Juan Carlos Acante

by Jaime Petrohl

 

Bram saw him once, by the side of the road and he saw him again a few days later, dressed in a Mexican made cowboy hat, maybe from Mazatlán, carrying a bag, bicycling between the lake and the town.  And it struck Bram that he had also seen this man weeks before the news of the outbreak.  And he thought he had seen him years earlier.

 

 

I don’t know why you are being so offensive.  Bram was seated in the chair facing doctor Pemwick’s desk and doctor Pemwick was asking Bram very personal questions.

This whole thing is being controlled by HS.  Did you know that?

No. Bram said.  No I didn’t.

And we need you.  The doctor said.  We need anyone.  But you have refused to follow the code.  You are going to have to take the physical and take the vaccination or you are no longer going to be able to come here.  Unless….

 

Unless what?  Bram asked rhetorically.

Unless we give you the paperwork and actually run some tests on you.  You’ve seen our professionalism, nothing here works, it’s 95% theory.  Half of it is actually creating the problem with these people.

But then it wouldn’t work.  Bram said, looking at doctor Pemwick’s diplomas, at his medical licenses to practice in numerous states and countries.

What wouldn’t?

All of this.  Bram pointed to the diplomas and turned, looking at a nurse, even sexy, maybe sexier smocked, passing by the window of the office door.  I mean, what is a blood test going to prove but what you want it to prove?  And I don’t…you seem like a nice guy…where is doctor Feldsham now.  Where is that nurse, head of the clinic, Bumbelle…

Bomtrelle.  Pemwick said.

Their conversation was interrupted by a low flying DC 9 chased by two F16s that shook the windows outside looking over the oak lined courtyard and the bare magnolias of the hospital turned sanatorium that made sense in the bombardment of their deafening engines only.  Those engines were really as musicological as Brahms thought Bram.

I am asking you to give me more time doctor.  Bram said.

You know Bram, we knew your father, we knew your uncle, they worked in the city, they were upstanding citizens.  HS probably knows this too.

 

 

Bram had convinced Pemwick to fudge his passports and papers, so he could continue traveling to the hospital and making himself useful as the rest of the country either hid from what they didn’t know existed or hid from their will, mistakenly taken as actually having a hand in any of this.

In part, Bram had appealed to Luther Kahn, a Burroughs junkie of sorts and a respected partner in one of the most historical architectural firms in the country.  A friend of a friend’s friend, a distant family acquaintance if not a relation, who caught the ear of someone above Pemwick.

Bram had pulled his used Volvo into Kahn’s Georgian townhouse a few blocks from downtown, toward dusk, when the crows were flying toward their roost.  Damn, Bram thought, as he got out of the car and walked up the brick drive toward the brick house, everything in imported brick, if we could actually follow those fuckers as some type of algebra predicting the weather if not the economy…

Kahn opened the door.  It was like meeting Kafka.  The house smelled of incense.  Bram was happy to see the place was decorated with European and American antiques, with European art and glass, lots of mirrors, and thankfully, lots of books, continental, and in English.  He wouldn’t have known what to do if he had seen Buddhas, Zen tracts, Japanese triptychs, elephants, monkeys, opium bowls, semitic languages in the open.  A very young and very pretty but emaciated maid offered Bram a beer, she was dressed in a black maid’s uniform with a very short skirt.

Thank you Louisa.  Kahn said, leading Bram into the den that overlooked the garden, about 15 feet from the neighbor’s house.

This is a very nice home that you have.  Bram said.  Looking for photographs, a dead wife maybe, children, grown, getting the fuck out of there.

He offered Bram an imported Italian cigarette that was more like a cigar and Bram took to it because he was a pure tobacco nut at heart and it was a very good cigarette with very good tobacco and lots of nicotine, like a Russian rustica.  The beer was also Italian, a light lager.  Kahn sipped his beer and smiled at Bram in a way that made Bram at once comfortable and extremely anxious.

This is very good.  Bram said.  Holding out the cigarette.  He looked at Kahn and realized he was looking at an enormous head with no body, the head alone filling up the space of the queen anne, with enormous facial features.  He wondered how Kahn could possibly find eyeglasses to fit a head that large and then thought for a split second what one would actually see through such a lens.

