Weldon packs a yellow umbrell athough he doesn’t expect to use it. “If I carry a yellow parapluie jaune,” he tells Mathilde, “it might fake out the rain sprights. Energize them. Maybe drought will start to end. Vive la pluie.” He finds his French words exhilarating, as he does his French girl friend. Of course, whether it’s a cloudburst, a drizzle, a stiff shower, whether it pours down, or mists away, or does nothing wet, is a matter of indifference to New York people. They have an abundant indoors to keep them dry. And Weldon is a New Yorker, secretly proud of the wildlife of roaches, pigeons, and rats. Mathilde insists New York City would benefit from a gush of flowers in the Spring, as happens in her native city of Toulouse, whenever Spring walks in to Western France. Weldon wears driving gloves though a car is beyond his means, and in New York City the car is an inconvenience anyway. These gloves protect his palms from New York grime. He will see Mathilde this evening, after work, after he cleans up in his new shower stall.
As he swings his left leg to take the last step off his stoop the person (Weldon won't call him a bum because he’s always clean and respectful), who spends most days all day reclining on the second step of the stoop, snatches at his ankle and grabs his cuff. This delays Weldon from going to work. Not that I really want to go to work, Weldon might say,
“I have to get to work, Joshua. Let go.”
The hand is muscled and hairy, the hand of someone who has worked as a steamfitter or blacksmith. “The older you go the quicker you shrink,” says the man as he tugs on Weldon’s ankle, almost spilling him off the last step. And he says the same thing whenever he talks to anyone, his voice a slow melodious growl. Maybe there’s nothing else to say, Weldon thinks. When Weldon tries to apply it to his own experience it answers for the world he lives in. Certainly it is suitable for this man on the stoop.
As familiar as the man is to everyone in the neighborhood, nobody knows his real name, though Mel, the aging young poet, gave him the name Jehosaphat because she studied the bible before she moved to New York. She once lived in Kentucky with her father who abused her. She liked to talk about that. He was a preacher.
Jehosaphat, her father told her, joined Sehoram, king of Israel to defeat the Moabites. Mel had visited Moab in Utah, and had camped alone near the Arches monument. It was a peaceful time in her turbulent life. She knew Jehosaphat’s reign was a time of great prosperity. Every time he mentioned money her father touched her pussy. She liked money but rarely had any. She finally settled on Joshua, because it was easier and if this man blew his horn the walls would come tumbling down. There is no trumpet, no walls either, but the name Joshua is easy and it sticks.
Nobody knows where Joshua goes on Fridays and Saturdays. He’s always back by Sunday afternoon, to the relief of Albertine (formerly Albert) Moskowitz. “After noon on Sunday I check your stoop every hour to see if he’s back. I would go cardiac if he totally disappeared.” Weldon promises himself that one Thursday afternoon he will leave work early and follow Joshua to wherever he ends up on Thursday evenings.
“Did you ever talk to him yourself?” Weldon asks Albertine.
“The older you go the quicker you shrink. After that a girl has nothing to say” Albertine lifts her fist to scratch her nose. She twitches it frequently because of the bad habit she overcame ten years back. The calluses on her knuckles come from smashing the fists into a brick wall. Her karate practice. She isn’t about to suffer the violence that comes down on trannies on weekends when the mean drunk college boys from Jersey prowl the lower east side.
“At least one guy is lucky for this fuckin’ drought.” Herman is passing. He puts the brake on his walker and stops to talk to Weldon who is shaking his leg to try to free it from Joshua’s grip. “I never seen so dry. twenty-seven years I been here. He don’t have to worry now about getting soaked. Flowers used to grow in pavement cracks when our streets sucked up the rain. You could hear the trees singing.” Herman leans towards Weldon, catching himself in a stumble. Sometimes Herman falls down and everyone has to pick him up. “Once a cloudburst came so I cover Joshua with my second raincoat I always carry in case; you know, this old yellow slicker. I walk away but when I turn back to look he’s tossed the garment onto the fuckin’ pavement. He don’t want nothin’ to do with it. He’s a fuckhead. He’ll sit there on the stoop even in the snow. And it don’t even snow no more.”
