Monday, October 20, 2014

Behind the Masthead: Heath Wilcock

And now, the highly anticipated interview with HFR’s Special Projects Editor, Heath Wilcock! Heath gave intern Lauren Mickey the inside scoop on exciting topics, such as: stand-up comedy, fame, breakfast fowl, the to-be-installed HFR steam room, etc.

Lauren Mickey: Okay, so, you are the "Special Projects Editor" at HFR. What does this mean? What sort of "special projects" are you working on (or do you plan to work on)? 

Heath Wilcock: Special Projects Editor means that I run HFR. I'm the person in charge. I arrive in the HFR den promptly at 5am and demand my morning breakfast, which consists of one whole roasted fowl. Other editors are rarely in the office at this hour, and the janitorial service do not understand how important I am, so I'm usually left to my own devices. In this case, my device is actually a briefcase where I keep an entire cooked fowl locked inside. After eating my roasted fowl, I'm oftentimes covered in grease and need to bathe. But before I head to the HFR steam room, I sit at my desk and contemplate my sins. 

Special projects I'm currently working on: 
· Brand new HFR website
· HFR agenda for coming AWP
· Putting in a new steam room
· Being there for others
· Convincing everyone that I'm in charge

LM: You handle HFR's social media, correct? What does this entail? How do you keep things interesting on those sites / platforms?

HW: Yes, Lauren Mickey, that is correct. [turns to camera, grins wide, holds it for a solid minute] I tweet at least once a day. I do have a hard time finding a universal voice for HFR. I've been trying to play with it a bit. With a magazine that's over 25 years old, it has established a sweater vest literary fineness, and then I come in and try to make that sweater vest entity say something that's probably garbage. To avoid this qualm, I end up tweeting pictures of myself with a certain facial expression that is a cross between satisfaction and mistrust. That gets more attention than say "10 Reasons Kafka Despised Fondue Parties."

LM: You do improv. Does this at all affect your fiction writing, your work at HFR, your teaching, etc?

HW: Yes. It has a profound effect on developing scenes, establishing relationships, defining character statuses, finding the funny, exploring themes, turning mistakes into revelations, and so on. However, with writing I do slow things down a bit more, try to make it more complex with the use of language. Improv needs to be experienced in a live setting, whereas stories are striving for that timeless quality. You'll never see the same improv show twice, but you'll always return to the same story that shifted your thinking. I'll also act out my stories in my room, playing the different characters. It helps me see how a character would react to a problem that is honest to his/her traits. If my wife's around, I'll have her improv with me. She's great at reacting honestly.

LM: What is most exciting to you, as a reader of submissions? Are you particularly drawn to humor in prose, or not necessarily?

HW: I get the most excited when I come across a piece that is a tight ten pages and it leaves me breathing hard, either from laughing, crying, or simply exhausted from pleasure. I enjoy humor in prose, but I don't necessarily seek it out. I crave stories. Whether it's scary, philosophical, absurd, or sad, I just want to be involved. I don't stick to one food at the family dinner table, I absolutely dish myself a portion of each. Except that one dish that has been on the dinner table for a couple of months, leaks a smelly substance, and uses bad language when guests come over. I don't care for that dish, or story. 

LM: You're kind of Vine famous... Would you like to comment on that? Like, how does it feel to be famous? (Also, does HFR have a Vine yet?)

HW: I have yet to receive my multiple butlers that are required to carry me while I drizzle the finest Beluga serum on my naked body. And until this happens, I'm not considered famous. Vine is a great platform to create small scenes or share a strange image. That's what I like using it for. I'm surprised and grateful that so many kind people follow me. HFR does have a Vine account. It only has one post for our flash fiction contest. Definitely need to do more with that. 

LM: What are you currently reading / watching / generally obsessed with? Are any writers overwhelming you with their brilliance, lately?

