26 October 2008

I'll Tell the Mill (novel excerpt)


I know what I know only in little glimpses of the world, and I’m not even sure about most of those. I got a fortune cookie at the China Garden downtown that said, “You can never go into the same river twice.” Del and Everett and I drank ourselves stupid telling that story back and forth. We drank enough that the fortune made sense, then it stopped making sense, then it made sense again, and finally we woke up blurry with a deep smoke in our chests and decided that we’d drunk the line back into Chinese, because, by this point, the world made as little sense as the words.

But as is the case with most of this ridiculous life, over the following months, the machines at the mill chanted, You can never go into the same river twice. You can never go into the same river twice. I started thinking I’d made it up, the way you hear a joke a second time years later and think you wrote it. And that’s how my memories and my stories and my self fall apart all over the place. The machines of the mill chant my life in sharp fragments and I sort through them every day.

Like this: Weaver’s gone. I watched the river open up and carry him away, the way the world does to all of us sooner or later. And Feathers is gone. The thick air of late spring folded in on itself, and except for a pang of memory from time to time, nobody here has any proof or reason to prove that they ever existed.

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