ISSUE 7 | PAPERGUTS

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PROSE:

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Seed Heart

by Beatriz Becker

You wouldn’t believe how hot it was in the shed where utility poles were made! The workers sweated as they moved around, preparing moulds and machines.

There were moulds of different shapes and sizes, but all had an iron structure inside. The soft concrete would be poured into them and would harden around the iron. The machine went by, filling the moulds with concrete, one by one.

It was then that a breath of wind blew into the shed. The workers sighed, relieved by that momentary freshness. And with the wind, something else came in by the high window: a seed.

It came from a tree that was far away, beyond the factory yard. The strong wind had torn the seed from its pod and brought it all the way there; and with one final breath, it placed it right inside the last mould in the rank. No one saw the tiny seed. And when the machine came and filled the mould, there it stayed, close to the iron, right in the middle of the concrete.

Days went by. The poles, now ready, were taken out to the yard. There were many piles of them, all young and conceited.

“I will be in the very middle of town,” said a very thick and tall one. “I will support the electricity cables of a whole block, and no wind shall sway me.”

“Why,” replied a shorter, rectangular one, “haven’t you heard? In town all poles are already in place. We are going to the country, rather.”

“What nonsense! Why do you always think you are in the know?”

“Because I am. I know everything. Which you never will, unless you stop talking about yourself and listen to what is said around you.”

“Maybe I’ll do that when you stop meddling and gossiping!”

Yes, they were arrogant and self-centred. And how could it be otherwise, when they were all concrete with iron hearts?

All, but one. Looking around himself in that yard, a smallish pole had a strange feeling: it seemed to him the world had to be more than iron, mortar and machines. The sun’s warmth made him happy and the rain, which was met with indifference by his proud companions, filled him with a strange gratitude. It was because this pole had for a heart the little tree-seed that had fallen into the mould.

One day, a number of poles were loaded onto a truck. Among them was also the pole that had a seed heart. He peeked out along the way, trying to guess where they would be taken. As it left the city, the truck started to pass by trees; and when he saw the first ones, the pole was gripped by a deep emotion. He felt an immediate bond with those beings; he seemed to have found the answer to his longing and understood his destiny. “How marvellous,” he thought. And he wanted to share with his companions his admiration for those he believed to be also poles, but poles covered in green and gently swaying in the wind. The others however were too busy finding fault with the poles installed along the road to pay him any attention.

They were indeed destined for the electrical grid in the countryside. On arriving at a dirt road, the truck started leaving them on the roadside one by one, at long intervals.

“Please, please, let me be left close to one of those beings!” our pole sighed. His wish was granted. The truck unloaded him not far from a group of trees.

It took the pole a while, but eventually he mustered enough courage to address the trees.

“Hello,” he said shyly. “You are the most beautiful poles I ever saw. I hope one day I will be like you.”

“Poles?” laughed the trees, rustling their leaves. “We are no poles. We are trees. We are living beings. We are born from a seed, we grow, we produce new seeds and we are reborn in other trees. You are iron and concrete. You do not have in yourself the life that is in us.”

“But then… I will never be like you?”

“No.”

“Never grow green branches? Nor shelter the winged creatures I see coming and going from your tops?”

“Never, little pole.”

What a cruel disappointment that was! If he could, the pole would have wept. But not even that was possible for him, and this made his heart ache even more.

The workers came and dug holes. The pole and his companions were placed in the ground, upright. Then, electricity cables were installed, going from one to the next. As they had no choice, the poles had decided to be happy with their new condition, and declared that supporting the electrical grid in the country was a much more important task than doing it in town. Now each endeavoured proudly to look taller than the others. But the pole whose with the seed heart was completely indifferent to all this. His heart ached so at the thought that he would never be a tree.

Weeks went by, and months. The pole grew used to living with that ache inside. His companions did not understand him, so he found solace in the company of the trees. Once they got over the strangeness which that pole, so unlike the others, caused in them, the trees recognized him as a friend. They shared the same love for the sun and the summer rains, for the rich earth and for the insects and birds.

One day, the pole noticed a tiny plant at his feet. It was a vine, feeble and shy and unsure of what to cling to.

“Oh,” it sighed, “must I then drag myself on the ground, and grow with no support and no protection?”

The pole was moved.

“No, little one. Here I am. Lean on me, I will be glad to help you.”

