Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien January 3, 2019 - 7:37am

Thanks Thuggish!

I haven't been around much. Happy New Year to you and yours.

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann January 5, 2019 - 9:31am

          Dad’s elbow bends over his eyes. It cushions his face from the wall. He leans forehead parked to arm parked to wallpaper, phone to his ear, free hand in a fist. The phone stays pressed to his ear but angled away from his mouth. He bends it in place to ask, “Do they think it’ll scar?” and then pulls away again, protecting the air of obedient silence from bared teeth and the motions of snarls that ripple his face.
          His eyes are closed or aimed so far to the floor they look closed.
          He bends the phone to his mouth, “They’re… kids. Y’know.”
          The mouthpiece bends away.
          He shakes his head into the wall. Mutters something to himself.
          Mouthpiece again, “No, I know. I’m sorry.”
          He pulls the whole phone away and balls his fist tighter.
          He twists his head away from the phone, as far to one side of his neck as he can, shuddering.
          And then back again, “I know. He’s got a skull thicker than the phonebook.”
          And away.
          He presses his forehead to the balled fist, which unballs just his thumb poking whitely out to rub his forehead.
          And back again, “I know, Giuls. I understand that.”
          Away.
          And quickly back.
          “He’s my son.”
          The phone stays in place.
          “No. No, he doesn’t get it from me.”
          It stays.
          “This is the first I’m hearing of it.”
          He turns from the wall.
          Our eyes meet. His lower to the phone, and then rise for me again, more bloodshot than before. Every red line—lightning-branched through white under glossy-tired membrane; blurred in one corner by some gunk smudge caught on contact lens; feeding red roots from brown circles, fearsome circles, limitless circles; red roots to unseen gray matter; red roots, red lightning fueling a gray matter stove to bubbling rage; steam-pumping the lungs to boil the stove—every red line sends arrowheads showering down on me with this feeling: This underwater, slow-motion feeling. This winding down of the tempo of the sound of life in my skull. The sounds of air, white noise, pulse, breath, internal liquids. Unheard, newly heard, noticeable because outta nowhere they’ve slowed, my heart’s slowed, my mind has slowed, the sound of the world has slowed, my sight has slowed, Dad has slowed, and the time it takes me to register all this, the time it takes me to see myself seeing has slowed. I slow and I stall and I get stuck in this feeling like all the spaces in my brain for the first time notice they’re dragging themselves through an invisible quicksand that eats time alive.
          And Dad, still looking at me like that, says, “I need to call you back.”

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal January 23, 2019 - 9:04pm

^ I really like the way you describe him handling the phone.

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann January 27, 2019 - 10:46am

Thank you!

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann February 7, 2019 - 5:08am

Somebody other than me needs to post something. C'mon dudes.

     “Alright. One more question for you, Mr. Scarpacci. What did you have to eat today?”
     He thought for a long time. He found himself painfully aware of how long this took him—painfully aware of his muddled thinking, of his cognitive slowing. This, like every other vulnerable, revealing admission he’d been forced to make to the highly attractive yet highly clinical intake nurse Sam, pained and embarrassed him. He had by this point told intake nurse Sam of how much he wanted to die and how often he’d thought of it, of how at first it had crept into his mind at low points in the week, perhaps just a fleeting thought on the drive home after a terrible day or while reflecting on some future work task he dreaded, “I could always just kill myself,” and how it had initially presented as a relaxing little nothing, a thing to say to himself, an imagined route of escape down which no one and no annoyance and no stress and nothing at all could follow him, an innocent fantasy, therapeutic even, especially when he imagined the feelings and conversations of the bewildered people he'd leave behind, people who thought he seemed so carefree, and how this once relaxing thought had at some point thereafter fully entered and possessed him, how it had become the only thought he had, how life had become relentless blistering cold, how suicide was a warmth to which he was drawn, a warmth he longed for but which he didn’t have the courage to reach, how it had eclipsed even the warmth of cocaine, alcohol, sex, how it had become the only warmth in his life, the only possibility. He told her how many times he’d tried to die. This admission, which had made him cry in front of her, was the most embarrassing of all. Several times, he’d realized aloud, had been passive attempts. Small things like walking into traffic and hoping a car might hit him. He regretted telling her these things. He regretted coming here. And here his mind fled reality and refocused instead on the diminishing prospects of successful sexual pursuit of intake nurse Sam, which—if they had not already been such the entire time—had surely slimmed to nothing. And with this thought came also the thought of the woman he had spent the past several months risking contraction of venereal disease to forget: his soon to be ex-wife.
     And so he fled these winding caves of his mind and returned to the present. He returned to intake nurse Sam’s question. What did he have to eat today? He searched for a meal, a snack, a single crumb across the gray, fading, waterlogged pages of his memory, blurred beyond recognition by alcohol. Unfamiliar face upon unfamiliar face consumed upon unfamiliar bed, accompanied by all manner of drugs—some current companions, some old forgotten friends (he’d managed to come into possession of a few tabs of Dexedrine), and some new acquaintances. His memories of this morning blurred into last night, which blurred into last morning and so on. He remembered the cliff, he remembered the officers, he remembered jail, he remembered vomiting. He recalled no regurgitated traces of food, no familiar colors, no identifiable tastes; only alcohol and bile.

Utah's picture
Moderator
Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry February 20, 2019 - 10:29am

^ Well that is really awesome. What are you going to do with it?

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal February 28, 2019 - 9:50pm

alright, been too long. here's a paragraph for you...

Unless her more paranoid ideas were true, in which case they’d skip the talk and move straight to the execution.

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann March 2, 2019 - 11:42am

^ Well that is really awesome. What are you going to do with it?

Thank you, that's kind of you to say. It's part of another long thing that's part of the same long thing that I'm always posting from. So far I'm just writing in secret and telling no one.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal March 7, 2019 - 10:01pm

^ except us, apparently

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann March 11, 2019 - 8:56pm

You guys don't count as people, Thuggish.

I have a short one for once.

The beaded metal chain to Erik’s ceiling fan spins its own small track of circles beneath the whirring rosewood blades. Their shadows dance cartwheels on the ceiling. The little night-glow gumball machine alien tied to the end of the chain stares down at me, rotating, expressionless, his dark plastic eyes impenetrable. His opinion of Erik Vincenzo Nordivino’s old inpatient ID wristband tightened and re-adhered around his stomach like a wrestler’s belt, barcode and April 4, 1984 date of birth on display: unreachable, masked under Mars Black paint, never to be disclosed.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal March 14, 2019 - 7:44pm

^is a wrestler's belt... like a championship belt?

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien March 25, 2019 - 10:19am

Sonny’s hallway staircase is treacherous. There’s no railing and the steps are at a fierce angle. Lean too far forward while racing downstairs you'll end up at the bottom with a busted dome. And when Sonny's old man comes home drunk and stumbling, he flies back down to the floor like Upsidedown Superman.

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien March 25, 2019 - 5:39am

Putting a page or paragraph up on this board improves your vision. Because you're posting it publicly, you notice mistakes you hadn't seen before; and that's very helpful.