Fette Sans.

 

-- Nanou. -- PERIPETEIA. -- Exhaustion can occur merely attempting to breathe. -- La Logique Assassinée. -- Rehearsed Lies. -- Silent March. ||||| -- Contact.

 

La Logique Assassinée.

A collaboration between Fette Sans, Sasha Frere-Jones, Charlotte Shane, Jennifer Fuchs, Tommy Smith, and Leah Dieterich.

Foreword by Andrew Berardini.

 

 

 

Made in cojunction with the eponymous exhibition at Infernoesque, Berlin.

Opening Friday, June 22, 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2011 - 2012.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a word before murderous logic.

A sheaf of images shifted from one set of hands to another, their stories unstuck, floating, looking for a place to land. They began, then a new sheaf got handed around, pawed, admired, ignored, found, lost, found again, fussed over, and then finally finished, plots ravelled and unravelled, static scenes silently stuffed with fistfuls of language.

The images in question were not transferred in back alleys, tucked tightly into manila envelopes. There were not purchased out of the back of a fake antiquarian bookseller, tucked into brown paper bags to conceal salacious contents from prying eyes. They were not traded like microfilms, shrouded under the stamps of banal notes, common letters, false pretenses. This is not to say that their transfer wasn't possibly illicit, that they were not salacious, or that they did not hide secret communiques. None of these activities can be confirmed or denied.

The images were given freely, almost without condition, and the condition really just an invitation, a provocation, a lure.

An Abbreviated List of Selected Images:

With soiled eyes and fingered heart tattoo, a beauty folds into faux-leopard fur
A naked basketball court, a sheathed building
A sad platter of varied pastry
Backyarded ruins
Stacked pictures on a chipped floor
A Gallic nosed and gray-shirted youth, face yet unbroken, neck taut
Remnants of room service dead on a friendless carpet
A trophy, an alley, black trash bags crumpled like discarded fetish skins
A flopping cock; hetero fingers interlaced, tautly gripped
An oversized painting on a concrete street
The distant circus
Some crumpled couple bridging
Her kitchened laughter, a nude body covered only with oven mitts
The perfect bouquet
A gray-haired man offering his arms, tattoo for appraisal
A rocky shore
That shrouded chair
Two bodies on the edge of water, infinity

The content of said images is elusive at best. Both referred and not referred to, serving dutifully as fingerholds and stepping stones, shelves and crowbars, excuses and inspirations. There is no pretense of truth here, but there is some sense of a document. Hard to avoid with photographs, you say. Well, that is not the point, I say. The point is the lure, the fistfuls of language, the book that lies beyond all these processes, and the process that lies beyond the book of you reading this, these intimate tales and sensual words. There is an intimacy here, warped and clean, but raw, in both image and text, and real no matter what fiction or fantasy, choice or manipulation may have happened when fixing the light.

This is a way to begin to speak words, perform tragedies, relay erotics, recite incantations. The quotidian erupting into extraordinary circumstances. Extraordinary circumstances lived and even read as quotidian.

La Logique Assasinee, or Murderous Logic, is also the name of a spiral poem made by Adon Lacroix with her husband, the artist Man Ray. A graphic collaboration, Man Ray (best known by housefraus and college students for his photos) arranged and typographed, while Lacroix wrote. Man Ray helped the language in this case to become a picture, maybe Mallarme beat them to the punch but the words are raw and strange and hidden, always hidden, as good writing tends to be.

What is essential is invisible to the eye, said Saint Exupéry

Here, as elsewhere, writers add what is not seen but only imagined, intuited, desired, projected, feared, understood, mistaken, recollected, dreamed.

         

Sasha Frere-Jones, The Jump.

 

 

   

 

We are driving in the dark. Twenty minutes ago, it was bright and clear. Hours from now, the sky will be the same field of ink. To my right, the mountains are a rumpled grey line. The ridge might be fog — nothing suggests that the mountains are mountains.

Steering with her left, Jane uses her right hand to grab the iPod. Nobody can remember when the device appeared, which that means one of us got it from somebody the other doesn’t know. She wheels the face with her thumb, glancing through the windshield every few seconds. Up, down, up, down.

“Let me,” I say.

“Got it,” she says, and drops the white brick into one of three cup-holders. An hour ago, we turned up “BASS” until the LED indicator read “+ 6.” The car is bristling now. She steers, and then holds still, as if she’s seen a cloud moving towards us. She smacks the volume knob down, to the left. The frame stops buzzing, the song lowered beneath the sound of vented air.

We pull into the hotel parking lot: two cars and twenty-eight empty spaces. Snake is coming towards us. She must have started walking a minute ago, because this hotel is as long as any supermarket on the post road. Snake is wearing a fake leopard coat, scrunched up to cover her face, hoisted high enough to expose several inches of calf. She sees Jane, her cheeks rise into view and she opens her coat. Her shoes are Lucite platform heels with colored lights blinking inside each boxy toe. The socks are black knee-highs, and there is a paragraph of illegible, blue-black cursive running along the right side of her stomach.

“Hi,” she says, and bends down to kiss Jane. Jane doesn’t move. Snake uses her left hand to keep the coat closed then hops over to give me a quick hug. The coat falls open again.

“Come in,” she says. “Barely anyone working. We could make eggs on stage.”

Before I can talk, Jane drags Snake into a thicket of plants alongside the hotel. I see fronds and trees and long leaves, a stab at tropical fauna, even though we are in the northwest corner of America. Apparently the hotel could only afford two of these clumps, and they are spaced roughly thirty feet apart. This side is just walls meeting lawn for at least four hundred feet, so it looks like the hotel was dropped onto a forest which survived in only two spots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Jane and Snake make out when they see each other, usually right away. There was once a pretense that they might disrobe and fuck, but this was either a joke or a bet that neither took seriously. The first session never lasts long. I don’t wait.

The hotel isn’t legally allowed to employ strippers, so the club has been relegated to the guts of the building. The town is small enough that local demand seems to have trumped the law.

I walk towards the end of the parking lot and hear Snake laugh high and fast. On the left, there’s a basketball court attached to a small, squat building: glossy yellow bricks, cheap metal window frames and a shallow, green pyramid roof. More than one law is being flouted, with a school so close to a bar and a strip club, though neither are visible from here.