The vine happily accepted his offer. At first she held onto him lightly. Then, little by little, she grew, throwing her thin branches around the pole, clinging more firmly to him. They talked often, and bonded in a friendship that grew closer with the passing of time. The vine told him about her vegetable life: about the sap that carries the nutrients to all parts of a plant, about the workings of the solar light in the leaves, about the drying of old branches and the sprouting of new ones. And though on the one hand these conversations quickened his nostalgia, on the other they made him feel somehow closer to that unattainable dream.

The plant grew ever more beautiful and strong; and as the years went by, it came to cover the pole all the way to the top. The branches, now quite thick, grew horizontally like tree-branches.

Once a small bird alighted on one of them. As it took flight again after resting, it twittered:

“Thank you, kind little tree!”

What bittersweet delight ran through the pole’s heart! And in this transport, he confessed to his friend that which he had never openly spoken of to anyone: his absurd longing, the wish he had to be a living plant, to be nourished by the earth, to grow under the sun and the rain, to give shelter to animals. She listened attentively, very grave.

“Ah,” he concluded, “would that bird were right! Yet I must be content. Thanks to you, my dear friend, I can at least offer the birds a resting-place, and receive the sweet name of ‘tree’.”

“I wish I could do more,” she whispered. “I see you long for it so.”

“I do! I would give anything, anything, to attain my wish. But well I know it is impossible.”

The vine said no more, only swayed her branches enigmatically and held her friend tighter.

More years went by. The vine’s branches, strong and thick, tightened always around the pole. Small cracks opened in the concrete, and into these she cast her new sprouts.

“I feel aged. Your embrace hurts me, my friend,” the pole told her gently one day.

“What are you doing?” asked the trees. “Can’t you see you are weakening him?”

But the vine made no answer, nor loosened her embrace.

Again, it was summer. Hours on end the sun had darted scorching rays on the road and the green fields. The pole felt as if suffocating in the heat.

“My friend,” he murmured. “I cannot stand this. If it will not rain, I feel I could die.”

“Look, there are leaden-coloured clouds, and the wind is rising. Soon you will suffer no more.”

And indeed, before long a fearsome storm broke. Lightning flashed across the dark sky, and rain fell in a deluge. The pole felt he was cooling quickly. Too quickly. The contrast had been excessive. A piercing pain rent him from top to bottom; and with a loud noise the crannies opened into one long crack, so deep it exposed the iron structure.

The rain had stopped. There was a rainbow, and the whole world rejoiced. The old pole however would not speak again.

“Serves him right!” sneered the other poles. “He had to associate like that with plants!”

“It’s your fault,” the indignant trees told the vine. “Shame on you!”

The vine made no reply. Still she held in her embrace the lifeless body of her friend; and from her leaves raindrops fell like tears.

A few days later, a sprout appeared at the foot of the cracked pole. It was the sprout of a tree. The seed it came out of had a grey skin, as if dirty with mortar. The first sunbeam touched the sprout, and it awoke. It saw the cracked pole and the sleeping vine, and quivered; and there slid along its tiny stem one gleaming tear of perfect happiness.


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AUGUST WIND

by Simbarashe Jacques Musarurwa

The bitterness of the raging afternoon sun had chimed down together with the cicadas that constantly scampered in the undergrowth. A dusty breeze swooshed over the dry farmland, causing little whirlpools that harbored dead leaves and twigs. The thunderous stampede of the cattle from nearby kraals could be felt as they were being lured in for the night, rocking the underlying bedrock.

It was a good day and as if to confirm it, I could feel a tingling sensation all over my body. It was one of those days where a man just enjoys and appreciates his life without even a shred of worry in mind. I was on my way from my plot, armed with a hoe in my left hand and a half-empty jug of water in the other. The orange-yellowish brush of the setting sun made me feel warm and fuzzy inside after a long day’s work in the field. I had always dreamed of attaining such peace ever since I had inherited that piece of land from my late grandfather. The locals used to envy his fertile patch of earth after he made countless and massive seasonal yields year after year. I hoped for the same.

Things were looking good for me this season. This time my tobacco crop had not been burnt overnight by jealous neighbors and I was looking forward to a good harvest. I strolled up the dusty pathway that led to my home smearing on a big smile as I sank deep in my thoughts. Memories of  the good old days when harvests used to be huge and there would be plenty to go by flew across my mind. The brown thatch from the roof of my kitchen protruded from the huge msasa trees that towered over from my homestead in the far distance marking my arrival. Just as I made my last stretch of the path towards my gate I heard soft whimpers echo from a nearby thorn bush.

