Visit this website for more info. This is definitely the book. How long do I get to keep this maddening thing out there? Christine Bernard, A Shiver of Spooks. A collection of ghost stories published by Armada in the s, so possible. Mary Danby London: Armada, , pp. It's also depicted as the cover art of that anthology. I can't find any indication that the story has been reprinted or appeared anywhere else. Lords of Atlantis. Just a thought: E. Nesbit's Accidental Magic is a short story is about a boy who falls asleep at Stonehenge and ends up in Atlantis.
It doesn't have bracken or fern in it, though. A This is a total shot in the dark because I've never read it, but perhaps the title will ring a bell. There's a book about Atlantis that was published in both London and New York in According to the summaries, there is a prohecy that a boy will destroy Atlantis, and his sister can do nothing to prevent the tragedy. And in case the detail helps, it is the Archer family and they tend saffron. Two races of Atlanteans on islands of another sea beneath the Sargasso Sea. This could be a possibility.
Looks like it's a fairly rare book. Thanks to all of you for these suggestions so far. None of them is the right book yet, but I really appreciate your trying. Any other suggestions would be very welcome. Farmer, Penelope, William and Mary. This was already one of the solved mysteries, but I believe it might be british and there is a boy main character. Jan Siegal, Prospero's Children. This is more for teens and was probably too late, but it does have a main character named Fern who goes back to Atlantis to search for a way to stop the Atlantean queen.
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She meets up with a boy who helps her and they fall in love. Elinor Lyon, Hilary's Island , around This sounds like Hilary's Island by Elinor Lyon. Hilary was actually a girl named Amaryllis who pretended to be a boy named Hilary. She named "her" island Atlantis her favorite of several near-by islands and she ran away to hide on it. Long shot, but this features a girl whose family originally came from Atlantis I remember a crystal ball that shows things and that the family have strange abilities Nesbit, The Story of the Amulet , , approximate. This is a sequel to "Five Children and It.
It is a British book, and there very well might be bracken - I can't remember. Barbour, Ralph Henry. Three in a trailer. Appleton, Greene, Carla. Holiday in a trailer. Clark, Electa. Tony for keeps; a story of a house on wheels. Winston, The Feather family car pulls a trailer around the western half of the US as father swaps labor and objects for needed cash. Orphan Tina accidentally joins them, is disguised as a boy so there will be no accusations of kidnapping before they can get her back and adopt her.
Florence Musgrave, Trailer Tribe. This might be the book. The cover shows a family and their airstream trailer. Seuss , pre This book sounds a lot like Dr. Seuss's book of ABC's. Although it is common to have a Yak represent Y such a difficult letter! Rey, Curious George Learns the Alphabet. In this book the Man with the Yellow Hat drew alphabet animals so George could learn the alphabet. The little-h horse rings a bell for me. Rey, Curious George Learns the Alphabet , I have to second the motion for Curious George Learns the Alphabet.
I have the book here on my lap, and the illustrations are exactly as the stumper requester remembers. Here is the text for each page: "The small h is a horse. He is happy because he has heaps of hay. George had his own horsea hobby horse. Yaks live in Tibet. If you haven't seen any yaks yet you may find one at the zoo. The only word on each page was the spelled-out name of the animal, as I recall.
I remember just the large drawings of animals, one on each page. This may have been a book from the fifties or very early sixties. Sounds like Schmiderer's Alphabeast Book -- letters morph in a sequence of four drawings into animals. My copy shows h becomes a horse, and y, a yak. The only colors used in the book are red, white, and blue, if that helps. James Vance Marshall, Walkabout , Sure, it's not Africa, but the Austrailian outback could be remembered as sub-saharan Africa.
Two white teens lost in the outback survive by relying on a young black aborigne who is on a manhood quest, I believe. Very popular at the time. Kaffir Boy. This is the exact title of a book I started and never finished; it has quite a lot of description in it but is not a children's book. Makes reference to eating insects and hatchling birds. Sorry I don't know the author; I'm going to guess I read it 10 years ago. Maybe this is the book you are looking for. Stephen R. Lawhead, Dream Thief , It's about a sleep scientist who goes to live on a space colony.
He also ends up on Mars and in India before the story is over. It definitely fits the bill of a love story and a christian story. This was by far my least favorite books by Lawhead the author of some of my favorite books of all time, like Patrick, Son of Ireland , but it was ok.
Thanks for the idea, however, I know this is not it. It was definitely not a Science Fiction. More of a romance. Thanks anyway! Orson Scott Card author , Ender's Game. I know that Ender's Game isn't the right book, but man, it sure is eerily similar. Samuel Delany, The Fall of the Towers , , reprint. I don't remember the helmet, but the part about the government starting a war for the reason you mention Through the Gate of My Bookhouse , c. Might even be called My Bookhouse Through the Gate but, pretty sure this is the book you want. I had this age-appropriate set of books in the s.
