Hey, Rocky, Watch Me Pull a Wounded Ghost Outta My Hat! (Cinnabar)

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April 3, 2023 by tsk2001

“Can’t say, Miriam. Maybe I’m wrong about it. Maybe she’s got a heart-o-matic transmission with cardiac-control power steering. But you took her limbs off, so we’re good. I think the point is you can’t destroy the brain and the heart and thereby kill the spirit—or at least release it so it goes off into the ether or another dimension and no longer plagues us.”

. . . .

No one replies. I’m waiting for Mir or K to drop a few relevant lines of Kandel into this void, but no one says a fucking thing and now it’s making me uncomfortable. I have the book in my lap and I open it at random to read aloud from the middle of a poem: dissecting dreams with scalpels of the mind and bleeding visions like a wounded ghost.

“Hey, that was pretty good,” Mir goes. “That’s what Henry is doing to us.”

“I’m in the middle of a poem called—”


— “ ‘Night Passage,’ ” Mir finishes. “I’m in the middle of Borges’ Library of Babel.”

“Have you read Borges, Mir?” I had to ask. It may be rude.

“Of course I read Borges! Labyrinths is in the bookcase in my bedroom! I mean I’m standing in the middle of the Library of Babel, not that I’m in the middle of the story. It’s a metaphor! I know you went to Stanford, Deb, and I know you’re smart as a horsewhip, but I’m gonna be much better read than you by virtue of being so much older.”

Smart as a horsewhip?! Was she dissing me? She’s the one with the long face. “I read all of Borges!” I shriek, again sounding to my ears like an hysterical cartoon squirrel, maybe Rocky as a castrato. There isn’t a whole lot of Borges, of course. It’s a piece of cake to read all of Borges. He wasn’t exactly prolific. It’s not like reading all of Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy. But I’m supersensitive about assaults on my intellect, especially when I’m tripping.

“Of course you did, baby,” Mir coos. “I just mean in general. And reading takes time, and I had plenty of time in the pre-apoc, much more time than a porn star would have. All I did around here was read, do yoga and tennis and cheat on Lou. Hey, Gina, can we stop at my house and pick it up? The Borges?”

“No need. It’s in Henry’s library, I’m sure of it.”

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Death Palette, by Terry S. Kattleman, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
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