The hotel is enormous but stripped of identifying marks. It’s adobe-colored, as if the architect used his “Historical Mexico” pack of plug-ins. There are no windows, except for three portholes four stories up. If you were playing basketball and looked up, you could imagine the building was a jail or a castle or a warehouse. (There turn out to be balconies on the opposite side, where room prices are much higher.) It is unclear how guests figure out where the entrance is, as there is no signage, likely a concession to the school administration.

I walk across another, entirely empty parking lot and cut to the right when I see two flickering sconces marking the hotel entrance. “THE ARAANSON” is spelled out on a comically small bronze rectangle stuck to one of the pillars straddling a wooden door. I tug on the curved metal leaf serving as a handle, and am relieved that it takes some effort to swing the door open. Something solid survived all the repurposing and repainting.

The Araanson was once a casino, and then a hotel, and then maybe a casino again before it became a cobbled-together hotel. The lobby is vast but that doesn’t mask the fact that it’s been cut in half. The carpet is bright red but discolored, as if stains have been repeatedly rubbed out, leaving less energetic stains. There are gilded details everywhere — cornices, baseboards, columns next to walls attached to nothing — and long stretches of velvet. To the right is a cramped reception cove painted black, and beyond that, a door leading to the bar. To the left, a grand staircase follows a curved, weakly golden wall covered with a stuttering fleur de lis pattern. The stairs run into a wall that probably appeared years after the stairs. There’s a beige door in the middle of the wall and it is shut. The whole thing looks like a giant red and gold snake cut in half by a filing cabinet.

 

 

 

 

 
 

There is a man to my left. I must have passed him on the way in. He is sitting on a marble pedestal in front of a mirror that reflects the few chandeliers that escaped halving. An outline of stone surrounds him, as if this was once a pool that someone wrecked by kicking down the wall. He is wearing red sneakers, rocking back and forth. He could be laughing or crying. I decide he’s high. His face is slack. Every few seconds, he throws his hands up on either side of his head. It’s not an expression of emotion. Maybe it’s for balance.

I go past reception and enter a narrow bar, an almost lightless space. There is a mirrored wall to the right, less than two feet behind the barstools. I squeeze past two patrons and continue down a staircase lit by a single bulb. The steps are covered with beige rubber that is clean, close to shiny, as if the stairs were never used. But there’s no other way down.

A red neon sign renders “THE JUMP” in the woody, yodeling font used by barbecue restaurants. The sign hangs inside a cracked Lucite box that has bloomed a series of opaque spots. It could be a seasonal reference to snowflakes but it’s just old.

Inside, the club is surprisingly big. The stage is to the right, a kidney that takes up two thirds of the room. There are two poles and one dancer on stage. She wears a striped two-piece, the bottom half a layer of sheer material under a few brightly colored strips. She has reached the top of the pole, and is holding tight with the crook of her arm. She looks down, smiles, and then undulates down the pole in a halting wave, one foot at a time.

There’s a silver tray of pastries on the table near me, presumably a delivery from the hotel. Nobody is sitting near them. I look around for potentially disapproving witnesses. I decide to touch something that might have started as an éclair. It’s rough and hard, like a wet newspaper dried in the sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

Charlotte Shane, End Comes Too Soon.

 

 

 

 

 

He worked his jaw as he moved. She saw the muscles stiffening and loosening along the ledge of his face from her spot in the doorway. Her one success was not following at his heels. That would be some comfort later, a weak declaration of her dignity. She realized she cried as she spoke but didn't quite feel it. It was as though she were superimposed on herself, one girl layered over another.

"You don't have to go now. Stay." The words came out wet, through a fog. "We can wait a little longer. Wait with me."
"There's nothing to wait for," he slugged a fistful of clothing into the garbage bag. His face was rigid. It looked sore from so much tension.
"Please." She didn't want to beg. She was begging. "Please don't go."
"This was…inevitable," he said. He'd been searching for the right word. "You knew. I knew. This is not where your life is."
"It doesn't have to be like this. If you stay, we can talk about it."
"Talk?" He barked, turning on his heel, coming toe to toe with her. She knew better than to reach for him. His face was peppered with stubble. He wheeled away.

She could feel him purposefully severing every tie that bound them, could feel it as viscerally as though he were cutting the clothes from her body. Finite. Absolute.
It was not the thought of leaving him that ruined her. It was the thought of having nothing between them. Something had to remain. "I'll get you a ticket," she'd said before, and he'd laughed in her face, furious. "You think it's that easy. You buy one ticket and all the problems are solved."
Now she remembered the trophy, and she dashed to the bedroom that he'd already ravaged, calling to him as she came out—"this too."
She held it tenderly as a piece of cloth laid along her palms. Moments later, she would hurl at his back as he went down the stairs. The next morning, a neighbor would place it among the bags in the alley.
"I'm not taking that," he said, pausing. His hands were full of black puckered plastic. "That's just a piece of junk."

 

 

   

 

"You're terrible at romance," she said. "You don't even have a nickname for me."
"Why do you need one? Your own name is no good?"
"It's not unique to you. That's the point. You should call me something no one else calls me."
"Hmm." He thought on it. "Duckling," he said. "Kitty. Muffin. Butter pat."
"Butter pat?"
"You are like butter," he murmured, emphasizing his accent, sliding his hand between her legs as she laughed and rolled away, squeezing her thighs together.
"Don't call me that. Something better. Keep trying."
"Paycheck. New car. Favorite shoe."
"Oh that's disgusting. A shoe?"
"Don't insult the things I care for," he said, grabbing her again. "My little left shoe. Since when are you interested in romance." He flipped her on her belly and she felt him growing hard against the curve of her ass.
"Since I love you." She shouted into the bed. She felt exhilarated by her own wetness. Reckless. "I love you."
"Be quiet." One hand held her arms above her head while his other hand tried to tilt her up from underneath. "Lift for me, American princess. If you love me, lift yourself."
She arched back and he slipped inside. "Ah," he said and immediately his hips began to work.

