Country Music, fiction by Miriam Kotzin

The Cab­in is one of those bars that has at least three pick-up trucks parked on the side no mat­ter when, and inside it's dark and smells like beer as though a fine par­ty had gone on the night before, and the place hasn't been aired out so there's a head start on the next good time. Just after my divorce, when Bill left with the tele­vi­sion, I used to come here to watch Jeop­ardy. I'd bring my daugh­ter Rose Lee along, lit­tle as she was, and felt fine about it.  Now I come here with my friends Mary Beth and Jan­ice, I pay no mind to what's on the tube, and Rose Lee is just old enough to buy her­self a legal drink.

The TV over the bar is always on, but unless it's a big game, nobody seems to look up at it.  They might as well save the elec­tric­i­ty.  Week­end nights when there's like­ly to be danc­ing, the volume's turned down some, but even when some­body feeds the juke­box quar­ters the TV plays.  In spite of the ladies' entrance, which no one ever uses, this is pret­ty much what the town has to offer in way of a night out.

Pete brought Jeff over to where we were sit­ting around a table and intro­duced us.  Good look­ing.  Freck­les.  Con­struc­tion.  Union.   "I told Jeff that you ladies would make him feel right at home.  Now don't go mak­ing a liar out of me."

Mary Beth kicked me under the table.   So did Jan­ice.  Jesus. You'd think that no new men ever come to town.  That we didn't know any first- rate men at all.  All right, so if I'd been in a dif­fer­ent mood, maybe I would have done a lit­tle kick­ing myself, or maybe even been will­ing to play a lit­tle foot­sie.  But I’d just read anoth­er self-help book, and I’d giv­en up on bad rela­tion­ships, and I wasn't sure I was in the right mood for a good one.

Pete smiled.  Jeff beamed. The three of us girls smiled right on back.  My heart wasn't in it.  I almost expect­ed the draft from the flut­ter­ing eye­lash­es to blow the nap­kins off the table.

Or it might have been that last week was my old anniver­sary, remind­ing me how my ex-hus­band had come to town to do con­struc­tion work on the new bank build­ing where Rose Lee now works as a teller.  We'd had a romance and got our­selves a head start on a fam­i­ly; no mat­ter what else, I've nev­er been sor­ry to have Rose Lee. Bill left fif­teen years ago when she was sev­en, sent sup­port checks reg­u­lar until her twen­ty-first birth­day, and doesn't live so far that they can't see each oth­er.

But he stays far enough away from me so that now Rose Lee is grown he's no both­er in my life at all.  He's been a mod­el ex-hus­band, and I don't regret his going.  Past is past, but some­times why I'd loved him so comes back to me like heat light­ning in the evening sky.

Pete and Jeff went to get drinks for our table.  Both of them were built stur­dy.  Pete's hair had gone gray ear­ly, and he had a bald spot that I used to like wak­ing up to.  In the last twen­ty years with the town small as it is, he had spent a while with each of the three us, and though he wasn't one to kiss and tell details, at least not any more than we would, we sup­posed he would have said a few kind words about us to Jeff.

"What are we sup­posed to do, draw straws?" asked Jan­ice.

"I don't think we'll have to do that."  Mary Beth said tak­ing Jan­ice at her word.  "And when was the last time you saw a straw in a drink here?"

"I'll sit this one out," I said.

"Pauline."  When they get on my case like this they kind of drag out the last part of my name so that it has three syl­la­bles.  "What's wrong with you?"

"Noth­ing.  I want to keep it that way."

"Well, he seems nice enough."

"He hasn't said five words.  Jack the Rip­per would seem nice enough after just five words."

"Oh, give him a break."

"Give me one, will you."

When Pete and Jeff came back we changed the top­ic and made small talk about Clay­ton.  Jeff dropped crumbs of infor­ma­tion about him­self on the table as though he were feed­ing fish and wait­ing for them to rise to the sur­face to nib­ble.

Thir­ty-eight.

Divorced. Once.

One boy, eigh­teen, pho­to in wal­let.

Can cook for him­self.

Miss­es a woman's home cook­ing.

It was past mid­night until I real­ized that Jeff was the kind of man I'd been warn­ing Rose Lee about since she was old enough to say some­thing about what under­wear I put on when I had a date.

I was the first to leave.  As I got up from the table, so did Jeff.  He stood there, smil­ing at me, telling me with his eyes all the lies a woman wants to hear even when she knows bet­ter.

