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**PRINT: SMALL COUNTRY, by Lauren Pretnar, is No. 28 in our broadsheet series. Pretnar, a frequent contributor in recent months, has crafted a grand wedding tale, a deft rendition of the raw emotion of life forever tugged by the past, present and future. This issue comes with an excerpt from Spencer Dew's wonderful new book, Songs of Insurgency.

**WEB: THE OMBUDSMAN DOESN'T GIVE A SHIT Jess Wigent & Louie Holwerk
MANDY C.L. Bledsoe
WING & FLY: COMMITMENTLESS AGE: a review of Victor Serge's "Unforgiving Years" | Todd Dills

In fact, he's part of the problem
Jess Wigent and Louie Holwerk

Jess Wigent, formerly of Chicago but less formerly of Denver, wants to make a sweet life with Harry Mathews. Louie Holwerk, of Whereabouts Unknown, Illinois, can probably benchpress your weight. The two collaborate -- or did, before they were in different timezones -- often. The impetus for this piece was a bottle of red wine and a theatrical constraint concerning the phrase "the blue hairs are out tonight."

Maybe you wouldn't have cankers sores if you'd let me dig between and underneath, or if even when you did, you might not eat beef jerky right before bed, because, as you say, it "tends to invoke dreams of dogs bred with unicorns and a utopia of cheese made with real brie."

DecomP Magazine

I'm not gonna come right out and say it's an "attitude problem." Let's call it an "attitude situation." For instance, your absence. Your frequent absences. Your absentability

Dear Felipe,
So, ummm, yeah, how's Bogota? I bet the $5 a month I send you makes you happier than the $300 worth of ding-donging shit talk I have to deal with here, in and out of the op-ed page. I hope this letter finds you finally wearing shoes, having just eaten breakfast. I promise to send $15 next month -- in the hope that you might partake in a snickers and hot shower.

What does it take to ring a bell? How much coordination, how much desire? I would say very little -- Quasimodo might disagree, but again, we're speaking of different bells. To merely sit in the Wal-Mart entranceway, wearing the Santa hat, pointing with sturdy, almost pestilent conviction toward the basket thing, and hoping shoppers get the hint -- do you really think that's enough?

Think of it as me, trying to help you, trying to help your gums, trying to help everyone you breathe near to not want to stick their face in their own asses just to get away from your un-gumlike gums that smell like the fecal matter of jackals.

I would go down on a woman going down on the Titanic. I would go down on myself in an elevator, pushing the sub-basement button and talking dirty into the emergency phone.

And quit telling me to douche with antique brass candelabras and gold-plated plates, or you're never going to "give me the beef jerky" again. Beef jerky IS NOT A EUPHEMISM OF THE YOUTH.

I love the classical things. Call me old-timey. Fine!

P.S. Waking me up, asking me if I could "feed your salty-wound with my cheddar love," is never appropriate.

Dear Felipe,
Listen, I hope you are doing well. First allow me to introduce myself. No, that's not even important, we can get to that. Now, let me tell you a little bit about your sponsor, your so-called "great" aunt. Felipe, your drawings indicate to me that you are a young man of exceptional pomp de tete, a seeker of truth. Well, I will tell you, it is not pretty. I know this may be hard for you to hear on your sixth birthday, or around it -- not sure how the mail service is in your area -- but let me be honest: accept the money, of course take the money, but don't open yourself up, Felipe. You'll only get hurt.

I prefer to think of "my love" as French and soft, European even -- not the kind that goes on a burger with bacon after an "awesome blossom."

When I am horny, and this happens, sometimes frequently, I don't rush out and thump my goodies against the nearest masculine lamppost. Nor do I rub the ironing board.

We need to discuss your gums. No one would allow you to take the "express escalator to the cellar of love" with those, yes, yes, I know, it's Herpes Simplex Type I, not II, not II, not II. Whatever.

I effin love berf gerky. The thing about it is it's chewy. Yeah, I can see why that's something you wouldn't appreciate, given that you swallow your food whole. You know what tastes really good? Strawberries. And you know what they're not? They're not aspirin. So maybe when you have a fucking fruit salad, and then ten minutes later when you're like, "oh, I'm hungry, let's just quick pull over at this Arby's, also I have to go to the bathroom," maybe that wouldn't happen if you took the time to appreciate things.

Dear Felipe,
I haven't received a drawing from you in three weeks -- and I sent you what was left of my Classic Crayola 8-pack 17 days ago. If something is wrong, if you've taken to eating the crayons, well, then let me know and I'll send along some markers because I know you're not dumb enough to suck on those though the person who sits here, to the left of me, ORDERING ANOTHER FOOD DEHYDRATOR WE WON'T USE, THAT WILL JUST CLOG THE LAZY SUSAN probably would. Plus maybe it's time to start learning how to write complete sentences. Please accept this waxed mint as a token of my genuine friendship. I only send the lubricated kind to the people I truly care for.

