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Short Fiction.

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from the novel, The Love Song of J.Edgar Hoover, originally published by 8th House of Montreal.

8th House Montreal:

The Fox

She called her father Bulldaddy and they were from the south, the impoverished south, the south of fact and the south of fiction, of myth and movies and television; and her father was the kind of drunk who drank but showed no signs of the booze and was a small quiet man, married to a behemoth of a woman who talked and talked, and talked some more after that, and their daughter called him Bulldaddy and if you couldn’t laugh at that and if you weren’t scared to death by that, then you were a fool and life was going to step on you in one way or another and hard until you were broken but functional like a piece of old furniture sitting on a back porch with patches of rust and its seat sagging and the mesh hanging down like strands of something sad that no one had the energy to cut away or just get rid of and you would become a fixture in the parade that started with whatever it was that made those two the kind that they were— him with the drinking and the whatever-pain of his diminutive stature and her with the stigma of her height and her size and his epic silences and the not-knowing of what it was he was doing (but knowing all the same while his daughter called him Bulldaddy) and you came and went to parties you attended reluctantly because of obligations and affection for someone who had known her and said they had once been friends before she (of the bull and the daddy) had begun the impossible paradoxical climb up the social ladder in which the more she advanced, the more she fell as she wanted what she’d never have which was her father’s approval and her mother’s transformation and that was the story of all of that contained even in the faint knocking of melting ice cubes at the bottom of a glass of vodka she was drinking at a party where you all sat outside at a nice table on a beautiful early summer evening in the town that was the foyer of the empire across the river that was itself an open vein of history churning hard and still slow like blood seeping into everything as a reminder and a fetish of memory.

That was in a quiet place in the proper neighborhood in which one of that crew had found a home and it was a nice home with a long back lawn and a place under a tall tree for a table and the women were encased in drink and bitterness and wanting—wanting to climb and have power and status and the ability to flaunt their status only by saying this is where I had dinner and this is where my friends spend their time and they turned their eyes on one another saying without words but only in gestures and looks, ‘I will abandon you if it will get me ahead of you in this line’ and there was laughing and bottles of wine and there was a man who had been in the Carolinas and been called up to perform Guard Duty in the capital and he spoke of the scraping of the bottom of the barrel saying all the men now were in their forties or older and nothing with broken this and ungainly that and low minds and seeking just some money and the relatively easy duty of looking to radar screens that looked over the city, and they all raised their glasses to the troops but not the war which was as hollow a ritual gesture as any other, for you could just as easily have belched or dropped your pants and mooned the silky night sky for all the difference it would have made and they spoke on about money and property and sometimes out of a sense of what they perceived to be polite they asked you about your plans and your goals because it was the language they spoke best and they could understand goals and accomplishing goals and checking the days off their to-do lists so as to have a tool to beat down their anxiety about failure and death and the endless lists of all the things they believed must be done and shallow nights in beds without being pressed down hard by the weight of a lover or touched with any gentleness, which if they had it true and genuine would have scared them and woken in them every fear of betrayal, and instead they watched television shows where women of mysterious chemical composition proclaimed that they did not need anyone to feel whole and complete, but were happy with themselves alone and late that night alone staring into the small front yard of your friend’s small home you felt the universe spinning, spinning faster and faster as a ball on a fingertip and then as was always likely, it wobbled off the point and fell bouncing to the ground, though that was just a metaphor and the yard secluded in the dark of the late late sacred night was just the yard, and from within the small wood near the rise of the freeway there came the strange yelping of the resident fox who moved as if he were his own tunnel burrowing in the dark and full of knowledge that only he would ever posses of how the earth beat as a heart and the drum of our time was sounding without let-up, but full of the terrible mercy of all true things.

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