I quickly scanned the flora and found a dog huddled underneath the prickly suspending branches. It was an old Rhodesian ridgeback hound that had clearly seen better days. The poor dog had a dull brown coat filled with bald patches and blood stains. On its back were fresh bruises and bite marks that suggested it had previously engaged in a brutal battle with the other local dogs. Its old black eyes gleamed in the fading light letting out signs of pain and suffering over the years. It swiftly brought back the memories of a similar hound I had once owned as a child.

I clearly remembered the day my grandfather returned from his trip to the township holding with him in a big box the most adorable puppy I had ever seen. “Shumba” I named him after the King of the jungle, his brown fur and boldness resembled that of a Lion. The hound and I would often go on adventures across the dense forests of Chikomba hunting for prey, at first we would never catch any but later as time went on we would both return home every day with one or two hares. My grandmother would always applaud us “maita shava” in ululation and prepare the nicest stew for the three of us whilst Shumba was offered the tasty head.

One evening Shumba and I set out to go deeper into the Rovambira Mountains to hunt for wild buck so we could sell the venison at the local butchery. That way we could get money for my grandmother’s diabetes medication. Grandfather had warned me about the dangers that lay in the mountains and always insisted on tagging along, but that day I stubbornly decided to leave grandpa with grandmother and set out deep into the heart of the Rovambira with dear old Shumba by my side.

We spent several hours scouting and searching the rocky rises of the mountain range for the antelope, only to find geckos and termite mounds. As the sun approached the belly of its mother I gave in and decided to rush back home before the darkness of the night had ensued us. Moments after coming to my resolution I heard an uncanny sound explode behind a nearby rock. Shumba started barking viciously at the unseen creature and I quickly responded by reaching out to my manual lamp, cranking it vigorously, split between excitement and fear. I silently made a prayer hoping to reveal a much-desired buck for my grandmother’s sake.

Shumba menacingly made the lead and slowly approached the boulder making a growl only I knew was meant for a swift and delicate attack. I decided to move closer to the action and shined my light ahead of Shumba to give him optimum illumination for the task that was apparent. Just seconds before I made a step I saw two striking cat eyes pop up from behind the rock, gleaming in the light of the torch. I made out a loud cry “Shumba run!” before I took flight into the thorny bush that colonized the land right below, I made a quick glance back to check on my beloved friend and saw him pinned under the paws of a majestic leopard.

My heart immediately fell into a thousand pieces and I relentlessly began fighting to catch my breath, I couldn’t let my best friend die. I quickly picked up a stone and threw it at the big cat in an attempt to distract it from its prey, the cat retreated from Shumba and began prancing around his body. The fur behind his neck seemed to puff up from extreme rage. I had only succeeded in making him angrier. Consequently, the leopard turned its focus towards the lantana camera branches where I lay hidden and began striding towards me, letting out a loud snarl that spiked up every strand of hair that was on my body.

Seconds before the cat had summoned the momentum for the killer leap that was about to end me, Shumba suddenly came out from nowhere and leapt on top of the feline. The 30-kilogram hound had sunk his huge canine teeth deep into the leopard’s neck.  An unbridled battle to tilt the scales of survival unfolded between the two species, evidenced by the nerve-racking growls that pervaded the night air. The agility of the big cat made him a formidable opponent as he would constantly slip and escape the grips of powerful Shumba. But Shumba had heart.

After what seemed like five minutes of a gruesome fight to the death the leopard sensed defeat and retreated up the mountain with a limp and bloody face, meanwhile, Shumba had sustained a deep wound on his hindquarters impaling him from walking normally once the adrenaline he had conjured up had worn off. That night, I carried my hound all the way home masking my grief as he constantly made cries of agony with each step I took. I was in eternal debt to him for saving my life.

As fate would have it, Shumba survived the attack and fully recovered. However, not less than two months later he was poisoned by some local cowherds when he was out on his early morning strolls and passed away later that evening. I was completely devastated and spent countless days refusing to eat the meals that grandma prepared. We buried him on his favorite spot under a peach tree and kindled a fire above his grave so as to bring light to guide his spirit in the afterlife. The following years of my childhood were filled with aching loneliness and a huge void in my heart after losing one of the best friends a man could ever have.

Darkness had already begun drawing over the Chikomba skyline as I stood before the old hound, sifting through my memories. I decided to carry the animal to the confines of my home and extended my arms to grab him, only to be met with intense aggression. The poor dog was confused and agitated after his brutal battle with the homeless varmint that foraged the local dustbins. My casual presence drew him deeper into fright and trauma. After a brief application of the patient touch with animals I had mastered over the years, the old hound soon gave in and allowed me to walk him to my home.

