The Explorer

16 Apr

—What’re you seeing through there?
The boy held his face close to the fence. His right eye covered the hole’s entire circumference. He pushed his forehead into the mildewy slat to cut out most of the extraneous light sneaking in between flesh and wood.
—Carny? Can you hear me sweetie? What’s it look like?
—What’re you axing him for, he’s a fuckin’ retard.
—Shut up, he’s not retarded.
The boy pushed in his head as hard as he could, hoping to cut out all sound, as well. The fence gave a little to the perpendicular pressure. The wood cracked from the distress.
—Look it, he’s gonna fuckin’ break the fuckin’ fence. I’m telling you.
—Shut up. You don’t know anything.
—I know he’s a retard. Yous all a bunch of retards. Your fuckin’ family like.
—Shut up.

Once I read that Faulkner stopped opening his mail altogether. He’d hold the envelope up to the light and if it didn’t contain a check, he’d toss it into the garbage. And when he taught, those days they asked him to live at the university, he didn’t care that his students saw him at the liquor store every day. He’d walk out with his paper bag, regardless. Before Magellan they all thought the world was flat. The clergy. The church. But I know the Persians knew before that. Or some Babylonian astrologer who might have climbed a mountain and could see quite clearly that the world curves equally on all sides. And definitely by the time we got to Hellenistic Greece. They must’ve known by then. The world is round, like through this hole. Like Mikey Beyer and Corey Boland and Pat Cassesse and all the rest. If you look at them through this hole, they all bend at the edges as they run through. Have you ever noticed how children drag time along with them? They take it with them like. And put it in their pockets. When I woke up I was sleeping in my sister’s eyes. I woke up from the bombs the Germans were dropping on the countryside. My sister held me as they scarred the land and our father was worried that we would starve. The war had ruined the autumn crops. I was born in 1969 and I woke up in 1944 as Stalin’s Red Army drove back the emaciated Germans. My father took two bullets that year. One from each side of the war. What I remember next is the Black Sea. A Turkish trawler hoisted a weathered bust missing its arms. It was made from marble. It was the poet Ovid. Dingy and grimy. And caught in a fishing net. My father and I watched them from a rubber dinghy which had a slow leak. The Turkish sailors offered to take us aboard and drop us at Ordu but we were too chicken to leave.

—Carny? What’s it look like sweetie?
—What’re you axing him for, he’s a fuckin’ retard.


4 Responses to “The Explorer”

  1. Geoff 16/04/2009 at 7:21 AM #

    Alex, I love the way this piece goes one way, and then (seemingly) another, but by the end, we know it really is the same direction. And that makes it somehow more powerful.

  2. maipresus 16/04/2009 at 7:30 AM #

    Foarte frumos, Mami, mi-ai “facut” ziua!

  3. maipresus 16/04/2009 at 7:38 AM #

    Beautiful, Mami, you just made my day!

  4. (S)wine 16/04/2009 at 8:13 AM #

    Wassah moms!

    Geoff, not sure if you’re a member of (S)wine on Facebook, but I’ve sent out an update talking about this piece and its timeline. Basically, I haven’t yet made up my mind whether the internal dialogue is concurrent with the taunt or whether it comes after, or even precedes it.

    One thing I wrote in the update and I’ll say here; I love the idea of looking at things through a well-defined shape–especially a circle. Sort of like those old, silent films which opened or closed, or used the aperture to underscore or draw attention to a certain object or person or action. I love that.

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