Contes de Coup d'État Page 1 of 10
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Robert C.J. Graves - Neal Kemet - Don Peteroy
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<Contes de Coup d'État>
David M. Buhajla
Von Stellmacher’s Mythological Treatise
I came across an untitled work in a small church library in the city of Debrecen in northeastern Hungary, close to the Transylvanian
frontier, where the old caretaker wanted me to see an ancient treatise by the Hapsburg noble Graf Heinrich-Helmut von
Stellmacher. The caretaker had said that the book made him feel dirty. He didn’t answer how. He wanted to sell it to me because of
his lack of knowledge of German, much less seventeenth century German. I paid him a pittance of thirty-one hundred forint,
confident in the fact that I had filched the old man out of a massive sum of money. I returned to my hotel room, which rested under
the shadow of an old Turkish dome, steeped in the smells of garlic and paprikas.
I spent three months deciphering the archaic German, which had elements of medieval Gothic, which I had thought a dead
language since the 8th century, the year in which it was printed. I called Dr. George Regendorf at the University of Chicago
numerous times to help me with the translation (The reader might suspect my inherent knowledge of the Germanic tongues, but
the Gothic references eluded me; it might as well have been written in Finnish) and he was willing to indulge me in my obsessions.
The book’s front page was covered with alchemical symbols and Kabalistic formulae. I immediately assumed that the book was
occult in nature. I imagined it to be similar to works by Cornelius Agrippa. I was wrong. As I progressed through the book, I noticed
that von Stellmacher had a gift for both erudition and complexity. The initial story seemed to be a kind of frame (which made it a
frame within a frame) in which an ancient Magyar albino stag-god challenges gods of other pantheons to a game of bone-throwing.
A shiver crawled across my neck as I read this, because von Stellmacher’s knowledge of world mythology seemed almost impossible
in its scope for the time in which he lived. I felt like somebody was watching me. Within the story of the bone-toss, the nameless
stag-god tells his own story and history.
Von Stellmacher writes about Japanese kami, the gods of the Greeks and Romans, Thor and Odin, Kali and Shiva, Coyote and Bear,
and tribal gods of deepest Africa. Each god falls to the nameless Magyar stag-god’s prowess. Each god, as losers of the toss, must
suffer a punishment from the white stag. As a credit to von Stellmacher’s versatility, he makes the stag exile the other gods from the
memory of humanity at a time of his own choosing. Some gods would be exiled immediately, while others would have to wait an
indeterminate time for their sentence.
After I read the story of the bone-toss, I got exited. I knew of no story like this. I picked up my cell phone and dialed Dr. Regendorf.
He pretended not to know who I was. I yelled, I screamed. I called my wife in Arkansas and she seemed to have forgotten me as
well. It seemed as if I were disappearing from the minds of those who knew me. I felt dirty and I had an increased sense that
somebody watched me. Was it the alchemy or the kabala? I ran from my hotel room and drove back to the church where I had
bought the book from the old man. I knocked at the door and the old man didn’t remember me.
Instead, he wanted to sell me a seventeenth-century occult text written by a Hapsburg count because he couldn’t read Slavonic and
the book made him feel dirty.
The Forest Ghost is the master of woods and beasts, the shepherd whose stock consists of deer, roes and rabbits, which are looked
after by wolves or lynxes. His cheeks are blue, his eyes are green, and his beard is long and green. Sometimes he covers himself with
furs, and some of the legends depict him as wearing a mask and having horns. His left shoe is always on his right foot, he buckles
his sheepskin on the wrong side. He does not have a shadow, his blood is blue. He is looking at something else. I don’t know what.
Maybe a soul? His look is blunt and his pupils are small. I kissed him in the neck, exactly the place where the Adam’s Apple is.
Contes de Coup d'État Page 2 of 10
Barbie Dolls and Dodge Balls
Dad was dating a new man. He didn’t think I knew about him being gay, but I did. Every afternoon he would go out to the backyard
and throw dodge balls at the blooming bougainvilleas. He would brush off the top branches, scattering a hopscotch course of
purple, pink, and yellow flowers across the driveway. “Whatcha doing again Kyle?” he would yell.
“Playing with Barbie,” I would say.
I could tell by the shadows on the lawn in late afternoon that he was shaking his head. It always took him a few seconds to react to
those words: Barbie. He hated Barbie, would never tell his son he undressed his sister’s Malibu Barbie. That was between him,
Barbie, and Jesus.
“Aggh, that’s terrible Kyle,” Dad would say. “You need to put those damn Barbies away--play with the boys down the street.”
Dad was pumping up inflatable pink balls; hairy arms glistening like rusty spokes beneath the sun. The yellow bicycle pump
matched his green bicycle shorts and Bob Marley’s Redemption Song played on the radio. I could smell fresh rubber, fresh grass
clippings in the wind, Barbie’s hair blowing in blonde locks--borne back by the warm breeze of October. Daddy was always holding
me back. Carving a pumpkin while practicing dodge ball, he stabbed a piece of the jack-o’-lantern’s face for an eyehole.
“Barbie is garbage,” he said, twisting his head, mechanically spitting pumpkin seeds in the grass.
He grabbed the ball off the jack-o’-lantern’s scalped head, tossed it into the sinking horizon. Flowers flowing into the air, I petted
Barbie’s hair, knowing that Dad still had two dozen balls left. He launched them into the bushes, branches breaking--flowers
minutes earlier so thick, now nearly naked, raining rainbows of petals onto the grass. When he finished he lit a joint and told me:
“Relax and watch the sunset.” The sun sinking beneath the mountains beckoned his final throw. The ball hit me in the stomach; I
lost my wind, hit the earth, and watched the sky turn black. Three Little Birds played on the radio.
I woke beneath the stars, on the box of rubbers--now empty and a perfect blanket for playing with Barbies. Nothing like the smell
of fresh rubber and a Barbie straight from the box beneath a full moon. Dad’s truck was gone. I walked into the house and cooked
frozen hot dogs. I cursed the ketchup and wished Dad cared about me half as much as his condiments. He loved his students even
more. He was a gym teacher. After school he had an intramural league in the gymnasium where he broke ten year olds into three
teams and they attacked each other with pink balls for two and a half hours. The showers were always running, and often Dad
would disappear for a few minutes to “inspect the situation.”
One afternoon I watched from beneath the bleachers. The boys would try to kill one another with those balls. I listened to the walls
and held myself, crouched between the boundaries of your mind where you wonder about whether you will ever have children, and
where in the world they will be when a faculty member tries to molest them. God forbid. Steam escaped from the locker room,
sneaking into the gymnasium, Dad smiling, complacent, blowing his whistle as the boys waited for their turns.
The boys sat above me, mesh jerseys wet with perspiration, sweat dripping from their hairless legs and arms, waiting for their turn
to play. Dad would save all his energy for dodge ball: walking the dogs in the morning by driving them to the doggie park, opening
the back door, driving five miles an hour as they chased his Dodge Neon all the way home. The dogs stuck their tongues out and
panted. As did the boys after he blasted them with the ball.
“You’re out,” Dad said. “You too Johnny.”
The boys would sulk, walk to the bleachers with their heads down. Dad would always be one of the last players alive, diving across
the basketball court like a madman, launching dodge balls as he somersaulted sideways to avoid their organized attacks, often
aiming at the testicals of the children so they could feel the sting like a hornet.
