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Authors: Tony Vigorito

Just a Couple of Days

BOOK: Just a Couple of Days
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Table of Contents

Title Page

Table of Contents

Copyright

Dedication

Epigraph

Prologue: Logos Libido

GLIDING WITH THE GLOW

THE KALEIDOSCOPE COLLAPSES

PRANCE OF THE PIED PIPER

Epilogue: Supralingual Sex

Notes

Acknowledgments

Sample Chapter of Nine Kinds of Naked

Buy the Book

About the Author

Copyright © 2001 by Tony Vigorito

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003.

 

www.hmhco.com

 

Excerpt from
Nine Kinds of Naked
copyright © 2007 by Tony Vigorito

 

First U.S. edition published by Bast Books, 2001.

 

The Library of Congress has cataloged the print edition as follows:
Vigorito, Tony.

Just a couple of days/Tony Vigorito.—1st Harvest ed.
p. cm.
1. Biological weapons—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3622.I48J87 2007
813'.6—dc22 2006027199
ISBN
978-0-15-603122-6

 

e
ISBN
978-0-547-54109-9
v2.0215

 

 

 

 

For
Jessica.

Three words never seemed enough.

 

 

 

 

Life is paradise, and we are all in paradise, but we refuse to see it. If we would, we should have heaven on earth the very next day.

 

—Fyodor Dostoevsky

Prologue: Logos Libido

Why aren't apples called reds?
What a dumb question, I used to think, before a five-year-old named Dandelion taught me otherwise.

Why aren't apples called reds?
One could just as easily ask, Why aren't bananas called yellows, or why are oranges called oranges? These are essentially the same question, no matter the outfit in which we dress her.

Why aren't apples called reds?
All questions are female. All answers are male. If you're wondering why this might be the case, you are thinking with your feminine sensibilities. If you're considering why this
is
the case, you are thinking with your masculine senses. Questions are creative, intimidating, and periodically irritating. We may think them docile, we may try to ignore or suppress them, but their destabilizing power persists, pushing us toward our proper destiny. Answers are protective, giving us some ground, however shaky, on which to stand. Answers are cool, logical, but they can also become stubborn
know-it-alls, resisting the emergence of new questions and answers and deteriorating into conservative old farts. Truth is a precarious balance between poignancy and peace. Truth lies within the perpetual prance of yin and yang.

Why aren't apples called reds?
Look at her. She blushes exactly like an apple in the harvest sunshine every time she's pronounced. She is an honest question, unassuming and not at all arrogant. She is demure, to be sure, but her diffidence is her only defense to the endless parade of listless shrugs and wise-assed banalities that have been answering her every utterance since shortly after the dawn of time.

Why aren't apples called reds?
She's an old question, one of the oldest, in fact, and a bachelorette until Dandelion introduced her to her long-lost answer. The oldest question, that is to say, the first question borne on the vibrations of a monkey's larynx, is of course
Why are we here?
After all, if we are to believe those rumors about Adam and Eve, this question surely occurred to them while they were still munching their apples of knowledge. It could not have been very long, perhaps while they were abashedly affixing fig leaf pasties over their genitalia, before one of them wondered why that stupid fruit was called an apple (or a pomegranate or whatever) in the first place.

Why aren't apples called reds?
She does not mind these repetitious pronouncements of her essence. She used to fumble and fret, but now she pays her continued vocalizations only courteous heed. She found her answer, though most of us never received the wedding announcement. It was a wild party, some say the wildest the linguistic universe had ever seen. But the Logos, the realm of all questions and answers and the ultimate
source of all knowledge, knows this to be an exaggeration. There is another question, the oldest question, whose impending union promises to be the highest time of all.

Why are we here?
Come on people now, let's introduce them already. We know her answer. We're just afraid to admit it.

 

 

 

 

PART ONE:

GLIDING WITH THE GLOW

 

 

 

 

1
No event, no matter how preposterous, will fail to find itself indispensable to some future happenstance. Hence, as I sit here sipping instant coffee in my makeshift prison cell, I am led to wonder when the daily accidents of my existence began whispering among themselves and conspiring to place me, and perhaps humanity, in such a dire and peculiar predicament.

This is nuts, really. This is some previously undiscovered variety of craziness. This is a singularity, something else entirely, and I just don't get it. Everyone in town is laughing and dancing like there's no tomorrow (and that cliché may well be a literality), and I'm left counting my fingers like some bewildered bumpkin. Consequently, it would be premature of me to assert what exactly
this
is, and so, borrowing an irritating habit from a very good friend of mine, I must leave
this
temporarily undefined.

Here's the thing. I could theoretically retrace the path of occurrences leading to
this
from the beginning of time (and
perhaps I well should), but I cannot risk courting such infinite regress. It's a long story, as they say, but not that long, and so instead I shall retreat to a much safer point of departure from which to commence my telling: the weather. Yes, let's talk about the weather. Let us linger for a nostalgic moment in the safety of the humdrum, the shelter of the mundane, where the commonplace is common and not some misty reminiscence.