Days earlier she'd cut herself deeply while trying to butcher a chicken. She thought that would impress him. She'd never done it before.
"It seems you need a doctor," he'd said calmly, holding her hand in both of his like it were a wounded bird, his palms smeared with her blood. He pressed the dishtowel back over her thumb. "I will take you."
"No!" She said. "No stitches!" She'd never cried in front of him before. She was afraid.
"You need them," he said, sternly. "I'll do it." And she let him do it, with simple sewing thread in her narrow bathroom, while she closed her eyes and bit her lip. She did not ask where he'd learned such a thing, or if he'd ever done it before.
Afterward, still seated on the toilet lid, he drew her into his lap. "You were a good girl," he told her, and kissed her. The mess of chicken and blood laid on the counter for hours.

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They'd been in the same place so often, sometimes many days in a row. She avoided his eyes each time and made sure to ask no one for his name. When he finally spoke to her, it was lowly, against the wall among a crowd of friends.
"This will go on all night." He wasn't looking at her.
She allowed herself only a glance. The planes of his face were waxy in the light, the edges of his hair clean as the teeth on a bear trap.
"Maybe," she said. "The girls hate walking home in the dark."
"The men won't leave if the women stay," he said without opinion. Some people danced in earnest. Others fell into each other like toppled columns, staggering, shouting. It was impossible to distinguish the happy from the not, with everyone drinking something. The cups were a mystery. They gave away nothing.
"It's all the bedrooms," she said. "The house is so big. No one worries about where they'll sleep."
"Dahhhling," a thin woman stumbled into them both as she hung from the shoulder of a smiling man. "Dahhling, you simply must…" She was joking. She seemed to address everyone at once.
When his hands lifted it looked as though they might take the woman by the throat. At the last moment, they fell on her back. He pushed her and her companion away. The two gave no indication of caring.
"You don't like it here," she said. Realizing for the first time how immature all this might seem to him, how grotesquely American. Realizing he didn't have a drink, which made her shy about hers. She wasn't sure if he was older or if he only seemed older for his foreignness, weighted by a life so different from hers though it had the same components.
"It tires me," he corrected.
"Then you should leave," she said. She was issuing a challenge. It got his attention. When he looked at her, her eyes were waiting.

His body had no surprises. It was like she knew it would be, though she couldn't recall thinking about it directly. He held her arms above her head as though they'd only get in the way. She never felt afraid. He wasn't aggressive as much as he was serious. "Task-oriented," she thought at one point. He made very little noise, mostly grunts.

Immediately after, he pressed into her heavily, letting his full weight rest. The mattress felt old. Not dirty but used by the same body for years. A bed long in the family. She turned her head only slightly toward him. His face was buried in the pillow. She knew his eyes would be closed but hers were still open. She turned a little further, testing him. She placed her lips against his ear. She felt his ribs gather together when he exhaled.

In the morning they rose together and dressed on opposite sides of the bed as though this were a routine they'd performed for months. She wanted to speak but didn't.
"Where do you live?" He asked her.
"Just down the way."
"I'll walk you there." His shoulder blades looked sharper under his striped sweater than they had bare. She let her fingers brush his once as if by accident and then he took her hand. Outside was brilliantly bright.
Cats crossed their path at least twice. She swung his arm a little as they walked, teasing, pretending to be the giddy girl she worried that she was. She had not slept much. Even the litter crowding the gutters seemed pretty. The lane was quiet and alive.
"Where do you go today?" she asked.
"Why do you want to know that?" He looked ahead with determination, as though he were the one who knew the way.
"So I can come find you there."
He stopped and turned to her, edged her back from the empty street to the sidewalk. He stared into her eyes for a beat before putting his arms around her shoulders. She reached up to brush the hair from her face and her hand ran into his. Something caught his attention above her, further down the road. His gaze flickered up then back down.
"A shirtless man is watching us," he said. They laughed and then struggled not to. It was new to laugh together, and so close to one another's faces. She worried about her breath. He kissed her. That was the first.

Years later, she would remember the party but not the host. She would remember the shirtless man though she'd not been the one to see him. It could have been almost any time of week. It might have been in April, the earliest days.

   

 

"Who would leave this here?" she asked. She studied the canvas face as she rightened it with one hand.
"A person who didn't want it," he replied. "It's not good."
From her arm's length, they looked. Gusts of wind rustled the new leaves above. How many times they'd walked this street. Sometimes it seemed this street was the only one they had access to, the single road running through every place they needed or would ever need to be.
"It's a person," she said, just starting to make out the shapes.
"With a tail?"
"The devil."
"On a cloud?"
"The artist probably had a very sophisticated cosmology. One god, one devil; it's all the same. The one with the power to save is the one with the power to condemn."
"Don't talk to me like you're in school," he said. He placed the painting back where it had been, leaning on the sapling.
"How I should talk to you?"
"Like I've won you," he said. "Like you're frightened of me."
"You think those are the same?"
He made a dismissive noise through his nose. "We are not classmates."
They came to the square, where at least a dozen vendors had set up shop. There was no apparent logic to the items they displayed, no theme or unifying function. An ancient woman sat behind a stack of blankets that seemed well-used. The man next to her had overwhelmed his table with pewter knick knacks: toy soldiers, cups, candlestick holders.
"This is just what we needed," she said, leading him towards the booths.
"They're selling shabby nonsense," he said. "Nothing of value." But she'd already spotted what she wanted.
"I'm buying this for you," she said as she sorted through her clutch of coins. "Yes, please," she nodded at the stall keeper, gesturing. He passed her the trophy and she thanked him.
"This is your proof," she said, triumphant. "Your proof of winning. Now are you happy?" She pushed it against his chest until he took it in his hands.
He studied it, then looked back at her. "It's not quite the prize I had in mind," he said.
She laughed. "It comes with a reward."
"Money?" He said optimistically.
She pulled his hand so he would lean down, and she whispered in his ear.

"I want to go back for the painting," she said at dusk, though she was sleepy and already bowing towards him as she would once they laid down, her body like a ribbon running down the length of his.
They'd wandered down every side street until they found the right alley for her to drop to her knees and tug at his buttons. She'd wanted to make it last for him but it was over quickly. The taste was still musky near the back of her tongue. Just as they finished, a family passed at the mouth of the street, one child with each adult.
"No," he said now. He held her hand as firmly as he would a fussy child's, forcing her to keep pace with his strides. "Trash does not need to be rescued." The trophy dangled hollowly from his other fist, catching the street lamp light and looking cheap.

