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**PRINT: No. 34.2: Part dictionary of the outrageous, part chronicle of the manic twists and turns of American life, Atlanta writer Jamie Iredell's BOOK OF FREAKS (due fall 2010 from Future Tense) is A+ material, the best of its bits spawning raucous laughter and righteous anger read after read after. Check out several of the "freaks" in this issue, part of our mini-broadsheets series, along with Nashville-based Gabe Durham's similarly structured selections from "Fun Camp," a work in progress, on the back side. Durham is Keyhole Magazine's new editor.

**PRINT: COLD WAS THE GROUND, by Chicago's Scott Stealey, is No. 34 in our broadsheet series. Gina, protagonist, a rather lonely condo dweller/office manager, strikes up a fleeting friendship with one Porgo, an Eastern European construction worker who is burying on her property what Gina takes for a time capsule. But the metaphorical fix is in -- Porgo, an ESL student, may be leading Gina in directions she canít exactly get her head all the way around. Enjoy. Chicago writer Stealey is editor of the Please Donít online mag.

**WEB: FORBIDDEN FRUIT Steven Schutzman
MY ALIBI Kevin O'Cuinn
SKI AERIALS aka Peer
TESTIMONIAL aka Peer
WING & FLY: AN EXPERIMENT IN MIND CONTROL w/ MKULTRA and...Doug Milam | Todd Dills
RACING STRIPES Paul Lask
AT THE HILTON GARDEN INN NASHVILLE AIRPORT Spencer Dew
NARCOLEPTIC Foust
HIDEOUS BOUNTY: ONE WITH WOLF | Andrew Davis


FORBIDDEN FRUIT
---
Steven Schutzman

Schutzman lives and writes from Baltimore, where he has been the recipient of five Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Grant awards. He's published stories and plays in many literary journals, including the Pushcart Prize, TriQuarterly and Alaska Quarterly Review, among others.

Language has become dangerous, as it often does between my wife and I. We are like the Palestinian guys I used to teach back home in Jerusalem, taping explosives to their young bodies for a morning stroll in the Jewish marketplace. Words like flying nails and screws. She and I have enough education and self-knowledge to keep describing the problem but not enough to do anything about it. The words, though, are immensely satisfying. I can feel each one ripping our flesh in slow motion.

This time, I said something pretty bad -- I don't remember what, I never remember what -- then dove for her legs, a flying tackle before she could get out the door. She toppled. There was a loud crack, maybe her head against the corner of the coffee table. But she scrambled to her feet and kneed me in the jaw as I was trying to stand, driving my teeth toward my brain and saliva out my eyeballs. I lost consciousness slowly. Memories of a small destitute town. The poor. Always the poor and what to do about them.

Columbia College Fiction Writing Department

It's calm again now. My immense head is in her lap. I recognize the feeling of cold terry cloth on my swollen jawbone, a hand towel wrapped around the sharp corners of ice cubes. The pain, but so what? I can smell myself leaking out of her. It's the semen I shot into her minutes before our fight.

What had I said? Honestly, I don't remember, but I can't tell her that. She's a rabbi's daughter -- former rabbi's daughter, he quit the pulpit; she forgets no injury and, if you injure her, you at least ought to know what you said.

The cliche is that Jews are cheap but it's not true. I know, because my people have lived with them for thousands of years. Jews aren't cheap, merely supercharged with sensitivity, never forget a debt or injury. They want their money back or their dignity. They're just like Palestinians. She and I are addicted to drama like a drug. She's a big girl, almost as strong as me. If I fight her and am half-hearted about it, she'll kick my ass every time.

We are fine like this, resting and at peace, but I take a stupid chance and break the quiet.

I'm sorry, I say.

I never know when to shut up. Neither does she. We have this suicidal compulsion to share every one of our cleverisms, mean or not. I can't help it. I want inside her again. I always do when she decks me, because she's a wild animal then, don't let the ice and the nursing fool you. She's a wild animal that's triumphant, nice because she won not because she's sorry, an animal that needs taming, this sleek horse of a former rabbi's daughter with her trim, olive legs, wide hips and melon breasts, nipples big as yamulkas. She lectures in children's literature at the college, tenure track, parading in shiny blouses and wide skirts in front of freshman in a big theatre with raked seats, all her ripe parts jostling lustily, creating ripples of shifting light and shadow on her reflecting clothes. How she swings. Who could learn anything?

