Nothing is Reviled by Perle Besserman

Now that I think back on it, I’ll bet every girl at Edgecomb knew about my affair with Denny Mackle, the college handyman. It’s hard to be private on a tiny campus jam-packed with three hundred post-pubescent Presbyterians. Having Winnie Foy for a roommate didn’t help, either. Winnie could spread gossip with the speed of a rat dropping bubonic plague. To test her, I once told her I was majoring in Japanese because I was planning to become an industrial spy. I told her the government recruiter, the cute redheaded guy with the freckles who’d been on campus at the beginning of the semester, had offered me a job as soon as I got out of college. I said he’d recruited me in secret, urged her not to utter a word to anyone, cross her heart and hope to die. Wouldn’t you know, it took one afternoon lunch hour for Winnie to spread it around campus. Just thinking about Winnie gives me cramps. All that straight blond hair and all those white choppers smiling down at you in bed first thing in the morning. Yuck.

People at school took me for an easygoing type. I suppose they thought that gave them license to pry into my personal life. Good old Kimberly Lovett, the “lending queen”—dispensing everything from electric curlers (with AC/DC adaptors for foreign travel) to birth control pills. Not to speak of keeping their cats in my dorm room on pain of expulsion during winter and spring breaks when they all went home and left me to my lonely devices. And me an asthmatic no less!

Could be they took advantage of me because I was given the privilege of bringing my car to campus when nobody else was. I know Mother resented me for it because she was furious at Daddy for signing over her Jag to me after their divorce. Though they supposedly weren’t on speaking terms, she phoned and gave him an earful about it. I was listening in on the extension phone and heard their conversation.

Using her acid tone of voice, Mother said, “What, with all the booze and drugs . . . knowing her, she’ll be picked up on a DUI even before the semester starts.”

Dad immediately snapped back, “I don’t see as you have the right to talk about what’s appropriate and what isn’t, Evelyn.”

Of course that cranked up the whole ugly business again, about how she’d gone and disgraced the Lovett name by carrying on with a stable hand, and how she ought to be grateful to him for not having her incarcerated as crazy and an unfit mother to begin with. I’d always slam down the extension on Mother and Daddy’s telephone arguments to let them know that I’d had it up to here with their bor-ring dysfunctional family shit. Okay, I was and always will be “Daddy’s girl,” but part of me sided Mother. You had to give her credit: the stable hand, Benny, was ten years younger and certainly outdid Daddy in the sack. The reason I know is I came upon them going at it late one afternoon: Benny and Mother buck naked, except for their mud-covered riding boots. He was delivering it to her handily right there in the middle of the barn. A real Lady Chatterley thing. Not being Winnie Foy, I kept it to myself. Even mothers are entitled to some fun out of life.

Like Mother, I, too, have been blessed with a fondness for the proletariat. I think it threw Winnie to see me arrive in my Payless imitation Doc Martens and Goodwill coveralls. I told her I was a scholarship student from Detroit. Of course, Winnie didn’t say another word to me until she found out that I lied. And that took her less than a week. Maybe she knew it all along. My hair must have given me away: I had your typically long yellow locks then. (Shaven since the shock treatments and growing out in different directions all over my scalp, which is as prickly as a kiwi at this writing.) That, and the glossy silk porn-star underwear Daddy’s ordered me from Paris to spite Mother. We Lovetts have always been kind of spiteful. Take Daddy’s father, Grandpa Quentin Lovett. He died of cancer of everything all by himself in the Adirondacks, but not before leaving all of his forty million dollars to yours truly in trusty dribs and drabs so that Mother can’t get her wicked, adulterous hands on it. Even Daddy can’t touch. In two more years—assuming I get out of here upright—it’s all mine. I tell you, we Lovetts don’t have to check the Farmer’s Almanac to find out which way the wind’s blowing. We just go right in and meet it heads-up.

Which is exactly what I did that Tuesday morning when I saw Denny Mackle lugging that Victorian leather sofa out of the Dean’s office in Beardy Hall. I mean, given my genes, how was I to resist those steely blue eyes and that bullet-shaped head of kinky blonde down, or those long-lobed Buddha ears? Not to speak of the bulge in his jeans. Denny was coming at me without looking where he was going. There was plenty of leeway for a girl to fake a stumble and crash into the warm, sweet’n sour leatheriness of him. It was lust at first touch. Denny was forty-seven, and as you’ve probably gathered by now, I had a father complex.