Inside, I immediately fired up my tsotso stove to make a warm bath while the old timer lay on a rug that I had carefully positioned towards the fire pit to warm his body. Once the water had warmed up I gave him a good soapy bath, meticulously removing the numerous ticks that had bored deep in his fur. I carefully scanned his crude brown leather collar for a name through the light of my dull kerosene lamp. On the piece of leather read a name … “Gavi” bluntly inscribed with disfigured letters as if it had been written by a child. After further thought and assessment of his unfortunate predicament, I became sure that wherever he was coming from….he was a long way from home.

After sharing my leftover dried chicken with my new friend I dragged my old rocking mukwa chair towards the fire pit. The old hound retreated towards the door assuming the natural position of guard whilst I laid in a constant rocking motion with my eyes piercing through the shine of the yellow flames, sinking deep in my thoughts.

Suddenly, I heard the sound of my huge wheelbarrow clanking against the rocky surface just out the door. I promptly sprung up from my chair almost diving into the smoldering coals that were inches from my feet. The old hound alarmingly started barking toward the door. I began to wander across the dark hut for the window so I could take a peek. Outside, the night sky was already morphing into a pale blue light in preparation for the rays of the morning light. I had slept through the night. I shifted my focus out the door and noticed dark brown spots gleaming In the light of the moon.

It was a truly vile creature with teeth the size of fingers and a dirty tuft coat that was stained with blackjack seeds all over. The glow from its malicious eyes sent cold shivers down my spine, triggering a splash of goose bumps across my body. It was the biggest hyena I had ever seen in my life, stretching twice the height of the average dog and reeking of an ungodly scent. On each of its legs were red cloths tied in tight knots and around its thick neck was a large bone necklace. It was a beast fabricated by strong witchcraft and had clearly been sent to attack me.

I instinctively retreated from the window, curving to the mortal predicament I had been entrapped in. Tension and fear in the room had now risen to resounding levels as my mind blanked under the natural pressures to make flight. The hyena on the other side of the door started banging against the door in full force almost unhinging the loose bolts that had held it in place over the years. I quickly reached for the fire pit and armed myself with a lightly burnt log, desperately clasping it over my chest awaiting my doom.

With one last forceful thump, the door swung wide open letting a chilling wind. The beast made two strides inside pattering against the polished concrete floor only to be met with the violent snarls of my newly acquainted friend as he stood right between me and the evil creature. The hound maintained great composure and stared the creature dead straight in the eye, daring him to make another move.

The large hyena suddenly started cautiously retreating backwards letting out derisive laughs. Once the beast was out on the open surface it unanticipatedly took off, running as fast as it could, disappearing into the darkness. I was completely bewildered by what had happened and let out a cry of relief, dropping onto the floor. I could feel blood flow through my entire body again.

I made my way up to the edge of the door where the dog had balled up and sat right beside him. When my palpitations had abated, I started stroking his beautiful mane in joyful appreciation of the deed he had done as the second hound to have saved me in a single lifetime. I nervously chuckled when I thought of the odds of it happening for the second time after the fateful encounter I had alongside Shumba as a child. Together we sat there quietly staring into the distance, admiring the view of the majestic sun as she came out of her mother’s womb to brighten the world.

Sun rays began dancing on our bodies, embracing us with the soft and subtle slithers of warmth. The old hound gave the saddest stare I had ever seen. I knew his time to move on had come. The old dog slowly arose to his feet and licked my face one last time and headed out, walking out of the gate and down to the dusty path. I quietly watched him as he made his first steps towards the long journey that was ahead of him whilst I imagined the course my night would have taken if it hadn’t been for the hound.

When he reached the far end of the road he took a glance back at me as if to say everything will be alright and as he disappeared into the bushes, tears trickled down my cheeks.


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Post No Bull

by Robert Knox

 

Our first stop, of course, is Charlie’s.

“Do you remember when we used to come here?” she asks, as we contemplate the glass front of Charlie’s Cheap Eats & Saloon.

“No, we didn’t,” I say. “You must be thinking of someone else.”

She laughs and swats me lightly. “It wasn’t somebody else. I don’t know what you think of me.”

