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**PRINT: A GAME I ONCE ENJOYED, by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, is THE2NDHANDís 32nd broadsheet. Somerville's work previously appeared in No.24 in 2007, and this Somervilleís second broadsheet since the release of his short-story collection, Trouble, in 2006 marks the first since his novel The Cradle launched into the cultural imagination with coverage in the form of reviews in places as high as the New York Times Book Review. Donít let that turn you off, though; Somervilleís work is viscerally humorous and elegantly dramatic as the best out there, as evidenced in this epic story, about a chess game whose stakes might well be higher than its players know. Also in this issue: a short from Ohio scribe Daniel Gallik.

PICKY and BLACK MANTA Quincy Rhoads
WING & FLY: MILAM, WIRTHLIN w/ mobile fiction; also: EDGAR MOLLERE, ERIC DURCHHOLZ | Todd Dills
THE CLEANER Amanda Marbais
NAMELESS Dennis Foley

Paul A. Toth

Paul A. Toth lives in Sarasota, Fla. He is the author of three novels, most recently Finale. The majority of his short fiction and other works, as well as information on ordering his novels, can be accessed from at his site..

They were marchers and they marched across the United States, from Fort Kent, Maine, to Chula Vista, California. They carried white banners bereft of any text whatsoever. They marched silently, without chant or song. Amongst them, at the head of the troops always, stalked the mastodon-like Dimitrius Dzhamgerchinov, who was not from the Soviet Union or the Russian Federation but Pittsburgh and whose real name was Larry Jones. However, Larry Jones claimed his name was Dimitrius Dzhamgerchinov and that he had been born in the Soviet Union and raised in the Russian Federation and that he had emigrated to the United States in 1997, the year of the car accident that had wiped his memory like a steel-plated eraser swept across a fleshy chalkboard. He erroneously believed -- and what difference the truth to him now that his memory could not be self-refuted? -- that he had suffered through a historical period of great political unrest, and that such unrest was the source of sexual dysfunction, vitamin deficiencies and memory loss. Thus, on this day, Larry Jones had brought his brigade to the semi-metropolis of Bay City, Michigan.

Columbia College Fiction Writing Department

Through the Edward Hopperish downtown streets waved the blank banners. The messageless marchers did not hold hands; indeed, even their expressions revealed no emotion. At one point, an infiltrator confronted Larry Jones. The screwy-haired teenager approached and said, "Whatcha doin'?"

Unable to reply, Larry Jones shook his head and felt guilty for having surrendered even that much information. The teenager was not dissuaded and continued walking beside Larry Jones.

"Nobody protests nothin' in Bay City. We got parades. I wish somebody would protest. I don't even care what they protest, just so somethin' would happen 'round here."

Larry Jones felt a strange pain in his chest, as though a vein had wrapped itself around an artery, but to cough ... no, he could not cough. Unable to remember that he had lost his memory and identity, he wanted nothing so much as to rid himself of the teenager, and a violence rose within him, but he did not give way to it. Violence, being the ultimate expression of one emotion or another, would violate everything in which he did not believe.

But a man, or a woman, resists instinct at too much peril for Larry Jones to have recognized, and it was in absolute, if blinded, observation of nature's law that Larry Jones looked at the teenager from toe to head and declared, "Would you get the goddamned hell out of here, you little bastard? Go home and smoke your marijuana, not that I'm for or against marijuana use. Just -- I don't care what you do, but don't do it here. This isn't -- we're not -- I don't talk. You understand me? I don't talk, goddamn it, and you're making me talk, and that's making me mad, and I don't get mad. That's what this is all about, and this isn't about anything, so why don't you go home and stop driving me crazy with your questions?"

The teenager did stop asking questions but would not drop out of the march. Fortunately, the main avenues of Bay City did not take long to navigate, and when the march ended, the teenager departed with a sigh.

The marchers headed for that night's bed and breakfast. There were ten marchers, six of those ten being elderly couples who shared rooms. Thus only seven rooms were required, and because their group neither supported nor opposed anything, they caused no controversy and generally found room and board with little trouble.

That night, after dinner and in the living room where all had gathered not to talk about anything, Larry Jones began to hum, a habit he had developed after the accident but which he had suppressed until this night. For reasons that eluded him, he always hummed the same song, and so he began to hum Gordon Lightfoot's "Sundown." The day's march and its effects upon his sexual function, vitamin uptake and memory had exhausted him to such an extent that he also could not stop himself from doing what he feared he would next do. So, having hummed a few bars, he began to sing the one line from the one song that he remembered: "Sometimes I think it's a sin when I feel like I'm winnin' when I'm losin' again."

"He sung!"

"He expressed something. I heard it with my ears."

"What's this about sinning and winning and losing? I'm sick of all that bullshit. That's what I joined this group for in the first place."

"He's trying to form a cult."

"A cult of personality."

"Somebody told me once his real name's Larry Jones. I didn't believe it then, but I believe it now."

"Larry Jones? I only don't follow Dimitrius Dzhamgerchinov. I'm not going to not follow no Larry Jones."

"Now that I think of it, he's got no accent, either. He's got no accent!"

"No-accent son of a bitch."


The words "Let's go" were repeated nine times.

Larry Jones spent most of that night alone in the living room. There really wasn't much within his range to think about. A void had left a blank. Two hours after everyone had departed, he had forgotten they had ever been present. The wrapped banners, disconnected from anything that might trigger his memory, slipped into the place occupied by all those objects that mystified him. After three hours, he hadn't any idea he was in Bay City or even a bed and breakfast. He was only, to his knowledge, in a room, somewhere. The room was bronzed by the lamps someone else had left on; otherwise, Larry Jones would have sat in the dark. He no longer remembered his name. He did recall that whatever his name was could be found in his wallet. He removed his wallet and looked at his name. "Larry Jones," he read. "Larry Jones."

Then a woman came into the room. She was carrying a book and looked at it as she spoke. "Are you Dimitrius Dzhamgerchinov?"

"I'm Larry Jones."

"I'm looking for Dimitrius Dzhamgerchinov. Have you seen Dimitrius Dzhamgerchinov?"

"I'm Larry Jones."

The woman scanned the book. "There's no Larry Jones in this book. You're not supposed to be here, Mr. Jones. You're going to have to leave, Mr. Jones."

Larry Jones stood up and walked toward the door, out into the darkened streets of the city that could have been any city, unanchored from any memory he possessed. It seemed to him then that there was something somewhere that could explain but that it had been lost. He wondered if it might have been written in the woman's book. He would have returned to protest his eviction, to ask for some explanation, and to check the book, but then he forgot why he had left or where he had been. There was nothing to do but march.

Eventually he was picked up by a policeman who took him to the state police who put him on a bus that took him back home. When he somehow arrived, a woman who was supposed to be his mother said, "Hello, Dimitrius."


"Larry Jones?" she said excitedly. "Are you Larry Jones again?"

He shrugged and handed her his wallet. Then, as if someone had set a needle on a vinyl record, he said, "This isn't -- we're not -- I don't talk. You understand me? I don't talk, goddamn it, and you're making me talk, and that's making me mad, and I don't get mad. That's what this is all about, and this isn't about anything, so why don't you go home and stop driving me crazy with your questions?"


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