Issue #5, 2002

Price: $4.50

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Table of Contents

Kathleen Hunt, One Morning
Karin Temple, En Burgos
Joanne Lowery, Tinka's Loss
James Berroline, Mother Explained
Steve Cleveland, Deep-Fry
Jim Dewitt, Much Jalapeno in the Wind
Nils Coleman, John Crawdad Confession (excerpt)
Jean Esteve, Truckyard
John Wylan, December 11, 2001, Orlando, Florida
David Thornbrugh, Metro Mirage
Boe R Barnette, This is Just to Say
Jim Dewitt, When Bambi Deckstrus Began to Breath
Diane Westergaard, At the Ship Canal
B. Z. Niditch, Two in Corfu
Terry Martin, Top Hat, Thimble Iron
Jason Olsen, When Bird Watching, Always Be Prepared
Matt Briggs, False Teeth
T. Katherine Sheldahe Thompson, Angelica
Joanne Lowery, Daydream of the U.P.
Jason Olsen, Ventriloquist
Kathleen Hunt, When I Left You at the Dock
Susan Firghil Park, Broke, I spend
C. D. Crapo, line drawing: Woman with Rose

Elizabeth Mclagan, Relinquishment
Joanne Lowery, Will
Diane Westergaard, When the Columbine Blooms
Jeremy Voight, Estuary
Louis Masson, Sugaring for Moths
Boe R. Barnette, To Joe Bolton from Fairbanks
Erik Mertz, Michael's Photograph
Elizabeth Mclagan, Elegy for My Brother
Louis Masson, Migration
Polly Buckingham, Resignation
John Wylan, Winter Habits
Judith Arcana, My Mother Died When I Was Little
Carol Lichtenberg, Winter Storm Warnings
B. Z. Niditch, Ground Zero
Terry Martin, During the Amish Year
John McKernan, Feeding the Tourists
James Bertolino, Bloodhat
Judith Skillman, Witches Butter
James Bertolino, Pollock and the Pig
Kathleen Hunt, Each Knight Fallen
Steve Cleveland, Laramie
Photographs by Steve Levy and Joanna Jansen

Excerpt

Nils Coleman

John Crawdad Confession

The carpet is red, but it’s thirty years old. Look where it’s worn through on the stairs. You can see where the paneling’s warped. I’ve been trying to get the management here to fix my leaky faucet for a month. You know what they do? They finally send out a guy—comes in when I’m gone and replaces it with another leaky faucet. I don’t know if they got the thing from the dump? It still leaks. And cheap, too. What does that tell you? This place is a dump, and I’ve been dumped here. Look at me, I’m an old man.

Excuse me, I’m stone drunk. My name’s John Crawdad. I know I shouldn’t drink, but I’m so bored. You see, I used to be a spy—I’ll talk about it freely, I don’t care who I tell. I was a super-secret-agent. But if I told you who I worked for, I’d have to kill you. Have you heard that one?

I’m a spy and I don’t even know who I work for. I live alone in a dingy apartment with my dog. I’m so bored, when I get tired of practicing counter-intelligence on myself, I watch the dog. His name’s “Jake.” He’s a pedigree. You know pedigreed dogs have personal names and family names just like we do? Yeah, dogs. I think someday a dog is going to be the President. I could live to see the day.

The management here’s all a bunch of drunks. Look, they even have a sign up, “No Dogs Allowed,” right at the bottom of the stairs. What does that tell you? Probably nothing. Did I tell you I’m a spy?

Now this is no shit: dogs make good spies. It has nothing to do with the breed. You can take out about a third of their brain and replace it with electrodes, run fiber-optic thread through their eyes, mount tiny microphones in their ears, and remote control the thing. You know where they put the antennae? In the tail. Most people don’t even notice the difference. And it’s the perfect spy—self-destructs on command. You can’t do that with a human being. They give themselves away … or then sometimes the equipment malfunctions and that’s just a mess. Do you know how much these things cost? Millions of dollars. Do you think I’m shitting you? Do you know the difference between a fish story and a fairy tale? A fairy tale begins, “Once upon a time,” and a fish story begins, “Now this is no shit.” Have you heard that one before?

I tell you what, I would vote for a dog for President. Do you believe me? How long is a President in office? Four years or eight years? How long do you think the generals hold their offices? Some of those guys have been sitting in there since World War Two! How many presidents do you think they’ve seen? A half dozen? Do you know what they say to the guy when he walks into the oval office?

“Congratulations on winning the election, Mr. President. We’re very happy for you. Now, here’s how things are gonna work.”

Did you think things were going to be any different here then they are in Chile or Argentina? They were set up. Those military guys wrote the book. Do you ever look at your television or your newspaper and wonder, “What’s really going on?” You want to know what’s going on, just look around and ask yourself who benefits. Me, I don’t know anything. I was never on the inside and no one ever told me a damn thing!