Sunday, June 22, 2003

Just got back from the beach. I'm slightly sore and very tired. I fought with a sand crab and the crab one. Oh, the humiliation!

Monday, June 16, 2003

Happy Bloom's Day!

Just because I didn't Like Ulysses, doesn't mean we shouldn't celebrate the day on which the story takes place. In good irish fashion, the day should be celebrated with copious amounts of whiskey, or at the very least, Guennis.

Saturday, June 14, 2003

Vacation

My sister in law is coming to town for two weeks so until the end of the month I probably won't be posting much. So the three of you who read this with any regularity will just have to wait until July. But I promiss a few surprises then.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

I just got back from my quest to find Father's Day cards (Oh, how I hate the Halmark Company and their fake holidays!!! But that's another story). I prefer to get the blank cards so I can write my own messages because, frankly the mass produced sentiments are either stupid, schmaltzy or both. But the only blank cards I could find today (and I went to three places) all had American flags on the cover. Which just proves what I've suspected for some time: patriotic flag waving is just a mask for vapid sentiment.

This message braught to you by your local chapter of the Snarky Pessamist's Society. Support your local SPS. Or don't. They won't like you either way.
The First Rule is, Buy Your Own Flowers...

I was talking about Mrs. Dalloway with my wife the other night, how, even though I love Virginia Wolff's prose, the way she builds sentences and uses words, I didn't like the book. I had thought about it for some time and came to the conclusion that it was because Mrs. Dalloway is a book written explicitly for women. Now normally I don't buy into the gender warfare crap. I love the Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington and have read a few Agatha Christy stories that were really good. But I just didn't get Mrs. Dalloway. I wanted something to happen. Anything. But it never did.

Elvira (El-vee-ta) said how she understood it because every other character in the book, no matter how trivial was centered around Clarisa Dalloway in such an intricate manner, that you didn't need for anything to happen, that it was all about repression and how one women finds ways to act out through the lives of others and escape her own restrictions, even the ones that were self imposed.

This got me thinking. I realized that there was a men's book that was a direct corollary to Mrs. Dalloway: Fight Club. Everyone in Chuck Palahniuk's book is obsessed with Tyler Durden from Marla to the Narator. It's only at the end that the Narrator realizes he is Tyler Durden and that he's been trying to find a way out of his own repressed situations, some of which, like the ones with Marla, are self imposed. Of course in Fight Club, he reaizes this through acts of terrorism.

But that's the difference between Mrs. Wolff and Mr. Palahniuk, between women and men: when men are frustrated and feel trapped by society, we beat the crap out of other frustrated men; women go buy flowers for a dinner party.
Soul of an Old Poet

I met an Old Poet at the cemetery gates one day when I was just a boy. We walked and talked and I asked him if he was here to visit someone and he says to me, he says, "Son, I'm here to lay my old bones next to my wife who died here thirty years ago today." And he goes on and tells me, "My soul's heavy and I'm tired a caryin" it 'round this here old world. Good soul though, served me well and kept me out of some things and gotten me into others and it's a shame to just give it up so..."

I say to him, "I'll buy that old soul from you, so you'll know it'll be in a good place." And I offered him a bottle of wine I'd brought with me to feed to my grandpa's ghost. The Old Poet, he drank the whole thing down in one gulp and then corked the bottle and handed it to me and then lay down right there on his old woman's grave and died.

I've still got the bottle. It's at home on my windowsill, still corked. One day I'll take that bottle down and pop the cork and listen to the Old Poet's soul, swinging from the trees and laughing at the Moon.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

I know when I'm beat. I can admit that. I'm an adult, Iafter all. And it's not an easy thing to admit. I pride myself on being well read, possesed by a bodacious capacity to understand and interpolate the intricacies of complex literature. But, I've been bested on this one. You might as well know it now and better to hear it from me then someone else:

Ulysses has kicked my ass.

I've attempted to read this book no less then six times in the last eight years and for the life of me, I simply cannot get past chapter three. I've come to the unfortunate conclusion that the damn thing is simply unreadable. And it's not that I just don't get James Joyce. I enjoyed Dubliners. Thought the author had real potential.

