-être? Something more um...
My dresses are too big now, for I’ve been held in hungry places, mais oui, I am.
[We have missed your poetry here, Dep. We have been thirsty. We have not been whole.]
I see we're no longer allowed to use VCs' real names. Makes sense. I only used to because I thought it'd make it easier for them to find comments relating to their cap without having to wade through all the... whatever else we do here. And since, with the possible exception of Dep, who can make a thumbs-down feel like a neck massage, most of what we have to say here, while true, isn't particularly coddlesome or kind, why would they want to anyway?
So even though John Doe, author of Nameless, will probably never read this, I want to apologize to him. (Now that science has determined that there is no biological difference between genders, that gender is only a personal choice, is specification via pronoun still permitted?)
John, I read your story the minute it landed on my desk down here. But, as is my wont, I decided to see how it nestled into my subconscious before remarking. Then I completely forgot about it, until yesterday when I discovered it stuck to the bottom of my in-tray. (I think Boli spilled something on it.)
I gave it a quick peel-off and re-look, and remembered the piece. There's nothing wrong with it. SPAG stuff's all fine. It's a familiar story that reminded me a little of the Israelites vs. Egyptians yarn I was inundated with during my compulsory churchgoing years. My problem with it, and a great many others that I read (at least the first paragraph or two of), is hard to express. But let's call it idea density. It suffers from a dearth of ideas, or, for want of a better word, thought. I mean, the plot is okay. I figured the Wolf would become the narrator's rescuer pretty much from the get go. The historical fantasy world created is fine if, again, fairly familiar.
But if I read, say, half a page and don't encounter a single interesting (to me) factoid or specific or detail or observation or simile (or any other literary or poetic device), some unique quirk of attitude or voice, any indication of research, then I'm probably bailing. Such stories invariably have a secondhand quality to them, feel derived, diluted. I've little enough time remaining (really none of us have) that I don't need an excuse to stop reading (and, indeed, yours gave me no such excuse). But, more and more, I need a reason to continue.
[Rocks shuffles to the Porthole, pages in hand. He nods cordially to Carol who gives him the finger without looking up (it is how we bond). He smiles at Deplancher, who does look up, sees it is him behind the now ubiquitous mask, but appears to smile back anyway.]
[Carol smiles over at DePlancher, sending rays and love. Carol shuffles the pages on DePlancher's desktop, and she steps back. She flips her bic, twirls it, catches it]
I could just bite my lip off, fuckers. But, hey, you know. Examined McGillveray's pitch, but hold on. Any chance we could get you to change your name? I mean, holy fuck, wow. That is the worst name I've seen, cousin. Besides, the stuff you sent us has been Portholed.
[Rocks adjusts the paper bag he wears over his head so the hole lines up with his eye. And reads.]
Okay, I've read See You Sunday and have to say, it's a head scratcher. Technically it's fine. Clearly <redacted> knows the rules. The omniscient(-ish) POV seemed an odd choice. Placing the characters equidistant from the narrator seemed to distance them from me. But head hopping, while unconventional, ain't wrong, could even, if intentional, be seen as ambitious.
What really flummoxed was the plot. Assuming there was one. I know literary work enjoys some leeway in this regard, but after a dozen pages re the politics of church music and aptly described recital practices, I'm confused enough as to the why and wherefore of this cap that I'm almost tempted to send it up just to see exactly how brain damaged I've become over the course of last year. Be a shame if I Portholed a masterpiece just because I couldn't understand how anyone in their right mind, especially one with the apparent crafting abilities of this VC, would have written it. No, strike that. Writing's like death. One's own is nothing like other people's, way more engrossing.
Thing I like about this little zine of ours, besides the decor and that it's blacklisted in all the right places, besides the sparsity of submissions, and besides the comradery and diversity, is that there's no publishing schedule. Most zines feel compelled to publish X pieces every Y months, whether or not they receive any publishable submissions. So there's almost certainly a market for this See You Sunday cap, maybe in some denominational press.
Wish I could master the succinct reject, instead of always blathering on like this.
[Dep? Wanna give this a skim before I toss it into The Deluge? Carol?]
[doomey pulls up to the cherrywood and parks his bulk, his husk. he has the current capital spread out before him like some sort of religious text, graphics and numerals and glyphs. he tacks his fingertip to the text, twists his lips]
this fucker here, this Fred Miller piece. it's a winner.
[he gathers up the pages in his arms, and he rises from the Pilot's chair, rickety, untrustworthy, and he walks the capital over to the wardrobe. he pulls at one of the doors, and it resists. he breathes]
this is a wonderous day. a changing of the guard. we're finally safe, but for a pin drop or a scream. a dramatic turn to the left, the right.
[doomey knocks on the wardrobe door with his free hand]
let us in, demon.
[the left wardrobe door creaks open like a Halloween film clip. inside hang dusty jesus robes and sparkly gowns. doomey tosses the capital into the wardrobe and takes steps back]
eat goodstuff, devil.
[the wardrobe doors shut, creakily. doomey wipes his brow, shakes a pall mall from its casement. he turns and meanders his way to the cherrywood. he strikes a match]
the pencil man has been Terminaled. me thinks.
[he touches the fire to the tip, and he sucks in sweet smoke]