The weather was awful. It was hot—sticky, stinky hot, hot like a smoggy sauna with an overdue litterbox stewing in the corner, and it stayed that way all summer. The season had been pranked by the El Niño weather devil in the Pacific Ocean. Dr. Blip Korterly, my best friend, says El Niño is Spanish for “global warming.” He's joking. El Niño means “the child” (or more precisely, “the boy”), and indeed, the candy-brat climate was pegged on sugar and unable to simmer down. It was in this hyperactive atmosphere that Blip went mad. I hasten to add that he was not what you might term psychotic. Rather, he lost himself somewhere on the harmless side of lunacy, slightly south of innocuous but definitely north of demented.

It is at least possible that the disagreeable climate had something to do with the blossoming of Blip's eccentricity. He certainly wasn't the only person in our big Ohio town acting suddenly screwy. Last summer it seemed as if everyone was rocking their chairs frightfully close to the tip of their arcs. But lest I scapegoat the prevailing meteorological milieu, the sweaty weather cannot be held solely responsible for toppling Blip off his rocker. He had, after all, recently lost his job, and before then he was already tempting the point of no return. Never much of a cheerleader for cognitive conformity in the first place, he charged instead through the brambles and brush on the margins
of consensus reality in search of berries most people wouldn't touch even if they could reach them. This past summer, however, Blip ate the wrong berry and lost sight of the beaten path altogether, and however hazy the line between innovation and insanity may be, he was unmistakably sipping iced tea with the hatters and the hares.

Perhaps it was appropriate, then, when he became the accidental and anonymous ringleader of what his wife once referred to as “mass meshugas.” As far as I can tell, or as far as I'm willing to see, events began their inexorable dance toward
this
with a mania-inspired misdemeanor committed by Blip, unemployed and unesteemed professor of sociology and nouveau graffiti artist. He found a canvas for his artistic expression on an overpass near campus, a bridge under which most of the city's commuters had to pass every afternoon. After covering all the
FUCK
s and
I LOVE YOU TRACY
s on the bridge's side with black paint early one morning, he replaced them with a simple, unexplained expression, written in dripless white: uh-oh. Then he called at 4:00
A.M.
to tell me about it, justifying his vandalism as “freedom of landscape” and refusing to explain what it was supposed to mean. He made me promise not to tell anyone, not even his wife, but it matters not who knows any of these tres-passings and transgressions now.

For a few weeks, countless drivers on their way home from work could not help but read Blip's tag along with the dozens of billboards for a dazzling variety of consumer crap. As it happened, it piqued their collective curiosity and gave the urban workforce pause to think. Drive-time disc jockeys quickly assumed the role of moderator as commuters called in from their cellular phones to argue about the significance of the graffiti.
Untold speculation abounded as the dreary, air-conditioned masses projected their own anxieties onto the bridge, and it very quickly became the favorite topic of idle chatter as coworkers gabbed about the vandalism during their cigarette and coffee breaks like it was last night's popular sitcom. Blip's graffiti gave people something in common, however bizarre, and an esprit de corps never before known settled over the city like an intoxicating cloud of good cheer.

Then it happened, inevitably and yet wholly unexpectedly. Some bold soul responded, and an entire city was surprised and a little embarrassed that they had not thought of doing the same. It was simple. One day the bridge was broadcasting
UH-OH
, and the next day the graffiti had been replaced with an equally confounding message painted in a distinctly different style:
WHEN?
Blip nearly choked on his delight at this turn of events, and called me every hour to talk about it so he wouldn't burst and tell someone else.

“I'll let it be for a while,” he resolved. “But I'm gonna have to respond.”

“What will you say?”

“How should I know? I don't even know what we're talking about.”

This was not the case with everyone else, who now debated their personal takes on the graffiti exchange at every opportunity. Local religious zealots claimed it was an omen from on high or thereabouts, while employers pointed out that the number of sick days taken by their employees had plummeted since the enigmatic declarations had appeared. One local columnist offered his own wry observations, claiming to be surrounded by morons and casting himself above such desperate ridiculosity.
He was relieved of his column following a torrent of angry letters from readers. Wise guy.

And so it developed. Public enthusiasm for what came to be called “Graffiti Bridge” was overwhelming. Mayor Punchinello originally decried the graffiti as a blatant show of disrespect for the law and a scar upon the landscape, and vowed to put whomever was responsible behind bars. He toned down his rhetoric immediately, however, after a public outcry ensued when someone leaked to the press that he had ordered the bridge sandblasted. The mayor's spokespersons immediately denied the rumor, what with an election in November, and the graffiti stayed.

BOOK: Just a Couple of Days
4.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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