And that's how things began.

 

"What about your ex-hus­band?" he asked after our first night togeth­er.  He stroked my hair at the tem­ples, fol­low­ing the path where the soft brown would sprout sil­ver wings in a few years if I took after my mom­ma.

"Gone."

"That's it?  Four let­ters.  G-o-n-e?"

"Oh, there's more to him than that."  I couldn't see drag­ging my his­to­ry out where it would clut­ter up the nice clean sur­face of our new rela­tion­ship.  He'd learn what he need­ed to as time went on.  I sus­pect­ed he was just pok­ing to see whether what I told him jibed with what he'd heard from Pete. Men can be sneaky when they're fig­ur­ing out what they want to do with a woman and for how long.

 

We got through mud-time just fine and all through the spring we watched the lit­tle leaves unfold and the blue wash back into the sky.   We did the usu­al things–weekend nights at the Cab­in or the movies, sup­pers and TV at home, and occa­sion­al week­end break­fasts at the Cir­cle Din­er where Jeff liked the hot­cakes and eggs with sausage.  We talked about fir­ing up his gas grill, but hadn't quite got around to it. What hap­pened was fine, and what didn't hap­pen didn't seem to mat­ter. I want­ed it to go on and on like that, easy, our time togeth­er a loose weave.  Our love-mak­ing was com­fort­able, always, and some­times for me, being with him that way was like walk­ing into a fan­cy hotel room and find­ing a fresh-made bed turned down to wel­come me into it and with a gold-wrapped choco­late on the pil­low, too.

My mom­ma had always warned me that life gives you what you look for, so I tried not to look for trou­ble.  I pre­ferred hav­ing trou­ble sneak up behind me, tap me on the shoul­der, tip his hat and say, "Par­don me, Ma'am…" So I thought every­thing was per­fect until Jan­ice and Mary Beth were shop­ping over in Bridgeton and told me they'd seen Jeff, walk­ing out of the Hill­top Tav­ern with Rose Lee's friend, Delia.  And since he'd tak­en the trou­ble to go twen­ty miles for lunch and nev­er men­tioned it to me, I fig­ured he had some­thing to hide.  From then on I watched to see how he act­ed with her, and I didn't much like what I saw.  He stayed sweet as pie with me as long as I could pre­tend not to be notic­ing that some­times he didn't call when he said he would and that he'd be out when I'd call him back after an ear­ly phone call.

 

For hours we'd been hav­ing a silent fight, you know the kind.  Nei­ther one of you admits some­thing is wrong, because you know that what's wrong is some­thing you don't want to acknowl­edge.  It's like an ani­mal has gone and died in the wall and the smell is there, and you think that if you pre­tend to ignore it, it will go away, but it doesn't, at least for a long time.  And what makes it bad is you know there's noth­ing you can do about it any­way.  And even after you can only remem­ber how it smelled, if you think about it at all, you know the lit­tle bones are walled up some­where in your house.

I should have known not to argue with a man who has just stepped in dog shit and tracked it over his kitchen floor before he'd smelled trou­ble.

I watched him toss his sneak­ers into the yard, prob­a­bly smash­ing the gera­ni­ums I'd plant­ed.   Wear­ing his pathet­ic white socks, he used wads of paper tow­els to wash the mess up from the floor.  He put the paper tow­els in the garbage.  Then he filled the sink with deter­gent water, and then he went out back with the garbage.  He came in car­ry­ing his sneak­ers by their laces.  He held them over the sink for a while before he care­ful­ly low­ered them into the suds.

Up 'til then I had been pret­ty qui­et.  After the bad time we'd been hav­ing, I thought it would be bet­ter to hang back from this whole event. I watched the sneak­ers dis­ap­pear into the sink where I'd fixed the sal­ad for din­ner and where I had expect­ed to get the water for morn­ing cof­fee.  I sup­pose I must've made some sound, because he wheeled around and snapped at me, "Did you say some­thing?"

And then I said, "A buck­et might be bet­ter."

We had a dis­cus­sion on san­i­tary habits that had an awful lot to do with how I felt that he'd been pay­ing too much atten­tion to Delia and how he felt that I had no right to care about what he did with his time when he wasn't with me.  But instead we said:

"They'll be eas­i­er to scrub in the sink."

"We use the sink for food."