I won't lie. Right now it all probably seems like the tops -- a kind albeit chatty (gossipy, let's be honest here) -- a kind albeit floss-obsessed woman writes to you with an offer of pen-pallitude and regular fundage. But, oh, give it time, Felipe, put up with her rambling letters, rife with misspellings and comma splices, put up with it and I promise you, it won't be long before you find yourself handcuffed to the radiator, which I know sounds good, and which of course is good most of the time, and which would be good -- if it weren't that she wanted to floss you.

That's big talk from the guy who has me order his "Big Montana" for fear of retribution from his cousins in Minnesota who take offense, who take in plenty of faux-roast beef, but never get the credit. The next time you want extra cheddar -- you're gonna get no cheddar.

I had a very awkward conversation with a customs officer, one from your country. The language barrier was not the problem. I prepared what I wanted to say and translated it online. I will not pretend to grasp the intricacies of Portuguese, but I believe my accent is passable, and at any rate, what is so tough to understand? "Miss, can I send ten pounds of beef jerky? Dehydration kills all the bacteria." "Senhorita, posso eu emitir dez libras de espasmodico de carne? A desidratacao mata todas as bacterias." Frankly, Felipe, she reminded me of you know who. Every time I asked her my question, she just said, "What? What did you say?" Like she hadn't even been listening.

I would also like to take this moment to address the things that you should never put on the grill again, your underwear being the most pressing. When I first met you, I thought, there's a guy who could walk into Daley Plaza pants-less, and walk out an elected alderman. Now, now, you're just the guy who likes his boxer-briefs medium-rare, his beef jerky extra-snug.

If you could be upfront about your sadist tendencies, I would be fine with them. If you would tell me my breath stinks, instead of pretending you care for my health, I would let you floss me until the cows came home, until they died of natural causes or perhaps became road kill, and I made beef jerky from them. I'd buy furry ankle cuffs, and shackle my hands to one doorknob and my feet to another, so that I was suspended between two open doors, gums at the ready and waiting for you.

He says I need to "quit flossing and start living." I say he needs to quit rubbing up against ladylike folding tables and start remembering that "good home care" of the gums is the first step on the staircase towards the elevator to the top rung of the ladder of fulfillment. In response to my gentle prodding he burped the Portuguese alphabet. I had no idea he'd been studying

Dear Felipe,
Have you ever cared for a woman so much that you worried she might be related to you, that she might be your cousin, except not the kissing kind -- I mean, she won't kiss you? How did you manage that situation? Felipe, you have always been a good listener, and I have tried to impart the wisdom I've gathered, that I continue to gather. I love jerky, Felipe, knives scare me. Pre-sliced or dried, that's what I desire, and if I grill her a steak, will she cut it and share with me, just to be loving, or stand with a Stimudent, hoping some gristle gets lodged?

Dear Felipe,
Your last letter came back "undeliverable", or that's what we think it said, us not being able to read Portuguese and your not being able to read. I really need your advice, even if it's in the form of a drawing of a not-to-scale purple house with a sad stick boy holding a raining cloud. Last night, while he waited in line at the IMAX theatre for Steel Magnolias I left him. Afterward he returned home, in tears, talking about how we should move to Nebraska, how beef jerky grows on shrubbery there. As I warmed milk for him, though I knew he would fart through 3 a.m., I thought, Nebraska might be nice this time of year: the mountains, the man-made lakes where we'd fish for man-made fish. I think the change of altitude would work wonders on his gingivitis. What do you think?

Dear Felipe,
I am coming to visit you, I am working on getting ordained. I am writing this letter en route, and so will be able to read it aloud to you. Felipe, it is a long walk. But I am walking toward you, not away from anything, away from nothing, I am walking in running shoes. I am bringing the cuffs in case a nun might love me. Whatever beef jerky I have left is yours, when I get there.

Tonight. Tonight. When I return home tonight, and you're there, not wearing pants, tonight the blue hairs are coming out tonight and I'll rough up your gums with them and tomorrow we'll be going to second base and I won't need to buy Ambesol in bulk and you'll remember I like tulips and we'll have breakfast, and you won't fart at the table, and you won't announce after the meal, "I'm going to applaud that meal by taking a dump," and Felipe will finally begin kindergarten and I won't ever have to pretend that you don't have Herpes Simplex Type II again.