Clearly various somebody elses have played a part in Linnie’s life, but she never tells me much about them. Forget it; we are on a mission together. Linnie has agreed to help me to put up the posters for the rock festival my people, the Whitney House Posse, are planning to hold in a field in West Rock. We have no permits, no bands yet, and no backing from anyone but our eagerly hopeful selves, but we do have posters. Created by my artist friend Rick, they feature an artsy approximation of woodblock lettering announcing the event and a silhouetted butterfly over a guitar to illustrate it.

In the few weeks since we’ve seen each other, Linnie’s face and arms have picked up some color from the sun. She’s tying back her hair in a new pink scarf, her lightweight pants are tight and short, reaching just under the knee; her light-blue T-shirt is tight at the bust line. She looks the way she did months ago when we would meet somewhere after school (not Charlie’s) and go back to my house to make love. Afternoons still feel vaguely erotic to me, after all these months, though the new me appears to be in a celibate stage and sublimating all over the place.

She doesn’t say anything about why we stopped seeing each other, but her appearance and attitude seem designed to tell me, “Remember how great I am when I’m not taking drugs.”

At Charlie’s a guy in a white apron, about my age, comes to the door when he sees us holding up one of Rick’s stylish creations against the glass, experimentally, to judge where it should go.

“Hey,” he says, standing in the doorway, “what do you think you’re doing?”

“Inviting you to a rock festival.”

These flashy comebacks just roll off my tongue.

“Rock festival?”

“The Pine Meadow Music Festival. It’s next weekend.”

He stares at me, then silently takes in Linnie.

“Of course we’re not just inviting you. We’re inviting all your customers as well.”

White-apron guy opens his mouth, but I get the clincher in before he says anything. “Look, man, I’ll tell you what. If you mention my name, I’ll get you in free. Just say you’re a guest of Jon. That’s J-o-n. No ‘h.’ ”

I give him my serious, no-bullshit, good-deal look. “Either day next weekend,” I add.

My new lucky winner nods, looks pleased. Mumbles something on the order of  “Yeah? Thanks, man.”

“So where do you think this poster should go?”

New friend at Charlie’s tells us to follow him inside the restaurant to “the place where we put these things,” a bulletin board just inside the door. It’s crowded, but he tears off a half-dozen smaller postings, some of them hand-written, to clear us some room.

“These are old,” he explains.

“And fame is fleeting.”

Our poster, printed on a long sheet, eleven by seventeen inches, names the event, the date, and the place in big classically stylish letters, readable at a fair distance. I’m glad that Rick avoided the florid type styles of the old psychedelic concert posters and record albums in favor of a quick, thick visual impression. Once we’re famous, I tell myself, we’ll let him design nostalgic memorabilia, collector’s-item posters for events long over. Or that never took place. I place my thumb over the word ‘free’ while our friend in the apron checks out the main information.

“See ya’ there,” I tell him.

He nods, gazes speechlessly a little at Linnie and, finally, goes back to work.

One down. And in a good place. But we also need to put one on the busy street outside of Charlie’s, where student traffic crosses to the city from this edge of the university campus. But everybody, it turns out, has their own rules when it comes to these things. A couple of passersby stop when they see me taping one to a telephone pole to tell us it’s against city rules and someone will come along and rip it down. I thank these good Samaritans, ask them where on the block we should post them, and garner a variety of possibly useful and some clearly useless answers (“ask the cops”). The words “post no bills” trot out in my thoughts (Bill who?), and for the first time in my life I understand their meaning. I invite everyone who stops us from pinning one up in their store window, for instance, to come to the festival, telling them to say ‘Jon sent me’ at the gate, and to invite their friends along.

Finally we arrive at the University Co-op, probably the busiest store in town. I know this place will have rules about posters; it has rules about everything.

“You can’t do that.”

We’re barely in the door when the sales clerk monitoring the sweatshirt aisle steps between me and the nearest Ivy League football weekend-wear display.

“Do what? I’m not doing anything.”

“But I can see those posters in your hand.” She smiles. Superior; not sympathetic.

“Would you like to read one?” I hold the handsomely block-lettered proclamation out at eye level.

Disappointingly, she does not. She’s probably my age, maybe a grad student sentenced to sales work to augment a skimpy fellowship. But I’m well into my easy-living summertime persona and she has real-world grownup written all over her. Tight smile; presentable dressy slacks and modest top; nothing close-fitting or showy.

“You have to fill out a form in the manager’s office,” she says. “For the communications board.”

Which is where? Some upstairs corridor, probably.