Edgecomb was the second college I’d graced with my presence in six months. It had a Henry Moore in the stone quad, six fake Georgian buildings and a grove of sycamores, and had been founded in 1832 by a button manufacturer whose four daughters had flunked out of every other small liberal arts women’s college in America. Daddy provided the funds for a psych lab where babies were peered at from behind one-way mirrors. He had it named for his deceased twin sister Marian, the would-be psychologist he’d badmouth and then cry over after three stiff Sunday afternoon martinis. Daddy is a crier. I even saw him get down on his knees once and beg Mother to give up her stable hand and come back to him. Both of them were drunk, of course. When Mother ordered him up and out of her sight, adding that he was “disgusting,” Daddy called her a “wily, sanctimonious bitch,” dropped onto the sofa where I was sitting, put his head in my lap, and blubbered for God to avenge him against “all the bitches except for my own baby Kim.”

I’ve always admired Daddy’s flexibility. It took less than one session for me to convert him from the evils of gin to the innocent pleasures of ‘shrooms. If he hadn’t returned to those martinis we might all have been spared. Poor Daddy. It was you who insisted on buying your little girl a pony in the first place, and later, four quarter horses, and, with your very own checkbook, you who brought hairy-balled Benny into our happy home. Not that I’m blaming you for my own bad karma. But everything short of, and a little over the borderline of incest, can be traced back to that equine purchase.

But let me return to Denny Mackle. I’ve been instructed by my shrink to “ventilate” in writing, doesn’t have to be a formal journal type thing, but it’s important, she says, to express my rage instead of turning it inward. I’ll do anything she says to get out of here.

My knight in blue collar, Denny was everything we at home were not: religious, poor, hardworking, devoted to his mom.

“Do you put out, girlie?” he growled on that first brief but delicious encounter.

Being of a literary turn, I replied with a Molly Bloom-like YES, YES, YES!

We did it in the front seat of his pickup in the Faculty/Staff parking lot immediately after he’d delivered the Victorian sofa to the alumni lounge. Depressed libido aside, it makes the labia majora quiver to think of that first time with Denny. He spoke little. Mostly preached at you when he talked at all. But he plugged it in and went at a girl with the single-mindedness of a preacher on speed. Honestly, although the old cherry had been long broken (by a clumsy Moroccan business associate of Daddy’s, a Semite in a white linen suit and red fez who stumbled into my room after a party), and considering what two abortions will do to a youngster, Denny brought this jaded lady back to life. Let me tell you, sister! For openers, the Goddess had endowed him with the necessary equipment: a thick reddish, uncircumcised tool surrounded by two perfect round pockets encased in shuddering turkey skin, and a kinky crescent patch from which the lusty organ sprouted like a new spring crocus. Not to mention his staying power and his eroto-religious commitment. Denny believed in three things—his mother’s virginity, the sanctified nature of daily copulation, and the blood red pickup upon whose rear end he’d been inspired to print NOTHING IS REVILED in bold white letters. That battered, blood red pickup was to serve as his chariot to heaven.

“How do you like it, girlie?” he’d asked, standing back from his handiwork and squinting into the sun. Denny never addressed me by name. I don’t think he knew it.

“Cool, darling,” I replied, hopping in next to him.

Denny believed that the arrival of his personal meeting with the Lord would see him and his Mama (the unfortunately-named, mentally-lamed Myrtle Mackle) tucking in their angel garments, sliding into the front seat, and taking off on the Elijah route to paradise. Until that day, the holy pickup served as a tabernacle for our daily copulation ritual. I’d often thought about asking him if there was to be a time limit on our “good deeds,” but it slipped my mind. I mean, doing it with Denny made a girl forget who she was and what she was here for. It was a truly spiritual experience. You delivered yourself unto him, and, Oh my God! how those purple sparklers would rocket off; how those pinwheels would turn! There is no drug, natural or synthetic, to match it. And I’ve tried them all, so I should know. Denny Mackle was a supernatural fuck. Now that he’s gone, life is just one big heap of meaningless landfill.

Dr. Landy, the lady shrink with the fat legs and the space shoes tells me I’m lucky. “You ought to be grateful for what you had,” she said last Thursday. “Most people never experience that kind of sex. Don’t be greedy.”