My set started with a light green cover for the Nursery Rhymes and advanced through shades of green and then blue for older readers. I remember Tipity Witchit! I think he dipped his tail in whitewash. Later it must have rained because his tail was revealed to be solid black again. His story was probably in Volume 2 or 3. I remember the Bookhouse books, my mother had a set of them.
I do recall the Teeny-tiny women, I think she stole a scarecrow lady's clothes. With Tippety-Witchet, I remember that Tippety's white tip was to protect him from being stolen away by the witches. One old witch in particular kept trying to pour a shadow on his tail so she could catch him, after she turned his mother into a porceline sculpture! It was a good spooky story full of ghosts and devils and dancing. I was born in , and I have fond memories of an illustrated book about one of these "aliens. He was usually very strong and quite mischievous, but the water had to be replenished periodically or he would become weak and ill.
In the tale I remember best, the kappa befriended a little human boy and decided to live with him. He wanted to keep his identity a secret, so he engaged the boy in a playful water-throwing battle and managed to replenish his supply without admitting he wasn't human. I remember more than one story about this kappa, but I cant remember the name of the book or the author, and I dont know if these were multiple tales in a single book, or a series of picture books by the same author.
I can't even tell you if the author is of Japanese descent many libraries have culled "inauthentic" folktales from their collections. I've found three possible children's books from the correct time period for you. The first is 'Kappa' and other stories by Shigeru Tomiyama , 54 pages. The third is Clinton and the Kappa by Edgar C. Grove-Merritt author and Yasuo Kazama illustrator , 38 pages.
I haven't seen any of these and don't know whether the illustrations match your description. When searching for stories, please note that some adult tales feature frightening or monstrous kappa, quite unlike the odd and endearing creature I remember. Good luck in your search! I don't know the specific book in question, but the description of the beings sounds like it must be about the Kappa of Japanese folklore. Deep in the rivers of Japan, as all Japanese children know, there live mischievous little Water Elves called kappas pronounced koppas.
They have shells on their backs, webbed hands and feet, and shallow bowls of water in the tops of their heads. As long as the bowls are full, the kappas are gay and strong. But should the water spill out, they become very weak and may even die. This is the story of a young Kappa Prince named Kap. One day he wandered too far downstream from his royal palace and was lifted out of the water on the end of a fishing pole. The next thing he knew he had been adopted by a Japanese family, who hid the fact that he was really a kappa from all the villagers.
But no one could hide Kap's mischievous nature, and soon he was playing tricks on everyone. Kap's pranks will delight American children, who will share his adventure when he tries to find his way back to his river kingdom. It is Kap and The Wicked Monkey another possible solution for you! See more on the Solved Mysteries page. Mary Chase, Loretta Mason Potts. The children do go through the back of a closet and end up by a bridge. When they cross the bridge they become ant-size although they don't realize this at first. They go into a castle and meet a lady who turns out in the end to be bad.
She has kept Colin's sister Loretta living away from her family for many years. Loretta is finally happy to live with her family after they band together to separate her from the lady by destroying the castle doll-sized if you don't cross the bridge. Chase, Mary, Loretta Mason Potts. They didn't become as small as ants, more the size of dolls in a dollhouse, but the closet was the portal to the farm that led to the small size place. I love The City Under the Backsteps, but the children don't have a magic closet--they shrink because they're bitten by an ant. Does the original requester remember actual ants being part of the story?
The Indian in the Cupboard. I think this may be the book in question. Are the children named after varities of apples too? If so, try Jean McDevitt's Mr. See more on Solved Mysteries. I don't believe it's Mr. Apple's Family. The story is more about the house, and I'm not sure if there are any children. Could this be The Little House - the line drawings sound familiar, the main colours are red and green, the house gets battered and bruised but is eventually renovated and at the end a new family find it is just the house for them Hi, I'm the requestor for the above stumper.
It is not The Little House by Burton. Somewhat similar, but the house is never in the city. There is definitely an emphasis on apples with regard to the house. A pple Tree House Did the stumper ever check out Mr. Apple's Family by Jean McDevitt? Best in Children's Books printed an excerpt from Mr. Could this be Sneaker Hill , by Jane Little? There's an Aunt Miranda, who's studying for a certificate in witchcraft.
There are some suspicious other witches, who don't know her niece and son! Aunt Miranda can't cook, so I remember some parts about her inedible meals, and the witches meet in the woods. Something to check, anyway Sneaker Hill was written for year olds, so it is not a Young Adult book, and the plot elements don't match the stumper requester's memories. Susan Derry spends her spring holiday with her cousin Mathew and Aunt Miranda. There is no witch named Lanie, no magic stone, and Susan discovers that Aunt Miranda is studying witchcraft at the end of chapter 2, when Mathew tells her.
Aunt Miranda cooks delicious meals, but because she's an inexperienced witch, they don't turn out exactly as she had planned she conjures fortune cakes instead of cookies. The witches meet in a cavern inside Sneaker Hill, not in the woods. Could it be ' Sarah's Unicorn '?