Sometimes I stand in the back of the theatre and watch her moving like that down in the lecture well. This is my theory: She knows I'm there but just isn't letting on. Then I follow her back to her office, staying behind her and the students with her, those who haven't stopped drooling yet, who pay attention out of sublimating lust like Alice in Wonderland she teaches them about. Another theory: It's a game with us, acting out the war.

I lock the door, push her down over the desk, lift her skirt, no underwear, already wet, this former rabbi's daughter. Does she even know it's me? Or one of the students? My violence pushes the hundreds of papers into a terrible avalanche down into the window well. One thing: she's a slob, very disorganized, trying to do a thousand things at once, always getting distracted. The rolling desk chair goes flying, the metal garbage can turns over loud as a car bomb. We always come together in her little office, never fails like original sin. When she gets tenure, she'll have a bigger office. One like mine.

Back on the floor of our house, she asks, Sorry for what?

Uh oh.

For what I said before.

And what was that?

It happens fast. Suddenly you're over the cliff again. Because there's something a lot worse than tackling her -- it's not paying attention to what she says. It's a self-absorption to match her own. Did I call her a horse? My head hurts, my jaw is killing me, I want to lick her cunt, but I don't say any of this. It's just how it is, the way her skin smells. Years ago, that's how it all started. I had emigrated. I had given up my religion. I had made it; a rising, young star at an elite American academic institution. Every year I had my pick of students, with pedigrees and private school educations, graduate students, TAs, visiting lecturers, adjunct professors who wanted to hear what I had to say. The Garden of Eden. Of course I wanted the forbidden American fruit, the lanky blondes in their tight jeans.

But when she showed up the world was turned upside down, and the forbidden fruit was the regular fruit, her, this dark-skinned, black-haired former rabbi's daughter who arrives one fall, who looks and smells so familiar to me, who doesn't want to hear what I have to say and what a relief because I had been repeating myself for years, sneaking around like a spy for no country at all, with a mission but no loyalty.

The first time we met in her office she shook my hand and stood not a foot away from me, as if I was her brother, a small office, sure, but it was as if she wanted to smell me, like an animal, and that's it, that's it, I smelled her, her skin, and I was gone. The forbidden fruit is the regular fruit. I just shut the door. I had never done anything like this in my life. I was a talker. That's how I won people over. But not that time. We stared was all, that time. She's my height but outweighs me by 20 pounds. We stare long and hard and neither of us will ever break it. We are still staring.

Maybe that's why I keep following her back to her office after class, for a reenactment of the original mystery, the original sin. I told her later that in that stare of ours everything we ever had or will have to say to each other walked across the bridge spanning our eyes. Why talk? It's all repetition. But no. Now that we're married, she wants to be carefully listened to like her father arguing Talmudic subtleties with me into the night. Now she has evolved and has things to say. Now there are arguments. Now we are suicide bombers strapped with words. Now I realize how backward I am in my soul.

Sorry for what? she demands.

I'm lost. I'm hard. I don't know what to do.

I'm sorry I was mean to you. I will try to be nicer.

You don't remember, do you?

Then I have an inspiration.

We aren't arguing with each other, I say. We are arguing with god.

But it doesn't work.

Not only don't you listen to me, she says, pulling away and letting my head drop to the carpet. You don't even listen to yourself.

She gets up, rips her smell from me, throws her shorts on and a tee shirt, and then painfully stubs her toe on the leg of the chair. One thing: she's accident prone, she's a big klutz. I'm forlorn. My jaw is broken. I have sacrificed my life to a familiar smell. God tricked me. He said don't touch the forbidden fruit but the forbidden fruit was the regular fruit. She goes to the car. Sometimes she'll sit for hours but she never starts the engine. If she does I'll go out there and drag her back in. Then she'll feel all the strength I have as a man.






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