Friday, 9 October 2009

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Subject Manson, Charles, 1934-

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New York Public Library \Veb Server 1 ISchw3nman

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Record 2 of 16 Result: PIE,tyiOIJ~ Next

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AVAILABLE CLOSED STACKS!semch~S38?/d~fm;.sono/~C+Charles%2C+ 1934-/dmanson+charles... IOn 12009

Subject Manson, Charles, 1934-

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building System Sorted

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Author SgDg~I'§,Ed.

Title The family; the story of Charles Manson's dune buggy attack battalion.

Imprint [New York] Avon £1972J

Location Call No.

$chwar.zmClnJ3,MUdiJ]g JFC 73-258~

(42nrl Street & 5th

Avenue) - Main Reading




Edition [1st ed.}

Description 415 p. maps. 18 em.

Subject Manson, Charie'L1834-

ISBN 0525103007

Research JECJ3-2583 Call


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Transaction History

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Transaction History


Check Summary

Deposit SUI

Account: Complete - 3592

Type: !AII Types .... 1 Show:

- Dec 2008 ".1 From:

Date Type Description
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10108/08 Check Check #1033

printout dated 10/7/2009

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Niagara Falls Day Trip for One

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Lead Traveler:........................................Mrs Touw
Number at Adult rate:............................1

Date:.........................................................Sunday O
Departure Time:......................................Between 4
...................................................................(exact time

Location:..................................................Tour depa
...................................................................between 2

Confirmation Details:.............................59331
...................................................................Meeting po
...................................................................West 48th
...................................................................Please cal
...................................................................hours pri

Viator Booking Reference:...................VIATOR23

Viator Product Code:.............................2625NIAG

printout dated 10/7/2009
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a squirrel is running across his face

half an A4 sheet torn down the right edge.

p. 136 of unnamed novel

first full sentence:

This morning, for the first time, Bailey wasn't my first thought on waking and it had made me feel guilty.

Full text:

is better: experiencing last night, or the blissed-out replay in my mind where I can hit pause and turn ecstatic seconds into whole hourse, where I can loop certain moments until the sweet grassy taste of Joe is again in my mouth, the clove scent of his skin is in the air, until I can feel his hands running through my hair, all over my dress, just one thin, thin layer between us, until the moment when he slipped his hands under the fabric and i felt his fingers on my skin like mucis - all of it sending me again and again right off the cliff that is my heart.

This morning, for the first time, Bailey wasn't my first thought on waking and it had made me feel guilty. But the guilt didn't have much of a chance against the dawning realization that I was falling in love. I had stared out the window at the early-morning fog, wondering for a moment if she had sent Joe to me so I would know that in the same world where she could die, this could happen.

Big says, "Would you look at her. We've got to cut down those damn rosebushes." His hair is particularly coiled and springy today, and his mustache is unwaxed, so it looks like a squirrel is running across his face. In any fairy tale, Big plays the king.

Gram chides him, "Hush now, you don't even believe in that." She doesn't like anyone to perpetuate the rumor about the aphrodisial nature of her roses, because there was a time when desperate lovers would come and steal them to try to change the hearts of their beloveds. It made her crazy. There is not much Gram takes more seriously than proper pruning.

Big won't let it go though. "I follow the proof-is-in-the-pudding scientific method: Please examine the empirical evidence in this bed. She's worse than me."
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Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Bastard Painter

pp. 8-58, 105-107

unnamed screenplay

first scene heading (p. 9):


first full line of dialogue:

(as if the name means nothing)
Leonardo DaVinci. Bastard painter.


MICHELANGELO (CONT'D) (as if the name means


Leonardo DaVinci. Bastard painter. Perhaps he's a grand artist. When he's not advising others on how to work. Or begging for commissions. Not to mention his penchant for lowlives.

Michelangelo continues to hack away.


I heard that his painting at the Dominican refectory is breathtaking.


Oh, his "Last Supper?" ... SURPRISE! Unfinished.


What an appropriate name for a DaVinci painting. Had the savior HIMSELF commissioned it, we would all still

be waiting for the passion.


What did the critics say about my Pieta?


They said it was timeless, master.



Timeless. That is the greatest baptism bestowed upon a work. That it is timeless.

STUDENT (still reading/not paying attention)

But DaVinci is wildly popular. And critically acclaimed.

Michelangelo pauses, becomes lost in thought. A moment later, he suddenly explodes in anger, lashing out at his student.


Scared and shocked, the student scurries away. Michelangelo hops onto the base of his future masterpiece and talks to the barely recognizable figure like a lover would.

MICHELANGELO (CONT'D) With this damaged marble my David will emerge, victorious, to tower over the Palazzo Vecchio.



MICHELANGELO (CONT'D) For you, they will widen the streets and tear down archways, astounding

all who see you! You will be a warning to all who govern Florence, to do so justly and bravely.

(sensuously caressing the marble)

Eyes watchful. Neck of a bull. Hands of a killer ...

Excited Michelangelo hops off the marble before dropping to a knee and bowing his head.

MICHELANGELO (CONT'D) God the father forgive me. And bless me. For I am a laborer. Your humble laborer. Help me to do your will.


And bless that Godless wretch Da Vinci. I pray for his cursed, lazy, promiscuous soul.

with that, Michelangelo crosses himself, rises and attacks the marble again.



This large room that is the center for the Dominican's Seminary is abandoned and it looks to have been so for some time. In the center, PAINTING EQUIPMENT has been left and is gathering dust.

NEARBY, On a WALL - The painting that is "The Last Supper". It is breathtaking, no doubt. But look closer. It isn't finished and a character seems to be missing.

PRIOR (0. s. )

So you see your excellency. Our convent feels like we have been duped ...


The Duke's chambers are a proud, royal setting. A GUARD stands about in full knight regalia as the Duke himself, a middle aged Moor, donned in plush velvet, listens to the Prior's complaints.


He's already spent the commission

and when confronted became contentious claiming to have worked on the fresco two hours a day for the last year.




But convent witnesses testify that he has not come NEAR the refectory in at least the same time.

After a moment of thought the Moor speaks.

DUKE Where is he now?

PRIOR He is in Milan.

DUKE (thinking) Leonardo DaVinci ... (suddenly)

I will have him summoned.

The DUKE nods to the GUARD who takes this as an order.



In the middle of Milan, atop this ancient building stands Leonardo DaVinci and his young Salai. Attached to Leonardo's back is a ridiculous, if ingenious, flying apparatus. And he is all too excited to try it out.


My first vision, Salai, was one of flight.



In the middle of an EMPTY FIELD, a small BABY lay in his CRADLE.


I was in my carriage as an infant, laying peacefully in the fields -


The baby watches as a huge KITE comes dropping into his cradle.


When from the sky came closing a great and magnificent kite!

The kite pulls the smiling baby out of his cradle and into the sky.


LEONARDO (O.S.) (CONT'D) It SWEPT down and into my cradle and carried me into the sky!





No. Not really, Salai. It was just a vision. That is all. It has taken me years of study, contemplating the flight of birds. Probing their anatomy, considering and calculating their wingspan in relation to their weight. To make this.

with the release of a lever, two impressive wings sprout from the apparatus. with reeds and silk, the contraption does not look unlike an aboriginal hang glider. The boy is excited. The two proceed to the edge of the roof.


Yes, young Salai. I have concluded that flight, like any other observation, is an instrument functioning in accordance to mathematical laws of force. And WE have the power to duplicate this-function by reproducing these laws according to US!

The two look over the edge. It is a good three stories down. Leonardo suddenly loses his nerve.


And that is why YOU will put into practice my physical experiment!

Salai knows what he is asking.



LEONARDO Yes, you, young Salai.


What about your first memory?

LEONARDO It was a vision.


But who am I to steal from my master's glory?



A willing student always -

LABORER (0. S. )

Good day!

The artist and boy look over to a man who approaches.


The roof of the Corte Vecchia is off limits to the citizens.

(noticing Leonardo)

Hey, aren't you that painter, artisan, master guy from Vinci?

Leonardo is proud to be recognized.


Yes. I am Leonardo of Vinci.


What are you painting or something?

Uh, yeah, he's not too bright.


No, rather -


'Cause I would love to assist you on something. Bit of an artist myself.

LEONARDO (smelling a mark) Really?

Leonardo places his arms around the Laborer; confides to him.

LEONARDO (CONT'D) Actually, I could use a collaborator on my next commission.


(smiling unsuspectingly)

Oh, that's splendid. Just splendid.



Leonardo and Salai look to the rooftop (at a safe distance) Leonardo watches interested but detached. Salai looks on painfully as a BODY plummets from the roof.

LABORER Ahhhhhhhhhhh!


An accompanying thud and moan follow immediately. Leonardo and Salai stand slack-jawed.


He dropped like a stone.


I don't think stones drop with such speed.


Yes they do, Salai. Stones of all sizes. But what has been proven is that there are no fixed rule between mass and wing span. Pelicans for instance have quite short wing spans, whereas bats have very long ones for there size. Perhaps it was the wing composition.


Write this down Salai!

And the two turn to leave. Salai begins taking his diction.

LEONARDO (CONT'D) Pinewood strengthened with lime. Sized silk. Canvass covered with feathers. Leather treated with alum -


The PAIR look over to see the DUKE'S GUARD. And he's brought reinforcements.

DUKE'S GUARD (CONT'D) Your presence has been requested by the Duke Lodvico.

This seems to hold some consequence.



With the Prior standing at his side, the Duke sits behind his desk like a judge. Seated in front of him with the ubiquitous Salai, is Leonardo DaVinci.


Leonardo. It has been brought to my attention that your commissioned painting for the Dominicans has not been completed. Could you explain?


Yes, your excellency. I am still working on it.




And it's a fresco. A finished work could bode well for you. As well as keep you in graces with the church.

LEONARDO How sizable?




And if I finish, perhaps you could use your considerable influence for a recommendation?


I could.

Leonardo smiles.


Then your excellency need not to worry. For my long search has ended.

Leonardo looks coldly at the Prior, whose face contorts in panic.



As APPLAUSE rattles through the room.

CLOSE SHOT On JUDAS as depicted in DaVinci's "LAST SUPPER" painting. He looks a lot like ...

CLOSE SHOT On a very embarrassed PRIOR.

Leonardo is being toasted by the DUKE with a crowd of admirers. Many DOMINICANS are gathered about his painting, a jaw-dropping exhibition of painting mastery.

DUKE (raising a cup)

Cheers to Leonardo DaVinci and his last grand masterpiece. Salute!




(leaning to Leonardo)

You should start packing for Florence.

Leonardo gives an uncertain smile. The APPLAUSE echoes through -



Michelangelo is at the foot of his now emerging DAVID, hammering away. He looks exhausted and war-torn.

VITTORIA (0. s. ) Good morning.

Michelangelo turns to see VITTORIA, 30, a stunningly beautiful, refined woman who acts as a benefactor of sorts to him.


(re: stance)

I thought you would go contrapposto ... Brilliant. Brilliant. When will it

be ready?

MICHELANGELO I'm not sure ...

Vittoria realizes that this is not uncertainty, but rather insecurity.

VITTORIA (gently)

You worry about the critics too much. (then)

Art never comes before its time, Michelangelo.

Michelangelo dismisses this; wipes his brow and continues working.

VITTORIA (CONT'D) (changing tone)

I just received word of a grand new commission.

Michelangelo's interest is piqued. Vittoria smiles.

VITTORIA (CONT'D) Here, in Florence.

MICHELANGELO Religious or secular?



Suddenly, Michelangelo is excited.


Really? Perhaps I could do something for my father? He could even see me work -


Michelangelo realizes there's a catch. He looks at Vittoria to hear what it is.

VITTORIA (subduing his excitement) It's a fresco.

Suddenly, he is quiet. Then pissed.


He begins pacing about, frustrated.

MICHELANGELO (CONT'D) If it's a fresco, I'm at least a half dozen artists down.


I think you have a very good chance. Who else could be chosen over you?



INTERCUT - Of a portly Italian, face down in his PAINTS at his disheveled studio.

VITTORIA He's a drunk.



QUICK SHOT - Of a screaming NAKED MAN running like mad through a small village.


He's mad.



QUICK SHOT - Of a man dropping from a TREE'S LIMB with a noose around his neck.

VITTORIA Killed himself.



QUICK SHOT - Of a proud ARTIST, after having unveiled a PORTRAIT only to see his abashed and angered benefactor pull out a KNIFE and attack him.


VITTORIA He was killed.

Michelangelo thinks. Suddenly stops. DaVinci.



A hesitation. Isn't he too old?


Leonardo? I heard he stopped painting.


Oh, he stopped painting alright. But it hasn't stopped him from collecting commissions. And he still has supporters in the council.


Yes ... If it's a fresco commission, DaVinci is going to come calling.



It's a chaotic scene as Leonardo is setting free a collection of caged ANIMALS; Salai at his side. Stubborn turkeys remain still and chickens flap about.


What's it like in Florence?

LEONARDO (reminiscing, daydreaming)

Ahhh. Florence ... I'm something of a divinity there.


It's a city that values the artist as much as the art. A beautiful place filled with beautiful people.


So how come we don't go?


We don't need to, Salai.



This place is very anti-Machievellian. Bright and cozy. NICCOLLO himself is a cheery looking, thin lipped and a selfassured letch. He's eating a rather large leg of lamb and making a good mess of himself.


Seated across from him are Leonardo and Salai.

LEONARDO (leaning to Salai,


Niccolo Machiavelli has his finger on the pulse of Italian power politics. If anyone knows more about the state of affairs in this country that reflect our livelihood politically, theologically and artistically, it is THIS man.

Machiavelli swigs from a flask of wine and lets out a huge BELCH. He's inebriated too.


Yes, he's very impressive.


Leonardo! 'Scuse me. God dam!! Good to see you! Who's this?


This is Giacomo. But he answers to Salai.

MACHIAVELLI (frisking the boy's

arm - a hand shake)

Right. Very nice. Two names. Always good to have an alias - in theory ... SO. You ever finish that bronze horse for uhf what's his name?


No they -


- That's right! They needed the bronze for their little skirmish.

War always supercedes, art, Leonardo. You should know that.


SO. What can I help you with?


I wanted a briefing of the state of affairs.


For where?

LEONARDO (wincing) Florence?

Machiavelli studies Leonardo.



Florence? You've got some companellos. (then)

I like it. So when do you leave.

Leonardo hesitates. He draws his CONCH which has been dressed with even more ridiculous fixings.


I was thinking of calling out to them using this.

(re: conch)

Machiavelli looks at Salai who slinks in his seat.

LEONARDO (CONT'D) (poorly explaining)

Using the ... Particles in the air to carry the missive ...

Machiavelli takes the CONCH. Studies it.


You're losing your mind, Leonardo. (then)

You need that commission, don't you?



Well, yes, and I was hoping with the right influence I might have the opportuni ty ...

Machiaevelli knows what Leonardo wants. And he seems up to the challenge.


You may be too late. And your name doesn't mean what it used to.


Plus, there's a new artist that's turning heads over there. Some grouchy, religious kid; Michelangelosomethin' .

LEONARDO Michelangelo?


Yeah, that's it. You know him?

Leonardo grows cold as he thinks.

LEONARDO (miffed)

Yes, I've heard of him.


MACHIAVELLI Then you know he's good.

LEONARDO (scoffing)

He's a child.


Don't underestimate youth, Leonardo.

LEONARDO Is he greater than I?


Well not as famous - at least with the older crowd. Not yet anyway.

Leonardo looks disappointed.

MACHIAVELLI (CONT'D) Leonardo, sometimes it's better to be famous than great - in theory.


Yes. Thank you for that pearl of wisdom.

Machiavelli rises. He seems inspired.


But ... This could be an opportunity. I do know most of the players there. You could reinvent yourself ... YES ... And I could help. It could be time for us to announce to ALL of Italy that Leonardo DaVinci is back!



(then sheepishly) will you come with me?


Hell no.

Machiavelli starts pacing like a zoo animal.

MACHIAVELLI (CONT'D) It's worse than Rome there. You have to sleep with a Cardinal just to paint a pub sign in that town. I

don't know if I have the pull anymore.


But you have your finger on the pulse of power politics.



This is true. But, I JUST received word, very confidential, that the French are on their way. There's been a secret alliance with Venice. Florence is neutral. Milan is going down.


Good God, when did this happen?


You've got to keep your face out the books sometimes, Leonardo. There's a whole world out there.

LEONARDO (worried)

How much time do we have?


I just received word that the French were crossing the Alps. I would say you have a good six months. Maybe a year. Depending on weather. But a French occupied Milan is better than Florence any week of the day.

SFX - Of the thunderous roaring of horses stampeding through the streets is heard from inside. It grabs their attention.


The three watch as an ARMY of FRENCH militia race through the streets of Milan on horseback. Soldiers scoop women off their feet as others pillage and loot.

MACHIAVELLI (talking over the noise)

Then again they could arrive sooner! (watching the


Actually, Florence is very nice this time of year! I'll meet you there!




Michelangelo confidently exits his studio and points to the arch above the door. TWO MEN with sledge hammers SLAM the arch, crumbling it to the ground.

From inside, EIGHT MEN with thick ropes emerge, pull with all their might. And out from the studio comes the massive


base of the structure. The statue itself is concealed with a muslin sheet which is wrapped around it.



A CROWD begins to gather at the spectacle, following the group of men through the streets who move this magnificent covered thing.

The SHADOW it casts is immense. WOMEN cross themselves as it passes. MEN drop their jaws. ALL are in awe of this massive structure which is being moved. And all begin to follow. It becomes a parade with Michelangelo leading the way and all the townsfolk following.


All wait for the moment of truth. Michelangelo orchestrates the perfect spot for his DAVID, and the men, a DOZEN with ropes, SIX more at the base place it down.

Once leaned up, the statue, still covered, TOWERS OVER the townsfolk. ALL back away from it - more fearful than respectful.

IN THE REAR of the CROWD, an older, dour MAN stands. His eyes meet with Michelangelo's. Michelangelo looks for approval of some kind. But it does not come.

Michelangelo re-focuses on the task at hand. the strings around the sheet that cover it.

Then unties

After a moment, he looks to the crowd and dramatically PULLS THE SHEET!!


AN OLD WOMAN FAINTS, as other older woman look on in horror. A younger woman smiles. (As does a man). Another woman covers her child's eyes. MEN look on stupefied.

And now we see the gigantic masterpiece DAVID, massive, dazzling white, arrogant, NAKED.

A near riot breaks out. Several TOWNSPEOPLE begin to exit en masse, including the older, dour MAN in the rear.

But those that stay, move even closer, amazed at the piece of work.

Suddenly, a buzz as the crowd quietly separates and a donned up CARDINAL makes his way through.

Once through the crowd he looks up at the magnificent site. He approaches Michelangelo who drops to his knees and kisses the Cardinal's outstretched hands. The Cardinal blesses the artist and then turns to the statue. He doesn't know what to make of it at first.


And his opinion seems to bear much weight. But after a critical moment of staring ... he applauds.

And the CROWD erupts in CHEERS for Michelangelo.


All hail Michelangelo Buonarroti! The greatest artist in all of Italy!

The CROWD cheers.


MAN 1 (CONT' D) Greater than Donatello!

The CROWD cheers.


MAN 1 (CONT'D) Greater than Verrocchio!

The CROWD cheers.


MAN 1 (CONT'D) Greater than ...

The crowd is waiting ... SILENCE.

MAN 1 (CONT'D) (unsure)

... Leonardo DaVinci?


As the crowd looks at one another in disbelief. Michelangelo stands waiting for the approval. Suddenly and spontaneously the crowd erupts! Men rush to Michelangelo and throw him up on their shoulders. Women throw him flowers. He is swept


The CHEERS echo into the ...


Leonardo and Salai are en route to Florence via horsedrawn CARRIAGE. (And packed with a ridiculous amount of posessions.)


Will we have large quarters?


No, young Salai. Small quarters arouse the artist's mind. While large quarters distract it.


You mean we can't afford large quarters?



SALAI (CONT'D) (off Leonardo's incredulous look)

When will they announce the commission?


The announcement will come only as a formality, Salai. Until then, Machievelli is spreading the word of our arrival and my reputation awaits us.

(confidently; smiling)

And we will be treated like deities.



Through the hall of the chamber we follow a small boy who carries with him a LETTER. He stops and knocks.



The boy does so.


This is the most chaotic council you'll ever see. Hardly the type of men that will usher in a new republic. About a DOZEN MEN gathered about a table, eating, drinking and arguing.

The leader of the men is the gonfalonier. PIERO DODERINI,

60, and he wears his power and influence well. The boy walks up to him and hands him a message which is opened immediately and concern washes over his face.



(off their attention)

From Machiavelli.

The men moan.

PIERO (CONT'D) He is returning to Florence.

They moan louder. But there'S more.

PIERO (CONT'D) And so is Leonardo DaVinci.

Chaos. A portly councilman weighs in.


He wants that commission! I told you!


Good. He's the greatest artist in the world.

But he'll never finish it!

COUNCIL MEMBER 2 Artists! They fallout of trees whenever free money is available.

At least Leonardo does!

The men begin to argue vociferously.


(over the noise)

Gonfalonier! We are not the Vatican. And this Republic does not have the discretionary funds for such projects anyway.


(silencing the men)

May I remind you all - that this Republic is not just about constitutional compromise and financial reform. It is about what the people want. And the people want art.

Hears to that.


Are there not enough religious icons in this town already?


This is a secular commission. Battle scenes ... To be painted on the walls of the new chamber council that will symbolize the Republic triumphant.

COUNCIL MEMBER 4 Just give it to Michelangelo. He lives here now.

COUNCIL MEMBER 5 His David is a filthy exhibition!

A FIGHT ensues. Two of the councilemen going fisticuffs.


More chaos. It seems nothing will be agreed upon here. And the fighting continues.

PIERO (CONT'D) (leaning to the councilman closest)

This is going to be a problem. Perhaps we should consult Machievelli.


This seems like a good idea.


Class is in session. And the place has a Dali-esque feel to it; NUDE MODELS lay near BASKETS OF FRUIT; ANIMALS/BIRDS run loose. And a handful of Florence's best young ARTISTS are not really listening to their maddened ART TEACHER. They're either working or lost before their own canvasses.


ART IS SUPPOSED TO BE DANGEROUS! Like aged garlic! Strong wine! It takes a courage to take a light and PLUNGE IT into a heart of man! But that's the responsibility of the artist ...

As he rambles on ...

An ARTIST stares catatonically at his blank canvass.

While another curses his.

And yet another frenetically pastes his canvass with color.

Near a work in progress, an ARTIST stares at a FRUIT BASKET, sweating - he's too close to the NUDE FEMALE MODEL nearby.

IN THE rear of the STUDIO, are small clique of "normal artists." They whisper, so as not to get the attention of their demented teacher.


Psst ... The master is returning.


What? (incredulous) Leonardo?


FILIPPINO Are you sure?


Word has already been sent to the Council Chamber. He must be here for the commission.


But I thought that commission is going to Michelangelo?


The more horrifying the world becomes! The more vital the artist!!


They begin to banter excitedly about this, but attract their teacher BOTTI CELLI in the process, who rushes over ...

ART TEACHER (CONT'D) WHAT?! Could POSSIBLY of such great importance, that you risk defying the MUSE!


Don't you realize the coquette can have any man - or woman - she chooses? Those that slight this mistress are doomed to failure of universal proportions!

YOUNG ARTIST Leonardo DaVinci is returning to Florence.

Suddenly, Botticelli becomes lightheaded, like a seventh grade girl at a Jonas Brothers concert.

ART TEACHER DaVinci? Here in Florence? (then)

Great gods.

The young artist nods. But the teacher quickly regains his composure, (or lack thereof) .

ART TEACHER (CONT'D) Hmm ... IF - Leonardo is here, it is not to paint.


Then why else would he come to Florence?


Leonardo has the attention span of a moth! His reputation, though outstanding, is blemished by the

fact that no ONE project can hold

his attention long enough for him to finish it. Trust me when I say, he'll just pass through.

The artists become dejected.


AND WE MOVE ON!!! As all artists do!


A CROWD is gathered around DAVID, admiring it, talking about it. Near the back of the plaza, in pseudo-cognito, stands a cloaked, hooded MICHELANGELO. Like a jealous lover he listens in to the conversations about his DAVID.


WOMAN ADMIRER It's absolutely astonishing.

The crowd agrees. Michelangelo smiles.