Not sure if thats what you were after. It was a storybook from the 50's or 60's. It also had astory about a lady who put her cakes in a hatbox. I've checked all the doubleday books and did not find any of these stories This anthology contains the Van Witsen story about a little boy who will only eat cheese for breakfast, peas for lunch, and chocolate pudding for dinner, nothing else, until while playing like a doggy and rolling around on the floor under the table, someone drops a bit of a new food into his mouth.
He chews, he swallows, and he likes it! Part of the Sheldon Basic Reading Series for fourth grade level. Includes a glossary and word list. Color illustrations. Sorry, can't attest to the other stories. Found this collection by Doubleday on the "Find in a Library" website. It has Mrs. Goose's Hatbox Cake, which I've been searching for for years and it also has the cheese, peas, and chocolate pudding story.
A search online also turned up several copies for sale! A few more details: The book is from the early 50's. I remember a picture of the letter sent to the animal kid from his parents on their trip, propped up on the mantel over the fireplace, unread. The kid s wander through the forest asking each animal "Can you read my letter? I can't imagine why this book is haunting me I wrote originally that the book was yellow. It was actually light purple. I am sorry for the confusion. I'm afraid I don't know the title of the anthology, but perhaps this bit of information might help.
We also had this book for my son when he was little. The lion story apparantly was also sold separately and has previously been solved here as Tony and His Friends Golden Book. I don't believe this anthology was a Golden Book product, and I'm sorry that I don't remember its title, but perhaps the inquirer could do a search on Tony and His Friends , since that particular title is known - I beleive - and find the anthology's title through publishing records that way.
Jacobs, Leland B. Contents: The monkey and the bee, by L. Play ball, by I. Your stories are the first two in the book! Another bird the same, and another-till he is bald! Wilks, Mike, The ultimate alphabet , I'm positive you're thinking of this book - each letter has incredible detailed pictures - with hundreds and hundreds of objects for each letter - i think the "s" page has over I see there is now an "annotated ultimate alphabet".
Wonder if this is Animalia , by Graeme Base? Grahame Base, Animalia , Extremely detailed illustrations picturing, for example, crimson cats with crayfish, coke cans, candles, cacti, camels, castles and more in the background in an oversize book, along with captions for each page such as "Lazy Lions Lounging In the Local Library". This must be Animalia, a beautiful alphabet book by Graeme Base. Base, Graeme, Animalia. Graeme Base, Anamalia , Richly illustrated, finely detailed, mysterious in tone, but beautiful to the eye, this book is the first to come to my mind when someone asks for an alphabet book illustrated with paintings.
Graeme Base, Animalia , This book has incredibly detailed illustrations for each letter of the alphabet, and each picture features as many items beginning with that letter as possible. It sounds like Animalia. I can't find the title. Mary Engelbreit is the illustrator. The concept here is a common one for ABC books, dating back at least a century. But I'm voting for The Ultimate Alphabet as the solution to this stumper, as it is less well known as Animalia , with more objects detailed in the drawings, and no catchy captions that the stumper requester might have remembered.
Animalia was published earlier than but it has beautifully intricate illustration. All of the illustrations are associated with a letter of the alphabet. Mitsumasa Anno, Anno's Alphabet , Could it be Anno's Alphabet? The letters were carved, I think, and the drawings very intricate. I've looked into both titles suggested and am reasonably sure neither is the one. I do not recall any words whatsoever on the pages and the paintings were very realistic - like still life.
The scale of the book was similar to Anamalia , being taller than wide. Thnx again! If you want to rule out Animalia , check your memory of this: certainly there are ants on the "A" page, that's not unusual. But on the "D" page, for Dr. Who fans everywhere, there is a Dalek in the background. No other alphabet book in my memory has that! Leonard Baskin, Hosie's Alphabet , This is one of her Jo-Beth and Mary Rose mysteries they are sisters. They go looking for their cousin on an island.
There is an amusement park involved the cover has them riding in a roller coaster car heading into a mountain cave. It was published and I don't remember the main character being with a sister. I think either her relatives or family friends ran the amusement park. The whole mystery wraps up in an amusement park I think there's a theatre production in one of them Kobayashi, What's Michael? Some info on the series can be found on Wikipedia.
No - I've read the Jenny books, and they're not it. Also, I'm positive these were dressed, upright cats, and that the book wasn't aimed at children. Does anyone have copy they can take a picture of for me? Helen Earle Gilbert author , Marge Opitz illustrator. I've found copies that bear a copyright date of and , so it's probably an older book that was reprinted numerous times. I don't know if this is the book you're looking for, but it's worth a look!
Please see the Solved Mysteries "G" page for more information. I remember that the alien's ship was disguised as an ice cream cart, but don't know the details because I never quite finished the book. There are sequels I've never read, as well. Sayre, April Pulley, Crocodile Listens, Even though this title is from , it fits the description.
