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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"


Fat Cake and Double Talk
Andrew L. Wilson

Author's Note: The character of 'Uncle Gub' is borrowed from Joseph Faria, the author and copyright holder of "The Mary Jane stories," and is used here with that author's express and gracious permission.

Quinn had not written a novel in ten years, only a few screenplays. One morning his accountant called to tell him that he was almost broke. He fell into a strange state of listlessness. There was still time, said the accountant, to turn things around, to recoup his losses. But, strangely, he did nothing to help his situation. Instead, he lazed around his small house playing the saxophone. The accountant resigned. Quinn's supply of cash was dwindling. He owed money to people he'd never heard of. His credit cards began to decline purchases and advances; he was unable to buy new clothes, or to eat in restaurants. Then his property taxes came due. Since he had no means to pay them, he was forced to sell the house—at a loss, as it turned out. He moved into an apartment in the city. One day, soon after the move, he pawned his saxophone to pay rent. After paying the rent and the gas bill, he had nothing left but some change in his pockets. He was forty-eight years old. It was snowing. He went into a bar, sat at a table and emptied his pockets. He looked at the scattered change. When he glanced up, his eyes met the eyes of a startlingly good-looking Latina in a fire-engine red dress seated on one of the stools at the end of the bar. He smiled at her, sadly. She flashed dazzling teeth.

A few minutes later, she was at his table. She put her small, hot hand over one of his and squeezed.

"Like some company?" she asked.

Quinn gave a bitter laugh.

"Actually, I'm afraid all I can afford to do is talk."

"Even talk isn't that cheap," the woman said coldly. She had just seen the coins scattered on the table.

Without another word, she rose and strode hip-swingingly back over to the bar. Quinn sat still, covering his eyes with his hands.

He took the hands away from his face when he felt the table move. There was a large Latin man leaning on it, his bulging forearms covered with writhing snake tattoos.

"May I help you?" He spoke around a darting toothpick.

Quinn pointed to the change:

"Is this enough for a beer?"

The bartender frowned and, sweeping the change off the table, went back over to the bar and stuck a glass under a beer tap. Quinn covered his eyes again. He saw stars, moons, four-leaf clovers...

As Quinn stood at the doorway adjusting his duffel coat and mittens, the Latina woman sidled up to him, slinking her arms around his waist.

"My name is Elena. What's yours?"

He tried to pull her fingers apart, but she wouldn't let go.

"Quinn. But I told you—"

She laid her head on his shoulder: whispered,

"I can get you some money, Quinn, if you do something."

"Do something?"

"I can make you feel good, too, if that's what you want."

Quinn shrugged. His wool cap had a bell on it that tinkled with the shrug.

Elena let go of his waist but grasped his right hand by the thumb, tugging. He followed her beautiful swaying hips around the bar into a back room, where the snake-tatooed bartender was sitting at a desk smoking a cigarillo.

The bartender picked up an envelope and emptied it onto the desk—sliding bundles of crisp fifties.

"If you will deliver the envelope to the address I give, I will pay you one hundred dollars in cash. OK?"



The bartender scooped up the loose packets of bills, crushing them back into the bulging envelope, and sealed it. Quinn's attention was distracted by a small aluminum-plated gun that had been lying under the envelope, and was now exposed to view.

Quinn asked, "And how much is it to spend a half hour with—?"

Elena laughed loudly. The bartender grinned, flashing a gold molar.

"Fifty dollars."

He left them alone with a warning to Elena not to take more than thirty minutes. Elena unzipped and stepped out of her dress. She had fat-nippled breasts and wide, motherly hips. Her belly was slightly rounded, like a wood stove's.

As she wriggled out of the black lace panties, Quinn fell to his knees and pressed his mouth to Elena's zippered Caesarian scar .


Peering into the dimness of the auto body shop, Quinn saw sparks flashing from a welding torch. Between the bursts of hissing flame, he yelled out,

"Hello? Anyone home?"

He watched as the gray-haired man stepped back from an engine block, raising his visor. The man's face was smudged with motor oil; he was wearing a blue jumper stained with sweat at the armpits.

"Yee-ah," the man said.

Quinn held up the manila envelope and waved it slightly.

"...'d Lazarus sendja?"

