47. Nina

Chapter 46

Nina

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp. Vanilla

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda dissolved in 2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar

5 cups of flour

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, vanilla and baking soda. Combine flour with cream of tartar and salt and add to wet ingredients. Chill dough overnight. Roll approximately a quarter of an inch on a well-floured board. Cut out with cutters. Bake at 375 degrees for seven to ten minutes. Makes between three and four dozen cookies.

1 stick butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 package confectioner’s sugar

milk

Combine and mix until consistent and smooth.

I sometimes think about how I would deal with confrontations that will probably never happen. Violent ones, and high-stakes ones. I believe that many people do similar things. How would I stop a bank robbery right now? How would I get to be the hero? Things like that. Sometimes I think about them.

For me it’s always a mugging in the middle of the night. I’m not sure why – I’ve noticed that over the past hundred and fifty-ish years we’ve embraced the idea, as a culture. I’ve seen enough movies to know that hero that gets attacked, or that a woman gets attacked and the hero has to save her. I saw Crocodile Dundee in maybe 1986 or 1987 and since then I sometimes think about being the hero in the alley. I’ve thought of pithy lines and everything.

I’m walking somewhere in New York City or Los Angeles or a place like that and it’s very dark like it’s supposed to be, and three or four men jump out of the alley or the shadows and tell me to give them my money. They’re all bigger than me, and I know that any one of them could outfight me.

I think men think about how they can be action heroes, but I like to think about talking them down.

So I imagine these men all looking at me and demanding money, and I reach into my pocket and pull out a knife. Like in Crocodile Dundee only the knife is smaller, like a switchblade. I turn it around so the handle faces the men and I give it to them. I tell them very seriously that if they plan to take the money from me then they should be prepared to kill me for it. And either they get too nervous and call me crazy, or they stab me and I crumple to the ground. And then I get back up and say the line again. I know they can’t kill me, and I am not afraid. Eventually they would run, and I would walk home and go to bed like nothing happened. I’ve thought about that for almost thirty years now. It’ll probably never happen, but if it did that’s what I would do.

The secret treasures on the dark side of the moon. The Commander and his last voyage. The monster in the cupboard under the mountain. The devoured city, the ocean people. The maw, the imploding specks of dust underneath days, the swirling chaos inside every sleeping person, where to find it and where to keep it safe. Yourself, around and through, where plastic caps on the ends of shoelaces come from, statues and glass, the deepest blue in the world. Bootlickers, doormats, grovelers and apple polishers and fawners and lackeys and minions and stooges, sycophants, yes men and kowtowers, brownnosers and flatterers. Leather couch, conch shell, mortar fire, fourth of July, The Sound of Music. All in the hotel. Mundane and fantastic things, all in the hotel.

The road curves left and lifts up, cracks in twos and threes along thin edges grinding

apart. Looping in on itself. Passing train-cars and passing the outer spirals and passing and

passing and whirling inward and back again. At the center is a circle with streets webbing out.

Well, no. At the center is a boy and his sister and a girl and her brother. But the streets web

out. Like veins and canals. Here, I am watching. The center with a notepad, passing passing

passing time and waiting for my guests.

A long time ago I jumped off a roof, but I didn’t die. He’s been keeping me alive. I came to America in the 1940s. The first president I voted for was Harry Truman. They showed the inauguration on television. At the end of his term they blew up the hydrogen bomb. The March Revolutions. Otto Von Bismark. My parents at the riots in 1817. The railway. The electric waterfall at the World’s Fair in 1890. The elections in 1932. The rallies. In the 1960s I go to college, and again in the 1980s. I start writing, and I’m okay at it. My professor teaches me rules, and he says they’re not rules, just things he noticed over the years.

Rule One. Write under the assumption that your tastes are shared by others. Rule Two. Assume, until proven otherwise, that your audience is full of intelligent, rational people who know what they like, who do not need their hands held and who do not appreciate being talked down to. Rule Three. You cannot impose on people a context through which they will interpret your words. Rule Four. Experience as much bad writing as you can; it is easier to pick apart the awful than the perfect.

He made me memorize them. He was more than a hundred years younger than me. He’s either dead now or he’ll die soon. The last time I visited a doctor was before they had penicillin. I don’t have any gray hair. The world didn’t end when the Millerites said, or Wroe or Wendell or Shipton, or Russell or Armstrong or the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Jim Jones or Manson or Pat Robertson or Stewart or Harold Camping or Nostradamus. It didn’t end at Y2K and it didn’t end at the Long Count, or when they turned on the Hadron. Falwell and Newton and LaHaye and Weinland and Warren Jeff all got it wrong. We’re still here. I looked it up on the internet, and there’s a whole bunch more I’ve never heard of. We’re always predicting the end of the world. In the meantime more people than there are in the world right now were born and died.

I don’t think he gets it too well. He thinks I’m scratching at my eyes afraid to die, and he’s only a little right. How much time do I really spend thinking about when he’s going to come back and kill me? I don’t care what any of them say, living forever isn’t that bad. The people you love die, and then you get over it like you always do. I’ve only ever been in love once. He was married, but that didn’t stop us. There wasn’t any guilt, either. I still remember it as a wonderful time in my life – in between the scrambling to get away. He’s gone, though – Greg didn’t make it. You have as long as you want to grieve. This isn’t a punishment – I’ve seen more than anyone else has ever seen – more than any four people. And at the end of it is a grinning sadist with a knife. I don’t care. I’m not begging for him to come back. I’ve got a garden, and if he burns it down I’ll pick up and move somewhere with better soil. The world really is the way we thought it was when we were very little.

Come and get me.

-August 14th, 2012

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Chapter 48

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