New from Contrappasso contributor Kent Harrington

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Remember ‘Nirvana‘, the excerpt from Kent Harrington‘s novel Satellite Circus that appeared in our eighth issue? Well, the author has brought his wicked noir vision to a frightening post-meltdown scenario – “a Fukushima-created, isotope-glowing nightmare.” The novel is called Howlers. Ebook only, available now.
Here’s the information:

Timberline, California is a small mountain town whose citizens look after each other. The local sheriff, Quentin Collier, keeps the peace much as his father did before him; crime is rare enough that he and his deputies can help the state ranger service with search and rescue operations when needed. A recent widower, Collier’s raising two daughters on the cusp of adulthood and is just starting to think about making a new start with Patty Tyson, one of the state rangers.

It doesn’t make any sense when Willis Good, the town’s only defense attorney, is arrested for the murders of his wife and children. No one doubts Good’s guilt: the deputies found him standing over his wife’s dead body, while their two children lay dead in the family car. Good’s story doesn’t make any sense, either. He insists that he had to kill his wife because she’d become something horrible. Quentin, his deputies, and the town’s doctor, Marvin Poole, mourn the deaths of the Good family and the inexplicable loss of Good’s sanity.

Within hours of Good’s arrest, however, it becomes clear to Quentin and the other residents of Timberline that something is very wrong. Reporter Miles Hunt attends a press conference at Genesoft, the area’s largest employer, and sees that half of the food technology firm’s workforce has called in sick. Timberline High School reports an unusual number of absences, and the sheriff’s phone is ringing off the hook with missing persons reports.

Over the course of the next several days, the residents of Timberline must rally against an unknown force — virus, food contamination, radiation or something even worse — that transforms their friends and neighbors into murderous, howling monsters. When the military forces they expect to save them reveal themselves to be as dangerous as the howlers, Timberline’s survivors realize that no one is safe, and no place is safe — except, perhaps, the sanctuary built by “doomsday prepper” Chuck Phelps, who was sure all along that devastation was coming.

HOWLERS is an intense, multi-layered thriller that follows Timberline’s survivors over the course of four days: Sheriff Quentin Collier and his med-student daughter, Lacy; State Park Ranger Patsy Tyson; Doctor Marvin Poole; reporter Miles Hunt and his boss, editor Howard Price; Patsy Tyson’s ex-con former husband, James Dillon; teenager Rebecca Stewart; and others, good and evil, whose motives boil down to the need to survive an unimaginable disaster. HOWLERS, first in an anticipated series, will remind readers of such apocalyptic classics as THE BODY SNATCHERS by Jack Finney and Stephen King’s THE STAND. Kent Harrington brings his unique noir sensibilities to a thriller that will leave readers tense and talking.

Buy Howlers for Kindle at Amazon.com
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from issue #6: ‘Dear Jesus’ by R. Zamora Linmark

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DEAR JESUS by R. ZAMORA LINMARK

for Ku’ualoha Ho’omanawanui

Dear Jesus:

My worst nightmare is about to come true. Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor approved the same-sex marriage legislation bill. 20 to 4. And now it’s up to the House of Representatives to kill the bill. But what if they, too, flew over the cuckoo’s nest? That’s why I’m flying there tomorrow. I’m going to withdraw whatever money I have left in my checking account, take the first flight to Honolulu and give these loonies a piece of my mind. That’s right. Hold on, Jesus, I’m now on the line with a Hawaiian Airlines ticketing agent from, of all places, Philippines. Dear Lord, Honolulu is only half hour away by plane from here and I have to call someone in the Philippines to book it…. Just got off the phone. They’re charging me four arms and six thousand legs as if I’m Imelda Marcos. What a rip off. And they don’t offer Senior Citizen discount. So much for Aloha Spirit… Calm down, Marie, calm down… Screw it. I’m willing to overlook the astronomical cost of this ticket due to the gravity of the matter. Otherwise, I’d tell them too to go choke on my monthly SS! I’d rather go hungry for the next couple days than allow this bill to be passed. I don’t care if I have to testify three, four, five thousand times. I won’t stop until these so-called progressive legislators wake up and realize that they’re doing more harm than good. This is not in the best interest of the peoples of Hawaii. I know it. The majority knows it. Come tomorrow, they will know who Marie Machado is and what she stands for.

Marie Machado, Hana, Maui.

*

 Dear Jesus:

I have two mommies. Am I greedy?

Alexander Rosales, 3rd grade, Kapalama Elementary.

*

Dear Jesus:

Did I wake up in the wrong state? Is today Halloween, October 31, 2013? It is, right? All this talk of gay marriage makes me want to puke. That’s what I want to do right now. Puke the bowl of kim chi chigae I ate last night all over the grounds of State Capitol. This Senate Bill 1 makes me sick to the bone. I should call in sick. But I can’t afford to miss a day’s worth of work. I already got written up twice for being late. But this is more important than ushering losers to their seats or telling them to get their toe jams off the seats or picking up their trash or shining the flashlight on their faces to shut their snoring up. If that fat cow Shawna fires me, so be it. I’ll miss the free movies and fifty percent off of popcorn and hot dogs. Fuck it. This is not the only job in the world. There are a thousand more out there I can get fired from. My sick call is legit. It’s an act of sacrifice, me as the lamb willing to sacrifice his bread and butter just for you, Jesus, because I love and believe in you. All I ask is that you help me write the most convincing testimony, because I’d hate to make a fool of myself in public, especially since Olelo cable TV is live-streaming the entire hearing.

Charles Kwon, McCully.

*

Dear Jesus:

My church says if gays free to marry in Hawaii, I going have to pee in one gender-neuter toilet. What that mean?

Jonathan, 8, Island Paradise Nursery.

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Dear Jesus:

Deep in my heart, despite my break from the Catholic faith at age twelve, a separation I attribute to this day to my parents who showed me step-by-step how to shatter love in fifty-plus ways, I still believe that you never really left me, that, through all these years of more downs than ups, you were here all this time to witness my faults and flaws, guiding me in your own peculiar way out of my bleakest hours and reminding me over and over how infinite and powerful love is, how it goes beyond borders and limitations regardless of who we choose to love and grow with.

Brendalyn Chadwick, née Brandon Terada, St. Louis High alumni, class of ‘86.

*

Dear Jesus:

Same-sex marriage is not right. It’s not pono. It’s not Hawaiian. It’s pilau. I repeat: IT’S NOT PONO! It’s PILAU!

Joshua, Papakolea.

*

Dear Jesus:

Why is Governor Abercrombie making such a big fuss over this bill? What’s the rush? Are we on fire? Why is he insisting on resurrecting a dead bill? This SB1 hearing is unconstitutional. It’s undemocratic. A similar bill was already passed, favoring civil union among same-sex couples, back in 1998. Senate Bill 232. It went into effect in 2011, February 23, to be exact. It was amended in 2012 by the House and, as Act 267, was signed into law by Abercrombie himself. July 6, to be exact. I know that date very well because that’s the birthday of my daughter Caprice. If this is what they really want, then they should open it to the public and let us, the people of Hawaii, decide.

Atty. Amy Chun-Goldstein, Kailua.

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Dear Jesus:

Tell the bitches to stand in line because once this bill passes, I’m proposing to Rep. Kaniela Ing. What a fox! What a babe! And what’s more—he’s a Christian!!! He had me when he quoted the great philosopher Macklemore. In case you were busy listening to the gang of dumb and dumber, this is what he said during the televised interview: “To me, this bill is about love and acceptance. In Hawaii, we call it aloha. One person in the audience stated that it’s the wrong love. I don’t agree. I agree with Macklemore: It’s the same love.” Triple sigh, Jesus. Lead the way, Kaniela. I’m right behind you.

Kendrick Shibata, Kapahulu.

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Dear Jesus:

Same-sex marriage in Hawaii? OMG, OMG. It’s going to happen, isn’t it? It better not. But it might, oh, shit, it might. Then again, I might be wrong. I still have an ounce of faith left in the local government, like my representative for Ewa Beach and Iroquois Housing, Mataele Mataele. But what if I’m right? What if they pass this godawful bill. Oh, Jesus, prove me wrong. I’ve been wrong many times. I’m a walking mistake, so let me be wrong again. Go give ‘em hell, Rep. Mataele. We got your back.

Kapono Lum, Ewa.

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Dear Jesus:

What more do they want? We’ve already included them in the Hawaii Civil Union Law. They already have the same rights, benefits, and protections granted to married couples in Hawaii. Talk about G-R-E-E-D-Y. No surprise, considering many of them are capitalists, hold several college degrees, and lead lascivious lifestyles. They’re not outcasts like you, Jesus. No, siree! They’re Sodom and Gomorrah in Mini Coopers and designer labels.

Braddah Billy Jo Cruz, Waianae.

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Dear Jesus:

Please, pretty please, pass the same-sex marriage bill already so my Uncle Jimmy and Uncle Arnold can get married. Twenty years they’ve been together. Don’t you think that’s long enough to be living in sin? Uncle Jimmy said that if Hawaii wakes up to equality, they will definitely move back from Glacier View, Alaska. Population: 249.

Carlton Cho, Roosevelt High, alumni of Bruno Mars.

P.S. I think I may be like my two uncles.

*

Dear Jesus:

Please remind your homophobic believers that the Civil Union law that went into effect two years ago is a law that “makes same-sex AND OPPOSITE-SEX COUPLES eligible for civil union recognition.” I put “AND OPPOSITE-SEX COUPLES” in bold because I think you need to yell it into their deaf ears.

Iwalani Aweau, Waipahu.

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Dear Jesus:

If you love your children, you would make Governor Abercrombie stop being a hippie and see the light. Not broad daylight but the real light, like yours, you know, the kind that makes you blind but shine.

Sandra Watabayashi, Washington Middle School.

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Dear Jesus:

This whole legal is so complicated so confusing I no understand why anybody in their right state of mind like be one lawmaker. I watching these guys on TV right now and I feel like I watching one kung fu movie without subtitles or David Carradine in it. But I a curious human being. I like know what the heck is going on so these guys no can pull their wool over my eyes, you know what I mean? Plus I a responsible kamaaina. I voted in the last election. I even made my own bumper sticker. NOBAMA. Yup, that was me. Anyway, let me see if I understand what the heck is going on so far. Feel free to stop me if I wrong, okay? Okay….Yesterday, the state Senate approved the SB1 bill 20 YES to 4 NO. This bill is now in the hands of the House of Representatives. Apparently get all sorts of committees in the House, which I never knew until now but which also kinda make sense if you see these committees as bedrooms in one big house. So for this bill get two committees in charge—House Judiciary and House Finance. This part I not going even attempt to ask why them and not the other bedrooms. I figure these legislators know what they doing. I pray so. That’s why they on TV and I not. If the majority of the two committees vote NO, then it’s as good as a mongoose trapped in a highway of road rage drivers. If they pass this bill no mean it’s a done deal. The rest of the House members gotta vote, which is kinda like back to square one. It also give previous committee members a second chance to change their vote. If the majority of the House gets the YES vote, then the bill go back to the Senate, where it all started. So kinda like full circle, except circle not perfect, is never perfect.

Mako Tokioka, Haiku Valley.

*

Dear Jesus:

My Uncle Russ is very good looking and can score any wahine he wants. But he wants a man. He said so himself. I’m gay, Cedric, he told me, gay as the rainbow on the U.H. football helmet. But hard to believe because he’s more butch than Auntie T.J. Yet he insists. Gay as a shoe-tapping senator in a toilet stall of a Minnesota airport, he said. Not European, not bisexual, not even Chinese or samurai, but gay, he said. Gay as a Brokeback shepherd. Confusing as it is, I have no choice but to believe him, because if he were into wahines or if he were European, bisexual, Chinese or samurai, I won’t be so confused with this prayer. Where was I?

You see?

Lost again, Cedric.

*

Dear Jesus:

As you already know, my ancestors fought in the American Revolution. Most of them died for the sake of religious freedom. It was this war that led our forefathers to create the U.S. Constitution. And now, these so-called legislators are treating it as if it’s nothing, as if it’s inconsequential, irrelevant, and therefore, replaceable. Who are they, anyway? It’s not up to them to mess with our Bill of Rights. They are only representatives, not gods. Their job is to uphold it, not defy you.

Martha Dudley, Punahou.

*

Dear Jesus:

Why are so many gorgeous guys gay? I thought you were on my side.

Lana Fukunaga, Sacred Hearts Academy.

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Dear Jesus:

Please procreate my mommy and daddy. They need it badly.