You wrote to me.  Kahn said.  About these stories of yours, and you sent some of them, you sent me that book of yours, it is over there.  And I spoke with some people and you are still at the hospital.

I am.  And I thank you, sir.  Bram said.  He had never called anyone sir in his life, but it now seemed appropriate, desperately appropriate….

And I hinted to you of my actual concern, Bram said, feeling a little tipsy, which by agreeing to see me either means you think it absurd and not worth pursuing, or maybe that I am on to something, that you either appreciate or wish to, maybe, out of curiosity, or just play…

Louisa came into the room and poured more beer into both of their glasses, and then stood by the window facing the street and bent over to remove and neaten some papers, and she wasn’t wearing any panties, and she was in both of their sightlines, and at once Bram felt disconsolate because the sightline to where her panties should have been, revealing a rather simple white and red ass, was directed maybe more towards Kahn… her master?  Bram didn’t know and quickly did not want to look anymore, Bram being angled a little more towards the garden, she, in age more connected to Bram maybe, but not in whatever the idea of not wearing any panties could mean…It was obviously a test.  Everything had been…

Thank you Louisa.  Kahn said.  I think that will be enough for now.  He looked at Bram.

Thank you.  Bram said, to no one in particular, to the room maybe, the antiques, the few pieces of mahogany that might have made some historical sense, making their way from South America before electricity.

As you were saying.

I was saying that I think, as a writer, not because of any direct or direction on my own part…There was an opera playing by Rameau, Bram had to ask.

You think that you are predicting things, don’t you.  Kahn smoked for what seemed like an eternity on his long Italian cigarette and then drank half of his glass of beer, in what were really very average glasses.  And you ended-up here.  Imagine that.

With that Bram looked toward the entranceway, toward the doorway, toward the front of the house and the drive, instinctually, not just recreating the last twenty minutes of his life but his entire past.  And he noticed above the entranceway, where maybe a crucifix would have been out of place but somehow understandably histrionic, religious, or where maybe an old and withered mistletoe might have hung from the prior Christmas, maybe the first and last Christmas celebrated in the house even as a token of something else, something satirical, kept as a keepsake and good luck charm, was a painting, a very crude and poorly drawn sketch really, that was much worse than anything Goya would have drawn really, and that was at once just bad and also attempted to depict something dark, like monsters or something, and a lantern and Bram would have had to have stood up and walk underneath it, because it was only about 6” by 6”, to actually study it…

Well, I don’t know.  Bram said.  If predict is really what I think it is.  But this immediately is what it appears to be.  And of course we have not been, I have not been, affected by this thing.

And you can go out of doors.  Kahn said.  And his voice seemed to change or Bram was now hearing his voice in a different way.  And with this the sun went behind some clouds and the room needed artificial light but no one turned them on.

Maybe it is in one of your stories.  Kahn said.

Which one?  Asked Bram.

With this Kahn laughed.  And at the same time the back door opened, Bram heard it open.  And he heard footsteps, slow, gentle, careful, and he heard conversation among ladies, among Louisa and an older woman.  And then she entered the room, above average in height, septuagenarian, well dressed, taking her coat off and at once introducing herself and reprimanding Kahn in a practiced way that was violent in its softness, like a dance.  She must have been his wife.  She was very elegant, almost seductive.

This is my wife.  Corletta.  Kahn said.  Corletta, Frederick Bramovits, like the Nietzsche, Friedrich.

Louisa, that poor girl,  Corletta said,  is supposed to leave at 3 every day.  You know that Arthur.  Do not keep her here past 3.  It is nice to meet you.  She said to Bram, who had been standing and shook her hand.  Corletta should have been named Louisa and Louisa, Corletta, is what Bram immediately thought and forgot.

Well, you two carry on.  The Feingolds are coming for dinner.  Arthur.  Our next door neighbors, Arthur.  And with this, very quietly, she appeared to be successfully reprimanding him.

I won’t be long.  Bram said.  Trying to save something, not knowing what.