Who could imagine doing such a remarkable feat?

More agreement, before one disagreement.


I'm not really impressed.

The handful welcomes this opinion. Really? Explain.


(rather pompous)

It is an interesting piece, but I think the artist has chosen size rather than substance.

Michelangelo can deal with that. But not with this -

CRITIC (CONT'D) Then again, I've seen some of Leonardo's work.

Michelangelo's face contorts to venom.


Virgin on the Rocks? Now that's a masterpiece. And I heard he's coming back to paint in the chamber hall.

The crowd now begins to talk about Leonardo. Michelangelo approaches.

MICHELANGELO ( interrupting)

Excuse me. Were you not Bertoldo's

old pupil?

CRITIC Why yes, I was.


That's right. You were jealous that Michelangelo's favor was found with Lorenzo Medici rather than yours.


Do we know each other?


His art so surpassed that of your own that you became a commoner, who (MORE)


MICHELANGELO (CONT'D) barely could read or write. What did ever become of you?

The critic rises out of his chair, unfurling a massive frame. He pulls his cloak revealing a very imposing body.

CRITIC Michelangelo?

Michelangelo knows he's in trouble. The critic grabs Michelangelo by the chest and pulls him in.

MICHELANGELO (barely audible, choking)

Oh, that's right. You're a mason.


Michelangelo sits back wincing with a WET CLOTH pressed against his very black eye. A concerned Vittoria attends to him.


I should have known a thug like Torrigio would have no appreciation for anything I do.


Calling him illiterate was no help to your cause.


It was the least offensive descriptive that came to mind.

Vittoria is very close to Michelangelo and spontaneously leans in to give the artist a sensual kiss. Michelangelo doesn't know how to respond. He's momentarily stunned, but aroused. She stays close to him.


You needn't concern yourself what the people think.


They were standing before my David and talking about Davinci.

VITTORIA And that bothers you?

MICHELANGELO Yes, it does.





Everybody loves Davinci. His charm has become an art unto itself. He surrounds himself with beautiful people. His circles are the most esteemed in Italy.

VITTORIA What do you want?

MICHELANGELO I want to be great.


And loved?


Is it possible to have both?



Where the foursome is rolling into town. A ghost town. The very few people around do not recognize Leonardo, who nonetheless waves. But up ahead; a CROWDED INTERSECTION. Leonardo smiles, thinking it's a welcoming party.


These are my loyal flock gathered to welcome me back to bosom of their community. You see, Salai. A man may journey from home, but the impression he leaves behind lives on indefinitely. Especially when he is

a river to his people.


Leonardo carriage approaches but is ignored. He looks for an explanation.


Excuse me, there? What's the meaning of this?

A cantankerous MAN turns.

CANTANKOROUS MAN You'll wait your turn old man!

Leonardo looks to Salai.

LEONARDO (incredulous)

What?! He'll beg his pardon. Wait

for what?!


A passerby overhears, explains.


This is the line to see Michelangelo's David. The end is back there.

Leonardo is infuriated.


A line?! For Michelangelo?!

MAN (O.S.)

Hey! You'll have to move this carriage. NOW!

More cussing as debris is thrown their way.


So ... This is how they treat deities.




As scores of PEOPLE begin to ascend on the CHAMBER HALL for the big announcement.


This courtroom-like setting is abuzz with townsfolk and starving, hopeful artists.

MICHELANGELO is seated alone on one side. The other side empty - waiting on the arrival of Leonardo. At the center, a long table where the COUNCIL will sit.

Suddenly, a buzz is in the air as LEONARDO enters. And with him, a small but flamboyant entourage. He takes his seat opposite Michelangelo. The two ignore one another.


Where Machievelli is doing a theatrical sales pitch to the Gonfalonier.


So you have a dilemma, Gonfalonier. The people are divided. It's as if preferring one artist means despising the other.


If this be the case, then perhaps a battle theme is appropriate.


What are you suggesting?


MACHIAVELLI (staccato)

Give, the people, what, they want. (then)

That is how you get what you want.


The crowd is still subdued and buzzing when Piero comes to the podium. The buzzing comes to a hush. Machiavelli takes a seat next to Leonardo and winks.


The Council Chamber of the great Republic of Florence has issued a commissioned work. The advance on commission is 35 florins and 15 per month thereafter. Work to commence immediately ... This commission for the WEST wall, 23 feet by 57 - to depict the Battle of Anghiari and is commissioned to ... LEONARDO DAVINCI.

Machievelli hugs Leonardo while HALF the CROWD ROARS. But the other half is just as vociferous with their boos. But there seems to be more, and a hush descends upon the room.


SILENCE as they wait.


25 feet by 60 - to depict the Battle of Cascina - a commission of the same rate goes to ... MICHELANGELO BUONARROTI.

Now the other half erupts. Leonardo looks over to Michelangelo, and sees Machievelli celebrating with him as well.

PIERO (CONT'D) (talking over the


Contracts for these Lords of Florence to be notarized immediately! Preliminary sketches for approval prior to work! !

(concluding) Good day!

Both painters are enveloped in attention. They move towards one another on their way out.


MACHIAVELLI (patting Leonardo on the back)

Anghiari was a more important battle.

MICHELANGELO (overhearing)

And the East wall is bigger.

That gets Leonardo's goat.

MICHELANGELO (CONT'D) (adding salt)

Perhaps they didn't think you could finish a larger work?

Leonardo is, for once, tongue tied. Michelangelo is pleased he hit a nerve.

MICHELANGELO (CONT'D) Keep that pose, Leonardo. Perhaps I'll paint you some day.

Ahhhhh! ! ! ... LEONARDO (0. S. )


Atop a hill that overlooks a LAKE, Salai and Machiavelli, wineskin in hand, watch as Leonardo paces back and forth. He's angered and defending himself. (And wearing a ridiculous flying device.)


Patience protects from insults! ... 1 should have said, "You undeveloped twit. I MADE VERROCCH10 BLUSH with my work before you stopped sucking on your maid-mother's nipple!" ... Sculptor ...

Machiavelli pulls out the CONCH and offers it to Leonardo chuckling with Salai.


Leonardo. Why don't you call him?

Leonardo doesn't appreciate the joke. He takes the CONCH and chucks it.


I should've said, "I've stood before Kings before you could walk!" ... "1 worked on masterpieces while YOU, you juvenile hunchback ... childish skills ... "



Well, you should have said ... something.


I was building my restraint; a virtue all passionate artists must exercise.


Oh ... It looked like you just couldn't think of anything.


You should've said, LICK MY COMPANELLOS!

Leonardo mulls that one over, before changing gears.


It doesn't matter now, Salai. (preparing for take


I am about to show the world - and that boor of a laborer - that I, Leonardo DaVinci, am indisputably the greatest artist of all time. And do you know why?



LEONARDO Because, I can do ANYTHING.

With that, Leonardo's wings sprout and he takes off, running down the hill. His wings grab the wind. Momentarily, he RISES INTO FLIGHT, soaring UP, UP OVER THE LAKE! ! ! ... Before quickly and abruptly, NOSE DIVING into the water.



Michelangelo sits dejected, alone in his candlelit studio, staring straight ahead. For the first time, gone is the fire and obsession. Here is only an insecure artist. Vittoria enters and approaches.

VITTORIA Michelangelo? This is hardly the celebration that I expected.

She notices how despondent he is.

VITTORIA (CONT'D) Are you alright?

Clearly he's not. She sits next to him and listens.



My father wasn't there today.


He never wanted me to be an artist. It wasn't good enough for him. He thought it a lowly profession. Now, I find myself in a dangerous confrontation who's only weapon; a paintbrush; is a tool I have yet to fully comprehend. I'm going to disgrace my family and embarrass myself.

Vittoria thinks for a moment. She sidles closer.

VITTORIA They were afraid too.

Michelangelo looks at her quizzically.


The Florentines. At the Battle of Cascina. Outnumbered. Inexperienced. Children. Think of the way they felt at the tolling of the bell. The call to arms. The uncertainty. The fear. And yet they still mustered the fortitude for victory.

Michelangelo appreciates the thought.



He's better than I, Leonardo is ... And not JUST at frescos. He is renowned for mastery in all the arts ... I am but a laborer.


He's not your father, Michelangelo. You have nothing to prove to him. (then)

He's just a man. Another artist. Just like you.

She reaches out and touches his face. He appreciates the affection, touching her hand, but gently pulling it away.


You're partially right. He is a man. But unlike me. For if I know Leonardo, he's halfway through with his drawings already.




A still very wet Leonardo sits confounded, (and not working on his sketches). Salai towel dries his hair as Machiavelli sits at his desk.


Had I some wineskins filled with air and some kind of protective glass over my eyes I could have stayed submerged for quite some time.




Why? Salai, all of our knowledge begins with wonder. Imagine the unusual life under water. The spongy plants. Strange and intelligent seacreatures that may have eluded the most ambitious of fishermen. Sunken treasures left by doomed vessels.



LEONARDO Yes, Salai. Treasures.


But it is particularly alarming that your spirits are aroused only by affairs of the changepurse or your belly. An artist's first order is abstinence from worldly goods or bodily pleasures. His inspiration; beauty; rational thought.

(then to Machiavelli)

Speaking of which, what what was the advance for the chamber hall?


35 Florins.


35 Florins?! Good God what a criminal offering. Give it to me.

Machiavelli reaches for the satchel and tosses it to Leonardo.


But you just said artists aren't supposed to care about money.

LEONARDO Indeed, Salai.



LEONARDO (CONT'D) (sifting through the


But for an artist to be milked like some prized calf, is an atrocity. Putting a price on art is invitation for scandal; an allurement for criminals and barristers who want only to exploit the artist.


Which reminds me, you owe me 5 Florins.


For helping you get the commission.


Uhg ...

Leonardo begrudgingly tosses over a COIN.

LEONARDO (CONT'D) Someday these deplorable people will be able to make a living off of us.

He then throws on his cloak, preparing to leave.


Was it not for my great love of art

I would refuse the most generous commissions on the basis of principal alone.

Leonardo is at the door now, ready to exit.


When are we going to start painting?


In due time, young Salai. Painting begins with research. Tomorrow we will study the wall. Right now the night and its sweet elixir serenade. I bid you adieu.



An incredible contrast to Leonardo's world. Like a general, Michelangelo stands before DOZENS of disheveled but disciplined young ARTISTS who stand at attention.


Genesis chapter one; verse one: I paint and I paint alone. If there are any notions that anyone other



MICHELANGELO (CONT'D) than myself will lift a paint brush let it be dismissed right now.

YOU ... will all work. Trestles to be made. Tables to be assembled. And any other contraption that I visualize, you will materialize.


You WILL prime the wall. create the oil paint. And obtain for me everything I desire from paint brushes to paint thinner. Some of you; the lucky ones; will accompany me to the Santa Maria Novella Hospital, where

we will study the musculature of the male body so as to exactly replicate anatomically; from reality to fresco.

Michelangelo steps back, stands before them and switches gears.

MICHELANGELO (CONT'D) The theme for our undertaking is rather appropriate. It is a call to arms. That frozen moment of time where man must furiously sweep into danger. A BATTLE.

A FATHER and his young, painter SON timidly approach.


Master. Can my son be of service?


Is he a practicing Catholic?


No. But he is one of the top students at the Verona Art Academy.

Michelangelo takes the boy, SPITS on his hand.


(quickly blessing)

I baptize you in the Catholic Church in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.

(pushing the boy away) He is now.


And like those battle ready Florentines - we too are called into action. The alarm has been raised, artists! LET US WORK!!




Where Leonardo is passed out in the middle of his studio. An anxious Salai enters searching the place and stumbles upon him. Having been here before, Salai reaches out for a VASE of FLOWERS and pours it on his master. A rude awakening.

LEONARDO (startled/confused)

GOOD GOD! What is the meaning?!


We have to study the wall.


This chamber hall is a large, empty room which appears to be under construction. Leonardo, with a muslin-covered HAT shielding him from the day, stands face to face with his wall, studying it, probing it with a small tool. Salai stands next to him. He looks to the adjacent wall where scaffolds and painting tools are neatly organized in front of it.

SALAI He's been here.

LEONARDO (unconcerned) Yes. I know.

Leonardo continues probing the wall, apparently concerned. He cuts off a small PIECE of the plaster and stares at it.


(sotto) Adona.

SALAI What's Adona?


Leonardo and Salai sit silently in a peculiar dwelling. BOOKS are EVERYWHERE. It's a lot like Leonardo's original quarters - only with a woman's touch.

They watch with fascination as an WOMAN studies the same PIECE of plaster. This is Leonardo's mentor ADONA. And she's about the most beautiful 70 year old you'll ever see.


Hmmm ...


Careful, with this ... This could be irremediably resistant to walnut oil.


She takes a bite out of the plaster, savoring its taste. Salai winces.

ADONA (CONT' D) (still chewing)

And the drying process will require heat.


Is the East wall's composition similar?



Alas the great Leonardo of Vinci comes to pit with a most worthy painter. Michelangelo Buonarroti.

LEONARDO (dismissing) Michelangelo's is a sculptor.


Is he now?

Adona walks closely up to Leonardo and stares at the artist, attempting to look through him.


Never underestimate the heart of a true artist, Leonardo. Their capacity for achievement is as broad as their imagination.

She winks at the boy who smiles in return.

ADONA (CONT' D) (changing gears)

Have you thought up your theme?

Adona proceeds to write down a quick recipe for the priming.

I have not. worthy team


I must first assemble a


- LEONARDO - What is the primary function of the painter?


To work with the ten principals of light, darkness, color, mass -


- The PRIMARY function.


LEONARDO (humbly)

To tell a story.


Precisely. Positioning, repose, proximity; are all elements ... Of the STORY. And it is the painter's story, which is reflected, or projected if you will, onto the canvass or fresco. I want you to contemplate this.

She hands him the recipe. Knows something is amiss.

Leonardo looks a bit disconnected. He hesitates.

ADONA ( CONT ' D) You don't have to do it here.



A pensive Leonardo is on his way home with Salai.


What was she talking about back there?

LEONARDO (pausing, thinking) I don't know.

Leonardo stops in his tracks. Salai pauses curiously. Leonardo looks down the street the leads to the piazza Vecchio.

LEONARDO (CONT'D) (thinking)

Salai, I want you to continue home. I want some fresh air. Alone.

seeing the Leonardo needs his space, Salai does so. Leonardo then proceeds down the alley that to the Piazza.


A small, respectful crowd, including VITTORIA, is huddled about, admiring the statue DAVID as if at an altar. Leonardo approaches. A light shines on DAVID. Leonardo places down his lantern and moves closer. The CROWD lightly buzzes at the artist's presence. It is, after all, Leonardo DaVinci.

Leonardo stops before the statue and stares in awe. Suddenly, he is overwhelmed by its beauty. Vittoria watches the artist's reaction.

We move into a CLOSE SHOT - On Leonardo's face, where his EYE fills with TEAR that rolls down his cheek.



(sotto) Magnifico.

Seeing Leonardo moved by the statue, Vittoria gently smiles.



The studio is buzzing with the activity, (at least near Michelangelo's wall), with numerous apprentices. Leonardo's side is empty. Michelangelo is furiously sketching on a LARGE SHEET OF PAPER. A young artist approaches, holding a rather large partion of the SKETCH in progress.



(What do you think?)

MICHELANGELO (looking over the


Good ... But not expressive enough. Remember the disarray in preparation. The muscles should show contortion. Leave it. I want you to work on the horses.

The artist walks away. Michelangelo looks to Leonardo's EMPTY WALL like an obsessed lover.


A handful of men and women peer into the hall, hoping to catch a glimpse of the artist.

WOMAN 1 When will they paint?


They're working on sketches right now.

MAN 2 Where's Leonardo?

The small gathering wonders, conjecting answers. Nobody knows.


I heard he's back in Milan.


Where the COUNCIL is in the midst of yet another session of arguing - over the absence of Leonardo. Machiavelli tries to talk over them.



No! No! No! He's not in Milan! He's right here in Florence, working on the sketches daily!

COUNCIL MEMBER 1 Niccolo, how could he be working on the sketches daily when he hasn't been seen in the new chamber hall in over a month?


We might expect the same quick-witted answer as when the DUKE asked Leonardo. Instead we get -

MACHIAVELLI That's a good question.

More arguing.


Niccolo, this council has spent a large sum of money on this commission. We have kept at bay, all previous commissioners in which these artists are contractually obligated to. I WANT those sketches and I WANT painting to commence IMMEDIATELY.


It is a beautiful morning with your typical activities of passers-by going about their business.


Leonardo, (hungover again), lay in bed like a child who doesn't want to go to school. A MUSLIN CURTAIN covers his canopy-styled bed. A moment later Machievelli enters. Hearing him walk in, Leonardo quickly pulls up his blanket and plays

possum. He approaches.

MACHIAVELLI (removing curtain) Wake up.


I'm sick.


You haven't been sick in forty years.

LEONARDO Precisely. I've been over due.

Leonardo rolls over, ignoring him.



It is my privilege to seize these moments.

with each step, Leonardo approaches the GREAT LIGHT and the MUSIC comes to a crescendo.

LEONARDO (CONT'D) Snatching them from the unforgiving grasp of time with my brush, imprisoning them in the colors I choose, arresting them in the power of truth that IS the canvass I caress. To whisk them unto an erato which

it will forever belong. For I AM LEONARDO DAVINCI. AND I AM AN ARTIST!

Leonardo now stands, bathed in the great light. He purposefully walks through it AS HE BECOMES ENVELOPED in a great BATTLE HE DESCRIBES.


(excited, possessed)

I will give reddish tinge to the faces, the figures, the air, the musketeers, and those around them! And this red glow will fade the farther it is from it's source!

The SKY becomes reddened. With each detail Leonardo describes, the battle follows to a tee; a three dimensional PAINTING COME TO LIFE.


Arrows will be flying in all directions, piercing foes with indiscrimination! Bullets from firearms will leave a thin billowing line of smoke en route to their target! I will show a man, fallen to the ground, which will be a crimson blooded mire. All around there will be marks where soldiers and horses have trampled in passing. The vanquished will look pale and panicstricken, their eyebrows raised high or knitted in grief, their faces stricken with painful lines! Men fleeing in route will be crying out with open mouths; weapons lying underfoot; broken shields, lances, stumps of swords! The dying will be gnashing their teeth, their eyeballs rolling heavenward as they beat their bodies with their fists and twist their limbs!!!


Leonardo excitedly points to what he describes, literally walking through the battle scene in all its horrific beauty.

LEONARDO (CONT'D) THERE!! There's a warrior disarmed and knocked to the ground, turning on his foe, biting and scratching him in cruel, bitter revenge .... There's a wounded man, lying sadly on the ground, pathetically trying to protect himself with a shield, but his enemy shows no mercy and is poised to deliver the fatal blow. For this is war. And I will let no detail be concealed!!!!



Leonardo BURSTS into the room, charging to his wall possessed. A handful of helpers follow, taking copious notes, and listening as he describes his vision.


Where Leonardo is dissecting a BODY; APPRENTICES taking notes while doing so.


Salai is pulling the reigns of a carriage alongside a PAIR OF WILD HORSES as his passenger, Leonardo frenetically, and very accurately copies their movement onto paper.


Michelangelo's team of a HUGE SCAFFOLD. He looks over to the OPPOSITE WALL where Leonardo's team is assembling an even LARGER SCAFFOLD.


Leonardo's studio is a veritable science fair, crowded with boiling pots of paint allover. Leonardo is testing the viscidity of one pot with a couple of students. SALAI starts to stir another pot. Leonardo rushes over and gently shoves the boy away. Salai, like Michelangelo's Vittoria, is hurt at being brushed aside.


Machiavelli brings the Gonfalonier and his councilman to the chamber hall and all watch as the two artists work away. The Gonfalonier is pleased, nodding his head at money well spent.



Where an unfazed, bloody Leonardo with MULTIPLE SKETCHES hanging about, studies THREE cadavers, probing them with a knife.




CLOSE ON Michelangelo as he sketches away frenetically.

CLOSE on Leonardo as he Sketches furiously.


On BOTH of the artists' SKETCHES. How strikingly similar in their beauty. How vast their dissimilarities in color, composition.

The MUSIC comes to a CRESCENDO as APPLAUSE rings out and into ...


Where a packed chamber cheers for the TWO MAGNIFICENT SKETCHES that hang on the walls. The GONFALONIER/PIERO stands in the middle of the TWO ARTISTS like a fight promoter.


(over the applause)

These sketches have been approved by the great council of Florence! PAINTING TO COMMENCE IMMEDIATELY!!!



The CHEERS QUICKLY fade into SILENCE as a very focused LEONARDO sits propped up; drawing with his RIGHT hand and writing with his left.


CLOSE SHOT on his spectacles. Seen in the REFLECTION are the words; STUDY OF DAVID. Also seen is the sketch he works on. It is an impressive reproduction of Michelangelo's David.

For the first time since we've met him, we see a man obsessed.

An apprehensive Salai approaches holding a LONG shard of wood. He looks to Leonardo.


SALAI (hesitating, trying

to impress)

I thought up a new design for your wing. I took into consideration your notes on wind resistance.

LEONARDO (ignoring)

Put it away, Salai. There is no time for games now.

The disappointed boy slouches and walks away.


Michelangelo walks in, crosses himself and pauses.


He sees Vittoria kneeled praying before the altar. He watches her for a long moment before leaving.


Michelangelo is by himself and he is hacking away at a small piece of marble.



All the young artists are asleep in this messy studio - save for one; the YOUNG ARTIST that was excited about Leonardo'S arrival. He shakes his sleeping friend.

ANDREA (groggy)

What are you doing?


I'm going to church. Come with me.


Church? It's not Saturday.


No! The council chamber! They're going to paint today!

with that, ANDREA quickly rises.


A huge crowd is gathered around the building, peering into the wide windows. It's a circus scene.



A man stands on a rock.

MAN ON ROCK Cheers for Michelangelo!

The divided crowd cheers. Another man stands next to him.

SECOND MAN Cheers for Leonardo!

More cheers.

MAN ON ROCK - If he even shows up! !

The crowd laughs. A tomato comes flying, smashing into the man's chest. A fight ensues.


Where Michelangelo listens to the ruckus.


On a nearby hill that looks over the chamber and on horseback, the trio with full entourage look at the melee; flying tomatoes, pUShing, shoving and yelling.


And I thought politics weren't safe.

They continue towards the chamber followed by their small entourage of Leonardo' assistants.


Listening to the ruckus, Michelangelo kneels.



Dear Lord, inspire me. St. Luke pray for me.

Michelangelo rises, walks towards the window and looks over the people, ignoring them as they're screaming.



Maybe he won't show.

Suddenly, the crowd buzzes, looks.


The crowd separates, cheers, hisses. Team Leonardo has arrived with full entourage. He dismounts. His eyes meet


with the YOUNG ARTIST'S. The YOUNG ARTIST can't muster up the courage to speak. Leonardo snubs him and heads towards the entrance. He is patted on the back, cheered, jeered. Salai is by his side.


Team Leonardo walks in, heads towards his wall. The assistants immediately get ready for painting. Leonardo, like a fighter, stretches, rolls his neck, bops up and down.

And now, a little trash-talking. And this time, Leonardo has his wits about him.



I'm supposed to be sharing this hall with another artist but I don't see him? Where is he? What's his name?




They say eyesight is the first to leave in old age.

Leonardo pretends to suddenly notice Michelangelo. The two go vis a vis.


Oh, there you are. I didn't recognize you without marble dust covering

your face.


And I didn't recongnize you - working. And sober.


What did they commission you for? The roof?


No, I'm going to be painting this large wall - the one closest to the entrance.


I didn't know that carpenters could paint as well.


Yes, and I believe your little space is in the back. Near the wash basin.


Michelangelo notices Salai.

MICHELANGELO (CONT'D) And how sweet? You brought your grandson too?


You may know him. You may have gone to school together. Perhaps the two of you can exchange notes?


And perhaps he can finish what you start - as your students did for your "Adoration" - which I never did get to see, I'm sorry. But I did hear about it.


Which is more than I can say about your work. Strange, in all my travels in the greatest art circles in Italy, your name was never mentioned.


I didn't know pubs, ports and brothels were considered "great circles of

art" .

LEONARDO And I didn't know -


- Enough.

Michelangelo holds up a PAINTBRUSH.

MICHELANGELO (CONT'D) Talk to the brush, Methusalah. Save your stories for your drinking disciples. I've got a wall to paint.



