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    Sunday, May 18, 2008

    Wizard Part XI




    Oh shit man, you OK?

    My friend Carl was leaning over me. He'd been eating corn nuts.

    I sat up, which was all I could do and felt the back of my head. The skin wasn't broken; his sap was a beavertail.

    What the hell are you doing walking around smacking people on the back of the head with a beaver tail Carl?

    You just got back, you don't know what's been going on around here. The Island's gettin' edgy.

    The Island wasn't really an island. But, it had probably felt that way when Emily Dickinson's favorite cousin Perez had built a home across the Tennessee River from the burgeoning bustle of downtown Knoxville. His place still sat on the grounds of the Deaf School, and I'd chatted with Emily on more than one occasion. She still hung around the place. I'm not sure why. Maybe she split her time between here and The Homestead in Amherst. Her biographers would roll over in their graves if they knew she preferred it here. Most of them never knew she had visited.

    I'd relocated here because of the river. It's always good to have a large body of moving water on at least one side of you at all times. If I had my way I's live on a real island. Moving water has a way of keeping dead things form gettin' too close. I actually have my suspicions that it's the very reason Emily likes it here too. It's not easy if you choose to stay behind when your time comes. Death doesn't work that way, but 'ol Emily was a pro at keeping ahead of the Reapers.

    Carl eventually helped me up and into the house. Mr. Toots came on his own accord. I had Carl get the litter box from the van and put it in the downstairs bathroom.

    You still haven't givien me a good reason for sappin' me.

    I thought you were one of the guys whose been hanging out watching your place. I thought one of them had gotten ballsy all of a sudden.

    They've been watching my place?


    Wait, how do you know? You live ten miles from here.

    Actually, the old woman threw me out. I came over to see if you'd let me stay here for a while. When I didn't find you here. I just sort of...

    ...moved in.


    I had a soft spot for Carl. He was one of those people who worked hard all of their lives and never got a break. I'm not saying his drinking didn't have something to do with that, but he never missed a day of work and he was one of the most honest people I'd ever met. Plus his old lady was a real hard ass. She was the kind of woman that'd make a man work two jobs just so she didn't have to work at all.

    I don't know what Carl saw in her, she catted around right in front of him. One time he told me she'd made him bring Ice Tea and sandwiches to her and some guy she'd picked up that night after they were done messin' up the sheets. When I'd pressed him about it he just looked away embarrassed and defeated and told me that marriage was a oath, and that meant his word. Carl never went back on his word.

    Mr. Toots settled in on my favorite chair, so I took the sofa with Carl and a couple of beers. I told him most of what had happened. He looked glum for a bit, he'd known how much I'd cared for my uncle. When I was done it was his turn.

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