You are the writer.  The science fiction writer… Arthur told me and I think it is wonderful what you are doing and you are welcome to stay for dinner.  We are having chicken and a garden salad and wine that I picked-up on the way home.  There is no one on those streets.  All hysteria if you ask me, she said.  She said goodbye and hello again and left the room and her feet could be heard ascending the stair toward the opposite side of the house and the bedroom must have been on that side away from the garden for Bram did not hear her footsteps above, and there must have been a back stair for he did not hear of her again before he left, which was more than an hour later, but time outside as well as in what was really a very small Georgian mansion, making it that much more inconspicuous, secretive and real seemed to have stopped all together.  They say some type of people hide in churches but Bram thought most people just needed a good address or a cul de sac.

I can’t tell you anything.  This is obvious.  Kahn said.  You have seen my life, what is left of it.

Bram thought maybe he meant wife or actually said wife.

What do you want me to do?

I don’t know sir.  Bram said.  I certainly did not come here to disturb you, but I thought…

You thought you could steal a lifetime by coming here.  And it is forgivable.  Isn’t it.

Maybe it is.  I am not sure really.

You are not sure of anything but you write like you are.  Do you think this is the problem.  Have you caused this?  He measured his words.  Plague.

I don’t think it is real.

Then you have imagined it and it has become real.

Am I imaging you?

Maybe you are.

Maybe I am.

And this…And this Mexican you keep talking about.  So what.  Did you imagine him also.  And is he even Mexican.  Maybe he is Guatemalan.  Louisa is Costa Rican.  Half Costa Rican, half Sicilian.  Did you imagine that?

No.  Maybe he is Guatemalan.

What is his name, the name that you have given him.

Juan Carlos Acante, and that is his name, not the one that I gave him.

 

 

Obviously Bram was not going to have anything immediate come from an old couple living with a maid who was something like an antique stripper.  But by being there….

 

 

 

It is not really part of protocol.  Pemwick said one day, as Bram was changing in the doctors’ locker room, putting his things together after his shower, having no medical degree whatsoever, actually having no interest, until now, in medicine.

Excuse me.

Pemwick walked to Bram’s things and opened his Samsonite carry-on.  This.  Pemwick said, annoyed, angry, but not really.  These cultures.  Is this dermal?  Where have you been taking this?  What are you doing, what are you up to?

I met a Russian.  He’s a virologist.  Well, kind of.  He is actually a mathematician, from the Steklov, St. Petersburg and Moscow.

And no one searches your bag when you leave here?

They do.

And they have never found this?

I don’t think I am the only one.

Probably not, right.

Right.

 

 

 

Dmitry Abolofsk lived near the golf course kitty corner to the vaccine lab that was a start-up before all of this started.  And Bram wasn’t sure how Abolofsk got his number, but he did.

Bram looked over Dmitry’s shoulder as he went over the tissue and sputum sample recently pilfered from the hospital.  Pemwick might not have known it but he eventually would that HS itself had turned wasn’t buying the bullshit which is why they hadn’t arrested Bram or Abolofsk, they were, but weren’t, indirectly, directly now, looking over Dmitry’ shoulder, a might as well have been defector, or KGB asset, or whatever…

Do you understand what this is?  Dmitry looked over his shoulder toward Bram but not at him, he was really addressing the wall in a way.   Dimity stood up, took off his plastic glasses and walked toward the dry board.  He wrote down something mathematical, and then something in Latin and then Cyrillic and sat down, on an empty crate and stared first at the wall and then at Bram, in a daze, and spoke, toward Bram, because Bram was there, and unlike the wall could talk back.

These little antigens and proteins.  Well, I can’t explain if fully, not now.   He walked to the opposite end of the room, near his cot, under the wooden icon, and took down Bram’s book from a metal shelf nailed to the wall absentmindedly, not level, the first one to be translated into Russian.

Your story, Rostov on Don…it takes place in India.

It is poorly translated.   Bram replied.

Dmitry went on as if not hearing this:

We are not infected.  We do not wear smocks, we walk in the open street.  The KGB, the CIA, the NSA, they leave us alone.  They allow you to bring this out.  You’re not a doctor.  I’m not a virologist.  It’s all in Rostov.  And it is also mathematical.

