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Sep 2010
i dreamed a rattlesnake was loose in the closet i heard it rattling i was afraid to open the door



a man suffering a toothache goes to see his dentist the dentist administers laughing gas when the man comes to his numb tongue swooshes around his mouth he asks how long was i under the dentist answers hours i needed to pull them all out



he imagines when he grows old there will be a pencil grown into one hand and a paintbrush grown into the other they will look like extra fingers grown out from the palms extensions of his personal evolution little children will be horrified when they see mommy mommy look at that man’s hands!



what if we are each presented with a complete picture of a puzzle from the very start then as our lives proceed the pieces begin showing up out of context sometimes recognizable other times a mystery some people are smarter more intuitive than others and are able to piece together the bigger picture some people never figure it out



i wasn’t thinking i didn’t know to think nobody taught me to think maybe my teachers tried but i didn’t get it i wasn’t thinking i was running reacting doing whatever i needed to survive when you’re trying to survive you move fast by instinct you don’t think you just act



many children are relieved when their parents die then they no longer need to explain prove themselves live up to their parent’s expectations yet all children need parents to approve foster mentor teach love



she was missing especially when her children needed her most she was busy lunching with girlfriends dinner dates beauty shop manicure masseuse appointments shopping seamstress fittings constant telephone gossiping criticizing she was too busy to notice she was missing more than anything she wanted to party show off her beauty to be the adored one the hostess with the mostest



i dreamed i was condemned to die by guillotine the executioner wore black and wielded an axe just in case the device failed in the dream the guillotine sliced shallow then the executioner went to work but he kept chopping unsuccessfully severing my head this went on for a long time



1954 Max Schwartzpilgrim sits at table in coffee shop on 5th floor of Maller’s Building elevated train loudly passes as he glances out window it is typical gloomy gray Chicago day he worries how he will find the money to pay off all his mounting debts he is over his head in debit thinks about taking out a hefty life insurance policy then cleverly killing himself but he cherishes his lovely wife Jenny his young children and social life sitting across table Ernie Cohen cracks crass joke Max laughs politely yet is in no mood to encourage his fingers work nervously mutely drumming on Formica table then stubbing out cigarette in glass ashtray lighting another with gold Dunhill lighter bitter tastes of coffee and cigarettes turns his stomach sour he raises his hand calling over Millie the waitress he flirtatiously smiles orders bowl of matzo ball soup with extra matzo ball Ernie says you can’t have enough big ***** for this world Max thinks about his son Odysseus



when Odysseus is very young Dad occasionally brings him to Schwartzpilgrim’s Jewelers Store on Saturday mornings Dad shows off his firstborn son like a prize possession lifting Odysseus in the air Dad takes him to golf range golf is not an interest for Odysseus Dad pushes him to learn proper swing Odysseus fumbles golf club and ***** he loves going anyway because he appreciates spending time with Dad once Dad and Odysseus take shower together Dad is so life-size muscular hairy Odysseus is so little Dad reaches touches Odysseus’s ******* feeling lone ******* Dad says we’ll correct that make it right Odysseus does not understand what Dad is talking about at finish Dad turns up cold water and shields Odysseus with his body he watches Dad dressing in mornings Dad is persnickety to last details of French cuff links silk handkerchief in breast pocket even Dad’s fingernails toenails are manicured buffed shiny clear



Odysseus’s left ******* does not descend into his ******* the adults in extended family routinely want to inspect the abnormality Mom shows them sometimes Dad grows agitated and leaves room it is embarrassing for Odysseus Daddy Lou’s brother Uncle Maury wants to check it out too often like he thinks he is a doctor Uncle Maury is an optometrist the pediatrician theorizes the tangled ******* is possibly the result of a hormone fertility drug Mom took to get pregnant the doctor injects Odysseus with a hormone shot then prescribes several medications to induce the ****** to drop nothing works eventually an inguinal hernia is diagnosed around the age of 9 Odysseus is operated on for a hernia and the ******* surgically moved down into his ******* the doctor says ******* is dead warning of propensity to cancer later in life his left ball is smaller than his right but it is more sensitive and needy he does not understand what the doctor means by “dead” Odysseus fears he will be made fun of he is self-conscious in locker room he does not comprehend for the rest of his life he will carry a diminutive *****



spokin alloud by readar in caulkknee axescent ello we’re Biggie an Smally tha 2 testicles whoooh liv in tha ******* of this felloh Odys Biggie is the soyze of a elthy chicken aegg and Smally is the size of a modest Bing cheery



one breast ****** points northeast the other smaller breast ****** points southwest she is frightened to reveal them to any man frightened to be exposed in woman’s locker room she is the most beautiful girl/woman he will ever know



