The Watchmaker’s Victory

• June 14th, 2012

Over stacked vats of gray beer, lines of smoke stretched toward a fan that wheezed and scraped, sucking clouds of steam from a caldron on the stove. A clinking drifted about the room: the matron shuffling, piling, sweeping among clay bowls, beer jars, and soup ladles. C. dropped his cigarette among stubs swelling in the ash jar and hoisted his beer. Over the rim, Barley’s head was drooping like a boulder trailing moss.

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Chapter 5: The Fugitive God

• May 28th, 2012

Under the yellow blur of his mother’s sandal, Clerk’s palm bounced, going red while steam from the scalding-tub scorched the back of his hand and whooshed into his face.  His mother let go his hand to root out the second and draw it toward her.

“Is it warm now?”

She snatched up her sandal—

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Chapter 4: Faces of the Fallen

• May 23rd, 2012

C. cleared his spectacles with his sleeve and slid them up his nose.  The space before him swarmed with watchers in flux: tucked, fierce, dumpy faces, wax heads over threadbare, stuffed costumes, narrow scarecrows tilting over cigarettes.  A baby’s head bobbed drunken among warts and bellies in an arthritic, gnarled forest of hardening flesh.  Pressing a book to her heart, a schoolgirl, mislaid, wandered between stony foreheads and slooping chins.

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chapter 3, The Bawa

• May 16th, 2012

As the half-noon shift siren wound to a scream like some robbed giant woke in the frozen city, Clerk pushed the broom under shelving and between bins, gouging for garlic husks and kernels of red pepper.  He swept round canisters of dried fish and pickling spices, pulling dust and spilled tea into his path on the wood floor.  In glittering window light, he stooped for a coin.  Heads raised, the turtles in their tub ogled the bobbing, funnel sleeve.  The last moan of the sAiren trailed and expired.  The reed broom handle creaked.  Outside, voices were piping within a clamor of grating snow shovels.

Shadows of chill ghosts played across ranks of oil, vinegar, and salt.  He turned around.  Between mullions, bicycles and motor carts were gliding beneath elms nestled like sponges.  A biretta and a bear-lined tippet dangled beside the window frame, and clumps of snow trailed off to a curtain of beads that ticked and swayed while a fat beard and head shifted behind.

“Oh, good day, Bawa.”

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chapter 1, Delirium

• May 14th, 2012

First chapter:

“Thief!” shouted Barley. “Wife spoiler!”

C. flung his arm. His wrist struck the metal rim of a table laced with fruit hides that had rolled off knives of shuttling locals. The train, at rest, was rumbling. Someone hacked to his fist. A newborn keened. Outside a window—cluttered along the sill with wrappers and bottles and streaming with the breath of gurgling, muttering shopkeepers and tradesmen—thudded the wind. Behind a murky tower of paper soup cartons, a fist was plunged into a clump of spreading hair. A click across the aisle brought up a face within a catalytic halo. Steam drifted around a mouth at work in bulging, withered jowls, and then the light snapped off.

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Chapter 2: Love, Pastries

• May 14th, 2012

“What?

Under a rope twined in paper flowers, drooping under layers of bulging, peeling plaster, Dobroluba stabbed a pin through hair she’d gathered and coiled. She leaned to the mirror. A faint crop of down gleamed along the thin neck, and a delicate shoulder blade flexed under chalky skin. In the mirror, under brow lines sketched at the bridges of her eye sockets, blue eyes followed C.’s hands fumbling between trays and wine glasses alongside the bed. At her shoulder, a nude Amazon, vase at her shoulder, waist-deep in a greasy jungle, stared out through the shell of a room into a soft, vast, external industrial bellow.

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