HW: I'm currently reading a wonderful collection of stories by Shawn Vestal called Godforsaken Idaho. Let's see, shows I'm watching. I think Key & Peele is a fantastic show; every episode is smart, smart, smart. They get me excited to explore new ideas. Also Nathan For You is incredible. I have to pause that show to catch my breath. I also enjoy Bob's Burgers, Venture Bros., and everything from Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. Lately I've been watching a lot of documentaries, specifically Iraq and Afghanistan war documentaries. I'll watch them, get really upset, and then clean the house to cool down. I recently read Jeanette Winterson's Sexing the Cherry and she stimulated my senses, hard. I also just picked up Donald Antrim's short story collection The Emerald Light in the Air. Pretty excited to dig into that. His novel, Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World, was the most twisted, funny, and surreal book I've ever read and I couldn't get enough. Other obsession is Steve Martin. Will always be Steve Martin.

LM: Do you ever perform stand-up comedy sets for your students, or is that frowned upon? 

HW: I perform stand-up for my students and they sit there and frown. Then I have them circle around me and chant, "you're doing your best," while I openly weep. 

LM: What is the most magical thing about working at HFR

HW: The steam room, once I get that installed. 

Heath Wilcock is an MFA candidate at Arizona State University and currently serves as the Special Projects Editor for Hayden's Ferry Review. He lives in Tempe with his wife and four-year-old daughter.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Behind the Masthead: Allegra Hyde

This week, we get the behind-the-scenes on prose editor, Allegra Hyde.

Lauren Mickey: You’re a prose editor at HFR – but what does this mean? What are your main responsibilities?

Allegra Hyde: In the words of that strabismic wonder, Jean Paul Sartre, “There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.”
LM: Are there any writers, musicians, animals, theories, etc. that have all of your attention and/or admiration, as of late?
AH: I like unicorns and post-structuralism.
LM: What are some techniques, themes, etc. that you typically focus on - or return to - in your writing?
AH: In retrospect, I’ve written quite a few stories about loneliness. Also about people making immoral choices. Also about utopian communes. And, for reasons unknown to me, I have a difficult time avoiding the word “erinaceous.” It just slips in – burrows in, you might even say – so that it has appeared in almost every story I have ever composed. Sometimes I’ll use the word several times a page, and only catch it in revision. Maddening? Yes, and yet it is a comfort as well. To be trailed by a word the way one might be followed by a starving cat, or a robber, eventually becomes more of a ritual than an annoyance. You end up feeding the cat some tuna that you happened to be carrying in your pocket. You give the robber your grandmother’s sapphire necklace. Everyone is happy. You feel less alone.

LM: How do you describe HFR to people who ask you about it? 

AH: 7 by 10 by 1/2.

LM: What song(s) do you have playing on repeat lately? 

AH: Iggy Azalea's "Fancy."
LM: Has working at HFR changed the way you read and/or write?
AH: Yes.
LM: What do you think the color of your aura is? (I know nothing about auras, and I'm pretty sure that they're not self-prescribed, but whatever…) 
AH: Leopard print.
LM: What do you hope for your someday-legacy to be?

AH: A novel – or ideally, multiple novels – that occasionally appear on the shelves of musty bookstores, or as kindling for an expurgatory bonfire in some terrible dystopian future. If people feel the need to my books I will have done something right.

Allegra Hyde’s writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The Missouri Review, New England Review, Southwest Review, Passages North, Chattahoochee Review, and North American Review, among others. She curates similes at

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Brief Praise for GONE GIRL and What is Next In October

Whether you enjoy them or hate them film adaptations of books this year have seen relative success. It is mostly a struggle for a fan of a novel however to see their favorite book whittled down to fit two hours. There is the worry that favorite scenes and/or characters will be omitted. Then there’s the worry that one’s carefully constructed perceptions of setting and characters will be changed or distorted by another’s vision of the novel. However there is always that curiosity that one has in seeing how the novel unfolds visually. It almost gives us a moment to feel as if the world of the story, the characters, the connections are tangible.

So last week was the release of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn which has currently made number one in the box office ratings. A combination of elements has made the transition from book to film a success for Gone Girl. One major element is the fact that the film’s screenplay was written by the author herself so a lot of the major plot strands and her vision were held in place by her collaboration in this endeavor. Also we have a director who has made very successful film adaptations of books like Fight Club and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo create the suspense, the mystery of the novel by visually executing it with the help of actors like Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. This does not mean that this is the correct formula for every film adaptation, but this is only a success story.

