The Four Fingers of Death

The Four Fingers of Death by Rick Moody Read Free Book Online

Book: The Four Fingers of Death by Rick Moody Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rick Moody
Tags: Fiction, General, Science-Fiction
thinking of my own great fortune to have been given the responsibility of Tara Schott Crandall. To have seen Tara parked in the driveway prior to having George’s lungs sewn into her. To have cared for Tara despite all grim prognostications about her future. This was an honor, this was a life , whether I had succeeded entirely or not. I was confident that the audience shared, if telepathically, in this feeling, or at least shared in the possibility of silence, and it was with this conviction, after three minutes, that I stood.

Because I had all my sentences memorized, I then dramatically presented the surgical series, just as if it were an actor’s soliloquy:
Cut it. Cut here. Cut it out. Cut it off. Cut the cord. Cut the costs. Cut the crap. Cut your wrists. Cut and run. Cutting corners. Cutting the losses. Cutting some slack. Cut me some slack. Cut the grass. Cut the malarkey. Cut to the bone. Cut. Cut, cut.

Informed readers and critics familiar with my work will recognize what I recognized myself in that horrible moment, that I had somehow spontaneously altered the surgery sequence. But I have since come to believe that my type of literary endeavor needs to be able to adapt to circumstances, to incorporate spontaneity if it is to grow. If the spoken version of the story was different from the written draft, so be it. However, the realization of my prolixity cast some shadow over me, and I almost immediately fell into silence again, a silence of nearly awkward length. In which I was looking down upon the Plexiglas lectern, thinking badly of myself. I guess I was kind of nervous. This secondary silence had a rather predictable effect. It drove two people out of the reading, first the beatnik guy, who was probably only there to relax for a few minutes. He needed time out of the desert heat. The beatnik guy recognized that at a reading of five persons, Noel Stroop was not going to eject him from Arachnids, despite his habit of stealing things from the computer books section and attempting resale out in front of the ruins of what was once the Dairy Queen. He took advantage of my surgery sequence to bust a move , as they used to say, and then he went out into the night and, I suppose, hopped a freight train.
Jenny Martini was next to go, waving graciously. I would have lamented this departure, but it was time to read anew. I was down to three people, including Noel, who kept looking at his wrist-implanted digital minder. I launched violently into the single sentence that remained of my biography of George , the lung donor, and I am sure that I delivered it in such a way that the entirety of my former hundred pages were implicit in that one sentence. When I took my skullcap from my head and clamped it over my left pectoral mass, it did fill my heart with sweet sympathy. “He was just a kid,” I called out. Weren’t we all once?
(Even I was once a child, in fact, which I have neglected to mention. An excessively needy child. A righty among lefties. A tone-deaf belter among whispery folkies. Born at a time of much uncertainty, the year being 1973. My parents were living in a van, following some troupe of jugglers and folk musicians around the country, a troupe called Nexus, that is, before my parents settled at what they used to call an ashram and conducted ongoing polygamous relations with other adults. My siblings were legion, apparently, whether by custom or actual fact. As a child, I read widely in New Age mysticism, I had no choice, I fumigated with sage, I wore dreadlocks, I cooked exclusively with brown rice, until I became a man, and, in the desert, abandoned my family, as Americans will do.)
Silence is what happens when we do nothing to intervene. And maybe that is what we ought always to do, make less of ourselves, fill less of the atmosphere with our incomplete opinions, with our ill-considered arguments, our strident beliefs that amount to squelched flatus in a stuffy room. The universe is silent, after all,

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