 

   
 

One morning she convinced him to take her to the circus. Someone from the university told her it was setting up outside of town. They said it came every year, though never at the same time.
"It's not a real circus," he told her. "Only gypsies doing tricks on a tightrope ten feet above a dirt floor."
"That sounds real," she said. "You need an elephant? You're a snob. You elitist snob."
The day was cold and it wasn't long before she was in his worn canvas jacket, the fabric sagging around her with its pillow of his warmth. They left the road for the woods, which was her idea of a shortcut.
"This is a poor way of finding it," he said.
"It's an adventure," she replied.
"Not for me," he said. "I grew up playing in these woods."
"Then there's no worry we'll get lost."
"You mean there's no worry of someone finding you!" He pounced on her, hands like claws around her upper arms. He bit her neck.
She yelped, laughing. She wiggled out of his coat and ran. The floor was wrecked with dead logs, beer cans, wet piles of old leaves. A branch scraped her cheek. She ducked another one and veered right, where the trees seemed to thin.
She tripped before he could grab her. He had only to drop his body over hers and turn her to face him, his thighs hard and pinning her wide. He covered her mouth with his hand but she shook it off. His other hand was at his jeans, then under her skirt.
"No. Don't. No." She hit him bluntly with her fists, tossing her head. She couldn't breath. Forest shrapnel dug into her back, her neck. He pushed inside. "I want to be on top," she panted, her voice climbing. "I want to be on top." Her entire body rocked with his thrusts. She closed her eyes until his hand yanked the hair at her scalp.
"Look at me," he whispered in his original tongue. "Look at what I'm doing to you."

"We're in a backyard," she said when they emerged. Dingy shirts flapped on half of the clothesline. They walked under the half without. Weeds scratched at her calves above the line of her boots. She was back in his jacket.
They watched the campground for several moments but there were no signs of movement, of any life. She'd expected secret activity as interesting as the show itself, a private glimpse of silks and glittering costumes, groomed white horses, a bearded lady washing herself with a bucket.
"So much effort," he said. "A girl lost her innocence for this circus. Gypsies—they don't even show up." Wind passed over the grasses in long, soothing waves. They both stayed still, as though they expected a timid animal might appear. Clouds passed over the sun, one replacing the other. Nothing changed.
"They're there," she said finally. "They're just not ready for us yet."

 

 

      ***        
 

In his relentless dreams, he saw his brother but they didn't speak. While he lived, he and Tevan spoke constantly, because Tevan talked to everyone, always. He was as friendly as a precocious child. It surprised others when they saw him play, his sudden sobriety unexpected from one so gregarious. But the brooding composer, the man hunched over a keyboard as he hid in his sound from the world around him—that wasn't Tevan. He simply became reverent before an instrument. His hands would speak as his heavy head bowed, his mouth shut down.
The dreams exhausted him. He glimpsed Tevan from across a room or for only a moment in a crowd. He saw him once as a reflection in a mirror, the reflection that should have been his own. He saw him in framed photos in a dream home, a home identical to the one in which they'd both been raised. Once he saw Tevan laughing and looking in another direction, so they couldn't lock eyes.
He lay nearly breathless with desperation upon waking. This evasive vision was nothing like his true brother. Anger mounted with the frustration so that he began every day a worse person than he was before. He'd rather Tevan leave him entirely than visit him this way.
After many weeks of these sleep sightings, he dreamed Tevan at a street fair, and the crowd parted enough that he thought they might finally meet. But Tevan was talking to someone else, and when the body in front of his moved away, the rich red stain on his shirt beamed as bright as a bulb.
He wept. He swore to himself he wouldn't sleep again, not for any extended period. He went to parties at night in the hope of staying awake. He grew ghostly and black in the eyes, and he wore his brother's striped shirt every day like it was a prisoner's uniform, part of a sentence without end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

If he fell in love, it was a love filtered through a flu, through the horror of being haunted. The convenience was her knowing nothing of his brother's murder. He could walk with her down the street where it happened and she'd glow as she held his hand, oblivious, ignorant, unsullied. She'd remark on the blooms in the trees or the used books abandoned by a seller, and she wouldn't expect a reply. She was eternally available to him, her body seeming to swell into his hands even when his touch was as innocent as taking hold of her elbow. No matter what he said, she accepted it entirely, with the trust of a co-conspirator, though he conspired with no one anymore.
He saw her tenderness, how she trusted him. Even her skin felt newer than other girls'. When she slept, he nearly trembled with the desire to protect her freshness and also the rage of knowing such protection was futile. He experienced them together as a single braid of pain. He'd pretend to go before her, letting his lids rest and his breathing slow until her own dropped into a deep rhythym. Then he'd rise and play the tricks he'd invented to avoid the dreams: chewing ice, standing, staying naked near the window with the draft. At dawn he'd go back to bed, fall into a short, black sleep and wake to her squirming against him, wedging her body tight like a shadow against his.
Her company forced him alert, so he spent as much time with her as he could. It was unintentional when, after more than a month, he truly slept with her. It was the warmest day they'd had that year, the first proper day of summer, and she'd draped her sticky body over his in the afternoon, the thick air crowding them while sunlight streamed through the windows.
He woke sweetly, unaware at first, only gradually realizing what had happened. He'd slept, and he'd had no dreams. The relief was enough to make him cry, and he felt on the verge until her shifting body reminded him that he wasn't alone. He turned to her and her eyes already open.
"Good morning," she said, smiling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

His brother dreamed of performing in America.
"What a stupid dream," he said. "What a worthless country."
"That's where I'd get the best girls," Tevan replied, humming, his fingers hopping from key to key. The melody was delicate, tinkly, like the theme for an easy snow or a young princess.
"Pick-up-trucks," he said in English. He punched the words to mock them. "Base-ball. Free-dom."
"You're woefully ignorant." Tevan picked up his pace, playing more vigorously for a few intense moments until he stopped suddenly. Into the silence the sound left behind, he said, "Someone came here looking for you today."
He froze. "Don't tell."
"I won't. The neighbors might. The man thought I was you…. He was very unhappy that I wouldn't give him what he wanted."
Tevan didn't look at him; he didn't look at Tevan.
"You've got to stop," Tevan said softly.
"I never use," he said, too eagerly. "I've never used."
"That doesn't matter. You've got to stop now before you get yourself any deeper."
Now he did look at his brother, and Tevan's brow was furrowed, not with anger but like he was reading something in a language he couldn't understand. "Just stop," he said. It always seemed simple to Tevan.
He took a deep breath and held it in. What choice did he have? It was the first time in almost 18 years that his brother had asked him for anything.
"Okay," Tevan said in relief after several minutes had passed.