I think it might be the one. I don't think it can be Sayre's Crocodile Listens. I had a crocodile book that sounds very similar in the early 80s, and it was not that one. Evelyn Shaw, Alligator. The book discusses the life cycle of the American Alligator, and man's threat to its existence. The cover of this book is a soft green color, sort of mottled or textured looking, not a flat or solid color. Pictured is an alligator, with a fern in the foreground, palmetto fronds in back, and some clumps of long grasses. If this isn't the one you're looking for, a couple of others that might be at least worth a glace are "The Life Cycle of the Crocodile" by Paula Hogan , or "The Crocodile and Alligator" part of the "Animals in the Wild" series from Scholastic by Vincent Serventy Cover of the Hogan book is brown, with picture of crocodile in circle at top, and the word "Crocodile" printed 3 times at bottom.
Cover of the Serventy book shows a photo of an alligator, lying on a rock or bank, reflected in the water. Title is printed on a yellow band at top of page. Good luck! This is a possibility, if the book you remember was from a school book fair and was for fairly young readers. This book was published by Troll. I found a picture of the old cover here :. The newer cover is different but I don't know about the inside illustrations.
One of my favorites! I am quite sure this is the one you are looking for. Unfortunately, it's not the Isis series, which I read and loved at about the same time I read the stumper book. This one didn't have a Guardian taking care of the girl, and didn't get into the generations of recent-Earth folks settling into the planet. But thanks for the Isis reference - I didn't know there was a third one!
It sounds a little like one of H. Hoover's books, but I don't remember the plots well enough to pull the correct title out of my hat! It's this book; it takes place on the planet Xilan, and the main characters are Gareth the Xilan colonist and Lee one of the explorers. Try a web search of "puppet storybook" and see if any of those books look familiar. Some of them had a very distinctive 3-d cover made from vinyl and the rest of the book seems to match your description. You are looking for the Golden Press books with the black covers!
The illustrations are actual photos of posed dolls and the cover shows a holographic-like 3D image. I have a few of these books they were favorites of mine too! The Emperor's New Clothes was published in About that holographic cover We had Hansel and Gretel when I was a child, and my mother said that it could be played on a record player.
I don't remember it ever working very well, but it would be interesting to check out the possibility if anyone has a copy and still owns a turntable. These were by Golden Press, and had lenticular 3D pictures set into the covers. The illustrations were photographs of dolls in scenes and were done by Shiba Productions. Could it be Sing Down the Moon? It was about the Navajos being captured by the Spaniards, I think. Claude Aubry, Agouhanna , I'm sure this is the book you are looking for!
Young Agouhanna, an Iroquois chief's son, does not enjoy hunting and running with the other boys. Little Doe, a female childhood playmate, and White Eagle, his best friend, try to encourage him as the time of his manhood trial draws near. White Eagle remains near him in the forest and Little Doe demands to pass the ordeal test along with Agouhanna. I will definitely check out Agouhanna , but I don't think it's the one I'm looking for. I don't remember anything about a girl trying to pass the manhood challenge. One other thing I remembered that I'm pretty sure was from this book is that the boy was unusually close to his mother, past the time of normal childhood closeness.
She may have been the one who suggested that he hide the supplies in the woods, or might have helped him to gather them. Thanks for any suggestions! Archie the Boston Terrier and his owners move to a new neighborhood. Across the street lives a big dog. Afraid that the big dog will eat Archie, Archie's owners put up a fence. When the big dog comes running over, Archie jumps over the fence. The big dog chases Archie, and then the two dogs lie down and rest together and become friends. Watty Piper, The Road in Storyland, The story about an old woman who is transformed into a woodpecker for refusing to give a beggar a piece of pie made quite an impression on me too when I read it about 50 years ago, and was the subject of a previously solved book stumper.
Platt and Munk seems to have cornered the market on this one!! On this site- in archives, it is cited in three of their books. Holling - In this last one it is called The Woodpecker, if memory serves me. I have the book-somewhere! Can't locate it right now. I am sure your solution is one of these last two books. Given the Hauman's woodcut type pictures, I think the second title might be your best bet!! Stumpers R and W seem to be looking for the same volume.
Thankyou for the tips but I know that the name of the book is Aesop's Fables and it a collection of fables, the one about the woodpecker is just one of many. The children are awoken by the dream boat that takes them off to the magical land of Lazibonia! Through the pyramid of rice pudding to the only place where roast chickens fly straight into your mouth, cheeses are scattered like stones and gingerbread cottages really exist so that the residents can simply lie around.
Cooked fish swim in the milk river, honey roast hams run around ready to be carved for lunch. Fountains abound to deliver your favourite drink on a whim. Need to loosen your belt? Clothes grow on trees and the grass is made of every imaginable colour of hair ribbon. Activity of any kind is frowned upon but if you want to learn you can start at the top and work your way down to kindergarten where you can just have fun all day! Sounds like the Mushroom Planet books. Most of the activity takes place on their planet, but one alien did come to Earth--Mr.