_ Michelangelo deep breathing, stretching

_ Leonardo cracking his knuckles, neck

_ Paint prepared, stirred, colors mixed

- Brushes of various sizes laid out

- Sketches laid out



I'm suffering from the most nagging of questions.


Tell me.


If all of our wisdom proceeds from what we feel; therefore the senses

are the prerequisite for our obtaining of knowledge. Yet at the same time they can be deceptive. The sky, for instance, in its bluest state is an illusion of warm, damp air, evaporated into imperceptible particles struck

by light - which does travel - making luminous the mighty lid of darkness that is space.

Salai nods.


So WHY, if in theory, there is an almighty, would he engender us with a defective order of learning? WHY, is it that certain laws of nature

can not be reproduced scientifically?

Leonardo looks at the boy who has a blank expression.


And most importantly, WHY, Salai, am I asking you?


I don't know. But there are so many things to be learned.


Oh, young Salai. Imagination is FAR GREATER than knowledge. Far greater.


When are we going to paint again?


All in good time, Salai. My preoccupation at the moment is hydraulics.




Yes, hydraulics. The power and movement of water. The motion of (MORE)




waves ... In addition to my persistence of flight of course. And mathematics, science, human anatomy, music composition.


I'm hungry.


That Salai, does not surprise me ... Literature, philosophy, architecture, botany ...

Leonardo goes on and on as the boy giggles.



Just as our story began, we are now back in Leonardo's studio. Only now as we slowly meander about, does the mess seem to make a bit more sense. The pages and pages of notes; drawings; animals roaming about; contraptions of various types. As we look at the studio one last time, an epilogue ends the story.

INSERT - Neither artist finished their paintings for the chamber hall. Leonardo DaVinci stayed in FLORENCE and finished his greatest masterpiece. It was an uncommissioned, untitled work now known as the "Mona Lisa." It is one of only thirteen paintings from his lifetime that still exist.

He was never recorded to have flown successfully.

Michelangelo left for Rome and began the frescos that still adorn the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He and Vittoria remained lifelong friends.

(We end on Leonardo's "UNFINISHED WORK IN PROGRESS," which is now obviously the "MONA LISA." Slowly we push into this magnificant piece of work that is still as intriguing today as it was 500 years ago.)


Empty now. Lifeless.

INSERT - From the first announcement of the "Battle of Battles" artists flocked from workshops allover the world to the Florence Chamber Hall out of which both classicism and Baroque emerged.

In 1512 the Medici regained power in Florence and ordered the chamber walls to be plastered over.

DaVinci's covered masterwork -- The Battle of Anghiari -spurred a revolution in the science of art diagnostics, harnessing an array of medical and military technologies,


ranging from radar mapping and X-ray fluorescence to ultrasound probes and ultraviolet scans.

For the past 30 years analysts have been experimenting with these techniques in the belief that his painting still exists.


Click Here to Read More..


pp. 346-347, book unnamed

p. 346 heading:


bibliography, starting with

Moran, James R., Candace M. Fleming, Philip Somervell, and Spero M. Manson. 1999. "Measuring Bicultural Ethnic Identity Among American Indian Adolescents: A Factor Analysis Study." Journal of Adolescent Research 14:405-26

biographies, starting with

Daphna Oyserman

p. 347 heading:


biographies of:

Markus Kemmelmeier

Stephanie Fryberg

Hezi Brosh

Tami Hart Johnson
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Educational Problems of Arab Countries

JSTOR article:

International Review of Education
"Educational Problems of Arab Countries,” D.K.Wheeler
date accessed 03/10/2009

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The Essence of Arab Civilization

JSTOR article:

Middle East Journal
"The Essence of Arab Civilization”, Costi K. Zurayk
Apr. 1949
date accessed 03/10/2009

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We Recommend that Users Print the Article

JSTOR output:

MERIP Middle East Report

Please Note: a number of pages in this article were originally published such that a portion of text and some images ran across two facing pages. JSTOR has presented these pages as they appear in the source material, with no missing content. For ease of reading we recommend that users print the article.

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Commodifying Honor in Female Sexuality

JSTOR article:

Middle East Report
"Commodifying Honor in Female Sexuality”, Suzannah Muggi
Spring, 1998
date accessed 03/10/2009

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From Sabbath to Sunday

JSTOR article:

American Society of Church History
review of From Sabbath to Sunday by Paul Cotton
publication date illegible
date accessed 03/10/2009

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Postabortion Patients in Egypt

JSTOR article:

Journal of Family Planning
"Improving the Medical Care and Counselling of Postabortion Patients in Egypt" - Dale Huntingdon, others illegible
publication date illegible
date accessed 03/10/2009

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Middle Eastern Students

JSTOR article:

Middle East Journal
"Cultural Perspectives of Middle Eastern Students in America,” F. James Davis
publication date illegible
date accessed 03/10/2009

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Honey Magazine

three pages of printout numbered

17 of 26
18 of 26
19 of 26

Honey Magazine -

all three pages are a solid block of mid-grey with thin hatching marks caused probably by the printer. The block of mid-grey covers all the pages except margins.

Printout dated 10/3/2009 2:57 PM

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printout of article:

New York Times (1857-Current File), Jun 15, 1957;
ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2000)

first paragraph:


For years this newspaper has dedicated itself to opposing bigotry. On many a front, covering civil rights of all kinds - to vote, to seek employment, to be educated in the public schools, to gather in public assembly, to live in public housing - we have fought against discrimination for reasons of race, religion or color.

Printout undated

full text:

With this precedent we approach our decision on the Sharkey-Isaacs-Brown bill now pending in the City Council, which proposes to outlaw by statute and to punish with a possible jail term discrimination against potential tenants for reasons of race, color, religion, national origin or ancestry in privately owned multiple dwelling apartments. The bill also forbids discrimination in the sale of houses in the larger developments.

We confess to being troubled as we take the position we feel we must take against this bill. In principle the objectives cannot be opposed. They are admirable. But the method of compulsion is a dubious substitution for education and the admittedly gradual spread of understanding that can be the only foundation of complete neighborliness.

The question of legality we shall leave to the lawyers. This would involve, of course, the constitutional protection not to be 'deprived' of property without due process of law.

But here, as often, we have a conflict of freedoms. There is, on the one hand, the 'right' to live, rent, buy where one will; on the other hand is the right to control the use of property privately owned, complete freedom in the choice of tenant of buyer, the right to expect in leased or purchased quarters a reasonably stable continuation of the surroundings that were obtained in taking residence.

As matters stand, existing state and local laws forbid discrimination in 164,172 dwelling units here. Of these about 20,000 are public housing and the others are projects that have received aid by way of Federal mortgage insurance, state loans or city tax abatement. Statuary prohibition against discrimination in all these units is entirely proper, and in fact imperative. It would be a shocking miscarriage of justice to deny any part of the public equal access to housing for which the whole public pays, in whole or in part, and either by public loan or by subsidy of any kind.

When we come to housing which is completely financed and owned by private individuals or corporations, the situation seems to us to be essentially different. This is not to say that we approve of discrimination in privately owned housing. On the contrary, we deplore such discriminations and particularly the unhealthy social conditions which it has helped to create in certain sections of the city. But progress here, we believe,
must be a matter of education and spiritual growth rather than a consequence of legislation.

The Sharkey-Isaacs-Brown bill would outlaw discrimination in 1,787,183 privately owned flats and apartments. But its exceptions are noteworthy. It will make it wrong to discriminate against rental in multiple dwellings, as defined by law, but it does not forbid discrimination in the rental of one- or two-family homes, or in sale of single family homes unless one owner happens to own ten or more housing accommodations on land that is contiguous.

These exceptions are a complete contradiciton of the policy statement incorporated by way of preamble in the law, which says 'it is necessary to assure to all inhabitants of the city equal opportunity to obtain living quarters'. It means the city will compel owners of private property to make way for everybody in the flats and apartments of Manhattan, for instance, but it will not enforce equal opportunity to tenants or home-buyers generally in Queens. This is discrimination within avowed anti-discrimination, and the aim of its exceptions can only be construed as political.

We do not think that the people of New York have been adequately prepared for the passage of this bill, and we fear that the consequences of its adoption in such circumstances would be a stopping of large-scale construction and a drastic depreciation of property values. We believe that the difficulties of enforcement are enormous, that nuisance cases would be innumerable and that intolerance might be aggravated rather than diminished.

So, with the deepest regret, we oppose this bill as being the wrong way to a right end.

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Some Thoughts on Pictures in the Scrap Paper Bin

[If there is a picture in the bin, do I scan it in or do I describe it? There's something unpretentious about scanning in the picture, but there's something useful about describing it in words - the logging process is a sort of transcribing into words of the meaning ofpictures in the bin. Written descriptions take control of the meaning of the picture - which is good because this enterprise is about words and the pact a picture viewer makes with the culture is different to the pact a reader makes. We need to keep things consistent.

By simply typing in a diner receipt I learned a little about how diner receipts work; by describing the picture, and not showing it to the reader, I ape the language of the library and if the description is frustrating then so sometimes are libraries. This is a collection of words rather than of things, mainly, but Lord knows I need some imagery in here so maybe the pictures as described can be that.

That said, there's some interest in the typographical so maybe there will be pictures, but only of intersting-looking pages (smudges etc. where the ambiguity is given to the reader to work out). But the focus has to be on deciphering and on the ways words can mean things in an unplanned context.] Click Here to Read More..

99 Cent Dream

Receipt in partially rubbed-out purple ink

NY, NY 10036


129 Q
0.03 @
01 *3.87tx 1
*3.87 st
*0.34tx 1

*4.21 tl
*1.05 cg


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pp 195-281 of unnamed novel

first chapter heading (p. 201):

I'll Love Him Even More: From the GLobalTeens Account of Eunice Park

first full sentence:

As it turns out, this was the last chapter of the Sinner's Crusade.

printout undated

full text:

of Sharon." As it turned out, this was the last chapter of the Sinner's Crusade. My gaze skirted that of a fellow Hebrew itching to make his way out of there, away from the inlaws and into his honey's arms. Tenderly, angrily, Jesus was pleading for our very souls, but we were too tired, too hungry, to hear him out, too hungry even to complete Reverend Suk's quick sermon quiz ("Only for fun, not graded!") which they young people in sashes were passing down the rows.

We bowed our way out of Madison Square Garden and adjourned nearby to a new restaurant on 35th Street that specialized in nakji bokum, an octopus tentacle dish inflamed with pepper paste and chili powder, among many other forms of debilitating heat. "Maybe too spicy for you?" Eunice's mother said, the usual question asked of the white.

"I've eaten this many times before," I said. "It's yummy." Mrs. Park looked at me with great suspicion.

We were taken to an empty little room where we were to remove our shoes and cluster, cross-legged, around a table. I realized, with toilet-inducing horror, that one of my socks featured a giant bulls-eye of a hole through which my pale, milky flesh could be scrutinized by all. I turned to Eunice with a why-didn't-you-tell me look but she was too scared by the collision of her two worlds to notice my urgent stare. She threw off her pointy church shoes and made herself uncomfortable by the table. The grown-ups were clustered around one side of the table, Eunice and Sally faced us meekly from the other. Mrs. Park began to order, but her husband stopped her, unleashing a series of grunts at a pimply young waiter with a slick parabola of hair. A bottle of soju, the Korean alcohol, was immediately presented to him. I tried to reach over and pour it for him, as the young are supposed to serve the old in this culture (as if the old are really any better than the rest of us, not merely closer to extinction), but he forcefully moved my hand away and did it himself. He picked up my glass, put it in front of him, and with a precise, calibrated spill, topped me off. Then, with one index finger, he moved the glass in my direction. "Oh,


thank you," I said. I waved the bottle toward Eunice and Sally. "Anybody want some of this good stuff?" They averted their eyes. Dr. Park swallowed his medicine without a word.

"Well then," I said. "I've got to say, having Eunice as a roommate has been really great this past week, with all that's been going - "

"Hee-young!" Dr. Park ejaculated at Sally. "How are your studies?"

Sally blushed. A cube of cool, white radish slipped out from between her chopsticks. "I," she said. "I - "

"I, I," Dr. Park mimicked. He turned to me briefly as if I were his co-conspirator.

I smiled at him, finding it impossible to ignore any gestures from this man, even if it meant siding with him against the innocent women at the table. That's what tyrants can do, I guess. They make you covet their attention; they make you confuse attention for mercy. "All that money for Elderbird, for Barnard, and for what?" the Doctor said. "They have nothing to say. This one protests, this one spends my money." He spoke with the hint of a British accent acquired during a residency in Manchester. The quality of his speech scared me all the more. He was a perfect little man, towering above us in his own special way.

"Actually," I said. "This is not a good time for speaking and writing. Younger people express themselves in different ways."

"Yes, yes," Mrs. Park nodded at me, one tiny hand held up before her equally miniscule face, blushing like her daughters, the other hovering nervously over her rice. "It is time we live in," she said. "These are final times." And then to her daughters:

"Daddy only want best. You listen to him."

I ignored the scary biblical reference and continued to praise the woman I loved.

"It may surprise you to know that Eunice is actually a great speaker of sentences. Recently we discussed - "

Dr. Park began to speak loudly, lowly, and in Korean, at Sally and Eunice. He


spoke for twenty minutes from behind his dark glasses, stopping only to refill his glass and to knock it back within the space of a second. They sat there and blushed, looking at one another occasionally, seeing how the other was taking her punishment. No one ate anything, except for me. I was hungry in a way I had never been and felt myself growing faint, hypoglycemic. The waiters came bearing immensities of smoking, steaming cuisine. A large pot of baby octopus came my way, hot and sweet, surrounded by ddok, a tubular rice cake that soaked up the spices like a sponge. I felt anxious with so much spice in my mouth, as words continued to spill out of Dr. Park's. I reached for a plate of pickles and egg custard to cool me down; the flavors of the squid, the green onions, the chili peppers, the orange-streaked onions soaked in sesame oil, built in intensity. I couldn't stop eating. I tried to reach for the soju bottle, but Dr. Park swatted away my hand and poured my drink himself, while continuing to let loose at his tiny daughters across the wide wooden gulf of the table.

I thought I heard the word hanonim, which I know means "God" in Korean and the deeply insulting term michi-nneyun, which made Eunice exhale in such a sad, hurt, elongated, final way, it made me wonder if she would ever be capable of replacing that breath. Mrs. Park's hand continued to hover over her metallic rice bowl, occasionally touching its rim. In my experience, it was very unusual for Koreans to sit before food and not partake. I closed my eyes and let the lining of my mouth turn into pure heat. I floated over the table and out into the dense Midtown air. I wished I were stronger and could help Eunice, or at least take my place in front of her and absorb some of the pain. I wanted to bury my face in the warmth of her hair, the musk and the oils of it, because it was home to me. Because I knew she was too small in body and spirit, too worshipful of her family and the idea of her family, to accept this kind of hurt alone. Was this why she had run off to Rome, learned Italian, found someone pliable and kind, if unbeautiful, to be her companion, tried to become a different person? But one can never outrun the Dr. Parks of the world. Joshie had asked us to keep a diary because the mechanicals of our


brains were constantly changing and over time we were transforming into entirely different people. But that's what I wanted for Eunice, for the synapses dedicated to responding to her father to wither and be reborn, to be rededicated to someone who loved her unconditionally.

Something was drawing me back, a breath of coolness across my brow. When I opened my eyes I saw Eunice looking at me, pleadingly, shyly, like the first time I saw her in Rome, talking to that ridiculous sculptor. How I loved her then and how I loved her now. Rarely could affection be both so instant and so deep. We locked eyes for a millisecond, but it was enough time to download a million bits of sympathy, for me to tell her "soon you will be home and in my arms and the world will reconfigure itself around you and there will be enough compassion for you to feel scared by how much I care for you." Meanwhile, Dr. Park was landing the plane of his soliloquy. The fight was leaving his body. He spat a few more things then became quiet, so quiet that he appeared to have deflated before my eyes, leaving behind only the dense, poisoned marrow of those whose entire lives are reduced to the acts of hurting and being hurt. Who had done what to him, I wondered, or was it just the usual neurotransmitters run amok? Dr. Park inhaled another glass of soju and then leaned into the octopus and began to push large amounts of it into his mouth. The girls and Mrs. Park started to eat as well and within five intense moments all the food was gone.

"So, Lenny," Mrs. Park said, as if nothing had happened. "Eunice tell me you have good job science."

Dr. Park snorted.

I wanted to build up my status with the Parks, but didn't want to push my position at Post-Human Services too much, because I knew that devout Christians were not enamored by the concept of eternal life here on earth, which made their celestial dreams pitifully invalid.

"I work for a division of Staatling- Wapachung," I said. "You might have seen


some of our buildings going up in New York. That's Staatling Property. And then there's Wapachung Contingency, which is a huge security firm. Property and security and life extension I guess are the three things that we do. All very important in a time of crisis."

I went on in that vein for a while, careful to be non-political, hewing toward my parents' FOX-Liberty Prime conservatism. Sometimes when I spoke of Wapachung Contingency, Sally would look at me with ill-concealed annoyance as if she was not overly enamored of my employer, but even in her displeasure she was graceful and mild, and 1 wanted to get rid of her parents and talk directly to her, debate her in a chummy, casual way. "Of course," 1 was saying to her father, "I am not a doctor, a man of science in the way that you are, sir. What I try do is synthesize commerce and - "

Dr. Park pointed his index finger at my foot, the white flesh peeking out from within the hole of my sock like a shameful bit of burlesque. "I see," he said, "that you have either a tissue or bone growth at the base of your metatarsophalangeal joint. Maybe the beginning of a bunion. You should buy different footwear, shoes that don't crowd the toes. This is a real pathology that you should take care of, because over time your only option will be surgery." He turned toward Eunice, who nodded.

"New shoes," she said.

"Take care of each other in difficult time," Mrs. Park said. "Good roommates,


"Thank you," I said. I wanted to return to my career, to how I was going to help Eunice weather the uncertainty ahead, but the screen over the ticket window had just dropped shut. "Urn."

Mrs. Park took out an old apparat and set it on the table between a newly arrived dish of baby ferns and one of salted beef. "Look," she said to Eunice and Sally. "Video of Myong-hee her mother just sent." To me she said: "Cousin from Topanga."

An Asian girl of no more than three ran toward the camera against a crowded background of cheap Californian townhouses and an aquamarine pool. She was wearing a


bathing suit festooned with rubber daisies and wore a profoundly genuine smile across her broad face. "Hi Eunice Emo. Hi Sally Emo," she shouted at the screen. "1 miss you, Eunice Emo," the girl yelled, showing us the full array of her nubby teeth.

"Look," Mrs. Park said. "She has a little bit of rice on top her eye." There was a grain of something above her brow. Everyone laughed, Dr. Park included, who said a few words in Korean, the first approving words of the evening, the first time his jaw had been unclenched, the war anthem silenced, the forward battalion called to barracks. Eunice was wiping her eyes, and I realized she wasn't laughing. She uncrossed her legs, sprang from the table in one motion, and ran from the room in bare feet. I started to get up to follow her, but Mrs. Park only said: "She miss her cousin in California. Don't worry."

But I knew it wasn't just the cute girl on the screen that had made Eunice cry. It was her father laughing, being kind, the family momentarily loving and intact - a cruel side trip into the impossible, an alternate history. The dinner was over. The waiters were clearing the table with resignation and without a word. I knew that, according to tradition, I had to allow Dr. Park to pay for the meal but I went into my apparat and transferred him three hundred yuan, the total of the bill, out of an unnamed account. I did not want his money. Even if my dreams were realized and I would marry Eunice someday, Dr. Park would always remain to me a stranger. After thirty-nine years of being alive, I had forgiven my own parents for not knowing how to care for a child, but that was the depth of my forgiveness.


I'll Love Him Even More: From the GlobalTeens Account of Eunice Park

July 10th


Mom, you haven't written me back in a while. Are you still mad about Lenny? Stop worrying about the Mystery, okay? Worry about Sally instead. You have to watch her weight. Don't let her order "peejah." Make only food with lots of vegetables. I'm going to buy her some nice summer shoes from FootsieGalore the kind she can wear to interviews too.

I'm too busy looking for Retail jobs to take the LSA T prep right now, but definately next summer. The miscellaneous charge on AlliedCVS must be this new "minimum aggregate APR" they're charging these days. It means we'll have to pay a little less for the monthly charge but we have to pay this new charge immediately or it gets tacked on to the principal which then turns into a maximum aggregate which will probably mean another six thousand or more in the next two billing cycles. I think it's time to switch out of AUiedWaste anyway and LandOLakes is running some special promotional rates this month although you have to borrow an extra ten thousand just to "switch in." I guess we should at least "do the math" and check it out.


Dear Precious Pony,

Hello out there in TV land! Oy. I guess I've been streaming too many old shows with

Lenny. Weird. So now my mom is mad at me too. Dinner with la famiglia was a disaster as you rightfully predicted. Why on earth did Lenny think he could charm my parents? You know, he is so FULL of himself sometimes. He has this American white guy thing where life is always fair in the end, and nice guys are respected for being nice, and


everything is just HONKY-dory (get it?). He went on and on about how I can form sentences and how I always talk about taking care of Sally and meanwhile my father is just flexing his fist under the table. Believe me, that flexed fist was all Sally and I could think about, while old Len went on his little dietribe.

I know his heart is in the right place. It's always in the right place. But after a while, who cares, right? How can he not understand me? It's like he doesn't take time to put two and two together. He promised he would read less and spend more time taking care of our apartment, but his head is all caught up in these texts. I looked up War and Peace and it's about this guy Pierre who fights in France, and all this terrible stuff happens to him, but in the end because of his charm he gets to be with this girl he really loves, and who really loves him even though she cheated on him. That's Lenny's view on life in a nutshell, that in the end niceness and smartness always win.

But the worst was my mother. She just went OFF on me. Like, yeh, nuh moo heh tao You could do so much better. He's old, he's unattractive, his skin looks unhealthy, he's got bad feet, he's not as tall as you said he was, he makes 25,000 yuan a month. If you want to date someone older, there's this gemologist from Palisades who makes close to a million a year and daddy says the Post Human place Lenny works for is a total scam and is going to fall apart completely. Mom kept teening me "Keep options open, keep options open."

I tried not to be hurt, but it was impossible. It's like in the same way Lenny doesn't see me, they don't see HIM. To them he's just this unattractive, not-rich person with a hole in his sock (I thought I was honestly going to kill him for that).

But then we went home and I got that sucky message from my mom and then I just started to feel like I loved Lenny even more. Like the more she detested him, the more I loved him. He was so tired from the dinner and the stupid church service, he just conked out and fell asleep on the couch and he even snored like he never does. He had obviously put so much of himself out there, my sweet, caring tuna-brain, he had tried so


hard as he does to be nice to my parents and to defend me against my asswipe of a dad, and it had just taken everything out of him. And I thought, if someone can't recognize what a good man he is then what good are they to me? I guess what I'm saying is I'm not as turned off by Lenny's vulnerabilities anymore and I have my cuh-ragee mom to thank for that epiphany. That's the thing with Lenny, if you spend time with him you realize he's just very yamjanae. I think that's a very Korean thing to be able to sense someone so sweet and gentle and appreciate him for who he is.

Sorry to blah blah blah for so long. Things are really pretty good overall. We've been hanging out and talking and doing lots of fun stuff together. We saw some Images in a gallery and had some okay burgers at burgr in Bushwick (why can't they have In n' Out here in New York?). We had unprotected sex and he told me he could see us having a baby. I was like: WHAT??? But it kind of made sense. I WANT to have a baby with him, even if things are really bad in the world. I think I'd be the happiest fairy in the forest if we were a real family someday. Oh, and then we went to this Sri Lankan place for dinner and Lacy Twaat was sitting next to us. Remember she used to do all those gagging and ass-to-mouth porns when we were kids? She was wearing a size two Parakkeet blazer with pearls and sheer Onionjeans which she can totally pull off even at her age. Overall, a very classy, refined ass hookah look. And her date was this older Germanic-looking gentleman, very handsome.

