Thomas Denis Gibney

FICTION

|

POETRY

|

SOUND

WEB-BASED SPANISH-LANGUAGE MARTIAL ARTS NOVELS

 

Δ

BIBLIOTECA PROVINCIAL
BORROWER RECORD FOR PATRON NO. 22095784 (pedro, _________ )
PAGE 1 OF 59

 

 

ITEM BARCODE

 

TITLE

 

AUTHOR

NO. OF RENEWAL

 9394854028

 The dopa and the serpent: a martial arts novel

 Ceballos, M. C.

 18

 8475043848

 Magistrates and warlocks

 Hao Jin, Q.

 13

 7367498759

 A brief history of kung fu in the southern cone

 Maynard, J. and Ruíz, P., ed.

 34

 5897798724

 Amores sin bordes: romancero

 Celestina de la Plata

 

 4729473948

 Tao te ching, the (the way and the power {el ir y poder}), edición lómite

 Tzu, Lao, trans. Eduardo de Leones and Michael S. Hinton

 OVERDUE

 3859540485

 Romance of the twelve kingdoms

 Miraflores, R.

 9

 3894985743

 Tongue, sword, and creed: linguistic hierarchies as loci of power in preclassical sino-american societies of the southern hemisphere

 Reubles, M.

 

 9838479843

 The dance of the cham lord

 Anon.

 

 8357498498

 Fifteen annals of the dragon ridge heroes

 Wen, H. J.

 4

 8624958747

 Herbacious peony, nefarious wisteria

 Lok B.

 1

 2894529874

 Web-based spanish-language martial arts novels: a new anthology (updated, 2007)

 Zayas, J. P. and Calumnos, J. L., ed.

 49

 

Δ

Kaylee didn’t dream the night she arrived, for the second time in seven months, in the mild-winter city of Sarasota, Florida. But she did sleep—the room dark from the shade of a thickly curtained window. She stirs around in the blankets, reluctant to drag herself from the bed. Kaylee’s hair is still long, still a goldenrod blond. Just a little light pokes through the curtains to reveal an old wardrobe holding court in the corner and a chest of drawers flaking its ash-white paint onto the hardwood. She props herself up on one arm, odalisque-posed, to leaf back the curtain with the other. Her window commands an epic second-floor view of the Denouement property. Directly below it, the pond bubbles deep dark blues and greens. Fists of mangrove gnarl at the edges. She can see the old live oak and the thicket that swallows the edge of the yard. The floorboards hiss as she lowers a veiny foot from the bed and taps over the dust bunnies.

The filtered grade of the light means it’s already afternoon, spilling in on the stairs just outside her bedroom. A Persian tongue of a carpet rolls over the wood, turns a corner, descends, unfurls onto kitchen linoleum. The kitchen’s got a refrigerator, toaster, stained Formica countertops, a funnel-shaped tank of sorts that Kaylee remembers is supposed to be some kind of hippie Brita in which über-salubrious rocks sit and like marinate in there and scrub the water into potability. She remembers this as being Carolyn’s idea but that no one else in the Denouement family can be bothered enough to refill it and humidify the rocks every week and scrub them with whatever magical herb is supposed to activate their cleansing properties, and so just drinks from the tap. In the adjoining room, more Persian rugs and sofas and a soundsystem. Doesn’t seem to be anyone home. In the closet wedged a horcajadas between the rooms, an apothecarist’s heaven of a pantry extends: replete with shelf after shelf of herb, root, fungus, jelly, granule, powder, pellet, and solution, encyclopedically labeled in vials. But in the end it’s the sliding glass door at the far end of the room that beckons with its filtered light, where the one end of the hammock can be seen swaying on the porch. Kaylee tugs at the door with a little effort. The porch is just how she remembered it: a plain concrete slab, protruding like a tongue from the back of the house, a trellis for a roof dangling vines overhead. And the pond that brims before it, pocked with lily pads and sawgr—

“You’re really a late riser.” The voice makes her jump. “My mom used to do that. Do you sleep this late everyday? I’ve read that if you’re sleeping more than twelve hours a day it means you’re clinically depressed.”

The little pixie curled like a cat in the bowl chair has a book folded in her lap and a Mardi Gras of necklaces bunched around her neck. Seeing Kaylee’s hesitation, she goes, “Well, will you be staying awhile?”

“…I’m not sure. I just got in.”

“You got a good room. Lots of energy in that one. But personally I prefer it out here.” She casts a dreamy glance over the pond.

“Um. And, do you like, live here?”

“If you’re gonna be staying for a while, you’ll want to pick a chore. Something to do around the house. Do you garden or anything?”

“Garden?”

“Or dumpster dive?”

“Dumpster…?”

“You strike me as a painter, personally. You look like you don’t, like, want to get your hands too dirty. Like you’d rather use a brush.” Then she frowned. “But we already have a resident artist.”

Kaylee raises an eyebrow at this. “What’s your name again?”

She looks up from her book and smiles as if through Kaylee, at a place behind her. “I’m Grass. We haven’t met before, Miss Kaylee.”

“I don’t remember you here at the, uh, funeral.”