Maybe it’s geographical, acausal and causal at the same time.  Bram said, looking at Dmitry but Dmitry wasn’t able to listen for the rotary phone rang.  It was like some strange technological anachronism, it scared them, that someone could be invading this space, interrupting what was being said, like some satellite intelligence was directing things, even accidentally, out of control.

Hello.  Yes.  No.  I think so.  And if ifs and buts were figs and nuts we would have pretty good Christmas.  And with that Dmitry hung-up the phone.

You need to go home and write.  Dmitry said.  And I need to do some math.  And we will meet Sunday with Benevita Monapsaquale at the Korean restaurant near Bloor.  The Koreans are not afraid of anything.

The Italian Indian.

Iroquois, and Italian.  Dmitry said.  This is really still Indian land.  It is here…Dmitry opened to the Russian text mistranslated which Dmitry now again mistranslated back into English, somehow it becoming closer to the original, which he had circled with red pen and put a red star by, like the Chinese flag or something as an ahistorical anachronism marking everything:

Because they had hijacked nature, or they thought they had, but the Persians were still writing the story…

 

 

 

Bram drove home and the sun was setting and about 6 miles from where he had to turn off from the highway he saw Juan Carlos Acante riding his bike on the other side of the median, in the opposite direction, carrying his bag, like he had been seen by Bram doing weeks before the plague, years before in his mind if not actually, not knowing then, nor now, what it all meant, though maybe he did.  And maybe half a mile passed and Bram thought of what was on the other side of the highway, at that point, where Bram saw Acante, and he was thinking now more like a mathematician or statistician or some military operative than a writer.  Because it is amazing that anyone actually leaves their house, which is why it is ironic and also sensible that Schopenhauer could have talked about will having the same routine for 40 years walking around his block endlessly.  And the turn in the road was near the mysterious buildings that produced, no one knew what, and that emitted both pollutants and perfumes that maybe were connected to the plague and maybe not, connected to what the Mexican was carrying or not, and what Dmitry was working on or not, because it was all connected, and Bram thought of the same highway and how when he was in a bad fit, having been abused into beatification and followed years before what was now taking place, when they were threatening to take everything away from him, that he had seen these men outside that same turn along that same highway, littered recently with the dead skull of all things a North American coyote, which Bram had never seen dead before because they were a metaphor for the holy, dead on the side of the road which no one would touch for weeks,  not even the crows, and Bram wanted to not only save those people dying in the hospital, saving these people who might have been being killed by the logic of the hospital itself, which maybe Kahn understood or Dmitry or Acante or Pemwick or even the soldiers with their stopwatches predicting this turn of events, Bram’s turn at this time, measured years in advance…Because Bram always turned his car around when he saw a black cat cross his path, not because of anything that was wrong with the cat, but the idea that the cat was placed their both acausally and causally, as an absurd understanding of the future logic which Bram now hoped Dmitry, from what he had gathered, maybe Russia’s finest mathematician in decades, was about to figure out, not to destroy anything, but to be able to go on, on a different road maybe, maybe inconvenienced, but so Mrs. Kahn could make dinner, so Dmitry could smoke Russian cigarettes, so people in Mexico City could wake-up to what was really a great climate and atop a very historic hill which maybe Benevita knew only by speaking to them.

 

 

You are really very foolish, both of you.  She, Benevita, was very attractive.  And Bram liked Dmitry all the more because he didn’t seem to be attracted to her in any temporal way, which was kind of the whole problem with the Russians to begin with as far as Bram could read the political system, that they were all poets, the Russians, and had a very innocent sense of humor as they figured everything, and created real beauty out of ugliness, to the point that it became real, and really awful things out of beauty to the point that maybe it would create endless revolutions, or maybe they were an item and Dmitry was a huge pervert…

Sunday lunch with Benevita wasn’t much as far as Bram could imagine, though it was interesting that the Koreans were dining-out, in the middle of all of this.  And Bram thought of the poet Un Ko, a celebrated poet, and unko means shit in Japanese which could be something political or just the logic playing on itself.  Benevita sat there very pretty and elegant, she was really maybe the most beautiful woman in a hundred mile radius, and if you could figure-out this radius that must have been self replicating from the beginning of time, figure out the pi of it outside of pi, and all the coordinates, you would save yourself maybe from bad digestion.  Her hair was so thick, her profile so beautiful and her eyes so intelligent, as she moved her hands in different ways and appeared to be directing a chorus, the dining room of the small restaurant, everyone there taking her direction pleasingly.