Speaking of, I've been going to Tompkins Square with more supplies, doing some odd ends at CLOTHES WASHING AND SANIT A nON and just hanging out with David. He's so funny. He just grabbed me at one point and threw me over his shoulder and carried me around the whole park so that I could waive to everyone. It felt good to have a strong guy taking charge of me and David is SO strong and not just because he was a soldier in Venezuela. And he keeps his little hut so NEAT (not like you-know-who, ha ha) which is something he said he learned in the army. He's getting ready for when the Guard comes to clear them out which is making me nervous. If you have any old appariiti


or even laptops please send them to me, because these people are really desperate. I tried to get him to just have some lunch with me, but he won't leave the Park. He's as dedicated to his people as my father is to his patients, and I guess I really admire that. I've been looking at his mouth, and there's something charismatic about him having lost some teeth. He's a rugged man who knows when to be physical and when to be smart. Anyway, I bet if he had healthcare he could look even more handsome. Sometimes when he talks about what it's going to be like after the Bipartisans are overthrown, I'm like hmm, that doesn't sound bad. He's against the Credit people, but he thinks Retail is always going to be a part of our lives and that Retail girls can be Creative. His ideas are a little out there, but at least he believes in something, right?

Sigh. Okay, Princess P, I'm off to swiffer the balcony, which is covered with bird doo 24/7. This is New York and everyone always shits all over you. Ha ha.

July 12th


I'm sorry didn't get back to you right away, pony. Something really BAD is happening here. These LNWls ran into my father's factory when it was closed and took it over and they phased out the LAPD last month and the National Guard won't do anything and now it's like we're going to lose the business or something? I heard my mother and father just VERBALLING VERY QUIETLY in their bedroom and I got so scared, because I don't know what's happening, and I don't know what I'm supposed to do help. Usually they tell me everything but the look on my father's face was like uhhhhhhhhhhhh and they were even talking about going back to Korea for a while. I tried to go to Padma and there was a road block on the 405 and they had people with their hands behind their heads, so I just turned off into a service station and sat there with the motor running and then I just started HITTING AND HITTING AND HITTING the steering wheel. WTF???????????


How can they not protect our business? How can they just let this Aziz's Army do what it wants? It's like they don't want us to feel safe anymore. I don't think you should hang out with this David guy, Eunice. He sounds like one of those dicks who's destroying my family. And I don't want to be with Gopher either because he's not one of us and he understands NOTHING and his parents have old school money and it's all just a JOKE to him. I told him about my dad's factory and he was like "good let the poor people take over." I think this is the time for us to forget who we are and to be a part of our families and everything else is just that weird noise you hear when people you don't know are verballing. It's true, everyone is a ghost around me, except when I'm on the apparat with you. This country is so stupid. Only spoiled white people could let something so good get so bad. I'm sorry you had a sucky dinner with your parents and I'm glad you're loving Lenny more than ever, but you should take into consideration what your parents say because they've been around for so long. I'm not saying don't date Lenny, just balance in your mind what you feel for him and what you'll eventually have to do. I love you, sweet


EUNY-TARD: Hi, Sally. Did you hear LNWls took over the Kang's plunger business? SALL YSTAR: No. That's terrible.

EUNY-TARD: That's all you have to say?

SALL YSTAR: What do you want me to say?

EUNI-TARD: Do you want to get burgers? You can have a little red meat if your promise to just do vegetables and yogurt for a week.

EUNY-TARD: Hello? Earth to Sally Park.

EUNY-TARD: You sound busy. You still haven't told me what you think of Lenny. SALL YSTAR: Everyone's concerned about you.

EUNY-TARD: They're CONCERNED? That's really nice.

SALLYSTAR: Mommy and daddy just don't want you to rush into anything.


EUNY-TARD: And you're their Media spokeswoman now? SALLYSTAR: We're not a perfect family but we're still a family right? EUNY-TARD: I don't know. You tell me.

SALLYSTAR: We have to get new carpeting for the living room and new runners for the stairs. Do you want to come to NJ and help us pick it out?

EUNY - T ARD: Can I bring Lenny?

SALL YSTAR: You can do whatever you want Eunice. EUNY-TARD: I was kidding.

SALLYSTAR: So you'll come?

EUNY-TARD: I'll come. But I'm not going to sit next to dad or say anything to him. Lenny uses the word truculent. Dad's like a truculent child, its best to ignore him.

SALL YSTAR: Cut him some slack. He's trying. He's not completely well inside and that means we have to forgive him.

EUNY-TARD: Whatevs.

SALLYSTAR: Seriously. You will feel so much better if you forgive him, Eunice. Then you can focus on what's happening on the rest of the planet. Maybe you can help me set up a food distribution committee for the tent cities we're doing with Columbia and NYU. Things are getting really bad at Tompkins Square.

EUNY-TARD: How do you know I'm not helping out already?


EUNY-TARD: Nothing. I'll forgive Dad when he's 70 years old and Uncle Joon has gambled all his money away and he's this raving homeless man who turns to me and Lenny for help. Then I'll be like, you treated me and Mommy and Sally like shit, but now here's some money so you don't starve.

SALL YSTAR: That's so horrible. I can't believe you would even think that. EUNY-TARD: Hey, I'm kidding. Sense of humor?

EUNY-TARD: Sally, are you still there? I don't know what's wrong with me today. I


really miss Myong-hee. Last time I was in LA I tried to braid her and she was squealing "No, Eunice emo!" like leave me alone, you're not the boss of my hair!!! She's such a cute little oinker. I bet next time we see her she'll be like four inches taller. I don't want her to grow up.

EUNY-TARD: Sally? Come on! Was it the thing I said about dad?

EUNY-TARD: Fine. My BOYFRIEND is almost home and we're going to make a branzino together.

EUNY-TARD: Sally, do you love me? SALL YSTAR: What?

EUNY-TARD: I'm serious. Do you really love me? I mean like a person. Not just an older sister you're supposed to look up to.

SALLYSTAR: I don't want to talk about this. Of course I love you. EUNY-TARD: Maybe I didn't do enough.

SALL YSTAR: What are you talking about? Would you please just SHUT UP ALREADY. I'm so sick of you. THE PAST, THE PAST, THE PAST!!!

SALLY STAR: Hello? Eunice.




Anti-inflammation: From the Diaries of Lenny Abramov

July 15

Dear Diary,

Noah told me there's a day during the summer where the sun hits the broad avenues at such an angle that you experience the sensation of the whole city being flooded by a melancholy 20th Century light, even the most prosaic, unloved buildings appearing bright and nuclear at the edge of your vision, and that when this happens you want to both cry for something lost and run out there and welcome the decline of the day. He made it sound like an urban rapture, his aging face taking on a careful glow as if he was borrowing some of the light of which he spoke. I thought he was emoting when he said it, but his apparat was at standby, he wasn't streaming: this was real enough. We were sitting in some crappy St. George cafe, oddly moved by the fact that there were still cafes out in the world, much less on Staten Island. "1' d love to see that," I said. "When does it happen exactly?"

"We missed it," Noah said. "It was late in June." "Next year then," I said.

And then like a perfect Media drama queen, Noah told me he expected to be dead by the next year. Something about the Restoration Authority, the Bipartisans, the price of biofuel, the decline of the tides - who can keep up anymore? That kind of ruined the effect of what he was saying about the light hitting the avenues just so. I wanted to tell him that he didn't have to strain for me, that I liked him exactly as he was: perfectly above average, angry but decent, just smart enough. I thought of Sammy the Elephant in the Bronx Zoo, his calmly depressive countenance, the way he approached extinction with both equanimity and unobtrusive despair. Maybe this was what Noah was jabbering


about when he followed the light across the city. The fading light is us, and we are, for a moment so brief it can't even register on our apparat screens, beautiful.

Speaking of the light, I had one luminous moment with Eunice this week. I caught her looking at my Wall Books with some curiosity, specifically at a washed-out old cover of a Milan Kundera paperback - a bowler hat floats over a Prague cityscape - her index fingers raised above the book as if ready to tap at the BUY ME NOW symbol on her apparat, her other fingers massaging the book's back, maybe even enjoying its thickness and unusual weight, its relative quiet and meekness. When she saw me approach she slid the book back on its shelf and retreated to the couch, smelling her fingers for book odor, her cheeks in full blush. But I knew she was curious, my reluctant sentence-monger, and I chalked up yet another victory - the second after what I thought was a very successful dinner with her parents.

Life with Euny has been okay. Exciting, sometimes upsetting. We argued daily.

She never backed down. A fighter to the very last. This is how a human being is forged after an unhappy early life. This is the independence of growing up, of standing up for yourself, even if against a phantom enemy.

Mostly we fought about social commitments. She'd be fine with her Elderbird friends who just moved back to New York. They seem like decent girls, effervescent but unsure of themselves, lusting after big-ticket items and some measure of identity, confusing one for the other, but basically in no great hurry to grow up. One girl who actually ate food scored only in the low 500s on her Fuckability, so the other girls would give her tips on how to lose weight. They'd reach over and pinch her all the time, coat her in creams until she glowed sadly on my living room couch, and weigh her as if she were a prized albacore hanging over a Tokyo wharf. Another girl was going for that new Naked Librarian look, very little covering her body except glasses as thick as my storm windows, which I thought was funny because even a fine institution like Elderbird had


recently closed its physical library, so what the hell was this girl even referencing? Then they'd get trashed on rose out on our (our!) balcony, those cute bloated, drunken faces of theirs, as they told these long, circular stories that were supposed to be funny but instead proved highly disturbing, narratives of a cheap, ephemeral world where everyone let everyone down as a matter of course and women sometimes got pissed on in front of others. I felt both jealous oftheir youth and scared for their future. In short, I felt paternal and aroused, which is not a good combination.

I had told Eunice, off-handedly and wearing my cutest platypus grin, that the next two weeks would prove busy on the social front. Joshie had been begging to meet her and expected us on Saturday at his house. Grace and Vishnu were having a party in Staten Island on the Monday after that to officially announce Grace's pregnancy. "I know you're not, like, the biggest socializer," I said.

But she had already turned away from me, the angry spires of her shoulder blades

staying my comforting hand.

"Your boss," she said, "wants to meet me?"

"He loves young people. He's turning into a teenager himself."

"That bitch Grace wants us over? Why? So she can laugh at me some more?"

"Are you kidding? Grace loves you!"

"Probably wants to be my big sister. No thanks, Len."

"She does care about you, Eunice. She wants to find you a job in Retail. She said her Princeton roommate might know of an internship at Padma." The three times we had briefly, tangentially, touched upon the subject of Eunice procuring employment and helping out with the escalating air-conditioning bill (8230 dollars unpegged, just for the month of June), she had mentioned working in Retail. All her Elderbird friends wanted the same. No big surprise there. Credit for boys, Retailfor girls.

"You don't understand, Leonard."

The phrase I hate the most in the world. I do understand. Not everything, but a lot.


And what I don't understand, I certainly want to learn more about. If Eunice ever asked me to I would take an entire week off from work, claim some family-related emergency (which is essentially what this is), and listen to her talk. I would put a box of tissues and some calming miso broth between us, take out my apparat, write it all down, pinpoint the hurt, make reasonable suggestions based on my own experiences, become completely versed in all things Parle "I'm broke," she said.


"I have nothing to wear. And my butt is fat."

"You weight eighty-three pounds. Everyone on Grand Street stares at your ass in wonder. You have three closets worth of shoes and dresses."

"Eighty-six. And I have nothing for the summer, Lenny. Are you even listening to


We fought some more. She went to the living room and started teening, legs crossed, the dead smile on her face, forceful sighs, my entreaties rising in pitch. Eventually we reached a kind of compromise. We would go to the United Nations Retail Corridor and buy new clothes for the both of us. I would contribute sixty percent of the cost of her outfits and she would cover the rest with her parent's credit. Like I said, a compromIse.

I'd never been to the UNRC. I've always been intimidated by Retail Corridors and this one was supposed to be the biggest one yet. When I went to the Corridor they carved out of Union Square two year ago, everyone looked better and way younger than I did. I love going to these little off-beat boutiques in Staten Island with Grace even if the clientele is older and grayer, folks who came of age in the grand Brooklyn neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Bushwick, and who have now been forced to retreat to Staten Island.

I started panicking the moment we got to the UN, the crush of humanity pouring out of the seven layers of underground parking; the floor samples emitting info that


flooded my appiidit with impulsive data; the Debt Bombers singling me out for my impressive credit rating; the giant ARA "America Celebrates It's [sic] Spenders" banners which now featured this girl Eunice actually knew from high school who finagled all these Credit lines and managed to buy six spring collections and a house.

The afterglow of the setting sun rushed through the glass roof of the UNRC, the steel trellises hundreds of feet above us gleaming like the ribs of a fearsome animal. I think this is where the Security Council used to meet, although I could be wrong. Since my sabbatical in Rome, it seems that America had learned her lesson on overhead, had shuttered her traditional malls. These thrifty retail corridors were supposed to mimic North African bazaars of yore, their only purpose a quick exchange of goods and services, minus the plangent cries of the sellers and the whiffs of tangerine sweat.

Eunice didn't need a map. She led and I followed past the merchandize crowding the endless floor space in haphazard fashion, one store running into another, rack after rack after rack, each approached, surveyed, considered, dismissed. Here were the famous nipple-less Saami bras that Eunice had shown me on AssLuxury and the fabled Padma corsets that the Polish porn star wore on AssDoctor. We stopped to look at some conservative JuicyPussy summer cocktail dresses. "I'm going to need two," Eunice said. "One for your boss's party and one for that bitch Grace."

"With my boss it's not really a party," I said. "We'll drink two glasses of wine and eat some carrots and blueberries."

Eunice ignored me and set about her task. She did some apparat work to get a sense of how things were selling around the world. Then she went over to a circle of black, identical-looking dresses and started clicking through them. Click, Click, Click, each hanger hitting the preceding one, making the sound of an abacus. She spent less than a full second on each dress, but each second seemed more meaningful than the hours she spent on AssLuxury viewing the same merchandise, each was an encounter with the real. Her face was steely, concentrated, the mouth slightly open. Here was the anxiety of


choice, the pain of living without history, the pain of some higher need. r felt humbled by this world, awed by its religiosity, the attempt to extract meaning from an artifact that contained mostly thread. If only beauty could explain the world away. If only a nippleless bra could make it all work.

"They either don't have a size zero," Eunice said, upon clicking through the last of the JuicyPussy summer dresses, "or there's this weird embroidery on the hem. They're trying to make themselves more classy than TotalSurrender which has the slit down the crotch. Let's go to Onionjeans."

"Aren't those the sheer jeans?" I said. I imagined Eunice with her labia and behind exposed to passerby as she crossed an especially busy Delancey Street, drivers of cars with Jersey plates rolling down their tinted windows in disbelief. I felt protective of her minimalist package, but there was a frisson of eroticism as well, not to mention social positioning. Others would see her little landing strip and think highly of me.

"No, jerk-face," Eunice said. "I wouldn't be caught dead in those jeans. They make normal dresses too."

"Oh," I said. The fantasy came to an end, and I found myself oddly happy with the conservative girl by my side. We wended our way through a half-kilometer of racks and hit upon the Onionjeans outlet. True enough, there were several racks of cocktail dresses, a bit revealing around the bosom, but certainly not see-through. Women, tired and aggrieved, were plowing through the brand's signature transparent jeans, hanging like rigid, empty skins in the center of the Retail space.

As Eunice started clicking through the dresses, a Retail person came over to talk to her. My apparat quickly zoomed in past the data outflows spilling out from the customers like polluted surf falling upon once-pristine shores and focused on McKay Watson. She was beautiful, this Retail girl. A tall, straight-necked creature whose eyes, clear and present, bespoke of native-born honesty, as if to say with a background like mine, who needs self-invention? I caressed McKay's data, even as I took in the


Onionjeans that clung to her slight, if bottom-heavy body - she wore the semi-translucent kind that partly obscured her nether regions and gave them an impressionistic quality, the kind you had to step back to admire. She had graduated from Tufts with a major in International Affairs and a minor in Retail Science. Her parents were retired professors in Charlottesville, VA, where she grew up (baby Images of an oblivious but affectionate McKay hugging a container of orange juice). She didn't have a boyfriend at present but enjoyed the "reverse cowgirl" position with the last one, an aspiring young Mediastud from Great Neck.

Eunice and McKay were verballing one another. They were discussing clothes in a way I couldn't fully appreciate. They were discussing the finer points of a particular dress not made of natural fibers. The waists, stretched, un-stretched. Composition - seven percent elastaine, two percent polyester, a size three, fifty percent rayon viscose.

"It's not treated with sodium hydroxide."

"I bought the one with the slit to the left and it stretched." "Coat the inside of the hem with petroleum jelly."

Eunice had put one hand on the shiny white arm of the Retail girl, a gesture of intimacy I had seen only extended to one of her Elderbird friends, the plump, matronly girl with the low Fuckability rankings. I heard some funny retro expressions like "jk," which means one is "just kidding" and "on the square," which means one is not. I heard the familiar "JBF" and "TIMATOV!" but also "TPR!" and "CFG!" "TMS!" (Temporary Motion Sickness?) "KOT!" and the more universal "Cute!" This is just how people talk, I thought to myself. Feel the wonder of the moment. See the woman that you love reaching out to the world around her.

She bought two cocktail dresses for 5240.00 yuan-pegged dollars, of which I covered three thousand. I could feel my debt load groaning a little, shedding a few points, immortality slipping a few notches into the improbable, but nothing like the 239,000 yuan punch I had recently taken in the balls from Howard Shu.


"Why didn't you ask that girl if she could get you a job at Onionjeans?" I asked Eunice when we had walked away from the Retail space.

"Are you kidding?" Eunice said. "Do you know what kind of grades you have to have to work UNRC. And she had the perfect body too. A nice, round butt, but a totally boyish top. That's so hot right now."

I hadn't thought of it that way. "Your grades or looks aren't any worse than hers," I said. "Anyway, at least you could have gotten her Teens address. She seems like a good friend to have."

"Thanks, Dad," Eunice said.

"I mean -"

"Okay, shhhh .. .It's your turn to shop. Breathable fabrics are going to do wonders for my kokiri."

We hit the glowing, mahogany-paneled insinuation that was the JuicyPussy4Men store. "You h<:lVe a weak chin," Eunice told me, "so all these shirts you wear with the huge, high collars just showcase your chin and accentuate how weak it is. We're going to get you some v-necks and some solid-colored tees. Striped cotton shirts a bit on the roomy side are going to make your flabby breasts less noticeable and, do yourself a favor, okay? Cashmere. You're worth it, Len."

She made me close my eyes and feel different fabrics. She dressed me in nontight JuicyPussy jeans and stuck a hand down my crotch to make sure my genitals had room to breathe. "It's about comfort," she said. "It's about feeling and acting like a thirtynine-year-old. Which is what you are last time I checked." I could feel her family inside her - rude, snide, unsupportive, yet getting the job done, acting appropriately, making sure there was room for my genitals, saving face. Beyond the mountains, according to the old Korean proverb Grace had once told me, were more mountains. We'd only just


When I went into a changing room one of the teenaged sales clerks said to me,


"I'll tell your daughter you're in there, sir," and instead of taking offense at being mistaken for Eunice's presumably adoptive father, I actually felt in awe of my girl, in awe of the fact that every day we were together she ignored the terrible aesthetic differences between us. This shopping was not just for me or for her. It was for us as a couple. It was for our future together.

I left JuicyPussy with the equivalent of ten thousand yuan worth of goods. My debt load was blinking frantically with the words RECALCULATION IN PROGRESS, which scared off the swarms of Debt Bombers looking to give me more money. When I walked by a Credit Pole on 42nd Street I registered a ranking of 151 0 (down ten points). I may have been poorer, but you couldn't confuse me for the over-aged faux-hispter that had entered the UNRC three hours ago. I was what passed for a man now.

There was more. I looked healthier. The breathable fibers took about four years off my biological age. At work, intakes asked if I was undergoing dechronification treatments myself. I took a physical and my statistics started flapping on The Boards, my ACTH and cortisol levels plummeting, my designation now "a carefree and inspiring older gent." Even Howard Shu came down to my desk and asked me to lunch. By this point Joshie was sending Shu down to Washington on his private jet every week. Rumor had it Shu was bound for the White House or even higher up than that. "Rubenstein," people hiccupped, covering their mouths. We were negotiating with the Bipartisans themselves! Over what, though, I still couldn't tell.

But I was no longer scared of Shu. At our lunch meeting, I stared him down as I played with the cuffs of my striped cotton shirt, which indeed gave cover to my incipient man-breasts. We sat in a busy canteen drinking Swiss water we had alkalinized ourselves at the table and eating a few pellets of something fishy.

"I'm sorry we got off on the wrong foot when you came back from Rome," Shu allowed, his full-bore eyes floating through the data fog of his apparat.


"No big," I said.

"I'm going to tell you something for your ears only." "Whatevs," I said. "Verbal me, friend."

Shu wiped his mouth as if I had just spit in it, but then resumed his collegial air.

"There's a good chance there's going to be a disturbance. A realignment. Bigger than with the last riots. Not sure when. It's what we're picking up from Wapachung Intelligence. Just playing out some war games."

"Safety first," I said, looking bored. "What's going on, Shu-ster?"

Shu descended into another apparat reverie. I did the same, pretending it was something serious and work-related, but really I was just global-tracking Eunice's location. She was, as always, at 575 Grand Street, Apt. E607, my home, deep into her own apparat, but subconsciously saturated by the presence of my books and mid-century design furniture. It pleased me, in a parochial way, the fact that I could always count on her being there. My little housewife! She tracked me moment-by-moment as well, getting suspicious if I veered off course from the daily set of my life, an impromptu meeting at a bar with Noah or Vishnu or a walk in the un-bloodied part of Central Park with Grace. The fact that she was suspicious of me, the fact that she cared - that pleased me too.

"Let's not talk about what might happen," Shu said. "I just wanted you to know that Post-Human Services values you." He swallowed too much water and coughed into his hand. He had had the same educational and work background as I did, but I noticed the calloused tips of his fingers, as if he volunteered at a knitting factory during the weekends. "And we want you to be safe."

"I'm touched," I said, and I meant it. A high school memory resurfaced, the day I

found out that a wispy freshman girl whom I fancied, complete with an attractive limp and a penchant for poetry, liked me as well.

Howard nodded. "We've updated your apparat. If you see any National Guard troops, point your apparat at them. If you see a red dot, that means they're Wapachung


Contingency personnel. You know," he tried to smile, "the good guys."

"I don't get it," I said. "What happened to the real National Guard?"

But Shu never answered me. "That girl you have on your apparat," he said,

pointing to an Image of Eunice I had floating all over my screen.

"Eunice Park. My gf."

"Joshie says to make sure you're with her in any emergency." "Duh," I said. But it was nice that Joshie remembered I was in love.

Shu picked up his glass of alkalinized water and made a jokey toast with it. Then he leaned back and drank it down in such forceful gulps that our veined marble table shook and the business people who shared the premises looked at this small brown almond of a man in their midst and tried to snicker at his display of strength. But they too were afraid of him.

After my Shu lunch, I walked from the Essex Street F stop to my far-flung riverside coop with a renewed sense of grandeur. Since Eunice had bought me my new duds I had started obsessively FACing every girl in sight: pretty, average, thin, skeletal, white, brown, black. It must have been my confidence because my PERSONALITY was hitting the 700s and my MALE HOTNESS skirted into the 600s - so that in an enclosed space like the M14 bus with its small herd of trendoids grazing amidst the dying old people, I could sometimes emerge in the middle-range of attractiveness, say the fifth cutest man out of nine or ten. I would like to describe this utterly new feeling to you, diary, but I fear it will come out in purely evangelical terms. It felt like being born again. It felt like Eunice had resurrected me on a bed of cotton and wool.

But getting Eunice to meet Joshie was not easy. On the night before we were to go over to his place she couldn't sleep. "I don't know, Len," she whispered. "I don't know, I don't know, I don't know."

She was wearing a long satin 20th -Century sleeping gown, a gift from her mother


that left everything to the imagination, instead of her usual TotalSurrenders.

"I feel like you're making me do this," she said. "I feel like I'm being pushed."

"I feel like things are moving too fast." "Maybe I should move back to Fort Lee." "Maybe you need to be with a real adult." "We both knew I was going to hurt you."

I gently pawed her back in the dark. I did my patented cornered-rat-tapping-hisfoot-in-distress noise against the mattress and made an ambiguous animal sound.

"Stop that," she said. "The zoo is closed."

I whispered what was required of me. Various pop-psych gems. Encouragements.

