e c l e c t i c a f i c t i o n
(These are excerpts—click on the title to view the whole story!)
Near Misses in Madrid (Spotlight Runner Up!)
Back in those days, AIDS awareness organizations produced a lot of publicity reminding you that when you had unprotected sex with someone, you were also having unprotected sex with everyone said person had ever had sex with, and after a first failed attempt to consummate our relationship using a condom, we had transitioned directly to unprotected sex. I knew she'd not used condoms with the tattooed team leader because the subject had regrettably come up, and since he'd not used condoms with her, I assumed he'd not used condoms with the other people with whom he'd sex, and since he was much older than we were, and apparently the kind of person with whom people had sex, since I knew of at least one person with whom he had, I imagined he'd had sex with plenty of people who, if they were having unprotected sex with him, had almost surely had unprotected sex previously with other people who, according to the same logic, had themselves previously had unprotected sex with other people, and at some point in all of that exchanging of fluids, I concluded, it was all but inevitable the HIV virus had found its way into the mix.
Eli S. Evans
Now I was 14 and about to start high school, and like Ruthie and Sarah, I was a virgin with no real prospects for a boyfriend. Ruthie liked Sean Stafford (who wasn't even Jewish, a fact that could send her devoutly religious parents to an early grave), and Sarah liked Adam Cushman, and I liked Herbie Jakowitz, but those guys probably didn't know we existed. Of course, Sarah, who was Size C in sixth grade, could have had sex with Peter Kim, who had a big crush on her, but Peter was like the biggest nerd in our middle school. All of us were hoping that once we got to high school there would be lots more males to choose from and that those same males would find us super attractive.
This game was only ever played at D.Dave's house, since it crucially required use of a hammock that hung in his backyard, suspended high between two trees. One of us would sit straddling the hammock, while the rest would throw things at them—soccer balls, baseballs, branches, rocks, etc. If they fell out of the hammock or called "mercy', that would end that round of the game. But, if they could stay in the hammock for ten minutes, they won a point. The first person to earn 200 points was the winner.
Children use the enclosure for playing rat-a-tat, but no one bothers to stop them. In fact an old man, a friend of the deceased and a faithful liquor partner, tries to join them. He retreats however owing to the pain in his wasted knees. The regret in his eyes should remind one of Alexander the Great's despair when he was compelled to relinquish his world-winning campaign after the exhausting battle with Porus.
Upon it were several large, shell-like fossils. But preposterous. One I recognized from the Miocene, a helmet-shelled snail known as Echphora gardnerae, but it had artificially stuck to it two absurd "legs." Upon scrutiny, these were fossils of the common jackknife clam, Ensis leei. As if the extinct beast were meant to walk about on them like a willful little warrior. But how had they become conjoined within the same ancient stone? Another, a beaded sea cucumber, Euapta lappa, bore a pair of incongruous "wings," but these were falsely made up of the ubiquitous bivalve Petricolaria pholadiformis! As if it might flap and take to the air! There were several more of such frauds.
The monk Han had, for several months, a mistress whom he kept in a small flat near the Portage District. Though he had sworn a vow of poverty when he entered the monastery, he had not completely divested himself of a sizable inheritance. With these funds, he kept his infatuation in fine clothes and with two servants to attend to her needs. It soon became clear to the mistress, however, that all this attention was not for her sake but rather to soften her heart for another suit. It seems that Han had become obsessed with a friend of the mistress, a woman as remote as she was beautiful, and Han wished the mistress to act as intermediary to plead his suit. Naturally, the mistress at first resisted Han's pleas. After he simultaneously offered her a large fee and threatened to toss her out into the street unless she did his bidding, she agreed to arrange a meeting.
"I've constructed a ledger here," I said, opening it up to the first page, "listing the name of every girl in the chorus down the left side of the page. Across the top are the dates and shows. Every girl should be instructed to come to me before every show so I can make sure their pasties are properly fitted, after which I will check them off in my ledger so that I know, so that we both know, that every one of the 24 dancers has been inspected."
To one side of this scene, watching attentively, stands the figure of General Douglas MacArthur. He is impeccable attired in a cavalry uniform, freshly pressed, plumped jodhpurs, and brown riding boots glossed to a fastidious sheen. Next to MacArthur is Major Dwight Eisenhower. He is dressed in civilian clothes: light trousers, a dark jacket and incongruous straw hat. He also looks on the scene taking place attentively, but with some embarrassment. MacArthur, however, is unaware of his aide-de-camp's discomfort; his nostrils, petitely equine, flare with impatience. He calls out to the captain leading the infantry battalion: "You there. Why aren't those troops moving faster?"