A D Jameson is the author of two books: the prose collection Amazing Adult Fantasy (Mutable Sound, 2011), in which he tries to come to terms with having been raised on '80s pop culture, and the novel Giant Slugs (Lawrence and Gibson, 2011), an absurdist retelling of the Epic of Gilgamesh. He has taught classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Lake Forest College, DePaul University, Facets Multimedia, and StoryStudio Chicago. He is also the nonfiction/reviews editor of the online journal Requited. He recently became a PhD candidate at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In his spare time, he contributes to the group blogs Big Other and HTMLGIANT.
Jackson had never intended to vex Sheila so, but since he was a loathsome little skunk, he couldn’t right help it.
Or so Sheila explained to Margaret last Thursday morning, over coffee.
“That man has no more control over his mouth than he does his erections,” she detailed further.
A bad night’s sleep brought on by a botched attempt at phone sex had turned her bitter—but not before imparting a host of delicious insights.
Margaret swirled the remains of her lukewarm latte, refrained from reminding her best friend that she’d warned her away from Jackson from the start.
Which was generous of her. Margaret was suffering, too. A chance encounter with a pair of identical twins aboard the Amtrak back to Chicago had left her…distracted.
“He said he was no longer sure how much love existed between us,” Sheila explicated, crisply. She popped the last bit of her maple-pecan scone into her mouth, the heavily icinged end that she’d been saving.
Margaret nodded. The two young gentlemen, Marty and Alex, authors, poets, outgoing, attentive, had collectively slipped behind her long-cultivated air of indifference.
The whole world existing simply to bore her, being the impression that she had years ago perfected. Her full lips were set, her pretty mouth drawn tight and narrow. Her watery doe-like eyes she kept restrained, bemused, unwilling to invest.
The whole world unworthy of her interest, having long since gone to shit, limping along now in a disheveled state of erosion. Modern life progressively worser by the hour.
“Consider train travel,” she implored the twins matter-of-factly, “which was once as exotic, as romantic…” She trailed off. As what? As sipping white wine under starlight?
She shut her mouth, set her jaw. Her weekly commute to Champaign and back was not in any sense romantic. It was a chore.
The trip always took far longer than it should, the train repeatedly stopping, mysteriously, at times even rolling backward. Compartments were crowded, suffused with smells of sweat, the toilet. The leather seats were cheap and stained and thin and cracking.
The two smiling boys had taken turns taking pleasure in dismantling her façade. “Why hold so much disdain for life?” they asked her.
“This world does not impress me,” Margaret finally admitted (although only after hours of valiant struggle).
The train continued its lurching wobble through darkened cornfields, yielding to every passing freighter.
“You’re wrong about that,” one of the brothers (Marty? Alex?) quietly told her.
But Margaret was wrong about so many other things as well.
The Merrie Mutants
Marvin secreted a powerful mucus, corrosive, astringent, continuous.
Sheila’s nasal cavities emitted a high-pitched, whinnying blast. She could control that pitch.
Raymond produced deadly pheromones. And even deadlier hormones.
Thomas’s heart, regardless of whatever damages it suffered, healed at a rate five times faster than was normal.
Margaret had supersensitive hearing, and supersensitive emotions.
Eugene was uncommonly precocious.
Genevieve’s body transmogrified every night, shedding parts, adding parts, rendering her unrecognizable come morning.
Everybody could read Nathaniel’s thoughts.
Peter could disappear at a moment’s notice.
Jack was nigh-invulnerable to harm. Nothing that Sheila could do, for instance, at any rate, could ever hurt him.
James had a photographic memory for insults, and a near-photographic memory for perceived slights.
Jennifer had a high tolerance not just for drinks, but for dirt, noise, nonsense, younger men.
Wendy could cry and cry and cry and cry and cry.
No force on earth could separate Wallace from his chair.
Aloysius didn’t know the meaning of the word no—not to mention the meanings of dozens of other words, and gestures, and phrases.
Sondra enjoyed a double life that she never revealed to anyone else—not even to her boyfriend, Stephen, who led his own double life.
Henry and Margaret started off as the best of friends, before they became the bitterest enemies, right before they became best friends again, before they became bitter enemies again.
Rebecca died, was murdered most violently by Valentino, her still-beating heart torn out of her chest and stomped on. But then she came back to life; she was back at work on Monday.
Sheila was thought dead by everyone else for many months; nobody saw her, at any rate, at any of the old haunts. But then she came back; she’d just been visiting some friends in Manitoba.
Lawrence wandered the streets at night, every night, seeking action.
Bernadette showed up one afternoon dressed in a completely different outfit.
Reginald trained for years in the martial arts after his parents were talked into paying for years of lessons.
Anthony liked when folks gave in and called him “(the) Tone.”
Louis was “The Man.”
Marvin was “The Rascal.”
Sheila was “That Bitch,” or “That Total Fucking Bitch.”
Genevieve had been known to all since high school as “The Marmot.”
Every few months, one or more of them had the idea that they should all live together in one house—a mansion, perhaps, a dignified brownstone in the East Village—or maybe a sprawling estate out of town, in upstate New York, or in rural Connecticut, a country manor set back amidst horse farms and poplars and chestnuts, forty-six labyrinthine rooms replete with an elderly butler, or maybe a robot, as well as a well-equipped gymnasium, not to mention a high-tech, state-of-the-art communications center—a haven and school where they could set aside their petty feuds and quarrels, pool their individual talents, finally work together as allies.
For the most part, however, theirs were, month in and month out, solo adventures.