I nod acquiescence. Linnie buttons up in these encounters, but I can tell she is growing weary, or simply bored, with poster-dispersing. It’s turned out to be a lot like the kind of thing you pay people money to do, because people don’t do it for pleasure. But I am seeking to transcend the conventional dichotomy between the paid, undesirable activity called work and the pleasurable, unpaid, leisure time activity called play, or goofing off, or, as Dad always refers to his off-work lying about the house time, ‘relaxing.’ But then my father probably finds any time spent beyond his commuter-driven work schedule a relative paradise.

“Just follow me, please,” the sales clerk announces.

Are we being escorted?

“‘I loaf and invite my soul,’ as Walt says,” I announce.

The girl doesn’t turn around and stare, used to the nuts apparently, and nobody else acknowledges that I’m talking to the air. Of course, I remind myself, he also wrote all those poems, edited several newspapers, built houses occasionally, and spent three years nursing Civil War battlefield casualties. So it wasn’t all loafing.

We trail after the Co-op lackey, her straight hair clipped to a modest length, her gait brisk, her affect repressed. Not thrilled, I decide, with her lot in life. Feels trapped, but doesn’t want anybody to know it. Won’t look at me. Is this the shell I won’t be able to crack?

She leads us through a door beyond the store’s public space and down a back-of-the-house corridor to a door I take to be a business office.

Two figures stand nervously, practically cowering, outside this door.

Not undergraduates; younger. Teenagers. Why are they here? They’re sure not looking like job seekers. The girl appears to be trying hard not to cry. As our close-faced employee-escort reaches for the office door, I lean in and grab her other hand.

“What are those two doing here?” I stage-whisper when she spins around to face me, startled, uptight. On the edge of shouting.

“They have to wait there.” I see the guilt on her face before she can hide it.

“Why?”

I’m asking the question she’s asking herself. Somehow I know this.

“They were shoplifting.”

Again, the conflicted look. She wants to defend herself, the store. These kids knew what they were doing; they deserve what’s coming to them. But she doesn’t completely believe it.

“What’s going to happen to them?”

“The store called the police. They’re waiting for them to arrive.”

I shake my head. I look down the corridor. There’s an outside door at the end with a red-framed “emergency” sign.

“Does that door open?” I ask.

“It’s alarmed.”

“Turn off the alarm,” I tell her. It’s a command.

“I can’t.” Shocked.

We lock eyes. She’s frightened but, I think, tempted. I realize I’m still holding her hand. She hasn’t shaken it free. “Yes you can,” I insist, my voice a whisper. “I’m going to let those kids out that door. Do it now.”
Her features twitch anxiously. I release her hand and she opens the door to the office.

I turn to the cowering teens, catch the boy’s eye, and bark, “C’mon. Follow me.”

He looks stunned, but grabs his weepy girl friend. I walk fast down the corridor. The boy is pulling his girl along and I hear their steps fall in behind me. Linnie finally figures out what I’m doing and emits a little cry of irritation. She marches up to me and hisses, “What do you think you’re doing, Jon?”

“Follow me,” tossing the words over my shoulder. “Or get out of here on your own.”

She swears and picks up her pace. Hair flying out of the scarf, muttering.

I have no idea how these ’emergency exit’ doors work, so I treat them like any other door. I simply shove my body against the push handle and the door flies open so easily I almost fall to the ground outside the building.

Kind of a sight gag. Total silence. Nothing alarming.

Tweetie Bird opens the door; guy stumbles through.

Thanks, uptight store lady, I think.

The teen couple follow at once, the girl already starting to run. The boy, curly-haired, epicene smile, throws me a look of surprised gratitude and trots after her.

Linnie rushes through the door, banishes a look of relief, and gathers her dignity. We walk the narrow passage to York Street.

“Well,” I say when we’re halfway down the block, “looks like no poster in the University Co-op.”

Linnie glares. “What was that all about?”

I shrug my shoulders and turn around to face the store. “Fuck the University Co-op!”

Linnie freezes. “What is the matter with you?”

“This place takes the name of ‘co-op’ in vain. It’s a monopoly. It charges what it wants for the course books assigned by professors and even if you’re some poor scholarship student, you have no alternative.”

This last part is true, as I happen to know from experience. But my rehabbing, ex-junkie girlfriend doesn’t look convinced.

I shrug. “Tell me you haven’t done some crazy things.”

She looks away.

“Well, it’s my turn.”

POETRY:


ISSUE 7 _ PAPERGUTS (1)

Conceptualization & Design – Athena Tan

 

POETRY:

WELCOME TO THE FEED. WHAT’S YOUR #PAPERGUT TELLING YOU?