After each game, Dad would jog into the showers with one of the boys; water dripping on tiles and spiders spinning webs in dark
corners of the ceiling the only witness. Children would listen, positioning themselves outside the door, waiting for Dad to jog out,
blow his whistle to start the next game. He would line up dozens of pink balls on the half court line and make the teams back up
against opposing walls. His whistle would signal a mad dash toward the balls. “I’m gonna kill ya’ll kids,” Dad said, diving face first,
flinging the balls into the faces and scrotums of his opponents as they approached him.
That was the last time I watched dodge ball. Dad was an Alpha Male on the court, but I’m not sure what he was in the bathroom.
When he came home he would drink scotch and lock his bedroom door, listen to Pavarotti. I would watch through the keyhole as he
put on Mom’s clothes. She disappeared a couple years ago in the middle of the night.
After hot dogs, I decided to put on Mom’s wedding dress, the corset of dead leaves and bougainvillea flowers on my head like an
angel. I grabbed the old bicycle pump from the broom closet and filled a dozen dodge balls with air. I waited behind the couch with
the lights out.
Wood door swung open. “Heeere’s Daddy,” he said, as I broke his nose with a throw so powerful even Barbie would be proud. Blood
trickled onto the carpet; Dad did a sommersault in midair, picked up my head with his palms, while I smiled at Mom’s ghost, he
broke my neck through the ceiling.
Robert C.J. Graves
The Unlocked Door
Jason wandered the redbrick streets of Wichita’s entertainment district looking for something worthy of his evening. Blue grass
music plucked and strummed out from one bar; death metal roared from the next. Yet another building vibrated with the deep
bass and jungle beats of any cookie-cut dance club. Locals wandered by buzzed, talking and laughing. Some were dressed in black,
wearing white makeup and black lipstick; some were dressed like farmers at a county fair in overalls and boots and flannel shirts
and cowboy hats; others, mostly white college kids and suburbanites, were dressed like LA gang bangers. Jason scoffed at each set.
What a bunch of posers, he thought. They’re the clowns and rubes of the circus that isn’t. Nothing but worthless freaks.
Neon lights smeared on the tinted bar windows, and Jason looked in through his distorted reflection at the various haunts. But
none seemed right. Twice, he had put his hand on the door of a bar only to change his mind when he got a peek inside. Too many
blinking lights, too much white makeup, too many rubes, and way too many freaks, he thought. Jason muttered to himself in his
typical sarcastic internal monologue as he walked along: “Yeah, maybe I should just go back to my hotel room, step off a chair,
swing by my neck, and watch the stars implode. That would probably be a lot more much fun than this cheap, hickville carnival of
Contes de Coup d'État Page 3 of 10
He walked on, and soon the whirling lights of the entertainment district faded into the darkness of old warehouses and
abandoned department stores. The echoes of the music, bars, and street vendors grew fainter and fainter. A white flash of jagged
lightning in the west preceded a long, percussive rumble of thunder that snapped Jason to awareness. He stopped in his tracks,
unsure of where he was. Shadows stretched ominously and filled the street and sidewalks. Jason’s hair stood on his neck and
tingled. He had heard Wichita could be dangerous. He had heard stories about serial killers roaming Wichita at night and crazy
people going on impromptu killing sprees, even strange, inexplicable suicides. But he noticed a soft, red light glowing from around
the next corner, and decided that it was worth checking out.
He turned the corner and gazed at a red neon sign: “Last Chance.” Below the neon was a tinted glass door too dark to see in.
Red letters were stuck to the door:
A bar on the other side of entertainment.
21 w/ ID to enter.
Why not? Jason thought, taking the bar’s name to heart, and he pushed the door. It wouldn’t budge. Puzzled, Jason cussed the
“You don’t want to go in there,” a gravelly voice said. Startled, Jason spun to face the speaker. “This place isn’t for clowns like
you,” said a red-nosed, unshaven man. He wore an oversized pale green bowtie with white polka dots and a stained, old, red and
white pinstriped suit. He towered over Jason.
Jason’s heart pounded, and a chill ran down his spine. Recovering his composure, he decided it best not to show any fear.
“Whatever, clown; damn place isn’t even open,” he said and began to walk away. But the clown stuck out a large, dirty hand, and
“Oh, It’s open, alright!” the clown said, then smiled down menacingly in Jason’s face, “just not for clowns like you.”
Jason’s muscles flinched. He wanted to punch the freak and scream in his face. But Jason was a stranger in a strange town, and
he didn’t need trouble, especially not from somebody so big and obviously unstable. “What do you mean the place is open?” Jason
asked calmly. “The door wouldn’t even budge.”
“Only a clown can’t open an unlocked door,” the large, red-nosed man said. “For a fee of two beers, I could show you.”
“No thanks, freak,” Jason said and turned to walk back the way he came. “I’ve had enough of this circus for one night.”
“Hey!” the clown yelled. A carousel of lightening lit the sky as Jason turned around to see the clown holding the door open.
“You have to pull, not push, dummy,” he said and disappeared inside.
A confused moment went by. Then Jason laughed at himself and pulled the door open. The doorman asked for an ID, and
Jason took the opportunity to mention the clown that had just come in. “Freak in a clown suit?” the doorman asked.
“He just came in. I owe him a couple beers.”
“Maybe you’d better talk to Larry,” the doorman said handing Jason’s ID back and pointing to the bartender. Jason made his
way to the bar and sat down.
“Sounds like you met Jack,” Larry said after he heard Jason’s story.
“OK. Well, I want to buy Jack a beer,” Jason said.
“You’d better just leave well enough alone,” Larry said leaning close to Jason. “Jack’s dead, and he wasn’t a nice guy in life.”
“Bullshit,” Jason said.
“You saw the ghost of Jack Clown, fool,” Larry said, “the psycho who opened fire in the bar district three years ago. He ran down
here then offed himself in the warehouse across the street.” Jason laughed nervously. “It’s no joke.”
“Could I get a couple beers anyway,” Jason said. Larry poured two Miller High Life drafts then set the beers in front of Jason.
“I warned you, man, but here you go,” he said. “That’ll be five bucks.” Jason paid the bartender. An old jukebox in the corner
kicked on; the Rolling Stone’s Jumping Jack Flash filled the room. Jason drank his beer looking around at the people in the bar.
He smirked at an overweight woman with dark facial hair that looked like a stubble beard. “Nice look, Bearded Lady,” he said
under his breath. Then he began mentally critiquing the attire of two men shooting pool. “More freaks, more clowns,” he said
under his breath. Suddenly, the big clown he had followed in was sitting next to him, drinking a beer and snickering.
Surprised, Jason jumped then laughed. “They told me you were dead,” he said.
“I am,” Jack Clown said putting an enormous silver revolver to his head. He laughed maniacally then squeezed the trigger. The
opposite side of his head exploded in a red spray of blood. Jason screamed and ran out, but no one in the bar took any notice. Jack
Clown sat up straight on his barstool, shook his bloody head, chugged his beer, and rushed out.
Outside, Jason tried to remember which way he had come. The street was bathed in the red of the bar neon, but the carnival
glow of the entertainment district oozed from around the corner. He ran for it.
As the lights and music got closer and his stomach began to cramp, he slowed down a little. But then he heard footsteps coming
closer and closer from behind. He looked back to see a dark shape running furiously after him. Lightning flashed, and Jason
recognized the red and white face and dirty pinstriped suit of Jack Clown.
So Jason ran as hard as he could. The footsteps seemed to keep getting closer and closer, so he didn’t dare look behind him.
Once he reached the entertainment district, he blended into the crowd and the shadows; then he weaved his way from redbrick
street to redbrick street, past bars and hotdog vendors, to his hotel. Once in his room, he turned on all the lights and flipped on the
TV. There was a college football game on. Relieved to be safe and sound, Jason plopped himself on the bed and started to kick off
his shoes, but then stopped cold.
