Sunday, March 25, 2007

Novel note about structure and other boring things like titles, chapter names, and the A-Team

Sometime when I started writing this novel-thing I decided that it would generally take place over two consecutive days and then these time-spans would be the two parts of the novel. So the first twelve chapters are Part One and for now I'm calling it Today and then the second part is called Tomorrow. I will change this later when I get a better idea and also I might decide to name all the chapters instead of just calling them by their number and I still need to name this novel. I don't know. I will probably also cut some stuff and add some other stuff when I get around to editing and re-writing.

I don't think anyone wants to know any of this so anyone should ignore this post and probably click on one of the side-links to a more interesting blog like Gene Morgan's or maybe anyone should turn off anyone's computer and watch television or something because there's probably a M*A*S*H re-run on or Matlock or Hawaii Five-O or the A-Team.

I need to name this novel and I think maybe two people, possibly three have read most of it, or enough parts of it to suggest a name so please suggest novel names in the comments. There should be at least two comments or maybe three with suggested novel names, probably.

Please help with novel names. Your ideas and thoughts on this matter are kindly appreciated.

Best Regards,



"It starts with kittens."

I say these words aloud but Merna doesn't notice and Merna doesn't look at me or my mouth as my mouth forms these words. Merna's watching the ice and the zamboni and Merna's carefully holding her little flat stomach. I stand next to Merna and lightly touch Merna's shoulder. Beyond the wide glass window the zamboni circles and the little black dog chases the zamboni. Aaron and Erik have left the ice and the ice's empty except for the little black dog and the zamboni and the security-guard tied to the zamboni and the ice's very wet and slick-looking and the dog's sliding a little and weaving and the dog's short high-pitched barks echo in the cavernous ice-skating arena. Aaron and Erik are standing behind us.

"He's okay," Aaron says.

"He's not dead," Erik says. "Just looked bad."

"Who?" I ask.

"The security-guard." Aaron points at the zamboni. "We didn't tie him tightly. He'll escape when it's important."

"What if he crashes?"

"We tied the wheel down so it'll keep circling."

Merna points at the dog. "The dog's alive." Merna says these words as though the dog's life is an important revelation so I watch the dog and the dog's long thin hairs and the dog's short shivering gait and the dog is very near the zamboni with its wide jaws wide open and little drips of dog-saliva are moving through the air toward the zamboni very isolated and clear inside a dense cloud of fog or breath.

"There's blood on your shirt," I say to Erik without looking at him.

"There is?" Erik inspects his shirt.

"Killer," Aaron says, laughing. "There's the evidence."

"Killer," I repeat.

The dog 's on the ice. The dog's sliding.

"Slide," I say.

Merna's hand's touching Merna's face.

The zamboni's circling vector-like toward the dog and the dog's slicing vector-like toward the zamboni and I feel a thick pain in my chest and in my stomach and I rub my stomach. I think, 'I should watch my stomach,' but I don't watch my stomach. I watch the dog and the zamboni and in my head map the vectors which are slowly aligning before me and I'm thinking about Merna and the little black dog and Merna's stomach which is flat and smooth and Merna's husband Noah who loves dogs and kittens and all small animals and who would be terribly disappointed and disgusted with me now, who, with his long obscenely jointed fingers, would point me out to the sad rumpled detectives and wag his jointed index finger as the sad rumpled detectives dragged my un-struggling body away.

"What the?" says Erik.

"I'm," says Aaron.

I touch the wide glass window and the wide glass window is hard and smooth and cold.

There's a dog-like sound but pitched higher in a swelling way and echoing cavernously and the dog is spinning sideways and the zamboni's moving inexorably in its inexorable vector and there's blood and sounds and the dog, now three-legged and bleedingly panicked, is still, except for a thin rapid shivering, its body pressed against the low half-wall, the ice awash in thick black dog-blood, the fourth leg loose and spinning somewhere mid-ice.

Merna's in the backseat with Aaron and the three-legged dog 's wrapped in my coat in Merna's lap. Erik's slumped in the front-passenger seat. I'm driving.

"Fuck," Erik says. "Where the fuck are we fucking going?"

Aaron stares out the window.

"Where do you fucking go with a fucking three-legged fucking dog?"

"Calm down," Aaron says.


"Panic has no utility." Aaron looks down at the dog and smiles a little smile with thin lips and no teeth. He rests his slim hand on the dog's little head. "We'll go to a veterinarian. That's what you do with dogs."

"It's practically fucking midnight. Where the fuck will find a fucking veterinarian at fucking midnight?"