And the thing is I really want to like this book and not just because it's the silver sword that seperates the true literati from the mere amatures. I don't care about it's reputation as the literary equivalent of the Holy Grail. No. Mostly I want to appreciate it because Robert Anton Wilson does. I've been reading Wilson for ten years and though I have yet to meet the man in person I feel that he has been a great teacher to me. And he loves Ulysses. His favorite book. But I can't help but suspect that the Ulysses he reads and enjoys is not the Ulysses I have wrestled with for so long (I mean, yes I know it isn't the same; that we all make a text different by what we bring to it, etc. but damn it, I'm beginning to think he aquired a copy of Ulysses from the Universe Next Door, where it was written by a James Joyce who wasn't a pretentious twat given to lengthy bouts of mental masturbation).

Frankly, the book is just nonsense. And not the fun sort of Richard Brautigan nonsense. I've read In Watermelon Sugar a half a dozen times and I enjoy it every single time, all the way through. I don't for a minute pretend to understand half of it. But I'm blown away by the Silent Black Sun on Fridays, the Green Ruins, the tigers teaching the nameless narator arithmatic while they eat his parents. This is cohernet nonsense. Not like Ulysses at all. That's just gibberish peppered with Latin obscurities and Gaelic inside jokes.

If I were on a desert island with a copy of In Watermelon Sugar, Alice in Wonderland or even Gormenghast, I could enjoy it because I wouldn't need anything else to enable me to enjoy it. Ulysses is not a Desert Island book; it requires a library full of dictionaries and anotated texts to make it even lucid, let alone enjoyable. I imagine that would take large quantaties of dubious drugs. And then it simply isn't worth it.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Started reading Gormenghast last night. Actually, I should say I started reading Titus Groan, first book in the Gormenghast trilogy. I tried reading it about a year ago but att he time I decided it was moving too slowly. I don't mind intricate, fanciful books about weird people; I prefer them and in fact that's what I like to write. But Gormenghast is so slooooooowwwwwwwww....... But I thought I'd give it another try, this time, just to enjoy Mervyn Peake's prose and let the story wash over me. I think this is how you should read Gormenghast as it seems to be about place rather than time.

Normally I try to stear clear of such hefty books. I know, that sounds horrible but come on, if you can't tell a story in 200 pages or less, it means you are eityher trying to say too much or don't have anything to say and are just spinning out verbage (I'm looking at you, Stephen King!) If you're saying too much, pair down the focus and save the excess for another book. If you aren't saying anything, then go make Music Videos and stop killing trees.

The way I look at it, Fiction falls into two basic types: The Encyclopedic and the Evocative. The Encyclopedic books are just that; hugangous tomes over 400 pages long that give you the most miniscule details about the character's-- what brand of toothpaste they prefer and how when they were seven and they stole that apple from the neighbor's orchard and blah blah blah. Some people like this sort of minute detail. These people are anal retentive and need to seek profeshional help.

The Evocative books are the ones that read like poetry. They have a lightness of touch to them that is similar to Haiku; the author displays a comand of language that allows him to speak volumes with just a few carefully chosen descriptives. These are the books I am constantly seeking to bothg read and write and thankfully, their are a lot of them, mostly by modern authors: Herman Hesse, Ray Bradberry, Paul Auster, Neil Gaiman (for the most part).

I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that so many of the conventions of the novel are well known, so that author's can now feel free to use shorthand when dealing with them. 200 years ago, people neaded to have everything explained but now, we've become comfortable with mystery and ambiguity and can fill in the blanks left by the author.

Also I think the popularity of film has helped with this. People are now comfortable with montage and jump cutting so that author's can experiement with filmic techniques without feeling that they are betraying their craft or neccesarily speaking over the heads of their audience (Like a certain Mr. Joyce who liked to pepper his stories with Latin witicisms and Gaelic obscurities).

Or, maybe I'm just a child of the Media Age with a short attention span.


Friday, June 06, 2003

I just read over at Aint It Cool News that Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) will be directing a film adaptation of The Master and Margarita. As if it isn't cool enough that one of my all time favorite books will be made into a film, it will star Johnny Depp as Woland and Famke Jensen as Margarita. No word yet on who will be the Master. My vote is for Ian Holm but that's just me. But, BUT, I'm giddy with the news!!!