His shoes seemed to dimly glow like the red neon sign at Last Chance. Jason jumped as the TV got suddenly loud. It was a
commercial for a circus that was in town for the weekend. Chills ran down Jason’s spine as he watched. A happy circus clown with
an overdrawn smile, a red nose, a bright green, oversized bowtie, and a crisp, brand new, red and white pinstriped suit was playing
swirling music on a pipe organ. The clown was in the center ring of a three. In the adjacent rings, circles of lions and tigers
appeared to be feasting on something big and bloody. Jason leaned in to focus his attention on the TV. In the background, all
around the pipe organist clown and the feasting beasts, the audience was one by one stepping off the stands with nooses around
The TV flickered, and Jack Clown stared out through the screen. “You gotta crossover to hang with me, clown,” he said. “And I
know you already have what I mean in mind.”
“No,” Jason said. “I don’t want to, you freak. You can’t make me.”
Jack laughed. “Yes, I can,” he said. “You just said the magic word!” The screen went black. Suddenly, a neon red noose with
white polka dots slid over Jason’s head and tightened around his neck. Jason was jerked off the bed by the noose as he futilely
kicked at the empty air.
“Are you not coming to the Golden Contest this year too?”
“Please go alone. I do not like contests,” said Jose.
“But you promised,” said Carmen
“I will try next year.”
“Do you want me to believe you? You say that every year.”
Contes de Coup d'État Page 4 of 10
“I hate watching horses used like vehicles. They are even nicer to vehicles; and I hate to see people fighting for lumps of
gold, pushing and kicking each other like hungry beasts.”
“You are just lazy. The authorities will eventually erase your name from the municipal register.”
“Let them erase it. I lived namelessly before and survived,” said Jose.
Carmen climbed the hill, walked in the direction of The Magnificent Stadium. It is always overflowing with audience during the
annual, renowned contest in spite of its vast capacity. Nobody knows why in other races and tournaments it accommodates the
whole city so easily. But The Golden Contest is unique, and is esteemed by the great majority of the residents of the city. Indeed, it
is an important part of the history of this old city. On her way, Carmen saw fleets of ambulances coming and going, as it happens
each year. Many spectators are injured each time while trying to push themselves through the narrow gates; some fall under the
feet of stronger spectators; others are assaulted by the opposing factions, and some are hit by flying, little fragment of gold. The
game is tremendously rough, and excitement makes it life threatening to the contestants, occasionally to the spectators too. Many
contestants were wounded or suffered serious injuries in the past; some have actually died of their wounds; their names are
inscribed on sandstones in the high tomb on the hill. It is sad that a contestant, a tough young man, his exhilaration paralyzed his
mind and, unintentionally, killed two other contestants the previous year. The families of the victims have murdered that brave
young man after the contest ended. Many spectators have also been injured while racing after the contest to grab the left over tiny
scraps of gold, which the contestants have missed. Some winners, out of enthusiasm, have thrown little pieces of gold to spectators.
These golden chips, small as they are, can break bones when thrown forcibly. Last year, a man lost eyesight when a speck of gold
penetrated his eye but he was extremely thrilled, even proud of the accident. The mayor honored him publicly after the race and
awarded him the Golden Eye Medal.
At the gate, Carmen showed her ticket to the keepers, those young, muscular men that keep a gun in each pocket and try to
maintain order. They looked contemptuously at her ticket, took it from her, pushed her away, and handed the ticket to the mayor’s
sister in law. Carmen screamed: “This is unfair, this is illegal, I will report you to the police.” The keepers paged the police, who
came within minutes, listened to both sides, handcuffed Carmen, and took her in their shielded car, which is guarded by several
armed policemen on motorcycles. They stopped in the desert, half an hour from the city, pushed her ruthlessly from the car, and
drove back to the city. In disbelief she sat on a rock and was astounded to see two other handcuffed men, one in his thirties and the
other much older, sitting hopelessly and submissively under the hot sun, a few meters from her. Carmen wondered why the men
avoided talking to her or to each other. She tried to initiate a conversation but they looked away from her; she suspected that
talking was prohibited in the desert during the contest.
She walked slowly toward the city, her hands tied behind her back. It took her almost two hours to reach the stadium but she heard
the cheers, screams, and whistles from a long distance. The contest was still on, she wished to find another ticket, and saw more
people sitting on the ground outside the walls of the stadium. She guessed that some have not found tickets and others could not
enter through the enormously crowded entrances. They looked sad and frustrated; some were crying. Cheering noises were loud,
boisterous, deafening, and it was impossible to understand what the cheerers uttered, even for those fluent in local dialect. Yet she
was able to recognize the kind of noise that spectators usually produce when a contestant powerfully snatches a golden lump from
another or when a contestant pushes another off his galloping horse to take from him what he has collected.
“Carmen! Carmen!” It was Jose hollering at her. He had a ball in his hands and was playing a handball match with some left-
behinds and some boys. She asked him to break her handcuffs, he failed, other left-behinds tried to help him, they were
unsuccessful. A tall, muscular man with prominent moustache came out of the gate, walking confidently, dressed as a bullfighter,
admiring himself, glad to hear the viewers that sat on top of the wall of the Magnificent Stadium cheering him and waving zealously
to him. They sang his name: “Escamillo, Escamillo, Escamillo.” The gate keepers saluted him and he strolled toward the middle of
the hill, saw that Carmen was chained, that nobody was able to free her hands, approached her, and proudly said that he can break
chains. The left-behinds looked at him with awe and amazement while he easily broke the handcuffs. He looked at Carmen
conceitedly, feeling that he saved her life heroically, assuming that she was captivated by his magnetism; he kissed her on both
cheeks. The left-behinds tried to speak with him about that dreadful contest, which produces many casualties among people and
horses every year. He laughed rudely, said that the contest is not meant for everyone, that there will always be left-behinds, and
that gold is created to reward only the brave. Jose detested Escamillo’s arrogance and vanity, and walked away from him but
Carmen walked happily with the man that freed her.
“Have you heard of the Millo family?”
“Oh yes, the troubadours?”
“No, honey. The Matadors. You are confused.”
“Yes, I meant bullfighters,” said Carmen.
Seeing how impressed Carmen was by that haughty, shallow man, Jose was boiling with jealousy. He ran to her, pulled her arm
away from Escamillo, and reminded her of their love. She ridiculed him. Escamillo spat on his face and pulled her back.
“I warn you, Carmen, if you go with him, you will regret it,” said Jose, serious and furious; she totally ignored him. Jose
reminded her of what the fortune teller said to her on Thursday. Carmen said that she never cared for fortune tellers, turned,
avoided looking to him, and went with Escamillo. Jose waited for her at home all night; she came in the morning, he repeated his
threats, she told him that she was no longer his and that she loved Escamillo. They fought, he stabbed her in the neck, could not
believe that he killed her, ran towards The Magnificent Stadium, climbed the hill. He has never seen the stadium from inside
before. It was an unusually foggy day. Seeing that the contest was already over, he entered the open, empty stadium, heard the echo
of his steps, spotted several carcasses of horses not yet buried, noticed streaks of dark blood on the floor and the steps in some
corners, spotted the altar on which the contestants offer pieces of gold, went up to the highest row, stood on the wall, looked down
at his city, which was sunken in dense fog, wished if he never loved Carmen, and thought seriously about throwing himself.