Just as Weldon kicks free of Joshua’s grip Mel veers around the corner waving her arms to greet them. “Buckfuck,” says Herman, as he releases the brake on his walker. “Here comes the world’s youngest old woman. Here’s where I eff’n evaporate. Arrivederci, Weldon.” His walker seems to pull him down the street as he staggers behind it. Weldon finally pulls loose. He waits to greet Mel. She wears her usual wine-stained rose print peignoir. A smudge of soot on her face looks like a dolphin breaching, and she carries a typescript of poems in her hand rolled like a scroll. “The older you go, hello Weldon, the quicker you shrink. Hello Joshua.” She treats Joshua’s words as the neighborhood slogan, waving her fistful of poems. The man looks up shyly from under his brow, and whispers, “the quicker you shrink, the older you grow.” Joshua reverses those phrases, treating the declaration as an almost formal greeting. Weldon has never heard him do that before
“Hello, M. Got to get to work, you know.” How does she get by without working, Weldon often wondered? Must be a trust fund somewhere in the mix.
“Work is our only salvation,” she shouts as he heads for the avenue. “That’s the onion in the bathtub. An enema rides the knuckles on the windowsill.”
In a mild clangor of stoned chanting and finger cymbals, in a bright spew of orange robes, the Hare Krishnas empty onto the street from the old warehouse across the avenue. That’s where the Order lives, in an old brick building with elaborate trim around the door and the few windows. As they deploy, the world on the avenue is a sphere of orange, scarlet, chanting, finger cymbals.
Margie Harrison, a pastor from Canton Ohio, scrutinizes the herd of shaved heads and topknots. She has been attending here for three months now, in her black preacher’s robe, looking for her son in this ruck of acolytes. Margie waves her arms in the air, singing her own hallelujahs. Her son, Emery, has run off and she was sure she’d find him here.
“Here’s is the church of orange sherbert,” she often tells Weldon. “Emery never took drugs, but he could eat the sherbert,” she cackled nervously, “and he always wanted New York City, praise God.” She circulates through the orange in her black robe, grabbing them one at a time. “Have you seen Emery, my son? Tall boy with a slight limp” They never stop chanting. Never silence the finger cymbals. Weldon waves at her. “I’ll be in later for my pizza,” she shouts after him.
Weldon graduated from culinary school two years earlier, but other than slinging pizzas at the pizzeria on the corner of the avenue and a big cross street he couldn’t find a job that really tested his skills. He is great at spinning the dough, and has several fans who eat or watch him in the window. He was offered a job once by a culinary buddy, at a new nouveau joint in Normal, Illinois, which is a university town where David Foster Wallace once taught. He thought Wallace was a great writer, though he’d never read anything. Weldon didn’t want to leave New York, especially not for a town called Normal.
He likes to arrive at work between 8 and 9, to prepare the dough, tough dough that he can spin out to twenty-four inches and more. Without a tear. Herman Strange, his next door neighbor, is often his first customer. He sells the androids in a busy store down the block. Sometimes the phones go to bad guys, and he gets a little afraid, but reminds himself that he isn’t selling guns. A margherita with capers is his usual. He is almost vegan.
“Did you hear that bitch last night?”
Weldon paddles the pizza into the oven. “Yeah, I heard something. I think your window is right next to hers. Just a moan comes through to my place.”
“She could have had a loudspeaker there. And I didn’t hear no male voice at all. It was all done with whatta you call it, dildo, I think. Turned me on then turned me right off.” He takes a bite of a slice before he sits down on a stool at the counter by the window. “You still have sex ever?” Weldon doesn’t answer. “I don’t do it no more. You can get dead from it nowadays. Too much diseases, nowadays. So I guess she has the right idea.”