Love, Carver, 1st grade, Lanakila Elementary.

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Dear Jesus:

This bill is going to harm the Hawaiian people. This is only going to divide us further, like the Great Mahele. Divide and conquer. That’s what these lawmakers want to do to us Hawaiians. They already stole our aina, imprisoned our queen, ravaged our natural resources, desecrated our heiaus, our sacred temples. And now, they want to deprive us of our religious rights too? Hell, no.

Kawehi Aui-Johnson, Makakilo.

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Dear Jesus:

If not for you, my daddy will have no one to turn to after he black-and-blues my mommy. Thank you for being there.

Always, Melissa, Kindergarten, Queen Ka’ahumanu Elementary.

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Dear Jesus:

Some of these Representatives should be stand-up comics. They crack me up. The bestest one so far is Rep. Mataele Mataele. He said if the legislature insists on NOT letting the people vote on this issue, he’d have no option but to bring a riding whip, a bag of Purina, and Lysol spray to the State Capitol. “The riding whip and the dog food is for the dog and pony show we been made to participate in,” Rep. Mataele Mataele said. “And the Lysol spray is to kill the stink coming from this bill.”

Michael Maliglig, Lower Makiki.

*

Dear Jesus:

We don’t need another Sin City. We already have Vegas, our ninth island. We practically fly there at least once a month. Given this fact of a matter, do we really need to bring our sins closer to home?

Ronald Hayashida, 67, Pearl City.

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Dear Jesus:

I would just like to enlighten my Hawaiian brothers and sisters, as well as the kama’ainas, Asian settlers, and Hawaiian wannabes on the topic of aikane, which is the Hawaiian word for today, Friday, November 1, 2013. Aikane is loosely, if not lazily, defined as the Western counterpart to a homosexual or bisexual. Native Hawaiian scholars, however, argue that, although aikane involved men engaging in same-sex or bisexual relations, this accepted ancient Hawaiian practice refers more to the power-and-class-based relationship rather than to sexual identity or activity. In such relationship, the aikane referred to the lover/beloved who belonged to the lower class or nobility ranking, while his lover/beloved was part of the ali’i, or nobility. A popular example of an aikani-based relationship is between that of Kamehameha the Great, our first king who was responsible for unifying the islands, and his aikane partner, the high chief Kuakini who also served as his important adviser. Aikane. The Other as the Lover/Beloved/Subject of Desire.

Samuel Beamer, Assoc. Professor in Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawaii, Manoa.

*

Dear Jesus:

Aloha, J.C. It’s me, Chang Hae Park, 2nd generation Korean American Christian, as you can tell by my name. I’m 20 years old and currently attending University of Hawaii at Manoa, majoring in Electrical Engineering. As a young and healthy heterosexual, I hope to someday marry and start a family. But if this bill passes, it won’t be healthy to bring up children in such an environment. I don’t want my children to think it’s OK to be lesbian or gay because it’s not. I don’t want my son to know about the birds and the bees before he hits puberty, or for my daughter to learn about pregnancy prevention before she has her first period. We are not in Canada!!!

Chang Hae Park, 20, Moi’ili’ili.

*

Dear Jesus:

I blame all this trash talk of same-sex marriage on pop artists like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. Just because homosexuals and lesbians were born that way doesn’t make two wrongs a right. Just because Katy’s “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It” is upbeat and easy to dance to doesn’t make lesbian sex something to roar about too. Why not light up our Top 40 lives again, Jesus, and bring back the one-hit wonders, like Debby Boone? I’ll take Amy Grant over Amy Winehouse any day.

Loretta de los Reyes, Kapalua, Maui.

*

Dear Jesus:

It’s me, Marie Machado, remember me? Yes, the one and only Marie from Hana, Maui. Well, as you can see, I made it. I took the first flight out of Lahaina this morning, only to be turned away. That’s right, Jesus. I, Marie Machado of Hana, Maui, seventy-eight-years of age, and of Portuguese and Okinawan descent was denied her right as a tax-paying retiree to testify against same-sex marriage. Well, almost denied had I not put up a fight. The reason given to me was that I missed the midnight deadline. I told them how the heck was I supposed to know about the midnight deadline? I don’t live in Honolulu. I am from Hana. I spent my entire life savings to fly here so I can put a stop to this madness initiated by Abercrombie and Company. Luckily, Representative Sharon Har—a beautiful Hapa lady (who reminded me of myself when I was her age)—overheard my boiling words and came to my assistance. I explained to her my situation. She told me not to go anywhere, that she’d be right back. I told her I was staying put and solid as the statue of Father Damien outside the Capitol. She returned in a matter of minutes and told me she’d secured a two-minute slot for me to give my testimony. Bless her heart, I am testifier #4,786.

Marie Machado, still pissed off as Pele.

*

Dear Jesus:

Same-sex couples are currently missing out on 1,100 Federal benefits by not being legally married. Need I say more?

Dominic Cortez, Lunalilo Heights.

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Dear Jesus:

On this Saturday morning, 2nd of November, I will open the day with a prayer to you, knowing the entire state is probably at this very minute doing the same, i.e., competing for your attention, telling you that their prayer is more unique and far from the usual boring ask-and-then-ignore-once-it’s-been-answered… Jesus, there are certain things about this SB1 bill that I think you should know, and that extremely anxious and religious parents and teachers are not telling you. Before I proceed, I want to give you a brief introduction about myself, just so you know where I’m coming from. I’m an educator for 27 years. I received my M.A. in Sociology from Berkeley and my doctorate in Education from the University of Hawaii of Manoa. Regarding the concerns many parents have surrounding this bill and its effects on public education, I’d like to inform you that: 1) there’s no portion in this bill that advocates for change in education curriculum. Such issues are handled by the Hawaii Board of Education and Department of Education, and their policy states that all curriculum must be standards based. 2) As for sex education, Hawaii is an abstinence-based state, meaning we teach our students about abstinence as the best prevention and protection from pregnancy, infections, and diseases. And 3), should this bill pass—and most likely it will—parents will have the option, as they do now, to have their children not participate in such class discussion.

Amalia Buenaventura, P.Ed, Leeward Community College.

*

Dear Jesus:

“Love is an illusion created by lawyer-types to perpetuate another illusion called marriage to create the reality of divorce and the need of divorce lawyers.” Andrew McCarthy’s character in St. Elmo’s Fire.

Gordon Wong IV, a former Jehovah’s Witness.

*

Dear Jesus:

The Hawaii Attorney General David Louie is for gay marriage. Twenty members of the State Senate are for it. The Department of Taxation and the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission are for it. The Department of Health, under Director Loretta Fuddy, is ready to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Is the fight over? No, for outside the Capitol I hear the clamor of my brothers and sisters. “Let the people vote! Let the people vote!”

Charmaine Iwalani Vargas, Temple Valley.

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Dear Jesus:

I’m anxious about the future of Proverbs 22:6—”Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” If SB1 passes, there will be no way but to turn gay. Jesus, kill SB1 bill now before this gay plague kills us.

Sharlene Ogawa, Aiea.

*

Dear Jesus:

Whether this bill gets passed or not, I cannot, I repeat, I cannot honor such law. I don’t care if they have to arrest me, Jesus, or fire me from my state job. I love my job. The records show I excel at it. I love the law. I protect the law. But over my dead body if I have to abide by one that is imposed on me and my children and nieces and nephews and grandchildren, a law that results to nothing except to disrespect and dishonor my Almighty Father in heaven.

Albert Broadbent, President, State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers.

*

Dear Jesus:

Why are there no lipstick lesbos or butchies with mullets or scandalous mahus in the Bible? Just whores, pricks, assholes and war-lovers. What happened to us being all equal in God’s eyes? Not fair. Not fair.

Trinity, homeless.

*

Dear Jesus:

Knock knock?

Who’s there?

Ima.

Ima who?

Ah, you mahu.

I not mahu. Maybe you the one mahu.

I no suck dick.

That’s not what Kerwin tole me.

Bull-lie.

After school. Behind Portable C. Five times Kerwin said.

So? He wen’ suck me too.

See? I knew it.

Knew what?

Tell you tomorrow.

No. Tell me now.

Meet me behind Portable C. Five minutes.

Four minutes.

K.

*

Dear Jesus:

I was tired of being an astronaut, so I told my mother I wanted to be a lesbian, just like my Uncle J.R. So guess what she did? She took me straight to Fantastic Sam’s and ordered the barber to make a mullet out of me. I cried the whole day, Jesus. I looked so ugly, so white trash, like Miley Cyrus’s father—and I’m not even Haole. I’m Okinawan. I’m still crying, Jesus, and today is already the third day. I begged my mom to shave it off, just shave it off, please, Mom. She said no, because she said I looked good as a lesbian, especially with my mullet. Jesus, if you love me, please shave my head bald while I sleep. I promise I’m never going to wish to be a lesbian again. Ever.

Previn Higa, 9, Prince Kuhio Elementary.

*

Dear Jesus:

Is Mercury in retrograde again? Or is Venus in Uranus?

Just kidding. Marty, Moanalua.

*

Dear Jesus:

I open today’s Sunday paper to read about a teen who woke up covered in flames. He had dozed off on the school bus when his classmate, also sixteen, had set him on fire. When asked why, he said it was because the boy, after repeated warnings, continued to attend school in a skirt. Welcome to the future!

Julie Tadayashi, Kaimuki.

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Dear Jesus:

I don’t like the new blue M&M’s. Can we let the people of Hawaii vote to abolish it?

Kelly Pacheco.

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Dear Jesus:

In case the same-sex marriage equality bill no pass, can I, Bully Kupihea Jr., still be head cheerleader for the Kapa’a Warriors and wear my hot pants and do my Shakira-waka-waka dance routine during halftime?

Love u 4-eva, B.K.J., Kapa’a High.

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Dear Jesus:

I’m beginning to sound like a broken record. SB1 is not about what gets taught in classrooms. It’s about the thousand-plus Federal benefits that, at present, are denied to same-sex couples. But since we’re back on the topic of pedagogy, students discussing gay and lesbian characters in novels and short fiction don’t turn them into raging fags and dykes, as someone argued in their testimony, just as learning about drugs won’t turn you into an addict or a prostitute.

Amalia Buenaventura, P.Ed, Leeward Community College.

*

Dear Jesus:

Why don’t they listen to me? I’m a millennial. My opinion matters the most. I am the future—bright, promising, full of hope. But this bill, if it passes the House, is going to turn Hawaii into another Canada, where all public bathrooms are unisex. The thought of sharing toilets with the opposite sex is frightening. Worse, if it’s with the same sex. Oppose SB1 bill NOW and save Hawaii from becoming the next Canada.

Linda, New Hope, Farrington High.

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Dear Jesus:

When I grow up, I want to start my own ministry and be the first gay minister. I’ll call it “New & Improved Hope” or “Hopelessly Devoteds.”

Michael/Michelle, 14.

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Dear Jesus:

Okay. Here goes. Please no mine my grammer, Jesus. I jus like share wit you my testamoney dat I goin’ give at the State Capitol tomorrow. Like my Repretensative Mataele I only wen’ go up to Turd World edumacation. But dis mo impotant. Now, you know me, Jesus, you know I no mo nutting agenst gays. Lesbiyans I get plenny, but not mahus. Watever dey like do in da privasy of der own home, well, das der kuliana. I get plenny mahu freinds and I goin be a liar if I tole you I never explored der dark side of life. You alredy know dis I’m sure. My wife Marlene know too. As your Fada is my witnes, I no mo nutting for hide. My life just like one open book alredy. Stay short but true. If you read ‘em, everything goin be right der on da first page. Wat gets my goat is dat dem mahus and wahines who stay stiring up all dis cantroversy is sending one false mesage to our kekis. Dey argyu dat to be gay and lesbiyan is not a choise. I agree. Das why leopards get spots, yeah? I know hard for dem to be like dat. I know not easy for dem to put up wid discremanation. But wat I like know is if dey know dat alredy den why stoke da fire even more? Why even bring up kekis in dis world? Besides, the world alredy made in China! Dont dey know dat wats hard for dem going only be harder for der children? But dey no can see wat I see becuz dey not part of da lite. In regardless, dis dey should tink about real hard. Sending dem my prayurs, Jesus. Peace. Love.

Willy from Maunawili.

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Dear Jesus:

Shame on Mataele. Does he even know what “conscientious objectors” mean? Or is he just quoting phrases from the Constitution, Chapter 5, Verse 33.6? Didn’t he flat-out told the molecular biologist Dean Hamer that he should be spoken to in lay lingua because he’d only received a Third World education? Does he know—or is he even aware—of the repercussions of such remarks? Which Third World is he referring to? Hawaii? Brigham Young University? Or his worldview?