It’s Safer To Have Your Daughter Climb Rocks
Is this the Lastoon residence? Oh, thank God. I’ve been all over the neighborhood and couldn’t find your house. I’m the quicksand
who swallowed your daughter. Put the phone down. I’ll be gone before the police get here, Mrs. Lastoon. I just need to speak my
Despite what you may think, I am actually empathetic toward children. I’d rather see them saved than sunk. Whenever a kid gets
stuck, I squeeze out some of the water in my granular matter to give them more leverage. My rule is that if someone is over 18, I eat
them. If you’re younger, I’ll do whatever it takes to stop you from sinking.When Marissa came by, I could have sworn that she was
an adult.Obesity is often mistaken for age in my line of work.I don’t have eyes, as you can see.Her approaching footsteps snapped
the leaves and twigs, a sound I often equate with middle-aged couples on a stroll.She was humming a tune, but she didn’t sound
like a little girl.I guess all the fat around her throat absorbed the higher pitches.
Usually, when someone steps into me, I offer a little give, to heighten the drama. I want people to feel hope when they sink. I love
it when friends seize a nearby stick and say, “Grab this, I’ll pull you out.” We have a saying in our culture: “Useless sticks and
Contes de Coup d'État Page 5 of 10
broken ropes, make great toothpicks and dental floss.” Anyway, hope is a flavor enhancer. It produces a sweet-tasting chemical
reaction in people’s bodies. So, I did what my natural appetite demanded. I delayed her descent as best I could. By the time I
realized that Marissa was a child, it was too late. Your daughter was just too heavy for me to spit up.
It was not my fault. You fattened her and I swallowed her. There’s a customer for every cook, right? But let’s be real: She had it
coming. At the time of her accident, she was listing 50-Cent on her Ipod. She was using one hand to send a text message—actually,
a picture of her cleavage—and she was playing a Nintendo DS with the other hand. I learned a lot about modern parenthood that
day, and I don’t see how a woman like you could make demands for “justifiable grievances.” I mean, what did you really lose? If
anything, Marissa was more like quicksand than a human. All she knew how to do was absorb what was put into her. Whereas
consumption is my nature, I doubt it was hers. Someone—possibly you—had nurtured her poorly.
I live in Morecamby Bay, a mile from a McDonalds. Occasionally, I get to swallow someone who has just consumed a Big Mac.
Marissa had a Quarter Pounder in her belly, which is fine by me, considering that I must eat without discretion. I’ve grown to enjoy
fast food, especially when it’s wrapped in intestine, muscle, and flesh. But let me tell you, I’ve never digested anyone like Marissa. It
took hours. She tasted horrible. Her veins were clogged with cholesterol. Now, mine are too. Her stomach was filled with Mountain
Dew and Rock Star and Red Bull. I’ve since developed diabetes. The Ritalin and Depakote have made me both lethargic and high-
strung at the same time. My liver is bloated, my kidneys stopped with stones. I’m not going to live, Mrs. Lastoon. I’m the heaviest
quicksand trap on the planet.
Which brings me to this: I don’t like how you’ve handled the situation. A few weeks ago, this official-looking guy banged a sign
into the ground, some thirty feet away. It said, “Do Not Continue: Quicksand Alert.” That’s not even the worst of it. There’s been
some racial stereotyping going on because of your aggressive campaign against quicksand. You might not realize it, but your
government has been eradicating my race from earth’s surface. They bulldozed my father into thirty piles, then dispersed his
remains over a one-mile area. They redirected a river so that it would wash away my sister. They filled my mother’s belly with
rocks. Last week, they dumped a truckload of dry sand on me, and used a backhoe to mix it up. My childhood friend was in the
blend. They’d scooped him up from a pit 90 meters away. The pile also contained bits of my uncle Jay, and an assortment of local
neighbors. Their dead granules became my own. Imagine, if you will, that someone comes along and opens you up, snips out your
liver, and replaces it with your uncles. Imagine how degrading it would feel to possess the knowledge that your new set of intestines
had once fashioned another person’s shit.
I’m suffering, Mrs. Lastoon, and there’s no end to it because I’m still digesting Marissa. If you put your ear up to me, you might
hear her calling, “Mommy, mommy, I won’t go near the quicksand, I promise.”
Let’s make a truce, okay? I’ll tell my surviving friends to be more health-conscious, and to avoid rare meat. You call off the
I’d shake your hand, but I’d slip right through your fingers, so to say. I’ve prepared for this, though. Don’t mind me for a moment
while I wiggle around. You see, I’ve saved Marissa’s arm and hand just for this occasion, and if I can just position it properly, this
gesture of peace might be feasible. Actually, it might be better if you just go ahead and reach inside me…
The Influence of Grape Soda and Rainbows,
on Trash, Garbage, and the Random Universe
Ian watched the biggest, ugliest rat he'd ever seen on either side of the border climb the sheer face of a twenty-foot dirt cliff. As he
tightened the cinches of his work gloves, enjoying the emptiness of the landscape, Reggie the Rat hadn't been civil enough to pay
him any attention. That made Reggie that much more attractive as an audience. ' So Reggie, you think I 'm totally nuts working in
five or so square miles of trash,' Ian quizzed the rodent as he fought the urge to light a cigarette for at least the twentieth time that
hour. To resist he stared into the relentless and endless blue of New Mexico's sky.
'So, what're your thoughts on this?' he asked the dashboard of his bulldozer as its throbbing idle soaked up the early morning
sunshine. It was almost chilly, but Ian could apply that term to almost everything in and around Albuquerque. It was almost going
to rain. It was almost too hot to go on. It was almost time to quit or go to work. The variations were endless. 'But you sure are a
pretty sky,' he mused.
This was Ian's 139th day free from nicotine, and his 45th work day at the Municipal Land Fill. He was only proud of the first
number. It was also a delight not to be going out of his mind for a shot of nicotine. But he didn't like how desperately he was still
looking for any screen to get between him and his need to smoke. Unconsciously his hand strayed to his breast pocket. He caught it
in mid-flight, and resisted wanting to bite off a couple of fingers. The effort forced his eyes to take in the landscape in greater detail
than it warranted.
Off to the west was the mint green fringes of the narrow forest of cottonwoods growing along the Rio Grande, and to the east the
starkness of the mountains bore silent but bemused witness to his sufferings. 'It ain't the Garden of Gethsemane, Felix, but it's the
best I could find right now, Old Paint.' He gave the huge bulldozer a friendly pat on its padded dash. He had christened Felix five
seconds after their first confrontation. 'I admit it ain't no bed of roses being out here with a guy who's got a masters degree in Third
World Economics. And I know I should explain why a bright guy like me could only find a job like this; but what right have you got
to be privy to my situation when you can't even squash a simple little rat!' Ian settled into the seat, made some slight adjustments
and did some reflecting.
He not only didn't know what the job market had to offer, he didn't even care. The position of relief driver at the Albuquerque City
Dump, working part time on holidays and weekends for less than union scale, without benefits, seemed a fitting punishment. It did
have one enormous advantage. Since no one else worked when he did, he was his own boss. All Ian had to do for three eight-hour
days was transform small mountains of trash into smooth plains. 'Felix, it's just you and me against all the evil on this earth. You
scared? Proud? What the hell, Felix, are you anything, you big expensive, ineffective ninny?' Felix was silent. He always ignored
even Lawless' best arguments.
'You and me's been working out here for almost four months now, smoothing out mistakes and lethal mountains of used Pampers
and a rainbow of plastic bags. And I guess you know I keep running through the lists of all the folks I have known and cared for.