They look at you as if you are strangers.  Benevita said.  Dmitry was onto his third sake, Bram was onto his third beer.  Dmitry barely noticed her.  Dmitry was thinking in algorithms coupling themselves, Bram was thinking in paragraphs that led to another paragraph of incomplete intuitive meaning.    Benevita continued to sip her one small glass of chardonnay.

You are really the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.  Bram said.  He didn’t think he actually said it.  Were your parents from the reservation…

My father is three quarters Native American and studied at Harvard, my mother was from Milan.

Well that it explains it then.

And you two are very handsome, if you bothered with such things.  Dmitry looked up for a second, he was staring at math that he must have written the night before.

I climbed into this.  Bram said.

Excuse me.  Benevita said.  Her voice was also somehow perfect, resonating just below the air frequency, the light bulbs, the wiring in the walls, the cell traffic.  Maybe she had chosen this restaurant not for the food but for the light and the acoustics without knowing it or knowing it partly.

Well, I usually write all of this out ahead of time, but this time, with what was taking place, I just have stopped writing really, I am writing but I am not putting anything down.

I have a daughter who lives in Vancouver.  Benevita said.  She is extremely gifted, tomorrow she could be more beautiful than her mother or grandmothers ever were, if she carried herself that way, but she doesn’t know it and so she works as a school teacher and is married to this trapper from one of British Columbia’s old families.  They are into organic farming.

Bram laughed.

What is it.

Does British Columbia really have old families…  I mean, maybe if you went to China town.  I mean the Chinese actually own North America in more than one way.

I’ve put the paperwork through for both of you.  You are both getting a promotion.

Dmitry looked-up.

I don’t need it.  Bram said, almost reluctantly.  I told you I have jumped in.  Abe here as figured everything out causally, and I have figured most of it out acausally.  Which is why we are not seduced by you.  This was Nietzsche’s’ downfall, the ménage a trois.

Dmitry laughed.

Certain things can protect you.  She said.  She ladled her soup counter clockwise starting at 6.

Max Abramowitz designed the UN building.  Bram said, lowering his voice, which actually makes no wave sense, which he knew, but didn’t mind.  Louis Kahn designed the Salk Institute.  I think your forefathers were here before the sexual revolution for a reason.  Kahn also designed the National Assembly in Bangladesh.  Jonas Salk was the first virologist.  I just sat with Kahn’s distant cousin in a Georgian mansion listening to an opera by Rameau.  Which has to do with a chimera named Acante, who I saw before I jumped into all of this and who I continue to see.  Abe has outwitted a mathematical biologist who goes by the name Attila, working on eukaryotics, cell cycles…Bram was a bit flushed.  And if they are embarrassed or threatened by this it is because they can not appreciate it fully.

And that is why you have a passport out of here if you need it.  You’ve solved the acrostic.  Benevita laughed, sucking on her soup and the entire restaurant, the women first, turned and looked.  She reached into her Milanese handbag and placed the passports on the table, as she did this her breasts moved in counterpoint, followed by the flesh movements of everyone in the restaurant.  They contained their photographs but with aliases, wrong dates, numbers, logistics.

Dmitry continued to stare at the piece of paper and without looking up reached for the passport and put it in the pocket of his warn Hickey Freeman sports coat.

Benevita smiled at Bram with a smile that could not have been malice if it was intended otherwise.  Maybe she wasn’t that beautiful after all.  What is in a head of hair or head of state after all but the perspective of visual space.

 

 

Bram was resigning.  He opened Pemwick’s door like turning a page of Bulgakov.

What the hell is this. ..They were in the back room.  Pemwick hovered over robotic ants, of varied size and malice.