In upcoming film adaptations for the month of October:

1.       Addicted
Director: Bille Woodruff
Book & Author: Addicted by Zane
2.       Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Director: Miguel Arteta
Book & Author: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
3.        Kill the Messenger
Director: Michael Cuesta
Book & Author: Dark Alliance by Gary Webb
4.       The Best of Me
Director: Michael Hoffman
Book & Author: The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
5.       Dracula Untold
Director: Gary Shore
Book & Author: Dracula by Bram Stoker
6.       Before I Go to Sleep
Director: Rowan Joffé
Book & Author: Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson
7.       Horns
Director: Alexandre Aja
Book & Author: Horns by Joe Hill

-Leslie Verdugo

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Fitter: THE DOCK: October 2014

Happy October! While you're sipping your pumpkin chai latte, enjoy a new story by Helen Ellis, "The Fitter."

HFR: What's the story behind the story?

HE: The story behind the story is that last year, for my birthday, I got myself a fitter. My fitter is a 1950's pinup type who works in a lingerie store on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Once I started singing her praises, I found out that there was a famous fitter on the Lower East Side: a Hasidic Jewish man, who with the help of his wife, runs a tiny one room shop, piled floor to ceiling with boxes of bras. He looks at you and names your size and she steps behind a curtain with you and literally hooks you up. I wondered what it would be like to be married to a man who made our living by staring at other women's breasts all day long. I thought, "I'd be jealous." And then I wondered what it would be like to feel I had to fit him for a new wife.


The Fitter
Helen Ellis

The Fitter is mine. Myrtle Babcock can get her flabby pancake tits out of his face. He’s sizing her up in her ill-fitting turtleneck that’s off-white and thin because it’s been through the wash too many times. Her “nude” athletic bra shows through like she’s smuggling ferrets. Here’s what, sister: every woman needs underwire, and when you stuff two pounds of downed round into A-cups, beige ain’t invisible.

The Fitter doesn’t touch her. He shakes his head no when she offers to lift her top.

I say, “This ain’t Mardi Gras, Myrtle.”

The Fitter waves his hand for me to be quiet. He leans forward in his recliner.   

My husband, The Fitter, looks like every other middle-aged man in this town. Somehow skinny and fat. Always in khakis with a nice enough smile. He talks like everybody else. He mows his own lawn. If you saw him at the gas station, you wouldn’t do more than say hello. But The Fitter is a wonder. He’s part good old boy, part angel on earth. He’s what you call pilgrimage-worthy. Rich women from big cities charter limos to drive them from Highway 85 to a dirt road to our porch. Myrtle is local, on the saggy side of forty, and I know what it’s taken for her to finally knock on our door.

She arches her back, offering her sad state of affairs like a teller offers bags of cash in a bank heist.

The Fitter waves his hand.

I say, “That means back up, Myrtle. Stand like you normally stand.” I think: Like you’ve been waiting in line for an hour at the 7-Eleven and now the Slurpee machine’s broke.

The Fitter says, “34 C.”

Myrtle says, “No!”

“Yes,” says The Fitter. To me he says, “Pull her three styles: a full-coverage, a plunging neckline, and a balcony. None beige. Pull her the pink one with the roses on the double straps. This woman is a princess at heart.”

Myrtle squeals and claps her hands. Her breasts flap like empty pantyhose legs. She follows me down the hall of our one story house to the dressing room, our master bath. Before I shut the door on her, I say, “Don’t get any funny ideas.”

She says, “What on earth are you implying?”

I say, “That right there: those airs. It has all been done, Myrtle. Love notes in the medicine cabinet, panties under his brown towel. Just last week, those women from down at the pool showed up in their two-pieces and ran through our sprinklers. But he married me and he married me eighteen years ago. As long as I draw breath, nobody – including you – is getting The Fitter.”

Myrtle huffs and plops down on the toilet.