To anyone who has never read the Master and Margarita, go to Amazon now (link above) and buy the book. You will not be disapointed.

the Devil comes to Moscow at the hight of Soviet Russia (circa 1938) acomponied by a couple of demons including Behemoth, a vodka drinking, chess playing cat who walks upright and talks. Since, according to Communist ideology, there is no God and no Devil, no one believes in him but that only makes it easier for the Devil to spread chaos, sending people to the mad house and ultimately, uniting two lovers forever. it's a fable, a love story, a satire, all set within the framework of the Faust story. Bulgakov is a master writer and I can't recomend this book enough.

This tiny review doesn't really do th ebook justice. trust me though. it's worth reading, several times.


Thursday, June 05, 2003

Is it possible to have too much time on your hands? I think it is. See, for the last three months or so, I've been working at my friend Shelly's Gym, selling bananas and leotards to little girls. Not a bad job; heck, it's a lot more fun then the four months I spent working at the Gap. Now there is a blackhole of fun.

"So, Keith what do you do?"

"I fold pants. Pants! I fold pants for a living!!! Ha, ha, ha!!!" (and then I run away laughing and try to fold the pants of people who are still in them).

OK, so it's not that bad but you see my point. I don't have much in the way of responasabilities at this job and I only work 12 hours a week. So I have plenty of free time to work on my writing. Too much time I'm beginning to think.

See, when I was writing The Tragic Circus, I was working 32 hours a week at Barnes & Noble (at least I was when I started writing the book). I had barely enough time to write then so when a free hour or two opened up I would sit down and madly pound on the keyboard. I had a sense of urgency. Soon, I would have to go to work or leave early so I could pick up cat food or pay a bill or something. I fit my writing into my schedule when I could so it was precious time.

Now I have nothing but time. I work 3 hours a day, 4 days a week. I can run errands and play on the internet and watch a movie and still have time to write before I go to work. The problem is, without the urgancy of having to fit the writing in to a free hour, I think of it as something I can do later. First I'll check my e-mail, catch up on the news. Then drink heavily to ward off the depression that brings, then maybe take a nap. Before I know it, it's 3:30 and time for me to leave for work and I've gotten diddly squat written.

But the good news is I'll be starting Grad School here in late August so I'll have less free time. Imagine all the writing I'll get done then!
So is anyone else but me thinking of moving to Canada?

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Bridgett in the Spring

The first time Bridgett Plum fell in love was when she was sixteen, with a cucumber. It arrived inconspicuously one spring morning with the rest of the vegetables for her parent's whole food store. Bridgett, dragged out of bed in the gray swamp of dawn, could barely stifle her yawns as she stocked the shelves and piled the produce into pyramids. Until she saw it sitting there, plump and perfectly arched, resting on top of a crate full of other less remarkable cucumbers. At first she couldn't tell what it was that made her stare at it so. She had been in the whole food business since birth, joked with the other stockers about the phallic properties of certain vegetables and fruits but until that moment she had no idea that a simple tuberous gourd could elicit such a response in her. She couldn't take her eyes off of it. So slender and green and firm to the touch. She blushed. Then looked around and saw no one cared or even noticed. She slipped the cucumber into the waistband of her jeans and shuddered at the cool sensation of its skin next to hers.

After she finished stacking the other vegetables, Bridgett, as casually as she could, snuck up the stairs to her room and hid the magnificent veggie in her underwear drawer.

There it sat until that evening, after school (through which she daydreamed beautifully strange fantasies, failing a math test in the process) and after she helped her father unload a shipment of organic shitake mushrooms. She momentarily forgot about it as she dragged herself up the stairs and into the shower. It wasn't until, wrapped in a moist towel, hair still dripping a bit that she pulled open her underwear drawer and smiled.

Hoisting the cucumber gently from its bed of cotton panties she cradled it in her hands, carrying it to her bed. There she laid it on the rumpled sheets she had neglected to make that morning. Still wearing her damp towel she climbed onto the bed next to it, never taking her eyes off its glistening surface. The arch of it caught the soft orange glow from the Chinese paper lamp hanging over her bed in such a way that she had only read about in stories by AnaÔs Nin. It was sensual, certainly. Erotic, of course but more so. It possessed something almost... mesmeric. This vegetable had an animal's charisma. A fur lined libido. For a moment she thought she saw it throb. She picked it up, gently. It was warm now, from sitting in her drawer all day and felt even warmer since she first set it on the bed as if in flagrant disregard for the laws of physics, the light spring breeze from the open window and the cool blue night had warmed it further. Or maybe it was responding sympathetically; her hands which were starting to sweat a little. She wiped them on her towel and raised the cucumber to her lips and shut her eyes and breathed heavily and kissed it. Gently. At first. Then more passionately.