Know what, Felix old sport? The list keeps getting shorter both for knowing and caring. How's that for a depressing situation, old
bean? If you're wondering why I chose an English accent for you this fine day old chum. Well, it's because this dump reminds me of
the British Empire, on which the sun did set, even if this trash is never completely removed. Come to think about it old man, we
Brits didn't bother with the trash too much either. Well, tally ho!'
He patted the dash again. 'You've really got great potential, so shape up. Take some notes, read the material at least once, or buy
the Cliff Notes. We're not asking the world here. You can choose to stay in your present mode, screwing off and chasing half naked
co-eds. But I gotta warn you that if you do, don't come beating on my door when you get your grades for those first hourly exams.'
Ian Maynard Lawless dared not ask himself why he was where he was. Every time he did, he found his thoughts drifting sluggishly
first toward Indians, then Mary the Witch.
Contes de Coup d'État Page 6 of 10
When he got off the bus the first time, Ian just assumed Albuquerque was the Indian Capitol of the United States. From that instant
he was certain that it led the nation in the number of pawn shops per citizen. Indians drifted across adobe walls like shadows.
Seemingly harmless for now they were unarmed shadows. They sat drunk, stoned on pot or peyote, and as often as not dreaming in
old cars. It took half an hour for Ian to note that every small shop was clogged with Indian crafts.
However, the drunken shadows were not the most attractive tribe to Lawless. He was most interested in the wooden statues
arranged in totally inhumane positions. Many were leaning against walls, sitting on stuffed buffaloes and donkeys. Almost all of
them were smoking unlit cigars, not peace pipes. But his real reason they attained his attention was because every one of them lied
exactly the same way and for the same reasons as himself.
'Reggie! Felix! I'm gonna go nuts trying to learn the language of wooden Indians! Reggie! Come over here and tell me where I can
get someone to teach me how to converse with beautiful, sexy baby sellers.' Reggie dipped his head back inside a disintegrating
pasteboard box and ignored Ian.
'Hey, you rat bastard! I can replace you, man! I know this priest who won't listen either, but at least he's better at faking he is.'
When Reggie continued to ignore him, Ian decided threats were his only recourse. 'Reggie, you little shit, if you don't get your little
friends over here and start showing me the proper respect, I'll level your entire habitat!'
When the dark rodent refused, Ian retreated. 'Look, let's make a deal. We'll compromise. If you bring some of your fellow rats over,
and if they are interested in The Rainbows, I'll give all of you free food for a month!' Ian leaned back, placing his feet on the dash so
they covered the oil pressure gauge and the tachometer. He stopped his hand from going to his mouth and thought again about
how much easier it was kicking his cocaine, speedy pills and other habits.
The sun was now hot. The number of heaps he had to smooth endlessly, and the confines of the dump were as discouraging as ever.
He decided once more that all this prevented any real efforts on his part to rearrange its contours. He usually spent two-thirds of
his work days just like this, sitting atop his trusty steed, contemplating the wide-open spaces which contributed to making the True
'Listen Felix, the first thing you've got to believe is that there's still plenty of Rainbows. Rainbows that still arch across the skies and
make domes of brilliance above the multitudes. Rainbows have been and will be there forever, Okay? . . . No? . . . Well, I'm a
reasonable person Reggie. I'll admit that man cannot live on Rainbows alone. He needs his daily trash and garbage, and the seven
important building blocks that only Wonder or Wonder Bread can provide. He needs the energy of an early morning tart so he can
pop erect. And most of all, he just has to get up when it's his turn to bowl! What's your average, Felix? . . . 209! Jesus! I've only
broken 149 once.
'Anyway, forget about important things like your bowling average, and concentrate on the big picture, Felix. Can Rainbows be seen
from 2222 miles above the earth? If they can, are they completely round, like a smoke ring, or a halo? You and me both know it's
the Rainbows we should be living for. Places like this, we have to live with. Right? Bet your ass it's right. Because Rainbows come
and go, but trash goes on forever. You can bet your best treads on that, Felix. And you too Reggie!' He was about to shift into drive
but changed his mind as his thoughts drifted toward cigarettes again. He continued his emoting to avoid cursing.
'The Rainbows are so important my gallant steed! Why? you ask. Because they're God's promise that we will not go under in a
polluted tidal wave the next time He punishes us. God promised and God is forever . . . But so is Orange Jell-O and Grape Soda!
And of course Rainbows! And there's where we've got the great shift, my main man.'
As the trash heaps slowly swept forward on invisible winds, and some undetected earthquakes lapped about his feet, Ian was
unable to maintain his thought. He gave the loony, lunar like landscape one long stare and almost laughed at the City Fathers
demand that all health hazards and combustibles be buried. ' Why? you ask. Well Felix, although they'll never have their cities and
monuments made from trash, they will let illegal filth become their future foundations for shopping malls, golf courses and
'Hey Reggie you're a smart rat! Do you know any Rainbows? I'll bet the farm you got a whole book filled with Rainbows! But you
know what, Reggie? I haven't met one single human dude who does. And I've never met no one, who could become one. I don't
even know anyone who knew someone who thought they remembered someone who possibly . . . No end to that crap, is there?
Does all this hinge on the fact that once a Rainbow not always a Rainbow? Reggie! Stop chewing on that old shoe and give me an
As his wolf-like grin faded, Lawless slowly allowed his head to fall forward onto his folded arms. He could have gone to sleep, but
the slight nudges of the steady wind made him imagine the rat army was charging across the rubble. He jerked erect and stared at
the vast flat expanse dotted by bundles of plastic wrappers which reminded him of flowers or flags bedecking veterans' graves on
long ago Memorial Day mornings. That was about the only time he and his Old Man had ever gone anywhere together.
'Reggie! I want to give the West back to the Wooden Indians! That's right! I want to give it back before I have to surrender it to the
likes of you and your nasty little friends!' Since Reggie didn't bother to lift an ear, Ian turned to his faithful companion.
'Felix, old chum, I've found it difficult to become someone my Old Man would never even imagine. How could I become something
totally alien to my upbringing? In fact, my Old Man could look for a month of pay days and The Rainbows would never enter his
mind. Teats and ass, retirement, beer, avoiding state income taxes and a mobile home . . . . All of that have already entered his
Ian almost stopped his soliloquy and put Felix to work, but decided that was unfair to Felix. So he continued his confession. 'Felix
old buddy, have I told you when I went back home after I got out of detox, my Dad and Mom were selling the house? That there was
this a huge, ugly red, white and blue RV parked in the driveway. Did I confess that my room's been turned into a closet? Did I also
tell you how me and my Old Man got out in the street and finally duked it out just like John Wayne and What's-His-Name did in
Red River? That the Old Man just beat the shit out of me? Did I tell you how all the neighbors came out and formed a ring so he
could really work on me? That not one of them tried to stop it? That they just let him beat me up until his hands were too sore to hit
me anymore? . . . . No? I never told you that? Well, there it is inna nutshell. Hey! Thanks for your concern. I'm sorry I didn't fill you
in on the homecoming.' When Felix was still placid, Ian decided he had to give the other side of the argument
'Okay Felix. I guess we really can't blame the Old Man for not having The Rainbows in his coffee or The Rainbows coating his dick
when he and Ma produced me. Don't listen to Reggie, Felix. He's just a rat. He's also a Commie! He lives in some commune
underground. Not my Old Man, Felix.
When you're working fifty floors up on half-finished buildings in downtown Manhattan like the Old Man, you don't have much time
for The Rainbows. My Old Man would tell you, that if you fall off, you'll fall further than any Rainbow can take you. He claims he's
Contes de Coup d'État Page 7 of 10
seen men fall right through the concrete. I've tried to see that, but it's just too scary. But if that did happen wouldn't your mind and
memories go right through on a non-stop ticket to Hell?' Felix still stood on neutral ground. So Ian really bore down.
