Jack followed the kid through the twilight haze. The nape of the kid's neck winked from under his wool collar. Jack was not right, had not been right for so long that he was starting to forget what it felt like. He had found the root, but he could not dig it up, and so it grew longer, more prying as time went on. The two figures moved swiftly. Above them, stars and fog curled together like fingers on a bit of gold.
Associative pathways form in the brain in their own improbably dense labyrinths, and while the organization of the sub-sub stacks of the library seems fairly schizotypal, so is Edvard's brain, at times, he feels, and so one or the other of the two—his brains or the shelves, if in fact they are moving—are growing to meet the other. Moving through the corridors on instinct, even or especially in the dark, gentle overhead fans working to suck the air clean of dust but space between the shelves still thick with molted thickness; so a series of turns and passageways clicks in Edvard's brain, a physical sensation that guides him from wherever he is loading books onto his little cart, through the never-quite-the-same paths of the labyrinth to one of the exits through the underground service conduit, narrow and requiring Edvard to hunch, under the street up the freight elevator into the warehouse to the machine, which scans the books—the machine, some insanely expensive looking array of mechanical eye-stalks that scans with mild bursts of radiation and infra-red, reading decayed or decaying texts through dense layers of papyrus. Turning this into text.
Loose, gangled, pimply and violent, almost a curse of a person, Ori watched Godard films with her in the middle of the night, when she couldn't pain-sleep and he snuck back in through the window. They sat together on the couch, and she could not have named all the thoughts between them. She thought he might be gay, because in the year that he had bestialized, growing all his body parts strange and large enough to awe himself, and fled from the house to sleep in Jerusalem park, Mom reported that he was almost kidnapped by a gang of homos who would have made him a sex-slave in some sordid apartment on the Israel coast, near Netanyah, near Be'er sheva, somewhere to be fucked and hole-pummeled and forgotten and misshapen into a new human. But instead they caught him, locked him in rehab for a year. He talked on and on over the film, saying how they taught him to think about the steps of each thought before he made the decision and his head seemed large to her, as if the speed of this thought-catalogue was only catapulting him forward. But maybe it wasn't the rehab or him being in the closet. He reeked of weed and his eyes could have been gouged out. It seemed the next logical step. Ori reminded her of her full brother, the one her parents fucked and loved for, and she had as hers till he left when she was seventeen. Something about the way he hung, his bones unaligned, draped on furniture and against the walls. Or how his red rim eyes and searching pupil, and his retreat, hands shoved in the pockets and caving the chest, made her think there were two of him in the room.
Shoshana von Blankensee:
Back in Long Beach when I am four I fall off my board while I'm surfing on the rocking chair. I tumble in the waves so my heart crackles and I try to find up, but instead I smash my head open on the stone fireplace. My sweatpants are green; I sit up and watch a little spill of blood dribble onto them, blue spots, blue blops. A noise comes out of my mouth but I don't make it. My dad runs in and lifts me by my arms, so my head swings back. My eyes find the ceiling and our shadow, cast across it by the lamp on the end table. My fingers are splayed, long and extending across to the far wall. "Get the truck!" he hollers to my mom and somewhere there is the sound of keys.
My eight-year-old sister leans in the doorway wearing one of my dad's T-shirts, the armpits stained yellow. She's holding a hard boiled egg, in the other hand a pile of shells, her hair tousled and her toenails painted red. Our eyes press right into each other, like a walkie-talkie made from string and tin cans.
Talking to my head wound instead of me, my father leans in and yells "Goddamn it" at it a couple of times. My cat Nilla, watches from the window, as I'm carried out to the driveway.
In the truck we sit on a shower curtain because the roof leaked in winter and the seats rotted out, old broccoli in a plastic bag, grosser then gross. My father takes off his shirt and wraps it around my head so tight it pulls my eyes off to one side. His chest covered in brown hair, he smells like Irish Spring and I'm resting against him. I can see out the top of the windshield, the telephone wires dipping and swinging back up into blue, occasionally a bird nicks the line, but I go crazy right around this part. The memory of that drive to the hospital suddenly explodes, scattering in all directions. The sounds of his mouth following behind every opening.