1 February 2000
Bethany Cooper, William Gillespie, Scott Rettberg, Dirk Stratton

Scott waited at the bus stop. Waited. The sky was ominous and it waited too, waited to rain. Scott looked down to the end of the street, as far as he could see, squinting, and then looked up doubtfully at the rolling thunderheads. Bus, rain, whichever... he mused, but he was obviously not happy. Obviously to him. He had bought a Ronald Johnson book.

He thought back to the days of the swamps. Of the alligators. Of the hours in which he was nothing but potential meat. Of the minutes of the perilous jaws. Of his thoughts of inadequacy, in those seconds when he suddenly found himself wishing that once, just once, he had thought to take a class in alligator wrestling. Which he had not. He was hungry, and it was cold, and it was raining. He picked up a damp newspaper and read the headline.



Hell, he thought, to hell with William Gillespie, whoever the hell he is, and his stupid eggplant! He groped for his last cigarette in his overcoat but discovered the pack had been crushed. Hell , damn, & double damn. He stuck the half with no filter into his grimace and ignited it, drew heavily. A sudden gust of wind tore the soggy newspaper from beneath his arm and it went spinning down the street, out of the plot forever.

But it bugged him. It did. It bothered him. An eggplant murder. Of all the damn-

There had been a problem with the ignition, that night. The car which started with regularity, always, the one damning stable thing, the low-cost Japanese economy car, had not started. It was not the ignition. It was the gas. Which he ought to have checked. The kind of thing you think of. He had not. He was preoccupied. It was raining. No raincoat. Not thought of. A bus, a late bus, to the helling meeting. Gillespie. Not that William Gillespie. It couldn't be.

A car.

But it was. Presently, staring at the shards, the damp shards...

Scott checked his watch. O.K., he thought, I've been waiting here for seven minutes. I arrived when the bus was supposed to arrive and I have been waiting for seven minutes. My watch is perfect, I do not question it, a stylish silver Rolodex. So, the bus is not coming. Not coming. And on his way to the meeting of the Arkansas Communist Party. The bus could easily have been detained by police. Scott, he told himself, you are a commie. A dirty commie. A pinko, I think. Yes. Definitely a pinko. You red, he sneered inwardly.

Then thought of that play Angels in America. That helling guy. He spat, and the rain was still going. The rain was not the thing. The wait was the thing and wasn't it, the partial belonging and the wait, here in Little Rock. Very little had happened since Tennessee. And now this Gillespie thing.

The rain had stopped. The kind of rain that it was was not a hard driving one. But it was not a mist either. It was a solid, kind of snotty rain. He reflected on this. The kinds of rain. And the bow of it was forming. The rainbow. Eventually he stopped completely. Thinking in sentences. Words. Just colors, for a moment, the kind of thing you do, when you feel guilty about the fact that your dog died on the road when you let him have all of that screwing Hagen Daaz chocolate ice cream which it turns out is like a kind of psychoactive poison for dogs and you always remember that and it kind of bugs you and you feel sorry and sad. His name was Scratchy.

By now the whole Gillespie angle had pretty much dropped out of sight. No telling when it would make it back in the arena. Or if. So Scratchy. He was a good dog, except for the persistent scabrous skin disease that gave him his name, the dandruff was pretty hideous, and the constant slow bleeding pretty hard to watch, though he had, often for hours at a time.

Scratchy, indeed. Indeed. You call that a dog? Listen, that flea-riddled sack of bones and pestilence may be your idea of a quadruped but-

Scratchy against disaster. Scratchy at the end of time. Scratchy: nowhere dog. Scratchy: alpha-wolf of the impossible. Scratchy the dog. Dog, yeah, whatever. But Scratchy. Scratchy could claw time and emerge unscathed. Scratchy is no mere dog. Scratchy can read Finnegans Wake in about. 10 min. Scratchy is not a dog, but better, way better.

Gentle reader, forget poor Scott. And let us instead ponder Scratchy.

And the substance strangely wrapped bout his ankle, black, yellowish, purple, pulpy mush. A vaguely Italian vegetable. He thinks of Italian words he knows.


Murder in the Cathedral. When we dead awaken. Shante shante what is happening here? The V2 Rocket. The Rosenbergs. That essay. That's him. The sudden recollection. The meal that they were eating when the feds came busting in the door and took them to their final destinations. Dearly departed. That's William. A trademark move. Scott starts walking, in search of a newstand.

Screw the bus anyway.

Chapter 2

He realized that nothing more would be required of him after this. The act of recognizing, and designating, when something had ended and something else had begun -- that was enough. And so why continue?

He counted to two.

An hour.
A day.

Then he recovered, of course. Miscellaneous agenda. Once that dark hour had passed, he began to eat pasta again, and smile.

Gillespie turned out to be not entirely responsible. Of negligence, perhaps, but not murder.

The eggplant was from a copycat.

It wasn't William.

Entirely into civil disobedience. At least with the Eggplant.

He got off.

Which was good.

A Christmas went past, and an April.

Then he encountered Theresa.

Newspoetry at Spineless Books