Early one morning What’shername
hears a clatter out of the sky like
lumber tumbling off a tall truck. It
crackles out of the rolling darkness
of daylight. The air sounds heavy.
The crashing lumber becomes booms.
She feels each boom squeeze her
from the head down to the bed-legs
to the ground. Taps and ping pong
balls on the windowglass. She opens
WALK IN THE RAIN
The Old Man locks the back door.
With What’shername between them,
the Old Man and the Old Woman
rubber boot through the apartment
and out the front hallway door.
Along the carpeted corridor to the
stairwell. Down the carpeted stairs.
Light through the skylight and
windows is as dark as early night.
Rain squirms worms down the hallway
windows were transparent shadows
on the walls.
There they are again, on the next
turn, down, and again, on the same
place, five stories down.
The water sounds like a choking
throat inside a three-inch pipe. The
pipe coughs a splash out, makes more
choking sounds before throwing
Gray and silver water flows a slither
of large snakes in every gutter at
the edge of every block in the Scar.
The Old Man points at the fat
snakes twisting in the gutter.
“Don’t step into water that looks like
that. And if you have to step into
water like that, do it only if you have
your boots on.”
“You never want to step in water
where you see rainbows floating
darkly on top without having your
“Look into the pool of water on the
blacktop of the streets the gutter
water that sometimes collects at the
stopped up corner sewer. The
rainbows are pretty. They are dark
as poison and may be made of stuff
that eats rubber and then your
socks, and then the flesh of your
She reaches for the sound the dark
side of the darkness.
“Don’t touch,” the Old Man says and
too late holds his finger up to stop
She steps in the pool of slick water
with crumbs swirling on top. She
bends to look inside the sewer. The
Old Man sweeps his hands under her
arms. Suddenly she’s out of the
water. Her boots and feet down on
the sidewalk. “That water is full of
“Oh, no!” Nameless says. “I forgot!”
“The sounds of the sewer. They
invite. They deceive,” the Old
“That means they’ll fool you! The way
they fooled you into forgetting what
the Old Man said.”
“What did he say?”
“Don’t chase your hands into the
dark of a sewer after the sounds.
And don’t step into water that leaves
crap and shit on your boots.”
“Oooh! Bad word! Bad word!”
“That’s how much I hate the crap
and shit in the sewer water.”
Nameless bends to brush off the
stuff and ick stuck on her boots.
“No!” the Old Woman says. “Don’t
touch. The Old Man will wash your
The rain drops crash and burst on
the concrete. A slick of raindrops
slops across the sidewalk and
trickles off the edge of the curb as
clear water into the water full of
thick stuff that bubbles up and
poofs a smelly belch that leaves a
fizz in the water.
Water rattles off the roof into the
chuckle of a roof-gutter, into a
three inch drainpipe for a five story
fall down. Somewhere down inside
the pipe, the pipe gulps.
They walk into the shadow of five
story red brick buildings standing
shoulder to shoulder. Red brick and
concrete closes in and shuts out the
light on either side of the brick
Words they uttered awhile ago
bounce back to them. Colors change
moods before their eyes. The reds,
and yellows. The green and purple of
their boots and rain gear has
definitely changed color.
The Old Woman stands behind
Nameless, as the Old Man lifts one
of the girl’s legs and holds the leg
and boot under the mouth of the
A flower of water bursts white vomit
out of the pipe. Then a long rush of
water that ends in a wheezing sound.
The air in the alley is darker than
the streets at the ends of the brick.
The air seems filled with a purple
spray that gives the air a creepy
And then the other boot. The yellow
rubber glows a sick green Nameless
hasn’t seen before. The leaves
lapped and shining as threatening as
fisheyes leap forward around the
mouth of the pipe and the water
flowers white petals out of the
mouth like a charge of vomit.
“I don’t like what’s growing on the
pipe,” Nameless says.
He lets go of the yellow boot.
“I don’t like it,” Nameless says again.
“I don’t like it,” the Old Woman said.
“Nobody likes the green of the
leaves growing round the pipe?”
“No!” the Old Woman and
What’shername say together.
“That’s the Pukinji Phenomeon,” the
Old Man says.
“Look! The light at the end of the
alley!” He said hard and high and
pointed. They looked.
“The Pukinji phenomon is happening
in your eyes are blasted with
brilliance! Everything goes black. Not
quite black. You now see through the
eyes of the rods turned on to seeing
in purple. But the cones are still on
to color that’s not there. The greens
seem to be aware of you.”
“You mean they’re not?” the Old
“I know they are,” Nameless says.
“How old are you?’” the Old Man
The nation wants to be everything
the country is, and on top of that, it
wants dominion over the highest
mountain within its borders but it’s
owned by ancient land grant.
The owner of the largest mountain in
the nation trades the ancient title to
the mountain for the same ancient
title to the hundred eleven square
miles of shoreline known as the Scar
at Tea City’s toes. The nation gets
its highest mountain and he gets a
hundred and eleven square miles of
fill-land and beach.