"At the veterinary hosptital."

"You're fucking batty."

The security-guard was very still, except for his eyes, which fluttered wildly. His little hairy head had collapsed on his broad uniformed shoulder and his wide flat mouth was wide open with his long pink tongue sort of rolled back and jammed into his teeth. The security-guards pudgy hands were strapped to the zamboni steering-wheel with white shoe-laces and beyond the shoe-laces the hands were very pale and white and the pudgy hand's wrinkles were very taught and pronounced in their paleness.

Merna was on the ice, the dog in her arms. Aaron was laughing strangely, from a distance. Erik stared at the ice.

I had stopped the zamboni. I was reaching and I was touching the security-guards uniformed shoulder which was rough and stained and wet.

"It's bloody," Merna said. "It's an it."

"Look at this uniform," I said. "This uniform is very complicated, the stitching is very complicated, but why? I can't tell."

"I'm fucking sorry," Erik said. "I'm really fucking sorry."

Aaron was still laughing.

"It's bleeding. I should call Noah. Noah's not bleeding. Things shouldn't bleed."

"Who's Noah?" Aaron said.

I looked at Aaron and Aaron was very fat and Aaron's belly was shaking and his slim shoulders were shaking and everything was shaking so I touched the security-guard again and the security-guard moved.

"It's moving," I said.

"He," Erik said. "He's a fucking he."

"It's only a dog," Aaron says. "Dogs are amazing and friendly but they're only dogs, but dog's are survivors if your worried. I've seen three-legged dogs before, maybe five or six, three-legged dogs can be a little imbalanced but they heal and are happy, mostly."

"I have the fucking leg," Erik says.

"What are you talking about?" I say.

"I saw the fucking leg and fucking grabbed it. I thought someone might fucking need it to sew it the fuck back on for surgery or something."

"I don't think they can do that," I say.

Aaron leans toward the front-seats. "Let me see the leg," he says. Aaron puts his upturned hand between Erik and me. "I'll take care of the leg for you."

The little dog's whining in Merna's arms and Merna's weeping a little, quietly, and Merna's face is expressionless and slim and pale.

"Give me the leg."

Erik's hand slides into his pocket and Erik's hand pulls out the leg, which is a slim jointed thing very black and crusted and wet, and slowly, waveringly, places the leg in Aaron's upturned hand.

"Thank you."

"What do we do?" I ask.

Aaron rolls down his window and our warm heated air is sucked out and with his left arm, Aaron reaches outside and side-arms the little jointed leg through the snowy night-air and the little jointed leg is a flash of black beneath a streetlight and then gone. "That," Aaron answers.

"It's moving," I said again. "Look at it," I said. "Somebody do something."

The security-guard's mouth opened and closed like an automated drawbridge and the security-guard's tongue unfurled and moved in a rough way, as though the tongue were disoriented or detached somehow or possessed of its own free-will.

"Tongue," I said.

Aaron was laughing and Aaron's belly was shaking with his laughter and the laughter was low and sad with a flat quality that filtered hollowly throughout the ice-skating arena.

I touched the security-guard's cheek which was sallow and cold and the mouth continued to move drawbridge-like and the tongue and the mouth moved together and formed a word and the word was almost muffled by Aaron's laughter but the word was there and solid and I was next to the word and with my ear I savored the word and the word was: "It."

I direct the car along the snowy roads and curve with the roads and there are streetlights and little twinkle-y reflections from plastic reflectors glued to the road and the car is moving smoothly and not sliding. The radio's off and there are no sounds in the car except the low and limitless breathing of each person and each person's breathing is harsh and rasping and each person is a separate person with separate breathing and I imagine myself as a separate person with separate breathing and a separate brain with separate thoughts and I think, 'What would I think?' but my answer is only, 'You would think what you're thinking now because thought is a chemical process probably and if you were a separate you, you would still have the same chemicals.' But I doubt myself and as the car's internal-combustion engine propels the car from streetlight to streetlight, I slowly think, 'That's wrong, stupid.' I think, 'My thoughts are random and undetermined because each being is a separate being and each thought is its own thought and motivation-less.'

"Unpredictable," I say.

"Emergency room," Merna says.

"Huh?" I imagine the words 'emergency room' as a very long very straight highway that inclines slightly at a constant angle, and I can see very far beyond the horizon and beyond the horizon is this same road and in my rear-view mirror the road disappears behind me so there is no road and only a cloudy black nothing.

"Take it to the emergency room. Noah's there. Noah's working tonight. Noah will know what to do."