I go to our walk-in closet. It is a forest of bras. The Fitter orders them from London. He orders them from France. He orders them from anywhere you might see someone’s underpants. All those mini-hangers you see in department stores? The Fitter had rods specially built. There are fifteen rows running floor to ceiling, covering three walls. Rods for the most gargantuan of what can only be referred to as brassieres run across the ceiling. The cups are as menacing as cauldrons of boiling oil.

C cups are at my knees. I squat. I comb the rack. My equilibrium is shot because of what those women from down at the hospital have been putting me through, but I catch my balance and surf the carpet. I’m a good employee. I’m the only employee and I want to keep it that way. So I’ll pull Myrtle the best, what The Fitter has asked me to pull: the pink bra with roses that costs $125. But that will be the cheapest by far. I’ll make Myrtle pay for her flirting: her entire paycheck from working the Kroger’s express line. I come out with three bras totaling $643.

The Fitter sits on the edge of our bed.

Myrtle is hanging her head and shoulders out from behind the bathroom door, telling him how much she likes the kimono she’s wearing. The kimono is a genuine kimono ordered all the way from Japan. The Fitter has six. All silk. All colors you don’t see anywhere in real life. The Fitter likes his customers to have a taste of the exotic. His theory is: if a woman is treated well, she’ll spend money like she’s treated that well all the time. The kimono Myrtle is wearing is covered in cranes and hibiscus. It’s the same one I wore when The Fitter’s first wife fitted me.

Myrtle is braless. I had no idea her breasts could drop any further with her bra off, but by God, they most certainly can. Her nipples peek out from behind the door like eavesdroppers.

The Fitter waves his hand.

I say, “Myrtle, in with you. He’s ready. Let’s go.

Myrtle shuffles backwards into the bathroom.

Her turtleneck is slung across my vanity table. My guess is that she’s tucked the bra she came in with into her purse. I imagine a loose Lifesaver adhering to the Nylon. Women never think to hang their things on the fancy hook where they took the kimono. I shut the door in disgust and hang the bras on the towel bar. Myrtle tolerates my curtness because she’s heard tell of what will happen now that we’re alone.

From the bedroom, The Fitter says, “Start with the basic.

I take the full coverage and unhook the triple-clips. The bra is black with a baby blue satin ribbon between the cups. I hold the straps in the 10 and 2 position.

Myrtle drops the kimono to land in a puddle at her bare feet. There is no reason she should have taken off her jeans, socks and shoes. It’s a fitting, not a pelvic exam. When I pick up the kimono, I see she’s painted her toes. Had them painted more likely. No one can do a French pedicure right on her own feet. A French pedicure is an investment. A French pedicure is what some women get to go on their honeymoons. When The Fitter and I went on our honeymoon, I had my toenails painted red. Red is what good wives wear. French pedicures make your toes look like fingers. You look grabby. French pedicures are for man thieves.

I say, “Who did your toes, Myrtle? That maroon-headed know-it-all down at the blow-out shop you call a mother?”

Myrtle says, “Barbara sends her love.”

“Barbara doesn’t know me.”

Barbara is the manicurist where I get my wig fixed. I’ve had to wear that wig for a good part of a year now, and I’ve learned that if I don’t get it washed and styled once week, the top of my head looks like something has crawled up on it, had a seizure, and died. No matter what time I make an appointment, from opening to close, Barbara is ever present at her station, gossiping at a volume loud enough to carry over three hairdryers while she dunks hands of all ages into paraffin wax. When my wig comes off, Barbara and her customers practice the fine Southern lady art of staring without overtly staring. But I can feel their eyes like hot-from-the-dryer fabric softener sheets stuck to my clothes. They each cling to the hope that one of them will take my place. They want the regular beauty parlor appointments that being The Fitter’s wife afford me. Except Barbara wants this for her daughter. Now that she’s sent Myrtle here, I must look worse than I think.

I don’t like Barbara. And I don’t like her daughter because I don’t trust any woman who calls her mother by her first name.

Myrtle says, “Don’t leave me hanging.”

I can’t help myself: I say, “Good one.”

I hold out the bra and Myrtle slips her arms through the straps.