I assumed the debt and the blame. It wasn't her fault. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe I was just an extension of her father. The night was dedicated to her sighs and my whispers. We finally fell asleep just as the sun rose over the Vladeck housing projects, an exhausted American flag slapping itself in the summer wind. We awoke at five p.m. having nearly missed the car Joshie had sent to help ascend to the Upper West Side. We dressed in silence and when I tried to take her hand in the sparkling new Hyundai Town Car, possibly on its maiden voyage, she flinched and looked away. "You look beautiful," I said. "That dress."

She said nothing. "Please," I said. "It's important for Joshie to meet you. It's important for me. Just be yourself."

"What's that? Dumb. Boring."

We cut through Central Park. Armed choppers were making their weekend rounds above us, but the traffic below was light and easy, the humid breeze rocking the tops of the immortal trees. I thought of how we had kissed in the Sheep's Meadow on the day she moved in with me, how I had held her tiny person to me for a hundred slow beats and how, for that entire time, I had thought death beside the point. "Don't try so hard," she


had said to me then. "I know how wonderful you are."

Joshie's building was on a street between Amsterdam and Columbus - a twelvestory Upper West Side co-op, unremarkable save for the two National Guardsmen men who stood on either side of the entrance, shunting passer-by off the sidewalk with their rifles. An ARA sign at the mouth of the street urged us to deny its existence and imply consent. Joshie had told me these men were keeping tabs on him, but even I understood they served as protection. A red dot appeared above on my apparat along with the words "Wapachung Contingency." The good guys.

The tiny lobby was filled by an affably heavy Dominican man in a faded gray uniform and the difficult breath coming out of him. "Hello, Mr. Lenny," he said to me. I used to see him all the time when Joshie and I were more regular friends, when our work was not yet all-consuming and we would think nothing of sharing a bagel in the park or catching some exhausting Iranian flick at Lincoln Center.

"This is where the Jewish intelligentsia used to live a long, long time ago," I told Eunice in the elevator. "I think that's why Joshie likes it here. It's a kind of nostalgia

. "


"Who were they?" she said. "What?"

"Jewish intelligentsia."

"Oh, just Jews who thought a lot about the world and then wrote books about it.

Lionel Trilling and those guys."

"They started your boss's immortality business?" Eunice asked.

I could have almost kissed her cold, rouged lips. "In a sense," I said. "They came

from poor, hard families and they were realistic about dying."

"See, this is why I didn't want to come," Eunice said. "Because I don't know any

of this stuff."

The old-fashioned elevator doors opened symphonically. By Joshie's door, a


muscular young man in t-shirt and jeans was dragging out a heavy garbage bag with his back to me, the dull interior light of the Upper West Side glistening off his shaved head. A cousin, if! remembered correctly. Jerry or Larry from New Jersey. I stuck out my hand as he began to turn around. "Lenny Abramov," I said. "I think we met at your dad's Chanukah party in Mamaroneck."

"Rhesus monkey?" the man said. The familiar black pelt of his moustache twitched in greeting. This was no cousin from Matawan. I was looking at dechronification in action. I was looking at Joshie Goldmann himself, his body reverseengineered into a thick young mass of tendons and forward motion. "Jesus Christ," I said. "Someone's been hitting the Indians. No wonder I haven't seen you at the office all week."

But the rejuvenated Joshie was no longer noticing me. He was breathing both heavily and evenly. His mouth opened slowly. "Hi-ya," the mouth said.

"Hi," Eunice said. "Lenny," she started to say. "Lenny," Joshie echoed, absently. "Sorry. I'm - "


"Joshie. Come in. Please." He examined her as she passed through the door, preyed on the lightly-tanned shoulders beneath the black cocktail dress straps, then looked at me with numb understanding. Youth. A seemingly untrammeled flow of energy. Beauty without nanotechnology. If only he knew how unhappy she was.

We passed into the living room, which I knew to be as humble as the rest of the apartment. Art deco couches in blue velvet. Posters from his youth - science fiction films with big-haired women and deep-jawed men - framed conservatively in oak, as if to say they had withstood the test of time and emerged if not masterpieces, then at least potent artifacts. The names alone. Soylent Green. Logan's Run. Here were Joshie's beginnings. A dystopian upper-class childhood in several elite American suburbs. Total immersion in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. The twelve-year-old's first cognition of


mortality, for the true subject of science fiction is death not life. It will all end. The totality of it. The self-love. Not wanting to die. Wanting to live, but not sure why. Looking up at the nighttime sky, at the black eternity of outer space, amazed. Hating the parents. Wanting their love. Already an anxious sense of time passing, the staggered bathroom howls of grief for a deceased Pomeranian, young Joshie's stalwart and only best friend, felled by doggie cancer on a Chevy Chase lawn.

Eunice stood there, in the middle of the living room, blushing intensely, the blood coming in waves. I did something I hadn't quite expected of myself. I breached decorum, came over and kissed her on the ear. For some reason I wanted Joshie to understand just how much I loved her and how that love was not just predicated on her youth, probably the only thing he appreciated about her. The two people who formed my universe looked away from me, embarrassed. "I'm so glad," Joshie muttered. "I'm so glad to finally meet you. Jeez. Lenny talks so much about you."

"Lenny just talks a lot," Eunice successfully joked.

I put my hand around her shoulders and felt her breathe. Joshie straightened up and I could see the muscle tone, the deep-veined reality of what he was becoming, the little machines burrowing inside him, clearing up what had gone wrong, re-wiring, rededicating, resetting the odometer on every cell, making him shine with a child's precocious glow. Among the three of us in the room, I was the one who was proactively dying.

"Okay, let's get some of that yummy good wine." Joshie said. He laughed with uncharacteristic fakeness then ran off into the well-stocked galley kitchen.

"I've never seen him like this," I said to Eunice.

"He reminds me of you," Eunice said. "A big nerd." I smiled at that, pleased that she could conceive of our commonalities. The idea occurred to me that we could form a family, although I was unsure of what role I would play. Eunice picked a few hairs from my face, her face warm with attention, then glossed my lips with chap. She pulled down


on my short-sleeved shirt so that it aligned better with my light cashmere v-neck sweater. "Go like this with your anns," she said, shaking her own. "Now pull on the sleeves."

Joshie returned to hand Eunice a glass of wine; I got a mug's worth of purple aroma. "Hope you don't mind the mug, Lenny," he said. "My cleaning woman got stopped at the ARA checkpoint on the W.B."

"The what?" I said.

"Williamsburg Bridge," Eunice clarified. Both she and Joshie rolled their eyes and laughed at my slow ways with abbreviations "You have such a pretty apartment," Eunice said. "Those posters must be worth a billion. Everything's so old."

"Including the owner," Joshie said. "No," Eunice said. "You look great." "You look great too."

I pulled on the sleeves of my shirt an extra time. "Let me show you around," Joshie said. "Two-minute house tours my specialty."

We went into his cluttered "creative study." I noticed Eunice had finished most of her pinot and was already improvising a way to remove the purple from her lips with her finger and a translucent green jelly she squeezed out of a tube. "These are stills from my one-man show," Joshie said, as he pointed out a framed Image of himself dressed in prison stripes with a giant stuffed albatross hanging from his neck. Standing before me, he looked thirty years younger today than in the Image, which was at least ten years old. He had lost forty years. A half-life gone.

"The play was called 'Sins of the Mother,'" I said helpfully. "Very funny and very deep."

"Was it on Broadway?" Eunice asked.

Joshie laughed. "Yeah, right," he said. "Didn't make it past this sucky supper club in the Village. But I didn't give a damn about success. Creative thinking, working with your mind, that's my number one prescription for longevity. If you stop thinking, if you


stop wondering, you die. That simple." He looked down at his feet, perhaps realizing he sounded more like a salesman than a leader. Eunice made him nervous, I could tell. We had no shortage of attractive women at Post-Human Services, but their self-assuredness made them bleed into one personality. Anyway, Joshie had always said that he had no time for romance until immortality was "a done deal."

"Did you draw these yourself?" Eunice asked, pointing to a watercolor of an old, naked woman shattered into three by an unnamed force, her empty breasts flying in all directions, a dark pubic mound holding the thirds together.

"Very beautiful," I said. "Very Egon Schiele."

"This one's called 'Splinter Cell,'" Joshie said. "1 did about twenty variations of it and they all look exactly the same."

"She kind of resembles you," Eunice said. "I like the shading around her eyes." "Yes, well..." Joshie said, and made a shy croaking sound. I always felt embarrassed when looking at Joshie's paintings of his mother, as if! had walked into a bathroom and caught my own mother lifting her tired hindquarters off the toilet seat. "You paint yourself?"

Eunice coughed. The Great Discomfort Smile came on, the shame bringing her freckles into strong relief. "I took a class," she barely breathed out "At Elderbird. A drawing class. It was nothing. I sucked."

"I didn't know that," I said. "That you took a drawing class." "That's because you never listen to me, jerk-face," she whispered.

"I'd love to see something you've drawn," Joshie said. "I miss painting. It really calmed me down. Maybe we can get together one day and practice a little."

"Or you could take some classes at Parson's," I suggested to Eunice. The idea of the two of them - alive and deathless - creating something together, an Image, a "work of art," as they used to say, made me feel sorry for myself. If only I had had a proclivity to draw or paint. Why did I have to suffer that ancient Jewish affliction for words?


"Maybe we can both take some classes at Parson's," Joshie said to Eunice. "You know, together."

"But who has the time?" I ventured.

We returned to the living room, with Joshie and Eunice landing on one cozy, curvaceous sofa, while I hunched over an opposing leather ottoman. "Cheers," Joshie said, clinking his mug with Eunice's long-stemmed glass. They smiled at each other and then Eunice turned to me. I had to abandon the ottoman and walk over to them to complete the ritual. Then I had to sit back down again. Alone.

"Cheers," I said, nearly demolishing Joshie's mug. "To the people I love the


"To being fresh and young," Joshie said.

They started talking. Joshie asked her about her life and she replied in her usual

inconsequential manner - "Yeah," "I guess so," "Sort of," "Maybe," "I tried," "I'm not good." "I suck." But she was pleased to be engaged, as attentive as I had ever seen her, one open palm buffering a clump of hair spilling down her shoulder. She didn't know how to conduct a conversation with a man properly, without anger or flirtation, but she was trying, filtering, giving away as little as possible, but wanting to please. She would look at me worriedly, her eyes crinkling with the pain of having to think and respond, but the worry receded as Joshie kept pouring wine - we were all above the two-glasses-ofresveratrol maximum - and fed her a plate of blueberries and carrots. He volunteered to boil some pot in a kettle of green tea, something I hadn't seen him do in years, but Eunice politely told him she didn't smoke marijuana, that, perversely enough, it made her sad.

"I wouldn't mind some," I said, but the offer had clearly floated off the table. "Why do you call Lenny 'rhesus monkey?'" Eunice asked.

"He looks like one," Joshie said.

Eunice gave her apparat a spin and when the animal in question appeared she actually threw her head back and laughed the way I had only seen her laugh with her best


Elderbird friends, with honesty as well as mirth. "Totally," she said. "Those long arms and that, like, bunched-up middle. It's so hard to shop for him. I always have to teach him how to - " She couldn't describe it, but made some stretching motions with her arms.

"Dress," I concluded for her.

"He's a quick learner," Joshie said, looking at her, one arm reaching absently for a second bottle of wine sitting obediently by his legs. I presented my mug for a refill. We continued to drink heavily. I pushed myself down into the moist leather ottoman, marveling at how little Joshie cared about his surroundings. He hadn't bought a new piece of furniture in the years I've known him. All those years, alone, no children, no American overabundance, devoting himself to only one idea, the personification of which sat half a foot away from him, one leg tucked under her, a sign of her distress abating. One thing Joshie could always communicate was the fact that he wasn't going to hurt you. Even when he did.

They were talking youthfully: Ass Doctor, girl-threshing, Phoung "Heidi" Ho, the new Vietnamese porn star. They used words like "ass hookah" and teenaged abbreviations like TGV and ICE that brought to mind high-speed European trains. The wrinkle-free, wine-blushing Joshie, his body run through with new muscles and obedient nerve endings, leaned forward like a missile in mid-arc, his mind likely flooding with youthful instincts, the need to connect at any cost. I wondered, heretically, if he would ever miss being older, if his body would ever long for a history.

"I really want to draw but I'm no good," Eunice was saying.

"I bet you're good," Joshie said. "You have such as sense of - style. And

economy. I get that just by looking at you!"

"This one teacher in college said I was good but she was just this dyke." "OMFG, why don't you doodle something right now?"

"No freaking way."

"Totally. Do it. I'll get some paper." He pumped his fists into the sofa, propelled


himself into the air, and was running for his study.

"Wait," Eunice shouted after him. "Holy crap," she turned to me. "I'm too scared to draw, Len." But she was smiling. They were playing. We were drunk. She ran after Joshie and I heard a sharp youthful yell - I could barely tell which of them was responsible. I went over to the abandoned sofa and sat in Joshie's space, savoring the warmth my master had left behind. It was getting dark. Out the window I traced water towers and the unadorned backs of once-tall buildings leading up to the glass-and-cement scrim of development that lined both banks of the Hudson River, like two sets of dirty mirrors. My iippiiriit patiently provided information on various real estate valuations and compared them with HSBC-London's and Shanghai's. I pressed the wine bottle to my lips and let the resveratrol flood my system, hoping, praying for a few more years added to the countdown clock of my life. Joshie came back into the living room. "She wouldn't let me watch," he said.

"She's actually drawing?" I said. "By hand? Not on an iipparat?" "Hell's yeah, home-slice! Don't you know your own gf?"

"She's so modest around me," I said. "FYI, no one really says 'home-slice' anymore, Grizzly."

Joshie shrugged. "Youth is youth," he said. "Talk young, live young. How are your pH levels anyway?"

She came out, blushing but happy, clutching a sketchpad to her chest. "I can't," she said. "It's stupid. I'm going to tear it up!"

We raised the appropriate protests, outdoing each other with our thundering baritones, Joshie rapping his mug on the coffee table like some coarse fraternity brother. Shyly, but with a hint of flirtation probably borrowed from an old television series about women in Manhattan, Eunice Park handed Joshie her sketchpad.

She ,had drawn a monkey. A rhesus monkey, if I wasn't mistaken. A bulbous gray-haired chest, long heart-shaped ears, perfectly dark little paws holding on tenuously


to a tree branch, a whirl of gray hair on top, below an expression of playful intelligence and contentment. "How meticulous," I said. "How detailed. Look at those leaves. You're wonderful, Eunice. I'm so impressed."

"She's got you down, Len," Joshie said.

"Me?" I looked at the monkey's face once more. The red, cracked lips and rampant stubble. The overstated nose, shiny at the tip and bridge, the early wrinkles dashing up to the naked temples; the bushy eyebrows that could count as separate organisms. If you looked at it from a different angle, if you moved the sketchpad into half-shadow, the contentment I had previously discerned on the monkey's slightly fat face could pass for want. It was a picture of me. As a rhesus monkey. In love.

"Wow," Joshie said. "That is so Media."

Eunice said it was awful, that twelve-year-olds could do a better job, but I could tell she wasn't entirely convinced. We each hugged him farewell. He kissed her cheeks for a while then slapped me quickly on the shoulders. He offered us a digestif and some Upstate-sourced strawberries for the road. He offered to go down in the elevator with us and deal with the armed men outside. He stood in the doorway, clutching on to the doorpost, watching the last of us. During that final moment, the moment of letting go, I saw his face in profile, and noticed the confluence of purpled veins that made him look momentarily old again, that produced a frightening x-ray of what burbled up beneath that handsome new skin tissue and gleaming young eyes. That stupid male shoulder-slap wasn't enough. I wanted to reach out and kiss him and comfort him. If Joshie somehow failed at his life's work, which of us would be more heartbroken, the father or the son?

"See that wmn't so bad," I said in the Town Car as Eunice put her sweet, alcohol-reeking head on my shoulder. "We had fun, right? He's a nice man."

I heard her breathing temperately against my neck. "I love you, Lenny," she said.

"I love you so much. I wish I could describe it better. But I love you with all I've got. Let's get married." We kissed each other on the lips, mouth and ears as we passed


through seven ARAs checkpoints and the length of the FDR Drive. A military helicopter seemed to follow us home, it's single yellow beam stroking the whitecaps of the East River. We talked about going to City Hall. A civil ceremony. Maybe next week. Why not make it official? Why ever be apart? "You're the one I want, kokiri," she said. "You're the only one."


Old Man Spunkers: From the GlobalTeens Account of Eunice Park

July 20

GOLDMANN-FOREVER: Hi, Eunice. It's Joshie Goldmann. Whasss'uuuup? EUNY-TARD: Joshie?

GOLDMANN-FOREVER: You know, Lenny's boss. EUNY-TARD: Oh. Hi. How'd you get my info?

GOLDMANN-FOREVER: Just teened around for it. And what's with the Mr. Goldmann? That's my dad's name. Call me Joshie. Or Grizzly Bear. That's what Lenny calls me.


GOLDMANN-FOREVER: So I'm writing to remind you of our little date. EUNY-TARD: We had a date?

GOLDMANN-FOREVER: We were going to take an art class together. Duh! EUNY-TARD: We were? I'm sorry. I've been so busy this week. I should be applying for Retail jobs and stuff.

GOLDMANN-FOREVER: A lot of our clients are in Retail. What kind of job are you looking for? The guy from Ass something just came in. That's confidential, actually. EUNY-TARD: Oh, I couldn't impose.

GOLDMANN-FOREVER: Stop! Who's imposing? Hal I'm sure we can hook you up with some mad-ass job.

EUNY-TARD: Okay. Thank you.

GOLDMANN-FOREVER: So I got us into a summer drawing class at Parsons-Ewha. EUNY - T ARD: That's very nice of you, but the summer session's already started. GOLDMANN-FOREVER: They're making an exception. It's just the two of us. Although maybe you shouldn't tell that to Lenny. Ha ha.

EUNY-TARD: Thank you so much but I really can't afford it.


GOLDMANN-FOREVER: WTF? I got it covered.

EUNY-TARD: That's very kind of you, Mr. Goldman. But I think I need to concentrate on getting a job this week.

GOLDMANN-FOREVER: What did you call me?

EUNY-TARD: Sorry!!!! I meant Joshie.

GOLDMANN-FOREVER: Duhl Anyway, that rhesus monkey painting was so good I don't want your talent to go to waste, Eunice. You're super-gifted. This may sound weird, but you kind of remind me of me when I was younger. Except you're sweeter. I was a very angry young man until I realized I didn't have to die. Some of us are so special, Eunice, we don't have to succumb to the Fallacy of Merely Existing. Maybe you're special too, huh? Anyway, I can help you get a job, so you don't have to worry about that part. And I'll take a class with you. It'll be so great!!!! You can make more animal drawings of Lenny and then give it to him for his birthday in the fall. EUNY-TARD: I've been wondering what to get him actually.

GOLDMANN-FOREVER: Poifect! Ok, gotta jet, but get back to me soon about the classes. They're flying in some teacher from Paris just for us.


Dear Precious Pony,

HOL Y FUCKING SHIT!!! Ok, you've got to help me, jizz-monkey. Ok, are you sitting down? So we go over to Lenny's boss's place and it's this like adorable old-school apartment, like something out of Paris. So smartly decorated and not too typical Mediastud either, like he's put a lot of thought into it. They even had the street closed off for him. And his boss is SOOOO adorable. He runs this huge company that makes people look a lot younger. And he's in his seventies but he looks like he could be Lenny's younger, handsomer brother. Remember those porns we used to watch when we were in kindergarten? With the old man who molests teens on the beach. What was it called? Old


Man Spunkers or something? That's sort of what he looks like, with the shaved head, but cuter and younger.

Anyway, Lenny's boss says he has these micro-robots inside him that repair his dead cells, but that sound like bullshit. I bet he's just had a lot of plastic surgery and he also takes care of himself and works out three times a day (UNLIKE LENNY!). So when we hung out I drunk more wine than I've had since Rome, and I got a little tipsy, and this guy, Mr. Goldman, he kept looking at me with this kind of sweet, lustful face, like he wants to whore me out, but gently, like I'm his daughter and his sex toy at the same time. He's so goofy and dorky (he had a one-man show on a live stage and he drew all these funny paintings of an old woman with massive pubic hair - SICK!), I just wanted to jump on his lap or something. It kind of made me a little wet, how disarming he was and how smart and easygoing and just plain old FUN the way Lenny never really is anymore. I was starting to sweat a little, and I get SO self-conscious. It's like my freaking thighs are so fat they're rubbing against each other and making this wet kissing sound. MWAHl MW AHl TIMA TOVl l!! I need to lose weight NOW, no excuses. I am so through with proteins and carbs, although Mr. Goldman was talking a lot about peak proteins. Anyway, this week I'm just going to eat those lo-cal red bean icicle pops from the Korean mart and drink five cups of water for dinner.

And then I go home with Lenny and I make out with him and we do Magic Pussy time and all that, but all the time I'm thinking about Joshie Goldman. GAH! What is wrong with me. It's like Lenny's not old enough? I have a real "ha ra buh gee" complex! Ha hal I should ask Sally if I can intern at the geriatric ward of this hospital where she volunteers. And I guess I felt so guilty that I told Lenny I want to get married to him! Anyway, the next day I get a message from Joshie (that's what he wants me to call him) saying that WE SHOULD TAKE THIS ART CLASS TOGETHER at Parsons, where it's just me and him and some French art teacher. And that I should keep that secret from Lenny that it's just the two of us. Does that sound like a come-on do you think? What do


I do? He's my boyfriend's boss, Panda!

Oh, and I he said he could get me a job in Retail, like maybe at AssDoctor or something. He's a really powerful man. The thing is, though he's like 40 years older than Lenny he's still a bit like a child, but like a totally advanced child. He's fun loving and in control and I bet he can pay off my AlliedWaste bills - HA HA HA! Totally kidding. But on the other hand it's like I can communicate with him easier than I can with Lenny even though he doesn't wear an apparat for some reason and I can't get his profile. Jesus Christ, pussy pinyata. Please just tell me I'm a bad person and set me straight before I geezer agam.

So I guess the other major thing is that I saw my dad and it was weird, but at the same time it kind of healed my heart a little. He really has no patients anymore, so he asked Sally if he could help out in one of the LNWI camps in the parks and she sent him to Tompkins Square, and then Sally sort of "arranged" that we should meet there. She always has to play the role of the good daughter bringing the family together.

It was raining so hard all of a sudden, all the food on the dinner tables was completely washed away and someone had donated three hams, so people were crying. This old woman died last week of a heart attack and no ambulances will even come down there anymore and plus no one has Healthcare vouchers. So it was like Dad to the rescue. He spent a whole afternoon just giving free checkups in the tents. And at first David would like bark orders at him, saying this is a priority or that's a priority, but Dad would just look at him quietly, the same way he stares at me, only without saying anything. And David was like okaaaay. He brought all his medical stuff with him and it was so strange to just see him as this little old ha ra buh gee walking through the park, carrying this huge brown leather bag mommy got him for his 60th birthday, so harmless and innocent, and I was thinking THIS is the man who ruined my life?

He said there was serious malnutrition going on, so we went to the new H-Mart on 2nd Ave and we got all this stuff that wouldn't spoil like 1000 ddok and packets of kim


(the not so good kind) and those nori crackers by like the wagon load and we brought it all back to the park in a cab. It was weird because I used to be so ashamed of having all that food in my lunchbox in kindergarten and now we're feeding it to poor Americans. It was fun to go shopping with dad, he never yelled at me once. And you know how great he is around poor patients. He even played with all the children in the Activities tent the way he plays with Myong-hee when we're in CA, pretending he's a plane flying back to Seoul and she climbs on board and then she's strapped in, and then the meal is served (more ddokl) and then when comes to a landing he says "Thank you for flying Air Uncle. Make sure you have ALL personal belongings, okay?" He and David talked about scripture for like ten hours and I could tell David was impressed by my dad just spouting Romans and all that crap, about how helping LNWls is like "going unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints," and I liked that saying because it made David and all these poor people sound like saints, much better than the stuck-up Media jerks Lenny hangs around with. They had to get out all the spare tarps to protect the leftover Fourth of July corn from the rain and David was trying to get other people to help him, but my dad was this obstanate little bulldog and he refused any help and it was just him and David doing all the work, like two reliable strong men, even though I was worried Dad would catch a cold.

It's weird but I almost thought that maybe this could be my family, without mom or Sally. Maybe I should have been born a guy, huh? I know you don't like David and the whole Aziz's Army, but after they finished my dad told me he thought David was really smart and that it was a shame what this country was doing to men like him, sending him to Venezuela and then not giving him his bonus or Healthcare.