Two days later, he came upon his brother playing the same curious tune, the one that began so lightly and ended with such agony. He listened; now it was longer, richer, but with the same abrupt resolution.
"What's this called?" he asked.
Tevan smiled slyly, like someone with a secret. "American Dream," he said. "It's your birthday present."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

They were good boys who kept bad company or so he preferred to think, though the truth was that Tevan was a good boy who kept the bad company of his own brother. It took so little to be a villain, simply a series of accidents: loitering in the market with classmates who stole brazenly; roughhousing with another boy who tumbled from the roof of a dilapidated tomb and broke his arm in a gruesome fashion. Only Tevan believed him when their mother found the bad brother in the yard, squatting over a inexplicably dead rabbit. Stripping cars on the street started as a game, a contest among those market-thieving classmates. Who was the fastest, the cleanest? Who could glean the most? The only time he broached the topic with his brother, Tevan stilled as he did before a piano, though with a chill rather than a hush. "I just wish you would be more careful," he said.

It was expected when Grandfather cut him from the will and left everything to Tevan, who had turned 18 several months before the death. Bad Brother would finish school, barely, and though he'd evaded outright arrest, no neighbors doubted that his recreational time constituted one continuous crime spree. It was only his unobtrusive behavior in the house, and Tevan, that kept him from being thrown out entirely. But home was suffocating, every encounter with his parents glazed with anger.
Part of him was relieved to be without the inheritance. The money would have created an imperative to go on to university. It would ruin his excuses for not making a change. But he should have known better.
"Don't be a fool," Tevan said. "Half is yours. And you're going to uni with me."

He dropped out before the murder—from the start, he couldn't be bothered with the work—but when he looked back on it, leaving school took on the cast of a premonition. And he was a fool, for bringing his body back home for the funeral, for thinking there may be some solace there. His mother struck his face, three times.
"I know this was because of you. What did you do to him? What did you do?"
"It wasn't me, Mama. It wasn't my fault." His spoke to his mother like he was a boy again, or a proper boy for the first time, dutiful, shamed. He wept. She wept. "I don't know what happened, I swear it. I don't know."
"You're a liar. You've always been a liar." She shook with her pain, not even facing him. He raised his hands as if pleading before a god.
"I swear it. Mama, it wasn't because of me. "
"My child is gone. My child," she sobbed, still turned away. She folded in on herself.
His father stood by the front door, staring ahead into nothing. When she could manage words again, his mother said, "You have no more family here."
They were, they had been twins. Fraternal but, to most eyes, very much alike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

"Tell me about it," she said, ashing her cigarette into a glass half full of water. Her name was Sylvie and she wore a shock of dark hair over her right eye. Propped upright in the bed she looked as small as she did standing, maybe even more so, with the narrow columns of her arms pressed against her ribs, one crossed lazily above her puckered navel as the other folded deeply to hold the cigarette to her mouth. They'd met at a club and she brought him back to her hotel. She was at least five years older than he.
He stood naked in front of the room's single window, which stretched the length of the wall. He too smoked one of Sylvie's terrible cigarettes. He glanced down at it now. "We met, we fucked for a while, I had to leave. Nothing to tell." He wouldn't owe her an explanation if he hadn't called her by the wrong name.
Of course it was she who'd had to go, back to the States, yet he'd left for another city after their fight. Now he lived with the friend who'd promised he could get him work, and had, at a warehouse. He bristled at the thought of telling this stranger anything more, about the first time he fell asleep with her or about the lightness that came afterwards. Or how from then on, at least for a while, it was like a permission had been granted. He wanted to make her laugh, so he joked with her. At night, he cradled her and passed away into dreamlessness.
"What was her name again?" Sylvie asked, barely curious. She was being polite. How pathetic he must seem, like some schoolboy pining after a woman who didn't care for him. He knew what she'd think, no matter what he said.
"Anna," he dropped his cigarette into her water glass and sat on the bed, facing away from her towards the window, out at a sky full of cool blue.
"Do you have to go right away?" Sylvie slid up next to him, snaking her doll's hand between his legs. So this was the form her pity assumed. She took another drag and blew the smoke out next to his ear. "Or could you stay a bit longer?"

That night he dreamed he was the murdered one. Tevan, healthy, living, ran to his side as he lay dying in the street, his mouth brimming with blood. He could only sputter and cough when he tried to talk, but here his brother was, finally. Finally he could look into his face for the last time.
"Artem," Tevan said, holding him, his hands becoming slippery with blood. The look in his infinite eyes: such love, such grief. This beloved man dead almost a year. One year into forever. He would never see him again.
"Artem," Tevan said. "Artemy, say something. Artemy, speak to me."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

Jennifer Fuchs, Untitled.

 

 

 

 

 

Standing transfixed by shadows and memory rises even though it was a long time ago. It seems I am always shaking somewhere. But there are brief moments of stillness that run over to clarity bringing a shift to part human, part foliage. And knowledge that the slightest tremor could end it. Stay still. There is so much time. One breath could break this.

Was I a willow tree?

 

 

 

 

 

Bend down. Down. Down further. Stretch down to reach the river. See now that stones are not still and neither is sand. Look upstream until your gaze is taken. By the river. Taken now downstream. Taken toward what has not become and so to what has been forgotten.

Do you like puzzles?

“I did, when I was a kid. That’s how I would spend my weekends. No friends, no bike. At first they were puzzles depicting childish things. You know, cartoon fire engines, animals behind cages at the zoo.

 

 

 

 

Then things became more complex. Photographs of landscapes, paintings. They say you should start with the border. Look for the pieces with straight edges. I always started with the eyes. Or a fence.”

“I stopped liking puzzles when I was fourteen. Then I got older and started making my own. Images carefully constructed and then broken apart, dissected into squiggly blobs of line and color. Now I do it all the time.