Bass--and he manages to get two boys to build a spaceship and take a hen along to save his homeworld. Egg yolks fill in some missing piece in their diet and the population is saved. Zena Henderson, The Anything Box. This is an anthology of stories I read a few years ago from the library so I can't check the details but I think it had a story in it similar to what you're seeking.
The story I recall had aliens landing on earth and living in a refugee-type camp while negotiations were ongoing among the officials. A young boy made friends with a young alien, the mothers got to know one another as well, and the humans accidentally discovered that the aliens required something in their diet to survive that was no longer available on their home planet- it may have been salt they were using on a hard-boiled egg at a picnic.
The other book that comes to mind is Eleanor Cameron's Mushroom Planet series- in those books the boys travel to the Mushroom Planet and leave behind a chicken as the people of the planet are dying from lack of sulfur and need the eggs to survive. They need salt water, not only to live but to be able to reproduce. To me, it is one of Henderson's best stories. Henderson's other collection of short stories is called Holding Wonder.
Snappy Blue Shark Spike a. Fujin Rai a. Toffee Mr. Nintendofan FightingMario a. Winkle The Rat Mr. Brio Dingodile N. The Lord of Games Boogles Mrs. Quack V. Edward Richtofen Gabriel T. Kenny Dermot Brent Ernst a. Blazkowicz a. Featherly T. John Ben Paul Brenda St. Thaddeus S. Jonas Venture Jr. Jonas Venture Sr. Z Mrs. Pac-Man Jr. Armstrong Freom E. Army S. Ellidy Nikki the Lynx Dr. Commander Mr. Stewart Topaz Hope Kintobor G. Eggman a. Robotnik Classic Dr. John Hershey St. Wendy Nagus Focke-Wulf the Wolf a.
The Iron Queen Jun Kun a. Speedy Dr. EXE Sally. The bear came into view and saw him. She ran.
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Clyde was out of her reach; she began to climb, and rocks were loosened by her great body. When one of the cubs bawled, she let go and half slid, half fell back to the bottom. Standing on her hind legs, she growled at the man above her. She was nine feet tall. She shook her great head from side to side another moment, then turned and waddled back toward the blueberries, trailed by her two cubs. Good thinking. She had smelled the bear, she thought.
If he had only shut up a minute! She was certain she had smelled the bear. Her hands were trembling. The phone was ringing when she returned to the living room. She answered, watching the screen. Clyde looked shaken, the first time he had been rattled since the beginning. Corinne should have enough consideration not to make an issue of it week after week. I say okay, then Lottie gives me hell. Know what I mean? You know?
So drop it! The refrigerator door banged. When he pulled it open, warm beer spewed halfway across the room. Lottie knew he had done it to make her mad.
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She ignored him and watched Mildred worm her way down into her sleeping bag. Mildred had the best chance of winning, she thought. She checked her position on the aerial map. She had chosen right every time. She and Mildred were about the same size. All I do every weekend is clear away garbage! When she got near Butcher, she held her nose. The red beeper was on. Eddie was in a tree, clutching the trunk. Below him, dogs were tearing apart his backpack, and another dog was leaping repeatedly at him.
The dogs had smelled food, and they would search for it, tearing up everything they found. She smiled grimly. They might keep Mr. Week after week it was the same. They forgot the little things and lost. She leaned back and ran her hand through her hair. It was standing out all over her head. Two of the dogs began to fight over a scrap of something and the leaping dog jumped into the battle with them. Presently they all ran away, three of them chasing the fourth. He swept out his hand and pushed her down again and left the room without a backward look.
That twenty and twenty more would have to go to the finance company to pay off the loan for the wall unit. All you do is stuff and guzzle and expect me to pick up and clean up. The beer streamed out over the table, chair, over his legs. Butcher threw down the sandwich and grabbed at her. She dodged and backed away from the table into the center of the room. Butcher followed, his hands clenched. He hauled himself up to a crouch and glared at her with hatred. He charged again, this time knocked her backward and they crashed to the floor together and rolled, pummeling each other.
The red beeper sounded and they pulled apart, not looking at each other, and took their seats before the screen. The current was very swift, all white water here. She slipped and went under. Lottie held her breath until she appeared again, downstream, retching, clutching at a boulder. Inch by inch she drew herself to it and clung there trying to get her breath back. She looked about desperately; she was very white. Abruptly she launched herself into the current, swimming strongly, fighting to get to the shore as she was swept down the river.
Lederman, how long can a person be immersed in water that cold? Not long at all. She caught a rock and held on. Now she could stand up, and presently she dragged herself rock by rock, boulder by boulder, to the shore. She was shaking hard, her teeth chattering. She began to build a fire. She could hardly open her waterproof matchbox. Finally she had a blaze and she began to strip. Her backpack, Andy reminded the audience, had been lost when she fell into the water. She had only what she had on her back, and if she wanted to continue after the sun set and the cold evening began, she had to dry her things thoroughly.