'My Old Man believes in Hell, Felix! And since it's his faith talking, what can I say? My Old Man has never had even brief glimpses
of peace. To him, Hell is the continuous horror show everyone else calls New York.'
Changing his focus, Ian thought about how desperate these City Fathers were to cover up pending tragedies so they could go on
pretending they didn't exist. ' Felix, they just want to believe if they bury everything, there's no history to plague their future! And
that's always made me wonder if any of them had ever even heard of the Nazis?
'Felix, everyone's coming out here with bills of lading, authorizations, clearances and special exceptions. Shit, it's just like we're
part of a religion. Every paper's countersigned, stamped, notarized, and who knows it ain't sanctified? Who're they trying to kid if
they can't kid you and me? They've got all those pieces of multi-colored papers saying what they're dumping here aren't toxic.
Saying that they're obeying the laws.
'Those papers are toilet papers, Felix! What they're really burying is more truth. Of course it's less-lasting truth. All that's forgotten
until the real truth eats through the paper and right into the earth and takes what it wants . . . Here lately that's our lives. . . . Or at
least they're trying to cut down on the time we're entitled to. Right? Bet your ass!' Felix didn't even grunt.
'My man what have I gotta do to get your attention? How about this? Are you aware that in the not-too-distant future, all of this is
going to be transformed into a country club, with a 36-hole championship course? And you can bet there ain't gonna be any signs
telling you not to stick your hand down in the cup when you make a putt! So I guess I can't really blame my Old Man just because
he builds the greatest technologies on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and tears down their grandparents the other two
working days, can I?' Ian was almost positive Felix finally gave a nod. So he plunged on, hoping to convert, or at least enlist.
'I was ten when I knew for sure that there was no way anyone could ever bullshit my Old Man about civilization and its progress. In
1982 he gave it a helping hand at 47th and Sixth Avenue. That's a pure crystalline glass palace over 940 feet high, Felix! It's just one
slice of civilization, appearing magically, mysteriously, almost mystically. . . . . Just like dog poop does in downtown Manhattan.
Where do the dogs hide in Manhattan? Only The Rainbows know, Felix!
'The magic at 47th Streetcame out of a huge hole on slowly reddening steel matchbooks. And before anyone could stay its growth, it
rose to challenge even the Super Stranger who flies between buildings on certain days.
'Just before retirement, the Old Man was across the East River sending civilization toppling down in curtains of gritty dust,
surrounded and masked by blue blotches of crinkling crackling glass. This he did with only his left hand! So don't try any of The
Rainbow shit on my Old Man.' Now certain he'd at last tweaked Felix's interest he plunged into deeper examples.
'Hey, Felix, I just realized that he gave me the torch of civilization! And what did I do Felix? I stuck it in a sewer and watched it hiss!
It just came to me that me and the Old Man are partners! He worked all his life to erect temporary immoralities and change the
contours of the planet. And I landscape his generation's follies and crimes, until the Old Man ain't nothing but a soundtrack! I like
that Reggie! Yeah! . . . . Nothing but an off stage whisper! A voice in a commercial complaining about jock itch. Even better E. D!
God, is losing both my eternal intellectual and sexual hard-ons my future too? Jesus H. Christ! Now I know what Heaven can be!
Just let me stop wanting to screw and think twenty-four hours a day! I buy it Felix!'
After chiding himself for not being able to prevent his hand from moving to his shirt pocket again, he started Felix and sent him
forward toward the smallest of the nine mountains he had to level that day. As Felix crawled toward his objective with a slow but
deadly resolve, Ian finally decided he actually liked Reggie much better than Felix. Reggie was simply a product of his environment,
but Felix was an outgrowth of it.
'Old cowboys shot their horses when they broke their legs, Felix. I have to think of a way to give you the coup-de-grâce when it
comes time to leave, old sport.' Then he attacked the trash mountain as viciously as his lack of expertise and experience allowed.
Perhaps it was the way the sun was slanting in on that side of the heap. Perhaps it was because he had silently dreaded something
like this happening since he began moving trash and garbage mountains. The blade hardly took a bite of the soggy landscape from
the first evil smelling heap, when Ian saw the child's arm sticking up from a pile of plastic trash bags. Even the thin film of wet
ooze, staining its alabaster skin, could not keep Ian from seeing it feebly beckoning to him. Later he could never recall stopping the
His first thought was he'd crushed it. He immediately rejected the thought that it had been alive when abandoned . . . Thrown into
a Humpty Dumpster just hours before . . . Miraculously survived . . . Was digging its way back to the surface, and he had . . . He
could not complete the thought. He demanded it be dead, but only in his thoughts. Not in his heart.
Ian dropped the nine feet to the ground. The impact drove his knees into his chin, almost knocking him unconscious. His feet sank
into the soggy filth which immediately began eating at his flesh a full six inches above his ankles. When he tried to pull one leg free,
he pitched forward, shoving his hands in front to prevent his face from making contact. As his hands sunk in, he shouted, 'I'm
crucified by garbage!' Internally he was screaming unintelligible sounds as he pulled first one hand, then the other free. When he
finally got his left leg on a solid something, Ian reached over with both hands and pulled the other one free.
Then he could concentrate on the rescue. The child's hand was at least twelve feet above him . . . Perhaps twice that to his right.
There was no movement. . . . Not a finger twitched. Yet he was certain it still beckoned. Ian hauled his body up through the
unspeakable wet while all his childhood phobias screamed and resisted. His eyes and nose registered every atrocity within their
spheres of memories. Regardless, he reached forward trying to cover the last few feet without sinking any deeper into the
unresisting side of the obscene mountain. At last his hand touched the arm. Then he fell flat on his face. The sticky clinging filth felt
exactly like blood. The kind of blood his father had often brought forth with his cement fists.
His fingers slipped off the hand, forcing him to reach again. His face turned to the opposite side. Even when he saw with only his
right eye, somehow Ian got his weight back under his feet. He took the hand, pulled with all his strength, praying he was not
injuring it further.
Suddenly the side of the hill surrendered and released the body with an accompanying sucking and gurgling followed by new waves
of nauseous fumes. Ian could not keep his balance. Falling backwards, turning over four times, he rolled to the bottom. Finally
coming to rest a few feet from the stalled machine whose bushel basket eyes smirked at his awkwardness.
Blindly Lawless rested his head on its chest. There was no heart beat. The lungs were not functioning, and its tiny body felt like
rotting stone. His eyes were so matted with filth, all he could see was her skin. It was a deep unnatural brown and wrinkled like the
skin of the child electrocuted in San Andres, Mexico, an eon ago. He thought he could hear Mary laughing.
Contes de Coup d'État Page 8 of 10
He didn't want to think about San Andres, but his thoughts focused like a deeply driven nail into unyielding oak. At San Andres, in
his drugged state, he had deluded himself into believing he had powers to resurrect, reconstruct and heal. Later the LSD washed his
illusions clean. But now he confronted reality with nothing to turn its force aside or soften it.
He heard his screams but wasn't sure his mouth was open. Still pressing its blows. Pressing his head on her inert chest, Ian dug at
the wet rottenness plastered about his eyes. As he scraped, he thought about how ironic it would be if this child had been
abandoned by someone who had bought her sight unseen from Mary! That when she didn't measure up to their standards, when
they couldn't get a refund, or locate Mary, they merely pitched her into a dumpster. They would have rationalized it as perfectly
acceptable due to her origins, and their belief that the rich and powerful always deserved perfection.