Kaipo Williams, Waimanalo.

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Dear Jesus:

I been waiting since Thursday to give my testimony. It’s now Monday, November 4. I already missed two days of work. Might not seem much to the average Joe Blow, but that’s still gas money to a North Shore guy like myself who has to drive 15 miles into town just so I can afford to eat at McDonald’s three times a day. And it’s not like I can just up and leave the State Capitol because if I’m not here when they call my number—3,405—they’ll just skip me as if I never paid my annual taxes, which means I’ll have to get another number and miss more days of work, and if that’s how it’s going to be, then the State should make up for my lost income because they’re the one who called this special session from out of the blue, I mean, everything was quiet on the North Shore front until they pulled this stupid stunt on us.

Marlon, Sunset Beach.

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Dear Jesus:

Janina here. Freshman lipstick lesbo from Kahuku High. Just found out Cover Girl discontinued their Bistro Burgundy line. SOS.

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Dear Jesus:

Did I hear it right? Did he or didn’t he—a cop AND the President of the Organization of Police Officers—just swore that if this bill gets passed, he is willing to lose his job, get arrested or be killed, as it would turn him from a law enforcer to a lawbreaker? Talk about shooting one’s self on the hoof!

Joni Chinen, Ala Moana

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Dear Jesus:

Many homos believe we at New Hope hate them. Please. The world doesn’t revolve around them. There are more crucial issues in this world than seeing two men or two women exchanging vows at the altar, like organ trafficking and global child prostitution. Plus, it’s not as if they were born-again yesterday! Spare us the melodrama.

Moses Cabral, Moanalua.

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Dear Jesus:

Do you think James P. Kealoha who sits behind me in Algebra and copies my homework is bi-curious? If you think so, tell him my over-the-shoulder-look means that I think he’s jalapeño-hot and that I wouldn’t mind losing my divine virginity to him. Tell him I can host from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., which is when my mom comes home from her second job. Jesus, if only I had a va-j-jay.

Anonymous, 13, Damien High.

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Dear Jesus:

Tell Hawaii to hurry it up. Illinois just beat us as the fifteenth state to legalize gay marriage. Plus General Motors is extending marriage benefits to spouses of same-sex employees. Not that I’m gonna quit my City & County job as liquor commissioner and go work for GM in Michigan or wherever their factory is. I’m not gay, lesbian, transsexual, or bi-curious. I can’t even recall the last time I had sex. And this is not by choice either. Sad face to be placed here.

Peace, Nolan Kimura, C&C of Honolulu, Liquor Commissioner.

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Dear Jesus:

Kauikeaouli, or Kamehameha the III, who was the son of King Kamehameha I, also had several aikanes. From what I hear, he and his lovers, like Kaomi and Keoniana, put the cowboys in Bareback Mountain to shame. The king was so taken by Kaomi’s good looks—he was part-Tahitian and part-Hawaiian, that he was willing to make him co-rule his kingdom. Chief Kaomi died suddenly—cause: unknown—shortly before their conjugal governance could be realized. Another lover of King Kamehameha III was Keoniana—or John Young II—whose father, John Young I, was a Scottish military advisor who also happened to be an aikane of Kamehameha I. Talk about a lineage of kings and their male lovers. Irony of ironies: although King Kamehameha III practiced aikane-ship, he was the first king in the Hawaiian monarchy to reject polygamy and follow the Christian tradition of marriage to only one woman.

Mililani Silva, curator, Bishop Museum.

*

Dear Jesus:

I am a girl who loves other girls but the commercial with you in it says it’s wrong. What if I ask for another vagina? One for the right reason and the other for the wrong. That way, it’s fair and square, as my teacher says. So please give me another vagina. I’ll be waiting by the Likelike overpass.

Yours truly, Sam(antha), 3rd grade, Kalihi Elementary School.

 

*

Dear Jesus:

Kindly convince the seven UNDECIDED legislators to vote YES to same-sex marriage so that my Aunt R.J. can finally marry Tita M.C. who’s living in the U.S. illegally. They’ve been together for five years. Tita M.C. is Aunt R.J.’s caregiver. Yup, they’re old but not old enough to, you know, enjoy each other, if you know what I mean. Anyway, five years of togetherness is more than all the years of marriages combined in our family. If this law doesn’t get passed and if this prayer winds up with INS, then Tita M.C. will most likely be deported back to the Third World. Turd World, that’s what she calls the Philippines. I don’t know. I’ve never been there. But if you end Third World now, then it will be okay, I guess, for Tita M.C. to be deported, though it would mean breaking her and Aunt R.J. up and you don’t want to be called a homewrecker, right? Thought so.

Lois Cabradilla, Hilo High.

*

Dear Jesus:

My traditional parents change religion faster than their underwear. In one month, we went from New Hopeless to Word of Lifeless. Then we switched to Catholicism b/c my mother found out from my Auntie Eileen that the new pope wears Prada and Gucci, then we switched to Pentecostal because my parents think they can sing and faint at the same time. Now, my father wants to be a Mormon b/c, he says, a traditional father should have five desperate wives per household. Vote YES to traditional family.

Jonah Asuncion.

*

Dear Jesus:

Why they picking on my cop cousin, calling him any kind names, like his brain is one major pain in the ass. Excuse me, anatomically speaking, the brain stay way at the top, while the pain is a bottom. And for your information, dumb and dumber are two people, my cop uncle, who heads the union, get only one mind and one body! Besides, everyone is entitled to his and her opinion, right? My cop uncle/union leader only exercising his. To those who don’t like it, I say: WHATEVS!

Princess, La’ie.

*

Dear Jesus:

I so embarrassed, so humilahated. My faddah wen’ State Capitol yesterday and gave his testimony. He waited 11 days cuz he was number 10,348, which was an exaggeration. He a member of New Life in Leeward. Before that, New Word in Windward. And before that—he was incarcerated at OCCC. 2 years for aggravated assault and chronic road rage. He said he not proud of that but he said everybody get skeletons. If gays have their walk-in closets why shouldn’t he. He told all this on Olelo LIVE STREAMING. He also said he pro-traditional family. He told the legislators he been w/ my maddah for 16 happily years. He was in 11th grade and she, 8th. That they been happily married for 7 years since they joined New Life. That he get three happy children ages 16 (me), 13 (brother), and 12 (sister). Jesus, do the math; it ain’t gonna add up. That means my maddah is not my maddah and the maddah I have now got pregnant soon after she met my faddah.

Diane Carvalho, Kapahulu.

*

Dear Jesus:

I failed you. I’m sorry. After waiting for what seemed like hours, I was finally asked by Rep. Sylvia Luke to approach the mic and begin my two-minute testimony. “Aloha,” I said. “Aloha,” the committee members answered back. Next thing I knew—nothing. I couldn’t get a word out. It was as if my tongue had been chopped off. A minute went by and not a single sound or syllable. I held my palm out. I tried to tell the committee members through my facial expression that something was happening to me, that the god of scissors had entered my body and cut off my voice. Look at me! Can’t you tell something is wrong? my face was shouting at them. But I got no reaction. They probably thought that I was just another lolo old lady who’d gone to the State Capitol to waste two minutes of their time, like the woman who used up her time shouting “Let the people vote!” or the Born-Again singing “Amazing Grace.” It was not until tonight, when I tuned in to watch the news and saw myself as one of the highlights from today’s testimonies. Apparently, I could not only muster a sound out of my big Portuguese mouth, but I was also denied the right to emote. On my face was a huge blank, like I had been injected with a gallon of Botox. Only after my two-minute was up was I able to hear my voice and make all sorts of faces. That was when I lost it. I started shouting uncontrollably “Maluhia, maluhia”—which means “peace.” I was so far gone that I had to be escorted out of the building by three bodyguards to the jeers of my Christian brothers and sisters.

Failure Marie Machado from Hana, Maui.

*

Dear Jesus:

Feels like day 357 of same-sex equality debate. Shet, this freakin’ bill feels like a trial that’s taking longer than O.J. Simpson’s and Roe Versus Wade’s put together. Even Jeffrey Dahmer’s case was shorter than this, only two weeks. And by the way it’s going, it might go unresolved, like the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. I just hope that the HPD is going to be there again, not just for body count but peace of mind as well. That they’re there to protect the people and maybe, this time, step up and arrest those disturbing the legal proceedings. Would like to see that Samoan cop doing his job, too, that is, protecting everyone, including those law-abiding same-sex loving tax-paying citizens he abhors, who are helping pay his salary.

‘Til Tomorrow, Lex.

*

Dear Jesus:

Today, Tuesday, November 5th, has got to be the most depressing day of the year. The joint House committee just voted 18-12 in favor of this same-sex marriage bill. I don’t know how these 18 legislators can go to sleep tonight, knowing the majority of the people are against this bill. Now, this bill goes to the rest of the House to vote.

Richard, Maile.

*

Dear Jesus:

No let this stupid bill pass. I no like be edumacated about mahus and lesbos. Get enough of them on TV, like Kirk and that black tranny on Glee. Neil Patrick Harris, the Doogie Howser guy, I know he gay in real life but he okay because he play straight guy and one womanizer in How I Met Your Mother, plus he get one star on the Hollywood sidewalk. So, yea, no allow teachers for edumacate us about Adam and Steve in the classroom. And about Eve and Liv too. Mahalo.

J.T., Hawaii Baptist Academy.

*

Dear Jesus:

My testimony was short and simple. I just wen’ read them my tattoo on my right arm. Leviticus 18:22. “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.”

Jeremy, Papakolea.

*

Dear Jesus:

Before we continue our relationship, I only want one thing cleared up. Exactly which side of hope are you? Are you with New Hope or the old one, because if you converted to the new one, then I want to know what was wrong with the old one? Because if the old hope is no good because it’s old, then that means that, sooner or later, this new one will eventually be no good too, right? And if this is the case, then are you telling me that hope is like a loaf of bread: it has an expiration date? That once it expires, it will grow moldy, rot, disintegrate, etcetera—and then what? Newer Hope? Redux Hope? Get back to me soon because I would still like to be hopelessly devoted to you.

Alice Pacheco.

*

Dear Jesus:

Representative Sam Knight, who is part of the Finance committee and who, as everyone in West Oahu and Club Rose knows, is an out-and-proud lesbian (if her mullet isn’t a dead giveaway then I don’t know what is). Anyway, she voted NO on this bill. I repeat: a lesbian lawmaker voting against gay marriage. Isn’t that saying something? There is hope at the end of the rainbow.

Jesus loves you Rep Sam no matter who you are.

Virgie Lacaran, Waianae.

*

Dear Jesus:

My name Xian Lim. I Chinese defective now living in Hawaii five years. In Guangdong, China, where I from, we no allow this kind marriage between same sex. If civet cats, okay, because they full of SARS, but not humans, especially lady to lady. It’s not right. I not hateful type, but it’s not Christian. Peace Always.

*

Dear Jesus:

Can you please tell those brainiacs like that chromosologist from Harvard for stop picking on Representative Mataele and making him look like one laughing stock? He ain’t one baboon, babooze, he one human being! So what if he only went to a third world community college and you gotta talk to him in 3rd grade layman-Pidgin for explain that homosexuality is hiding in the genes? My pastor disagrees, ergo I disagree with him. Of course, a gay can be an ex-gay if he like. It’s called “choice” people, and it’s nothing but one gift from heaven, and they come in A, B, C, D, or E. That’s why it’s called “multiple”! Hello?! At least now, he representative of Iroquois Housing, which he wen’ achieve through hard work, perseveration, and prayers. Remind them that, Jesus. Choice before institution.

Braddah Al, Ewa Beach & Iroquois Housing.

*

Dear Jesus:

When you get a chance, please pass this message on to that man who read a Leviticus verse from his shoulder. Leviticus 19:28: “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.”

Rabih Nassir, Salt Lake.

*

Dear Jesus:

For days, Mary, I was at the State Capitol today for check out the drama. Mary, was so nails, like one C-rated camp. But guess who I saw making all that “Let the People Vote” noise pollution and disturbing Father Damien’s statue? Efren Lopez, the biggest Filipino bakla in the history of Waipahu High. I remember Muffyrella used to wear choke obake cosmetics and went around saying he hapa. Well, I guess he had a bad case of epiphany because he was acting all straight at the State Capitol (more like scared-straight). He was so convincing I almost never recognized him if not for the facial-induced craters. He was tongue-twisting with the other drama-sci-fi-comedy queens. For days. For real kind, Mary. If that’s what tickles his okole, then let him. I just waiting for that day when all these self-hating mahus come out of the closet. This island probably going sink. So maybe they better not, yeah?