She was weak. She got up, skirted Butcher, and went to the kitchen for a bag. As she cleaned the table, every now and then she glanced at the naked woman by her fire. Steam was rising off her wet clothes. His beard was thick and coarse, and he still wore the clothes he had put on to go to work Friday morning. Every weekend she got constipated. The game was between Mildred and Clyde now. He was in good shape, still had his glasses and his backpack. He was farther from his truck than Mildred was from hers, but she had eaten nothing that afternoon and was limping badly.
Her boots must have shrunk, or else she had not waited for them to get completely dry. Her face twisted with pain when she moved. The girl was still posing in the high meadow, now against a tall tree, now among the wild flowers. Often a frown crossed her face and surreptitiously she scratched. Ticks, Butcher said. Probably full of them. Eddie was wandering in a daze. He looked empty, and was walking in great aimless circles.
Some of them cracked like that, Lottie knew. It had happened. She would win, Lottie knew. She was strong, and not afraid of noises. She found herself nodding and stopped, glanced quickly at Butcher to see if he had noticed. He was watching Clyde. Look at him. Now the screen was divided into three parts, the two finalists, Mildred and Clyde, side by side, and above them a large aerial view that showed their red and blue dots as they approached the trucks. She felt a chill. He glanced at her and for a moment their eyes held — naked, scheming.
They broke away simultaneously. Mildred limped forward until it was evident each step was torture. Finally she sobbed, sank to the ground and buried her face in her hands.
Clyde ran on. It would take an act of God now to stop him. He reached the truck at twelve minutes before midnight. For a long time neither Lottie nor Butcher moved. Neither spoke. Butcher had turned the audio off as soon as Clyde reached the truck, and now there were the usual after-game recaps, the congratulations, the helicopter liftouts of the other contestants.
Butcher sighed. He was hoarse. About the best yet. Want a sandwich, doughnut? Be right out. When he came back, shaved, clean, his wet hair brushed down smoothly, the room was neat again, the dishes washed and put away. Next week. It was the best money they ever spent, she thought, undressing. Best thing they ever bought, even if it would take them fifteen years to pay it off. She yawned and slipped into bed. They held hands as they drifted off to sleep.
Art is supposed to be unconventional which is why I detest genre writing of all kinds. Because they know that Joe will get murdered and somebody else will figure out why or how. Or some spy will figure out how to prevent terrorists from taking over the world. I want to be taken away to a different place every time. Boyle The thing I have always liked best about science fiction is that it defies definition.
It keeps constantly reinventing itself — and just when you thought stories about robots or time travel or first contact had been done to death, it thinks of some brand-new way to tell an old story, or some brand-new story to tell. I was living with a woman who suddenly began to stink. It was very difficult. The first time I confronted her she merely smiled. The next time she curled her lip. There were other problems too. Hairs, for instance. Hairs that began to appear on her clothing, sharp and black and brutal.
Invariably I would awake to find these hairs in my mouth, or I would glance into the mirror to see them slashing like razor edges across the collars of my white shirts. Then too there was the fruit. I began to discover moldering bits of it about the house — apple and banana most characteristically — but plum and tangelo or even passion fruit and yim-yim were not at all anomalous. These fruit fragments occurred principally in the bedroom, on the pillow, surrounded by darkening spots.
It was not long before I located their source: they lay hidden like gems in the long wild hanks of her hair. Another occupational hazard. Jane was in the habit of sitting before the air conditioner when she came home from work, fingering out her hair, drying the sweat from her face and neck in the cool hum of the machine, fruit bits sifting silently to the carpet, black hairs drifting like feathers.
On these occasions the room would fill with the stink of her, bestial and fetid. My ears would keen with the whistling and crawking of the jungle birds, the screechings of the snot-nosed apes in the branches. And then, slack-faced and tight-boweled, I would step into the bathroom and retch, the sweetness of my own intestinal secrets a balm against the potent hairy stench of her. One evening, just after her bath the faintest odor lingered, yet still it was so trenchant I had to fight the impulse to get up and urinate on a tree or a post or something , I lay my hand casually across her belly and was suddenly startled.
You know: you scratch my back, I scratch yours. Finally, about four, I got up and took three Doriden. I woke at two in the afternoon, an insect in my ear. It was only an earwig. I had missed my train, failed to call in at the office. There was a note from Jane: Pick me up at four. Konrad sends love. The Primate Center stood in the midst of a macadamized acre or two, looking very much like a school building: faded brick, fluted columns, high mesh fences.
Finger paintings and mobiles hung in the windows, misshapen ceramics crouched along the sills. A flag raggled at the top of a whitewashed flagpole. I found myself bending to examine the cornerstone: Asa Priff Grammar School, Inside it was dark and cool, the halls were lined with lockers and curling watercolors, the linoleum gleamed like a shy smile.
The urinals were a foot and a half from the floor. Designed for little people, I mused. I smiled, and situated myself over one of the urinals, the strong honest scent of Pine-Sol in my nostrils. At that moment the door wheezed open and a chimpanzee shuffled in. He was dressed in shorts, shirt and bow tie.