"Peo­ple put sneak­ers in the wash­er where they put sheets and tow­els.  You can clean a sink eas­i­er."

"It's just not real appe­tiz­ing, is it?”

"Clorox will dis­in­fect the sink just fine."

"Do you have Clorox under there?"  I knew he did.  The kitchen and bath­room often stank of Clorox which he used full strength.

"I'm just going to let them soak."

"What about the dish­es?"

"They'll wait.  Don't you ever do wash in the sink?"

"Are you com­par­ing my under­wear to dog shit?"

Some­times I'm sur­prised how much ten­sion a lit­tle infi­deli­ty can cause.

A few days lat­er, I took a long lunch to try to make it up to him and then I wished I hadn't been in the room when Delia called.  I was sor­ry that I'd heard him talk to her, seen him bright­en up like a pol­ished teaket­tle so shiny I could see her face in it next to mine, with both our faces pushed out of shape for being there togeth­er.

When I answered the phone I could have told her that she had the wrong num­ber, but I was sure she'd just call back and he'd be mad at me.  Besides, she knew who I was, and I didn't want her telling every­one that I had tried to fool her.  I sup­pose she didn't expect me to be at his place when I ought to have been work­ing down at Clark's mar­ket.

So now Delia knew that he'd sweet-talk her right in front of me.  That would make a good sto­ry that any one of the three of us could tell.  It was a sto­ry I had sworn I would nev­er be in again.

I hoped Delia wouldn't say any­thing to Rose Lee.  I want­ed to be able to talk to her myself first. All through lunch that day after the phone call I'd sat star­ing at the pots of hot pink gera­ni­ums in the noon sun, hard­ly look­ing at Jeff at all.  I tried.  Over his shoul­der the flow­ers pulled my atten­tion away from his eyes, which I couldn't have seen any­way he was squint­ing so much.  He almost nev­er wears sun­glass­es, being vain about his hazel eyes and long lash­es.  Unless it's for one of those times when he can be dra­mat­ic and take off his avi­a­tors real slow, he wears them pushed up on his head where they take the light and bounce it around.  For the rest of the sum­mer, when­ev­er I saw gera­ni­ums I felt queasy.

These were the gera­ni­ums I'd brought to him and put in big white pots with ager­a­tum to bright­en up his yard a bit for times when I'd be here and espe­cial­ly for times when I wasn't.   Male dogs piss on trees to mark ter­ri­to­ry and women plant flow­ers.  For all the good it does.

 

I tried not to blame Rose Lee for this.  Of course it wasn't her fault that Delia had pushed her way into my romance.  I still like to say that she pushed her way in, but I know that's not what hap­pened.

It's about two months now since Rose Lee told me about how Jeff had come over to the girls' booth at the Cab­in, car­ry­ing his glass of beer.  He smiled one of his won­der­ful smiles and plonked him­self down next to Rose Lee who pret­ty much on instinct slid over and made room for him.  For the rest of the evening he'd turned the charm on both of them.  Rose Lee, who should have heard enough about men, my men, to make her wary, came home with the sto­ry hap­py as though she was bring­ing me home­made jam.

She'd intro­duced him to Delia as my boyfriend, and after that, she took all that hap­pened as pure friend­li­ness. I might try to take some com­fort that she's still so inno­cent. I knew there was trou­ble when she said, "I'm sor­ry for what I've been say­ing about him, Mom.  I can see why you like him so much."

"Well, can you now."  I said.  "I'm real glad to hear that."   I tried not to be too sar­cas­tic.

For all the times Rose Lee and Jeff have been thrown togeth­er he'd nev­er done much to charm her, so I knew right then that the high beams had been for Delia.

Jeff is only a cou­ple of years younger than me, noth­ing to raise an eye­brow even in this town, and Delia, who's got five years on Rose Lee, has nev­er put up age lim­its on her beaux.  When Rose Lee start­ed hang­ing with her, I was wor­ried, until I remind­ed myself that Rose Lee had nev­er got­ten into trou­ble while she was com­ing up, and with me as her moth­er at that.  I kept my mouth shut, hop­ing they'd drift apart, but work­ing togeth­er in the bank they stayed tight.

For the last cou­ple of weeks Rose Lee hasn't talked much about Delia, and she's done a tap dance rather than answer any ques­tions about her.  And as for me, I guess I have been ignor­ing one of my major rules, nev­er to ask a ques­tion I don't want the answer to.  With­out know­ing it Rose Lee was giv­ing me the answers to all my ques­tions, and I was kind of sor­ry I had been ask­ing.