Found objects, used postcards.
But I still don’t like puzzles.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing but a thin film separates Us In Here from That Out There. The space that connects is even smaller - most fragile of membranes, whisper of breath. Standing there puts you between worlds upon the threshold, what is neither, what is both. Do it, one shoulder touched by sunlight, the other, though bent and poised, still in the embrace of the former space. The rest of you is neither. Barefoot. How long did you stand on that cold metal track?

Red lines on the soles of your feet and you stepped out.
The stepping out was the hardest. Strange, barren. I see it now. But it had been used, meaning that it could be used again. Or forgotten. Again.

 

 

 

We lay on the grass looking up at the leaves of the trees and the sun behind them with our eyes closed. You put pressure on your eyelids and told me about the other colors you saw. My reds shifted in and out, merged with black. And so we spent the day flat on our backs remembering star explosions. These are the things of trance and dream painted on the walls of caves 30,000 years ago. This is where language comes from.

One puzzle piece has sharp edges, the next smooth and round. Shifting from one to the next. We thought we had the answer. Assumed that they all fit somewhere. Creatures of meaning, throwing ourselves against walls trying to find significance. Create it. Drawing maps on our bodies with the effort, with time, our battle, our acceptance. Walking craggy paths, silent and shut out. Two thresholds, one immediate and one remote. I speak. You echo. You speak. I relent.

Understand this: It was late when we started and is now even later still. In letting go, my skin shifted and I became transparent. I am here, sitting on the steps, staring straight ahead, but you do not see me. Under the words spoken as people pass, one after the other, reckless thinking they are alone. Funny how often people talk to themselves when they believe they are alone. Funny that here they are not. Funny that the times when they are most alone are often those when they are not.

“She talked a lot. About puzzles. Junk. A new way of seeing hidden in old things.

And I listened, holding my breath afraid that the latch might break and all of me would come pouring out and she would run. Stringing words together like beads. But cohesion escaped me and the words solidified into separate islands. Distant ones you can order out of a catalog. So I reached in and pulled up a rusty anchor that corroded at my touch. And instead of being stuck, latched up, stone and impenetrable I became soft, malleable, permeable and fragile. To the point that the things that made no sense, everything I guess, released me. I closed the book. Now laughing is easy. In my kitchen there are no puzzles and I kill words.”

If I had a cloak to wrap you in I would do it tightly, keeping your wings bound and resting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The space that would be left over would hold everything I have forgotten and there would be no words while our images fell pale, stretched thinner than the space between us, than your confinement and the threshold. Because it will always be crossed. There is no avoiding that – where we do not move, it moves closer to us, catches up, surrounds and hurtles us forward. It is softer to step over with intent than to resist. Then there are deep pools of cool water and air.

         

Tommy Smith, Nectarine.

 

 

   
 

He performed oral sex on the woman he claimed was his daughter.
She wasn't his daughter really. He had stolen her as a young girl.
She was walking home from school.
She had blonde hair and wore a dress.
This man pulled up in a van.
This other woman got out of the van and took the young girl into the van.
The man and the woman kept the young girl.
The man constructed a cage in his basement.
He fed her a couple times a day and a couple times a day he would come in and fuck her.
No one knew what she was thinking.
> That is to say we have no way of recording what it is that raced through her mind.
We can only guess.
Mom?
They let her out from time to time.
Mom are you there?
After years she forgot she was a young girl they stole from the street and instead she accepted the reality that the man and the woman kept insisting was the real story that they should not tell anyone should anyone ask questions about if she was their daughter or not.
She was their daughter.
You're our daughter.
Say it to me say you're my daughter.
I'm your daughter daddy.

 
   
 

He bought her dresses.
His wife, the woman who helped steal the young girl from the street, had grown older.
They let their daughter roam free outside her cage and in the regular household because this was the trust they were starting to develop with each other.
The mother was in her late fifties. So he bought his daughter shoes.
Try these on.
Oh I like these.
Go ahead and try them on.
Is it okay I mean can we afford them?
Don't worry about that just worry bout gettin them dogs on them toes a yours.
The man had read earlier that day about how rare flowers often existed in the spaces between molten lava floes so to pick these flowers also meant possibly exchanging your mortality for briefly possessing exquisite beauty.
He was now not thinking that.
His face between her legs.
He had forgotten to shave.
Every now and again she let out a whimper.
Dad?
Mm.
Dad?
What?
Your beard.
What my beard? A little prickly.
A little what?
Prickly your hairs prickle my legs.
I'll show you prickly.
And he fucked her, and against her wishes she came, then he came inside her and told her to wash up.

 
   
 

The wife was in the bathroom.
The daughter knocked twice.
I'm in here. Can I use it when you're done?
I'm using it.
I'll be in the kitchen til you're done.
Okay.
The daughter sat silent at the kitchen table with a sheet wrapped white around her.
She thought of what she would do later tomorrow.
I will have to clean the house tomorrow.
I will have to dust the windowsills.
Maybe he might make me wash the windows.
Maybe mom will have me help her in the kitchen.
She thought of her first mom.
She stared at the kitchen telephone.
She didn't think to pick it up.
She wasn't planning on calling anyone.
She just stared at the shape of the phone.
The way you stare at a cloud.
The bathroom door popped open and the invisible sound waves reverberated off the walls of the hallway and bounced into the kitchen where a lessened bandwave found purchase in the eardrums of the daughter and she looked up.
Her mother was standing in the hallway.
It's all yours.
Thanks mom.
Imna have you help me tomorrow.
Yeahm?
We're gonna teach you to read tomorrow.
Well ah thanks ma.
You should learn to read cause you're way too old to be dumb like this.
And the daughter stared at her hands and shifted in her sheet and out squeezed a bead of semen crowned with a blood swirl.

 
   
 

The wife made breakfast early in the morning.
The man woke at five.
If it was clear he watched the sunrise.
Gods frst lite he'd say.
You want a coffee?
What's that wife?
I'm gonna make a coffee fer us.
Gonna make that Instant.
Nah I like the real beans.
Make me the Instant kay.
Kayhun.
As the man's wife walked to the kitchen her own mother came to mind.
Her mother sitting on the edge of her bed crying. Why was she crying?
She doesn't remember comforting her mother.
This must have been thirty years ago, what was she crying about thirty years ago?
The kettle finished boiling with a whistle.
She scooped a spoonful of Instant in a cup and poured in hot water with a brown oily swirl.
Her husband drank the hot cup quick.
The wife thought about all the tasks she already did around the house.