I have to say I think in some ways my dad has more in common with David then with Lenny. It's like because our dads grew up in Korea after the war they know what it's like to not have anything and how to survive off their smarts. Anyway, I was really worried Dad would bring up Lenny, and at one point I thought he was about to because we were all alone and he really changes when we're alone, the mask just drops off and


it's all about how I've failed him and mom, but all he said was, "How are you, Eunice?"

And I almost freaking started to cry, because he never asked me that in my life. I was just like, "Uh-huh, fine, uh-huh," and then it was like I couldn't breathe, and I couldn't tell if it was because I was happy or just scared because it seemed so final for him to ask me that, like he'd never see me again. I wondered what he would do if I just threw my arms around him. I get so scared whenever I have to leave my parent's house to go away for a while, because he always attacks me at the last minute, he always says something terrible in the car on the way to the airport, but I also wonder if secretly he just wants to have some kind of contact with me before I fly off and abandon him for someone like Lenny. That's how it felt when we were walking out of the park and I just blurted out, "Bye, Daddy, I love you," and I ran down to our apartment and thank god Lenny wasn't there because I bawled for three hours until he came home for dinner and I really didn't want to spend any time with him that night.

Anyway, I don't want to think about this too much, because it depresses me.

What's new with you, my little churro frito? Did your father get his plunger biz back? How was the vag rejuv? Fuck-tard Gopher? I miss you more and more each day we're apart. Oh, my mom STILL won't respond to my messages. It's like punishment for dating Lenny. Maybe I should bring my new seventy-year-old friend Joshie GOLDMAN to churchl Ha ha.

July 22


Dear Precious Panda,

I really can't talk right now. We can't find my dad. He had gone to the factory and that's the last GlobalTrace of him I had on my apparat. We thought he had snuck into the building even though it's surrounded by ARA troops and there are LNWls inside doing whatever they want. Mommy and I tried to get through the checkpoint but they wouldn't


let us and when my mom started hollering at one of the soldiers he punched her. We're home and I'm changing the compresses on her now, because her eye is swollen and she won't go to the hospital. We don't know what's happening anymore. Some Media guy Pervaiz Silverblatt of the Levy Report is streaming that there's a fire at the factory, but I've never heard of him. I'm sorry I'm a bad friend and can't help you with your problems right now. You have to be strong and do whatever you have to do for your family.

EUNI-TARD: Sally, did you hear what's happening in California? To the Kangs? SALL YST AR: Ask your boyfriend.


SALLYSTAR: Ask him about Wapachung Contingency. EUNI-TARD: I don't get it.

SALLYSTAR: Don't worry about it.

EUNI-TARD: Fuck you, Sally. Why do you have to be like that? What has Lenny ever done to you or to mom? And FYI Lenny doesn't work for Wapachung Whatever, he works for Post-Human Services. I met his boss and he's really nice. It's just a company that helps people look younger and live longer.

SALL YSTAR: Sounds pretty egotistical.

EUNI-TARD: Right, because only you and dad can be saints ministering unto Jerusalem. SALLYSTAR: Huh?

EUNI - TARD: Look it up, it's in your bible. You probably have it highlighted in twenty different colors. Guess what? I've been helping too, Sally. I've been at the park the last few weeks. And I've become friends with David who thinks you're just a spoiled little Barnard girl.

SALL YSTAR: How much longer are you going to go just being a little ball of anger, Eunice? One day your looks are going to fade and all these stupid old white men won't


be chasing after you and then what?

EUNI-TARD: Nice, Sally. Well at least your being honest for the first time in your life. SALLYSTAR: I'm sorry, Eunice.

SALLYSTAR: Eunice? I'm sorry.

EUNI-TARD: I have to go see David in the Park. I'm getting them Men's Biomultiples because they need to be strong in case there's an attack.

SALLYSTAR: Okay. I love you.



EUNI-TARD: I know you do.

July 24


Hi, Eunice. Good meeting your dad and talking to him. He reminds me of you, in the sense that you're both hardcore. I'm glad you said being together at Tompkins Square Nation has brought you closer. Seeing your dad made me miss mine. When we were growing up they were even tougher on us than they had to be and that means their kids became stronger than they had to be. OBSERVATION: You bitch and whine a lot, Eunice, that's your SOP, but you're still a very strong woman, scary strong sometimes. Use that strength for good. Move on.

It is COLD with the rain tonight. Everyone's asleep and the only sound is that little scabby girl Anna singing old R&B by the water fountain. I'm worried about Force Protection. My MPs say there's no ARA activity around the park perimeter, which doesn't feel right for a Friday. I'm going to send a unit downrange to the Laundromat on St. Mark's. Maybe the Bipartisans see the writing on the wall. Maybe we really are going to get our Venezuela Bonuses this time.

I'm lying here and this tiny light rain is coming through the tent and everything


smells like either jasmine or riverbank, I don't know why. I keep flashing back to college and the Orinoco, and I keep wishing to be young again. OBSERV A nON: You're very lucky overall, Eunice, you know that? It would be helpful if you were here with me right now so that we can talk in the quiet of the tent (I tried to verbal you, but you're probably asleep) and it would be just like in college all over again, only no one at Austin was as pretty as you. FYI Chauncey at Malnutrition says we need 20 cans of mosquito repellent and if we get a 100 more avocado and crabmeat units from H-mart that would really up our overall nutritional profile.

Hope you're staying dry and that your mind and body are in a good place. Don't give into High Net Worth thinking this week. Perform useful tasks that your dad would be proud of. But also: relax a little. Whatever happens, I got your back.



The Rupture: From the Diaries of Lenny Abramov

July 28

Dear Diary,

Grace and Vishnu had their pregnancy-announcing party on Staten Island. On the way to the Ferry terminal, Euny and I saw a demonstration, an old-school protest march down Delancey Street and toward the broken superstructure of the Williamsburg Bridge. It was sanctioned by the Restoration Authority, or so it seemed, the marchers freely chanting and waving misspelled signs demanding better housing: "Peep Ie power!" "Houssing is a human right." "Don't throw us off the peir." "Burn all Credit Pole!" "I am no a grasshopper, guevon!" "Don call me ant!" They were chanting in Spanish and Chinese, their accents jamming the ear, so many strong languages vying to push their way into our lackadaisical native one. There were small Fujianese men, big-backed Latina mothers, and, sticking out of the fray, gangly white Media people trying to stream about their own problems with condo down payments and imperious coop boards. "We are being overruled by real estatel" the more erudite marchers shouted. "No more threats of deportation! Boo! Space for LGBT youth is not for sale! In unity there is power! Take back our cityl No justicel No peacel" Their cacophony calmed me. Ifthere could still be marches like this, if people could still concern themselves with things like better housing for transgendered youth, then maybe we weren't finished as a nation just yet. I considered teening Nettie Fine the good news, but was preoccupied by the travails of just getting to Staten Island. The National Guard troops at the ferry terminal checkpoints weren't Wapachung Contingency according to my apparat, so we submitted to the usual half-hour "Deny and Imply" humiliations like everyone else.

Grace and Vishnu lived on one floor of a Shingle Style manse in the hipster St.


George neighborhood, the house's Doric columns declaring an overbearing supremacy, the turret providing comic relief, stained glass windows a pretty kind of kitsch, the rest of it sea-weathered and confident, a late 19th Century indigenous form built on an island at a tiny remove from what was then becoming the most important city in the most important country in the world.

They weren't rich, my Vishnu and Grace - they had bought the house for almost nothing two years ago, when the last crisis was hitting its peak - and the place was already a mess, even without the impending baby, a flurry of broken Shaker furniture that Vishnu would never find the time to fix and truly smelly books from another lifetime he would never read. Vishnu was out on the back porch grilling tofu and turning over vegetables. The porch deck elevated their apartment beyond the mundane, a full view of Downtown Manhattan rising through the mid-summer heat, the skyline looking tired, worn, in need of a bath. Vishnu and I did the Nee-gro slap and hug. I hovered around my friend, chatting him up with great care like I would a woman at a bar when I was young and single, while Eunice stood timidly in the distance, a glass of pinot something-or-other tight in her fist.


I wasn't sure what that meant. Vishnu gazed distractedly into the middle distance, while a root vegetable fell into the slats between the grill and issued a mild report.

The deck began to fill up. There was Noah, looking flushed and summer-weary but ready to emcee the announcement of Vishnu and Grace's little girl soon to come, fully indebted, into our strange new world, and Noah's girlfriend Amy Greenberg, the comic relief, streaming hard on her Muffintop Hour, filled with bursts of spasmodic laughter and not-so-subtle anger at the fact that Noah wasn't planning to get her pregnant, that all she had was her hard-driven career.

My friends. My dear ones. We chatted in the typically funny-sad way of people in


their very late thirties about the things that used to make us young as Amy passed around a real joint, seedless and moist, the kind that only Media people get. I tried to get Eunice involved, but she mostly stayed by the edge of the deck with her apparat, her stunning cocktail dress like something out of an old movie, the haughty princess no one can understand but one man.

Noah came over to Eunice and started charming her retro ("how ya doin', little lady?"), and I could see her mouth turning to form little syllables of understanding and encouragement, a terminal little blush spreading like a rash across the gloss of her neck, but she spoke too quietly for me to hear her over the spitting din of vegetables being grilled black, the communal laughter of old friends.

More people showed up: Grace's Jewish and Indian co-workers, Retail womenlawyers who effortlessly switched from friendly to stern, quiet to volatile; Vishnu's summer-pretty exes, who still kept in touch, because he was so swell a guy; and a bunch of people who went to NYU with us, mostly slick Credit dudes, one with a fashionable Mohawk and pearl earring who was trying to match Noah in pitch and importance.

I had a quick succession of vodka shots with Noah, who, turning off his apparat, confided in me that Grace's pregnancy was "totally making [him] nervous," that he didn't know what to do with himself next, and that his alcoholism, while charming to most, was starting to worry Amy Greenberg. "Do what feel right," I glibly told him, advice from an era when the first Boeing Dreamliner, still flying under the American flag, lifted off the soil and broke the leaden Seattle skies.

"But nothing feels right anymore," Noah set me straight, his eyes lazily scanning Eunice's tight form. I poured him a bigger shot, vodka overflowing and moistening my grill-blackened fingers. I was happy that at least he wasn't talking politics today, happy and a little surprised. We drank and let the passing joint add a tasty green humidity to our uncertain moods, danger pulsing behind my cornea, yet the field of vision bright and clear as far as my affections were concerned. If I could have my friends and my Eunice


forever and ever I would be fine.

A fork clanged against a champagne glass, the only non-plastic glass in the couple's possession. Noah was about to make his well-rehearsed "impromptu" speech. Vishnu and Grace stood in our midst, and my sympathies and love for them flowed in unabashed waves. How beautiful she looked in her featureless white peasant top and nontransparent jeans, that kind, awkward goose of a woman, and Vishnu, his dark features growing ever more Hebraic under the weight of upcoming responsibilities (truly our two races are uniquely primed for reproduction), his wardrobe more calm and collected, the youthful SUK DIK crap replaced by slacks of no vintage and a standard-issue "Rubenstein Must Die Slowly" t-shirt. Grace and Vishnu, my two adults.

Noah spoke and although I thought I was going to hate his words, the surface nature of them, that always-streaming quality that Media people are unable to correct for, I didn't. "I love this nee-gro," he said pointing to Vishnu, "and this here bride of nee-gro, and I think they are the only people who should be giving birth, the only peeps qualified to pop one out."

"Right on!" we call-and-responded.

"The only peeps sure of themselves enough so that come what may, the child will be loved and cared for and sheltered. Because they're good people. I know folks say that a lot: 'they're good peeps, yo,' but there's the kind of plastic good, the kind of easy 'good' any of us can generate, and then there's this other deep thing that is so hard for us to find anymore. Consistency. Day-to-day. Moving on. Taking stock. Never exploding. Channeling it all, that anger, that huge anger about what's happened to us as a people, channeling it into whatever-the-fuck. Keeping it away from the children, that's all I'm going to say."

Eunice was appraising Noah with warm eyes, unconsciously closing her fingers around her apparat and the pulsing AssLuxury in front of her. I thought Noah was finished speaking, but now he had to make some jokes to balance out the fact that we all


loved Grace and Vishnu yet were immensely scared for them and their two-month-in-theoven undertaking, and Amy had to laugh at the jokes and we all had to follow suit and laugh - which was fine.

The joint returned, passed by a slender, unfamiliar woman's hand, and I toked harshly from it. I settled into a memory of being maybe fourteen and passing by one of those then-newly built NYU dormitories on First or Second Avenue, those multi-colored blobs with some kind of chicken wing-type modernity pointedly hanging off the roof, and there were these smartly-dressed girls just being young out by the building's lobby and they smiled in tandem as I passed - not in jest, but because I was a normal-looking guy and it was a brilliant summer day, and we were all alive. I remember how happy I was (I decided to attend NYU on the spot), but how after I had walked half a block away I realized they were going to die and I was going to die and that the final result - non existence, erasure, none of this mattering in that "longest" of runs - would never appease me, never allow me to fully enjoy the happiness of the friends I suspected I would one day acquire, friends like these people in front of me, celebrating an upcoming birth, laughing and drinking, passing into a new generation with their connectivity and decency intact, even as each year brought closer the unthinkable, those waking hours that began at nine postmeridian and ended at three in the morning, those pulsing, mosquito-bit hours of dread. How far I had come from my parents, born in a country built on corpses, how far I had come from their endless anxiety - oh, the blind luck of it all! And yet, how little I had traveled away from them, the inability to grasp the present moment, to grab Grace by the shoulders and say "Your happiness is mine."



I saw Vishnu blink several times at the latest news and some of the Credit guys were whispering stuff to each other. Vishnu gripped his fiancee and cupped her still-small belly. We returned to the business of laughing at Noah's rendition of Vishnu's freshman


year at NYU - a hayseed from Upstate, he had been partially run over by a light truck and had to be hospitalized with tread marks on his chest.

Two lines of helicopters, like a broken V of geese, were massing over what I imagined to be the Arthur Kill on one side and the poetic curve of the Verrazano Bridge on another. We all looked up from the speech Grace was tearfully giving us - how we meant the world to her, how she wasn't worried about anything, as long as she had us-

"Holy fuck," two of the Credit guys said to each other, their Coronas shaky in their hands. Amy stilled her braying laughter.


"Let's just - " Vishnu said. "Never mind it. Let's just enjoy the day. People!

There's another joint going around this way!"

Our credit ratings and assets start to blink. RECALCULATION IN PROGRESS.

The gentleman with the Mohawk was already making his way for the exit.


We were all shouting at each other now. Shouting and grabbing on to each other, the excitement of what we always suspected would happen tinged with the reality that we were actually, finally, in the middle of the movie, unable to leave the Cineplex for the safety of our vehicles. All of us were looking into each other's eyes, our real eyes, sometimes blue and hazel but mostly brown and black, as if gauging our alliances: would we be able to survive together, or would it be better apart? Noah craned his neck upwards, ever upwards, as if to both get a grip on the situation and assert his primacy as a tall man. "We have to stick together," I was saying to Amy Greenberg, but she was in a different place, a place where calculations were made and the data and Images flowed like vino verde in July. I worked through my own data as I tried to find Eunice.



URGENT MESSAGE FROM AMERICAN RESTORA nON AUTHORITY MID-ATLANTIC COMMAND (6:04 pm, EST) Text follows - Insurgent attacks have been launched on the Borrower-Spender-Financial-Residential Complex in Lower Manhattan. Residents MUST report to primary residence for further instructions/relocation. By reading this message you are denying its existence and implying consent.

There were streams now. From the Media people living in the tenements around Tompkins Park, gingerly leaning their apparati out their windowsills. The rectangle of green was choked in smoke, even the sturdiest trees had been denuded by the scale of the artillery, their bare branches shuddering wordlessly in the helicopter wind. The LNWIs had been surrounded. Their leader, now listed by Media as David Lorring, two r's, one n, was badly wounded. Guardsmen were carrying him out of the park and toward an armored personnel carrier. I couldn't see his face beyond the meaty red lump peering out from behind a hasty bandage, but he was still wearing his own jungle-green Venezuelavintage uniform, one arm dangling off the stretcher at an inhuman angle, as if it had been torn away and reattached by psychotics. Through the smoke, I caught snatches of bodies too compromised to categorize, the outlines of men with guns at their side breaching further into the chaos, and everywhere the pop of exploding plastic water bottles. A sign bearing the surprising word "DIPHTHERIA" billowed right into the camera nozzle of someone's apparat.

Eunice swiftly came up to me. "I want to go to Manhattan!" she said. "We all want to go home," I said, "but look at what's happening."

"I have to go to Tompkins Park. I know someone there."


"Are you crazy? They're killing people there." "A friend of mine's in trouble."

"A lot of people are in trouble."

"Maybe my sister's there tool She helps out in the park. Help me get to the ferry." "Eunice! We're not going anywhere right now."

The dead smile came on with such full force that I thought a part of her cheekbone had cracked. "That's fine," she said.

Grace and Vishnu who were loading bags full of food for people who did not cook in their homes, predicting the siege -like situation to come with their forbearers' canniness. My apparat started to warble. I was being hit with a serious data package.

TO: Post-Human Services Shareholders and Executive Personnel FROM: Joshie Goldmann

SUBJECT: Political situation.

BODY OF MESSAGE FOLLOWS: We are in the process of a profound change, but we urge all members of the Post-Human family to remain both calm and vigilant. The expected collapse of the Rubenstein/ARAlBipartisan regime presents us with great possibilities. We at Staatling- Wapachung are reaching out to other nations' sovereign wealth funds looking for investment and alliance. We anticipate social changes that will benefit all shareholders and top-level personnel. In the initial stages of the transformation our primary concern if the safety of all shareholders and coworkers. For those of you outside New York please make haste to return to the city. Despite appearances of lawlessness and collapse in certain sections of Downtown and Midtown, your safety can be best guaranteed if you are in your own Triplexes, houses or apartments within Manhattan and Brownstown Brooklyn. Wapachung Contingency personnel have been instructed to protect you from rioting Low Net Worth Individuals and rogue National Guard elements. Please contact Edward Shin at Life Lovers Outreach if you have any questions or require immediate assistance. If regular apparat transmissions cease for any


reason, please look for Wapachung Contingency emergency scrolls and follow the directions given. An exciting time is about to begin for us and the creative economy. We are all fortunate, and, in an abstract sense, blessed. Onward!

Eunice had turned away from me and was crying intermittent but voluptuous tears that curled around her nose and beaded, gathering volume and strength. "Eunice," I said. "Sweetheart. It's going to be all right." I put one arm around her but she shook it off. The ground echoed nearby and I picked up an entirely surreal sound beyond the unkempt hedges of Grace and Vishnu's little palazzo - the sickening contralto of middle class people screaming.


The few of us who were from Manhattan and Brownstone Brooklyn were lining up before Vishnu and Grace trying to get a place to crash in their house; other Staten Islanders were offering fold-out cots and oven-warm spaces in their attics. The names and numbers of car service companies were bouncing around from apparat to apparat and people were trying to figure out if the Verrazano Bridge was still passable.

My own apparat squealed again and without warning Joshie's voice, as urgent as I've ever heard it, filled my head. "Where are you, Len?" he said. "GlobalTrace is showing Staten Island."

"St. George."

"Is Eunice with you?" "Yeah."

"You've got to make sure she's all right."

"She's all right. We're going to bed down in Staten Island, wait for the worst to



"Bed down? You didn't get the memo? You've got to get back to Manhattan." "I got it, but it doesn't make any sense. Aren't we safer here?"

"Lenny," the voice paused, allowing my name to ring in my lower consciousness, as if it were God calling me to him. "These memos don't come from nowhere. This is straight from Wapachung Contingency. Get off Staten Island now. Go home immediately. Take Eunice with you. Make sure she's safe."

I was still stoned. The windows to my soul were foggy and red. The transition from relative happiness to complete fear made no sense. Then I remember the source of that relative happiness. "My friends," I said. "Will they be okay if they stay on Staten Island?"

"It depends," Joshie said. "On what?"

"Their assets."

I did not know how to respond to this. I wanted to cry. "Your friends Vishnu and Grace are going to be fine where they are," Joshie said. How did he know the names of my friends? Had I told him? "Your main focus should be getting Eunice back to Manhattan."

"What about my friends Noah and Amy?"

There was a pause. "I've never heard of them," Joshie said.

It was time to move out. I kissed Vishnu both cheeks, nee-gro slapped the others, and accepted a small container of kim chi and seaweed wrap from Grace, who begged us to stay.

"Lenny!" she cried. Then she whispered into my ear, careful not to let Eunice overhear: "I love you, sweetie. Take care of Eunice. Both of you take care."

"Don't say it like that," I whispered back. "I'll see you again. I'll see you tomorrow."

I found Noah and Amy streaming next to each other, him shouting, her crying, the


air dense with panic and Media. I reached over and turned off Noah's iipparat. "You and Amy have to come with us to Manhattan."

"Are you crazy?" he said. "There's fighting Downtown. The Chinese are on their


"My boss says we've got to get to Manhattan. He said we're safer there. He heard it from Wapachung Contingency."

"Wapachung Contingency?" Noah shouted. "What are you Bipartisan now?" And for once I wanted to smack the indignity out of my friend.

"We need to keep safe, asshole," I said. "There's a major riot on. I'm trying to save your life."

"And what about Vishnu and Grace? If it's not safe here, why don't they come with us?"

"My boss told me they'd be okay here." "Why, because Vishnu's collaborating?"

I grabbed his arm in a way that I never had, his thick flesh twisting in my strong grip, but also in a way that connoted that for once I was in charge between us. "Look," I said. "I love you. You're my friend. We've got to do this for Eunice and Amy. We've got to make sure they don't get hurt."

He looked at me with the easy hatred of the righteous. I had always been unsure of his affection for Amy Greenberg and now I had no reason to doubt. He didn't love her. They were together for the obvious and timeless reason. It was slightly less painful than being alone.


We walked out on beautiful, leafy, Victorian St. Mark's Street, like two fine couples, Noah's arms around Amy, mine around Eunice. But the pretty coupledom and


the handsome drooping willows of the street formed a lie. A sickening Caucasian fear, mowed grass and temperate sex mixed with a surprising shot of third world perspiration, crowded the borough's most elegant street, the hipsterish white young humanity streaming back toward the Staten Island Ferry, toward Manhattan and then Brooklyn, while another crowd was trying to fight its way back onto Staten Island - neither side knowing if they had the right idea, to hear the Media chatter off our apparati the entire city seemed engulfed in violence either real or invented. We stalked past each other, the Media people streaming in motion, Amy giving off a precis of her wardrobe and her recent frustrations with Noah, Eunice watching her surroundings with one careful eye, while her formidable Fuckability rankings fluttered in the wind around us. A fresh armada of helicopters flew over us, just as a real storm was beginning to announce itself.

I got an emergency teen from Nettie Fine: "LENNY, ARE YOU SAFE? I'M SO WORREDl WHERE ARE YOU EXACTLY?" I wrote her that Noah and Eunice and I were on Staten Island trying to get back to Manhattan. "LET ME KNOW WHAT'S HAPPENING EVERY STEP OF THE WAY," she wrote, calming my fears. Everything was going to hell, but my American mama was still looking out for me.

I bore left onto Hamilton Street, the Staten Island Ferry terminal but a rapid descent to the bay. We were almost knocked down by a running Mediastud, all teeth and sunburn and opened guayabera shirt. "They're shooting at Media peoplel" he was projecting into his apparat and at anyone who would listen.

"Where?" we shouted.

"Here. In Manhattan. Brooklyn. The LNWIs are burning down the Credit Poles!

The Guard is firing back! The Venezuelans are sailing up the Potomac!"

Noah pulled us back, his arms around Eunice and me, his relative strength and the solidity of his dumb bulk squeezing us tight, making me hate him. "We've got to loop around!" he shouted. "There's no way we can make it down Hamilton. It's covered in Credit Poles. The Guard's going to start shooting." I saw Eunice looking at him with a


smile, congratulating his cheap decisiveness. Amy was streaming about her beloved mother - a sun-worn prototype of a contemporary Mediawhore - presently vacationing in Maine, how she missed her, how she wished she had gone up to see her this weekend, but Noah, Noah, had insisted they go to Grace and Vishnu's party, and now life really sucked, didn't it?