"That's right."

His face impassive, the man set down the welding torch on a tray of tools and, slipping off his work gloves, walked over to the doorway. Taking the envelope from Quinn's fingers, he shook it.

"How much?"


"...Much's in 'ere?"

Quinn shrugged.

"Don't know eh? Well, if I have complaints I'll get in touch with Lazarus. Right?"

Quinn said, "That's right."

"Pretty cool customer, arentcha?" the man asked.


"'Come in here, you don't know what might be waitin', who yer gonna hafta deal with."

Again, Quinn shrugged.

"What's yer name?"

Quinn said, "Quinn."

He held out his hand.

The gray haired man shook it once downward and let go.

"You go tell your boss, er, Quinn, that everything's fine and dandy. Got it?"

"Got it."


He slapped Quinn's shoulder so hard that the bell on Quinn's cap jingled.

Walking down the cement walkway out of the shop, Quinn heard the welding torch hiss to life again.


Lazarus laid out a creased fifty on the bar. Quinn stared at the bill for a long moment, then tapped it with the bitten-down nail of his right thumb.

"Scotch," he said.

It felt good to be giving orders again.

Lazarus poured the drink and shoved it over the bar, but waved away the bill when Quinn held it out to him.

"Where's Elena?" Quinn asked casually.

"She's out, my man, she's out. Outa town 'till Sunday."

Quinn spread out the fifty dollar bill flat.

"How much for that gun I saw?"

Lazarus chuckled.

"No, my friend, you don't want it. Hold onto your pants for a few days and I will get you a real hand cannon. Go on, put that cash away."


He slopped scalding coffee from his cup into the saucer and drank it out of the saucer. It was the next morning, and he was sitting in a booth in a dingy cafe by the waterfront. He was brutally hung over. As he drank his coffee he let his gaze roam around the cafe. He suddenly focussed on a midget, in a belted Sam Spade trenchcoat and a peaked red hunting cap, standing on a stool at the counter. The midget was picking up a glazed donut and taking bites from it between noisy slurps of coffee. He had on black priest's shoes. As Quinn looked, the midget withdrew a folded pink handkerchief from one of the trenchcoat pockets, unfurled it with a flourish, and honked his nose into it. Quinn looked around. None of the other patrons seemed to be either particularly impressed or bewildered by the presence of the midget in their midst.

A midget in our midst...! Quinn thought.

He laughed, blowing coffee out his nose onto the Formica table. The waitress paused, holding a coffee pot in one hand, to stare at him, and he felt himself shrink with shame. He mopped up the coffee in clumsy gestures with napkins he yanked from the chrome plated napkin dispenser on his table. When he'd finished cleaning up the spill, he found himself staring into the dazzling blue eyes of the midget, who was now standing next to his booth. The midget's small head and hunting cap, poised only a few inches above table level, seemed to float in space. Quinn opened his mouth in an oh, but said nothing.

"May I sit down?" the midget asked. His voice was not squeaky but merely high and slightly nasal—the voice of an adolescent boy or an Italian castrato.

"Of course," Quinn said, blinking.

The midget walked in stiff circus-steps over to the pay phone and slid from its shelf the fat Nynex Yellow Pages, which he carried back to the booth and slapped down onto the padded seat across from Quinn. Quinn watched as the midget clambered up and adjusted himself for comfort on the Yellow Pages. He then shook the tiny, stick-dry hand that the midget offered him.

"Pleased to make the acquaintance of a fellow literary man," the midget said. "We're a rare and rapidly vanishing breed. It's on our heads that the curse of alcoholism so often falls like the avenging sword of Damocles. We're also, of course, stalked by a cruel assortment of manias and depressions. Suicide is the common end to our miserable lives, be we celebrated or reviled, published in editions of fifty thousand copies or stacked on remainder shelves after selling only five hundred to our family and friends and friends' friends. I'm Uncle Gub."

"Gub?" Quinn said.

"Are you afflicted by some unfortunate speech impediment?" queried the midget, his eyes sparkling. "Or are you merely a dialogic minimalist?"

Quinn blushed.

"Gub spelled backwards, the midget said, is Bug. While Quinn spelled backwards is Nniuq. Which of us do you suppose has lucked out the most—anagramatically speaking?"