Trixie, Hotel St/Bethel.

*

 

Dear Jesus:

We have one more chance to kill this bill. Please persuade the remaining twenty-one representatives to vote NO on this bill tomorrow, which is Wednesday. The pro-gay marriage only needs 26; they already got 18. That’s only 8 votes shy from making our nightmare their reality. Jesus, time to walk on water.

Kenneth Pang, Kalama Valley.

*

Dear Jesus:

Oh, my god, what is happening to our dyke from Waianae? Has she gone back to the closet? Hope not. We have our reasons, but we hope our sister Sam will change her mind and vote YES tomorrow. Jesus, please do not let her make the wrong decision that will affect her future relationship with the gay and lesbian community in Hawaii, especially with the 500 active members of LOVE, Lesbians Organizing Vanguards of Eros, which she is a part of. Guide her, oh Lord, in these next twenty-four hours as she re-evaluates her position on this crucial bill and remind her to base her decision not just on whom she is representing but on what she stands for and believes in. We pray she will reverse her NO to a YES. Hoping, 500 members of LOVE.

*

Dear Jesus:

We did it. The House just voted 30-18 in favor of Senate Bill 1. Three abstained because they want to be re-elected by their constituents. Tomorrow, the House is taking a day off from the public, then resume on Friday for the final history-making vote. But I shall always remember today, Wednesday, November 6, 2013 as the first step to a history worth making. I don’t know if you have anything to do with this victory, but thank you anyway. Sorry to take up so much of your time. I’m sure you’re up to your neck with prayers and complaints.

Maxwell, Waikiki.

*

Dear Jesus:

Tell your ministers they got no business meddling in the same-sex marriage bill because their churches aren’t paying taxes. In fact, they’re abusing their non-profit status. Bad enough they’re holding their ministries in public school grounds, where Church and State should not be coupling. And until they start paying taxes, like the rest of us citizens, including those who have been denied rights that should be afforded to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, and race, then these religious organizations have no say in this bill nor in any legislative bill, for that matter. We gays and lesbians have put up with bullying from your (make) believers for too long and are tired of being victims and sacrificial lambs. No more. Discriminate us, don’t marry us in your churches, we don’t care. Push comes to shove, we all know money will speak faster than faith.

Isaac, Makiki.

*

Dear Jesus:

If Hawaii becomes the next state to legalize same-sex marriage, terrible consequences will follow such as global warming, widespread meth use, more power plant explosions such as that in Fukushima, extinction of endangered species, killer viruses, etc. etc.

Pastor Paolo, Whitmore Village.

*

Dear Jesus:

Another major dilemma-rama. For tomorrow’s big event at the Capitol: 6-inch stilettos or slippers? Slippers, yeah? Easier for kill the roaches. But for sure, I going wear my Kermit-the-frog-rainbow-connection-inspired tube top and the jurassic organic hibiscus I bought for choke dollars at Wholefoods that going be tucked behind my left ear cuz I already taken. I going force myself back into my 35-year-old Calvin Klein jeans cuz I no like nothing come between me and my you-know-what, except Russell (and maybe Shawn). I going decorate my kino with body glitter for that Lucy-in-the-sky-with-diamonds effect. And, last but not the leastest, Love’s Baby Soft perfume cuz innocence is sexier than you think (unless you getting harrassed on the bus by freakin’ psychos and etes). Going be so retro, going be so all about aloha and ohana tomorrow. Cannot wait.

Heavenly yours, Janice Kawehionalani Lee.

*

Dear Jesus:

Who cares about the final vote on Friday, the 8th? The end of the world is already here, and it’s heading towards the Philippines. Forget us, Jesus, we can manage. They need you there more.

Librado Encarnacion, Waihawa.

*

Dear Jesus:

If you’re not going to let the Representatives let us, the people, vote, then we’re not going to pray for you. Fair? Deal? The Mob-ettes outside the Capitol.

*

Dear Jesus:

“Let the people vote! Let the people vote!” Uhm, they already did, and they’re called general and primary elections. What a bunch of nimcompoops! This is an issue of minority civil rights. It cannot be decided by the majority. If it were up to them, U.S. History would be a blank slate. Women wouldn’t be voting right now. Schools and public restrooms would remain segregated. Rosa Parks would still be riding at the back of the bus. African American slaves would, well, still be praying someday for their freedom. Inter-racial marriages would be banned. So, yes, let the people vote and let’s return history back to the black hole.

Gary Kurishege, History Professor, U.H. Community College, Diamond Head Campus.

*

Dear Jesus:

First, I just want to tell You how truly remarkable You are for putting up with all the BS and other blasphemous things that are being said about You lately, especially from the other camp. I wish I had Your patience and tolerance. Second, You are probably aware of this individual (local? Haole?) who is currently collecting letters addressed to you and posting in on his (her?) FB page. His/Her FB page is “Dear Jesus.” It’s the one with the profile pic of a Hawaiian monk seal. These letters, notes, and messages are either in support of or against same-sex marriage. According to him/her, no alteration was done, that they were posted immediately upon receipt. I don’t know what his/her objective is but, to me, these postings achieve nothing except to mock those who are fighting to protect their faith and their constitutional right to freedom of speech. I am also concerned with his/her inclusion of letters from children, many of them expressing their pro-stand on the issue. These children are lost, Jesus. They have fallen out of touch with You. They will grow up on the margins of society, be cast aside and treated like lepers, even prostitutes, addicts, and terrorists. They will lead undesirable lifestyles, participating in unhealthy activities that will certainly lead to their demise. Guide them back to Your temple, Jesus. Let them know hope is inextinguishable. It’s not too late. It’s never too late.

Sincerely, Anna D.

P.S. I have a strong suspicion that this letter collector is a disgruntled kamaaina (Haole?) who used to be a minister or an active member of our ministry.

*

Dear Jesus del Mar:

I am a stovepipe sponge of the phylum porifera, meaning “pore bearer”. To the majority of sea creatures, we are nothing but pores and channels and have been repeatedly accused of making waves because of our phallic shape: thick, long, and open to whatever the tide brings. I am praying because I have fallen in love with a Portuguese from Waimanalo, a man-of-war, that is, also asexual like myself and could reproduce. But I am afraid that the majority of sponges and jellyfishes who have converted to the Kingdom Hall of Animalia are against such union and will want to rob us of our sea-given right. Please do not let them decide.

Praying and poring, S, off of Hanauma Bay.

*

Dear Jesus:

We are now officially back in pre-1954 segregation era. At the Capitol, the mauka or mountainside of the rotunda is for supporters of same-sex marriage; on the makai or seaside is for opponents. Along Beretania Street, supporters can wave at motorists from the left half of the Father Damien statue towards Downtown; the anti from the right half of the Molokai saint’s statue towards Punchbowl. Both sides also have their own entrances to the gallery, as well as separate elevators, Fire Exits, water fountains, and soda vending machines. Likewise for trash cans. Those painted with pink triangles are for pro-equality, and those against it are marked with crosses. During recess, McDonald’s have been kind enough to accommodate both sides. Those in support can dine at the McDonald’s in Fort Street Mall, and those against it can go to the one on Beretania, past Honolulu Academy of Arts. As for parking, those in favor of same-sex marriage can use any metered parking along Richard Street and those opposing it along Punchbowl. Metered parking along South King Street is on a first-come first-serve basis. Do not park at the post office or at the State Building as meters there tend to be unreliable and your cars will be towed. Sadly yours, Dominic Corpuz.

*

Dear Jesus:

2 much H8 n da 808. Peace. Luke.

*

Dear Jesus:

So many frigging drama queens on this island. Old and new, out of and in the closet. Feels like a bad soap opera without a cliffhanger, like Dynasty without Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter. No wonder none of this is televised on MSNBC. With all this drama, bordering on B-rated, we should all take a box of Dramamine (or Ambien) with Kool-Aid and give our legislators a break for once. If Rep. Gene Ward can equate the passing of this bill to 9/11, saying Hawaii would never be the same just as the U.S. was never the same again after 9/11, then I can compare this exhaustive drama to the Jim Jones Guyana tragedy, except we’ll be RIP just for couple days. The one good thing is that we can give our beloved officials some peace and quiet and open air to duke it out amongst themselves. After all, we elected them for this very reason. Who knows? By the time we wake up from our deep slumber, Hawaii might be in for a big surprise. Or not. Marty, Mililani Mauka.

*

Dear Jesus: Kindly thank Speaker Emeritus for taking us on a meandering excursion to Jerusalem, the doctrines of Jesus, the bus stop of silence that’s been installed specifically for him. Mahalo.

*

Dear Jesus:

Just requested Rep. Chris Lee (hunk times ten, and those six-pack abs!) to be my friend on FB. Hope he confirms.

Charlene Kobayashi, 35.

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Dear Jesus:

Are you behind—or an accomplice to—the creation of some of these Hawaii representatives? Please say no. Some of them make the twisted characters in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, and John Waters’ early flicks starring Divine sane and saner. One just out-channeled Ann Coulter, another used the platform to poorly imitate Glenn Close in Damages. Then there’s the wonder duo who should just deactivate: the Hawaiian version of Palin and the Pacific Islander who “received a Third-World education” (his exact words, not mine) who confused democracy with anarchy. Not to forget the legislator who sounds as if he was born out of a bar in Koreamoku. Please say you had no role in their genetic and psychological make-up. Awaiting your YES or NO reply, Allan (two “L’s” followed by an “A.” Allan, not Allen. Allen is Woody, mine is African-American, like Allan Houston, no relation to Whitney, no relation to Eli. The world is small but we’re not all related, you know).

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Dear Jesus:

Regarding Representative Lulu Mae Kahele from the Big Island. First, teach her the proper use of symbolism or metaphor. Her use of a bag of rice to signify a Hawaiian cultural staple is just wrong and an insult to the Hawaiian people she claims to belong to. Shouldn’t it be a bag of poi, kalua pork, pipikaula? And, correct me if I’m wrong, Jesus, but isn’t this bill about same-sex marriage equality? What theft for the Hawaiians is she talking about? Is she operating on Hawaii Standard Time or still trapped in the vog zone of Kona? If my friend Ku’ualoha, who is Hawaiian, goes into convulsions because of Rep. Lulu Mae Kahele’s convoluted definition of Hawaiian culture and identity, I’m going to blame it on her. Also, remind her to stop saying she supports equality and the LGBT community, because, obviously, she doesn’t. And if I can just make one last suggestion, remind her she is a representative in Hawaii State Capitol and not at the Kodak Theater attending an Academy Awards ceremony. She turned her argument into a tireless Oscar “thank you” speech. Was she even nominated? For what film? “A Day in the Life of Sam, the Spam?”

Just my two cents, Lucky Machado, Ph.D, English Renaissance Lit.

*

Dear Jesus:

Please take Representative Sam Judas with you. Each and every silver strand of her mullet. We never asked her to be our poster child. Instead, she has turned her back on us to favor what she calls her “conscience”. Did her conscience tell her to deny people like us equal rights, too? Obviously and, obviously, she was trying to cater to the hysterical group disrupting the legal proceedings from outside the Capitol. Well, we don’t need her, and people like her, in our community and in our struggle for equality. So wish her the best of luck from us, as she starts her equality-robbing existence in her new community. She can rest assure she won’t be invited to any of our ceremonies, celebrations, and cookouts.

Signed, 500 members of LOVE, Lesbians Organizing Vanguards of Eros.

*

Dear Jesus:

END OF THE WORLD x 2, 30 YES’s, 19 NO’s, 2 CHICKEN SHITs.

Lala Bushwell, E.R., Queen’s Medical Center.

*

Dear Jesus:

I have been up since midnight, watching and listening to lawmakers vote yes or against a bill that will determine a part of my future. It is disturbing and infuriating to have what should’ve been my right in the first place be questioned, weighed, supported, divided, even manipulated. Fortunately, there were more than enough representatives who voted (a few with reservations) to grant me that right for the first time tonight. It is now 3:30 in the morning. There is still time left to pick up the remains of a dream and let it roam with other mysteries before it returns back to me to whisper, “There, there, almost there, you and I.” Goodnight for now.