"Can you get me to Tompkins Park?" Eunice asked Noah.

He smiled. In the middle of the hysteria, he smiled. "Let's see what I can do." "Are you all insane?" I shouted. But Noah was already dragging Eunice and Amy

in the direction of Victory Boulevard. There were people running there, fewer than on Hamilton Street, but still at least a few hundred, scared and disoriented. I reached Eunice and tore her from Noah's grasp. My body, flabby but real and nearly double Eunice's weight, huddled fully around her and angled us against the flow, my arms bearing the brunt of the advancing horde, the parade of young, scared people, the frontal mass of their floral body washes, the denseness of their inability to survive. Ahead of us, two Credit Poles smoldered in the gray pre-storm heat, their LED counters knocked out, sparks flying from their electronic innards.

I pushed my way forward, innate Russianness, ugliness, Jewishness, beating through my system - emergency, emergency, emergency - while inuring my precious cargo against any harm, as her Padma cosmetics bag jammed into my ribs, misting my eyes with the pain of its sharp edges.

I was whispering to Eunice: "Sweetie, sweetie, it's going to be okay."

But there was no need. Eunice was okay. We linked hands. Noah led Amy, Amy led Eunice, and Eunice led me through the screaming crowd, which was turning in one direction and then another, rumors flashing around with iipparat speed. The sky changed as if to taunt us further, a strong wind lashing us from the east and then from the west.

Behind the old courthouse, a municipal area had become a National Guard staging ground, choppers taking off, armored personnel carriers, tanks, Browning guns in mid-


swing, a small area cordoned off into a holding pen where some older black people were interred.

We ran. It meant nothing. It all meant nothing. All the signs. The street names.

The landmarks. Even here, amidst the kingdom of my fear, all I could think about was Eunice not loving me, losing her respect for me, Noah the decisive leader in a time when she was supposed to need me. Staten Island Bank & Trust. Against Da' Grain Barber shop. Child Evangelism Fellowship. Staten Island Mental Health Society. The Verrazano Bridge. A&M Beauty Supplies. Planet Pleasure. Up and Growing Day Care. Feet, feet. Shards of data all around us, useless rankings, useless streams, useless communiques from a world that was no longer to a world that would never be. I smelled the garlic on Eunice's breath and on her body. I confused it with life. I felt the small heft of a thought that I could project at her back. The thought became a chanted mantra: "I love you, I love you, I love you."

"Tompkins Park," she said, her stubbornness clawing at me. "My sister." A surge of black humanity from the ungentrified neighborhood just beyond St. George merged with ours and I could feel the hipsterish component trying to separate themselves from the blacks, an American survival instinct that dated back to the arrival of the first slave ship. Distance from the condemned. Black, white, black, white. But it didn't matter either. We were finally one. We were all condemned. A new squall of rain blanketing our faces, a rolling wave of heat following the rain, Noah's weathered face staring into mine, cursing my slowness and indecision, Amy streaming just one word "Mommy" over and over again into the satellites above us, into the breezy reality of her mother's Maine, Eunice her face level and straight, her arms around me, all of her in my arms.

Noah and Amy ran into the ferry terminal through a portal of finely shredded glass. Eunice had grabbed my ann and was pulling me toward our goal. Two ferries had just disgorged their last screaming Manhattan passengers. Who was piloting these ferries? Why were they still crossing the bay? Was there safety in constant motion? Was there


any safe place left to dock?

"Lenny," she said. "I'm telling you right now that if you don't take me to Tompkins I'm just going to go with Noah. I've got to find my sister. I've got to try to help my friend. I know I can help him. You can go and be safe at our house. I'll come back, I promise."

One ferry, the John F. Kennedy, had begun to chortle in the water in preparation for departure and we headed for its open hold. Noah and Amy had already clambered on board and were huddled beneath a sign that read "ARA Transport - 'Aint' That America, Somethin' To See, Baby."

You can go and be safe at our house. I had to say something. I had to stop her, or she would be shot just like the LNWI protesters. Her Credit was bad enough. "Eunice!" I shouted. "Stop itl Stop running away from mel We have to stick together right now. We have to go home."

But she shook off my arm and was running toward the Kennedy, just as the ramp of the ferry had started lifting. I grabbed her by one tiny shoulder, and, with the intense fear of dislocating it, of hearing the crunch that meant I had hurt her, pulled her toward a second waiting boat, its bridge bearing the legend 'Guy V. Molinari.'

A black chopper circled overhead its armed golden beak pointing in our direction and then at the island bristling with skyscrapers in the immediate distance. "Nol" Eunice shouted, as the Kennedy pulled away, my friends, her new hero Noah, aboard.

"It's okay," I said. "We'll meet them on the other side. Come on! Let's go!" We clambered onto the Molinari, elbowing our way through the young people and the families, so many families, full of new tears and drying tears and makeshift embraces.

LENNY, Nettie Fine teened me, WHERE ARE YOU NOW? Despite all the confusion, I quickly teened her that we were on a ferry to Manhattan and safe for the moment. YOUR FRIEND NOAH SAFE WITH YOU? she wanted to know, sweet, solicitous Nettie Fine, concerned even about people she had never met. She was probably


GlobalTracing us in real time. I wrote her he was on a different ferry but as safe as we were. WHICH FERRY? WHAT'S THE NAME? LOOK AT THE BRIDGE OF THE BOA T AND IT WILL SAY. I quickly re-read the message. "Look at the bridge of the boat." How did Nettie know about all things nautical?

I told her we were on the Guy Molinari and Noah was on the John F. Kennedy, just as stray gunfire opened up behind us, thundering up and down Hamilton Street, the resulting screams sneaking into my earlobes and momentarily turning them off. Deafness. Complete silence. Eunice's mouth twisted into cruel words I couldn't understand. The Guy V. Molinari's oblong snout cut into the warm summer water and we displaced ourselves furiously in the direction of Manhattan, and now more than ever I hated the false spire of the "Freedom" Tower, hated it for every single reason I could think of but mostly for its promise of sovereignty and brute strength, and I wanted to cut my ties with my country and my scowling, angry girlfriend and everything else that bound me to this world. I longed for the 740 square feet that belonged to me by law and I rejoiced in the humming of the engines as we sailed toward my concept of home.

A single raven appeared above Noah and Amy's ferry. It lowered its golden beak and its golden beak turned orange. Two missiles departed in rapid succession. One explosion, then two, the helicopter casually turned and flew back in the direction of Manhattan.

A moment of non-screaming, of complete apparat silence, overtook the Guy V.

Molinari, older people holding tight to their children, the young people lost in the pain of suddenly understanding their own extinction, tears cold and stinging in the sea breeze. And then, as the flames bloomed across the ferry's upper decks, as the John F. Kennedy reared up, split into two, disintegrated into the warm waters, as the first part of our lives, the false part, came to an end, the questions we had forgotten to ask for so many years was finally shouted by one husky voice, stage left: "But why? "


Security Situation in Progress: From the Diaries of Lenny Abramov

August 7

Dear Diary,

The otter came for me in a dream. Not the cartoon otter that interrogated me in Rome, not the graffiti otter I saw on Grand Street, but a true-to-life otter, a high definition mammal, whiskers, fur, the dampness of the river. He pressed his wet plush black nose into my cheek, into my ear, kissing me with it, blessing my hungry face with his hot familiar and familial salmon breath, his little muddy paws destroying the clean white dress shirt I had put on for Eunice, because in my dreams I wanted her to love me again, because I wanted her back. And then he spoke to me in Noah's voice, in that edgy, improper, but basically humane voice, the voice of a thwarted scholar. "You know Americans get lonely abroad," he said, pausing to gauge the look on my face. "Happens all the time! That's why I never leave the brook where I was born." Staring me up and down to see if I found him entertaining. "Did you meet any nice foreign people while you were abroad." Not a question, but a statement. Noah had no time for questions. "I'm still waiting for that name, Leonard or Lenny." I felt my dream mouth move to betray Fabrizia yet again, but this time I couldn't pry it open. The Noah-otter smiled as ifhe knew exactly what kind of man I was and wiped his whiskers with a human paw. "You said 'DeSalva.'"

Noah. Three days after the rupture. Instead of mourning, instead of grief, shallow memories of us sharing a joint on the gravel mounds of Washington Square, our early friendship as tenuous and goofy as a young love affair. Politics on our tongues, girls on our minds, just two guys from the suburbs, freshmen at NYU, Noah's already working on one of the last novels that will ever see print, I'm working on being the friend of someone


like Noah. Are these memories even real? This is my life now. Dreams, nothing but dreams.

I've been sleeping on the couch. Eunice and I have barely spoken since I dragged her home and away from her goddamn Tompkins Park, from whatever or whomever she thought she could save. Her mysterious male friend? Her sister? What the hell would Sally be doing in the middle of a battlefield?

"I don't think this is going to work," I had told Eunice of our relationship after she had sulked in the bedroom for the better part of that blood-soaked day. "If we can't take care of each other now, when the world is going to shit, how are we ever going to make it? Eunice! Are you even listening to what I'm saying? I've lost one of my best friends. Don't you want to, like, comfort me?" No response, dead smile, retreat to the bedroom. E basta.

The booms, big and small, faraway and close, the pounding in my head, tracer rounds against the overcast moon, tracer rounds lighting up the secret, hidden parts of the city, an entire building of crying babies, and even scarier, the temporary absence of those wails. Relentless. Relentless. Relentless. You can see the magenta flashes even against the fully closed curtains, you can hear them on your skin. At night, the sound of metallic scraping coming off the river, like two barges slowly crashing against each other. When I open a window the strange bloom of flowers and burnt leaves hits my nose - a sweet, dense rot, like the countryside after a storm. Oddly enough, no car alarms. I listen for the comfort-food sounds of ambulances presumably rushing to keep people alive - every few minutes the first day after the Rupture, then every few hours, then nothing.

My apparat isn't connecting. I can't connect. No one's apparati are working anymore. "It's an NNEMP," all the thirtysomething Media wizards hanging out in the lobby of our building are saying with finality. A Non-Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse. The Venezuelans must have detonated it high above the city. Or the Chinese. Like anyone


knows. Like there's any difference between the quality of "news" since the Media's gone out.

Venezuelans detonating something other than an arepa. Whatever, as Eunice would say, if she still spoke to me.

I point my apparat out the half-opened window trying to catch a signal. I can't reach my parents. I can't connect to Westbury. I can't connect to Vishnu. I can't connect to Grace. And nothing from Nettie Fine. Complete radio silence since Noah's ferry exploded. All I have is the Wapachung Contingency emergency scroll. SECURITY SITUATION IN PROGRESS. REMAIN IN DOMICILE. WATER: AVAILABLE. ELECTRICITY: SPORADIC. KEEP AppARAT FULLY CHARGED IF POSSIBLE. AWAIT INSTRUCTIONS.

In the next room, she's crying. I'm so scared.

I have no one.

Eunice, Eunice, Eunice. Why must you break my heart, again and again?

Five days after the Rupture, instructions.



I put on a shirt and pants, feeling both scared and celebratory. The air conditioner had gone out and I had been living in my underwear, which made the pants feel like armor and the shirt like a shroud. Eunice was sitting by the kitchen table staring absently at her non-functional apparat. I have never smelled unwashed hair off her, but there it was, as strong as anything in the half-dead refrigerator. And that softened me for some reason, made me want to forgive her, to find her again, because whatever happened between us had nothing to do with me. "I have to go to work," I said, kissing her on the


forehead, not afraid to inhale what she had become.

She looked up at me for the first time in a hundred hours, eyes crusted over. "To see Joshie?" she said.

"Yes," I said. She nodded. I stood there like a Japanese salary man in my overwarm pants and stifling shirt, waiting for more. But it wouldn't come. "I still love you," I said. No response, but no dead smile either. "I think we both really tried to make this work. But we're just too different. Don't you think?" And then before she could summon an emotion and deny it in the same breath, I left.

Outside, the streets were near empty. All the cabs had fled to wherever cabs come from, and that absence of moving yellow made Manhattan feel as still and silent as Kabul during Friday prayers. The Credit Poles were burned up and down Grand Street, and they looked like prehistoric trees after the glaciers retreated, their colored lights sagging down in a row of inverted parabolas, the racist Credit signs atop them torn down and ripped apart, coating the windshields of cars like old washrags. An old Econoline van with a bumper sticker that read, "My daughter is a U.S. Marine in Venezuela," had also been torched for some reason - it lay on its back in the middle of the street, imitating a dead water bug. The A-OK Pizza Shack had boarded up its windows, along with the local Arab bodega, the words "WE ACCEPT ONLY YUAN SORRY BUT WE ALSO HALF TO EAT" stenciled along each bit of cardboard. But, otherwise, the neighborhood looked remarkably intact, the looting minimal. The deep hush of the morning after a failed thirdworld coup seeped up from the streets and coated the silent towers. I was proud of New York, now more than ever, for it had survived something another city would have not: its own rage.

The F train entrance was stuffed with garbage and paper, the subways clearly out.

I walked up Grand, a lone man feeling the density of August along with the strange hunger of being alive, wondering what would come next. For one thing, I needed real money, not dollars.


Outside my Chinatown HSBC branch, a dragon's tail of poor middle-class Chinese folk waited to hear the verdict of their life's savings. I wondered if these ruined older men and women, the tai chi practitioners of Seward Park with their three-yuan trainers and mottled bald spots, could find a way to repatriate to the now-wealthier land of their birth. Would they even be welcomed back? Would Eunice's parents be if they decided to go back to Korea?

I stood in line for an hour, listening to a Caribbean man dressed in head-to-toe

denim, his cracked skin glistening with patchouli, sing to us his take on the world. "All these Wapachung people, all these Staatlin people, they takin the money and runnin. They messin up the economy, they messin up our pockets. This is extortion. This is mafia doin. Why they shoot that ferry down? Who control who, that's what I askin you? And you know we never fine out the answer, because we little people."

I wanted to give the man an answer he could live with, but my throat remained blank, even as my mind was running. Not now, not now. Save the questions for Joshie.

My bank account was still big enough to warrant a special teller, an old Greek woman imported from a ransacked Astoria branch, who laid it all out for me. Everything I owned that had been yuan-pegged was relatively intact, but my AmericanMorning portfolio - LandOLakes, AlliedWasteCVS and the former conglomeration of cement, steel and services that had once formed an advanced economy - no longer existed. Four hundred thousand yuan, two years of self-denial and bad tipping at restaurants, all gone. Together with the Eunice-related expenditures of the past month, I was down to 1,324,000 yuan. From the standpoint of immortality I was already on the mortuary slab. From the standpoint of survival, the new gold standard for all Americans, I was doing just fine. I took out two thousand yuan, Chairman Mao's solid face and remarkable hairline staring back at me from the hundred-note currency, and hid the bills in my sock "You're the richest man in Chinatown," the teller snorted. "Go home to your family."

My family. How were they surviving? What had happened on Long Island?


Would I ever hear the warble of their anxious bird song again? On a street corner I saw a man flagging down a car, then bargaining over the price of a ride. My father had told me this is how he used to get around Moscow when he was young, once even hailing down a police car, its captain looking to make a ruble. I stuck out my hand and a Hyundai Persimmon decked out in all things Colombian pulled up to me. I negotiated a twenty yuan to the Upper East Side and for the next few minutes the city slid past me, demure and empty against the outrageously joyous salsa that colored the inside of the Hyundai. My driver was something of an entrepreneur and on the way over sold me a hypothetical bag of rice that he would be delivered to my apartment by his cousin Hector. "I used to be scared of things before," he said, pulling down his sunglasses to show me his sleepless eyes, their brown orbs swimming in the colors of the first and last bars of the Colombian flag, "but now I see what our government is. Nothing inside! Like wood. You break it open, nothing. So now I'm going to live my life. And I'm going to make some money. Real money. Chinese money." I tried to be his friend and economic confidant for the duration of the ride, saying "Mhh-mm, mhh-mm" in the usual noncommittal tone I use with people I have nothing in common with, but when we got to my destination, he hit the breaks. "Salte, hijueputa!" he shouted. "Out! Out! Out!" I clambered out of the car, which squealed immediately in the opposite direction, the fare left uncollected.

The street was full of National Guard.

I had not seen any military on the streets since I left my apartment, but the PostHuman Services synagogue was entirely surrounded by armored personnel carriers and Guardsmen, whom my apparat cheerfully identified as Wapachung Contingency. (In fact, upon closer inspection the National Guard flags and insignia were almost completely scraped off their vehicles and uniforms; now these men were pure Wapachung.) They were protecting the doors of the building from a riotous horde of young people, apparently our just-fired employees, our beautiful Daltons, Logans and Heaths, our Avas, Aidens and Jaidens who had tormented me in the Eternity Lounge and were now massed


against Joshie's synagogue, the very source of their identity, their ego, their dreams. My nemesis Darryl, the SUK DIK guy, was jumping around like a locust on fire, trying to get my attention. "Lenny!" he shouted to me, as I walked up to the Guardsmen at the door, had my apparat scanned, and was curtly nodded admission. "Tell Joshie this isn't fair! Tell Joshie I'll work for half salary. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings! I was going to stand up for you at the Miso Pig-out in November. Come on, Lenny!"

I glanced at them from the top step of the synagogue's entrance. How perfect they looked. How absolutely striking and up-to-the-minute and young. Even in the middle of calamity, their neuro-enhanced minds were working with alacrity, trying to solve the puzzle, trying to get back in. They had been prepared from an evolutionary perspective to lead exalted lives and now civilization was folding up around them. Of all the rotten luck!

And then I was inside, the main sanctuary jammed by further Guardsmen in full battle regalia. The Boards were ticking madly as the bulk of our staff were getting their TRAIN CANCELLED. The sound of flaps turning on five boards at once made it sound as if gangs of pigeons had flown into our headquarters to engage in winged combat. I stood before one of the stained glass window depicting the tribe of Judah, represented here by a lion and crown, and for the first time considered the fact that to several

thousand people this had once been a temple.

A small remnant of our staff still haunted the offices, but their conversations were funereal and dense. No mention of pH levels or "SmartBlood" or "beta treatments." The word "triglyceride" did not echo in the bathroom where we Post-Human Services men took our lengthy organic shits, straining to be free of whatever greenery tormented us. On the way up to Joshie's I stopped by Bettie Nardi's desk. Empty. Gone. I reached instinctively for my apparat to shoot her a message, but then realized all outside transmissions had ceased. Apropos of nothing, I felt scared for my parents again.

Two National Guardsmen stood outside Joshie's office. The emergency feed of my apparat must have alerted them to my importance, because they stepped aside and


opened the door for me. There he was. Joshie. Budnik. Papi-chulo. Under siege in his minimalist office as the young voices outside brayed for his SmartBlood. I made out the uncreative and juvenile, "Hey, hey / ho, ho / Joshie Goldfuck's gotta go," and the much more hurtful "Our jobs are gone / our dream's been sold / but one day, jerk / you will get old." Joshie was wearing a gold yuan symbol around his neck, trying to look young, but his posture looked embattled, the skin of his earlobes sagged in a peculiar way, and a Nile delta of purple veins ran down the left side of his nose. When we hugged, the slight tremor of his hands beat against my back. "How's Eunice?" he said immediately.

"She's upset," I said. "She thinks her sister may have been in Tompkins Park for some reason. She can't get in touch with her family in Jersey. There's a checkpoint at the George Washington. They're not letting anyone pass. And she's angry with me. I mean, we're actually not speaking to each other."

"Good, good," Joshie mumbled, staring out the window. "What about you? How are you taking all this?"

"Minor setback," he said.

"Minor setback? It's the fall of the Roman Empire out there."

"Don't be dramatic, chipmunk," Joshie said. "I'm going to payoff these young bucks with preferred stock and when we're back on our feet I'll rehire them all."

As he spoke, his energy returned, his earlobes actually tightened up and moved into position. "Hey, listen, Rhesus!" he said. "I bet this is going to be good for us in the long run. This is a controlled demise for the country, a planned bankruptcy. Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate everything but real estate. Rubenstein's just a figurehead at this point. The Congress is just for show. 'Look, we still have a Congress!' Now more responsible parties are going to step in. All that stuff about Venezuelan and Chinese warships is all bunk. Nobody's going to invade. But what will happen, and I got this from reliable sources, is that the International Monetary Fund will skedaddle from D.C., possibly to Singapore or Beijing and then they're going to make an IMF recovery plan


for America, divide the country into concessions and hand them over to the sovereign wealth funds. Norway, China, Saudi Arabia, all that jazz."

"No more America?" I asked, not really caring about the answer. I just wanted to

be safe.

"Fuck that. A better America. The Norsemen, the Chinese, they're going to want

returns on their investment. They're going to want to clear out our trophy cities of all the riff-raffwith no Credit and make them real lifestyle hubs. And who's going to profit from that? Staatling-Wapachung, that's who. Property, security, and then us. Immortality. The Rutpure's created a whole new demand for not dying. I can see StatoilHydro, the Norwegians, getting together with Staatling. Maybe a merger! Yeah, that's the way to do it. The Norwegians have euros and renminbi to burn."

"What do you mean get rid of all the riff-raffwith no Credit?"

"Relocate them." He took an excited sip of green tea. "This town's not for everyone. We have to be competitive. That means doing more with less. Balancing our ledgers."

"A black man at my bank said it's all Staatling- Wapachung's fault," I said, trying

to tap into the liberal hierarchy of "a black man said."

"What's our fault?"

"I don't know. We bombed the ferry. Three hundred dead. My friend Noah.

Remember what you told me right before the Rupture. That Vishnu and Grace were going to be okay. But you said you didn't know who Noah was."

"What are you saying?" Joshie leaned in, elbows on his desk. "Are you accusing

me of something?"

I kept quiet, played the role of the hurt son.

"Look, I'm sorry that your friend is dead," Joshie went on. "All these deaths were

tragic. The ferry, the parks. Obvi. But at the same time, who were all these Media people, what did they bring to the table?"


I coughed into my hand, a painful chill across my body, as if an iceberg had stabbed me in the anus.

I had never told Joshie that Noah was Media.

"Spreading useless rumors. Secure Screening Facilities Upstate. Yeah, right.

Rubenstein's government couldn't organize a clambake on a mussel shoal. Lenny, you know the score. You're not dumb. We're working on something important here. We've put so much into this place. You and 1. And look at it now. It's a real game-changer. Whoever's in charge tomorrow, Norwegians, Chinese, they want what we got. This isn't some stupid apparat app. This is eternity. This is the heart of the creative economy."

"Fuck the creative economy," I said, without thinking. "There's no food


One instant. His hmd. My cheek. The parameters of the world moving sixty

degrees to the left and then buzzing into stillness. I felt my own hand rising to my face

without knowing I had moved it.

He had slapped me.

I suppose the memory of the first paternal slap surfaced somewhere in the back

pocket of my soul, Papa Abramov's hand parting the air before it, the wide boxer stance of his feet as if he were going after a two-hundred-pound bruiser and not a nine-year-old kid, but for some reason all I could think about was that I would turn forty in November. In three months I would be a forty-year-old man who had just been slapped by his friend, his boss, his secondary father.

And then I was upon him. Across the desk, its sharp ridges slicing at my stomach,

the scruff of his silky black t-shirt in both of my hands, his face, his humid, scared face thrust into mine, the gentle brownness of his eyes, the expressiveness, that funny Jewish face that could turn sad on a dime, everything we had done together, all those battle plans

hatched over trays of safflower-oil- fried vegan samosas.

One hand let go of his t-shirt, a fist was cocked. I either did this or didn't. I either


chose this final path or I put my fist down. But what else did I have other than Joshie? Could he still pull this together after everything that had happened? Didn't the Renaissance follow the fall or Rome?

Could I really punch this man?

I had waited too long. Joshie was gently removing my remaining hand from his tshirt. "I'm sorry," he said. "I'm so sorry. Oh my God. I can't believe I did that. It's the stress. I'm stressed. My cortisol levels. Jesus. Trying to put on a brave face. But of course I'm scared too."

I backed off. Moved to the edge of the room like a punished child, felt the alpha

rays of Joshie's fiberglass Buddha stroking my being. "Okay, okay," Joshie was saying. "Go home for the day. Give my love to Eunice. Tell Joe Schechter outside I can take him back at half pay, but Darryl is finished. Come back tomorrow. We're got so much work ahead. I need you too, you know. Don't look at me like that. Of course, I need you."