"Who's Noah?" Aaron asks.

"Is he a fucking veterinarian?" asks Erik. "Does he have an extra fucking leg?"

The security-guard's eyes were very wide and the security-guard's mouth was very wide and the security-guard's nose was porous and inflated and within each nostril were thick black hairs that vibrated with each deep breath of the security-guard's lungs. "It hurts," the security-guard said. "It hurts."

"Kill him already," Aaron said. "Where's your knife? He knows too much."

I watched Aaron carefully and Aaron's sinewy mouth rapidly chomped the air and when Aaron formed words each word was a short robotic thing, fashioned from minimum materials so that each air molecule had a direct and specific purpose. Aaron's hands convulsively closed into tight fists and Aaron's fists were red and hairy with little curved veins and round white knuckles.

Merna and the dog quietly whimpered.

Erik shuddered and turned his back toward me. "I can't watch," he said.

I touched the security-guard's porous nose.

"Blood on the ice," Aaron said. "Unsolved local mystery. The ice-kill-pades."

"What the hell happened?" Noah asks.

Noah's stethoscope dangles from his wide hand. His eyes are very near the little dog's little black stump.

"Can you do something?" Merna asks.

I watch Noah's obscenely jointed fingers and Noah's obscenely jointed fingers rattle together and caress the area around the little black stump and the little black stump shivers away from the fingers but Noah's fingers are persistent and investigative and calm. And Noah's fingers are long and alien and I move away from the fingers and away from Aaron and Erik who stand together behind me and who are also alien-like and distant, either too wide or too narrow with limbs that are too long or that move in a slow and sudden way so that at each moment I am startled and fearful and alone. Aaron and Erik's mouths move and there are words but I ignore the words and lay myself softly down on a narrow wood bench and watch the ceiling which is white acoustic-tile with gray fluorescent-panels and within each fluorescent-panel are three fluorescent light-tubes, each lighted dully and flickering. "I don't have to move," I say. "I could lay here forever and no one would tell me I shouldn't."

"He'll be okay," Merna says. "Noah's doing something." Merna sits near my head and touches my head. "It was an accident."

"Accident," I say. "Tomorrow," I say.


Aaron and Erik are distant and moving and I say to Merna, "Where are they going?"

"Back to the ice-rink."

"I'm sleepy."

"You're coming tomorrow, aren't you?" Merna asks. Merna's hands are caressing her belly. "You have to come."

I am chilly and sleepy and I roll onto my side and rest my arms cross-wise beneath my head which is heavy and warm and object-like and I suddenly imagine myself head-less and lightweight and I wonder if, head-less, with eyes in my shoulders or chest or something, if I could move faster and more efficiently and perhaps become some kind of bored super-hero savior.

"I don't want to be the only one," Merna says.

"What time is it?"


"It is tomorrow," I say.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

FOURSQUARE special addition

Jessica Smith has published a FOURSQUARE special addition featuring six very romantic and sexy poems by Romance Novelist Ofelia Hunt. Ofelia Hunt is the author of the novels I am a sixteen year old virgin, The tangerine bikini, My punk rock masturbation bug, and My eventual bloodless orgasm. Read about it here.


'This probably isn't the first time I've seen a man hit with a tire-iron,' I think. 'There's blood and the man and the dog and the zamboni and the ice which is cold and the floodlights which are cold lights and sort of stark and my little hands which are pale and sort of cold and all together it's like a math equation or a recipe for food I could eat.' I stand next to Merna and touch Merna's hand and Merna touches my hand. The dog is licking the security-guard.

"Help me tie him," Aaron says. "We'll tie him to the zamboni." Aaron wipes blood from Aaron's face.

"Okay," says Erik.

"Why did he do that?" Merna says.


"Why did he hit him with the tire-iron?"

Aaron and Erik are dragging the security-guard to the zamboni. Blood smears in a little trail behind them.

"Why did he?" Merna says.

I sit on a nearby bench and remove my ice-skates and look at my ice-skates which have long curved blades with little ice crystals and little red bits of rust and I think about Merna's question and I imagine a long gray hallway with long flickering fluorescent-lights and I'm in the middle of the hallway and even if I walk fifteen miles I'm always in the middle of the hallway. "I think," I say. Merna is looking at me. Merna's eyes are wet and round and green and I want suddenly to have round green eyes that glitter like Merna's and I hate my boring little brown eyes and I imagine removing my brown eyes and replacing my boring brown eyes with green glass eyes and watching my mirror and photographing the me in the mirror. "Would I see other things?" I say.

