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Jack Christian


When I said the place was square I meant and dusty. When I met its red inhabitants I lost my cool, tried to copy their country mannerisms. I wrote about it, but their voices were not in my head. Though it was for their sonorous, crooked chirping that I believed, constructed sentences, did not use call numbers for encounters with particular library books that told me, “There are gulpers and there are sippers.”

The man among them was a thing who cowered in corners and also, too, had a shadow-him that was an animal and a weed, and who sometimes left a sawdust trail no one could follow. Except in a car. His fingers drew things I thought were letters impossible, and so told him, incessantly, until I assumed his shadow-him was a shadow-me—I, I mean. And the phrases between us became unbecoming. They felt like overeating: the totalizing ritual of two skinny gluttons.

His pair of snarling sisters were gulpers, both with salty sneers and an eye turned toward what all they could devour. In front of their gaze I continually confirmed the things I thought I wouldn’t; and when they told me of their belief in God, I too believed and was immediately aligned with my five or six shadow-selves: minus food and, one time, shoes.

The memory of them recurs. Makes me drive too fast and sing too loud and eat their music, which isn’t anything at all—an inward yawp that sounds only for those, like me, who fled with their windows wide, who prickled in its irregular breeze. But when it hits, the sisters’ phrase their question thusly: Do I want to save the changes?

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