Quinn said, "I'm sorry, but do I know you?"

"You do. I just introduced myself. Weren't you listening? Or were you enjoying the delights of what the pop tune calls 'your own private Idaho'? Idaho Joe—that's what I should call you. Joe is your given name, isn't it? Although I quite agree that 'Quinn' looks better under the publicity shots. Excuse me," Uncle Gub said, and plucked a pipe out of his overcoat pocket. The pipe was already smoldering. Uncle Gub sucked on the pipe and extended it stem first to Quinn, who shook his head hard.

"You know," Uncle Gub said, in a recitatory tone. "At odd moments I find myself remembering those endless summers at Lake Quikaquasha...The hot days...The misty twilights...Monica Carleton's slinky body, laughing eyes and gum flecked braces..."

Quinn's face went linen-white.

"Who are you?"

The midget spelled out letters with puffs of pipe smoke, declaiming loudly after each exhaled letter: "U-N-C-L-E...G-U-B."

Quinn scrambled out of the booth, sweating.

"How, how, how do you...know so much...about me?"

"Simple, my good man. Simple. I've read your feverish literary efforts in all the best print venues, including that Guttenberg fetish known as the book...I'm an old and desiccated FAN. Do you want me to spell that out for you?"


"No!" Quinn shouted.

"Fine," Uncle Gub said, slipping the pipe back into a pocket. "Enough chit-chat. Anyhow, we have certain items of business to discuss. I suggest we go for a stroll. As Doctor Johnson so truly opined, a postprandial stroll concentrates the mind wonderfully. (Or was it the prospect of imminent hanging?...Oh, dear. My old friend is probably spinning in his grave right now)."

Quinn shivered like a wet dog as Uncle Gub clambered down from his Nynex Yellow Pages and slid out of the booth.

"Dolores, be so good as to put this gentleman's repast on my tab, won't you?" the midget called out to the beehive-haired waitress posed slinkily, hand on one hip, at the end of the gleaming counter.

Dolores snapped her gum and said in a haughty, bored voice, "Sure thing, sweetipants."


Uncle Gub held Quinn's jacket sleeve tightly between thumb and forefinger as they walked through the park across from the waterfront, giving it sharp tugs whenever Quinn's pace threatened to topple the midget like a ten pin. As it was, Uncle Gub had to hop every few steps just to keep in stride. The midget was rattling on about a glossy racehorse he had recently purchased from a sultan in Kuwait which he was now training, in a location better left undisclosed, to run in the Kentucky Derby:

"You should see the beast. Muscles like ropes, skin like satin sheets...Prances like a Manhattan hairdresser on Gay Pride Day...And the best part is I'm going to ride him to glory myself. I'm a fabulous jockey, I've ridden all the winners. Do you remember Secretary?"

Quinn thinking:"(What is this?...God, God.)"

"God or Gub?" asked the midget.

Quinn tore his arm away from Uncle Gub's grasping hand.

"Leave me alone!"

Uncle Gub hung his head to one side for a moment, then spun in place, moonwalked a few steps backward, and fixed his cap, with a backward swipe of the hand, at a jaunty angle.

"Want to see something neat, shiny and new?" the midget said as he pulled a black object from one of the trenchcoat pockets.

Quinn retreated a few shaky paces.

"It's a gun," Uncle Gub said. "I heard you wanted one."

"A gun?"

"Ssh, ssh," said Uncle Gub, his voice pitched lower than usual.

"You're going to shoot me?" Quinn asked.

"Oh, no." The midget laughed. "Look—" He jerked out the ammunition clip and showed it to Quinn in his palm. "See these fearsome-looking bullets, here? These babies are an invention of my own. You've heard of 'armor piercing rounds'? Yes? Well, I call these Existence Piercing rounds. EPR's, for short. Do you get it? No? Weren't you once a Catholic? Huh? Speak up."


"Sure he says. Sure. OK. Well if you shoot a person with one of these bullets it doesn't just kill him. It makes him or her disappear, poof, just as if he or she had never existed, had never even been conceived."

"That's crazy," Quinn said.

"Try it, it works like a charm," Uncle Gub said, replacing the clip and holding the gun out to Quinn butt first.

Quinn held up his hands palms out.


