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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

100th floor of a skyscraper, a room inside it

Child with Spanish Hat: Is it true anything thought into a speed enclosed as passage forced above hands spits its bugs on you while blind spots stuff the stems and wake a number below zero boredom is there for in part to put us a little breathless behind the same verbs, or is there leverage inside that frame moved to curve without sex into height and distribute telling speeds knots soak in and awe ore when the cherry branch is taken as seriously as the nudge of a downfall mattering the emptiness backgrounds use to let the eye sort itself out

Agent: What you say is a bowl of water set down, full of appearance, now full of your hands. And Sappho would conserve for you, after long singing, what strength was left, would kiss you, and you would deserve it. But O Child with Spanish Hat! I feel like swindled air. The slow work of sleeping. I should've been the death of a mountain. You talk like a cough bothering Marianne Faithful. You should've been the loving yellows of exploding rockets. You're like a girl and her heaven falling asleep in each other's believability. You should send all of your blood there. I feel like a narcissist's last breath. I should've been a smell ripening in a hippie's ponytail. You talk like words are old people walking out of gothic cathedrals. You should've been a bullwhip striking expressions of fortitude. Occasionally time moves like a moment with a mermaid in its mouth. It should reach back into Kant's gave, stab him with the start, and continue forward with his skull fixed to its prow. You're like the empty spaces in the chests of executioners. You should've been water crushing light. Love is like an aside raised to a religion. It should be something fat and happy sucking an ass-beard in the dark as if anyone would hug a violet to such parentheses. I feel sleepy like a blend of countless ignorances. I should've been dead. I should've been fog and permission.

Child with Spanish Hat: Enough of this stuff unable to lay for a portrait.
Agent: Of course there are some elegant instances of the sort of things which happen.

Skin according to the old rules. Heart crushed between the hunter's knees. And to hoist the breaking of your high-blown pride is true, no doubt, and pushes the skull up like a pyramid. But it's only one of the world's activities. We are attempted. Itched in.

Child with Spanish Hat: In this instance you follow the chronic songs, formulas for pillars and clauses given to beasts and fractions which themselves become a flexible suffering names make drunk in a confusion of ingenious tenses.
Agent: Such hands so fast some frame a held-in blackness radiating chapels take to bed rips to sift between hands raising palms in a waste of nuance where the points of stars and knives meet and fragment through an echo sharpening itself to fit in a hand in devotion. Works and air turning in a name's negative space.

Phone rings. Agent listens, hangs up.

Agent: Bullshit time over. Remember what I taught you.

Enter the Thompsons

Agent: Welcome sit down isn't he beautiful look at his eyes already bonding with you please sit down can I get you a drink please don't be shy I'm here to answer all your questions look at his eyes drinking you in like holy water we're so happy you're here!
Mrs. Thompson: Is he clean?
Child with Spanish Hat: I am skilled in the arts of the shower, bath, toilet, and faucet.
Mr. Thompson: Good speaking voice.
Agent: Isn't it? Like the gentle snapping of an American flag in the wind or like a young Peter O'Toole mixed with a clarinet. In fact I have a tape of him speaking which I often play to myself at night to flush the turbulence of the day out of my system.
Mrs. Thompson: Is he healthy? I've heard that children from Europe sometimes come with diseases.
Agent: No diseases tuberculosis scarlet fever mental retardation or anything. Not even one cold since he's been in our possession. While everyone around him sneezes he breathes contentedly. He has never vomited and even his turds come out tiny and odorless.
Mr. Thompson: Like to read young man?
Child with Spanish Hat: Yes sir.
Mr. Thompson: We have a vast library in our home and do not want someone just dilly-dallying in there like it's some field of goddamn dandelions. What's your favorite book?
Child with Spanish Hat: Where The Sidewalk Ends by Silverstein and Of Grammatology by Derrida.
Agent: Range. It's all about the range.
Mrs. Thompson: Okay let's say what if one day in a fit of impatience I strike him. Is this kid going to rat me out?
Agent: Our children have no illusions and make no mistakes.
Mr. Thompson: What if I ram his head into a wall during a cocaine rage?
Agent: You were high, and let's be honest, sometimes heads and walls have to meet.
Mr. Thompson: Impressive. What you do think?
Mrs. Thompson: I like his eyes. Very loyal looking.
Agent: Here's a mirror. Tilt it around and look at his loyalty from various angles.
Mrs. Thompson: Yes. Very good. I think we'll take him.
Agent: Tell them what your favorite activity is.
Child with Spanish Hat: My favorite activity is to curl up with a basket of blueberries and quietly sing to myself while eating the little blueberries and thinking about how much I love my family.
Agent: Or give him a glass of lemonade and watch his little face contort adorably in response to the sourness of the lemons as he drinks it. This kid is fantastic and appreciative. We dug him out of a dumpster in Europe for god's sake.
Mrs. Thompson: We get it. Just give us the contract to sign and we'll be on our way.

The agent pulls out a contract, the Thompsons sign, and taking the Child with Spanish Hat by hand, they head for the door.

Agent: Bye little one. Make them proud.
Child with Spanish Hat: I will. Goodbye.

The Thompsons and the Child with Spanish Hat exit. The Agent pours himself a scotch, sits on the floor, takes a sip and weeps.