Margie comes in and stands in line behind a trio of Latin women in their blue hospital scrubs, her black robe draped like a waiter’s towel, over her bent arm.
That evening Mathilde and Weldon go to a movie, then have a passionate session in their fashion, with a slim vibrator and gelato: pistachio, mango, mint chocolate chip.. “Weldon, mon amour. Je t’aime.” says Mathilde. “Mon petit choux,” says Weldon. “Je t’aime beaucoup. Beaucoup beaucoup.”
On this Thursday evening Weldon decides to set out, to follow Joshua to wherever he goes for the two nights he is away. Dust spins up in the small winds that tickle the streets. The night is loud in the neighborhood, an elation in the air that brings everyone to the stoops, a community of stoopsitters. Nothing here to complain about, except perhaps so dry. But in the Caribbean an earthquake shatters an island, scrambles and impoverishes the already impoverished Port au Prince. Help Haiti, cries a world full of helpless lunatics. And rescue the Nepalese. Katmandu lies like a heap of nutshells cracked open. Villages isolated, stranded in their comfortable nowheres. A planeload headed for Beijing disappears over the South China Sea. Someone shoots down a different Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine. Was it a Tuesday? Anything that starts with a T. After a brief conference all the bats decide to stay in their tunnels, in their caves and wrecked buildings. Big tumor erupts on the spine of July. Spigot worms tunnel through every ice cream sandwich. The shroud of violence thuds onto the terrain. It is Thursday in most of the world and the people scatter from aimless bullets sprayed by a dull monster of mayhem and death. Where is comfort? Families flee their homes. Where is safety? Some go on hope, most on desperation. Where does anyone survive? Survive the women and babies! At this moment on this Thursday Weldon hitches up his pants, tightens his belt, and follows the nameless Joshua.
“The older you go, the quicker you shrink,” is swifter on the move than Weldon anticipated. The pizza chef has to double his steps to keep up. His father was a trainer in the special forces, and every weekend after Weldon turned twelve he would force the boy, whom he called Squeaks, to follow him on 14 mile hikes into the hills, carrying at first a twenty and finally a 70 pound pack. So Weldon did not fear keeping up.
“Hey, Weldon, you beat your earwig problem?” someone shouted from a stoop. He had no earwig problem, but couldn’t stop to explain. “Weldon, Destiny has the pneumonia now. Did your girl recover? You know a vet that wont charge an arm and a leg?” Weldon had no cat, never wanted a cat, gagged at the smell of a litter box. Destiny is a terrible name for anyone’s pussycat. Whereas he would enjoy a conversation with the stoop sitters, some of them pizza clients, he has to keep up with Joshua. Weldon is uncomfortable to appear so rushed and unfriendly. But how much more uncomfortable if he loses sight of “The older you go, the quicker you shrink.”?
So this is how life is, Weldon thinks. What is life, then? Doesn’t know how he enters that sophomoric realm of thought. Perhaps because he is moving not in a direction of his own desire. And Desire! What is desire? He’s trying to follow a stoop sitter. Is life just such and such for anyone who asks the question, “What ...?” or anyone else, even Weldon, who has curiosity. Life is how so easily he rises like the tail of a kite to follow TOYG TQYS over some darker neighborhoods near the river. Life is like that whether we address the body or the tail. Wind is what matters. Wind is all that matters.
A tight circle of men gathers below around a fire in a barrel. They are probably Vets, Weldon speculates. These wounded, these neglected, too often stoned, incoherent in their blabber jabber, hallucinatory PTSD, scream of futility, yelps of frustration, anger. Though occasional absolute clarity. “Hey, Wellsie,” one shouts. “You get your new hip?” “Don’t need a hip,” Weldon shouts back. How do they know he’s there? Despite how they look, they know everything, even mistaken things. “Yes you need one,” a chorus of them contradicts. “We all do.” Weldon is always here, whether he’s here or not. That’s what life is. An old buddy below punches the air, practicing Bagua sequences behind a semi. Weldon takes some of the same classes. “Hey Raymond, looks like you got it.” Weldon sings. “Come on down and check me out.” Raymond sings back. Ah, Raymond, lost forever in a paranoid macho reverie.
