Since I commissioned myself to edit “The Reporter” and bring it up to the public standard, this project has been fraught with an irremediable knowledge of tragedy. Not simply for the obvious — for the purported author’s disappearance in the flower of youth — but also for the loss of the so-called Blackchapel manuscript and its replacement by what appears to be a corrupt and anonymous forgery uncovered in a Montreal bookshop. Devoid of literary and artistic merit and rife with postmodern ribaldry, low-life non-sequiturs, rascally red herrings, and Trotskyist leers, the story you hold in your hands, now in edited form, is the remnant of the semi-autobiographical tale of the reputed illegitimate grand-nephew of naturalized American polymath and superhuman John von Neumann.
Romeo and Juliet syndrome will often afflict a man in his twenties once the neoteric concept of adulthood begins its blunder. The most debilitating symptom: chemicals dupe him into believing that the ancient laws cruelly governing all relationships are in any way subservient to passion. With luck, he recovers into a manageable form of detachment before ending up imprisoned, a product of the state (more so than we all already are), or both: married. To the bungling charge of misogyny placed upon this book: while my client may be responsible for supporting twin habits with sentimental intent alongside a lady he blames none, indicted still (re: Roxane Gay on Goodreads – the more you attempt to console the inconsolable the more you resemble lunch to them) under the weighty complaint of some objurgatorily shifty implication against her (I’d rather rob a thousand banks than let the internet think I slighted one woman), I insist that in the country (note: which, let the record show, he served bravely) native to his upbringing, money is the sole arachnid purpose stitched to every hormone. To the cowardly (no other kind) journalist who pulled the trigger and posted a pictorial reminder (with typical click-button morality and ersatz indignation) of my client mid-heist, bandit-masked and aiming a pistol at a (we are weepily informed) pregnant bank teller (why this amazing image is not an author photo is lost on me, and how brave of this woman to function under such stress while girthed, how brave of her co-workers for enduring her cravings during lunch, how brave of us all for reading one book this century, lingual rusticisms notwithstanding): perhaps mister press pass twitterer, my client’s photo-posting vigilante, Batman in a wet-bottomed cowl, can glue a mullet where his genitals were so each heretical bit of testosterone might clod together and enjoy the gentlest casket. To the allegation of treasonous profit or misrepresentation of battle: no work of art serves its country (rarely is even its maker served); then it would not be art, but a memoir stooped somewhere between the laurels of its author and his nation, slanted toward impersonal justices or jingoism, not dissimilar to the corn-fed polemics of any online forum (because it has been written and not enacted: more juxtaposition is required) in its heartfeltry (as mentioned above, too much heart was already a separate issue here). I hereby submit for the court’s approval: time served and zero public apologies upon release, as long as Walker blocks himself from dope (love, same diff) and studies, with caution, Jack Henry Abbott, Miguel Piñero, and Eldridge Cleaver’s tale of the elder nihilist prisoner.
“Still doing okay, miss?”
Pizza Pie nodded and forced a toothless, polite smile. Did it look like she was stealing products? Was standing in the skincare aisle this long drawing attention to her skin? Was she the only one who wished for veils to be culturally normative? Was that insensitive to think? She would wear a ski mask, but it would surely make her look suspicious and would probably irritate her skin even more.
In all honesty, she didn’t trust any of these products in front of her or believe any of them would do anything to her skin. She was, however, a firm believer in the power of placebo. What did pizza-skinned people do in like prehistoric times? Were ancestral pizza-skins just unconcerned with what they looked like? They probably didn’t even have mirrors, she realized. But surely they knew. Surely they could feel that their waxy cheese skin was different?
Though he detested all the impressionists, Garot had a special hatred for Claude Monet. “Monet’s sluggish rivers and lifeless flowers represent the extent of man’s capacity for cowardice and mediocrity,” Garot wrote in an unpublished 1909 essay. For years, he sent long letters to Monet, demanding that the older artist stop painting; Monet never responded. On July 10, 1910, Garot boarded a train to Giverny with a loaded gun, intending to kill Monet. The gun, however, went off in Garot’s pocket, wounding him in the thigh. Garot refused treatment; the wound became infected, and he died on July 18.
A gang of us used to hang downtown by the old fountain whenever the city actually bothered to turn the water on.
The fountain had been there long before any of us had bothered to exist. A three-tiered urn sat in the middle, decorated by pucker mouthed fish that spat ribbons of water into the air. Sculpted faces surrounded the earthen colored rim, little horned men with eternally fixed grins.
We pilfered loose change from the rusty depths. A nearby vending machine kept us fed. I was forbidden to have sugar at home, but the fountain was a lawless place.
When we weren’t throwing rocks at the abandoned green house, we took pleasure in harassing the foot traffic that filed endlessly in and out of the Public Works building across the street.
Sometimes a security guard would try to chase us off, threatening to arrest us for loitering. But we knew the alleyways and the back streets. Evading the overweight, middle-aged man in his sweat-stained white uniform was never a problem.
Winded, the guard bent at his bloated ponch, hands gripping knees.
‘Don’t—let me catch—you little—pricks.’
As if he ever could. The young are quick. The law is slow. We didn’t need school to figure that much out.