Bayli Moutray is French/Irish 5’8” lean elongated with bowed legs knobby knees runner’s calves slim hips boy’s shoulders sleepy blue eyes light brown hair a barely discernable freckled birthmark on back of neck and small unequal ******* with puffy ******* pointing in different directions Laura an ex-girlfriend of Odysseus’s describes Bayli’s appearance as “a gangly bird screeching to be fed” Laura can be mean Odysseus thinks Bayli is the coolest girl in the world he is genuinely in love with her they have been sleeping together for nearly a year it is March 11 1974 Bayli’s birthday she turns 22 today Bayli is away with her family in Southeast Asia Odysseus understands what a great opportunity this is for her to learn about another culture he knows Bayli plans to meet up again with him in late summer or autumn in Chicago Dad wants Odysseus to follow in his footsteps and become a successful jewelry salesman he offers Odysseus a well-paying job driving leased Camaro across the Midwest servicing Dad’s established costume jewelry accounts Odysseus reasons it is a chance to squirrel away some cash until Bayli returns it is lonely on the road and awkward adjustment to be back in Chicago Odysseus made other plans after graduating from Hartford Art School he is going to be an important painter after numerous months and many Midwestern cities he begins to feel depressed he questions how Bayli can stay away for so long when he needs her so bad the Moutray’s send Mom and Dad a gift of elegant pewter candleholders made in Indonesia Mom accustomed to silver and gold excludes pewter to be put on display she instructs Teresa to place the candleholders away in a cabinet Mom also neglects to write a thank you note which is quite out of character for Mom Bayli’s father is a Navy Captain in the Pacific he is summoned to Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia the Moutray’s flight has a stopover in Chicago Bayli writes her parents want to meet Odysseus and his family Odysseus asks Dad to arrange his traveling itinerary around the Moutray’s visit Dad schedules Odysseus to service the Detroit and Michigan territory against Odysseus’s pleas Odysseus is living with his sister Penelope on Briar Street it is the only address Bayli’s parents know Odysseus has no way to reach them when the Moutray’s arrive at the door Penelope does not know what to tell them Mom and Dad are not interested in meeting Bayli’s parents it is not the first sign of dissatisfaction or disinterest Mom and Dad convey regarding Bayli Odysseus does not understand why his parents do not like her is it because Bayli is not Jewish is that the sole reason Mom and Dad do not approve of her Odysseus believes he needs his parent’s support he knows he is not like them and will likely never adopt their standards yet he values their consent they are his parents and he honors Mom and Dad let’s take a step back for a moment to get a different perspective a more serious matter is Odysseus’s financial dependency on his parents does a commitment to Bayli threaten the sheltered world his parent’s provide him is it merely money binding him to them why else is he so powerless to his parent’s control outwardly he appears a wild child yet inwardly he is somewhat timid is he cowardly is he unsure of Bayli’s strength and sustainability is that why he let’s Bayli go whatever the reason Dad’s and Mom’s pressure and influence are strong enough to sway his judgment he goes along with their authority losing Bayli is the greatest mistake of Odysseus’s life



he dreams Bayli and he are at a Bob Dylan concert they are hidden in the back of the theater in a dark hall they can hear the band playing Dylan’s voice singing and the echoes of the mesmerized audience Odysseus is ******* Bayli’s body against a wall she is quietly moaning his hand is inside her jeans feeling her wetness rubbing fingers between her legs after the show they hang around an empty lot filled with broken bottles loose bricks they run into Dylan all 3 are laughing and dancing down the sidewalk Dylan is incredibly playful and engaging he says he needs to run an errand not wanting to leave his company Odysseus and Bayli follow along they arrive at an old hospital building it is dark and dingy inside there is a large room filled with medical beds and water tanks housing unspeakably disfigured people swarming intravenous tubes attach the patients to oxygen equipment feed bags and monitoring machines Dylan moves between each victim like a compassionate ambassador Odysseus is freaking out the infirmary is too horrible to imagine he shields his eyes wanders away losing Bayli searching running frantically for a way out he wakes shivering and sweating the pillow is wet sheets twisted he gets up from the bed stares out window into the dark night he wonders where he lost Bayli



these winds of change let them come sailor home from sea hunter home from hill he who can create the worst terror is the greatest warrior
michael reid rubenstein
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