The girl called Grass turns her chin up thoughtfully at an indeterminate point in the air. “Yes…I wasn’t here…you’re right.”

“Um. What are, you reading?”

She splays her palms out before the book and the woven green-and-henna dress billowing mushroom-like from her waist. “Oh, this. Some silly thing about signs. Do you believe in that, Kaylee? Signs?”

“Like astronogical signs, you mean.” Kaylee isn’t particularly uncomfortable around this girl, but her impediment has its ways of flaring up, unasked for. Grass smiles as if at some private joke. “I didn’t believe it at first either, but it’s actually fascinating. It’s like, you have this completely random thing that happens, right, like your mom and your dad, and they do their thing and that all happens, right? And that’s random. And then you have—well, as a like consequence of that, you come in the world when you come in, and the world is a certain way when you come in it, you know?” Grass seems to lose her train of thought for a second, or become so amused with where it’s going in her head that she just giggles and dallies at the edge of the train, for a moment. “It’s like,” she resumes, “it’s like when you plant a flower, say you plant it in the fall, and it comes out a few weeks or months later. It’s gonna be cold when it comes out. It’s gonna be winter when that thing is born.” A pause. “And so when it’s winter when you’re born, things are gonna be, um, different than if it’s summer when you’re born. You gotta learn how to be warm. Kaylee—can I call you Kaylee? You’re very hot right now. Almost an orange-red. You really shouldn’t sleep so late.”

“I’m—?”

“Your aura.” Grass sighs. Then turns back to her thought. “I don’t know, it’s depressing. It’s almost like, you’re born in the world however you’re born, but depending on whether it’s winter or summer, you get better weather. You know?”

Kaylee sees out in the yard that two men she recognizes as Dave and Sawaad are emerging from the woods with something bundled in their arms. “I’m not sure I believe in auras, like. … How long have you been here, anyway?”

An incredulous look flies Kaylee’s way, then settles. “Oh… I’ve been here a couple months now, I would say.” Grass’s voice hovers at an orbit somewhere beyond her mouth, above her. She can’t be more than fifteen, can she? “Your aunt is such a beauty. Her energy is amazing.” Kaylee waits to see where she’s going with this. Just when she seems to have forgotten about it, Grass picks it up again. “We met at the Tampa fair. She really has this amazing thing she does with rope.”

Kaylee knows she’s talking about the Renaissance Fair, the erstwhile subject of Aunt Carolyn’s academic life and—though less so now—a fixture of her social life as well.

“And so she took you in?”

“Come on, I’m not a beggar!” Grass really doesn’t look like one. She looks resourceful, but too aloof or innocent—one of them—to really know how to go about begging in the first place. “This place is legendary. You can’t be a Rennie and not spend some time here. Hey, it’s Dave and Sawaad. Sawwaaaaaad!” she calls in her lackadaisical voice.

They’re busy with firewood, it seems. Dave gives a brisk nod in their direction and Sawaad totters behind with the bundle overflowing from his arms and a cigarette dangling from his mouth.

“Anyway, Kaylee, will you be staying with us long? They’re throwing a party for you tonight, do you need a dress or anything? If you give me enough notice, I can make a dress. I’m good at making dresses.” She laughs at something in the air, up there.

“A—party?”

“I can make anything. I live in that tent over there.” Grass points to a burgundy burlap teepee parked on the edge of the tangelo grove to their left, where Dave and Sawaad are now dumping their loads into a bonfire pit. “You can come whenever you want. I’m not bad at talking.” And with a smile of pleasant oblivion, she unfolds the book from her lap, cocks up the shades perched restively on her nose, and takes up where she left off in The Secret Language of Birthdays.

“Thanks for the offer,” says Kaylee. “It was nice—to meet.”

Grass doesn’t appear to have heard her, nose-down in her book. Dave’s calling out “Hey K!”, while Sawaad is doubled over and puffing at his cigarette, his embroidered Jordanian robes hiked up to reveal a stitched-on bald eagle patch, profusely tattooed, spread across the length of his designer jeans, buttside to left thigh.

~

There was one person conspicuously absent from the funeral of Lawrence Tabers Prince.

Bzzzzt. “Hello.”

“Jacquelyn.”

“Oh God.”

(That is, to those who failed to catch a glimpse of him {which was everyone}).

“Are you alright?”

Jacquelyn bit her lip and hung by the door. The brand new Brooklyn apartment lacked the cozy envelopingness of their two-story red-brick in Nashville, and she’d well in advance formed the expectation for such before they moved here.

“Erskine,” she began. She drew a big breath. “First, you have the nerve to call. Second, you don’t come to the funeral. Third, you—”

“Calm down. Can’t you see I’m trying to make contact here?”

She swallowed the motor in her mouth. “Missing your own father’s funeral.”

“I’m calling because this is big. We have to talk about this.”

“And you want to—”

“And I want to take this—chance.”

Silence.

“Jackie.”

But actually he’d been parked in the north-facing corner of a certain Bi-Rite drive-thru, binoculars in hand. He drove a bleak Taurus. Crimson.

