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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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Ian Wolff

The necessary remission should have commenced with the conclusion. This time out, as they say, would have gone great strides in the direction of our wanting. Yet the unfortunate circumstances can be summed up as no less than contrary. No such remission should have commenced with the conclusion. Therefore we were without the remission. A sad state of affairs to say the least, what with the concert of onlookers increasingly suspicious, their eyes a flotilla of hate and speculation. I never said as much but they were there and there was no way around that. Unless you included what was left of a two-lane blacktop, a road, if you will, that wound through and around a variety of trees, which, for reasons unbeknownst to us, were left standing. Rising on a great tide of remonstrance, the sun had hurled an untold quantity of expletives in our direction. It was all we could do to avoid the scalding rays. Somehow we survived. Which is why these words are here now. A sad state of affairs to say the least, what with the concert of onlookers increasingly suspicious of our activities. Even though we went to great lengths to reassure them by making no sudden movements and keeping on our faces the happy look of those who had nothing planned, which we hadn't.

We take the road anyway -- I do at least. I've lost the others, it seems. Or perhaps they were never there. I never said as much but they were there and there is no way around that. Except for this road. I attempt to enjoy the solitude out here amongst the trees left standing, on the narrow, winding two-lane blacktop. It's in remarkably good shape given the years of neglect it's had to weather, given the weather it's been submitted to. I let the road wind through the trees and the road I follow, all the while wondering if the eyes that follow are eyes at all and not some phantom posing as eyes. There must be hundreds of them, some flit in and out of the branches of these trees, the names of which escape me. They are your average trees. They have branches and leaves. I was leaving already myself. It was the house that I left on account of the orders that came down. They were strong orders, and it was evident in the wording that this was no fucking around. I was to take the orders very seriously, which I did, despite the fact that I had no clue as to the origin of the orders. Hadly and then worse would be this interruption I might call home. To have one certainly could be considered a lesser crime, or even verisimilitude. I've looked into this and seen only this, which surrounds all of us with needling commencement and an acumen unparalleled on this earth, our planet. We take the road anyway -- I do at least. With the others gone I'm free to skip and sing at the top of my lungs, no one watching save the birdless trees. I seem to have forgotten my orders, yet I insist that my trajectory will nonetheless carry me to my destination. It's as if a chain of events in motion has been set. Hadly and then worse would be this interruption I might call home. Though certainly no home could be considered this far. Would the trees uproot then perhaps I might lay down in one of the holes. I'm not sure what that would get me, though. Doing just was a remainder and a malfeasance. You too. Couldn't have had anything in common but a recalcitrance, acumen unparalleled on this earth, our planet.

The road ends rather abruptly, but at the same time it occurs to me that an end is reached thusly. There's no alternative, otherwise there would be countless interims getting us nowhere but through intervals incessantly closer to nowhere, or somewhere rather, but meaninglessly since it is never reached on account of an abundance of interims that we might gather like primroses from the side of the road. You said. I would have taken a respite except for this damn hip. Acts up on account of the weather, turns blue in the frigid north where I now find myself. What with the polar ice caps melting there may be hope for me yet. I'm not sure. I rub some salve into the recalcitrant hip with the hopes that might loosen it up a bit. Could be. Yet I insist that my trajectory will nonetheless carry me to my destination. You said. So I don't worry but wonder where has the road gone, or has it? These are very difficult questions. The rising water only makes it more difficult to make heads or tails of it all. So I guess.

And come to no conclusion. But rather if a however was certain this then was on the length of the discussion and an unusual appurtenance, whereby the road had become not so much a road as merely a place that I found myself. I wouldn't call it home. That would be too ambiguous. But I might consider some other term such as "shack" or "building." But even that might mislead you. I arrived certainly by road, that's indisputable, nor would I. In either case it is a filled instance, that of my being there, that unfolded a variety of options or modes. These combine to form what could only be called a misunderstanding or a lapse. I choose instead to occupy this "shack" or "building" insisting that this is in fact my trajectory and thereby staking my claim therein. So I move a few belongings into this "shack" or "building," including several dozen boxes of books, a mattress and bedding, a chair, a table, a lamp, and my toiletries. I set up shop, so to speak. And it is here that I plan to while away the hours comprising the day comprising the month comprising the year comprising the decade comprising the century, a fraction of which will likely demarcate my existence. I have no complaints. I've never had a problem whiling away my time. So within this appurtenance I've rather gathered my resources and, including a variety of comestibles, not the least being a suckling pig that I picked up for half-price in Chinatown, I set to work with the process of insuring my liquidity through ample nourishment. Unfortunately this necessitates frequently relieving myself, what some call the inexorability of bodily functions. With regret I make the necessary preparations to leave my humble little "shack" or "building." I nod at the remains of the suckling pig, resisting an urge to clutch the bones and traces of flesh to my chest. I bid adieu to the toppled decanter and wine goblet, the split pomegranate (seeds strewn onto the stained tablecloth), fig, as if in rut, waiting to be taken. I touch my chest three times in the manner of a religious salute I must have seen somewhere, but the rancid remains offer nothing in return. I set out amid a new land since I have completely forgotten what exactly is outside this "shack" or "building," within which it suddenly occurs to me I have spent decades if not longer, but then also realizing that's not likely since I certainly would have had to step out to relieve myself, to tend to my bodily functions. Based on that evidence it seems that I've only spent a brief time in this "shack" or "building" and so I should not be so transfixed by my new surroundings. Nonetheless, with the rising air, with the limitlessness of it, with the high buildings, the horizon an admixture of rooftops and open sky, the teeming streets, all a swirl around me on the other side of the door which I had kept locked for security, I am transfixed, which turns to terror when I hear the resounding click of the door shutting behind me, the lock fastening from within.