Merna seems confused. "What do you mean?"

"I think," I say. I throw my ice-skate toward the front counter. "Every living thing is supposed to be tied up sometime, I think, and Aaron and Erik sort of know this like an instinct and they are tying him because he's supposed to be tied and also everything should be hit sometime with a tire-iron and probably the security-guard has never been hit with a tire-iron because he's lived a long and wonderful life with many children and many relationships with many women and he's been mostly happy with one thousand friends and a high school diploma so Aaron hit him with the tire-iron because it was a sort of fate and maybe contrast for this happy security-guard man. Aaron is like god's hand or something or maybe just one little part of god's will or fate's will because everything happens sometime for better contrast." I try to imagine everything happening sometime and it's very pattern-like and regimented and each action's ranked and uniformed and I imagine a gigantic vein-y hand moving individual actions on an electronic grid and I concentrate on this hand's monstrous fingernails which are dirty and long with jagged tips. "Fingernail," I say. "Maybe."

"They're tying his hands to the steering-wheel."

"I'm getting my shoes," I say. "I need shoes." I stand up.

"Um." Merna's following me.

"People should probably always walk barefoot. Shoes are unneeded inhuman objects. If a shoe were inside your body, doctors would surgically remove the shoe because it would interfere with your internal organs."

"That's probably true."

"Then why do you wear shoes?"

"Don't know."

I put my feet into my shoes and tie my shoelaces. "I'm sorry," I say to Merna. "I didn't mean to bring you somewhere where people are getting hit with tire-irons."


"What are they doing now? I don't want to look."

Merna moves to the wide glass window and puts her hand and against the window and leans forward. "They have finished tying the security-guard to the zamboni and they're standing next to it and talking and laughing, I think. I don't know. Aaron's wiping his face with his hand."

"Your kitten," I say.


"I'm sorry about throwing your kitten."

"Hmm." Merna sits next to me. Merna looks at my feet. "I haven't told you yet but I have to tell you something." Merna's face has many straight lines and her hair is tied neatly and Merna's arms seem very thin and long and the arms move fluidly and touch my shoulder. "It's important."

"You're only a little older than me now," I say. "Every year the amount your older gets smaller, I mean the percentage of years, until someday we'll be practically the same age and live together probably in a gray condo-compound for the elderly and forgetful, with nurses and doctors and a recreation room with board games and televisions."

"Listen," Merna says. "I'm pregnant. Noah and I are having twin babies. I want you to help me have the babies and be in the delivery room with me and probably video-tape the birth."

Merna's stomach is thin and flat. "You don't look pregnant."

"I'm only like six weeks. I had an ultrasound yesterday."

"You could probably still abort them if you wanted," I say. "You could stop it now."

"Why would I do that?"

"I don't know."

Merna touches her stomach. "I don't know how people can abort anything."

"It's what people should do because people make more people and there are already billions of people with tire-irons and ice-skates and they're making people and the world's a gigantic people-making machine and somebody has to stop it sometime because things will never end until people stop popping out of our little people-machines. It's impossible and painful if people go on forever and reproduce forever until forever is really forever. Things are supposed to start and stop so this means people too."

"Stop being weird. You're always weird. Like in middle school with the track team and the math teacher and the bear costume."

I stand. "They're coming now. The zamboni's moving."

"You should be happy for me."

"The zamboni's circling and resurfacing the ice, but very slowly, like a wounded zamboni."

Merna touches my shoulder. "You're normal, be normal."

"It starts with kittens, probably."

"You're probably normal, so be normal," Merna said.

It was the first day of high school. I was holding my backpack to my chest. We were in the kitchen waiting to leave.

"Don't talk to me unless I talk to you first. People will know you're my sister already but we can pretend that's not true mostly."

"But you are my sister."

"Learn to live ambiguously," Merna said. "You'll be happier and after a while we can have lunch together at the AM/PM, maybe winter quarter."

My grandmother handed me my lunch. "I gave you fresh fruit," she said. "Fresh fruit is very important. There are no preservatives and preservatives are pretty much evil."

I opened my lunch bag and looked at my mango and my banana and my little green grapes.

"I'm driving with my friends," Merna said.

I set my lunch-bag on the kitchen-table and leaned against the kitchen-counter. The cabinets were dark and wood and solid and I touched the cabinets and traced the cabinet-handle with my finger and imagined the cabinet-handle as a miniature-kitten with miniature-kitten paws and teeth and miniature-kitten fur and meows and the meows were long and plaintive and the miniature-kitten was very pained and sad because it had been carefully mounted to a cabinet-door.