He’s the perfect owner. His trade
with the nation gives him the power
to rule his 111 square miles of
industrial fill like a prince for as long
as he stays on his land. He honors
the contract the Company made with
the former employees. He provides
water, power, sewage. He pays the
Company what they want. He rules
his property the way he wants and
that’s all right with Tea City as long
as he pays his City taxes.
NAMELESS GETS HER NAME
Today the nameless girl gets her
name. This morning the old man
wears a shirt over his undershirt.
The Old Woman is dressed for the
occasion of their girl receiving her
name, in front of society. “That’s all,
just the loners on the old Company
Scar,” the Old Woman assured
nameless. “Only the neighbors.”
The Old Woman walks into the
kitchen with the neighborhood
keeper of names. Everybody’s
Namer is a lady.
“Pretty Beautiful Flower’s gone I
don’t know where she is,” the Old
“I’m right here.” Nameless sits on
the floor with her boots, in the back
“In the kitchen,” the Old Man calls.
“Time to and get your oil and battery
“She’s beautiful!” the Name Lady
“Is that her name?” the Old Man
“Her skin glows.”
“I was born out of Bamboo, in the
“Bamboo ‘Take’ Snow ‘Yuki.’ Name:
Takeyuki,” the Namer says.
“Takeyuki,” the Old Couple says,
hears her name in their voices, and
“Oooh!” they like it. “Tah-kay-yukiiii.”
As the sun goes down and the air
turns blue as a bruise and closes
around the neighborhood, Takeyuki
emerges to be introduced to the
neighborhood. Her face glows.
RICH PLAYBOYS CALL
One day a filthy rich spoiled young
man knocks on the Eclipse Hotel door
waves money and asks to see the
Word has gotten out to Tea City of
Takeyuki’s other worldly beauty, and
been exaggerated and embellished.
He dabbles in a bit of poetry
himself. He has the money to make
her happy. It’s her’s if she is seen
and photographed with him.
More rich playboys and sleazy
playboys, playboys of the tabloids
hissing and snapping papzis and the
merely curious appear. The tenants
set up coffeehouses and noodle
shops in the empty lots next door.
The playboys send expensive gifts.
They send themselves disguised as
gifts. No one gets a sight of her. No
one hears her voice.
They write poetry, to the unseen
mystery, they write prose with a
subtle lot of alliteration on her
beauty or her neighborhood, they
write letters from the hasty beat of
their hasty hearts to the love of
their lives Takeyuki, a voice they’ve
never heard, a sight not one of them
has ever seen. They write short
gushes of words chucked from all
kinds of male hormones to Takeyuki
who they all love fiercely, and
competitively but not genuinely.
A year later the Old Couple have a
carp pond and a seafood stand for
the people walking in the park. There
are five rich playboys left. They are
famous for their devotion to a cause,
and identified by the
idiosyncratically colored and pungent
liquids they’ve become Takeyukifamous
for gulping in one swallow.
Five liquid colors in little hard
glasses: Gold, Amber, a Red that
flashes flame, on the gulp, a Blue of
beautiful eyes, and a thick liquid as
Green as dirt.
The five go to the Old Man in the
Eclipse Hotel and make him an offer
he can’t refuse.
“You’re old, Old Man. You’re going to
die soon. Who will take care of your
daughter then? Talk to her. Have
her meet us. Our year’s devotion is
worth something, isn’t it?”
“The playboys make a kind of sense,”
the Old Man says to Takeyuki.
The Old Man returns to the five
waiting playboys and says, “There are
five of you, and five tasks. Each of
you gets one task.
“Gold is to go to India and the Bodhi
tree the Buddha sat under, and bring
Takeyuki the bowl Buddha drank
from. She wants to see if it really
glows in the dark.
“Amber is to bring Takeyuki the
Chinese Fire Rat that stories say
cannot be burned.
“Johnny Red is to present Takeyuki
with a branch from the storied tree
with roots and trunk of gold,
branches of gold and silver, twigs of
silver, leaves of jade and fruit of
“Blue is to sail to the mythical
southernmost island and snatch the
jewel of myth from between the
eyes of a dragon that is rumored to
live there. Present that jewel to
“Green dirt is to find the island of an
ancient myth a where a bird is said
to be born and flies away never to
touch land again except to lay one
blue egg, fly off for the last time
and disappear. All you have to do is,
bring Takeyuki a piece of that bird’s
blue egg shell that disappears if
touched by human sight.”
Years go by. Plants grow. The
The Buddha’s bowl doesn’t glow in
The Chinese fire rat burns up in a
The branch of the storied tree with
gold roots and trunk and branches
and twigs of silver, leaves of jade,
and fruit of precious jewels arrives
with six shouting unpaid jewelers
waving their itemized bills.
Four and Five are never heard from