And then my hands are on her breasts. That’s just the way that it is. I don’t think about who I’m handling, I just handle it. I scoop. I pour. I pack. I hook. I smooth back fat. I adjust straps. Not too tight, but tight enough to leave a mark. I’m fast. I get Myrtle locked and loaded before she can blush.

The Fitter says, “Well?”

Myrtle looks in the full-length mirror on the bathroom door. She pivots, taking in the miracle. Her breasts sit above her rib cage.

“Oh, thank you!” she cries to him. “Thank you, thank you!”

The Fitter says, “Hop.”

Myrtle looks to me and I nod. I hate it when they hop. When they hop, every woman is a sixteen year-old girl. Myrtle hops and for the first time in a long, long time her breasts don’t boing like Slinkies.

“Oh!” she cries.

The Fitter says, “See there.”

“Oh, I do! Thank you! I do I do I do!”

Myrtle will not shut up about what The Fitter has done for her because women love men who are the best at what they do. Even more, they love men who are faithful. And what’s more faithful than a married fitter who doesn’t touch, much less look at another woman’s breasts?

The Fitter is quiet. He lets Myrtle’s gratitude warm our once hothouse of a home. Without me hawking over him, I know he lets himself smile. He knows Myrtle’s so mystified by her transformation that she’ll reach for her reflection in the mirror on her side of the door, or if she’s crazy bold reach for the knob. There is a chance I won’t stop her.

But, I do.

I whisper, “Careful, Myrtle. The Fitter don’t cheat.”

He didn’t call me until his first wife ran away with the falsies distributor. Since then he won’t stock falsies. Won’t even look at one: cotton/polyester blend or saline (which my body rejected after my surgery). He swears he loves me the way I am now, but I’m heartbroken. I miss what I had. Why his first wife couldn’t have fallen in love with the nipple tape guy is beyond me.

The Fitter calls, “Next.”

I choose the balcony bra. It’s lavender and gold stretch lace with aerodynamic support. It’s meant to hike your breasts up like corsets used to do. You get all of the oomph with none of the ow. Those in the business call it The Cleavage Maker.

I bend Myrtle over at the waist and drop her breasts into the demi cups like muffin batter. When she rises, those muffins are baked. Myrtle marvels and pats the tops.

The Fitter says, “I don’t hear anything.”

Myrtle opens her mouth, but catches sight of my face.

I know my color’s gone. The side effects from my “aggressive” treatment grab me out of nowhere and make me want to barf.

I reach out for toilet, but it’s Myrtle’s arm I catch on the way to the floor.

Myrtle rests my back against the bathtub. She calls out, “The bra’s fine.”

“Fine?” says The Fitter. “I’ve never heard just fine.”

“It’s beautiful,” calls Myrtle. She runs the faucet over a washcloth. “Gorgeous.” She wrings it. She tips my head between my knees and lays the cool cloth on the back of my neck. She calls, “I’ve never felt more like a woman.”

She cringes at her faux pas. She looks at me like, Oops. My bad.

I wave one of The Fitter’s signature waves. This one means, Forget it.

The Fitter is a man of few words, but the ones he speaks outside of day-to-day dealings are all compliments. When I came for my first fitting, he had his first wife pull a DD with modesty padding because he said I had a body meant for tight sweaters. When we married, he filled my dresser with cashmere crewnecks because he said I deserved to wear nice things. In bed, he’s said it’s my giggling that drives him wild. At work, he’s said I’m tireless, a perfect model, and great with customers. But none of this is true anymore.

Sweaters swallow me. Insomnia drives me to spend nights on the couch. I won’t deserve Employee of the Year this year; Myrtle can attest to that.

I say, “I wasn’t always this jealous.”

She says, “You’re right to be jealous.”

“Goddammit.” I pull the washcloth off my neck. I wring it like I’ve wanted to wring so many customers’ necks.

She fishes an open Lifesaver roll from her purse. She frowns as she pulls it out because the green one is as I predicted stuck to her Old Yeller of a bra. She offers me the orange at the top of the roll.

I refuse.

She says, “One of us is going to get him. You might as well let me be nice to you.” She unwinds the foil string, pops the orange in her mouth, and offers me the cherry.

I take it. And of course it tastes good. Red is always the best flavor. It takes the dry bitterness out of my mouth.