He nodded to me, it seemed, and made a few odd gestures with his hands as he moved up to the urinal beside mine. Then he opened his fly 1 From work of Robert Hearns Yerkes — , American psychologist who founded Yale labs of primate biology. I looked away, embarrassed, but could hear him urinating mightily. The stream hissed against the porcelain like a thunderstorm, rattled the drain as it went down. I began to feel foolish. The chimp shook himself daintily, zippered up, pulled the plunger, crossed to the sink, washed and dried his hands, and left.
I found I no longer had to go. Out in the hallway the janitor was leaning on his flathead broom. The chimp stood before him gesticulating with manic dexterity: brushing his forehead and tugging his chin, slapping his hands under his armpits, tapping his wrists, his tongue, his ear, his lip. The janitor watched intently.
Suddenly — after a particularly virulent flurry — the man burst into laughter, rich braying globes of it. The janitor might think I was stealing paper towels or something. The two continued laughing, now harder than ever. Each time he looked up the chimp produced a gesticular flurry that would stagger him again. Finally the janitor wound down a bit, and still chuckling, held out his hands, palms up. The chimp flung his arms up over his head and then heaved them down again, rhythmically slapping the big palms with his own.
The janitor turned back to his broom, still chuckling. I cleared my throat. The broom began a geometrically precise course up the hall toward me. It stopped at my toes, the ridge of detritus flush with the pinions of my wingtips. The janitor looked up. The pupil of his right eye was fixed in the corner, beneath the lid, and the white was red. There was an ironic gap between his front teeth. He looked at me steadily, grinning still. Well, ah tells yo: he was relatin a hoomerous anecdote, de punch line ob which has deep cosmic implications in dat it establishes a common groun between monks and Ho-mo sapiens despite dere divergent ancestries.
Dat asl. A-merican Sign Language. Developed for de deef n dumb.
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Yo sees, Mastuh Konrad is sumfin ob a genius round here. He can commoonicate de mos esoteric i-deas in bof asl and Yerkish, re-spond to and translate English, French, German and Chinese. He is mainly into anthro-pology, yo knows, but he has cultivated a interess in udder fields too. And turned to leave. The janitor caught me by the shirtsleeve. I tore away from him and stamped out of the building. Jane was waiting in the car. I climbed in, cranked down the sunroof and opened the air vents.
At home I poured a water glass of gin, held it to my nostrils and inhaled. Jane sat before the air conditioner, her hair like a urinal mop, stinking. Occasionally the tip of my tongue entered the gin. I sniffed and tasted, thinking of plastic factories and turpentine distilleries and rich sulfurous smoke. On my way to the bedroom I poured a second glass. In the bedroom I sniffed gin and dressed for dinner. She was dressed in her work clothes: jeans and sweatshirt.
The sweatshirt was gray and hooded. There were yellow stains on the sleeves. I thought of the lower depths of animal cages, beneath the floor meshing. I was knotting my tie. Jane sat hunched against her door, unwashed. I had never before smoked a cigar. We drove on in silence. And I reflected that this was not the Jane I knew and loved. Where, I wondered, was the girl who changed wigs three or four times a day and sported nails like a Chinese emperor? She was committed. The project, the study, grants.
I could read the signs: she was growing away from me. The restaurant was dark, a maze of rocky gardens, pancake-leafed vegetation, black fountains. We stood squinting just inside the door. Birds whistled, carp hissed through the pools. Somewhere a monkey screeched.
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Jane put her hand on my shoulder and whispered in my ear. At that moment the leaves parted beside us: a rubbery little fellow emerged and motioned us to sit on a bench beneath a wicker birdcage. He was wearing a soiled loincloth and eight or ten necklaces of yellowed teeth.
His hair flamed out like a brushfire. In the dim light from the braziers I noticed his nostrils — both shrunken and pinched, as if once pierced straight through. His face was of course inscrutable. I started to object — I bitterly resent anyone looking at my feet — but Jane shushed me. We had waited three months for reservations. He licked along like an iguana and we hurried to keep up. Wet fronds slapped back in my face, creepers snatched at my ankles, mud sucked at the plantain leaves on my feet. It was dark as a womb. I offered Jane my hand, but she refused it. Her breathing was fast.
The monkey chatter was loud as a zoo afire. I slapped a mosquito on my neck. A moment later we found ourselves seated at a bamboo table overhung with branch and vine. Across from us sat Dr. U-Hwak-Lo, director of the Primate Center and wife. A candle guttered between them. And then the conversation turned to primates, and the Center.
U-Hwak-Lo and I smiled at one another. Jane and the Doctor were already deeply absorbed in a dialogue concerning the incidence of anal retention in chimps deprived of Frisbee coordination during the sensorimotor period. I gestured toward them with my head and arched my eyebrows wittily. U-Hwak-Lo giggled. The close wet air seemed to concentrate her essence, distill its potency. The U-HwakLos seemed unaffected. I began to feel queasy. I reached for the fingerbowl and drank down its contents. U-Hwak-Lo smiled. It was coconut oil. Just then the waiter appeared carrying a wooden bowl the size of a truck tire.