 
   
 

In the backyard bloomed a tree of nectarines.
When the wife walked underneath the branches into the cool shade she'd take in a breath of moist dirt air.
You could smell the nectarines ripening on the vine.
The heat of the sun humming inside them.
She'd bite teeth hot into the poking fruitskin.
A lone line of juice trailing down her chin and beading into her neck's nape.
Goldurn now I getta napkin she thunk.
It was her job to pick the ripe nectarines but every now and again she'd eat one before bringing into her husband.
The girl never got any nectarines.
She never gave her none.
The wife in fact had no feelings for the girl.
She called the girl a girl and not daughter like the husband did.
But the wife had tasks like taking out the trash in the bathrooms every day.
Like fixing all the meals and buying groceries.
She'd take the girl shopping.
Stay close to me and don't sat nuthin.
The girl in a simple dress and flip-flops nodding.
With a finger she scoops a lone lock of her dirty hair flipping across her eyesight and tucks it 'hind her ear.
I'm exhausted.
Can you rub my shoulders?
This is what the wife would say to the girl.
Can you massage my feet?
There's a part of my neck that only you know how to untouch.
Your fingers unlock the muscles of my back.
She'd count her jobs in her head.
The wife would count the amount of jobs the husband gave her in her head when no one was looking.
She'd count the hours she'd spent on him and assign a dollar amount or worse she'd think about all the other things she'd done for him.

 
   
 

You wanna marry me?
Yeah I said I wanna marry you he says and pulls a lock of hair from out her eyes.
But I don't known you fer a time yet.
And then he said something about how God's love was eternal and shining on anything on earth that found a shard of love on this sinner's planet.
She didn't understand all of it.
There were his eyes.
They were blue.
She liked that a lot.
Later the police would ask her why she stayed with her husband all those years after kidnapping and brainwashing a little girl for twenty straight years.
They got a lot during the trial.
She remembered thinking, They've really done a lot of research.
They've done more research than me on my own life.
I don't even remember half the things they're talken about.
I suppose this is what cops get paid fer.

 
   
 

The husband turned to his wife and he looked like he was going to hit her but instead he said Did you clean out her room?
Room was their word for pen.
Did you clean out her pen?
No.
Can you clean it?
This was in the first year, when they were still figuring out if they were going to kill the little girl, or just keep raping her, or maybe the wife would like the fuck the girl sometime?
The husband seemed to be pushing this to become a reality.
He kept making hints at the dinner table about more love in the house.
Then he would motion his eyes downward to indicate the basement, where the young girl lived in her pen.
It was really a cage.
Ten years pass.
She's grown but her eyes are sensitive to light.
Sunlight's a little too much.
It hurts her eyes actually.

 
   
 

What else can you tell us about the subject?
We found the place where they kept her outside in sort of a quasi jail.
Quasi?
A summertime jail in the backyard.
They would keep her in the basement during winter but in the summer they'd lock her in a canvas tent.
The detective sniffed. She could see the stars.
This was in the backyard?
The neighbors just thought he was growing weed.
The man in the cop uniform said these words while flashbulbs made his face glisten.
The young girl who is now a young woman was watching the television in a hotel room.

 
   
 

We should maybe give her a name.
Tracee.
Tracee doesn't remember much about her childhood.
She lived in her original town, before the kidnapping, since her birth until eight years old.
Or was it ten?
How old was she?
She didn't know.
They used to call her by a different name but the man and his wife told her to answer to a name that they gave her.
That's your new name.
But my name's Tracee.
We're just going to call you by your New Name okay?
But why?
Don't make me bring dad down.
Tracee knew that he wasn't her dad.
And sometimes when he'd come downstairs and unlock the padlock and flick on the overhead light and a flourecent flicker would pop on overhead he'd have this look animating the flesh over the face of his skeleton.
The skeleton would be smiling and the eyes searching for something.
Tracee would dream of the skeleton writhing on top of her, the bony fingers snapping the straps of her panties.
Then the same thing in the morning, where before the husband went to his position at a local parish he would rape over and over a girl who he claimed was his daughter.
I think we have the facts now.
We can see the whole picture of their relationship.
There was a sense of love eventually.
But we should look at this love as evil.
The love that these two people swore under oath?
It was evil.

 
   
 

The wife would later smoke cigarettes in front of a woman who called herself a counselor.
Outside the bars of the prison windows clouds roil overhead and for a moment the wife looks out and says nothing, then turns back to the counselor and resumes her story about how she first met her husband.
He was a boy I knew from my town.
Remember goin to the middle school with im.
We had detention together one day then he got transferd to another school.
At detention he passed a note that said I looked purdy.
I didn't see him fer ten years after that.
I was broke and I'd got myself set up with a temp agency.
They'd got me a job packin instant cameras in boxes then sealen em up with packen tape.
He was the guy that shared my roll a tape.
We'd pass the tape back and forth.
I touched his hand once and that was when we knew.
It was right then we knew and so we made up an excuse to see each other over coffee then at coffee we decided to get a drink later and the drink turned into dinner then you know how these things go.
I was in love.

 
         

Leah Dieterich, Views.

 

 

   
 

I am alone at a house in the middle of the California desert, looking out a plate glass window. I look past the porch, which isn’t really a porch, but merely a slab of concrete. And while the concrete is concrete, it could just as well be the ashes of the thoughts of anyone who’s ever sat here, and contemplated this Middle View.

The Middle View is perpetually between. It’s the scrubby desert plants, the skeletal remains of mattresses propped up as fences, the tan horizontality. It is the kind of view that settles the gaze, but frustrates the camera.

“Show us your view!” the call for entries in the magazine says. The magazine is Dwell and it’s on the mid-century coffee table inside the rented house in the desert. The magazine says it will choose the best view and display it in a future issue.

