Bob’s New Boat
The spiritual presence of a face had haunted Betty for several weeks. Not just one
face, really, but the constant awareness that she was seeing someone’s soul every time she
looked at their features above the neck.
Pedro wanted a banana and Betty was standing in front of the bananas so that
Pedro had to stand in front of Betty to get to the bananas, and as soon as he got his
bananas, he turned around, and there was Betty. Betty looked into Pedro’s face, an ugly
face with a beautiful soul and a desperate extravagance, a face of flamenco music and
gangsters. She felt herself getting lost in there.
Without a word, Betty followed Pedro and Betty’s dog followed Betty. The three
of them were moving down the sidewalk like children headed for an adventure. Just then
Betty’s dog Bob raised his wet nose into the teeming air and sneezed like a garbage truck.
A Broadway show tune was playing in the nearby alley. Nobody was singing along.
They stopped to watch Pedro’s neighbors digging in their garden. Someone said
the landlord was screaming for the rent. A juicy little mouse was scrabbling in the
potatoes, but Bob didn’t notice. He was too busy sneezing.
Pedro’s face was rich indeed and its asylum was no longer empty. It was filled with
unexpected generosity. So was his rundown apartment. Betty admired the landscape and
Pedro let the journey continue.
One of Pedro’s bananas tasted green, but it was a lifeboat. Pedro’s beard smelled of
pomegranate. Pedro rewarded the banana peel with a gesture of humorous bravado. A
crack in Pedro’s bedroom window extended past the frame. Pedro’s court-appointed
lawyers couldn’t understand the implications.
Yes, Betty had become an anomaly and Bob was the anomaly’s dog. Meanwhile,
Pedro had grown fully intent on becoming the father of just about anything.
So Pedro rowed and Pedro rowed. Pedro rowed so hard he rowed his lifeboat right
into the alley where everyone could see it. A different Broadway show tune was playing.
A different dog was overlooking a juicy little mouse. Most likely it was a different
The tremendous oceanic depths of the new adventure’s synonyms were contained
in the impossible visibility of Pedro’s boat. Pedro’s lawyers disguised the exposure,
which made the rowing look like dancing.
Pedro’s best interests were no longer in Pedro’s range of prior investigations,
which, let’s face it, sooner or later were either going to expand to Betty again or a great
deal of sadness, Bob or no Bob.
So Pedro struggled and struggled and said something enormously inappropriate.
Which was to be expected and made the lawyers chuckle.
When the time came, as it always does, that the participants separated, Betty got
Bob and the toothache hiding in the pile of potatoes where the mouse had been. Pedro
kept the lawyers and the artificial beard.
Bob got the rowboat, fully equipped with a wide variety of show tunes, but the
banana peels, of course, disappeared into the sunset because they could not be rowed by a dog. On the face of it one could still find a disturbing attendance not adequately
foreshadowed by anyone’s reluctantly departing essence. One could dedicate to it. One
could be haunted by it. One could persist. As one does when one wants something one
doesn’t have. You don’t need good intentions to anticipate a soul.
Fiction. Modern Abstract Fables.
(First edition, hardcover with dustjacket, 524 pages, $36.50 USD.)
Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days draws from fairy tales, a condescending of a 1938 Social Studies reader for 6th grade, an 1890 handbook on marital compatibility, numerous annoying educational advancement studies, the myths and legends of third-world countries and minority peoples, pulp fiction, a history of carnival side shows, folktales, frequent conversations with Crows, Owls and a wide variety of underground inhabitants, insects and the people who collect them, Joseph Cornell, Günter Eich, Russell Edson, the French Surrealist poets, the Quay Brothers, letterpress printing, and the author’s inability to channel his imagination linearly.
Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.