TOYG TQYS disappears in the distance. Weldon panics. His peepers aren’t what they used to be. He doesn’t know what he sees any more. Nor his sniffer. How does TOYG TQYS smell? He sees ahead something brighter than a star slowly dimming into the distance. That glimmer must be the Joshua. “Wait up!” he shouts, and accelerates his acceleration. He hollers again, can’t keep his mouth shut. The stoop sitter now must know Weldon is following, easy to leave him back here on the darker streets. Weldon can’t let this happen. Not on this very Thursday evening he decided to follow to settle the story.
The familiar apparition stops suddenly in front of a building that glistens like sheet lightning in the clouds. The street rises as a tilted pier grown from the river. The figure stops at the point that Amethyst Murray in her study of apparitions, Light and Wind, calls The Evacuate. Weldon can’t move, but he thinks. Potatoes are good. The russet bakers, purple, yellow, sweet, the yam, a red, the new. All good. As are wrenches. Wrenches are good. Socket wrenches, torque wrenches, wrenches straight and bent. A bulldozer is good, as is a melon, a honeydew, a frightening big watermelon. The telephone is good. Who would argue? Especially the smart phone, good though perhaps too smart for its own good. That mouse is good. The sentient mouse, Good mouse. Good whale, humpback, right, fin, pilot, Orca, all good. And the human nose so good, and designed perfectly to support spectacles. What a good world.
Suddenly TheOlderYouGoTheQuickerYouShrink enters the glisten through the door that swings open just for him. As this nameless Joshua disappears inside, a heavy mist sweeps off the river into all the parched neighborhoods, a nourishing rain. So this is where Joshua goes. Joshua still without his own name. What is inside that gleam of a building? And why the gleam? So many questions. The rain makes Weldon realize he has forgotten his parapluie jaune, the first time since they started fearing the drought that he has gone without the yellow thing. What can he tell Mathilde? That’s the way life is? He would like to say it in French. Weldon is immediately drenched through his light cotton shirt and pants, soaked to the skin. Butternut squash is good as is the motorcycle. Harley, BMW, Isuzu etc. etc. A Michelin tire, YES! So what is life?. Tout est pour le mieux. It rains now, really rains, from Natchez to New York.
IN THIS ISSUE–––
• OREN PIERCE, GuestEditor
Welcome to the Weird Issue
• DAVEY WEATHERCOCK
My Heart KnewWhat the
Wild Geese Knew
• DAVID S. WARREN
Natural Bone Chapter 2
• FRANKLIN CRAWFORD
21 Things You May or May Not
• RHIAN ELLIS
• GABRIEL ORGREASE
Perry City Dinks
• ANNIE CAMPBELL
The Deserted House
• SUE-RYN BURNS
• GEORGIA WARREN
The Soldiers' Story
• SUE-RYN BURNS Wild Turkeys
• MARY GILLILAND Kitchen Theater
• PETER FORTUNATO
Cocks of the Walk (Key West)
Copernicus under cover
to the Weird Issue
by Oren Pierce, Guest Editor
(short excerpt here, read it all
on the home page)
Weathercock (I feel) has presented us not with just an honest meditation on the uncanny nature of everyday life that an unsensational treatment of the theme requires, nor is it either fact or fiction, but just plain fake news.
Not wanting to be too negative, I won’t get any further into that. Read and judge for yourself.
Just about everything else in this issue is fine with me and I recommend the writings to you without further doo doo. ______________________
by Rhian Ellis
The letters came, and the letters came, and then they stopped. The last came in the autumn, with the falling leaves and the clotting sky, but through the long grayness of winter there was nothing.
Ruth continued to write even though it felt as though she was dropping her pages into a bottomless well. She asked questions that were never answered and told stories that seemed unheard. She wrote faster and more frantically as the snow blew into the city and hid the dirt and the trash and the broken things. She imagined her sister in her little house, out there in the wilderness, burning logs and nursing babies and what else? What did she do? Life was so different out there, so hard to imagine...
