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A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava

From Chapter One

—noise background,

My getting out or what?!

Eleven hours and Thirty-Three minutes since meridian said the clock perched high atop a ledge on the wall and positioned to look down on us all meaning we were well into hour seven of this particular battle between Good and Evil and, oh yeah, that was Good taking a terrific beating with the poultry-shaped ref looking intently at its eyes and asking if it wanted to continue. We were what passed for Good there: the three of us and anyone we stood beside when we rose to speak for the mute in that decaying room (100 Centre Street's AR-3); and in that place, at that moment, Evil had us surrounded.

The puppetmaster pulling strings from behind the bench was a bloated pink one on loan from the Bronx. The nameplate directly before him announced J. MANOS in calligraphic gold. Its owner and referent had decided no one would taste freedom that arctic night and had been slowly apprising us of that decision for the aforementioned seven-plus hours. And all that while he fostered this ugly habit of echoing the end of his sentences, but only after the kind of delay that fooled you into thinking you were in the clear, as in bail is set in the amount of ten thousand dollars...ten thousand dollars and often an emphatic(!) too.

The DA was essentially bony but with a slightly bulbous face beneath a mushroom hairdo that rose and expanded from dark root stem to bottle-blond cap. She displayed no discernable personality or affect as she uttered (through an inconsistent lip-distorting-yet-thankfully-dry-lisp) the customary declarations of mock moral outrage like this defendant hath warranted on every one of his twenty three cathes, this defendant itha four-time predicate felon and this defendant hath used twelve different aliathes. Unsurprisingly, these wordswhen spoken in those or similar combinations and to that audiencewere more than sufficiently persuasive and as such invariably caused high numbers with commas to emerge from behind the nameplate. The numbers then attached to a body, one that by then had traversed the entirety of a creaking assembly line, and as a result the body stayed in.

[bod-y (bŏd'ē) n., pl.ies. 9. CJS. Inarguably odious term used by N.Y.C. Department of Correction and other court personnel to denote incarcerated criminal defendants: There are three hundred bodies in the system so we should be busy. He's bringing the next batch of bodies down now, I'll let you know if your guy's one of them.]

Excerpted from A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava. Copyright © Sergio De La Pava. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, University of Chicago Press.

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