You go long enough into this.  Pemwick said.  And it takes over.

But you’ve given them flags.  Is that the Swiss flag… Is that the US Capitol…  I can explain all of this.  Bram said, knowing Pemwick couldn’t any longer.  Pemwick’s eyes had turned red, his ears were red, he was coughing, he looked possessed.  A robotic ant with red digital eyes hissed at Bram and clipped his pinchers at him.  Bram spat at it and it scurried off towards The Hague.The literalists don’t get it.  This is why they hated the writers.  But this is all a story meant to be continued, not taken literally.  This is the point, absentmindedly, of Platonism.  Bram placed Pemwick on a chair overlooking the courtyard with magnolias and cherry trees blossoming in starvation.  The magnolias looked ugly and empty, vulnerable, which was beauty to some aesthetic maybe.

Spring.

I know.  Gosh.  Bram said.

He liked Pemwick.  They really fucked over the smart ones.  The ones that had a little less faith in themselves.

You die and they all die, in every fucking sanatorium.  Do you have any lighter fluid…  Do you have some type of voltage I could run through this…  Do you have a hose…

I think they have consciousness.  Pemwick said, staring at the floor, barely able to keep his head up.

I can get a nurse in here.  A really young fucking nurse to bring you back.

You’re writing is automatic.

What is this… Your little plague, it’s ahistorical.  Bram said. Almost crying.  He had carried enough bloated bodies to the morgue with attendants with automatic smiles.  And it’s not automatic because I jumped in.  The canon means shit.  Dmitry proved it.

The Russians all died.

This sets a bad example.  This is very unprofessional Doctor Pemwick.  Bram was tearing.  Not just because of his own vulnerability but because of Pemwick, because he was really very smart and likeable.  They could revoke your licenses over this.

Nothing seemed to be working.  One of the ants stood-up on the edge of the tank, they were programmed not to go over it, and it jumped.  The subjective will turned collective.

The fucking ants have done it you asshole.  Bram said.  Follow their lead Doctor Pemwick then it all becomes real and goes back to normal.

Five or six of the little beasts started to bite Bram on the ankles with electrical teeth and he crushed them, he had no compunction not to.  And the others ran back into the tank following the lead of maybe the moralist among them, maybe the last one to jump, maybe the coward, maybe the smartest one, maybe the only one with consciousness, maybe not…

 

 

 

What the fuck is going on…  Dmitry looked like something out of Washington or Washington Irving, whatever is in a name.

You are in a dual reality.  Bram said.

Why the fuck you didn’t answer cell phone.

Because you didn’t call me, you called, you thought you called but it was the fucking embassy calling by way of some taxidermy in Santiago or some shit place.  You have to start getting real Abe.  No more day dreaming.  Does Genghis Kahn or Attila the Hun mean anything to you.  Does the Ionic and the Celts moving down the Danube…

Bram went over next to the cot and the chemical wash basin turned sponge bath.  There was no mirror, thankfully, maybe.

What the hell is this…  Are you taking antidepressants and stimulants at the same time…  Prozac and Ritalin…  Bram poured out the pills and dumped acid on them and pushed them into the drain, crushing history and science.  Can I trust a damn thing you have written…  Bram went over to the dry board and erased everything.  Write it back.

What.

Write it back.  He went to the opposite end of the room and poured them both a tall glass of vodka.  He looked through Dmitry’s bags and found a jar of Russian pickles and dried fish.

Dmitry went to the board and after about thirty minutes put down one equation.

That’s it.

Eta…It needs to be transliterated, or translated, from the Russian to the Greek to the Latin and then into English, because it is a blessing to be both nonmusical and illiterate.

Bram handed Dmitry clean clothes and the man changed in front of him, and the human body was meant to be humble, it was very humble nude, and Dmitry’s uncircumcised penis dangled there, like some axiom or dowser, pointing south, beyond Michelangelo and the Renaissance, which was literally magnetic north, and he was, Benevita was right, probably the most handsome man in a hundred mile radius and Bram was supposed to see him naked as a flaw, as something non-sexual, which of course his beautiful head, an absolutely refined and blonde profile portrayed, no one ever fucked with Dmitry, not the KGB, not the NSA, not personally, because if you do not believe in your physical form it continues to grow and the physiognomists that had turned robotic scientists couldn’t ever see this.  It was like looking at his father naked, or his brother, before whatever cult tried to take humility away through the eventual plague.  Neither of them had had sex in years and had no meaning for it as mental mercenaries run by some hidden kabbalah.

