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Zach Plague reads an excerpt from his first novel, Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring, published in August by Featherproof Books.
Part 7: A yard of mummies
Adelaide was at her old school standing in the hall outside Ms. Man’s office. Fighting off clingy memories. She hated this place. It was a tomb, but one which actively suppressed her. Imposed its monolith stupidity on her. Having graduated recently, and ahead of her class, she wanted very much to no longer think about her years spent here.
An irritating necessity had brought her to this stank waiting room. Certain lawyers were getting serious. The calls had mostly stopped and now ominous-looking paperwork had begun to arrive in the mail. Clownish words; slander, libel, reputation-damaging, disclosure of admission-something or other. As far as she could tell the lawyers were sent by The Platypus. Apparently he was seriously ruffled now. She always suspected him, and in light of recent developments, the fact that the harassment suit seemed to be gaining in momentum only served to confirm her suspicions.
About six months ago Adelaide had a show at the Velveteen gallery. The art was this:
“First I assembled a rather shoddy portfolio of ‘artwork’. Some reindeer my 6-year old niece drew in marker. A Polaroid of the Mona Lisa. A few lines on paper, an empty Kool-Aid packet, spilled paint, the ugliest piece of art I could find at the ThriftWhopper by my house, a sketch of a jeep by my friend, poorly plagiarized versions of some well known contemporary work. A bunch of crap, really. In slide form, these images constituted the centerpiece of my applications to 25 Master of Arts programs across the country. I filled out all the forms. My statement of intent was a finely crafted missive of aesthetic ignorance, well-placed typos, and sub-par grammar.
“Every single institution sent me back a warm, yet professional, letter of acceptance.
“I framed these letters and hung them alongside the various pieces that made up the portfolio. They were up at Velveteen for a month.”
Adelaide pulled on her hair bitterly. The whole thing was a bust. It was funny and it was fun. But she had spent 60-100 dollars in fees on each application. So far only a few of the pieces had sold. Critically it was a success. Especially if success was measured in criticism. Most everyone who had received an art degree from one of these institutions was insulted. The deans, and heads of departments, and professors, who represented these stalwarts of American Art Education were outraged.
And that’s when the legalese started arriving in the post. She had tried to make the problem go away by ignoring it, but it seemed like she was going to be in some very real trouble soon. Especially if The Platypus had additional motivation.
Ms. Man was about the only one who might be able to advise her. Artists in general, and especially those affiliated with ‘lesser’ universities had been, for the most part, highly amused. Ms. Man had made a name for herself back in the ’60s by wrangling with the legal system. Her project involved an extraordinary amount of horse shit and a little bit of government property. She was highly political and stubborn and Adelaide hoped that she would pick up the banner and go to battle for her. Adelaide hated controversy. It was boring boring.
She could hear Ms. Man and someone else talking in hushed voices inside. So she pinched at her skin impatiently. She did need to go in soon. She was desperately afraid of seeing The Platypus, or, for that matter, anyone she knew, in the halls. She was about to go inside when someone grabbed her hand and jerkily pulled her into the flow of students streaming through the halls.
It was Zella. And her mouth was moving.
“Omigod. I can’t believe you’re here. What are you doing? Did I tell you what happened to me last night? It was like the weirdest scam-out of my life. Weirder than that dad thing even. Omigod, you see her…?”
Adelaide felt like an embarrassed spy, just apprehended. She was terrified that Zella would bring her to the center of unwanted attention.
“At the Dirty Moss show last weekend all her friends found her passed out in a stall in the girls bathroom. Toilet papered.”
“Zella.” Interruption was futile.
“No, I’m serious. Like someone’s tree. Like a mummy. Like a yard full of mummies. Except maybe ones that had been knocked over because she was on the floor, well, half on the toilet. Supposedly she had gone in there to puke, and after barfing had passed out on the pot. And then someone came in and like totally wrapped her in TP. Rumor has it that Punk did it.”
“Oh. You see him?” Fierce stage whispers. Loud enough to disturb Adelaide’s balance. “Hemophiliac and cutter. How does he do it? He told Margo who told Brody who told Virginia who told me. At this party Thursday – why weren’t you there? It was at January’s. Ollister was there. A friend of a friend of Paolo’s brought her 7-year-old daughter. Can you imagine? And it was in the back yard. So I was staying in the house, with the band, cause you know how I feel about that. Until Matilda grabbed me to see, apparently January wouldn’t let it play with her bangles. And it grabbed her by the hair and pulled her to the ground and kicked her in the face. Can you imagine? She got her ass kicked by a kid. I mean she was drunk, but shit...”
“Zella, I have something to do.” Adelaide.
“Whatever. Who cares? Listen, I need a ride home. Let’s go.”
“I can’t give you a ride home.” The kids streamed past them in the hall. The occasional mohawk stuck up like a shark fin in the bobbing sea of heads.
“What the fuck are you doing here anyway?”
“I have to see Ms. Man.”
“What the fuck do you want…Oh that girl right there.” Stage whisper again. “She gives hand jobs with green paint. $50 bucks. I kind of like her.” Zella paused to stare. Then back. “What the fuck do you want to see Man for?”
“Look, I don’t want to talk about it. Nevermind. Come on, I’ll give you a ride home.”
Zella insisted on coming in. She drank a bottle and a half of Adelaide’s wine, and ignored repeated hints that she had worn out her welcome. She talked and talked until Adelaide interrupted, and loudly demanded that she go home. When she was finally alone, she was thankful for the silence, and felt at peace. She was also half-drunk, and decided to go look at the gray book. Which is when she found it missing.
Which meant someone from the White Sodality had broken in and taken it from her. They knew. She had only told Matilda. Maybe they had gotten to her, somehow. Why couldn’t she just lie? She smashed the empty wine bottle in the sink. She hated her friends.
From Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring by Zach Plague. Copyright © 2008 by Zach Plague. Published by Featherproof Books. All rights reserved.