Yours Truly.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

zamora linmark

R. ZAMORA LINMARK‘s latest poetry collection, Pop Verite, is forthcoming from Hanging Loose Press. He has just completed his third novel titled These Books Belong to Ken Z. He is the Distinguished Visiting Associate Professor in Creative Writing at University of Miami and is currently working on a sequel to his first novel Rolling The R’s which, in 2016, will be twenty years old.

[Header Photo: ‘Aloha’ (CC) Robert Couse-Baker / @ Flickr]

from issue #6: ‘Sissa’ by Jon A. Jackson

SISSA: An extract from Not So Dead

by JON A. JACKSON

 April 14, 1931

THIS IS A STORY told me by Miss Harriet (Sissa) Hartsfield, of Butte, Montana, when she was about 35 years old. I composed this from memory, within an hour of the relation of the story, when Miss Hartsfield had left. I didn’t take notes during the telling, but I don’t believe I left anything out and this seems to be just what she said. —B.S.

I was just sixteen when old Mrs. St. Ives carried me up to Montana. I was born in Texas, in the town of Singletree. My Mama was housekeeper for Mrs. St. Ives.  So when Mrs. St. Ives went to visit her son, Mr. Gaylord St. Ives, not long after his marriage, she got the notion that he needed a proper housekeeper. My Mama must have told her that I was trained for that, because she took me up there and I have never been back to Texas, since. I can’t say that I care about that, except that I only saw my Mama one more time before she died, when she came up to Butte a few years later, with old Mrs. St. Ives.  She died two years ago, and I feel just awfully sad that we never got to spend any more time together than we did. She was a good Christian woman, she had a good life with people who loved her and who she loved, and I know she is in Heaven now.

The thing that most sticks in my mind about that journey from Texas, which was the first time I ever rode on a train, is that the minute I got to Butte it seemed like Mrs. Hazel St. Ives didn’t want me around. But it must not have been clear to the old lady, Mr. St. Ives’s mother, because she left me there after she went home a month later, and I don’t think she knew what was likely to become of me.  She must have thought I would work into the job of keeping Mr. St. Ives’s house. I don’t think she would have left me there if she didn’t think I was going to work out.

That was in 1911, about a week before Christmas, when we got there. Lord, was it cold! Some say it was twenty-below, but it was colder than I knew it could be. The train had to run very slow at times because they had to heat the switches so that they would work, so I was told. I could see the men out on the tracks, building little fires. When old Mrs. St. Ives left it felt even colder.

I don’t know why Mrs. Hazel didn’t take to me. Some girls I got to know later would smile and shake their heads, as if I was silly. They said it was plain as day why she didn’t want me around. It was all about Mr. St. Ives.  But I never hardly saw Mr. St. Ives until after his mother left and the very next day he took me downtown to Ma Ling’s house.  I should have known then, but I was only sixteen and I’d been brought up proper in my Mama’s house down in Singletree, a good church girl. I went all the way through the eighth grade and always did well, but they don’t tell you about these kinds of things in a country school, or Sunday School.

But even a good church girl knows something, especially if she’s a Negro. My Mama told me some things, and my aunties, and my girl friends, what they call “the facts of life.” So I guess I understood a little bit about what was going on. And to tell you the truth, it scared me to death. But it was kind of exciting, too.

Ma Ling was a Chinawoman. She was the first Chinese person I ever knew. She was always very good to me, but I guess most people would say she was not a good woman.  She owned a whorehouse, but I didn’t know it was a whorehouse, right yet. It wasn’t on Venus Alley, downtown, but it was in an apartment building close by. Let me say right now, Ma Ling did not let anything happen to me. I mean nothing at all. On the way down there I sat in the back of Mr. St. Ives’s car and he never said a word until we got down there and then all he said was I had to stay there, it was the best he could do for now, and if I needed anything, I should just ask Ma Ling. So I just stayed there. Ma Ling didn’t tell me much. She was a close-mouthed woman at all times, and Mr. St. Ives must have told her to keep her mouth shut. Maybe he didn’t know himself what he was doing. So while it was freezing and the wind was howling outside and you couldn’t hardly see down the mountain, I just stayed in Ma Ling’s place with nothing to do but read magazines and books and sit and fret.

There were several other girls in that place, some of them quite a bit older, grown-up women, but I didn’t visit with all of them, just three or four. They all seemed to me to be very pretty, even beautiful. They wore mostly fancy bedroom clothes, dressing gowns and kimonos and chemises, but sometimes they got dressed up very elegantly, when they were going out. One of them that I got to know was an Indian girl, about eighteen, named Veronica, and the two others that I mostly talked to were white girls, Mary Lou and JoBeth. Veronica was from Montana, from somewhere “up on the High Line,” she said. She was a Cree Indian. Mary Lou was a jolly blonde girl from Seattle and JoBeth was a skinny dark-haired girl from California, from a town I never heard of, but I think it was in the mountains, where a wagon train of settlers got snowed in and ate each other. The others I didn’t see much and never got to know them. They came and went. They were all whores, but I didn’t know that, at first.

I guess I must have known what a whore was already, but it wasn’t real clear to me. I had heard of the Whore of Babylon, in church, but I didn’t see any connection to these girls. But I soon understood. The girls I knew had little apartments, not like mine, which had a parlor and a bedroom with its own bath.  They lived in single bedrooms and shared a bath down the hall. But they entertained men in another room, any of several rooms on the other side of the building.

What is there to say? I know what it was all about now, but it’s hard to recollect just how much I knew then. I believe I knew more than I was supposed to know, for a good little church girl. I didn’t know everything, but I knew about boys and girls and babies, and whatever Veronica and Mary Lou and JoBeth told me, it seemed like I already knew it. But maybe I’m just not remembering it right.

Anyway, I was quite a few weeks in that house, being bored, even working around the house for something to do, cleaning, dusting, washing up, do some sewing, helping out, even though Ma Ling said I didn’t have to do any of that. And all the time I didn’t know what was going to happen and I was wondering if my Mama knew where I was, even. I didn’t have any letters from her, or from my aunties, and I was very worried about what was going to become of me and what they would be thinking. I didn’t write anything, or even ask to. I was too afraid. Ma Ling told me to be patient, everything would be all right.

And then, one night, Mr. St. Ives came. He was about thirty-five, a handsome man, tall and slim. He was always so very well-dressed. He had kind of a dark look, like he was frowning all the time, and sometimes he could seem like he was mad, or sneering. But that night he was drunk. Not falling down drunk, but not steady on his feet, neither. And he was talking loud. I heard him talking to Ma Ling. Her apartment, which was quite large and grand, was right before mine, directly down the hall. Anybody coming into that building would have to go by her apartment and down a narrow passage to get to my own rooms. I imagine that is why I was in those rooms.

I heard Mr. St. Ives talking and I went and cracked the door and peeped and I saw him out at the end of the hall, next to the big staircase in the middle of the entrance lobby. My hallway was dark, as always, so I knew he wouldn’t see me. Ma Ling was standing inside the door to her rooms, so I couldn’t see her. He was leaning on the doorway with his arm outstretched, talking into the opening, arguing, and sometimes he would lurch back and lean against the staircase. He was saying that he wanted to see me, that “it was time.” But Ma Ling seemed to be arguing against it. I couldn’t hear her words, but I caught the sing-song of her voice. I think she was telling him to go away. And she must have tried to close her door, but he lunged forward and held it open.

“Well, by God,” he bellowed, like an old bull, “I’ll just take the little bitch out of here, then!”

But then, suddenly, Ma Ling’s hand reached out and pulled him into the rooms and the door closed and nothing happened. I finally closed my door and locked it and sat in a chair for a long time. I tried to read. Ma Ling and some of the girls had given me some novels to read, to help pass the time. The one I was trying to read was A Girl of the Limberlost, which was about a young girl in Indiana who catches moths. The girls thought I should like it, but it seemed very strange to me. Anyway, I put it down. I couldn’t read now. But nothing happened and finally I went to bed.

The next morning, Ma Ling came to see me and said I must be prepared to entertain Mr. St. Ives. He would come to see me, but she didn’t know when, how soon. She asked me if I was a virgin. A week or two before this, I would have been embarrassed by the question. Now, since I had talked to Veronica and Mary Lou and JoBeth, I was almost embarrassed to admit that I was. Ma Ling was not going to take my word for it, however. She insisted on examining me. Now I was embarrassed. But she was the kind of woman who doesn’t make any big show of things. She was firm, careful, and businesslike. That calmed me. She was satisfied after her examination and she gave me some advice.

“You don’t know what to do,” she said. “That’s okay. He expect that. Do you not want to give in?”

I didn’t know what she meant. “Give in… what?” I said.

Ma Ling suddenly became angry. “I will not have it,” she said. “If you refuse, I will not have it in my house. He cannot make me.”

I was afraid now. I thought she meant that I might have to go. But where? I had heard the girls talk about being “out on the street.” They talked about it with fear. I wasn’t sure what it meant, but if I had to go out on the street… It was so cold! So bitterly cold! I would die.

I think Ma Ling realized that I had misunderstood. I was scared, she could tell. She said something about ”rape.” She would not tolerate rape.

I knew what rape was, or I thought I did. Mama had talked about rape. I don’t mean she talked to me about it, but I used to hear her talking to my aunties about it, and her friends. Seemed like they talked about it a lot. It was a serious thing. It was against the law, but it was also very bad for the girl who was raped. Rape was very bad, awful. It was painful and it caused bleeding. That’s what I understood, but I didn’t know what was involved, obviously. A girl was always in danger of it, it seemed like. I had an idea that some girls got raped and it was their own fault, something they did that was wrong.  ”She brought it on herself,” was what I heard. This was an idea that my girlfriends down in Singletree talked about often. I wasn’t sure how it applied to me, now. I wasn’t doing anything wrong, I didn’t think. I wasn’t doing anything at all.

I told Ma Ling I wasn’t sure, but I would try to be good and not be raped. But Ma Ling looked at me and she just shook her head. I was scared, but not unwilling to do what she thought I should do. I wasn’t refusing to entertain Mr. St. Ives.

Ma Ling was still upset, but she said maybe it would be okay. Maybe it would be for the best. She told me that Mr. St. Ives was a very rich man, very powerful. “If he wants you he will have you,” she said. But she warned me that men are stupid. She said, sometimes a man like Mr. St. Ives, if he didn’t know how to get what he wanted by talking, by acting like gentleman, like with his wife, he might get tough. He might take what he wanted by force. “You don’t want him to act like that,” she told me. I could get hurt, if he got angry. “You got to help him to get what he wants,” she said. But then she warned me: “Remember! Don’t act like you already know! He don’t like that.” I was so confused, I had no idea what she was talking about.

So Ma Ling showed me how to act: to be shy, to resist a little but not too much, to not seem knowing, to let him show me what he wanted, to be patient, but if he got confused I should lead him on without seeming to. This was the way. And she showed me just what might happen. She would be nearby, just in case. I was not to worry.

But I was very anxious and naturally I asked the girls. Veronica laughed. It was easy, she said. “Don’t you worry. He’s got his mind on one thing. He won’t notice what you’re doing, as long as you don’t scream and run away.” And Mary Lou said if I was lucky and he wasn’t drunk it would be all right, no problem, just like Veronica said, but JoBeth thought it would be better if he was a little drunk. They argued about that. In the end they thought that there was nothing I could do about that. I couldn’t act like a professional and offer him whiskey. I’d just have to wait and see how he showed up.

Two nights later he returned. Ma Ling brought him to my door, then left. I was alarmed at that, but she had told me she would be just outside the door, just in case. He came in and sat down, then got up and wandered about, looking at things. He said he was just checking on me, to see how I was getting along. He asked me if I was comfortable. I said I was. He said he had heard from my mother. I was so excited! What did she write? But he said it was just that she missed me, she was thinking about me, she was well. I should write to her and tell her that I was all right. Did I have a pen, paper? Stamps? Did I know how to write?

Oh, yes, I assured him that I could write good. But, I told him that I didn’t have any stationery or pens or stamps. And he said he would see that I had some. I thanked him but I said I didn’t know what I should write. Could I tell her that I was staying with Ma Ling? Could I tell her about Veronica and Mary Lou and JoBeth?

Oh, God no, that wouldn’t do, he said. He seemed to be confused, or worried, standing there trying to think. Then he said I would be up at the house, eventually. He didn’t know how soon, but pretty soon. In the meantime, there was no point in making my Mama worry, or his Mama, for that matter, ‘cause she was bound to hear about it from my Mama if I said anything. He said that under his breath, almost, but I understood and I nodded to let him know. He seemed grateful.

