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.
Together they slide over the ledge and separate, Jenny
to the right, beyond the rocks, and Jaime to the left,
among the marsh grass. Almost immediately, the grass wraps
itself around Jaime's legs, and as she struggles to free
herself, a slimy-black, man-sized water creature appears
in the water next to her and for a brief eternity stares
at her, menacingly glass-eyed. Then it dives and flutters
the water beneath her inner tube.
Jaime gasps, clutches
the inner tube's hot pliant rubber, clawing her way out
of the water, and then, catching the lip of an eddy, she
is sent spinning into an empty space between the rocks
and the grass. Jenny appears briefly in a gap between
the rocks, and then Jaime is again alone. She cups her
hands and shouts through the rocks.
you see that? Jenny?
There is no answer.
A rock strikes Jaime on the shoulder and sends her spinning
against the wall of rocks that separates her from Jenny,
but the openings are too narrow for her inner tube and
she has to strain against the current in order to climb
onto one of the rocks.
Jenny is paddling
through calm water now, swinging herself around in a river-wide
arc toward the take-out steps, and Jaime watches her until
she reaches the shallows. Then she turns back to face
the ledge, which from her rock is like a line of silvery
breakers seen at sunset. Up and down its length she looks,
all the while expecting the creature to break the surface
and wave, but the water is creaseless.
Further up the river,
a great blue heron alighting from a rock catches Jaime's
eye, and a moment later two men appear beneath the heron,
bobbing up and down on a giant, truck-sized inner tube.
One man, the white one, wears a hat. The black man does
not. Jaime watches them drift lazily toward the rapids,
and then she lowers her inner tube into the rushing water
beneath the rocks.
—Did you see that thing back there?
Jaime turns in the
water, fighting the current, and points back to the rocks
that conceal the ledge.
Some creature thing.
From the bank, Jenny
shakes her head.
—Right at that
ledge, Jaime says. Look for it next time. A shiny black
thing. It's disgusting.
Jenny nods and takes
the inner tube from her as Jaime climbs the steps.
—It was probably
just a fish or a beaver.
see it. It was disgusting.
—Put your daddy's
money to good use, then. Give it a karate chop to the
you see it.
They follow the path
through the woods, between the bushes of honeysuckle and
blackberry, past the parking lot, where Jaime's Rabbit
sits like a chauffeur patiently awaiting his master. If
it could, it would be polishing itself and straightening
its brass-buttoned uniform. Past the car, they walk briefly
through a narrow, ice-cold valley, and then they climb
awkwardly up the hill to the sun-dappled road.
At that moment, below
them, the two men on the huge inner tube are entering
the main rapid, and the girls watch them pitch over the
edge and nearly capsize in the churning foam. One of the
men shouts, and for a moment he seems to be calling out
Jaime's name. Then the inner tube lumbers into the choppy
waters leading to the ledge, and the men disappear, arms
flailing, behind a pair of rocks.
Jaime steps over the rocks gingerly now, fearful of planting
a foot on the black creature's slick back. Soon, overwhelmed
by visions of the creature grabbing her legs and dragging
her into a secret well beneath the river, she jumps into
her inner tube and is immediately pulled back toward the
shore. It is a struggle to spin the inner tube toward
the center of the river, and by the time she reaches the
main rapid, Jenny has disappeared over the ledge.
As she feels herself
first rising on the rapid's swell and then dropping into
its pit, Jaime sees the two men with the giant inner tube
waving at her from the road. Without thinking, she throws
her hand up.
The water seems rougher
this time, and Jaime almost falls off the inner tube at
the bottom of the rapid. It takes her a moment to collect
herself, to set herself upright and see which way the
river is going, and by then she has shot across the choppy
section and slipped over the ledge. At the bottom, she
sees the creature swimming toward her. For a moment, it
floats next to the inner tube and stares. Then it dives
back underwater, black skin glistening.
—It's a scuba diver, Jaime says.
Jenny is standing
on the take-out steps, watching the two men on the giant
inner tube try to navigate toward the main rapid.
—He's got oxygen
tanks and everything.
What's he doing?
looking for a dead body, Jaime says. A drowning victim,
Jenny shakes her
—It would drift
Over Jaime's shoulder,
Jenny waves. The men are wedged against one of the rocks
in the main rapid, and the white man barely manages to
push loose against the current.
should give up, Jenny says.
The black man shouts
something that doesn't reach the steps, and then the inner
tube catches a current and shoots through the choppy section.
Jenny and Jaime watch the inner tube slide one side at
a time over the ledge and then, as it begins the slow
arc back to the steps, they follow the path back to the
—Hey, the black man calls down as they step into the river.
You should try it further upstream.
Jenny pauses with
her inner tube suspended over the water.
white man says.
it, Jenny says to Jaime.
Jaime hesitates and
then follows Jenny up the bank.
the black man says. This is Bob.
On the road the two men carry their inner tube flat between
them as if it were a hospital stretcher. Occasionally
cars speed around a curve and lurch over the opposite
shoulder to avoid hitting them. The men ignore the cars.