"Don't worry," my grandmother said. "Grandfather will drive you to school. He'll be back in a second. He's getting some gas."

"Goodluck," Merna said. "You'll probably need it." She disappeared.

"I have leukemia," I said to my grandmother. "I have leukemia and nobody's telling me because nobody's afraid that I'll freak out and run around naked at the grocery store and throw apples at fifteen-year-old bag-boys or something."

My grandmother was laughing.

"People with leukemia shouldn't go to school, right? People with leukemia should stay in bed all day and drink condensed chicken broth and watch television or stare sadly out the window as little children play hopscotch and think about how a person with leukemia could be playing hopscotch if only leukemia wasn't slowly killing my blood."

"You're too old for hopscotch."

"You're too old for hopscotch," I repeat.

"Here's grandfather."

Outside the kitchen-window, I saw a wide white Cadillac slowly stop. The windshield was gigantic and wide and rectangular and slightly tinted so that my grandfather was only a dark rounded lump behind it with little knobby inhuman bulges.

"Go on. Take your lunch," my grandmother said.

"Leukemia," I said.

My grandmother disappeared so I shrugged and walked outside where my breath was foggy and wet. My grandfather was leaning with his arms crossed against his wide white Cadillac. His eyes were wide and blue and rheumy and half-closed.

"This car is old," my grandfather said as I approached. "Doesn't have power-windows or anything but the thing I like to do is pull up next to somebody and open my window very evenly so that the window seems like a power-window and I emit a low buzzing sound from the corner of my mouth." My grandfather demonstrated. "Go ahead, get in."

We sat in the car.

"Try it," he said. "Open your power-window."

"I can't. I have leukemia."

"Shit. That's terrible."

"My blood-cells are like a bunch of pyramid-shaped tumors with jagged little ridges that scratch my capillaries and vessels and stuff and I bleed internally and at every moment there is this jagged tumor-blood in my mouth."

"That's nothing," my grandfather said. "Just before I was shipped off to the war the FBI injected glass fragments into my arm to make me, the FBI Agent said, 'indestructable'."

"Oh?" I said. "I like stained-glass. Was it stained-glass?"

"I said to this FBI guy, 'You know, glass is hardly indestructible. I break glass all the time. It's the weekend pastime in my hometown. We get the gang together with baseball bats and walk down Main Street and smash every window, mirror, and streetlight within say a one-hundred foot radius, and we measure it carefully from a pre-chosen point, to make it official.' So the FBI agent says, 'This is special alien-glass from a Russian/alien technology and it will make bullets and shrapnel bounce off a sort of force-field.' 'No shit?' I said. He was lying though. That Russian/alien-glass shredded my veins and my stomach and I couldn't drink whiskey anymore and the first enemy who shot me shot my thigh, which is why I have this limp. I didn't even dive for cover."

"Goddamn FBI," I said.

"I spent the war in a hospital with twenty-three other soldiers, all with the Russian/alien-glass in their blood and then the FBI agents gave us leukemia. 'The only way to kill the alien-glass,' they said. A lot of us died with excruciating convulsions and green projectile vomiting."

"I wonder if my leukemia is your military leukemia passed genetically to me."

"Do you have glass veins?"

"I don't think so."

"Probably not, then."

The Cadillac was idling at a stoplight. In the next car an old woman with very tall very round white hair and narrow eyeglasses paged through Urban Warrior magazine. She was concentrated and serious as though between the shotguns and crossbows was an important word or phrase, some vital clue that would, finally, define her role in what had proved to be an unending series of unrelated events. The old woman spit at her Urban Warrior magazine and hammered her steering-wheel with the Urban Warrior magazine and tossed it over her shoulder into the back seat. She turned and looked at me with little gray eyes and the little gray eyes seemed malevolent through the narrow eyeglasses so I turned away.

"What's life for?" I asked my grandfather.

"Conspiracy," he answered. "It's all a conspiracy. Christmas, for example."

"I always thought so."

"They want you to think it's one thing when it's really another thing."


"Oh, them." My grandfather released the brake and began, slowly, to drive forward. He kept the Cadillac very far to the left so that we were very close to the old woman with Urban Warrior magazine and I could see her big wrinkled eyes which were very agitated and gray and lined with little red veins and capillaries. "It's like Sweeps month with all the new television shows that are the same as the other television shows except with different taglines and a different theme-song. There is nothing new so anyone who tells you something's new is a hustler or a politician."

My grandfather parked in front of the school.