He explained that his wife, Miz Hazel, he called her, was a bit high strung. It had nothing to do with me, really, but with his mother and Miz Hazel’s feelings about her own house and having her own people about her. I told him I understood. He was glad to see that I was such a smart and mature young lady, he said. He was happy that we could talk so comfortably. He asked if I minded if he took off his overcoat. I said no, of course not. Then he sat down with the coat folded in his lap. Pretty soon he fished out a little leather-covered flask and asked me if he could bother me for a glass. There was a little room back by the bath, which I called my kitchen. It was no bigger than a closet, hardly, but there was a sink and some cabinets and little table where I sometimes ate the dinner that Ma Ling would have her servant bring me. I had some nice little crystal glasses that Ma Ling had provided. I ran and got Mr. St. Ives a glass.

When I got back, he had set the coat aside and was holding a cigar. He asked if I minded if he smoked. I said no, of course not, and fetched him a saucer to use for an ashtray. He poured himself some whiskey and lit his cigar and began to talk.

That night he told me about growing up down in Texas. He knew the little village of Singletree very well, he said. He had often ridden over that way. There was a famous well over that way, he recalled. Did I know it? I must. I told him I did, of course. It was the artesian well, or spring, at Nahor. He used to go bird hunting over that way, he said, and he would water his horse at the spring. He laughed in a shy way and said some of his friends used to flirt with the girls who came to get water at the well for their houses. Did I ever go to the well? I told him I went to the well, to get water for my Mama’s house. He said he supposed the boys still came to the spring, to flirt with the girls. Did I ever go with any of those boys? Oh, no, I said, my Mama would have whipped me. He said that was good. My Mama was right.

He knew right where our house was, in Singletree, near the railroad tracks. “I believe your daddy was a railroad man, wasn’t he?” he asked. I said I guessed that was so, but I hadn’t known him. He had died when I was little. Mr. St. Ives said he knew my whole family, my Daddy, who he said was a fine man, a good worker. Uncle Dub, he called him. It was a bad accident that killed him, he said. He knew my older brothers, who were in the army and served honorably, and my older sisters. He knew their names. And my aunties. He remembered Aunt Sister, especially. She was the pretty one. Everyone called her Sissa and I looked very much like her. Would I mind if he called me Sissa?

I laughed. I’d called her Aunt Sissa, too. It seemed funny that he would call me Sissa. But I said he could, of course.

He told me how he missed Texas, especially in the morning. He had strong memories of morning in Texas, of the way the light was. Especially in the fall, the late fall, November. “It’s not the same light here,” he said. “Here the light comes over the mountain. Out there, it gradually grows, covering the sky, and then the sun just pops up out of the earth.” He went on about that. How the sun rises out of the earth, gathering its strength, gradually growing like a symphony orchestra, almost. It was like poetry, the way he said it. I had never heard a symphony orchestra, at that time, but I seemed to hear it, the strings, quiet at first, then getting louder, and finally the horns joining in. And then a great crash of the cymbals. It was thrilling to hear him talk about it.  But all of a sudden, he got up and put on his coat and left. Just like that, without another word!

I was a little disappointed, to be honest. I had gotten over my fears when he turned out to be so friendly and all, and then I got to remembering what Ma Ling had coached me about and had gotten myself all ready for something different, but it hadn’t happened. I thought, he doesn’t like me. I wondered if it was because I was a Negro.

The girls were amazed when I told them. I made up some things, I admit. I said he hugged me and he kissed me, but he hadn’t even touched me. I couldn’t pretend that anything else had happened. They said that he was just shy, that he would be back.

And they were right. He came back the next night. He started right in where he had left off, about being a boy in Texas, going out in the morning to the horse barns. He loved the smell of the barns, of the horses. He had some horses here, he said, but he had to keep them at a ranch that was miles away and he couldn’t just go and visit them whenever he wanted, not every morning.  He grew up on army posts, he told me. His father had fought in the War Between the States, on the Union side, and after the war had risen to the rank of colonel. I knew there was a Fort near Singletree, but we always just called it the fort. I never knew the name. And his daddy was the colonel, the commander of the fort!

Mr. St. Ives came almost every night for two weeks and he would sit and reminisce while he sipped his whiskey and smoked a cigar. He really seemed to like me, to like my company. Maybe it was because I was from Texas, from his home, and understood what he was talking about. The girls laughed when I told them that. They said it was because of my bosom. Well, it was true, I had developed early. And it was true that Mr. St. Ives would stop and look at me from time to time and shake his head and say, “You’re so mature, Sissa.” But I honestly don’t believe he meant that I was mature that way. I think he meant that I understood him so well. But the girls laughed at that and said, Why do you think his wife wouldn’t have you in the house?

One night, Mr. St. Ives said he felt so bad about keeping me up to all hours, that a pretty young thing like me needed her beauty sleep. I said I was fine, that I enjoyed hearing him talk about “down home”. But he insisted that I go to bed. He told me I should go put on my nightie and he’d come in and tuck me in when I was ready. So I went and slipped into my nightgown in the bathroom. I thought that something would happen now. But when I got in bed I didn’t know what to do next, so I just lay there. Pretty soon he came and knocked on the door and I said, Come in. And he tiptoed in and made a show of tucking me in. Then he kissed me on the forehead, said goodnight and left.

After that, each evening he would sit and drink and smoke and talk and then tell me to go get ready and be sure to call out when I was ready. And after a couple of nights of this he said he thought he would just lie down next to me and talk a bit until I fell asleep. He would lie on the bed fully dressed, and talk until quite late. The first couple of nights I pretended to fall asleep and he would get up and tiptoe out. But then I got where his voice droning on and on in the darkness actually put me to sleep. And finally, after a couple of nights of this, he said it was kind of cold and did I mind if he just slipped under the covers. I said I wouldn’t mind so he took off his shoes and got in beside me, fully dressed. And that night, at long last, he began to touch me, asking if I minded if he did this, and then that. And, oh, what a long exhausting process it was, of fumbling, touching my breasts, my belly and hips, of kicking off his own clothes, then promising not to hurt me, of oh so careful positioning, and at last, of a bit of pain and finally relief.

Something else was happening, about the same time. I can’t be sure now if it was before Mr. St. Ives first came to visit me at Ma Ling’s, or if it was a week or two later. But about that time another man came to see me. It was a policeman. He was a very tall Negro man, one of the biggest men I ever saw, named Eberhard Mason. First he came to see Ma Ling. She brought him to see me. In my presence, she told him that I was simply a guest, a young girl who had been brought to her by a respectable man who wished to find a safe place for me to stay while he made arrangements for my employment. There was no question of my working in the house, she told him, in her broken lingo. It was just that it was difficult to find a proper temporary residence for a girl of my sort. Meaning a Negro, of course. The policeman could understand that, she was sure. The policeman seemed half-convinced, but he said he’d have to question me, privately.

Ma Ling withdrew. Officer Mason got right to the point. “Who brought you here?” When I told him what I knew I could see he understood the situation, right off. It was a touchy business, he told me. Mr. St. Ives was, as Ma Ling had said, a very powerful man. He worked for the Company and the Company pretty much ran Butte. They had a lot of influence, he said. They had gotten the mayor run out of office and they had their own men in the police. But they didn’t control him. That was almost the only thing they didn’t run, not yet, anyway.

He asked me how old I was. “I want the truth,” he said, and looked me in the eye very sternly, like a preacher. I told him I was sixteen. I couldn’t tell if he believed that. Finally, he said, he’d have to contact my parents. I told him about my Mama and about my Daddy being dead. I told him I was afraid my Mama would be mad, or upset, if she knew what had happened. But Officer Mason said he would check up with authorities in Singletree and find out what he could. He couldn’t promise that my Mama wouldn’t hear about it, but he would try to be discreet, and he’d warn the Singletree police about saying anything, but he couldn’t guarantee what they might say or do. Then he went away, saying he would be back to talk to me again as soon as he learned anything.

I was scared, but I didn’t say anything about Officer Mason’s visit to Mr. St. Ives, and I don’t believe that Ma Ling said anything. I had already written two letters to my Mama, with Mr. St. Ives standing right there to see what I wrote and even telling me what to say. It wasn’t the truth. I said I was working in the house and everything was nice, I missed her and my sisters and brothers and Singletree and all, but the folks up here treated me nice and I was happy. And Mr. St. Ives would take the letters to mail them. I didn’t say what house I was in so, in a way, it wasn’t a black lie, just a white one. That’s how I thought, then.

Officer Mason came back the next night, and every night, after that, in the early evening, before Mr. St. Ives would come. He told me to call him Eberhard, his first name. He liked me, I could tell. At first, he was just interested in finding out about my “situation.” He was very patient, very gentle. He soon got it out of me that Mr. St. Ives had not “touched me,” as he put it. But what, he wondered, were his intentions? I couldn’t say. At least, not then. It looked to me like all the man wanted to do was talk. I told him all about the late night conversations about Mr. St. Ives’s boyhood in Texas.

Eberhard was puzzled. He didn’t seem totally convinced, but what could he do? The man was evidently trying to do something on my behalf, trying to ease a difficult domestic situation. Eberhard was like the girls, he said with a smile that he understood why Mrs. St. Ives had refused to have me in the house. But he said, he was surprised that Mr. St. Ives continued to visit me. If Mrs. St. Ives ever found out, he said, “there would be hell for him in his own house.” He warned me about mentioning his visits to Mr. St. Ives, that it would make him angry. “Better to wait until I hear something from down in Texas,” he said. So each evening, Eberhard would discuss with me what had happened the previous night, what I thought might happen next, and what would be best to do for me.

All of this attention made me even more excited. From being terribly lonely and bored, at first feeling abandoned, not knowing what would become of me, I had gotten pretty used to the house. I still didn’t know a thing about Butte, because I was never let out, except to take the air in the back yard, or walk around the block with Ma Ling, or sometimes go with her to visit some of her Chinese friends. It was still bitterly cold out, but sometimes it would be sunny and I would see children playing in the streets—they were often poor children, not very warmly dressed, but they didn’t seem to mind. They stared at me. I think there were not a lot of Negroes in Butte. As for the girls, I talked to them a lot, of course, and learned about their activities, about their gentlemen callers. But I was not quite wanting to join them in their activities and anyway I understood that I was in some kind of special limbo, thanks to Mr. St. Ives’s interest.

The girls were quite drawn into my situation. I now had two men very interested in me—they knew, naturally, about Eberhard’s visits. Of the two, there was no question that Eberhard was the more interesting. For one thing, he was not so old as Mr. St. Ives, being about thirty. Also, he was a man of my own race—I felt that I could talk with him—and he was very handsome, very attractive indeed. He was the most handsome man I had ever seen.

They were also thrilled about Mr. St. Ives. To them, he was the most interesting, I guess, because he was well-known, and powerful. I was also attracted to Mr. St. Ives. He was elegant, well-dressed, very well spoken. He was from my own part of the world and he knew my family. He spoke about them, often. I was grateful that he was helping me to write letters to my Mama—not that I couldn’t have written them, I had done well in school, but he knew just what to tell her. He would describe some of my duties at the house. “Don’t worry, it’s what you will be doing, maybe soon,” he explained. As strange as it seems, I had gotten used to all this. Even a child soon adapts to strange situations.

I am pretty certain that it was just after the first time that Mr. St. Ives finally made love to me that Eberhard came to me with information he’d gotten from Texas. It may have been a day or two later, but it was pretty close. The fact was, after that first time, the conversations about Texas pretty much stopped and Mr. St. Ives would want to go to bed with me as soon as he arrived. Perhaps later we would lie in bed and he’d talk a bit. But now, Eberhard said he’d learned that I wasn’t sixteen, I was only fifteen. That made a big difference, he said. I was only a child, legally, and I shouldn’t be in the custody of Ma Ling.

I insisted I was sixteen, but Eberhard didn’t believe me. He said he had good evidence, from the state of Texas, that I was only fifteen. If this was true, and he was sure it was, any man who touched me would be guilty of rape. I was horrified. I knew I had been doing something that was probably wrong, but I couldn’t believe it was rape. I didn’t want to be raped. I didn’t want to be one of those kinds of girls.

And then, Eberhard knew that I had been with Mr. St. Ives.  He was furious. He said he would have to talk to the judge. I pleaded with him. I was scared more than I had been. Ma Ling would throw me out on the street, I told him. He thought that was probably so. Ma Ling would be scared that she, too, would be brought into the rape case, for providing the accommodation for debauchery, as he put it. The house might be closed down. All the girls would be out on the street. I was thunderstruck. Oh, please, please, please, I begged him, don’t do it.

