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Reginald Blisterkunst, Ph.D.
Among the Remembered Saints: My Life and Subsequent Death
Pluto Wars

Greg Chandler
"Bee's Tree"
"Local Folk"
"Roland's Feast"
"Pond Story "

Doug Childers
"The Baptism"

Gene Cox
The Sunset Lounge

Clarke Crutchfield
"The Break-In"
"The Canceled Party"
"The Imaginary Bullet"

Jason DeBoer
"The Execution of the Sun"

Deanna Francis Mason
"The Daguerreian Marvel"

Dennis Must

Charlie Onion
"Love Among the Jellyfish"
Pluto Wars
"Feast of the Manfestation"

Chris Orlet
"Romantic Comedy"

Daniel Rosenblum
"A Full Donkey"

Deanna Frances Mason
"The Daguerreian Marvel"

Andrew L. Wilson
"Fat Cake and Double Talk"


Pluto Wars
Charlie Onion & Reginald Blisterkunst, Ph.D.

Editor's Note: This 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.

Part Seven

Innocent Parties

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.

—Jenny? Did 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.

—That thing. 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.

—You didn't see it. It was disgusting.

—Put your daddy's money to good use, then. Give it a karate chop to the neck.

—Wait till 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.

—Out there? What's he doing?

—Maybe he's looking for a dead body, Jaime says. A drowning victim, maybe.

Jenny shakes her head.

—It would drift past here.

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.

—Those guys 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 road.


—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.

—Good ride?

—Great, the white man says.

—Let's try it, Jenny says to Jaime.

Jaime hesitates and then follows Jenny up the bank.

—I'm Eddie, 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.

—Bought it 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 shoulder.

—How long y'all been out here? Eddie says.

—Not long, 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?


—Swim down the river?

—All the way to Brown's Island, Eddie says.

—Wasn't the water rough downstream?

—Hell yes, 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 suspicious.

—That's the 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.

—What happened? she says.

—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.

—But there's no bridge or anything on Brown's Island.

—You don't 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 I was.

—Hell, Bob says. Right now we don't even know how we're getting home today.

—What do you mean?

—I lost my car keys, Bob says.


—Out there somewhere, Eddie says, waving his hand down the length of the river.

—You mean they fell out of your pocket in the river?

Bob nods.

—They could be anywhere.


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 and smiles.

—Catch anything? 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.

—What's that?

—I said, Catch anything?

—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.

—I'll keep 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.

—Jaime says 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.

—Now you've 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.

—Somewhere 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.

—That's lovely, Jenny says.

—Bob likes 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.

—No thanks, Jenny says. Jaime's dad is going to take us to dinner.

—Suit yourselves, 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 roof.

—Make them 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 water spastically.

—Hurry, Bob shouts, lurching his side of the inner tube forward. It's right below us.


—The rapids, Eddie grunts, heaving his side of the inner tube after Bob's.

Jaime watches Jenny paddle after the two men and then turn back to wait for her.

—What's wrong with you?

—I fell asleep, Jaime says.

—Strange place to sleep.

Jaime nods. Through the trees on the bank she sees her Rabbit, less gleaming now than before the dream yet still looking obedient and patient.


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 the water.

—Damn, Eddie 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 bald.

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.

—There, Jaime 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.

—Don't worry about us, Eddie shouts, as the inner tube disappears behind the trees.

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.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10



About the Authors

The late Reginald Blisterkunst was a college professor whose areas of expertise were Milton and the Metaphysical Poets. Among the Remembered Saints, his first novel, was also serialized on the WAG Web site.

Charlie Onion is a frequent WAG contributor.


Graphic Design by D.A. Frostick 
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