The school was an eight-story brick fortress with iron fencing bolted over each window and a wide swinging double-door beneath a curved stained-glass window with little white doves and thick purple air in the background. I held my backpack tightly and said to my grandfather, "I'm going to do something sometime because."

"Like what?"

"I have no idea." I stepped out of the car and adjusted my backpack. I smiled down at my grandfather and my grandfather was very small and wrinkled. His body moved in little rapid shivers and when he smiled, his eyes moved in a wrinkled way. I felt suddenly very old as though with my little thin hands I had reached carefully into my grandfather's chest and stolen my grandfather's age and prepared it in a silver bowl with garlic and chives and then mixed my grandfather's old-age with the old-age of one-thousand senior-citizens and slowly spooned this old-age mixture into my mouth and ingested it until I was the oldest human. "I'll probably destroy the human race," I said. "I'll probably kill everything."

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Thursday, March 08, 2007

3 AM

I have a Tom Cruise zombie poem at 3 A M.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


"Meet us at the ice-skating rink," Erik says. "We want to go ice-skating."

"It's closed," I answer. "I don't have ice-skates."

"Who is it?" Merna asks. "What does it want?"

"Ice-skating," I say. "They want to go ice-skating."

There's a wooden owl glued to the roof-peak. The owl faces down on the front-yard with fierce angled eyebrows and a violent curved beak. I touch its textured body and think about eating little birds and bugs and field-mice and air-hunting for little unsuspecting birds.

"Just meet us there," Erik says. "Aaron's got connections. We can use the rental skates and go ice-skating and I'll drive the zamboni, I think. It'll be fucking cool."

"Who?" Merna asks.

I put my hand over my cell-phone. "My stupid little lovers," I say to Merna.

"Listen," Erik says. "We're breaking into the ice-skating rink. I bet that makes you want to come. We'll commit unspeakable crimes. I've already kidnapped and slaughtered the little black sheep, you know, high school mascot and stuff. Who knows what I'll do next?" Erik is laughing and distantly I can hear Aaron laughing too. "Bring your bathing suit."

I turn off my cell-phone. "We're going ice-skating," I say.

"I'll drive," Merna says.

Merna's car is red and very narrow. We sit close and the windshield is large and bubble-like and the windshield reflects our images and I watch our reflected images as the car moves slowly from streetlight to streetlight. Outside is very dark and cold and a stiff wind shakes the car. The moon is somewhere.

"There's a dog in your trunk?" I ask.

"It's okay. I had a garbage-bag."


"I didn't mean to hit the dog, but I turned my head for a second and it was there and there was a sound, like a bark, and then there was no sound. Who lets their own dog run around at night, especially a black dog, a practically invisible black dog? I'm not a murderer. It was an accident."

"I could be a murderer," I say quietly.

"What'd you say?"

"I said 'you don't have to convince me.'"

"Do you think they'll be mad at me and say I did it purposely and call the Police?"


"The owners. Mindy and Matthew, I think. They're pretty old. They might have forgotten the dog by now. Old people forget things."

"Maybe," I say.

"You don't think so?"

"They're probably searching for the dog right now." I look at Merna and Merna's face is very pretty and heart-shaped and her skin is smooth and soft-looking, and Merna's hair is neatly arranged and pinned in place and Merna's shirt is very balanced and she is beautiful and professional and bright. "Mindy's probably crying right now. Mindy's crying and looking for her little dog and Matthew is angry and punching his kitchen wall repeatedly. He promised to never let Mindy cry but he's powerless now, probably powerless for the first time ever and he feels angry and hurt and he doesn't know why and his fists are bleeding and there are asymmetrical holes in their kitchen walls and Matthew and Mindy are probably inconsolable so they go upstairs to the study with the abandoned-barn-paintings and pull the decorative shotgun from the wall and load the shotgun with buckshot and brace it against the floor and blast themselves, one by one, through the mouth." I say all this while staring straight ahead, then I turn to Merna.

"Thank you very much." Merna watches the road. We're waiting at an intersection. The light's red, but there are no cars, and the ice-skating rink is just ahead. "There," Merna says.

The ice-skating rink is a large flat-roofed rectangle with wide glass doors and a wall of tall scratched windows. All the windows are dark. "What time is it?" I ask.


"Park the car."

