Thursday, December 29, 2011
on Christmas day. Great read, ends
with a James Stewart moment in
alternate present, looking for library
when this exchange takes place:
"Ma'am, I just want to know if
the library is still--"
"It's been closed for years and
all the books are gone! They have
Hate Meetings there now." (p.804)
As usual, King has it pegged.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I've been reading a chapter
a night from The Blue Cliff Record.
It's a centuries old collection of
koans and a good door to dreamland.
However, as of yesterday I opened
Stephen King's new book on
time travel. Everything else
has come to a tick-tock stop.
Friday, December 16, 2011
“Only fourteen more days until it snows,” he said
through his false teeth. They clicked in his mouth like
river stones. Cornlin Farrot also wore a fake moustache
and a coarse black wig, with a yellow baseball cap
perched on top.
The bus driver said, “Is that so?” The bus
drivers knew Cornlin. Anyone riding the 150 route
at this time of morning had seen him at his perch,
the first seat to the right. The drivers had even
given him a nickname, Mental Magic, for Cornlin
had an amazing knowledge for numbers, he was
like an almanac.
He pointed the thick sleeve of his green
rain jacket straight ahead out the sheet of windshield.
“The pancake house is closed. It was open for 22
With a grin, the driver asked, “How many
days is that?”
“8,030,” Cornlin replied. “Soon it will be
a Mexican restaurant. When it opens I’ll have to go.”
As the bus passed the blank concrete building, Cornlin
turned in his plastic seat to watch. The thick tinted
glasses he wore hid his eyes. The sight of it seemed
to remind him of something else, something that
Some mornings Cornlin would go on and
on like a radio, but now he seemed preoccupied,
weighed down by a heavy thought he wouldn’t share.
For the rest of the ride he remained silent, clutching
his blue cloth shopping bag on his lap, staring at
the window. When the bus stopped and the door
clacked open, he stood up and left without even
The driver watched Mental Magic get
lost in the streetlights and shadows. Maybe
tomorrow he’d ask him if he was doing okay.
Cornlin’s shuffling walk across the
damp stone pathway of campus began to change
the moment he opened the glass door of
Accounting Services. Once inside, it was like
another pair of legs was walking him, taking
him swiftly down the hall, around the corner
to the men’s restroom, out of sight. True,
he used to worry about being spotted, but it
was always early when arrived and some time
ago he had taken the precaution of informing
the custodial staff to clean this floor last.
He could make decisions like that. Corlin
Farrot was the director of Accounting Services.
He shuffled past the sinks, the wall
of mirrors, and entered the furthest stall.
He set the bag on the tiled floor. He took off
his yellow cap and wig and hung them on
the silver hook of the door. Then piece by piece
he removed his bus riding disguise, replacing
it with the carefully folded suit in his blue
shopping bag. The false teeth he tucked into
a pocket of the rain jacket. The transformation
was complete. The tennis shoes were gone too.
Instead, he wore expensive leather wingtips
As he left the stall, gone too was the
shuffling gambol, now he walked as if he had
been starched, rolled in a fresh American flag.
He stopped in front of the row of mirrors and
cleared his throat.
“Redefining the academic workplace…”
he said. It only took that long for him to find his
voice, it was deeper, grating as an asbestos panel.
“Necessarily, it has become strategically imperative
at this time…” His face was set between
thoughtfulness and a frown. He slipped one hand
in the pocket of his suit, the other he used to jab
the air. “I know we’re all aware of the severity
of the budgetary climate…” He paused again,
rose on the tips of his shoes and settled again.
He still had an hour before the staff meeting
when he would announce the elimination of two
staff positions. “I see this as an opportunity for
reshuffling responsibilities at the job core…”
He did enjoy the sound of his voice. He smiled.
Then he heard something move over
in the stalls.
Cornlin caught terror in the mirrored
eyes staring back at him. Someone was in here,
had been in the stall next to him the whole time,
and knew about his disguise.
If it was one of the cleaning ladies,
he would fire her on the spot. But what if she
threatened to tell? Walking towards the stall
Cornlin actually considered murder.
He stopped at the first stall. His hands
had become fists. “Who’s in there?” he growled.
The silver latch scratched and the door swung
Cornlin took two steps backwards.
He was facing a gorilla.
Actually it was someone in a gorilla suit,
but the scare had been just as real.
“Look…” the gorilla began, “Don’t get
any weird ideas, I didn’t mean for anyone to find
me in here…”
“Who are you?!” Cornlin demanded.