And then a letter came, on the same rough paper, written with the same too-sharp pen that scratched. But the hand was unfamiliar. And inside, the letter was hard to read and cramped and was almost like the writing of a child. Perhaps it was the writing of a child.
Sister Ruth-- I hayte that I am the barer of the world’s moust dreaded newes but the truth is that our dearr Jane is dead and so are the chyldren tifuss came to our small house and we coud not stop it. First the older chyld then Jane then the baby went to the arms of Jesuss. Wheeler is the only chyld left and I am left too tho to what purpose I
(go to story)
Natural Bone Chapter 2 with recap
by David Warren
Noah had stared at the falling water for he didn’t know how long, when his eyes began to wander around the yellowish chamber floor and he saw a helmet lying there: a battered metal helmet with stubby horns. And then, only a few yards from the helmet, he saw a bodiless head in a nest of its own hair among the rocks. It’s eyes were wide open, and the grisly thing spoke to him, although in an understandably weak and sighing sort of voice.
“Don’t be afraid!” said the Head “I’m just a head.” click here for the recap of chapter 1 and all of Chapter 2
by Annie Campbell
One time, the kids and I stopped to explore a large deserted house on Townline road near Trumansburg. It still had its roof and didn’t look too bad, so we squeezed through a door coming off its hinges. Plaster and lath which had fallen from the ceilings in the three spacious rooms we could see - littered the floor. Carefully, the three of us made our way to a big room that still had a few glass panes in the windows. A wide staircase beckoned, and I made the kids wait while I went up. It seemed safe enough so I waited for them to catch up to me.
(go to story)
Weldon packs a yellow umbrell athough he doesn’t expect to use it. “If I carry a yellow parapluie jaune,” he tells Mathilde, “it might fake out the rain sprights. Energize them. Maybe drought will start to end. Vive la pluie.” He finds his French words exhilarating, as he does his French girl friend.
(go to story)
Perry City Dinks
by Gabreal Orgrease
“Fire so hot and quick that when they opened the trailer door they found my father sitting smack in front of the tube with his reading glasses melted around his nose still holding an instant coffee on his lap only the skin of his fingers was stuck to the melted thermal mug.” (go to story)
1 I was at a crosswalk and the oncoming motorist stopped to let me pass.
2 Rocks along the train tracks are of consistent size and shape, composed mostly of basalt. They are excellent throwing rocks, as if quarried and broken for that purpose. I hit a RR sign with one on a quiet creosote-rich afternoon and it made a startling racket. Some deer broke out of the sedge. I felt lonely all of a sudden.
3 Toenail fungus is a form of life that is hard to evict from the body. It has generated a whole line of quackadoodle remedies. The only surefire way to get rid of it is to have all infected toes removed.
4 When I checked my pants pockets this morning, I found 77 cents in quarters, nickels, dimes and two pennies. I don’t normally keep pennies. Pennies are not worthless, but we don’t use them for cadavers any more so why save them? There is nothing significant about 77, except it was in the title of an old TV show called "77 Sunset Strip."
For numbers 5 to 21 click here
by Georgia Warren
I was taught hand reading in the 1960s by a doctor from India who was getting certified to practice medicine in the US. It took me two years to learn the intricacies of the India-style of hand reading. When Dr. Singh said I was ready to go out on my own.I got a seat working steadily in a coffee house in Akron Ohio.
One night a couple of soldiers back from Vietnam stopped by. Their hands were in their coat pockets.. They said they wanted me to read their hands. They were laughing, and I was sure they’d probably had a “couple” of beers. I didn’t have the attitude that I gained years later to say, “I don’t do readings for people who have been drinking.” The two of them sat down, still smirking. They took their hands out of their pockets, they were prosthetiucs. Neither of them had any hands for me to read. (go to story)
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