Merna, Anastasia, and me were here, at the ice-skating rink, and it was Sunday and noon and the noon-skate had just begun. I was fourteen years old. Dozens of people were skating in bright red holiday-sweaters. Merna, Anastasia, and me wore matching blue snow-parkas with large floppy hoods. The floors and walls and ice seemed knit together from some uncommon fiber, something simultaneously hard and soft and each time I took a step the floor recoiled a little from my foot and I bounced slightly and each wall was very far from every other wall and I felt unbalanced and dizzy.

"I want figure-skates," Merna said. "So I can spin around and stuff."

Anastasia looked at the ice. "I want hockey-skates," she said. "I'm going to be a hockey player and I'm going to borrow a hockey stick."

I touched the counter of the rental-skate booth and showed my little ticket and asked for skates. We laced up our skates on the narrow wood bench and waddled slowly, hand in hand, toward the ice. The ice was very clear and slick and wet and we stepped out onto the ice and slid and pushed and slid.

"Don't let me fall," I said. "I don't want to fall. I don't want people to laugh at me if I fall. I don't want people laughing at me hurting myself when I fall."

Merna spun and moved off. "You'll be fine," she said. Merna skated backwards with her head turned over her left shoulder, neatly avoiding a little black-haired boy and his mother then leapt into the air and spun a full circle.

I looked down at Anastasia and held Anastasia's hand and touched Anastasia's hair which was soft and black and shoulder-length. "You're a good skater," I said.

"Oh," Anastasia said. Anastasia pushed off from me. "I'm taking lessons and now I can skate backwards too and I can stop without crashing." She demonstrated. "Here comes Merna!" she said.

I turned.

Merna slapped my face, laughing, as she skated by. Anastasia was laughing and I watched Anastasia's mouth move with the laughs and expose her little white teeth and her little pink tongue and the little tongue motioned at me. I wobbled a little. Anastasia skated toward me and bumped me with her hip. "It's easy," she said. I wobbled and slid sideways and looked at my skates and my skates were loose and white and the skate-blades wobbled and shook and I crumpled slowly to the cold ice. I spread out and slid and looked up and there was a fat woman in a fat woman sweater moving slowly, inexorably toward me and I pulled into a little ball but it didn't matter.

The fat woman skated over my hand.

My pinky-finger was on the ice with blood and water and I screamed and the fat woman toppled onto me and crushed me and I reached for my pinky-finger but it slid away and people skated around my pinky-finger until my pinky-finger disappeared so I cried quietly to myself and said, "My finger, my finger, my finger," until the fat woman rolled, apologizing, off of me and skated shamelessly away.

"Help me get the dog," Merna says.

The dog's in Merna's trunk in a black garbage-bag tied in a ball-like knot and stuffed between a red plastic toolbox and an X-shaped tire-iron, very blue and scratched and menacing. The tire-iron seems wonderfully balanced and solid and my fingers touch the tire-iron's cool metal and trace the tire-iron's smooth ridges. We each grab a double-handful of garbage-bag and lift and just before Merna slams her trunk shut I snag the tire-iron.

"Where's Aaron?" I ask.

"Inside," Erik says. "I'm going to drive the zamboni. Come on, come on!"

"Carry this," I say. Merna and I toss the garbage-bag to Erik.

"What's in here?" Erik asks.

"Bathing suits," Merna says.

Inside the ice is floodlighted. Everything else is dark. Erik runs ahead and hops the low white wall loosing garbage-bag mid-flight and Erik and the dead dog hit the ice then slide tangentially. Merna and I put on skates and wobble slowly onto the ice. I side-arm the tire-iron and the tire-iron skims toward the garbage-bag.

"Did the dog just move?" Merna asks.

"I don't know."

We skate toward the zamboni. The garbage-bag tumbles sideways blob-like and amorphous and the garbage-bag fold and flutters and bubbles. Aaron and Erik are standing near the zamboni.

"What the fuck is that?" Aaron says.

"How was your meeting?" I ask.

"Garbage-bag," says Merna.

Erik says, "Why did you bring a tire-iron?"

Aaron touches the garbage-bag.

"Not a tire-iron," I say. "My new pet."

Aaron tears a hole in the garbage-bag and the little black dog erupts from the hole and bounces off Aaron's leg barking and spitting and snapping its jaws. "Fuck," Aaron says. Aaron dodges and slips and waves his arms.

"It's alive," Merna says.

The dog shoots across the ice, bumping the walls then redirecting itself along sudden wicked tangents. We scatter to avoid the dog and the dog's barks and howls are long and high-pitched and the dog is a solid black shape with a wet mouth and wet claws and little dangerous white teeth and little clear globules of saliva that tremble on the tips of its teeth and from its thin black lips.