I stopped by the A-OK Pizza Shack, and cleared out the few things they had left, three precious pizzas and calzones warm to the touch, all for sixty yuan. As I stepped outside, the light hit me, the Noah light, the light that floods the city and leaves nothing but itself, the urban rapture. I closed my eyes thinking that when I opened them the last week would simply fall away. Instead, what I saw was that abominable creature. That fucking otter right in the middle of Grand Street, chewing on something in the asphalt. I grabbed a heavy calzone, ready to club my furry antagonist. But no, it wasn't an otter. It was just someone's escaped pet rabbit enjoying the new solitude, feasting on his street meal while spasmodically brushing back his ears with one paw, reminding me of Noah

enjoying the fullness of his hair. The clouds came and Noah's urban light turned to shadow the density of slate. My friend was gone.

A pair of shoe-filled suitcases awaited me by the door but Eunice herself was neither in the living room nor the bedroom. Was she finally moving out? I searched 700


of the 740 square feet that constituted my nest - nothing. Finally I was clued in by the running water in the bathroom and, once I strained my hearing past the whirl of a passing helicopter, the soft wailing of a broken woman.

I opened the door. She was shuddering and hiccupping, two bottles of spent Presidente beer by her feet and the remainder of a half-drained bottle of vodka. Do not give in to pity, I told myself. Hold the anger of the past week, hold it tight in your chest. Rise above the ritual humiliations. You're the richest man in Chinatown. She has done nothing for you. You can do better. Let the world fall apart, there is more to be gained in solitude now. Untether yourself from this 82-pound albatross. Remember how she wouldn't comfort you after Noah had died.

"I thought we weren't supposed to drink anything grain-based," I told Eunice,

nodding at the spent alcohol, the most I have ever seen her drink.

The "fuck-you" I had expected didn't come. Her shaking continued, steady as a dying animal thumping against the cheaply tiled bathroom floor. She was whispering in English and Korean. "Appa, why?" she beseeched her father. Or maybe it was merely her non-functioning apparat. I never realized the similarity between the device that ruled our world and the Korean word for "father." The t-shirt she was wearing, an ironic "Baghdad Tourist Authority" tee, was my own, and that strange connection - Eunice covered in my own garb - made me want to fold my own arms around her, made me want to feel myself on her. I picked her up - even the small weight of her pinched my prostate but the rest of me felt blessed - and carried her to our bed, catching a whiff of her alcohol breath along with the strawberry integrity of her just-washed hair. She had washed for me. "I brought pizza," I said. "And spinach calzones. That's all that's out there right now. Nothing


She was shuddering with such intensity that I grew worried from a medical

standpoint. Her body, that nothing, shook in little round motions of spent energy. I touched her blazing forehead.


"It's okay," I said. "Have some Motrin. Eat a pizza. Drink water. Alcohol makes you dehydrated."

"I know that," she whispered in between shudders, and I hoped that maybe it was

a sign of her displeasure returning. But she continued to quiver, her face a pale freckled mask twisted to the left as if by seizure. A child, just a child. "Len," she spoke. Water pooled inside the dimple of her chin. "Lenny. I'm - " She was sorry. Just like Joshie. A decision was drawing upon me. A final one. My lips pursed to form the first words of a fateful sentence. I held them pursed for now. I suppose I could have started telling her about all the different ways in which she needed to change in order for us to be happy together, but it would be pointless. I either had to accept the girl cradled in my arms, or spend the rest of my time searching for something else.

Her trembling increased and she turned around in my grasp letting me feel the heavy beating of her spine against my chest. I could see her bones draped within my tshirt and in her convulsions I made out the dynamic aspects of her skeleton. She wailed from a place so deep, that I could only connect it with somewhere across the seas and from a time when our nations were barely formed. For the first time since we've met, I realized that Eunice Park, unlike others of her generation, was not completely ahistorical. I cradled the softness of her behind, her one concession to being a woman. It steadied her, my open-palmed touch. I moved down and popped off her TotalSurrenders. The taste was the same as always - not sweet like honey, as urban musicians may claim - but musky and thick and vaguely urinary. I put my mouth around her, and just lay there motionless, waiting for the tremors to subside, for sleep to come to both of us, forgetting the pizzahunger gnawing at my center. I was thinking about the word "truth." Whatever else could

be said of Eunice Park, she was perfectly true.


Dating Tips: From the GlobalTeens Account of Eunice Park

August 6


David, are you there? Oh, my god! I saw the last Media footage. You were bleeding. Your face. And your arm. My poor David. I almost passed out. I tried to get to Tompkins Square, I swear I did, but I just couldn't. They wouldn't let me through. Are you okay? W AS MY SISTER IN THE PARK WITH YOU??? I know she goes on the weekends sometimes. Please get back to me as soon as you can. I still believe in you. I still think of what you taught me about my life and about my father, your Object Lessons and your Observations. You were right about everything. I'm not going to give in to High Net Worth thinking. I'm going to do things to make you proud. I'm a fighter and I'm never going to stop fighting. David, talk to me!

Love, Eunice


We are SO TOTT AL Y sorry for the inconvenience. We are experiencing connectivity issues in the following location: NEW YORK, NY, U.S.A. Please be patient and the problem should resolve itself like whenever.

Free GlobalTeens Dating Tip: Guys love it when you laugh at their jokes. But nothings less sexy than when you try to outdo them by being a laff-hog yourself! When he makes a joke, smile so that he can see your teeth and how much you "want" him, then say,

"You're so funny!" You'll be sucking crotch in no time, betch.


Pony, are you there? What's going on? I've been trying to verbal you for a week my apparat can't connect on TALK or STREAM, all I get is some error message which is


freaking me out. Write me back. I miss you. I'm worried about you. I miss you SO much. What's happening over there? Was there shooting in Hermosa too? What happened to your dad's factory? Write to me NOW! I'm worried, Jenny Kang. Talk to me, sweet precious pony. All I'm doing now is crying. I don't know what's happening with my family. I don't know what happened to my friend David. I think Lenny doesn't want me anymore. I think we've totally broken up, only he can't send me packing because of the situation. Please write or TALK me back. I don't want to be alone and I'm scared. You're

my best friend.


We are SO TOTTAL Y sorry for the inconvenience. We are experiencing connectivity issues in the following location: HERMOSA BEACH, CA, U.S.A. Please be patient and the problem should resolve itself like whenever.

Free GlobalTeens Dating Tip: Don't ever fold your arms in front of your date. That says that you don't fully agree with what he's saying or maybe you're not into his data. Instead put your hand out in front of you, palms open, like you want to be cupping his balls! Get a degree in Body Language, girlfriend, and you'll be giving head to the class.


Mom! Hello there. Mom, I'm worried. I tried to verbal you and Sally, but I can't connect.

I just wanted you to know that I'm fine. They weren't ever shooting our building which is Jewish. I need you right now, Mom. I know you're still mad at me because of Lenny, but I need to know that you're all right. Just tell me you and dad and Sally are all right.


We are SO TOTTALY sorry for the inconvenience. We are experiencing connectivity issues in the following location: FORT LEE, NJ, U.S.A. Please be patient and the


problem should resolve itself like soon.

August 9


Hi Jenny. I guess I'm just going to get an error message after I send this, but I want to write to you anyway in the hope that you'll get it, if not now then someday. I won't believe that you're gone like Lenny's friend Noah. I can't and I won't, because you mean so much to me. So let me tell you what's going on with my life.

It's been very hard here, but I think I've forgiven Lenny. I just have to accept the fact that David and everyone else in the park is gone, even though I know, I just KNOW, that Sally wasn't there. I have to accept that there was nothing I could have done to save David and his people, and that it wasn't Lenny's fault, he was just trying to get us to safety. Oh, sweet precious pony. I think I loved David in a way that I can't really even describe. Of course we were completely mismatched, but Lenny and I are mismatched too. My dad was kind to me after he saw me and David in the park, because all three of us where in it together, doing something for a greater good, and it's like my dad SAW that no matter how fucked up I am I'm basically good too and there's no reason to hate me. It's so Christian-sounding, but I guess I have it too, this thing that Sally does. An instinct to help, I guess.

I don't know, I don't know, but yesterday when Lenny and I had sex for the first time since all this happened I couldn't look him in the eyes. He was poking me with his chubby stomach and I kept thinking about how much I've lost and how much I'm still going to lose, and I felt SORRY before David, like I was cheating on him. And that made

me want to cheat on Lenny, I guess.

It's not like Lenny's been doing anything bad. He's got yuan in the bank, so

there's pizza and calzones and my ass is actually getting even fatter. We're surviving and it's all thanks to Lenny. I hope, sweet pony, that someone is caring for you the way he's


been caring for me. There are also all these old mostly Jewish people in the building and no one really looks out for them and it's like 100 degrees this week and there's not enough electricity for the AC so we have to go around and get them water. I'm trying to get Lenny to help me buy up bottles from the bodegas because there's rationing. He's trying to help I guess, but he's too timid to get the job done. White people don't really care about old people, except I guess David who tried to help everyone. And then they shot him like a dog.



Sender: Joshie Goldmann, Post-Human Services, Administrative Recipient: Eunice Park

Eunice, I'm going to be sending you these messages on an emergency frequency, which

we're piggybacking on Lenny's apparat. This is just between you and me, okay? Don't even tell Lenny, he's got enough on his plate. At this point I want you to confirm that you're getting this message and that you're safe. Let me know if there's ANYTHING I

can do for you. xo Joshie

August 20


Sorry I haven't written in a while. I guess I'm a little depressed. Things are much better

between me and Lenny, but still I feel like the tables have turned. Now that Lenny almost dumped me, I feel out of control. It's like I'm naked or something, without armor. I worry that he's going to punish me for all the times I didn't fully love him. Maybe I should punish him first? His boss Joshie keeps sending me messages on this Wapachung emergency frequency checking up on me, but I don't know what to do. The thing is, I


kind of find Joshie attractive in a manly, older way. I guess I'm physically attracted to his kind of strong personality. He's like David in a way, always ready to take charge when the people he loves are threatened. Anyway, I spend half the day waiting for an emergency message from Joshie. Is that totally wrong? I'm such a bad girlfriend.

But I've also been thinking: Maybe David was wrong about everything in the end? Maybe there isn't going to be an Act Two for America like he said. Maybe you were right about him. Maybe he was just a dreamer and would never be able to look out for me and my family. But ifnot him, then who? Lenny?

Sometimes I feel guilty that I'm not more of an accomplished person, because then I could help my sister and my mother. Maybe I should ask Joshie about what I should do, if he can check up on my family somehow. Ugh, how fucked am I? Tell me please. Write me or verbal me. Anytime, day or night, whenever you get this, whenever it's safe to write or holler back. I need to hear your voice, panda of my heart. Tell me I'm

not alone.


August 22


Hi, Mommy. I bet I'm going to get an error message after I write this, but I feel like I

have to write this anyway. If you get this someday, I just wanted you to know that I'm sorry. You're so close and yet I can't help you and Sally and dad. I know you raised me better than that. I know that if this were Korea you'd figure out a way to help your parents no matter what the personal sacrafice. I'm just not a good person. I don't have any strength and I don't have any accomplishments under my belt and I'm so so sorry I didn't do better on my LSAT. I wish I knew what my special path was, as Reverend Cho likes to say. If Sally's with you please tell her I'm sorry I failed her as a sister too.


Your useless daughter, Eunice



Sender: Joshie Goldmann, Post-Human Services, Administrative Recipient: Eunice Park

Hi, Eunice. How are you doing? Listen, I know there are some food shortages downtown, so I'm going to send you a big care package. Look for a black Staatling- Wapachung Service Jeep at 575 Grand around 4pm tomorrow. Any special requests? I know you girls totally heart organic peanut butter and lots of soy milk and cereal, right?

Listen, things are going to get better very soon, I promise. This whole situation is clearing right up. Hint: Brush up on your Norwegian and Mandarin. JBF. And guess what? That art teacher is going to come from Paris, so we can start practicing together at my place! Parsons is out of business. I can't wait to see you again. We're gonna have so much fun, Eunice. As always, please let's keep this our little secret. We've got a very sensitive Rhesus Monkey on our hands and he might misconstrue, if you know what I

mean. Haha.

August 23


Sender: Eunice Park

Recipient: Joshie Goldmann, Post-Human Services, Administrative

Hi Joshie. I got your sweet message. I'm really excited about the food package. We've been eating nothing but carbs and fats for the last week and also tap water is pretty hit or miss and our local bodega ran out of bottled. Also there are some old people in the


building who need water and supplies and the heat is really bad for them, although I worry what will happen when winter comes if there's not ENOUGH heat. Thanks so much! Yes, I totally heart cereal (Smart Start is my favorite) and organic PB. I'm sorry to bother you about this stuff, but could you please find out if my parents are okay? I haven't heard from them since my GlobalTeens went off and I'm super worried. Dr. Sam Park and Mrs. Chung-won Park, 124 Harold Avenue, Fort Lee, NJ 07024. Also, I haven't heard from my best friend Jennifer Kang, who's at 210 Myrtle Avenue, Hermosa Beach CA, I don't know the zip code. Also my friend David Lorring was in Tompkins Square when all this stuff happened, maybe there's some way you can check to see if he's okay. Again, I'm so sorry to impose on you like this, but I'm scared out of my mind.

I think it would be great to draw with you, but I wonder if we should let Lenny know. He is a very sensitive Rhesus Monkey, as you say, but I think if he ever found out he would be very angry with me. And he IS my boyfriend. Thanks for understanding. Yours, Eunice


Sender: Joshie Goldmann, Post-Human Services, Administrative Recipient: Eunice Park

Smart Start! Wow, that's my favorite cereal too! I'm glad we have so much in common.

You really take care of yourself and it shows in how beautiful and young you look. There's a real overlap between our philosophies on life and staying younger and taking care of oneself, something I think we've both been trying to instill in Lenny, but ultimately I think Lenny's immune to that. I've been trying to get him to think about health choices, but he's just really focused on his parents and worried about THEIR death, without really understanding what it means to want to live life to the fullest, to the freshest, to the youngest. In some way, you and I are really from the same generation of people and Lenny is from a different world, a previous world that was obsessed with


death and not life, and was consumed with fear and not positivism. Anyway, I'm going to totally load up a couple of jeeps with supplies so you can have lots of food for yourself and also feed and hydrate all those poor old people in your building.

I don't know if Lenny explained to you, but the Post-Human Services division I run is part of the same company as Wapachung Contingency. So I talked to some of the Contingency folks and they're going to make some inquiries about your parents. I know the situation in Fort Lee is very touch and go. Basically, the week after the Rupture no one had command & control over there, but it's not so bad as in other parts of the country, because it's right over the river from us. On other words, I'm sure they're okay. I couldn't get any info on Hermosa Beach, CA, except there were reports of very heavy small arms fire during and after the Rupture. I'm sorry, Eunice. I don't know if your friend was in the area at the time of the fighting, but I want you to be prepared for the


I feel a little stupid writing this, but I want to be completely honest. I really have strong feelings for you, Eunice. From the moment I met you, I felt so flustered, I thought my mind was about to go blank. It took me a good ten minutes just to open a bottle of resveratrol because my hands were shaking so much! When I saw you, I remembered some of the worst parts of my life, some things I shouldn't really be talking about over this emergency signal, but let's just say there were some difficult moments, moments that it may take several more lifetimes to get over (which is why I simply cannot die), and when I saw you, AFTER I started breathing again (ha ha), I felt some of that weight lift off my shoulders. I felt like I knew what I wanted not just from eternity, but from the present moment too. And when things got bad recently it was thinking of you that kept me going. What is that effect you have over people, Eunice? Where does it come from? How does your smile reduce one of the most powerful men in the hemisphere to a dopey teenager? It's like I feel that together we can redeem whatever misery we encountered on this planet, whatever awfulness we faced as children.


Anyway, I feel so totally, like, weird opening up my heart like this to you, because what I feel for YOU and for YOUR FAMILY IN FORT LEE AND THEIR WELL-BEING, is so strong and without caveat, that I fear it might make you run away from me. I'm sorry if that's the case. But if it's not, please let me know and we'll just do some drawing together, no strings attached. Better than hanging out at miserable 575 Grand Street, right? Ha ha ha.


Your Joshie


Fifty-Jiao Men: From the Diaries of Lenny Abramov

September 5 Dear Diary,

My apparat isn't connecting. I can't connect.

It's been almost a month since my last diary entry. I am so sorry. But I can't

connect in any meaningful way to anyone, even to you, diary. Four young people committed suicide in our building complexes and two of them wrote suicide notes about how they couldn't see a future without their iippiiriiti. One wrote, quite eloquently, about how he "reached out to life," but found there only "walls and thoughts and faces," which weren't enough. He needed to be ranked, to know his place in this world. And I know that may sound ridiculous, but I can understand him. We are all bored out of our fucking minds. My hands are itching for connection, I want to connect to my parents and to Vishnu and Grace, I want to mourn Noah with them. But all I have is Eunice and my Wall of Books. So I try to Celebrate What I Have, one of my prime directives.

Work has been good. Kind of a blur, but even a blur is better than the slow churn of reality. Mostly I work alone at my desk with a half-turned bowl of miso by my side. I haven't really spent time with Joshie since The Slap. He's off somewhere, negotiating with the IMF or the Norwegians or the Chinese or whoever still gives a damn. Howard Shu, dork that he is, has become the standard bearer for the few of us still left at PostHuman. He walks around with an old-fashioned clipboard and actually tells us what to do. Before the Rupture we would have never stood for anything so hierarchical, but now we're just glad to have instructions, even barked ones. My job for the time being is to send out Wapachung emergency frequency messages to our clients, making sure they're safe, but also subtly checking up on their businesses, their marriages, their children, their finances. Making sure we're safe and that our monthly dues keep coming.


It's not going to be easy. No one's working. The teachers aren't getting paid is what I hear. No school. Children set loose and free into the difficult new city. I found a Vladeck House kid, maybe ten or twelve, sitting by the Arab bodega licking out the inside of an empty bag of something called "CLUK" which the packaging warned to be "inspired by real chicken flava!" When I sat down next to him he could barely lift his eyes up to mine. Out of instinct I took out my apparat and pointed it at the kid, as if that would make things right. Then I took out a brown twenty-yuan note and set it at his feet. Immediately, his hand darted for it. The bill was scrunched into his fist. The fist was hidden behind his back. His face slowly turned to face mine. The brown-eyed look he gave me was not one of gratitude. The look said: Leave me alone with my new-found fortune or I will lash out at you with the last strength I have. I left him there with his fist behind his back, his eyes on my departing feet.

I don't know what's going on. The city is either completely finished or already shooting for redemption. New signs are going up. "Tourism NYC: Are YOU Ruptureready?" and "New York Cit-ay Edge: Do U have what it takes 2 survive?"

As far as I can tell, the most significant forms of employment around Manhattan are the "Staatling- Wapachung Works Progress" sites promising "One hour honest labor = 50-jiao coin. Nutritious lunch served." Rows of men cracking open asphalt, digging ditches, filling in ditches with cement. These 50-jiao men roam the city, hands in pockets, useless vestigial apparati plugs in their ears, like a pride of voiceless lions. They're middle-aged to younger, sparse hair bleached by the sun, tyrannical sunburns on their face and neck, expensive t-shirts bought in happier days, new Antarticas of perspiration spreading down to the stomach. Shovels, picks, loud exhales, not even grunts anymore to save energy. I saw Noah's old friend Hartford Brown, who only a few months ago was getting reamed on a yacht in the Antilles, working a 50-jiao line on Prince Street. He looked cracked, half of him bronzed, the other half peeling, that slightly pudgy face of his


devoid of all texture, like a thick slice of prosciutto. If they can make a fabulous gay man work like that, I thought, what can they do to the rest of us?

I went up close to him as he swung his pick, felt his rank odor battering its way into my nostrils. "Hartford," I said. "It's Lenny Abramov. Noah's friend." A terrible exhale from a terrible place inside him. "Hartford!" He turned away. Someone with a megaphone was yelling, "Let's do get back to work, Brownie!" I handed him a hundredyuan note, which he accepted, also without thanks, and then went back to swinging his pick. "Hartford," I said. "Hey! You don't have to work now. A hundred yuan is two hundred hours of work. Take it easy. Get some rest. Get some shade." But he just went on swinging mechanically, avoiding my presence, already back into his world, which began with the pick behind his shoulder and ended with the pick in the ground.

Back home, Eunice took charge of organizing the relief efforts for the older people. I don't know why. The stirrings of her Christian background? Sorrow over not being able to help her own parents? I'm just going to take it at face value.

She went from floor to floor in each of our four coop buildings, a total of eighty floors, knocked on each door, and if there were older people she took down their food and water needs and made sure the supplies were brought down the next week in one of Joshie's Staatling- Wapachung Service convoys. Why is he helping us? I suppose he feels guilty about Noah and the ferry, or maybe about The Slap. In any case, we need what

he's got.

She delivered the water herself - with my sporadic help - to each apartment, she

made sure all the windows and doors were open to improve circulation, she sat there and listened to the old people cry about their children and grandchildren who were scattered around the country and about whom they feared the worst, she asked me to interpret certain Yiddish words ("that farkakteh Rubenstein," "that schlemiel Rubenstein," "that little pischer Rubenstein"), but mostly she sat with them and hugged them as their tears


pollinated the dusty throw rugs and embattled last-century carpets. When the older women (most of our aged residents are widows) smelled particularly bad, she would clean their dirty bathtubs, help the shaky old ladies inside, and wash them. It was a task I found particularly repulsive - how I feared one day having to care for my parents in so thoughtful and tactile a manner, as Russian tradition expected of me - but Eunice, who despised any alien smell coming from our refrigerator or the rankness of my toenails after several missed pedicures, did not flinch, did not turn away from the sunken, splotched flesh in her hands.

We saw a woman die. Or Eunice did anyway. I think it was a stroke. She couldn't

get the words out of her mouth, this withered creature, sitting beside a coffee table littered with ancient and unusable remote controls, a photo of the Lubavitcher Rebbe showing off his beautiful beard framed behind her. "Aican," she kept saying, arcing spittle across Eunice's shoulders. And then more emphatically: "Aican, aican, aican!"

Did she mean to say, "I can?" I left the apartment, because I couldn't bear to rekindle the memories of my own grandmother after her final stroke, in a wheelchair, covering up the dead parts of her body with her shawl, worried about looking helpless in

front of the world.

I feared the old people, feared their mortality, but the more I did so, the more I fell

in love with Eunice Park. I fell for her as hopelessly and thoroughly as I had in Rome, where I had confused her for a different, stronger person. My problem was that I couldn't help her find her parents and sister. Even with my Staatling connections, I couldn't find out what had happened to her family in Fort Lee. One day Eunice told me she could feel that they were still alive and doing well - a sentiment that floored me with its almost religious naivete, but also made me wish I could believe the same thing about the


Aican, aican, aican.


So many things have happened since I've last written in you, diary, some of them awful, most of them mundane. I guess the main thing I can think of is the fact that things are getting better with Eunice, that through our mutual depression over what's happened to our city, our friends and our lives we've become closer. Because we can't connect to our apparati, we're learning to turn to each other.

Once, after a long weekend of scrubbing and watering our elderly, she even asked me to read to her.

I went over to my Wall of Books and picked up Kundera's The Unbearable

Lightness of Being, whose cover I had caught Eunice examining once before, tracing with her finger the depicted bowler hat flying over the Prague skyline. There were laudatory quotes for the author and his work on the first page of the book from the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the New York Times (the real Times, not the Lifestyle Times), even something called Commonweal. What had happened to all these publications? I remember reading the Times in the subway, folding it awkwardly while leaning against the door, caught up in the words, worried about crashing to the floor or tripping over some lightly-clad beauty (there was always at least one) but even more afraid to lose the thread of the article in front of me, my spine banging against the train door, the clatter and drone of the massive machine around me, and me with my words, brilliantly alone.

As I read Kundera's book, I felt a growing anxiety as the words on the crinkly yellow pages came out of my mouth. I found myself struggling for breath. I had read this book many times over as a teenager, had bent the topmost edges of many pages where Kundera's philosophy touched my own. But now even I had trouble understanding all the concepts, never mind what Eunice could understand. The Unbearable Lightness of Being was a novel of ideas set in a country that meant nothing to her, set in a time - the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1967 - that might as well have not existed as far as Eunice was concerned. She had learned to love Italy, but that was a far more digestible, stylish land, a country of Images.


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