Her experience with boys at that point had been primarily in kissing. But this was different. Sitting there on her bed wrapped in a moist towel, French kissing a cucumber was, she admitted to herself later, quite silly but also, enjoyable. It was better then just kissing some slobbering boy who wanted to wag his tongue and clean her teeth like he was training to be a dentist. Although the cucumber had an aura like a sausage in heat, it was passive. It did what she wanted it to do and not just because she was holding it and moving it but it almost anticipated her desires. Perhaps she had imagined that. But after several minutes of prolonged and tingling kissing that gradually progressed into licking and mouthing and then to outright fellatio before she realized it, Bridgett stopped. Slightly out of breath, she blinked as if coming out of a stupor and examined the cucumber, glistening with her saliva on the slightly less bulbous end. She paused for a moment to consider her next move and then resumed her passionate slurping of the cucumber as she untied her towel and tossed it onto the floor where it remained in a slightly damp pile until the morning.

That night she lost her virginity to the cucumber. The pain lasted only a moment. But the sensation that shuddered through her thighs and caused her to gasp and howl into her pillow (clutched by the corner in one hand and bent over her mouth at the moment of glory, lest anyone in the household be roused by her enthusiasm) that lasted all through the night and once more, shortly before sunrise.

Boys were ruined for her after that night. Not that they held much interest for her before, what with their incessant chattering about cars and sports. Now that she had Cucumber, she simply ignored them, even the boys who wrote poetry and went to the musty old Sun Theater to see the subtitled foreign films.

Of course their romance didn't last forever. Bridgett knew it never would. After all, a cucumber is a cucumber. After a week, it had wilted and finally gone flaccid in her hands. She wept for her loss, briefly and then planted him in the garden. She would, for months afterwards, fondly remember the nights they had and never once did she regret the sleep she lost that week.

Or the various nights that would follow.

After the dalliance with the cucumber Bridgett's imagination ran wild. Scarcely a vegetable could pass through her hands that she didn't way it in her palm and ponder lasciviously until she blushed.

All through that summer and into fall she experimented. Squash proved equally arousing, as did eggplants of the smaller, Chinese variety. Carrots, rhubarb and celery intrigued her but after having tasted the various members of the gourd family, they left her wanting something more substantial. Potatoes rubbed her the wrong way and she only made the mistake of inviting a jalapeÒo to her bed once. The night with the Spanish olives was a veritable an orgy while bananas lasted for such a short time as to be hardly worth the effort. Tomatoes on a hot summer night were a lovely thrill, especially when their juices would squirt all over her thighs. Lemons and limes were a kick, though more for their texture then their girth. Once she even rubbed herself off with a kiwi. She drew the line at star fruit.

Winter came and the vegetables grew fewer until the only ones that arrived were shriveled and imported from New Zealand. An early frost in Brazil wiped out a whole crop of cucumbers. Bridgett cried herself to sleep every night, and dreamed.

Until spring returned.

Monday, June 02, 2003

The Tragic Circus Chapter Three:

The Two-Headed Pig

The next few weeks unfold like origami swans into the usual long domestic hours, preparing and eating meals, cleaning the house or washing Lady Saturnine's old jalopy, which she inherited from her third husband (or was it her fourth?). There are bills to be paid, lawns forward and back to be mowed and the gazebo in the side yard is in quite a state of disrepair, when, Simon will you fix it? Time is kept at an even pace, measured by the comings and goings of Lilly to school and Frederick to his job, tailoring suits for the elite of the city, which leaves Soren ample time with his favorite and only nephew and the Lady Saturnine. And he wouldn't have it any other way.

In the dilapidated gazeebo, the three play a few rounds of Nerts, an ingenious little card game Lady Saturnine has been trying to introduce into the family's idle moments.

"It's all the rage in the Netherlands," claims Lady Saturnine though Soren has his doubts, having passed through Amsterdam on his way home (and carrying from there three cannabis cigarettes and a small thimble full of Hashish in the hollow heel of his left shoe). They are on their second of the three as a new hand is dealt.

"Personally, I think you made it up." Simon declares, puffing on a joint and passing it to Lady Saturnine.

