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Chapter 13

Grover took the toilet but left hope and Emile thought this to be the perfect deal and he could not have been more pleased with himself and the world and Lungsee, and so it came as a sharp stinger when, reading the back of his Capt’n Crunch cereal box, he realized that hope is far more fickle than the feelings that force it.

Fuck it, man, he said, but Lungsee was not at the table. He looked down to his soggy little breakfast nuggets, adrift in a puddle of malcolored milk. I’m never going to find Ty.

In the kitchen, the phone made its clank as it was replaced into its cradle, and Lungsee appeared and took his seat at the far end of the breakfast room table, back to his water, dry toast and newspaper.

They sat in silence. Lungsee leaned his head back as if he were reading with bifocals. Hamida Djandoubi… what a name. He lowered the paper and looked at Emile. I could say it a million times. Hamida Djandoubi…

What’s Hamida Djandoubi?

This fellow over in Marseilles. In France. Europe… Lungsee said as he gazed out the windows to the pool and trees, … must be like living with your jerkwater cousins over there. You know, phones don’t work, people don’t bathe, bus drivers don’t know their stops…

That’s exactly how it is.

Ah, you’ve been? said Lungsee with country club surprise.

Yeah, couple of times. But I liked it. It’s entertaining, like being in an old movie. So, who’s the Djandoubi guy?

Got the guillotine. Lungsee dragged a thumb across his throat.

Guillotine? Why?

Killed some girl. But who the hell knows. It’s a story of a story.

Aren’t they all?

That’s right. A truth happens, and then belief takes over. Lungsee held out his hands as if they both wore socks puppets and spoke to them. Two events. Two stories, he said. Between them, muddy waters, gray skies. Distortion. Long-wave radio bands stretching from this Djandoubi guy’s soul to a pissant wire feed somewhere that the paper picked up. To fill space. Right here on page… 4A. The apparent ease with which children learn is their ruin. So desperate to fit. In. If you know this, you have not learned that you need to learn that not correcting for this will ruin you. I have. And thus by extension, this, and all we know, is a story of a story of a story, dear Emile. We really can only tell ourselves what we want to hear. At the end of the day, it’s all we got. Which is shit, if you’re paying attention. And no one is. I know my Rousseau.

I disagree. I think…

Like this one, interrupted Lungsee, folding the paper over. Seems the grave of one Elvis Aron Presley was burgled last night…


Attempted, burgled.

Whoa. What’s it say?

Grave robbers, blah blah blah… said Lungsee as he scanned…, And I quote, ‘three men were caught’, and I end quote.

That’s it?

Not enough for you?

No. I want to know details. Who, why? Fucking how? I remember reading whenever it was we were on your roof, I remember reading that the coffin was like five thousand pounds, and made from copper. What’d they do? Bring a dump truck and a crane?

Lungsee sighed, exasperated and looked down his nose, as if over the imaginary bifocals. Three-thousand-pound coffin, and I doubt it was copper. Who the hell does copper anymore? And this is exactly what I am talking about, uneducated Emile… he said jabbing his finger and flinging toasted crumbs. Something happens and it instantly gets distorted. If I weren’t here, you’d still be believing that it was five thousand pounds and copper and the tooth fairy came last night and you’d be demanding to know that the Djandoubi fellow tortured and raped a blonde teen nubile from Nice that he had forced into prostitution nine and a half years ago with several other women of Kurdish Turkish descent. Her name was Sophie.

It says all that? About Djandoubi?

See? You’re proving my point all over the place, man. You can’t stay focused on one thing. You have to know everything, and your sources of information are malnourished as hell. You start out this beautiful day ranting and raving about all the hope Grover planted in the soils of goodness and how tickled you are to get The King’s crapper out of your living room and then, just like I predicted, you sink into the shits when the back of your Captain Crunch box doesn’t have a map to tell you how to live your life. Or how to find Ty. And now you twitter back and forth between this Djandoubi charmer and the royale body snatchers, and you can’t even see they’re the same thing. The same thing! It’s exhausting being with you.

Emile stared at Lungsee for a long moment. Man, I do not know what the fuck you are talking about…


Exactly what!?

Lungsee pushed away from the table and sighed. He shoved his plate of dry toast away from him and finished his water. Okay, let’s go, he said.

Go where?

I knew this was going to happen, so I made a call. We have a breakfast date.

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