I could see that Eberhard was moved. He said he would have to think about it. Maybe he could talk to Mr. St. Ives. That scared me even more. I knew Mr. St. Ives would be furious. I had seen his face get dark, sometimes, if he talked about things that upset him. That was when he talked about the miners and about “Reds.” He was not a man I wanted to anger.

Something happened then. First, the following night neither Mr. St. Ives nor Eberhard came to visit. All of a sudden the house was silent. Ma Ling came and looked at me, but she didn’t say anything, just shook her head and went away. None of the girls came out of their rooms. When I went to visit their doors were closed and no one answered when I knocked or called. A girl who worked for Ma Ling, a scullery maid they called her, brought me some food. Her eyes were very big. All she would tell me was that there was big trouble. Then she ran away.

The next night, Mr. St. Ives came and got me. It was still very cold, very snowy. He had a couple of men with him. He seemed very business-like. He told me I must move from this house. It wasn’t a proper place for me, he said. He told the two men to pack up my things. Then he put on my coat and took me away to a little house down the hill from the city.

Now Mr. St. Ives came every night. I lived by myself in the little house, which was nice. He would bring me nice things. Furniture, groceries, clothes. Things got a little rough, at times. He sometimes got angry with me. He would get drunk. He told me that Mason had died. I was upset, then he got angry with me. He said, “That son of a bitch told people he was going to marry you!” He demanded to know if we had married. When I said no, he said I’d lied to him, had plotted behind his back. He was drunk and he slapped me in the face. I was shocked, then furious. I told him to leave. But then he raped me.

Later, I learned that his wife had died. Then he quit coming to see me. At first, he just stayed away a few days. Then he’d come and apologize and everything would be nice. But he’d get drunk and he’d drag me to the bed.

Along about this time I began to realize that something was wrong. I wasn’t having my monthlies any more. I went to Ma Ling and she told me that she could help me get rid of my problem, but I was scared. I didn’t want to do it. And when Mr. St. Ives started coming back it wasn’t long before he found out. That was big trouble then. He was sure the baby wasn’t his, but I told him it had to be his. I don’t think he believed me. He just quit coming by.

Ma Ling was so kind. She got the mid-wife to come to me when it was my time. And after the baby was born she would come and show me how to take care of it… my little Deborah, a beautiful, beautiful child. But she warned me. Mr. St. Ives would never, never accept my child. He would throw me out on the street, she said. And sure enough, by and by some men came and said I had to leave the house.

What could I do? Mr. St. Ives never came around. I didn’t know how to get in touch with him, even. But the men came and told me to pack up my clothes and they took me up to Ma Ling’s. Ma Ling was kind, but she said now I’d have to go to work. I was old enough, she said. But she could not take in the baby. It was no place for a child. The other girls were on my side and pleaded with her. They all loved little Deborah. But Ma Ling said she didn’t dare keep the child. Mr. St. Ives would be angry and there was no telling what he would do. And I thought to myself, it was like King Herod and the innocent children of Bethlehem, like I’d read in the Bible.

The hardest thing I ever did was write to my Mama in Texas and tell her the whole truth. Mama and old Mrs. St. Ives came up a week later. There was a terrible to-do, my Mama told me, when Mrs. St. Ives and Mr. St. Ives got in an argument. In the end, though, Mama and Mrs. St. Ives took Deborah back to Texas with them. That was the last time I ever saw my Mama. But she took good care of Deborah and Mrs. St. Ives paid for her to go to school, for which I am grateful and give thanks to the Lord.

This is all that Miss Hartsfield told me on this occasion. —B.S.

Later: some problems here. Originally, I’d heard that Sissa and Mason were only betrothed. Then I heard that they had been married by a Baptist preacher in Centerville. —B.S.

June 12, 1933.
Sissa says she did marry Mason. She says the baby was his, but she foolishly thought that it would be better if St. Ives thought Deborah was his, that he wouldn’t harm the child and might even provide for her. Her biggest mistake, she says.
I wonder if she even knows who the father was. B.S.

July 1, 1934.
I showed ms. to Sissa. Possibly mistake. She admits she left some things out. I think especially about the incidents around the marriage. I found a marriage license recorded in Whitehall! But didn’t say anything to Sissa. Q? When could baby have been conceived? Insists the baby, Deborah, was Mason’s child. Says she was pregnant when St. Ives moved her to the house on Walleye St. B.S.

Nov. 36—She has seen Deborah! Beautiful girl, in college, it seems. St. Ives was away, on trip to Chile. Sissa went to Chicago, met D. I agree to act as her postman.—B.S.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JON A. JACKSON is the author of the Detective Sergeant Mulheisen Mysteries. He tells us about himself and his novel-in-progress, Not So Dead: “I was born in Detroit before WW2, then spent my early years on a farm upstate in Michigan, before the family returned to the big city. I served in the Air Force mainly in the Detroit area and went to college there. Eventually, I moved to Montana and I’m still here, more than forty years later. But Detroit is still present in my mind… in fact, that Detroit only exists in my mind, now. But I have a great love for Montana and this novel, as well as its precursor, Go By Go [Dennis McMillan Publications, 1998], are set in the unique western city of Butte, a kind of alpine Detroit, previously exploited by Hammett in Red Harvest. I’m hoping to publish this Butte novel before too much longer.”

Contrappasso, Issue #6 – launching in September 2014

Cover image "DSC02603" (CC) Vincent Lou @ Flickr, altered from original

Cover image “DSC02603” (CC) Vincent Lou @ Flickr, altered from original

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New Issue. New Authors. Contrappasso 6 is launching soon! This issue explores still more possibilities in international writing, bringing together work from nine countries in four languages, by more than twenty authors who are appearing in the journal for the first time.

Their work leads from snowy streets in Montana to packed train stations in Tokyo, from Hong Kong horse races to Sicilian passion-plays, from the Coal River Valley to Manila shopping malls, and from an iron lung to The Raft of the Medusa.

This issue features interviews with Australian poet Judith Beveridge, veteran American crime writer Lawrence Block and Filipino novelist Jose Dalisay. It presents new fiction by Japanese novelist Mitsuyo Kakuta (translated by Aoi Matsushima), Chilean Álvaro Bisama (translated by Megan McDowell) and from the USA, Jon A. Jackson and R. Zamora Linmark. The poets are Elizabeth Smither, Iain Britton and Stephen Oliver (New Zealand), Flora Delalande (France), Penny Florence (UK), Ouyang Yu (China/Australia) and Richard James Allen, Stuart Barnes, Jamie Grant, Siobhan Hodge, Frank Russo and Les Wicks (Australia).

Watch this website to sample the work this all-new ensemble of writers. They travel far.

The Editors

 

 

from issue #1: ‘The Magic Streets of Pittsburgh: An Interview With Lester Goran’ (Part 1 of 3)

Here again is the first part of Matthew Asprey’s extensive interview with the late American novelist Lester Goran (you can click on through all three parts). The interview appeared in Contrappasso issue #1 (August 2012) alongside an unpublished Goran story, ‘Don’t I Know You?’. Contrappasso was honoured to publish two further pieces by Goran – a short story called ‘1908: The King of a Rainy Country’ in issue #3 (August 2013), and his memoir of Charles Willeford in the special Noir Issue just two months ago. The Willeford piece was the last published work to appear during Goran’s lifetime.

Contrappasso Magazine: International Writing

PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3

[LESTER GORAN was born in Pittsburgh in 1928. In 1960, reviewing The Paratrooper of Mechanic Avenue, the New Yorker declared Goran had “the vitality and true perspective of a born novelist… [his] first novel gives reason for rejoicing.” As of 2012, Goran has published eight novels, a memoir, and three short story collections including Tales From The Irish Club, a New York Times Notable Book of 1996.

In September 2008 I travelled to the University of Miami in Coral Gables where Goran is a Professor of English. I had the opportunity to observe his weekly creative writing class. From 1978 to 1988 he taught this class with Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer. Goran also translated many of the stories to be found in Singer’s late collections The Image (1985) and The Death of Methuselah (1988). Goran memorialised their sometimes…

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from issue #2: ‘Safe, Reliable, Courteous’ by Mimi Lipson

arizona

SAFE, RELIABLE, COURTEOUS by Mimi Lipson

KITTY FALLS into a deep, instant sleep outside San Diego as the bus labors up the El Cajon pass. The whine of the engine invades her dreams. She’s trapped in the cargo hold of an airplane. She’s engulfed in a swarm of insects. She’s crawling on hands and knees through an air-conditioned tunnel.

When she fights her way back to consciousness, she finds herself wedged into a fetal position with her head jammed into the carpet-covered wall. It’s still dark out, and the bus is idling somewhere. She sits up and looks out the window. They’re in a concrete bay outside a depot. A line of people waits under the fluorescent lights: a young woman holding a sleepy child in pajamas; two box-shaped Mexican men wearing brightly colored knit shirts, their pants sharply creased; and towering over all of them, a skinny white kid with a nylon gym bag. He looks about Kitty’s age, or maybe a few years younger—eighteen or nineteen. He has frizzy, shoulder-length hair. He wears paratrooper pants tucked into engineer boots, and a leather jacket that is much too small for him, exposing several inches above his wrists. The door sighs open and the line shuffles forward. Kitty lies back down and pretends to be asleep, and by the time they reach the interstate she’s drifted off.

When she wakes again, the bus is flooded with light. They are traveling across a high plain. Her neck hurts, and she’s very thirsty, having forgotten to bring anything to drink. She takes a fat paperback out of her backpack: The Executioner’s Song. On the cover is a flat western landscape at sunset. A silhouette of power lines vanishes into darkness. Kitty plans to lose herself in the book while they cross the vast interior of the continent, but now she’s distracted by the glare outside her window. She traces an overpass to a distant town and tries to imagine living in one of the white ranch houses, a mile or so beyond the highway. After a while her eyes go out of focus. She falls asleep again.

*

AN ANGRY VOICE from somewhere in the back of the bus jolts Kitty awake:

“Fuck off, you fucking zombie!”

Another voice, raised to keep up with the first:

“Now that’s a shame. Truly a shame, because the Lord wants you to join him—”

“Leave me alone!”

A boy stands up on the seat in front of her to look. The boy’s mother pulls him down, but she’s staring too.

“He wants you with him in the kingdom of Heaven. All will be forgiven—”

“I didn’t do anything, genius, so why do I need to be forgiven?”

Heads are craned all the way down the aisle, but Kitty doesn’t need to turn around. She knows, from a sullen note in the first voice, that it’s the skinny white guy she’d seen getting on the bus last night. The voices get louder until, finally, the driver pulls onto the shoulder and comes up the aisle, leaning his bulk on every other seat. He looks more bored than irritated.

“If you gentlemen can’t keep it down, you’re both getting put off this bus in Flagstaff. You hear me?”

“I didn’t do anything,” the sullen voice protests. “This clown won’t shut up.”

“Okay, you, come with me.”

The driver puts the skinny kid in the seat next to Kitty and lumbers back up the aisle.

“I fucking hate Christians,” her new seatmate says as the bus merges into the traveling lane. He takes a sketchpad and a pencil out of his gym bag and begins drawing. When the little boy pops up over the seat again, staring at him with frank interest, he says, “Take a picture. It’ll last longer.” Again the boy’s mother yanks him down again. Kitty can see him peering out between the seats. “Kids like me because I’m weird-looking,” her seatmate says. He goes back to his drawing—some kind of futuristic car. He works quickly and expertly, shading with the side of his pencil lead.

The boy stands on his seat again. “Can you draw me something?” he asks. This time his mother leaves him alone.

“Yeah, okay. Do you like dune buggies?”

“I don’t know,” he says shyly.

Kitty’s seatmate draws a dune buggy. And then, on command, a dog and a truck. “Now I’m gonna make something scary,” he says. He draws a skeleton. After considering it for a minute, pencil to lips, he adds a pirate’s hat and a sword, dripping with blood. He tears the sheet off and hands it to the little boy.

“You know what’s scary?” the boy, says. “A bat!”

“Skeletons are scarier than bats,” he says with authority.

“No, bats are scarier.”

He snorts. “You’re nuts.” He puts his drawing pad away.

“Bats bats bats!” sings the boy, and his mother yanks him down again.

In Flagstaff everyone gets off the bus to stretch their legs. Kitty buys some cheese crackers and a soda from the vending machines in the station. Back outside, she finds her seatmate smoking a cigarette. He offers her one, but she shakes her head.

“How far are you going?” she asks.