"Nonsense! It's an ancient game. Egyptian of origin, I believe. She tokes. Devised by Pharaoh to pass the time while the locusts where milling about in the fields."

Soren and Simon giggle.

"Simon dear, you just dropped the nine of hearts on top of the eight of diamonds," Lady Saturnine points out with a sharp smile, hands the joint to Soren. "Do try and stay alert. It?s just like solitare, only you're playing with others."

"Oh hush, you!" Soren smirks as he slips the five of clubs under the lady's nose. Soren's taken to the game like the proverbial fish and has won three of four hands so far. He then calls out "Nerts!" to which Lady Saturnine replies with a thin, "Shit!" hissed between her teeth. Everyone tosses their cards in while Simon sorts through the three decks, tallying points.

Every so often though, this domesticity is upended and not just when Simon decides to paper the street with enigmatic words etched into lampposts, spreading a poem across the acres so that only a god would be able to read it but also by the heartfelt bickering of the two brothers. On a regular basis Frederick has it out with Soren over the state of his Kitchen.

"All I'm saying is, don't grate an onion with my cheese grater! All the cheese tastes like, like onion!" Soren is unrepentant though, leaving filthy pots and pans for another day. "He always was the messy one!" Frederick says with a smile to Lady Saturnine who pats him on the shoulder.

On Halloween Soren, dressed like a skeleton, chases the children of the neighborhood from door to door, distributing his stock of Japanese rice candy to the younger ones while showing the teenagers how to TP a house and pitch a rotten egg. "It?s just like a football. Only smaller."

One afternoon, Lady Saturnine manages to get Soren to sit still long enough to pose for a portrait, to replace his old one that has been hanging over his empty chair for the last twenty years. In his new portrait Soren wears an enormous coat of polar bear fur and stands at the top of the world, in a frozen landscape, one foot on a bear's skull, holding up the first daisy to pop through the spring thaw. Behind him is a magnificent sled pulled by a team of arctic buffalo.

Soren even accompanies Lilly to Mass one Sunday. He hits it off with Lilly's Priest, Father Jose and Brother Jerome, the Franciscan monk who tickles the organ keys. He invites the two over one night and the four of them, Soren, the Father, Brother and Lilly, stay up all night swapping stories, Soren of his infinite travels, The father of his missionary days in Argentina, the Brother of his prize orchids. Lilly listens to all of it and is amazed, not so much by the increasingly improbable stories as by how many bottles of Frederick's wine both her uncle and Father Jose manage to empty.

One night, Soren takes Simon to one of his old haunts; the only one in fact that still remains after all these years, The Two-Headed Pig. The old neighborhood bar stands on the corner, shingled roof askew, smoked glass windows at rakish angles, from which glows an inside-out sort of light. Despite protests from little old ladies and other prudes, the Two Headed Pig nightly fills with the sort of bawdy jokes and bawdier songs that flow in any pub, just as if there were a tap for them right next to the keg. The establishment takes its name from an Irish Proverb, carved into a little wooden plank set over the door:


If you see a two-headed pig,
Keep your mouth shut.


Gurney Holloman, the proprietor, produces a bottle of twenty-year-old scotch and slaps a shot down in front of Soren and one for himself.

"Soren, you dirty weasel! It's good to have you back! When your brother came down here a month after you lit out, well, me and the boys figured?Well, truth is, we missed you good and proper, all of us. 'Scuse me!" Gurney steps through the narrow door into the kitchen where a line cook pats him on the shoulder.

Stan, an older gentleman with a fondness for Hank Williams, saunters over to the karaoke machine and obscures old Gurney's sobs. For once, no one minds.

"Gurney and me, we used to have some times!" Soren chuckles, weekly. And it happens again. The long look on Soren?s face. The sad eyes. Simon notices it but says nothing.

A sudden silence drops a thoughtful shroud across the bar. It's nearly two in the morning. The Karaoke machine is put to bed and the jukebox turned down. It is now the time for long sighs. But none so long as Soren's.

"You look a tad blue about the gills. Everything all right?" Simon takes his fifth shot, smooth and slow. His eyes fog over until Gurney, composed and returned to the bar, slides another pint before him.

"Hmm? Oh. Yeah...." From his pocket, Soren produces a small notebook bound in moleskin. He lays it on the bar between them and taps it thoughtfully, "I was just thinking..."