The gorilla sighed, bowed and took off
his head. A red faced and sweaty man in his fifties
blinked at Cornlin. “Name’s Marty, Marty Brickles.
This is the first time I ever come in this building,
Mr. Farrot. Usually I hang around the Steam Plant.”
“What exactly are you doing?”
Marty shrugged. He chuckled, “Ahh, I
don’t know…I like to put on this costume and stomp
around in the woods before work. I never hurt anyone.
Every once in a while I give someone a scare, that’s
all. Hey, you’re not going to turn me in, are you,
“I know you’re a big man around here,
Mr. Farrot, but you don’t have to say anything…
Besides…” he turned the gorilla mask in his hands,
stroked it like a rabbit, “I guess you got a secret too.”
Of my hundreds of unpublished short stories
(add this one to the parade) every once in
a while, a guy in a gorilla suit appears.
That source would undoubtedly be all
those 1940s/1950s black & white movies
seen on Saturdays back in the 1970s.
The gorilla suit was also a fixture of
television variety shows and cartoons
of the day. Besides, what else could
possibly confront Cornlin Farrot?
allen frost December 9, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Kenneth Patchen born 100 years ago today.
This is his handwritten introduction to
"An Astonished Eye Looks Out of the Air"
I AM OPPOSED TO ALL WAR.
I DON’T BELIEVE HUMAN BEINGS
SHOULD KILL EACH OTHER.
I AM OPPOSED TO ALL VIOLENCE—
FOR WHATEVER REASON.
I BELIEVE THAT WARS WILL
ONLY END WHEN MEN
REFUSE TO MURDER ONE ANOTHER—
FOR WHATEVER REASON. I BELIEVE
THESE THINGS AS A MAN AND AS A
REVOLUTIONIST. FOR I BELIEVE
WARS WILL ONLY END WHEN THE
PRESENT MURDEROUS FORMS OF
SOCIETY ARE ALLOWED TO DIE—
AND ALL MEN ARE AT LAST
PERMITTED TO LIVE
TOGETHER AS BROTHERS.
K.P NEW YORK CITY JULY 1945
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
for repair in the Mendery is
a Stick Chart of the Marshall Islands.
"The charts of the Marshall Island
navigators are made, generally, of
narrow strips of the center ribs
of palm leaves lashed together
with cord made from locally grown
supervisor of the Mendery
a true craftsman who was
the shepherd of Wilson Library's
collection for many years.
From him I learned invaluable skills
for repairing books and also making
books. Many thanks from me and
the still living soul of this library.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
In fact, upon returning to hovering
over land, he descended and parked
his boat beside a lamppost on the shore.
He tossed the rope around the pole
and hopped out. Five minutes later,
he returned with a bouquet of daisies,
it was a present for the ghost.
His house was fluttering all its big
and little sails on the invisible walls.
He could see his rocking chair going,
though by the time he tied his boat to
the tree and turned to look again,
the chair was still as a painting.
He never had any trouble with the ghost.
He only noticed it passing a few times
in the day. Sometimes he wondered if
it was giving him dreams, when he saw places
from long ago where he had never been.
He made sort of a big show as he entered.
“Hello!” he called. He walked slowly like a
deep sea diver. “I brought you a present…
I want to say thank you…”
Albert stopped in the kitchen and listened.
Nothing. He reached into an invisible cupboard
and took down a vase. He reached for the
invisible faucet on the invisible sink and filled
the vase with water.
The house was still quiet. He settled
the flowers into the invisible water
and held it up to the air.
“I just wanted to say thanks for scaring off
that fish…I guess it was getting on everyone’s
nerves…” Nothing happened. “I don’t know if
you like flowers, I don’t know what ghosts like.”
Nearby, someone laughed and someone else,
closer to Albert said, “We’re not ghosts.”
Albert stood there and listened to them.
“This used to be our house,” another unseen said.
“We didn’t want to leave,” said a girl’s voice.
“Ohhh,” Albert said, figuring it out,
“You’re from The Invisible City…”
Someone corrected him,
“It’s only invisible to you.”
“You’re not ghosts?” Albert stumbled on.
A laugh, “That’s what you people call us.”
From the sounds of their voices, there were
four of them. Albert asked, “You’re a family?”
Albert sat in his rocking chair. On the table
where the fish used to be were the flowers.
Outside, which was all around him, leaves
were blowing, falling and swirling on the
jagged grass, rain was hissing, the yellow trees
were bending and waving.