The Fitter calls, “What’s the holdup?”

When we don’t answer, I hear the bedsprings squeak. The Fitter walks towards the bathroom door. He knocks. He’s never knocked.

He asks, “Is everything okay in there?” And then: “Myrtle, is she okay?:

“I’m fine,” I answer.

But I know I’m not fine. The sicker I get, the more business booms.

I reach out and let Myrtle help me to my feet. I take the pink bra from the towel bar. Myrtle takes off the balcony. Her breasts droop. They look sad. The pink bra is happy. I hold it for her to slip her arms through, but Myrtle doesn’t budge. She stares at the appliqué roses on the straps.

She says, “I can’t afford it."

“You could charge it.”

“Barbara won’t let me have any debt.”

Myrtle pulls her not-so-sporty sports bra over her head. She gathers herself. Her tamped down nipples look like googly eyes.

I say, “Keep the other women in line?”

Myrtle nods.

I slip the pink bra in her purse. I wave. It means, Yours.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Remembering James Foley: "The Beauties of Cooptown"

James Foley was an American journalist, video reporter, Teach for America educator, and creative writer. On August 19, 2014, James was murdered by ISIS in Syria, becoming the first American citizen to be killed by ISIS as a response to the American airstrikes in Iraq. 

Here at Hayden's Ferry Review, we were shocked and saddened to hear about this tragedy. In 2001, HFR published James' story, "The Beauties of Cooptown," as part of issue 27. He shared the pages with writers such as Lydia Davis, Eamon Grennan, and George Saunders.

In honor of James Foley and his family, and as a reminder of his creative talent, we'd like to share James' lovely and moving story. Please enjoy "The Beauties of Cooptown" and visit the James W. Foley Legacy Fund to learn how you can do more.