"Just observe, then," Uncle Gub said over his shoulder as he stepped out onto the street into the path of a speeding Lexus. The driver slammed on the brakes and the Lexus, its tires smoking, came to a stop with the fender only inches from the midget's scrawny, pencil-thin chest. There was a shocked moment of stillness. Then the driver's side door flew open and a handsome young woman in a Dolce & Gabbana suit and Prada pumps staggered out.

"Oh my God. What are you doing playing in the street, you little brat?" she screamed, her wrist bracelets jangling. "I almost killed you!"

Uncle Gub raised the gun; the muzzle flashed. The shot was a flat pop. The woman disappeared like a burst soap bubble on a summer afternoon. Uncle Gub turned to Quinn, grinning and pumping his fist in the air triumphantly. Quinn stared at him. Then the midget pointed to the child's safety seat in the back of the idling Lexus.



Quinn slumped on a park bench to try to calm his wildly beating pulse. Uncle Gub stood by, patting his arm with one hand while holding the smoldering pipe to his lips with the other.

"There, there..." he said, around the moist pipe stem. "Just breathe, my boy...Shallow breaths, that's right..."

Finally, Quinn managed to gulp enough air to say, "So, this business you said you wanted to discuss. Let's just get it over with...can we?"

As Uncle Gub sucked on the pipe, his cheeks went hollow. He inhaled deeply, then blew a smoke ring and stabbed his index finger through it. His blue eyes blazed.

"Sure thing," he said. "But allow me to preface my words to you with a brief disclaimer. While it's true that, in my assumed role of gadfly to those proud spirits inhabiting the world of belles-lettres, I sometimes take it upon myself to help and advise the less than great, the abject, and even—not to mince words—the hopelessly mediocre, I make no claims as to the quality of my information and no guarantees as to ultimate results. Understood?"

Quinn nodded.

"The message is simple and crystal clear. You are headed for trouble, my scribbling friend. You exist in a state of imminent peril."

"You mean—"

"Shush. Let me finish. There is a woman."


Uncle Gub blew smoke into Quinn's face.

"I am not interested in fishing for names, and especially not for a woman's name."

"What have you got against women?"

"Nothing. The fairer sex and all that. Hi di hi. Do dee dum."

Quinn shook his head.

"I can't believe you shot that lady—"

"Pah. An act of considerable mercy. The wisest consider disappearance an enviable fate, and never to have been born best of all. Are you familiar with the story of the Cumerian Sybil? No? Ah, forget it."

Uncle Gub ejected the ashes from his slender, long stemmed pipe by tapping the bowl sharply on Quinn's knee. Quinn's leg jumped each time Uncle Gub tapped.

"Ha. The reflexes of a champion," Uncle Gub said. "There's hope for you yet, my boy."

"So—you want me to stay away from a woman? Is that it?"

Uncle Gub huffed and spat.

"Priority one, from my humble point of view, is that you have the time and leisure—and life, my boy—to compose your next book. If achieving this goal requires avoiding one woman, or even spurning all women for the rest of your days, I don't see how you can possibly object."

"OK," said Quinn. "You win. So I stay away from this woman, maybe from all women. I'm not young enough anymore to care. But there's still a problem. To write I need to live, and to live I need money."

Uncle Gub patted Quinn's shoulder in a vaguely fatherly way.

"Oh, don't worry about that, my boy. If you follow my instructions to the letter, you won't be having any money problems for a good long while. Help me up onto the bench and I'll dicca tutto a lei."

Quinn set his jaw, grasped Uncle Gub by the shoulders, and swung him up onto the bench, setting him down as gently as he would have an underfed child. Uncle Gub, seated comfortably with his legs sticking straight out from his skinny body, filled the pipe from a small, grimy yellow tobacco pouch as he spoke.


Lazarus was mopping the bar surface with a rag. He saluted with the rag as Quinn walked in.

"What's yours?" he said.

Quinn said, "Scotch."

Lazarus grabbed a bottle from the shelf and poured a tumbler half full. He slid it over the bar to Quinn.

"Elena around today?" Quinn asked.

"Why do you wanna know?" Lazarus asked as he emptied an ashtray.

Quinn shrugged.