The affair lasted for six glorious months. We’d meet in the Faculty/Staff parking lot between classes or in the shrubbery behind the president’s office when the girls were off playing field hockey. When the Student Council voted 24-hour parietals with no objections from the faculty, Denny and I would do it in the basement laundry room of my dorm. On one such occasion (the deceptively tranquil May weekend before the Father-Daughter romp at the country club), Winnie Foy burst in on us unawares with a basket of bath towels. I’d slipped my peppermint-striped bikini panties over Denny’s enormity and was laughing at the sight of them dangling and bobbing like paper frills on a lamb chop. Honestly, there was hardly enough room in that squalid little box of a room for the three of us—Denny’s dong, the rest of Denny, and me—so you can imagine what it felt like with Winnie and the laundry basket on board. With the racket coming from the washing machines, which we’d turned on for “white noise,” we were hardly aware of Winnie in the doorway until she sneezed. What else could she be doing there but snooping? A girl so violently allergic to detergent that she used to send her laundry down to New Rochelle, every stitch of it! Hmmm . . .

For one terrible split second I thought Denny might take it into his head to make it a threesome. Not for puritanical reasons, mind you. I just abhorred the idea of sharing that wonderful apparatus with anyone else. In fact, the thought of his asking Winnie to join us made me so jealous that I tore the panties from their perch and, right in front of her, thrust myself on him like a Roman stoic running on his blade. Denny and I were roughly the same height, which made it possible to mate standing straight up face to face. Winnie dropped the towels at our feet, shrieked once, and ran away panting. Strangely, not one girl in the dining room claque seemed to have heard about the incident the next day. Winnie was to retreat into gossip-less silence forever after. Her convent school upbringing had left its indelible mark.

Sometimes Denny and I went down the hill into town at night. He had no friends and felt that “picture shows,” as he called them, were “Satan’s images;” so we usually ended up in the IGA parking lot, toking peacefully, praying, preaching love, and launching into four or five good deeds an hour. Later, after the confrontation with Daddy, when I’d taken to religious matter for consolation, I came across a sect called the Waldensians in a book on medieval heresies I’d ripped off from a sale table in Yonkers. It occurred to me then that what Denny and I were practicing was a sort of Waldensianism for the nineties. That epiphany notwithstanding, I threw myself fully into my nervous breakdown. A spiritual insight, no matter how profound, does not keep a girl warm in bed at night.

Today, brain and heart emptied even of pain by the wonders of modern medicine, I sit on the caged hospital verandah, gazing over the murky Hudson waters, sniffing soot, oil, and garbage from the scows passing Jersey-ward, trying desperately to recapture my memories of Denny. Any little fragment will do: the raspy giggle when I tickled his belly, the sharp upturned eyebrow when I tickled too hard. No sooner, however, do I catch one of those moments than they turn to mist in my head, like water boiling out of a pan. Maybe I try too hard. Fat, space-shoe-shod Dr. Landy says I don’t try hard enough.

This morning I tried terrorizing her. “Get out!” I screamed, heaving an ashtray at her head. “Stop fucking with my brain!”

Being your basically good-hearted Jungian lesbian therapist, Landy turned around and walked away. But she’ll be back tomorrow. She’s persistent, and, in my own fruitless way, I suppose I am, too. The difference is that she’s trying to get me to remember Denny in order to get him out of my system by making a sweet little bolus of him that I can spit out of my craw once and for all. And I want to keep my memories of him inside me until the day I join him and Mama Myrtle in the big red pickup in the sky. It’s less than a year since I lost him. Maybe it’s the medication, but I think space-shoe lady is winning this tug of war. Denny’s image is definitely beginning to fade. I have even been given to musing lately that maybe I exaggerated the importance of our relationship. But for his wild, uncanny erotic hold over me, Denny might have been less than a speck in my eye, a cinder irritating me for one day and then forgotten. Food for the hungry cells of the imagination to grow on. Less than a man. A simpleton like his Mama. A human hoax spouting ragtag “hallelujahs,” “amens,” sex grunts, and an occasional “girlie” blown zephyr-windy in my ear. Too crazy for neighborhood canvassing, he waited for me to come along. Can you imagine him on a door-to-door crusade? “‘Scuse me, missus. I’m from your friendly Church of the Heavenly Chariot, can I come in for a minute? Nothing is reviled. Do you put out, missus?” I can hardly remember his face, but how his spirit haunts me.

Tonight I only pretend to take my pills and a clear memory arises from my numbed-out brain.