I kept hav­ing a dream of see­ing Jeff with Rose Lee and Delia.  Jeff had his arm draped over each one, their arms wrapped around his waist, reached down and into his back pants pock­ets. I could feel them bump­ing togeth­er as they walked down the street with me caught behind them with no way to pass.  The ground had opened up behind me so I couldn't turn my back on them and walk away.

I took to mak­ing a record of all the times things didn't match up–what Jeff said, what I heard, and what I didn't hear from Rose Lee.  It isn't like me to write things down, but when I felt crazy, I used a pack of index cards I brought home from Clark's school sup­plies, head­ed each with a date and wrote down what didn't line up.  I hid these from Rose Lee and kept them in with a pair of my shoes she wouldn't be caught dead in.  Some­times when she's gone and I'm alone, I spread them out on my bed to get a real good look all at once at what's hap­pen­ing.

 

One after­noon I spent some time with my index cards and then went to cook din­ner for Jeff.  I heard a man on the radio say what Alabama's death row was, you sit alone in a hot room until it's time for them to take you out and fry you.  Some­times I wor­ry my life might get like that. What hap­pened was this.  Jeff and I were sit­ting at sup­per in his kitchen and I was show­ing my unhap­pi­ness by eat­ing almost noth­ing.  He was prais­ing my chick­en con­coc­tion, and I knew I was get­ting on his nerves.  He kept urg­ing me to eat, and I kept smil­ing and pick­ing at my own good cook­ing.  Good cook­ing was a mat­ter of pride with me although I had no illu­sions that the way to a man's heart was through his stom­ach; for the men I knew that would be aim­ing too high.

He'd worked his way through the chick­en and corn and the tossed green sal­ad and had got to the home­made blue­ber­ry pie.  He was telling me what had hap­pened that day on the con­struc­tion site, and I was ask­ing the sort of ques­tions that showed I wasn't real­ly pay­ing atten­tion.  I kept ask­ing him to repeat ends of sen­tences and ask­ing him to tell me again who had said what.

I imag­ined Jeff tak­ing Delia to lunch at the Hill Top, Delia wear­ing her hot pink mini skirt with red patent leather spike heel san­dals, her nails paint­ed a pale green to set off the pink and red.  I could see Jeff open the car door for her so he could help her up on the curb, him bend­ing down, enjoy­ing the good view of her legs.   Their fin­gers brush togeth­er.  Then he watch­es her sashay after the host­ess. I could hear him urge her to have a shrimp cock­tail.  She dips the jum­bo shrimp into the cock­tail sauce, tilt­ing her head back slight­ly as she opens her mouth to eat them with those green-tipped fin­gers of hers. She leans for­ward, "Mmm…" she says, "Good."  Shrimp!  No won­der he's been so will­ing to take me up on all my offers of home cook­ing, with him buy­ing Delia jum­bo shrimp for lunch.

And all the while I was push­ing food from one place on my plate to the oth­er, which is easy enough with chick­en and sal­ad but is pret­ty hard to do with pie.   Jeff didn't usu­al­ly tell me any­thing much of what had hap­pened dur­ing the day so tonight's sto­ry must have tak­en real effort on his part.  I sup­posed he thought hear­ing about how a load of bricks got moved would take my mind off him and Delia.  Or maybe it was a gift to me.  I don't know.

He was about to help him­self to a sec­ond slice of pie and I was about to get up for some ice cream for him.  This wasn't kind­ness on my part or even habit of set­ting out to please.

Then Jeff got up and, with­out a word, went to the cab­i­net under the sink counter where he kept the pots and bent way in.  He came out hold­ing the mouse by its tail, its legs caught on a glue board.  I hadn't heard a thing, but I sup­pose he'd heard a squeak or its tiny lit­tle strug­gle.

I'd had enough of trou­ble with men in my life to rec­og­nize the expres­sion on Jeff's face, so I let out a long wail­ing "No" and ducked.  I didn't hear a splat or thud, what with the sound of my protest, and then I looked up.

Jeff just stood there by the sink, still hold­ing the mouse by its tail.  He had a look on his face as though he'd been slapped by some stranger.   He lift­ed the lid off the trash and dropped in the mouse.