He’s going to his father’s house in South Jersey, a town called Cherry Hill.

“I’ve heard of that. What’s it like?”

“Cheery Hell,” he says by way of comment.

Actually, she thinks, he’s not weird looking at all. He has classically handsome features: a long, straight nose and hazel eyes, a Dudley Do-Right dimple in his strong chin. There’s motility to his face, though—changing with each new thought. That must be why kids stare at him.

“I’m Kitty,” she says.

“Isaac.” He crushes his cigarette under his boot.

Ten minutes later they’re in their seats waiting for the stragglers to board. A young man in a dark suit gives Isaac a baleful look as he passes. He has short hair, and his face is pink with razor rash and acne.

“Have you heard the good news about Satan?” Isaac asks him in a chipper voice.

*

KITTY SEES A SIGN for the Petrified Forest an hour outside of Flagstaff, but there’s no evidence of it in the landscape. She thought Arizona would look like a Krazy Kat cartoon: buttes and mesas etched with deep orange and blue shadows, undistorted in the dry air, so that they would seem unnaturally close, as if they were passing in slow motion just outside her window and she could reach over and brush them with her hand.

Though the actual scenery is boring—flat and grey, with rubbly hills in the far distance—she doesn’t look away until the sun has crossed the sky. Isaac has been, by turns, napping and drawing. He’s working on another futuristic car now. When he notices Kitty looking, he positions his sketchbook to give her a better view.

“That’s really good,” she says. “It looks like a real industrial drawing.”

“I can draw anything.” It’s not a boast, just a statement of fact. “I was supposed to go to the Art Center in Pasadena. It’s the ultimate school for auto design.”

“What happened?”

“I don’t know. Why bother?”

“I guess so you can design cars?”

“That’s true,” he says, as though it hadn’t occurred to him.

She pulls out her book.

“I read that,” Isaac says. “Gary Gilmore. He kicks ass.”

Kitty has no patience for serial-killer worship. It reminds her of high school boys in Charles Manson shirts.

“A kid offered me ten thousand dollars to kill his brother,” he says. “But I was too much of a pussy.”

She lets it pass. Opens her book and begins, at last, to read.

*

THEY HAVE A HALF HOUR in Gallup to get something to eat. Kitty walks outside the station, hoping to find a store of some kind. She looks up and down the wide street and sees nothing but motels and gas stations, so she gets a cheeseburger at the Burger King in the station and eats it leaning against the wall outside. When she gets on the bus, Isaac’s seat is empty. She climbs over his gym bag and buries her nose in The Executioner’s Song until the motion of the bus breaks her concentration. She scrambles back over his bag and up the aisle yelling, “Wait! Wait!” and the bus comes to a stop again.

The driver is irritated this time. “You got three minutes to get him, Miss, or I’m leaving the both of you here.”

She finds Isaac inside the station, staring at a rack of car magazines.

*

KITTY’S EYES follow the power lines, bobbing rhythmically against the dimming sky. The ground beneath recedes into shadows. After a while it’s too dark to see anything outside. She doesn’t feel like reading, so she turns to Isaac and asks, “Did someone really try to get you to kill his brother?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“Because his brother was an evil thug, that’s why. It’s a long story. You want to hear it?”

“Sure.” She leans back in her seat.

“So, this kid, right, he was a friend of this guy I was hanging around with. His parents died in a car accident and left everything, the house and everything, to him and his brother. But his brother wouldn’t give him any money. Wouldn’t even let him stay in the house. Made him sleep on a lawn chair in the fucking garage and beat on him whenever he tried to get inside. So this kid decided the only way to get the money was if someone killed his brother. He was looking for a stranger, someone who couldn’t be linked to the crime, and, but, also, he, the kid, would be at work and have an alibi. That was his concept. He saw it in a movie—he had a portable TV in the garage. One of those little things with a six inch screen and a handle. It was fucking pathetic. But like I said, I was too much of a pussy.”

Kitty thinks of the phrase scary drifter, but it doesn’t seem to fit Isaac—maybe because he’s so chatty. “Where was this?” she asks.

“El Cajon. Have you ever been to El Cajon? It’s totally beat.”

“Is that where you got on?” she asks, but she knows that can’t be right. It was a big bus depot.

“No, that was Phoenix.”

Kitty wants to keep him talking. “What were you doing in El Cajon?” she asks, and Isaac tells his story.

He graduated from high school last spring, in Cherry Hill, but instead of going to the car design school in Pasadena he drove to Phoenix, which is where his mother lives, in a VW bus that he’d fixed up at the garage where he worked after school. His mother said she could get him a job, but when he got there it turned out the job she had in mind was packing crates in a tile factory for three dollars an hour less than what he was making at the garage. On top of that, he got kicked out of his mother’s house after only two weeks.

“Why did she throw you out?”

“Who knows? Her mongoloid boyfriend probably wanted me out so he could fuck her on the couch.”

So he took a room in a wino hotel. Then he saw an ad in the back of the paper: the National Parks Service was hiring seasonal workers. He went out to Sequoia and got a job washing dishes at a big lodge. He had a room in the dormitory, but his roommate got them both thrown out for selling acid. After that, they drove the VW to San Francisco and parked it in the Haight and slept in Isaac’s bus. They met some “really nice fags” who fed them and let them take showers and didn’t even hit on them or anything. But then Isaac’s friend got picked up for shoplifting a hairdryer from Woolworth.

“A hairdryer?”

“Yeah.” Isaac snorts. “He was really into his hair.”

The cops told them they’d be arrested for vagrancy if they saw Isaac’s VW in the Haight again. Isaac’s friend was from El Cajon, and he said they could probably get jobs there. But El Cajon was totally beat. There was nothing to do there but kill that other guy’s brother, and Isaac was too much of a pussy. So he drove back to Phoenix because he couldn’t think of what else to do. He got a job washing dishes at a Denny’s and moved back into the wino hotel. But then his VW bus shit the bed, and he got disgusted with the whole situation and called his old boss at the garage in New Jersey, who wired him money for a bus ticket.

“I don’t think my dad’s gonna let me move back in, though. He’s still pissed off about the Art Center. I’ll figure something out when I get there.”

*

THEY HAVE an hour and a half layover in Albuquerque. Outside the depot, Kitty feels the October cold for the first time and wishes she had a warm coat. It’s only 9 p.m., but nothing seems to be open. She walks through an empty plaza. Frail saplings in concrete tree-wells suggest a recent campaign of civic revitalization—apparently unsuccessful. The only street life is gathered on the sidewalk outside a 7-11. Kitty stocks up: a loaf of squishy rye bread, a squeeze jar of yellow mustard, a pack of bologna, two bottles of club soda. When she boards the bus again she’s relieved to see Isaac already in his seat. He offers her a chocolate donut from a box at his feet.

“Look what else I got,” he says, opening a black plastic case. Tucked into the foam lining is a laser pointer and a set of interchangeable tips. He takes the pointer out, clicks it on and off, waggles it back and forth. He changes the tip. Now, instead of a dot of light, a little red smiley face zips across the seats in front of them.

“I hope you didn’t waste too much money on that,” Kitty says.

“I love this kind of executive crap.”

They eat bologna sandwiches. They talk and Isaac draws, until Kitty notices that the bus has gone dark around them. Everyone else is quiet. When they reach up to turn out their lights, she feels a pro forma flutter, a possibility of sexual contact, but nothing happens. Isaac reclines his seat all the way back. Kitty balls up her extra sweater into a pillow and leans against the window. She rests her eyes on the shapes of the hills, a shade blacker than the sky.

She sleeps. She sleeps through Tucumcari. The lights of the Amarillo depot wake her, but Isaac sleeps on, turned toward her in his seat with his mouth hanging open.

They transfer to a different bus in Oklahoma City. They’re traveling together now. They’ve figured out that their routes won’t diverge until Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where she’ll head north and he’ll keep going east. It occurs to Kitty that the passengers on this bus can’t tell that they didn’t know each other 36 hours earlier. Isaac makes friends with a little boy, a few years older than the “bats bats bats” kid. He lets the boy play with the laser pointer. They collaborate on a comic strip, passing the drawing pad back and forth across the aisle. Their comic is about a giant crab monster.

“You have to make one claw bigger,” Isaac says. “Crabs have one big claw and one smaller one, because they’re left-handed or right-handed, like people. Did you ever see a crab swim? I did. They swim upside-down in the water with their claws pointed down. They paddle around with those little back feet.”

Kitty listens while he tries to explain black holes to the boy, and the Trail of Tears, and carburetors vs. fuel injectors. When the boy and his mother get off in Joplin, Missouri, Isaac puts his pad away and looks out the window with Kitty. He points out an abandoned gas station covered with spidery vines on the two-lane road alongside the interstate.

“That’s Route 66,” says the man who has taken the seat across the aisle. He has a steel-grey flattop and wears work pants and a hunting jacket. “We’ll follow it all the way to St. Louis. Then it dog-legs north, on up to Chicago.”

“Get out,” said Isaac, “That’s Route 66?”

“Sure it is. Like the song. If you’re planning da-da-da motor west, take the highway that’s the highway that’s the best…

Kitty watches the roadside with new interest while Isaac falls into conversation with their neighbor. He tells Isaac about a long-ago road trip he took with his first wife, in a red Toronado with a white landau top. As the man talks about the places he and his wife stopped, Kitty realizes that they’ve been shadowing Route 66 since Flagstaff.

*

THE BUS STATION in St. Louis, where they have an hour-long layover, is a shock after the cinderblock bunkers and temporary sheds they’ve seen in the last couple of days. It has a high, vaulted ceiling supported by ornate columns. Isaac guesses it’s a decommissioned bank. They walk around with their heads craned, looking at the art deco clocks and milk glass chandeliers. On the ground level, though, all is bus station squalor. A sawhorse blocks the entrance to the men’s room. A bum inventories an overflowing trashcan next to the shuttered newsstand. The candy machine has been emptied of everything but gum. Kitty is content to refill her club soda bottle at the drinking fountain and snack on some peanut butter and bread they got earlier that day in Springfield, Missouri, but Isaac needs cigarettes. She gets back on the bus and reads her book while he goes out looking for a convenience store. She knows about Gary Gilmore, so she knows where the story goes. The book runs on inevitability rather than suspense—from frustration, greed, loneliness to murder, trial, firing squad. She finds it almost unbearable, but she’s gotten sucked in anyhow. She wants to reach back there and knock Gilmore off the path he’s on.

Where, she wonders, is Isaac? Finally, he gets on the bus and sits down. He stares at the seat in front of him. Kitty asks if he found a store, and he grunts in response. It’s obvious that something has happened, but she doesn’t know him well enough to coax it out of him. They’re silent as the bus crosses the Mississippi, past East St. Louis, into the moonless Illinois night. Kitty sees a road marker for Historical Route 66. She thinks of pointing it out, but Isaac is still staring at the seatback, so she says nothing.

After a while they turn east on Interstate 70, leaving Route 66 behind. The bus stops in Effingham for a 20 minute break. Kitty, grasping for conversation, asks Isaac if he’s going outside to smoke.

“No, I am not going outside to smoke, because I don’t have any smokes,” he says.

“You didn’t get cigarettes in St. Louis?”

Finally it comes out. Before he even got two blocks from the station in St. Louis, Isaac was mugged for his wallet and all the money he had left after he bought his bus ticket.

“Oh my God, Isaac. Did he have a gun?”

“He had something under his sweatshirt. Maybe it was just his hand, I don’t know.”

“Why didn’t you say anything?”

“What am I supposed to say? I’m a big pussy?”

“What are you gonna do? Can you call someone?” Kitty asks, and then realizes Isaac hasn’t made any plans beyond getting off the bus in Cherry Hill or wherever he’s getting off the bus. She isn’t sure anyone in his family even knows he’s on his way home. “Can you call your father?”

He doesn’t answer.

“Your mother?”

He snorts.

“Well, don’t worry. I have enough money for both of us,” she says, and she understands now that they are not parting ways in Harrisburg. Isaac will come with her, or she will go with him, and she’ll make him see that nothing is inevitable.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

mimi-pic

MIMI LIPSON lives in Kingston, New York. She completed an MFA in creative writing at Boston University in September. Her work has appeared in YETI, Chronogram, and various places online. She has a story in the Significant Objects anthology (Fantagraphics, 2012), and her chapbook, Food & Beverage, is available from All-Seeing Eye Press. She is writing a novel about sociolinguistics.

Header Photograph (CC) Bark @ Flickr

Story © 2012 Mimi Lipson. All rights reserved.