—That's a huge
inner tube, Jenny says.
last year, Eddie says. Some guy sold them out of a van
in the parking lot. Ten bucks each.
They walk in silence
until another car is forced to drive over the opposite
—How long y'all
been out here? Eddie says.
Jenny says. We've just gone down a couple times.
A car speeds around
the corner and nearly strikes Eddie.
—My wife and
I were out here yesterday, he says, ignoring the car.
We were supposed to eat dinner with her folks, but I told
her to take the inner tube back home with her and tell
them I'd gone swimming down the river.
The girls watch the
man walk, waiting for him to continue, but he doesn't.
—And did you?
—All the way
to Brown's Island, Eddie says.
water rough downstream?
he says. I couldn't get out, it was so rough. About a
mile downstream a snake swam out to me and I managed to
crawl out on the bank, but it was a golf course or something,
and these men kept driving around me in carts and looking
country club, Jenny says. Jaime's dad plays golf there.
—Maybe I saw
him. What's he look like?
Jaime, thinking of
the swimming snake, doesn't hear the question.
—I got worried
about the guys in the carts so I cut through the woods
and got back in the water downstream from the snake, and
I swam till I got to Brown's Island.
no bridge or anything on Brown's Island.
have to tell me that, Eddie says. I ended up having to
swim across the river and use a phone at the 7-Eleven.
I called Christine—that's my wife—and told
her to come pick me up. But I didn't know where the hell
says. Right now we don't even know how we're getting home
—What do you
—I lost my
car keys, Bob says.
somewhere, Eddie says, waving his hand down the length
of the river.
—You mean they
fell out of your pocket in the river?
A half-mile above the
rapids, Eddie waves the girls onto a gravel path that
disappears into a grove of pine trees. The girls lead,
Jenny laughing nervously. Underfoot the gravels crunch
while Jaime eyes the river through the trees and asks
herself who these men are, why she is with them, and why
Dianne is tattooed onto Eddie's shoulder if his
wife's name is actually Christine.
Under the trees,
she glances back at the men and notices Eddie looking
more Hawaiian than black, like a stocky, street-wise Don
Ho. Over the edge of the inner tube, Bob catches her stare
Eddie calls out, startling Jaime.
She turns around
and finds herself stepping into a muddy clearing. On the
far left sits a candy-red Toyota, with its sticker price
still attached. Across from it and nearer to the river
sits a rusted-out Datsun. While two children watch, an
elderly black man leans against the Datsun and threads
a hook onto a fishing line.
—I said, Catch
—A few, the
man says. The rain must have woke them up. Find your keys?
Bob shakes his head
and looks sadly at the candy-red Toyota.
an eye on it, the man tells him. Don't you worry about
your little baby.
One of the children
holds up a string of scrawny, mud-brown fish as Eddie
and Bob pass the girls and throw their inner tube into
the still water above the fishing lines. The girls watch
Eddie and Bob struggle to balance themselves on their
inner tube, and then, following the men's example, they
enter the water and lie face-down across their inner tubes.
The water is slow-moving,
and they can see the rocks under them, brown and gold
and green with algae. Idly, Jaime wonders if the scuba
diver will spot Bob's keys, a twirling glint of steel,
and come back up to the airy world wondering which car,
which house they might fit.
there's a scuba diver out in the river, Jenny says. Maybe
you should get her to ask him if he's seen your keys.
The men laugh, shake
their heads and laugh again.
The group drifts lazily downstream until the cars are
out of sight. Then Eddie and Bob get stuck in a field
of river grass and have to jump off their inner tube and
wade through it as if it were a field of young corn while
the girls wait downstream. The water is colder now because
the sun has slipped below the trees, and as she watches
bats emerge from the bank and dart at insects over the
water, Jaime finds herself surprisingly sleepy.
got to plan early, Eddie says, slipping out of the river
grass and re-mounting. If you don't work at it, you'll
miss the rapid altogether.
Jaime wills herself
to turn downstream and face the flat, stagnant water.
—Where is it?
Eddie waves his hand
across the river.
around there. You've got to keep your eyes open. If you
hit it just right it's like paradise.
—Like a dream
out of the sea, Bob says, proudly if awkwardly.
to read, Eddie says. He says it makes up for his looks.
Bob flushes red,
and out of sympathy, Jaime looks away and stares at the
river bottom. Beneath her she can feel the river pulling
her as if she were on a string. Eddie and Bob exchange
whispers, and finally Eddie asks the girls if they would
like to go to a movie. For a moment there is silence.
Jenny looks at Jaime, who shakes her head.
Jenny says. Jaime's dad is going to take us to dinner.
Eddie says, shrugging.
Relieved, Jaime rests
her head against hot rubber and, with startling abruptness,
falls asleep and begins to dream.
In the dream she is driving frantically, weaving over
the road, watching in the rearview mirror as the five
weightlifters trot behind the Rabbit, golden pectorals
glistening. Hours before, still awake, with the benign
Master nodding sagely, she had delivered plastic-creasing
blows to shadowy x-ray images of lungs and rib cages but
now she is dreaming, and the accelerator, sensing her
fear, drops to the floor quietly, like an animal that
knows when to give up. Already, the weightlifters are
reaching out for the Rabbit's back fender.