Denny and I are bowling and drinking Bud Lite out of the can in the combination pool hall/bowling alley on Route 100C. I’m wearing a pair of oversized bowling shoes, and I’m chewing gum. (Mother had never permitted gum chewing.) I’m making my political fashion statement with my big pink hair rollers and my lavender tulle bonnet, the kind worn by those women you see in supermarkets all across the face of the good old US of A. Denny and I have just grabbed a quick but satisfying one in the corner behind the telephone between spares. We’re both high. Mushy, the foulmouthed halfwit who runs the bowling alley, has just finished replacing the pins (the automatic pin-boy is on the blink) when Denny suddenly puts down his beer, turns to me, and smiles. Now this in itself is a momentous event because Denny is a very serious man, and I have never seen him smile like that before. It’s a really slow opening up and spreading out sort of grin that takes its time coming. To add to the drama of his first full smile, Denny has a cracked front tooth that gives him the appearance of a man walking around with a pyramid in his mouth. On the night of May 15, 1996, he flashes that ivory pyramid at me and says, “Marry me, girlie. Say yes and I’ll take you home to meet Mama right now.”

Shivering all over, I hold my beer can high in the air and with the veins in my neck stretched taut, cry, “Yes! A thousand times yes, Denny Mackle. I will be your wife!”

Denny shouts “Hallelujah!” then lifts me off the ground with a powerful sweep of one hand and simultaneously bowls a perfect strike with the other. The pins thunder and crash, Mushy sticks two fingers in his mouth and lets out an ear-piercing whistle, and some fond soul flicks the jukebox lights on and off in time to the congratulatory hooting and hollering of the rowdies over at the pool table.

Denny and Mama Myrtle Mackle live one floor above an eatery, where both time and filth have erased RESTAU from the windows, leaving only RANT to advertise the goodies therein. Denny’s hobby litters their one room so that no matter what time of day you enter, you have the sensation of walking into a pebble-strewn cave. He paints goblin faces on smooth white stones, which he places on consignment at a local knick-knack shoppe. Because he is as prolific in his handicraft as in everything else, Denny’s flat simply runneth over with those clever little fellas. A claw-foot bathtub occupies the center of their one room; a barrel-bellied chest of drawers of ancient vintage leans against one wall, its left leg held together with string, its right leg propped up on a pile of waterlogged ring binders. A gaily flowered curtain separates the family room from the bedroom, which consists of one daybed and one army cot covered by a khaki army blanket, and a one-wall kitchen. On the dining table there are four open cereal boxes, two blue Shirley Temple goblets, six unwashed dishes, and a family plastic flatware service for two. A butter-colored cat sits admiring the homey debris and licking the milk out of a bowl of leftover Sugar Pops. A water closet with a pull-chain flush sits at the head of the stairs in the hall outside the apartment. Living American Gothic. My heart aches at the sight. Mon pauvre . . . time, marriage, and my fortune will change all this, I vow silently.

Mama Myrtle Mackle, also butter-colored, like the cat, rules the room above the RANT from her wheelchair. Struck numb and mute by stroke, she signals her commands through a series of eructations and farts. Although she can hardly hold up her withered finger indicating that she wishes to be wheeled across the room, one particularly loud belch is all it takes to signal Denny into action. To my novice’s eye, Myrtle appears to be happy to see me. But I was of an optimistic turn of mind in those days. Looking back at the situation from my more jaded current perspective, I might have been anthropomorphizing in my eagerness to be accepted into the family. I was so honored at the prospect of being Denny Mackle’s wife and beloved partner in the Church of the Heavenly Chariot, that the smell of fried fish escaping from the floorboards under my feet might just as well been sandalwood incense, Denny’s mutant tooth, the ancient pyramid, and Mama Myrtle Mackle, the sphinx herself. (I was reading The Egyptian Book of the Dead in an ancient history course that spring.)

Denny goes to the fridge behind the curtain and returns with two more cans of Bud Lite. I’m feeling a bit lightheaded by then, seeing as we’d drunk more than four beers apiece and smoked two joints and hadn’t yet eaten a thing. Raising his beer to his mouth, and swallowing most of it in one chugalug, Denny motions for me to do likewise. Holding my breath, I do as I am bid.

“Mama, girlie here has agreed to be my wife. We have performed many good deeds together. I have tested her to the highest degree and she has met every challenge. Never once did she fall asleep! Never did she cry out ‘enough’—never, Mama, was she unfaithful to our holy cause. And that is why I bring her before you today. That is why”—here Denny lowered his head reverently to his chest and pushed my head down, too— “we come humbly here for your blessing on us both. May this girlie here prove a worthy substitute navigator for you in your pitiable affliction. Amen.”