A single string of teeth slapped against his breastbone as he set the bowl down and slipped off into the shadows. The Doctor and Jane were oblivious — they were talking excitedly, occasionally lapsing into what I took to be asl, ear- and nose- and lippicking like a manager and his third-base coach.
I peered into the bowl: it was filled to the rim with clean-picked chicken bones. Jane looked up. I had already waded through two murky fountains and was preparing to plunge through my third when I heard Mrs. My attention was directed toward what I took to be the main course, which had appeared in my absence.
An unsteady pinkish mound now occupied the center of the table, completely obscuring the circular hole — it looked like cherry vanilla yogurt, a carton and a half, perhaps two. On closer inspection I noticed several black hairs peeping out from around its flaccid edges.
I pointed to one of the hairs, remarking to Mrs. U-Hwak-Lo that the rudiments of culinary hygiene could be a little more rigorously observed among the staff. She smiled. Encouraged, I asked her what exactly the dish was. After the feast, the lower ranks of the village population divide up the remnants. Beneath the table, in the dark, a tiny fist clutched at my pantleg.
I missed work again the following day. This time it took five Doriden to put me under. At dawn I dozed off, dreamed briefly of elementary school cafeterias swarming with knickered chimps and weltered with trays of cherry vanilla yogurt, and woke stale-mouthed. Then I took the pills. It was threethirty when I woke again.
There was a note from Jane: Bringing Konrad home for dinner. Vacuum rug and clean toilet. Konrad was impeccably dressed — long pants, platform wedgies, cufflinks. He smelled of eau de cologne, Jane of used litter.
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I opened the door for them. We stood at the door, awkward, silent. Then he broke into a snicker, turned to Jane and juggled out an impossible series of gestures. Jane laughed. Something caught in my throat. She brought them into the living room on a cut-glass serving tray and set them down before Konrad and me, where we sat on the sofa, watching the news. Then she returned to the kitchen. Konrad plucked up a tiny sandwich and swallowed it like a communion wafer, sucking the tips of his fingers.
Then he lifted the tray and offered it to me. I declined. Konrad shrugged, set the plate down in his lap, and carefully stacked all the sandwiches in its center. I pretended to be absorbed with the news: actually I studied him, half-face. He was filling the gaps in his sandwich-construction with animal crackers. His lower lip protruded, his ears were rubbery, he was balding. Then he lifted the whole thing to his mouth and swallowed it without chewing. There were no whites to his eyes. Jane appeared in the kitchen doorway, hands dripping. He made a series of violent gestures. Konrad, with remarkable speed and coordination, consumed four cans of fruit cocktail, thirty-two spareribs, half a dozen each of oranges, apples and pomegranates, two cheeseburgers and three quarts of chocolate malted.
He was sitting in the other room, listening to Don Giovanni,5 sipping brandy. Jane said that he was a big, active male and that she could attest to his need for so many calories. I stand five seven, one forty-three. When I returned from work the following day, Jane was gone. Her dresser drawers were bare, the closet empty. There were white rectangles on the wall where her Rousseau6 reproductions had hung. The top plank of the bookcase was ribbed with the dust-prints of her Edgar Rice Burroughs7 collection.
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Her 4 Che Guevara — , Cuban revolutionary killed in Bolivia. There were no notes. A pain jabbed at my sternum, tears started in my eyes. I was alone, deserted, friendless. I began to long even for the stink of her. On the pillow in the bedroom I found a fermenting chunk of pineapple. And sobbed. By the time I thought of the Primate Center the sun was already on the wane. It was dark when I got there. Inside the lighting was subdued, the building hushed. I began searching through the rooms, opening and slamming doors. The linoleum glowed all the way up the long corridor.
I pushed by him and started down the corridor. From the last door on my left. I hurried. Suddenly the Doctor and his wife stepped from the shadows to block the doorway. I felt panicky. Thought of the Tong. I broke. Grabbed the Doctor by his elbows, wheeled around and shoved him into the janitor. They went down on the linoleum like spastic skaters. I applied my shoulder to the door and battered my way in, Mrs. She looked puzzled at first, then annoyed. She stepped up to me, made some rude gestures in my face. I could hear scrambling in the hallway behind me.
Then I saw Konrad — in a pair of baggy bvds. I grabbed Jane. But Konrad was there in an instant — he hit me like a grill of a Cadillac and I spun across the room, tumbling desks and chairs as I went. I slumped against the chalkboard. The door slammed: Jane was gone. Konrad swelled his chest, swayed toward me, the fluorescent lights hissing overhead, the chalkboard cold against the back of my neck. And I looked up into the black eyes, teeth, fur, rock-ribbed arms.
Technology is our fate, our truth. It is what we mean when we call ourselves the only superpower on the planet. The materials and methods we devise make it possible for us to claim the future. We are the astonishment. The miracle is what we ourselves produce, the systems and networks that change the way we live and think. A note about Vollmer.