Erik moves toward the dog, carefully holding the blue tire-iron. "I'll get it," he says.

Aaron's on the zamboni and the zamboni is moving.

Erik corners the dog near the front wall and lunges with the tire-iron but misses and the tire-iron hits the wall and bounces over the wall and there is a crack and a ringing sound. "Shit!" Erik holds his elbow sort of desperately.

The dog zips toward the middle of the ice. I jump into the zamboni next to Aaron and jerk the steering wheel and the zamboni lurches sluggishly at the dog. "How do you speed this thing up?" I ask Aaron.

"Don't know."

"Save the dog!" Merna says. "The dog's alive."

"I've got it." Erik's moving. Erik's skating flat-footed toward the dog with a large round-mouthed smile. "Here doggie," he says. "Calm doggie. Don't want to hurt you doggie."

"We have to kill that thing," I say.

"Just a dog," Aaron says.

"Look at the teeth." I grab the zamboni's steering wheel and redirect the zamboni toward the dog. The dog stops mid-ice and slowly scratches its back with its hind-leg. "Now I've got it."

The dog's licking the ice halfway between the zamboni and Erik and Erik runs and I pull levers and depress peddles and push buttons but the zamboni moves at a constant speed.

Erik scoops up the dog and pets the dog and nuzzles the dog with his face.

Aaron stops the zamboni.

"Drop the dog," I say. "I'm going to smash it."

"It's a nice dog." Erik holds the dog high. "See, just didn't want to be in a plastic bag. Most living things don't want to be in plastic bags. That's like a standard principle."

"We have to kill the dog," I say. "That dog bit me when I was little, when I was eight or nine years old, and I was walking with Merna and it was sunny and bright and a little wind moved the trees and then there was this stupid stupid dog running around without a leash or collar or anything and I tried to pet the dog and it opened its jaws and snapped its jaws over my arm and tore my arm-skin and my arm-muscles and there was blood, okay."

"It was probably stuck in a plastic bag for a while. That's what I'd do if I were stuck in a plastic bag."

"Don't worry, she's lying," Merna said. "It was a different dog, and it wasn't her that got bit. It was some neighbor girl."

"Be quiet," I say to Merna.

"You're being dramatic," Merna says. "She was a junior-thespian, you know, in high-school."

Aaron stops the Zamboni. "Probably doesn't matter," he says. "It's just a dog."

"She was Lady Macbeth."

"I want that dog dead," I say. "It's a terrible dog, a terribly violent dog and it deserves to die here on the ice and then to be abandoned here, maybe tied, you know, spread-eagled to the wall with little cursive-like trails of blood on the ice or we could tie its little dead carcass to the zamboni like it's driving the zamboni in a cute way like a dog-driving-zamboni calendar and it could wear a little baseball-hat and sports-jersey but with a butterfly-knife stuck in its eye." I hop down from the zamboni. Erik holds the dog away from me. "I won't hurt it yet," I say. "This will take planning."

"Hello?" It's a man's voice, from near the front wall. There is a rustling sound and a creaking. "Who the fuck's there?"

"Shit," Aaron whispers. "Hide."

The dog barks.

We all scatter and hide behind the white half-wall except Erik. Erik stands silently with the dog in his arms.

"Drop the dog and hide," I whisper at Erik.

"I can't," Erik says. "I don't want the dog to die."

Aaron is next to me and he smiles at me then Aaron sneaks along the wall, holding his body low. Aaron looks at me and places his finger over his lips. Aaron whispers the word, "Flank."

A flashlight's light appears and then a man. The man stares at Erik and the dog and then the zamboni. The man's a security-guard with a security-guard uniform and a security-guard hat and a security-guard belt with a security-guard radio and a security-guard baton and he approaches with his security-guard walk. "You know," the security-guard says. "This ice-skating rink is closed." The security-guard steps onto the ice through the wide break in the wall.

"Umm," says Erik. "I lost my dog and my dog went in here and I followed my dog, see." Erik holds the dog forward. "It's probably a case of mistaken identity."

The security guard removes his radio from his belt.

Aaron appears behind the security-guard. "Hi," Aaron says. Aaron's holding the blue tire-iron. "I'm sorry," Aaron says. "You'll be okay. Everything's okay." Aaron whacks the security-guard's head with the tire-iron and the tire-iron bounces back from the security-guard's head and there is a little blood and silence and the security-guard tumbles forward. The security-guard is a lumpy uniformed shape on the ice and little thin columns of steam rise around him. "It'll be okay probably," Aaron says to the security-guard's prone body.