The old lady lets out a crisp, military fart in response.

“Amen,” I find myself shouting, throwing my arms around my fiancé’s neck and pressing my breasts against his rough leather coat. Until the moment of my conversion, I’d always thought of myself as a rather frosty Presbyterian. Here, on Denny’s own sacred ground, breathing the same Holy Spirit . . . how can I begin to describe what it’s like being born again? Add to this five cans of Bud Lite and two joints swishing around in my bloodstream, the steamy, fishy closeness of the room, Mama sitting immobile in her wheelchair emitting a variety of digestive signals—well, you get the picture. Suddenly I’m overwhelmed by the desire to let Denny have me right there in the middle of the room in consummation of our holy union, with Mama Myrtle Mackle bearing witness.

“Together, girlie and I spat in the face of the profane! We cleansed the temples of their corruption with the holy water of our good deeds!” Denny must have read my mind, because at that very moment, he’s waving his fists in the air and mounting me.

“Holy!” I cry out, wriggling as he commences to pump and charge, hovering over me like a great thundercloud. Struck by his lightning, a silvery flash cuts through me, and the soft, familiar patter of blessed rain streams between my legs. I am God’s chosen; I know it for sure now.

When I come back from washing myself in the water closet down the hall, Denny insists that the holy marriage ceremony we’ve just performed above the RANT requires public confirmation from Nelson Lovett. It would have to be my Daddy who announces it to the world—as his Mama has witnessed it before heaven. I try reasoning with him, but Denny will have it no other way. He refuses to settle for anything less than Daddy’s full public approval.

So, picture this: it’s a week later and three hundred heiresses—having exchanged their gum-soled work boots and cut-up jeans for silk pumps, slip dresses, and pearls—are cavorting

with their custom-tailored, three-piece suited Daddies in the alumni lounge. Denny Mackle, dressed in civvies for the occasion, is hovering sourly in the wings until the Dean of Students spots him and presses him into service. That’s how my lover first meets my father, unofficially, while carrying around a tray and serving martinis. Daddy’s been drinking heavily all morning. I smelled it on his first lingering kiss. He’s talking to Winny Foy’s father, the ambassador to Cyprus, who’s just flown in for the festivities and is scheduled to fly back immediately after the buffet supper at the country club. The new provost is standing there, too, brownosing the ambassador like crazy for his quarter-of-a-million-dollar pledge to Edgecomb’s Alumni Fund.

Since 1832, Daddies have poured into the town of Goshen-on-the-Hudson from all four corners of the earth to participate in Father-Daughter Day. The usual retired old geezers from history and foreign languages are there, and a few worried younger profs who are coming up for tenure in the fall. You can hardly tell them from the waiters without a scorecard, they’re so ingratiating. Denny, in fact, looks more like a college president than the moth-eaten old president himself. Distinguished in his black sermon suit, my beloved pretends to ignore me so well that at one point in the festivities I’m so upset I have to rush off to the ladies room for a good cry. (I was a high-strung person in those days, not the electroshocked vegetable you see today.)

A championship golf match had been arranged for two o’clock that afternoon at the Pilgrim’s Harbor Country Club, with the winning purse going to the lucky Daddy’s favorite charity. Daddy and Winnie Foy’s Daddy slap each other on the back when lots are drawn and they discover that they’re going to be on the same team. I’m standing there watching them when Denny taps me on the shoulder and motions me outside. Charged by the old hormonal sizzle at his touch, I excuse myself and sidle out the French doors. Then I make a beeline for the elderberry bushes. Denny’s waiting for me there, leaning against the wall of the science building and sweating.

“Girlie,” he growls in a voice that’s huskier than usual. “Here, take.”

He hands me a neatly wrapped package.

“Why, Denny, darling, a gift for me?”

“For you to put in the truck. Tonight we leave on our honeymoon trip. Everything is ready.”

“But, Denny . . .”

“Mama died this morning. Be brave, girlie,” he says gruffly, patting my hand before turning around and walking away.

Don’t ask me why, but I feel deeply bereft at the news of Mama’s death. I bite the thin string open and unwrap the package. Inside the rose-covered box, in a crèche of tissue paper, there’s a brown felt dachshund on a rubber suction stand, one of those mascots on a spring that bobbles its head from left to right in the rear window of your car as you’re driving, and whose eyes light up red when you apply the brakes. One look at the doggie assures me that we’re indeed on our way out of there.