I’ve tried to photograph the view from the window of the house in the desert, but it looks like nothing. Views rarely translate. Why do they resist having their photo taken? Maybe they’re shy, or just wary. Perhaps they know that to become a landscape they have to cease being a world, and if that’s the case, I understand their trepidation. I’ve had a longstanding love affair with these sorts of views, but it’s always felt rather one sided. If only I could seduce one into being photographed. That would be a great victory, and I haven’t won anything in a long time.

 

 
 
 

I don’t sit by the window anymore when I fly, I don’t look out now that the Internet is here. I’m always looking two feet in front of me. During a six hour flight I look for more information about the Show Us Your View contest, and in the process find a list of the 10 Best Hotel Views in the World according to AskMen.com.

The list spans the globe, and the height and width of its architecture, from the vertigo-inducing city balconies to the serenity of the plains and desert verandas. AskMen bases the merit of these views on their worthiness of being photographed. The Hayman Island Resort Australia has “vistas that will stay with you long after your Kodak snaps have faded,” and the Hotel Caruso Ravello, Italy offers “the archetypal picture-postcard view of Italy, complete with bougainvillea-draped white houses and lush green cliffs offset by the dramatic blue Mediterranean.” I know this view. I’ve stuck it to my refrigerator with a magnet many times. Askmen says the Wolwedans Namibia has “celluloid-worthy views of the mountains and beyond, and the Burj Al Arab Dubai has “panoramic vistas of towering skyscrapers, the sweeping desert and a blanket of blue ocean.” The number one best hotel view in the world goes to a hotel called Commune by the Great Wall of China, which has “unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains, and of course, the Great Wall.” This word unparalleled strikes me as strange. I try to imagine instead, a literally paralleled view of the Great Wall. Something with no vanishing point. But as AskMen claims, it’s impossible. The gaze of the countless eyes that have made snapshots of these views, immediately collapses them like some kind of foregone conclusion.

 

 

 
   
 

On the plane I look at TV on the Internet. I watch The View. The View is a show for women. Whoopi! Joy! Sherri! Barbara! Elisabeth!

Hi everyone, today we’re going to be talking about the gaze.

The gays?!

Ha. Ha. Ha. Whoopi! Joy!

No Sherri, the gaze. How it is to look and be looked at. A lot of people talk about the male gaze.

Yeah, the other day I was walkin’ along a construction site and a couple a men were cat callin’ me. I could feel their eyes.

See? That’s the male gaze.

Sing it, Elisabeth!

You never get that with the gays, though. ‘Cept for on those makeover shows where a gay man tells you how to dress. Girl, they are brutal!

What do you think, Barbara? Do men feel it? Do objects feel it? What about nature? When you put it on a postcard does it feel cheap and tacky? Does it become a kind of pinup girl?

I close the window on my computer and see what’s outside. The clouds are below us now, like a floor or a table. All I see to the left and right is blue. There is nothing in the distance and there is everything in the distance.

 

 

 

 
   
 

To sea! To sea! To sea!

I am on a ship making the journey across the Atlantic. I am part of the crew. We aren’t allowed to bring cameras or phones with cameras because they don’t want us to be distracted while we’re working. Every time I see something I want to photograph, I take the picture in my mind and write it down later. Our route is full of contest-winning views. I take a picture of the view from my room below deck. It looks like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

They are like little love letters, these pictures.

   
 

On the ship, we wear all-white uniforms because we’re not supposed to distract the passengers from the beauty of the places they’ve paid to see. The white clothes are lovely and blank, but they are difficult to wear, because they make it impossible to conceal the friction of the world rubbing up against you and you against the world. In my cabin I take off this uniform, and stand in front of the mirror, making a self portrait.

Before I was a sailor, and long before my time in the desert, I wore white for an entire year. The whites I wore were mainly threadbare undershirts that had belonged to my father, and baggy white pants held up by a belt given to me by my mother, which she’d purchased at a second-hand store. During this year, I was seeing a girl with long black hair. The girl with black hair had an amazing view, and I fell in love with it. She lived at the top of a very high hill above Sunset Blvd and from there, the glittering lights were vast and without focus. I could breathe up there.

I had conquered a longstanding fear of driving for her view. The white knuckles I used to have when driving, were now relaxed pink knobs, little islands at the apex of my hands, curled lightly over the top of the steering wheel, drifting with the tidal movement of my turns. I felt like a Machiavellian prince, perhaps. Her view, the prize. And her hair. It was the sort of black that folds in on itself. It felt good to touch, even with your eyes. Looking at it was satisfying like closing a heavy linen-bound volume, or hearing the sound of something dropped to the bottom of a well with a thick felt bottom.

How did it end? You ask. She moved.

I can’t stay on the ship much longer. I feel impotent without a camera. I have my love letters, but until I show them to someone, they feel like they don’t exist. I think I’ve only felt this
way since I fell in love with a photographer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

He has left me to go to China for the summer, which is why I went out to the desert alone. I wanted to see what I’d see without him. From China he sends back images of what he sees. They are buildings under construction. They are hotel rooms with neatly folded bedspreads. They are fish and chickens on platters with their heads and feet on. I ask for pictures of him. He sends Tienanmen Square, Kentucky Friend Chicken, and the Olympic Pavilion, half completed.

I write to him and say that tomorrow I will disembark, and sit down in a tattoo artist’s chair and have him put the view I have in my head on me. A full back-piece I’ll never see with my own eyes, but will know it’s there, will have felt it applied. It’ll have choppy white lines cutting through large swaths of darkness for the sea, and bleached out rectangles for the buildings that one often finds perched on cliffs, like women leaning over the railings of ship-decks. I think it could win the contest.

And I’ll cut off all my hair, so you won’t recognize me from photos that have been taken of me in the past, but rather you’ll make new photos of me with your eyes when you see me. And when you finally do return home, I will lay fully on top of you, stick my sweaty body to yours, and peel it away like a rubber stamp making an impression. I’ll be left with your chest hairs stuck to my breasts and my cut hair on the floor, and we’ll lay side by side, seen from above like some stereoscopic twins in the photo bin of an antique store in the future, that someone will spend too much money on, because they are on vacation, and it speaks to them more than any postcard of the ocean ever could.

To see! To see! To see!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clarke, Nick. (n.d.) Ask Men Top 10 Best Hotel Views. Retrieved from http://www.askmen.com/top_10/travel/top-10-best-hotel-views.html

 

 

 

 
     

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