Jacquelyn was silent for some time. It was late June. They’d moved here just two months before. Then, that shit happened. Jacquelyn had her differences with her father, but would never miss the funeral of her one and only dad. She told this to her brother, Erskine.

“I thought you would say that.”

“And maybe—and just maybe—some of us actually thought, oh, for all of Erskine being Erskine, surelysure-ly—he’ll make an appearance for Pappie’s burial, for God’s sake.”

Erskine was calm on the other end. Jacquelyn’s breaths hissed.

“Jacquelyn, how bad is it? How bad are…y’all?” Erskine had his differences with his older sister, but he wasn’t an ass. There had to be some way they could talk. Reasonably.

But Jacquelyn had seemingly lost her voice. She was gripping the phone with all her might, it was digging into her right ear.

“…I’m shocked too. But I can’t say…”

“Can’t say what?” Jacquelyn demanded.

“…I didn’t see it coming. Dad was heading off his rocker—”

“And now you find it convenient to say this?”

“You knew this. We all knew this. There was something going on with him. You may have denied it, but you knew it.”

Jacquelyn drew a breath, but stopped short of countering him, a blurf of expelled air sounding instead. Erskine’s voice was all scratchy through the cell phone. What was so great about New York? Here they’d left a perfectly stable, agreeable life among the denizens of blue-blooded Nashville, she and Jack had, and for what? For suffocating concrete and mannerless Northerners and Englishless Latinos at the gourmet 7th Ave Deli King.

“…Jackie. I need to know if dad told you anything. Anything. Before he passed.”

“Erskine, you, you— I don’t know! He didn’t say anything, alright? Except that everything was fine, just fine. We wanted them to stay, we offered for them to move in, but, but, Christ, he was such a stubborn as a, as a—”

“I know that he was going to Florida.”

Jacquelyn was quiet.

“…A lot.”

Why were there so many Latinos in New York? Didn’t they have their own countries?

“That’s right. He was going to Florida. ‘On business.’ Do you know something I don’t know, Erskine? Cause now would be a perfect time to fill me in.”

Erskine was quiet. “Jackie—”

“Quit calling me that. Why are you calling me that?”

“—listen. I’ve found out some things about this lawyer of his. The guy’s some high-brow bankruptcy litigator.”

“A what?

“Dad’d hired him for—and this is the shit of it—since November. Of 2008.”

“So what do you mean? That he knew all along he had nothing?”

“It takes a long time to piss away a fortune, but—”

“Pappie was different but he wasn’t reckless.”

“Don’t be so sure.”

“Of course you would know. You were the golden son.”

Erskine’s tone wasn’t decipherable through the cell phone. All Jacquelyn was seeing was urbanites bouncing by on the sidewalk and the spiked jowl of a purple crocus unfocusing itself in her periphery. “What we do know,” Erskine said calmly, “is that dad was in trouble for a while. A long time, in fact. And maybe…that’s why he was going to Florida all the time. To rescue the business, or something.”

Jacquelyn bit her lip. “And why isn’t this call going to Carolyn, should I ask?”

Erskine might have bit his lip. “I thought I could make amends here.”

“Mm.”

“…We’re his children. We’re in this together.”

“Whether we like it or not.”

Erskine had to agree.

“Jacquelyn.”

“Yeah.”

“How is mom?”

“She’s with Carolyn.”

“For how long?”

“For however long she needs. It wasn’t my decision Erskine. Carrie talked me into it. If I’d a had my way—”

“Good. Maybe it’s the best place for her now.”

“The best place?!”

“Carrie can take care of her.”

“You know what’s interesting, Erskine? That we don’t hear from you in years, that your father—our father—God bless his soul, passes away, that you don’t show up for even a, a, minute, you even ask us to .pdf you the will, for the love of the Lord, that you suddenly call and act all interested, and, and you claim you know some secret about Pappie and his troubles, and what is even the point of this? Are you trying to make me feel bad?” Jacquelyn felt a sudden urge to raid the liquor cabinet. The afternoon street scene below her with its stroller moms and sweating sidewalks, undulating to the eye with their heat waves rising off of them, made her long for the parched Nashville green she was missing this June of her fifty-sixth summer—the 2010 of catastrophic movements (so it seemed to her).

“Has the house sold?”

Another wave of despair blasted her cheek. “No.”

“I’m not going anywhere, Jacquelyn. This is a family matter.”

“Isn’t it.”

“You can call me. It’s the same number. If you still have it.”

“Okay, Erskine.” She felt her heart softening.

“…I’ll let you know what I dig up.”

[What the hell did he mean by that?] “You’ve really ruined my afternoon, I hope you know.”

“It was good to talk to you too.”

“…”

“Bye, Jackie.”

“Bye, Erskine.”

Click.

Click.

Click. The liquor cabinet opened and the silent array of rums and vodkas glistened in the white glare. Maybe Jacquelyn would book a reservation at the oyster bar around the corner. She deserved it, anyway. A reservation for one? She thought about calling Jack. He was probably in a meeting. She put down the phone and reached instead for an idle tumbler.


 

Previous Post
Next Post