'Goddamn you Mary, you rotten bitch!' he cried, unable to remove enough of the wetness to see clearly. 'You told me the kids would
all be better off! People who buy children want a Rolls Royce, not some beat up VW, god dammit! They want them with all
He finally freed the foulness from his eye so he now saw clearly. The face was covered by the damp filth and flies were already
beginning to find both of them. Lawless rubbed his hand gently across the face, hoping it was not burned. It was and so was all the
rest of what he had uncovered. The wrinkled skin was almost the consistency of plastic about to melt from acid assaults.
Then, at least he guessed later, it was then, he realized it was a doll! That he was about to perform mouth to mouth on the biggest
baby doll he had ever seen. A stare convinced him it was a cheap attempt to copy Shirley Temple's features. That insanity stopped
all his other thoughts. Slowly Ian rolled over on his buttocks. Without letting go of Shirley, he tried to breathe. The entire process
was almost more than he could manage. When he finally bent until he was lying flat, suddenly there wasn't any stench, only the
endless blue sky laughing at him. He pushed to a sitting position, reached out for it, then changed his mind and let her stay face
down in the filth. It was already beginning to disintegrate from its chemical baths. He touched it and his fingers sank into its too
real unreal flesh.
Ian was unable to suppress a smile as he said, 'One day I'd like you to get together with Mary and Heddy for afternoon tea! Jesus,
doll, just you and Mary with her legs, electric cunt! Add to that Heddy with her needles, and that magic fridge I was chained to!'
He was amazed when he couldn't laugh. 'But as bad as you've got it, it still isn't terrible. Just one glance and there's no possibility
that Mary could sell you! You'll never be a . . . Ah to hell with it.'
He stood, took the doll in his arms, trying to brush away some of the filth. He only succeeded in peeling off a few more bits of
plastic flesh. After its clothes began disintegrating under his soft touch, Lawless stopped administrating first aid and carried it back
to Felix. Once aboard he gravely sat her on a clean little knoll. 'There you go. You can sit and watch me work. I haven't been here
long but I've got a talent. Promise I'll show you some first-class destruction.'
He continued addressing it as he climbed on Felix. And he really let Felix have it this time. No holds or words barred. 'Whenever I
think back to Mary, Felix, it always gets to that blink of an eye when I really find out what a self-centered selfish bitch she is and
how much money ruled her. I can't recall too much about getting out of there, Felix. Reggie! You nasty rat! You pay attention too,
'It sure as hell was her house again. Come to think of it, she never did invite me to move in. And, I've never thought about that until
right now. I just took it for granted that when people love each other, they want to be close all the time. Should ah known better.
Right Reggie? That ain't how my home worked. So how come I thought . . .? Reggie! Stop smirking!
' Felix and you too Reggie listen up! I can remember some of that day. I didn't want to lose her. She was love, Felix. At least as close
as I've ever come. But I couldn't love someone who did what she was doing. It was so aristocratic! So fucking upper class Reggie.
You got the idea you're one of them, don't you Reggie? Well you ain't! You're a fucking trash-heap rat! So pay attention, you little
filthy bastard! It ain't right to live off the poor's miseries! Stop eating all that shit! Go find a job.' When Reggie ignored him, Ian
turned his full attention to Felix.
'Okay. You're ten cuts above Reggie. You'll understand this. I finally just came out and asked her if she thought we're all living in
Mexico so we could go out and sell everything to get what we thought we deserved just because we had more money? Jesus! There
are dumps in Mexico with mountains of garbage! Trash heaps so high they make this hole look like the Dead Sea! And guess what?
Rotten to the core politicos sell the rights to go in and scrounge for whatever!' Felix had lost interest. He always did when it came to
dumps. So Ian turned back to Reggie. Reggie adored dumps. He and his filthy tribe were in this one day and night.
'You know about that Reggie? Did you know in Mexico City the scavengers have to pay for a Tee shirt to prove they've paid their
fees to . . . . That, that gives them the right to dig in the filth for anything they can keep them and their kids alive until tomorrow?
Did you know that you nasty Republican rat! . . . Sure you do. You got ways of communicating we ain't thought of yet, ain't you? Bet
your ass you do!
'And you know what else, both of you? Lots of us go around treating each other with about as much feeling as when we're tearing up
old paper bags. Sure all that happens and it isn't about to stop. But Reggie! Felix! Get your shit together! There are limits! Sooner or
later they're coming for you!' Reggie raised his head to sneer, and Felix coughed gently, demanding a little more fuel. Ian almost
lost total control. But the hatred residue Mary had imparted saved him.
'But not for Mary, both of you! Turned out she didn't have a bone in her entire insanely desirable body for anyone but Mary. That's
about the only thing I'm really positive of. She gave me all this crap about how it helped kids and no one was really being hurt. But
that just wasn't enough for me. I just climbed up on her hips and starting hitting her jaw in just one spot. I was thinking that sooner
or later she'd cave in. I just kept asking her why? And I damned near puked when she did tell me why. And . . . Actually I didn't hit
her. I begged. . . . Yeah . . . Maybe . . . Yeah. . . . I begged.
'When she told me why, she got up on the edge of the table. Tried to captivate me with her advantageous legs, Felix! She has really
gifted legs Reggie. Yours really suck. . . Other parts of her even go beyond that. Can you see her perfect everythings, Reggie? Felix?
Of course not!
'Yeah I know, Felix. Get back to the point. . . Okay. . . Actually what I got or better what she gave me. While she's sitting there
letting me sort out the really talented and gifted parts of her, I got definition. Sometime I gotta explain to you two bozos what that
means. Maybe. But you gotta prove you're really interested.
'Well. That's better. You must be getting horny again, Reggie. Haven't seen your ears up for at least a week. So now that I have the
class's attention, definition means I finally know who I am, where I am and that gives me a leg up on getting to what's my
relationship with you and my other fellow men. So you see, definition is really important, you bozos!
Contes de Coup d'État Page 9 of 10
Good old Mary is treating this like it's some modified public relations hangout. That there's nothing wrong for her! To her
confessing is not good for the soul. I'll give fifty to one that she's never in her whole life ever gonna ask anyone to forgive or pardon
her actions. Just like you Reggie!
'All she does is change her image. And there was no time I ever really believed that she . . . No. That's a fucking lie . . . . I believed. . .
. .Sure did . . . . But right then and there, was the first time I could really see she thought it was her God given right to take anything
the earth had to offer. And I wish I'd had the guts to tell her she wouldn't look good with a little moustache and her hair combed
over to one side, like Adolph Hitler. Not even naked. Not even naked with a dick in her hand. Not even my dick, Felix and Reggie.
Know why? It's because brown just ain't her color!'
His venting cast a wonderful sense of freedom. Later Ian swore Mary sat over with Reggie and his mob sticking her tongue out at
him while he sat on Felix. That was okay too. Okay because her image slowly melted right in with the green, yellow and blue trash
bags. He didn't bother waving goodbye.
Ian shifted into gear and made for his second execution, an oversized pile of discarded Pampers and Kotex. He could never find out
why these particular items were the only ones ever piled separately. As he drove the blade into the side of the mass he started
thinking about something that lodged in his brain as soon as he walked into the dump for the first time.
I've been looking for something that'll really make an impression around here. Something that would get The Rainbows and The
Grape Soda applauding, and thinking about joining forces. So, of course it's been right there in front of my nose. Just like the
genius who said he could never find the forest, and therefore had no difficulty avoiding the trees. The smile opened his lips. As he
pushed the top of the mound wider and wider he spoke aloud, centering his attentions on the doll resting on the dash.