By the time I get back to the alumni lounge, all but one inebriated Geology instructor has left for Pilgrim’s Harbor and the golf tournament. Denny’s gone, too. There isn’t enough time to search for the Jag in the crammed parking lot, so I remove my heels and sprint the mile and three-quarter distance between the country club and the campus in my pantyhose.

I reach the club and climb the embankment at the third hole just in time to see Denny striding across the green toward Daddy and Mr. Foy, who is at that very moment teeing off at the first hole. A premonition courses through me and I shiver. Gripping my wedding bundle in both hands, a warning cry frozen in my chest, I race toward the trio on the grass. Daddy’s flailing his arms around and cursing. Mr. Foy, in drunken slow motion, reaches out to grab him, loses his balance, and falls backwards. An ancient caddy in white knickers hobbles over toward them wielding a driving iron.

“You son of a bitch Jesus freak! I’ll smash your face in!” Daddy’s angry basso profundo pierces the breeze wafting up from the Hudson just then.

Denny takes a step toward him. Mr. Foy, unhurt, but transfixed, lies on his back staring up at the heavens. The ancient caddy approaches Denny and starts menacing him with the driving iron.

“Rasputin! Child molester! Devil!” Daddy screams.

This final sacrilege is too much for Denny. He flings his arms around Daddy’s neck and exhorts the Lord to intercede for the sake of Nelson Lovett’s purblind soul. That’s when Daddy really loses it. (Paid off by the Lovett family lawyers, no doubt, the caddy will later swear that Denny had a tire jack in his rear pocket, thus clearing Daddy on a charge of self-defense.)

Now empty-handed, I draw closer. I must have dropped the dachshund somewhere between the third and second holes. With a growing sense that something terrible is about to happen, nauseated and feeling like I’m about to faint, I run to where Daddy and Denny are tussling. But just as I get there, Daddy tears Denny’s arms from around his neck, grabs the driving iron from the caddy, and strikes my bridegroom two blows across the forehead, killing him instantly. I’m just in time to see my beloved flash me his second, and final, pyramid-toothed grin as he falls, his blood soaking the grass black at my feet.

At that moment it’s as though an invisible blow to the solar plexus has sent me dervishing toward the earth’s core. My head is resounding with the strains of an angelic choir, accompanied by visions of Denny riding to heaven, scaling the heights at the wheel of his pickup while an immense mechanical dog’s eye flashes red signals from the Jersey side of the Hudson. And that’s all I remember.

I am sitting in the Patient Rec. Room watching the six o’clock news. In front of the Fifth Avenue entrance to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, a group of saffron-clad dancers are throwing red carnations at passersby. Accompanied by a bald man playing the harmonium, two drum-beating women are chanting:

“Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna

Hare Rama, Hare Rama

Krishna, Krishna

Rama, Rama…”

The man’s baldhead glitters in the sun. Soon the little cluster of saffron-clad celebrants are joined by Anchorites and Scientologists, Satanists and Campus Crusaders for Christ, Millenarians, Seventh-Day Adventists, and Rastafarians. All of them join hands and dance across Fifty-Ninth Street, forming a circle around the heavy-set blind man with the German shepherd who occupies the begging spot on the corner. On his chest, the blind man wears a sign: “Thank God You Can See.” He flips it over and reveals the other side: “Nothing is Reviled.” Then the blind man, who is wearing a pair of pitch-black sunglasses, stands up, enters the circle, and smiles at his acolytes. His front tooth is triangular, shaped like the great pyramid of Egypt.

Dr. Landy walks into the Rec. Room and stations herself in front of the TV, blocking my view. I hand her what I’ve written. She skims the page and says, “You were a mess when they brought you in, you know. No comparison between then and now . . .

“You’re right,” I say, knowing otherwise.

“I have good news,” she says, beaming, “You’re being released on Friday.”

“Great,” I say, my head bobbling.

Perle Besserman
perle1Perle Besserman’s autobiographical novel Pilgrimage was published by Houghton Mifflin, and her latest novels, Kabuki Boy, and Widow Zion, and Yeshiva Girl, a story collection, are available from Aqueous Books, Pinyon Publishing, and Homebound Publishing, respectively. Her short fiction has appeared in The Southern Humanities Review, Agni, Transatlantic Review, Nebraska Review, Southerly, North American Review, Bamboo Ridge, and in many other publications, both online and in print.