Onion & Reginald Blisterkunst, Ph.D.
is a sequel to Reginald Blisterkunst's Among the Remembered
Saints: My Life and Subsequent Death, which was originally
serialized in WAG.
Readers who prefer to begin at the beginning may read
the first book by clicking here.
in by cheating death
I spend the better part of the day procuring and attaching
a padlock to the front room and taping the top panel back
onto the front door, and afterwards I drive a few blocks
to a safer neighborhood with a clean restaurant for dinner.
(The only eatery my new neighborhood offers is the Bare-Ass
Rooster; enough said.) I return after the sun is down,
and the house from the street—yawning fully two
curtainless, unlit floors into the air above the sidewalk—looks
Home sweet home, I mutter, fumbling
for the house key.
I'm walking up the steps when the
door on the house next to mine sweeps open and a thin
man dressed redneck test-tube steps out with his right
sleeve rolled up to reveal a withered arm. Two fingers
and a thumb appear where an elbow should, looking chapped
and red, like a bird's foot in a harsh winter.
—Hey, the man says.
—Hello, I say, slipping the
key into the door.
—You're new, right?
—Yes. I smile perfunctorily,
trying to keep my momentum moving inside.
—I'm Eddie, he says, before
I can get inside.
—I'm Charlie Onion, I say. I
decide it's better not to extend my hand, for fear that
I might be forced to shake the withered arm's three-fingered
—Yes. Isn't it.
We stare at each other for a moment,
him sizing me up and me trying to smile politely through
—You're friends with that weirdo
—Who? Woody? Haha, I say, trying
to laugh it off nobly. Yes, I suppose I am.
The man grunts and with a surprisingly
deft move, reaches with his withered arm into his back
pocket and brings out a flask, which he uncaps with his
good hand before casually tilting it mouthwards.
—Want some? he says, proffering
—No, thank you, I say. I have
work to do.
—What are you? A writer or something?
—Yes, I say, surprised. How
did you know?
—You and your buddy next door
look like a couple of bitches, that's how.
Prim-lipped, I clutch the knob and
prepare to disappear with an angry slam.
—I see you put a padlock on
your front room.
—Are you scared it's going to
I stare at the man, angry but intrigued.
—Scared what's going to get
out? I say.
—My daddy's ghost, the man says,
He takes a swaggering hit off the
flask and grins at me, wet-lipped.
—He was killed in there, you
know, the man says. New Year's Eve. My momma was sitting
on his lap all big-bellied with me and they was shooting
off their guns in the street, you know. Celebrating. And
this guy walks in and says to my papa, Happy New Year.
And then he pops my dad right there, you know, in your
front room, because my daddy was screwing around with
the guy's wife or something, and he bleeds to death before
anybody can even get him out of the room. And now you've
got it all locked up to keep him inside.
—No, I say. Actually, I've got
a lot of computer equipment in there, and for security,
—Everybody does that, he says,
as if I hadn't spoken. The woman that lived there before
you used to come and go by the back door, just to avoid
walking by my daddy's ghost. You sure you don't want a
I stare at the man and wonder if what
he's saying is true.
—What the hell, I say, taking
the first drink, it feels like the skin's being peeled
off my throat with a sharpened paint scraper, but after
that, it goes down with only a slight burn and minimal
loss of flesh.
—Have you ever seen your father's
ghost? I say, once we're settled in on the porch steps.
He shakes his head.
—Not yet, he says. Daddy must
be feeling a little awkward with me, you know? I mean,
jeez: he died before I was born. He probably feels like
he don't even know me.
—So you think he's just waiting
for the right moment?
I nod, wipe the bottle's mouth and
take a perfunctory sip. If only Cindy could see me now...
—What's with the lady across
the street? I ask.
—Over there, I say, pointing.
The gray house.
—That's my grandma. She makes
real good whiskey.
—We're not drinking it now,
—This stuff? He laughs. You'd
know if you was drinking my grandma's stuff. Fella once
went blind drinking it.
—She's always shooting at something
in the air. What is that thing, anyway?
Eddie shrugs, sips at the flask.
—Government I suppose, he says.
Or Martians, maybe. If you was a girl, I'd kiss you.
He turns to me and lifts his shirt
tail with the withered arm. I leap up, unsteady, and throw
the door open.
—See that? he calls out, as
if I'm still sitting next to him. That's where they shot
me. They'll do it to you too, if you want to be let in.
It's what they call an initiation, see? Getting in by
cheating death. Like swimming under a wall, you know?
—The government did that?
—Huh? He drops the flask and
laughs. Hell no. That's the Bare-Ass Rooster did that.
I can get you in too, if you want. Look at it over there.
Like a sleeping giant. Just waiting for us. You want to
shoot some pool?
—No, I say. Sleepy. Dead tired.
Must lie down. Thanks for the fire water.
I lock the door behind me and rush
past the padlocked front room, expecting, with every step,
to feel the cold touch of a dead drunk on my back.
What, I wonder, is the mind's capacity,
if it is destroyed while drunk? Are you forever a stumbling
Below me, Eddie bangs loudly on the
—Hey, he calls out. Hey. If
you see Papa, tell I love him, and Mom does too, even
if she is remarried to a half-man.
—Yes sir, Lieutenant. Like the others, exactly. It came
in at maybe thirty degrees, with a little buzzing sound
and its light on, and seemed to be searching the trees.
There were four deer hunters in the area—in the
treetops, yes sir—and one of them cried out when
he saw the object. This apparently drew its attention.
Yes sir. The beam swept the trees, found one of the hunters
and locked on him. The man immediately screamed and fell
from the tree. The others hid until the object left and
then they climbed down and inspected the man. No sir.
By the time we picked up the object on our screens and
flew a camera out there, it was gone. Yes sir. The same
as the others. Burnt into the victim's chest: Long live
1 | Part
2 | Part 3
| Part 4
5 | Part
6 | Part 7
| Part 8 |
9 | Part