Soren stares through the bottom of his shot glass at the dingy wooden bar. Through that even, down at his feet and the floor and into the center of the earth. After a moment he looks up at Simon, bloodshot eyes and all. "I was thinking that you aught to have this now."

He holds up the little notebook. "I intended to give it to you weeks ago. Make a big deal about it. You know, throw out some pomp and such. But with all the excitement I just forgot."

"No, that?s OK. There's no need, I mean..."

"Nope. Of all the family, you're the one who will appreciate this most." Soren thumps his hand on the bar, "This is a record of everything that I saw. And I wrote it all down so that I could share it. I shouldn't have been gone so long. I didn't intend to be, you know. Hell, I never meant to leave at all, really. But as I got near that grocery store, something inside of me? it was like a light switch turning off. I just couldn't go in there. I suddenly realized that if I had to put up with one more bland, sanitized middle class moment, grocery stores and mini malls and station wagons full of children, well that would be that. I'd be finished. So I kept on walking. I decided to see the world! Right then and there. I figured I'd be gone just a week or two. Just until I got the venom out of my blood. I'd drop the family a line when I got to wherever I was going. But, well obviously I didn't. I don't know why, really. A week became a month. Then I said, well, just a year. But before I knew it, it was five years, then ten. And the things I saw..." He sighs again. "Well, they're in here. All the world's beauty and tragedy and... Everything. This one time, when I was in Tibet." Soren's face, lit up for a moment by the fire of his memory, illuminates clearly the ghost of the younger man he had been. Simon can see him, as he was that night he left, peering out through his eyes. "At the time, it was scary to say the least. I was helping this Buddhist Monk smuggle his sister and her three children into India. We barely got out of Lhassa just ahead of the Chinese Secret Police. But looking back on it now, I wouldn't give it up for the world!"

"What made you come back?" Simon asks, "Not that we aren't happy to have you and all..."

"Well, there're a lot of reasons. But I guess what it comes down to is, well, I just knew I had to find my way back here one last time, before... Well before anything happened. I needed to give this to you, Simon." He places the journal in Simon's hand, closes his fingers around the spine.

Simon takes a long drink from his mug. "And they say I'm the poet of the family..."

"Oh, you are! That's just the whiskey talking through me. Whiskey makes even ditch diggers into poets. But the events of our lives, no they're not poetry. They're just life. Crude and wonderful and happy and sad." He sighs. "So sad. But that's not poetry, that's just how things happen."

"No! That's all the stuff that really matters! Real Poetry is Life. And vice versa."

"See! You are a poet. Everyone thinks so, so it must be true. Besides, a poet's more than just words on a page. It's how you look at things, the world. How you make it your own, with no regrets and no apologies. Life, see, it takes you in its jaws and chews you up and what's left over is, well, you. As for me, well I have no more illusions. I lost them all on my travels. And maybe you're right. Life is poetry. Or maybe it isn't but it should be. An act. Well, not an act. That cheapens it. But an expression of your heart and bones and blood. That's when life becomes poetry, when you can't tell the difference between you and the thing your living. I can tell that is you all over!"

Later, after all that happens, Simon remembers Soren's words and he thinks of them every now and again, every time he wonders why or what for. It may not be the world's greatest advice or a catchall answer for all of life's questions but it helps Simon grapple better with the unknown and unknowable variables of life to remember that someone else was there before him, just as befuddled and starry eyed as he is most of the time.

Soren teeters to his feet, pats his nephew on the shoulder. "Keep an eye on that for me. I?ll know where to find it, if I need it." And he staggers to the door. As he opens it, Soren looks back and smiles at Simon before he steps out into the fog.

In the morning, Lady Saturnine brings Soren toast and tea in bed. She knocks softly on the guest room door, finds it slightly ajar. Pushing it open she discovers him laying perfectly still, a slight smile on his lips, which have turned a soft shade of blue in the chill of an early November night. She pats his cold hand, then goes to fetch the family.

Frederick examines the bottle of sleeping pills, empty on Soren's nightstand. And there is a note pinned to the sheet tucked under Soren's chin:


Please don't think ill of me.
My life has not been exemplary
but neither should my death
be taken as an omen, or anything
but an unavoidable conclusion.
Not that, even. Just a passing moment.

S.


"This was his way," Simon says. "A beautiful and tragic moment. And maybe it shouldn't be but that's life for you."

Everyone else merely nods.