 

 

 

A Swiss banker by the name of Backofin had contacted both of them, soon after the translation.

40% of the population.  That is what they had settled on.  It was outrageous to the intellect.  Dmitry had convinced Bram to go.

We are going to be reborn as children.  Bram was sitting next to Dmitry on the high speed magnev out of Paris.

We won’t know what happened.

I’m not going to do it.  And I need to tell you this now.  I couldn’t tell you this earlier.  All of the stewardess were supremely attractive on the journey, offering cheese and wine.

It’s holographic.  Bram handed Abe a black magnetic card.  It runs on the same principle as this train, carrying all of these assholes.

Dmitry laughed.

You hold it up at a certain time of day or night and it points you in the right direction.

Who.

This guy in Basel.

Feremont.

No.  Yes.  Before he supposedly died.  Yes and no.

I am just too tired.  Dmitry said.  I proved everything mathematically.  And they are crazy Bram.  Dmitry actually looked at Bram.  People that are just good have a hard time looking at anyone.

The embassy, I don’t know, the Steklov or whomever, they told me about them, not to believe in it.  I am just too exhausted.  I have to build up a new pension for shit’s sake.

I wrote the sequel, the prequel.  Bram said.  He had aged, he was turning a little grey in the temples and beard .  This is all a dream Dmitry.  You stop dreaming…

They have given me a very good position in Frankfurt.

It’s an industrial banking city, it has no pedigree or history.

Maria is there.  I spoke to her.  She wants to marry me.

We’re traveling with false passports.  They are going to take you for something you are not.  They have invented Maria also.  Bram didn’t want to say it but he had to.

A little child, Swiss, turned around and stood up on his chair facing them, as the countryside sped past, too quickly to even make out the trees, the trees and the insects eating the trees, that had been their longer than anyone.

Did Benevita put you up to this.

I am telling you I wrote all of this before.

No one believes you Bram.  They all think you are crazy.  That is your magic, right.

Maybe.  But I am more a literalist than you, than your math, that is why I need you.

Then let’s just thank each other.  I will keep the card.

 

They exited at Basel and Bram said goodbye to Dmitry.  He would live a long life presumably, marry, have children.  Bram said goodbye to him for a long time.  The hysteria, as Corletta called it, as maybe Louisa lived it, was pretty much that.  The Russians were really a class act.  Abe was the most serene person Bram had ever met.

As the train pulled out of Basel Bram waved goodbye for a pathetically long amount of time and as the train disappeared by the minute he only then looked across the tracks knowing Juan Carlos Acante,  JCA, would be there walking in the opposite direction, with his bag, which was Bram’s robotic story to figure-out or burn and crush,  like some intellectual sex act turned material through will and the physical, like pharmacy or logic, anything inorganic, what was in that bag, what was in the rings of the tree of the mind as memory, that had made everything at once unlivable and perpetuating to the self.  Everything makes sense when it doesn’t.

Wait.

Bram started to run, he was very athletic, always had been, ran with some kind of atemporal gift in himself from something else that could only be taken sensorially by what it was not outside the fiction of his legs actually making the metric meaningless as thought, as an idea that creates flight, and crossed the tracks as much in his mind as if moving over them by avoiding them.

He thought of Mexico, he thought of the Coyote as North America, he thought of the military and the color of history.  All of this to end up in a drafty lamp lit station, as he was running toward the past, after the train has gone, not like a thought but like space, the wet track bared and tensed like a pronoun or some antigen, zeightung, the literal line like a track, like a heroin track, or like a savage linear and hermetic servility, for the step of your step following you and damned looking back.

 

 

 

 

 

Jaime Petrohl was born and raised on Florencia Street in Zona Rosa, Mexico City.  He went to college in Connecticut and now lives and works in Rochester.

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