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**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

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Marc Baez

Scene: Park.

Jim: Last night I dreamed about fizzes of myself unpuzzled making peace with the smells under ladies' dresses and asking the blood in their tampons out on dates. Can one go for a walk, swinging hands with a speck of vaginal blood? Yes, if one puts forth the haunting effort. And it'd be worth it, more valuable than the gist you'd find lowering nets into the revved-up nooks and crannies of one of Otis Redding's most soulful shouts. I'm sick of whole girls. Parts are better. I could ride a merry-go-round with the moisture in Susan's eyes. Or sneak the blush in Rebecca's cheek into a movie theater, lay it on my lap, and then pet it like some extraordinarily delicate angel's dying aura. Or give balls of Lucinda's excrement yummy, King-Kong kisses. Yes! The best thing I ever saw was this fellow shitting in a subway tunnel. His shit looked like coals for the hottest moaning, like chunks of the Bible that died laughing. Goddamit! When did I get to old to hug Mom's gargantuan butt half-awake with my eyes open and saliva on my chin feeling life twitch in my budding musculature. You love me Sandra don't you?

Sandra: You're my brother. I have to.

Jim: So will you cut out your vagina and give it to me so that I might have something dynamic to consult during my more lonesome moments when this planet seems planned to catch and cook my sadness in a frying pan.

Sandra: But how are you going to keep it from decomposing? If I knifed out my vagina, it'd be good for maybe a half-hour, and even then it'd be all loose with unexpected gore drippings, impossible probably even to hold onto.

Jim: Then at least give me a jar of your urine sprayed into a bottle after a night of good dreams. I want good-dream juice!

Sandra: Hide the bottle. A cop.

Jim: Forget him. He's thinking about the bums emptying their bowels onto the ground for the flies that funkily orbit their schizophrenic heads. We're good citizens. We have jobs. Our clothes are clean. Our teeth sparkle. And if you don't want to give me urine, I'll also take saliva. But it has to be at least a gallon. I need enough to submerge my face.

Sandra: Just go to a prostitute. That's what they're there for. You give them cash, and they squat and give you circular licks, or fill bottles with saliva or whatever erotic material it is you want, be that the plaque off their teeth or their screams to slam-dunk into your groans.

Jim: But you're my sister. You're supposed to be there for me.

Sandra: So?

Jim: So can I trace the curls of your startling hair with the tip of my penis?

Sandra: No.

Jim: Can I grab an acoustic guitar and charm your ovaries off you and into my mouth so that I might have the miracle of their powers as a gum to chew on.

Sandra: Family isn't supposed to do this stuff.

Jim: Nonsense. Let's ask the cop.

Sandra: Don't. We'll get in trouble.

Jim: Officer! Officer! A question.

Cop: First tell me what you got in that bottle there son.

Jim: Cold-Ass-Dostoevsky vodka. Want some?

Cop: No thank you. I prefer perspiration gathered onto a knife's edge from my wife's tortured buttocks. Now what can I do for you fine young people?

Jim: Is it not a sister's duty, her sacred family duty, to be there for her brother when he's caught in a van-Gogh-like swirl of first-rate pain?

Cop: It is.

Jim: So it would not then be unreasonable for me to expect that my sister here let me cry genuine tears on my fingertips and then hide them in her anus for safe-keeping.

Sandra: I'm sorry. But that's something you do for your boyfriend, not your brother. I don't care how full of Irish-potato famines his sorrow is. He can always go to a prostitute.

Jim: I'm on a budget right now. And you know it!

Sandra: Then bring a gun. I can't imagine that dying is going to be in the budget of anyone you run into. Point a gun at her and she'll do whatever you want. And she'll do it with a big Walt Disney smile.

Cop: Your sister is onto something there young man. I remember one night walking through the park, and in my protecting stride I came across a homeless woman stained by the brine of her aimless wandering. She was under a tree yelling at a breeze to come back and finish its argument. And as I got closer I saw that she had quite beautiful eyes, such as you might expect to see in a city aquarium fearfully representing some obscure depth of the Indian Ocean. I told her no need to stand. Just crawl over and give me a blowjob. She refused, calling me a jalopy of blubber. Not one to be swayed, I removed my gun from its holster, pointed it at her head, and told her again to crawl over and give me a blowjob. This time she complied.

Sandra: See. Just get a gun. Think of all the money you'll save in the long run.

Jim: I guess you're right. Thanks officer.

Sandra: Yes. We appreciate it.

Cop: I'm glad to be of use. Have a nice day.

Marc Baez lives in Chicago. Come visit him 28 Feb 2003, at THE2NDHAND's Broadside installment #10 release celebration at Barbara's.