'Well, screw avoiding trees. Heidi did you know you just gave me exactly the way to help the Rainbows and Grape Soda get
together? You mind me calling you that? I know, you ain't no Nazi, but it's the only name I know besides Barbie that fits. You can
see why I can't call you Barbie, can't you?' He grinned and shoved the drive lever forward, allowing the machine to begin a slow
turn so it was pointing back up the exact path it had recently carved into this valley of filth.
My daughter keeps calling. She is drunk. She screams. She calls me a crook and says I make her life miserable. I turn off the phone.
Jim is constantly beating her up. It is my fault. He broke her leg the other day. She lied to the police that she fell in her bedroom.
He threatens to burn down my house if I don’t pay off the debt immediately.
I have never argued. All the mess is mine and I will clean it up. I just need time. Everyone is pushing me. Letters from the collection
agency aggravate the situation. Every envelope that comes in mail makes Jim furious. He yells at her, she yells at me.
Twenty five thousand is big money. I need to find a way out. I dial the number shown on the letter. The officer is not available. My
messages may be too disturbing for him. I speak politely but I say what I think.
He has a big salary, maybe more than one hundred thousand a year. He has all benefits. If his wife also works for the agency, they
have two big incomes and two sets of benefits. They live their comfortable life and have no idea what it is like down here. He has
never seen a fridge with a half full bottle of ketchup, a couple of potatoes, an onion and some bread in it. He cannot imagine that
many families live without milk, cheese, sausages and other high quality fancy stuff. He may be wondering why people walk around
with their front teeth missing. He thinks it’s gross. It never occurs to him that they just don’t have money to pay the dentist. All he
sees is documents on his desk. Behind every paper there is someone’s fate, but he doesn’t care.
All he does is follow instructions and send letters with court orders, lien notifications, warnings and demands. I will never forget
his name – J. Bailey. His job is loathsome. I don’t think a person with normal mentality can work in collection business. I cannot
name a more disgusting job. Even parking enforcement is better.
I tried everything. I asked my friends to help me. None of them did. I know they could. Tom mentioned that he was paying off his
mortgage by spring. Lionel is vacationing in Florida every other month. Liz is buying a farm at the seaside. If they were in need, I
would give them whatever I had. But it’s OK, I am not judging.
Mason owes me. I gave him cash a year ago and I cannot get my money back. He knows I will not go to court. I could, but I won’t.
His money is not enough, anyway.
This is so much stress. Bad pain in the chest makes it hard to breath. I take my mom’s pills.
I have tried everything. I went to banks. I asked the jeweller across the road if he could buy my rings. The rings have been with me
for ages. The money he offered is ridiculous. I wanted to sell my car and some of the household stuff, but I cannot raise that much. I
cannot rob and steal. I am trapped.
I wrote a letter to Ellen DeGeneres. I know she helps people. I was not asking for money as a gift. I sent her my manuscript and did
the maths. If my book sells for $10, we need to sell 2,500 books to cover the debt. If we print 10,000 books, we get $100,000.
$100,000 minus $25,000 (I pay off the debt) minus publishing expenses makes at least $70,000 profit. Ellen can use 70 thousands
to help others. She can go for a holiday with Portia. She is a good person and a funny one too.
Unfortunately, the chance that she picks my letter out of hundreds is so narrow.
It is so exhausting to be me. I suck. Actually, I am done. I put the chair under the chandelier and climb on it. I can fix the rope and
push the chair away. I just need to kick it towards the window: more space there. It will work. I need to find a rope. My silk scarf is
the best. I get off the chair, move it aside and open the wardrobe. Chest pain is unbearable. I fall on the floor and die.
The phone rings. I cannot pick it up but I can hear the message. It is from the office of Ellen DeGeneres. They would like me to be
on the show. Oh, my God! She is so cool! My daughter can go instead of me. After all, life is not as bad as it may seem.
Today’s mail is in the hall. My husband opens the envelopes. My line of credit application has been approved. Why didn’t I get this
letter yesterday? He puts the letters on the table, goes to the bedroom and finds me.
The funeral is beautiful. Pink roses. Friends. Speeches. So many tears shed. So much love shown. Tom, Lionel and Liz cry. I know
that they are happy. They did the right thing: now that I am dead they will not have to worry about getting their money back. On
Contes de Coup d'État Page 10 of 10
the other hand, if they had helped, I could still be alive.
During the reception Mason finds his promissory letter in my desk drawer. He destroys it into tiny pieces and puts into the garbage
bin in the kitchen. He pretends to be upset, but I know he is totally triumphant.
No one has ever suspected that before the heart attack I tried the chair and was looking for my silk scarf in the wardrobe. So, the
insurance company will pay too.
David M. Buhajla
is a writer and poet living in the Arkansas Ozarks with his wife Marci and his daughter Maya. He teaches English at Arkansas Tech
University. His work is currently available in the journal Counterexample Poetics and Volume 1 Issue 10 of Sex and Murder
was born in Užice, Yugoslavia. She is a member of the Association of Writers of Serbia UKS, the Haiku Society of Serbia HDS
Montenegro, and HUSCG & HDPR, Croatia. She has published three collections of poetry: A House Made of Glass (also available on
CD, from Art – Užice), Yours (Narodna Knjiga - Belgrade) and Vulcano (Haiku Lotos - Valjevo).
lives and breathes in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. This Gringo expatriate author has been known to eat lobster tacos and drink enough
Pacifico to kill a blue marlin. Servus!
Robert C. J. Graves
was born in Wichita, where he learned the dark art of poetics from Albert Goldbarth, Renee Ashley, and Marvin Bell. His work has
appeared in numerous literary journals, including 491 Magazine, Anastomoo, Bijou Poetry Review, Boston Literary Magazine,
Chickenpinata, Clockwise Cat, Crash, Eclectic Flash, Eleutheria – The Scottish Poetry Review, Haiku Ramblings, Leaf Garden, The
New Flesh, Poetry for the Masses, Prairie Poetry, Shoots and Vines, Short Story Library, Vox Poetica, WestWard Quarterly, and
Word Salad Poetry Magazine.
received his Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Calgary and has taught philosophy in Missouri. He currently writes from
is a social worker in Cincinnati, in the field for eight years. His stories have been published or are forthcoming in The Cream City
Review, The Oyez Review, The Timber Creek Review, Two Hawks Quarterly, and The Susquehanna Review. He has won the 2009
Hopton Short Story Award, and was a recent finalist in the Glimmer Train Short Fiction Contest.
is no longer a Marine, body guard, life guard, re-po man, or teacher. He still is a world traveler, photographer, poet, novelist, and
eternally in love with his wife. His work has appeared in Iconoclast, and a collection of stories called Fiftyone D.C. Guys, published
by Peacock Press. He lives in Rockville Maryland with his wife and two dogs.
has published poems, short stories and essays in Canadian Stories, Inscribed, The Maynard; Ygdrasil, Danse Macabre (including
Totentanze, All Saints’ Evening and Weihnachtsmarkt issues), Seeding the Snow (the illustration is also her credit), Calliope, Word
Salad, The Recusant (UK), Poetry Super Highway (Poet of the Week 18-24 Jan 2010), Mad Swirl, The Poetry Ark, Zygote in my
Coffee, and Pilot - Canada’s Illustrated Literary Magazine. New pieces have been accepted by Canadian Immigrant Magazine,
Subtle Tea, Jack Magazine, Bewildering Stories, Locust Magazine, and Up the Staircase.
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