Studying them in
the mirror, Jaime begins to distinguish their nearly identical
features. One has a mole next to his left nostril, another
a moonshaped scar around his left nipple. She is surprised
at how clear the mirror's images are, that it can reveal
such small secrets. At the same time, she is startled
by the car's violent rocking: the weightlifter with the
scarred nipple has succeeded in climbing onto the Rabbit's
stop, Jaime whispers to Jenny, sitting until then unnoticed
in the passenger's seat.
Jenny is eating an
ice cream cone and doesn't seem to notice the jolts. One
of the weightlifters knocks on Jenny's window, and Jaime
notices, despite her fear, that he is the sort of boy
that everyone forgets quite easily, the surfer haircut
doing nothing to conceal the hair's untrainable lack of
body, the face suffering those genetic flaws of weakness,
the receding chin and lumpish jaw. The face is nothing
more than a plea, really, despite the pectorals, which
are machine-won, after all. Jenny has finished her ice
cream, but she ignores the boy, and Jaime finds herself
leaning over to nod at him politely.
—At least say
hello, she tells Jenny.
By now the car is
drifting quietly through a field of tall grass next to
the road; a few of the weightlifters nudge it along as
they would a tired ox. When the boy with the mole pulls
Jaime from the car, she remembers the snap of the x-ray
blows and sees the vulnerable, colorless organs beneath
the boy's skin, but they seem too far-removed from their
keeper's chicaneries to punish, and as she is pulled into
the trees beyond the field, Jaime feels herself whispering
to the boy's liver, communing with his heart, exchanging
idle pleasantries with his gall bladder, as if they were
all innocent guests at the same party, so that by the
time he pulls her down onto the wet leaves, she and the
colorless organs are merely shaking their collective heads
over the silly antics of the boy and the misdeeds of the
muscles he has so diligently worked to control.
—There it is!
For a moment Jaime
is stuck in a timeless band of dim light and distant sounds,
and then she discovers Eddie and Bob, thrashing at the
shouts, lurching his side of the inner tube forward. It's
right below us.
Eddie grunts, heaving his side of the inner tube after
Jaime watches Jenny
paddle after the two men and then turn back to wait for
—I fell asleep,
Jaime nods. Through
the trees on the bank she sees her Rabbit, less gleaming
now than before the dream yet still looking obedient and
The girls struggle to hold themselves back while the
men drop one side at a time over the rapid and disappear.
Jaime follows, and after her comes Jenny, laughing and
spinning. Together, they shoot over the choppy section,
and then, as Jaime drifts up to Eddie's side, he grabs
her arm. Off-balanced, they fall over the ledge and nearly
capsize. Jaime screams and kicks Eddie's shin beneath
says, letting go. Damn.
He leans down to
rub the sore spot and, as the weight shifts on the inner
tube, Bob tumbles into the water and disappears. His hat
pops to the surface with a fringe of hair floating around
its edge, and a moment later, Bob himself appears, shiny
He gasps and twists
in the water, spitting river spittle and looking frantically
for his hat. But it has floated toward Jenny, out of his
reach, and Jenny paddles hysterically away from it as
if it were a water-logged raccoon. A wave carries it to
Jaime, who retrieves it and passes it back to Bob.
With one hand, he
accepts the wig-hat and wordlessly slips it back over
his shiny scalp. Then he thrashes his way back to Eddie
and the inner tube. He is unable to re-mount, though,
and finally settles on holding the tube with one hand
and Eddie's legs with another.
For a minute, as
they drift across the river, no one speaks. Then, in a
flat voice, Jenny asks if anyone can see the takeout steps.
says, pointing into the darkness along the bank.
The girls begin paddling
toward the steps, but with Bob struggling to hold onto
Eddie's paddling legs, the men can't follow. Soon, they
are snatched by a current and pulled back into the river's
main thrust. Even as the girls climb the steps and stare
downstream at the diminishing figures, they can hear their
grunts. Eddie is now crouching over the inner tube on
all fours, pawing at the water while Bob bobs occasionally
to see whether he can stand up.
about us, Eddie shouts, as the inner tube disappears behind
For a moment, in
the advancing darkness, the girls watch the ripples from
the inner tube spread out across the water. Then, without
a word, they climb the bank to the Rabbit. As they close
the doors and Jaime starts the engine, there is a flash
of light over the river, beyond the bend, and immediately
afterwards a small disc, glowing like a sapphire and accented
with blinking red lights, appears above the trees, wafer-sized.
Spellbound, the girls watch as a beam of light shoots
from the bottom of the saucer. Almost immediately, they
hear the two men scream below them. Then, as Jenny leaps
from the car and Jaime merely sits behind the Rabbit's
wheel and stares, the saucer dips wafer-sized over the
trees and disappears.
1 | Part
2 | Part 3
| Part 4
5 | Part
6 | Part 7
| Part 8 |
9 | Part