"By the way. There was a friend of yours in this afternoon," Lazarus said.

"Oh? Who?"

"Uncle...Uncle something. Wait."

Lazarus fished in his shirt pocket. He pulled out an embossed business card between two fingers and placed it on the bar next to Quinn's glass.

"Aren't you going to drink your Scotch?" he asked

Quinn was staring at the card. It read:


Uncle Gub
Equine Trainer & Consultant


"What did he say?" Quinn asked.


Quinn picked up and waved the card.

"My friend. Uncle Gub."

Lazarus took it from his fingers and slipped it back into the shirt pocket.

"Nada. He had a few drinks and told some jokes I can't even repeat to you they're so filthy, and then went off with your girl, Elena. I think she'll show him a good time, huh? What do you think?"

Lazarus paused long enough to laugh at the stricken expression on Quinn's face, then began restocking beer bottles.

Quinn sat still, staring at his glass. He was remembering shooting the man in the auto body shop, and how the man had simply flashed out of existence. And if the man had ever had any children, they had flashed out of existence at the same instant.

Quinn had then quickly located the office safe—it was where the midget had said it would be—and spun the dial to the combination Uncle Gub had jotted down for him in the cover of a 'La Coupole' matchbook. Inside, he'd found a canvas bag packed with tight bundles of fifties.


Quinn stiffened when the door was shoved open, letting in daylight glare, and a large man with a gold chain on under his leather jacket entered, strode over to Lazarus and spoke to him in whispers. Lazarus listened with his head bowed. Quinn's skin was beginning to prickle. He decided to finish the drink and go, quickly. He was drinking the last drops in his glass when he felt a hand on his shoulder: Elena, smiling at him with her full lips, radiant. Her dark hair had been freshly curled.

"Yo, my man," a voice said, and Quinn turned to see Lazarus and the larger man staring at him. He felt the air go electric with danger.

"Come on over here."

Lazarus crooked a little finger.

Quinn stared.

"You deaf?" the larger man said in a booming voice.

"Come here," Lazarus said, his voice low and soothing. "We need to discuss a turn of events."

Quinn slid from the stool, reached behind him, and pulled the gun out of his belt where he had stuck it against the small of his back. The larger man pulled out his own gun, much bigger than Quinn's. But before he could fire it, Quinn shot him in the chest. He blinked out of existence like the image on a TV screen switched off by remote.

Lazarus stared open-mouthed at the space where the larger man had just been standing. He raised his hands shakily in the air.

Quinn shot him.


The air was sharp with the smell of cordite. Smoke from the gun muzzle drifted in lazy swirls up toward the ceiling. Quinn slipped Uncle Gub's gun back into his waistband. As he turned, smiling in triumph, toward Elena, he saw her arm swing up and felt something swipe across his neck. For an instant, he thought she had swiped him with an elementary school ruler. Why would she do that? To tickle him? Then he looked down and saw the ivory handled straight razor in her hand, its blade extended.

Quinn brought both his hands up and pressed them to his neck. He felt blood spray through the fingers. Elena was backing away, one hand covering her mouth to hold in a scream. Quinn staggered and fell to his knees, then swayed and collapsed. He felt himself rush out of his body. From above, he saw himself splayed on the wooden floor, his eyes fixed in a glassy stare. The blood was no longer pumping from the cut in his neck, but flowing in a smooth stream.

He saw Elena turn and dash out of the bar. He rose through the ceiling and saw her run down the street and turn the corner. He rose higher, and saw the streets and the rooftops, the park by the waterfront, and the harbor beyond it with the hulks of boats floating in the steel gray water and the wide open sea shining beyond.

Then Quinn heard, from far below him, a series of amateurish honks, beeps, bleeps and squeals. He looked down and saw the midget standing at the end of a rotting pier, his trenchcoat buttoned to the chin, holding a large saxophone to his mouth.

Uncle Gub was playing "Last Post"—that mournful tune heard at the end of the day in army barracks throughout the world. He was playing it at an even more relaxed and lingering pace than usual.

Quinn's astral eyes filled with tears.

Bravo! he thought.

The song ended with a bleat and a drawn-out wail. As he soared higher and higher, Quinn was just barely able to make out Uncle Gub waving a pink handkerchief in the wind.



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