One Saturday Mr. Purifoy appeared there, to my surprise. He was AA, or as he liked to call it, ND. The letters stood for Nameless Drunks, his jocular cacophemism for Alcoholics Anonymous. Saying the words always made him laugh.
Now to the more recent past and a place in southern New Mexico, bright land of bargain motels and fair dealing, where I was doing some research on Pancho Villa’s 1916 raid across the border. My room was in a motel I will call the Ominato Inn, not quite a dump, with a weekly rate of $130 flat, no surcharges. The price quoted was what you paid, with no tourist penalties, bed taxes, bathroom duties, or other shakedown fees piled on, such as to make a joke of the nominal price. There should have been a pair of signs out front, flashing back and forth:
NOT QUITE A DUMP AT DUMP PRICES
My life was over. I was a criminal. The worst thing a person could do, I knew, was to shoot another person. This time now, this waiting at deer camp, was the part you never saw on TV. The police were probably on the way, or talking to my father about what had happened and what would happen next. The longer he was gone, the more certain I became that he would not return. He would have no choice but to turn me over to the police. I would leave deer camp in handcuffs. My parents and sisters would visit me in jail, but there was nothing they could do. They could not change the rules. You couldn’t shoot someone and not go to jail. Having shot someone, I felt, I no longer had any claim on their affection.
The other day, I saw Cornel West on television say that Lil Wayne’s physical body bears witness to tragedy. I don’t even know what that means, but I do think that Wayne’s artistic persona is a testament to damage.
Eternal Reefs is a company that mixes the cremated ashes of your loved one with a cement compound to create part of an artificial coral reef. The company encourages the bereaved to participate in the creation of the artificial ‘reef balls,’ and to oversee their deliverance into the ocean at one of several designated offshore reef beds.
Who invented ska music? John Jeremiah Sullivan traces the history of the genre in his latest essay for The Oxford American. “The more the claims for Rosco Gordon’s supremacy as a ska progenitor seem not out of proportion, and the less crazy it feels to say that, in a sense, ska was born in Tennessee.” Pair with: Sullivan’s essay on Bunny Wailer, who makes a cameo in his ska essay.
From the ages of nine to eleven, I worked as a spy. No one paid me, nor did I report my findings to any higher-ups. I discussed my cases with my partner, who went by code name Mountain Chicken Mother of the Buddha.
As children, they’d spent nearly every summer together in joy. They’d suffered summer camp as a team, had stolen newts from mountain ponds and chocolate and lipstick from Charlotte drugstores, and, in later days, some wine and painkillers from Maya’s unhappy mother. They had tried out their first kisses on one another, just as practice, and one summer, when Jacey was ten, they’d eaten scabs from each other’s knees to cement a pact to someday raise their families in the same duplex home on the Carolina coast. But the bond of that scab lunch was no longer worth much when puberty hit and aimed the girls at different destinies.