“I lost my job,” Norman Withers told him.
“We ran into some hard times. We lost
the house. We had nowhere to go.
What were we supposed to do?
So we stayed with the house.”
“We didn’t think you would notice us,”
said Doris. “We tried to be quiet.”
Her children were near her, Albert
could hear them too.
So there was an invisible family
in his invisible house. Now that he knew,
it was better. He let them have their rooms back.
They could live the way they were used to.
He tried to give them space.
He had a little room in the attic,
a bed and a light, creaking floorboards…
basically Albert Roselli became a ghost.
Next, Part 3: The Bees
Drawings by Rustle
'listen, talk, walk
out of this world'
Photos of birch trees taken at my job
Annotated Air Travel:
1. If you drive across Lake Washington,
you may notice the floating bridge is
named after governor Albert Rosellini.
2. Here is Rustle's complete
Thursday, November 17, 2011
He had been aware of this sound in the house,
a sound without a visible source, he could only
assume it was a ghost. His invisible house
After sharing the house with Albert for
weeks (relaxing like a television image
in a pool of clear sea water that Albert replaced
twice a day, with gourmet minced kelp to eat)
it took this quiet October morning for the fish
to finally notice the ghost too.
He opened his eyes.
“What’s that noise?”
Albert sat and listened to the ghost
“There’s a spook in your house!”
“Yes,” Albert told the fish. “I know.”
And then something miraculous
occurred. The fish chimed,
“I want out of here!”
On the journey back to the sea,
the fish went on and on about it.
“That’s one thing we don’t have to
put up with in the ocean. If there’s
any ghosts, the tide takes care of them
and washes them away.”
The October wind was picking up
and it was hard rowing but even
the cold blowing couldn’t drown out
that fish’s talking.
Albert stopped in the same place
that used to be lucky for him,
the bed of brown kelp leaves.
The sea parrot was back in the bucket
waving its fins. It took its own little white
cast off—that’s how much a hurry it was in.
Albert lifted the bucket by rope and began
to lower it hand over hand.
The sea parrot was going in reverse,
taking the exact opposite journey
on a line back to the water, hopefully
He let the bucket sink into a wave,
he could see the fish flap out and
blur away into the murkiness, then
he pulled the fresh weight of water
back up again. It was heavy but to
Albert it felt so much lighter.
to be continued...
(Ghost with Fish picture by Rustle)
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Waking up was rough.
As soon as the night began to fade
into dawn, the sea parrot’s voice
would turn on like an alarm.
“Albert…Mister Roselli…” He could
hear his name being thrown at him.
He was a floor away but it didn’t matter.
He opened his eyes. The day was
a dull colored clay. He had to get up.
Yes, he thought of draping a cloth
over the fish tank, the way people do
with their canaries at night,
but the sea parrot wouldn’t allow it.
It wanted natural light. It was an
And as long as it stayed in his house,
slowly mending, Albert couldn’t go fishing.
He had to take another job to make ends
meet. He made origami. He got paid
by the swan.
Albert had been making them for years.
It wasn’t difficult work. He could make them
in his sleep. And it paid. Believe it or not,
there was always a demand.
So he was lucky to have this job.
After all, there couldn’t be too many
people making an origami living.
After he fed the sea parrot, Albert sat down
in the rocking chair. He pulled the blanket
over his legs and closed his eyes. Sometimes
the fish let him sleep for a while. Listen to
the popping sound of the fish eating and
the creaking of the slow rocking chair
levitated in the middle of a dark early morning.
While he was half awake, Albert also heard
the movement of something else. It was
prickly, like a ball of newspaper blown
gently across the floor.
to be continued...
(Photo of fake origami taken today
in woods where this novel ended.
The leaf below is also from there.)
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Anyway, a year ago or so
he bought a house there
and towed it back to the yard
where he parked his boat.
Back then, when the house
settled down, crushing a big square
into the grass, he was a little worried.
With a ladder, he went all around
the invisible corners of it, wrapping it
with a rope. It did look weird to see
a lasso in the air holding nothing.
Then he hung flags, clothes and rags
so nobody would run into the house.
That also gave the house a sound,
when there was wind.
He didn’t have to worry about
animals running into the house.
They seemed to know it was there.
Birds would fly around it,
bees would veer on their paths
For him, there were some things
to get used to—knowing the rooms,
doorways and invisible stairs…
Sleeping was easy though.
High off the ground, being in bed
it was just like floating along in his boat.
to be continued...
(House pictures by Rustle)