I lis­tened for its muf­fled scrab­bling.  Noth­ing.  I knew enough not to do more than mur­mur, "I'm sor­ry."   I couldn't ask him, "Why, of all the girls in town, do you have to chase after Rose Lee's best friend?  Aren't my friends good enough for you?”

I could tell he wouldn't try to stop me as I left, and I was care­ful not to slam the door.  I was sure I'd be talk­ing to him tomor­row, but judg­ing by his face, he wouldn't be throw­ing much of any­thing at me for a while.

If it hadn't been for feel­ing sor­ry for the mouse, I sup­pose what hap­pened could be kind of fun­ny if you have the right sort of sense of humor.   Rose Lee wouldn't see the joke in it, and I decid­ed that I'd best not men­tion what had hap­pened tonight.  By the time I'd dri­ven home I'd have some sto­ry ready to tell her to explain why I hadn't stayed over.  I didn't like to tell out­right lies, so I planned to shuf­fle around until she assumed we'd had a squab­ble about some­thing unim­por­tant, and I'd come home for some peace.  The fact is, my leav­ing had noth­ing to do with the mouse. We could have made that up easy enough.

 

My life is not a movie, and so when I came home, I didn’t expect to find Delia sit­ting with Rose Lee at my kitchen table, with a half-emp­ty bot­tle of Jack Daniels for a prop.   Rose Lee and Delia had iden­ti­cal­ly paint­ed frost­ed mauve nails each with a sil­ver star on the ring fin­ger.  The nail pol­ish and the sheet of appliqué nail dec­o­ra­tions sat on the table right by the Jack Black.    The light was good in the kitchen, and I could tell from the way they held their hands that they'd just done each other's nails.

Rose Lee was look­ing more like me these days.  "Rose Lee, " I said, and after just a heart-beat's pause, "Delia."

"Mom­ma," Rose Lee said, not at all apolo­getic for what she'd brought into our kitchen.

"Pauline," said Delia, smil­ing as though she belonged here with­out my invi­ta­tion shar­ing my whiskey and my boyfriend with me, shar­ing a bot­tle of nail pol­ish with my daugh­ter.

I hadn't been this near to Delia since she'd start­ed see­ing Jeff, so I took a hard look at her hen­naed hair and her pea­cock-blue eyes.  The sto­ry around was she didn't need the con­tact lens­es to see.

"You're home ear­ly," said Rose Lee.

"Mmmm," I said.  I poured myself two fin­gers of the whiskey, but I didn't sit down.

"Mom­ma," said Rose Lee, talk­ing just as stern as I'd ever spoke to her, "when will you ever real­ize that Jeff is a jerk?

I was glad she'd used the old-fash­ioned word.  Still, I didn't like hear­ing what she was say­ing, espe­cial­ly while Delia was lis­ten­ing, though I'd had some thoughts along those lines myself.

I won­dered whether Delia or I would defend him, and then I con­sid­ered what would hap­pen if I dumped mauve nail pol­ish into Delia's hen­naed hair, but I knew that I want­ed Rose Lee to stay at home for a while longer, and an assault on Delia wouldn't help keep her here.  I would have to be on good behav­ior.

But at least I was going to enjoy telling Jan­ice and Mary Beth about this.

"Pauline," Delia's voice was just the least bit blurred. "I nev­er meant any harm."  She looked, for a moment, like a repen­tant child until her face lit with a grin that remind­ed me why I had wor­ried that she'd be a bad influ­ence on Rose Lee.  "But then again, to be hon­est, I nev­er gave it much thought."

I won­dered how that could be true when she was with Rose Lee so often and they seemed to be so close, but then maybe some women are born with­out moral sense, the same as men, and Delia could be one of them.

"Delia," I said, sit­ting down, "I'm not sure I want to be hav­ing this dis­cus­sion with you."

"I under­stand that," she said.   "But it can't hurt now.  Under the cir­cum­stances."

"Your friend­ship with Rose Lee?"  We both looked over at her.

Rose Lee had the grace at last to look embar­rassed.

"I didn't mean that, but yes."  She paused.  "It's just, didn't you know, I'm not see­ing him any more."

I did all three of us the favor of not ask­ing how I was sup­posed to know.   "Oh," I said, with the faintest lilt rock­ing my state­ment towards a ques­tion.

"It wasn't much fun."

Not much fun.  I told myself that she was twen­ty-sev­en.

"I can't say noth­ing ever hap­pened."  She was almost sulk­ing.

Well, at least she wasn't a liar, too.

"But one thing you ought to know.  He nev­er once even men­tioned your name."

"Thank you, Delia."  Maybe twen­ty-sev­en wasn't so young, then, if she could real­ize that although he'd slept with her there was one worse betray­al I hadn't suf­fered.  "I am glad to know that."

I sup­posed Rose Lee could do worse in friends and, after all, I could do still worse in men.

Sat­ur­day night that week a crowd was at the Cab­in hav­ing Clayton's ver­sion of a good time.  This time last year I was free.  I'd go out to the Cab­in with the girls on Fri­day nights, and some­times on Sat­ur­day, too.  And the usu­al guys would be there to buy us an occa­sion­al pitch­er and from time to time slide us across the floor.  I had no one spe­cial like Jeff to make love with, or to cry over.  I fig­ure that five years from now I'll still be work­ing at Clark’s, com­ing reg­u­lar to the Cab­in, and I'll watch Jeff do his ver­sion of a slow dance, his hips glued to Jan­ice or who­ev­er. And maybe if I'm lucky, some nights instead of com­ing here I'll stay home and watch TV so Rose Lee and her hus­band can have a night out.

Jeff picked up his beer and stared down at the ring of water on the var­nished table, delib­er­ate­ly replac­ing the glass sev­er­al inch­es away.  For some time he did not look at me, as though what he was doing took all his atten­tion.  He drew out­ward lines from the cir­cle, then, final­ly, looked up at me and smiled.  "Sun," he said, "Sun­shine.  You are my."

"Am I?"  I looked down at what he'd drawn.  "Am I real­ly?"

"Sure you are, Sug­ar." he replied.  With the flat of his hand, he swooshed across the sun he had made, so that only a wet smear remained.

I looked over his shoul­der across the room to where Delia was sit­ting with Rose Lee.  I caught Delia's eye and winked.  She winked back and Rose Lee waved to me and I heard him say, "Real­ly and tru­ly.  My one and only.  Yes­ter­day, today, tomor­row."  He held his hand out across the table and I put mine in his.  He traced a soft wet path from my wrist bone to my ring fin­ger and all the way down over its frost­ed mauve nail where a tiny sil­ver star caught all the light there ever was.

 

pho­to by Al Gury

A col­lec­tion of my flash, Just Desserts, was pub­lished by Star Cloud Press in 2010. I have three col­lec­tions of poet­ry, the most recent of which is Tak­ing Stock (Star Cloud 2011). My work, which has been nom­i­nat­ed five times for a Push­cart Prize, has been pub­lished in or is forth­com­ing in such places as Shenan­doah, The Dead Mule, South­ern Hum, Eclec­ti­ca, Thieves Jar­gon, Under­ground Voic­es, Frigg, and Boule­vard. I'm a con­tribut­ing edi­tor for Boule­vard and a found­ing edi­tor of Per Con­tra.

I teach cre­ative writ­ing and lit­er­a­ture at Drex­el Uni­ver­si­ty, where I also co-direct the Cer­tifi­cate Pro­gram in Writ­ing and Pub­lish­ing.

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2 Responses to Country Music, fiction by Miriam Kotzin

  1. Miri­am,
    Fried Chick­en and Cof­fee was a real treat. Thank you. Think I've spent some time in The Cab­in. Prob­a­bly wrong time frame but I heard Way­lon and Jesse in the back­ground.
    We met once, I'm a friend of Don­ald Kuspit's, it was prob­a­bly 5 yrs. ago at a small gath­er­ing when he was in town.
    I think Per Con­tra is excep­tion­al, I know a few of your con­trib­u­tors. I think Donald's Homages to Death are so very good, re-read­ing them.

    Mar­jorie Grigo­nis

  2. Miri­am,
    Fried Chick­en and Cof­fee was a real treat. Thank you. Think I've spent some time in The Cab­in. Prob­a­bly wrong time frame but I heard Way­lon and Jesse in the back­ground.
    We met once, I'm a friend of Don­ald Kuspit's, it was prob­a­bly 5 yrs. ago at a small gath­er­ing when he was in town.
    I think Per Con­tra is excep­tion­al, I know a few of your con­trib­u­tors. I think Donald's Homages to Death are so very good, re-read­ing them.
    Mar­jorie Grigo­nis
    Mar­jorie Grigo­nis

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