The Beauties of Cooptown

James Foley

          Mothers clientele show exceptional interest in third world conditions following natural disasters. I watch the Catholic Charities group in their matching sweatshirts and sun visors. Bus boarding begins at 8:00 AM. I see them filing into the bus from our balcony at the Boca Grande. A hurricane hit last week. The tour will follow the refugees migrating down the Cooptown. Cooptown, where the relief comes in gallons of purified water and non-perishable food aid.
          The Boca Grande is where we stay when the tours come. It has two pools, one surrounded in reeded bamboo, the other done like a coral reef with plastic fish embedded in the cement. The Boca has the usual amenities of upper echelon resort hotels, bath tub Jacuzzis and six packs in the drink bar. Billys hand covers the Bud and weis of one of the six pack cans. His fingers are as thick as bratwurst. He had to make a plaster cast of them to be fitted for golf clubs. Hes half way finished with the beer in four gulps and keeps asking why I need a nose job.
          I tell him because its ugly. He tells me it looks distinguishing, like the kind players get when they spear tackle and the helmet cuts a distinguishing mark across their nose. I tell him that this is my chance for corrective procedures. Billy says, What corrective procedures? Its only a bump and you can get plenty of guys as it is.AS if Im looking for the type of guys you find on a third world island. Im only fifteen. Why does it matter then?he says. Im an opportunist and he knows it.
          I hold out a melted California license. It says Samuel Reinhart. In the photo ID hes balding, bespectacled and doctor-like. Hes here on the island. Here to help the lowest of the low. Mother keeps her ear to the comings and goings of all the islands non-refugees. She let it slip that he was a surgeon to the stars before some trouble with developers and banks brought him to his spiritual senses. Mothers bus tour of Cooptown left him weeping into the back of his seat cushion. On the last day of the tour, Dr. Reinhart lit a butane lighter under his wallet and wondered off the bus. Mother noted his non-compliance with the tours low-impact policies. She brought it to his attention as he muttered something about materialist shackles. He told mother to take all his luggage and pile it at the feet of the most unattractive street dweller. Mother gave him her cell phone number. She told him to call it by sundown. I have all his melted credit cards. They say Gold Preferred.
          You dont hear about the doctor. At night the capital is a massive blackness punctured by feeble campfires. Radio Libre was unprooted when all the lights went out. Hurricane Jumbo, I called it. The news of his deeds does not reach the electronic gates of our generator-powered hotel. I search for it. Ive seen things on the Cooptown tour. Signs of his work. Cheekbones transplants from a Parisian runaway to standing water holes. Women pouting at knee deep trash with impossibly full lips. Women with augmented breasts hanging from squalored chicken wire cublicles. They are the beauties of Cooptown. They are penance for all that Hollywood.
          I tell Billy about the beauties. He says I have a fixation. He says if he tried hard enough, he could envision 18 plush greens through the haze of a devastated third world island. Hed be playing a wind-swept 18th with a knowledgeable caddie and a view of all the embargoed ships. The islands only course was ravaged last week. Billy is trying not to infect me with his disappointment. Instead, hes been drinking a lot. Hes on his last can of Budweiser.
          Mothers access to the lower Caribbean has brought Reality Tours a regular clientele of Christian Evangelicals and photojournalists. The other tours wont go as third world, Billy says. He uses a laser pointer to trace around the embroidered “Jefe” sewn into Mothers safari jacket hanging from the walk-in closet. Mother sends her color brochures from direct mailing lists to churches all over the States. Do Something Good,they say in glossy print.
          The bus returns at five for the evening buffet. I pry the King Cobra driver from Billys hand and try to wake him from his drinking stupor. He winds up for a swing with the extra long shaft before he realizes its me. The women from Milwaukees Catholic Charities wear purple sweatshirts with white doves on them. Mrs. Sarandon gives us a wave. Shes an old parishioner come to check on Mothers work. Her hair looks like shes been sucked through a vacuum. Her varicose veins are prominent road markings turning towards the buffet line.
          Mrs. Sarandon sits at our table. Billy is drinking large quantities of bottled water. “Its just unbelievable how much we have and how much they do without.She says. Today we saw a family roasting a goat inside the ruins of their shack. When the bus pulled over for the journalist people to get their lenses our on them, the father made me an offering of grizzled fat. Do you know how little fat there was on the thing to being with?she asks me.
          Grizzled fat. Mrs. Sarandon goes on and on, the flab on her arms waddles with each gesture. Still they have this glow about them,she says. Her plate of rast beef and scalloped potatoes gets flies in it. The flies that hide between flown-in flower bunches and devices that smell live vanilla-cinnamon when plugged into an electrical outlet.
          This islands infectious in the worst ways. Mange dogs run through the remains of the hill shacks. Theyre starving now, snapping for the cow dung that used to steam at their noses. The cows all white and bloated on the beach. Thrown from the hill shacks into the bay with the first hurricane strength winds. The dogs wont last long. Theyre lonely and have splintered wood in their teeth.
          Mrs. Sarandons a bleeding heart of the first order, the type that says the blacker the better. The type that would change the sheets on her college daughters bed for a refugee, and make her daughter sleep on the couch during Christmas vacation. She asks if she can see the girl that Ive been describing. She wants to bring one home with her. Billy stops moving the scalloped potatoes into his mouth at such a high rate. He mumbles, What girl?Mrs. Sarandon tries not to look at his fisted grip on the fork as it shifts and scrapes the potatoes. I tell Billy she wants to meet Fenee. Billy has earned the only handicap on the island,” I say. “Handicap,she says. “Im her offensive line,he says, look at the nose.I pretend to blow my nose and Mrs. Sarandon comments on how attractive I look in Egyptian linen.
          Mother is a stickler for regulations. Our relationship with the few plush resorts on the island depends on it. She spends a week in New York City going over clientele orientation packets. Any conspiracy to remove natives from the population is prohibited, in bold letters. Whatever your reasons for purveying third world culture,mother says, natives are not to be fraternized with. Otherwise, plenty of your Evangelicals would be straying into mud huts just long enough to ingest an unclassified tapeworm and die in three short weeks.This brings a few morbid laughs from the photojournalists smoking foreing-type cigarettes in the back of the orientation room.
          Mrs. Sarandon wants a girl. The girl I can think of, the only one with particular refugee potential is Fenee, the under-fed street girl who sells postcards on the tour bus. She slips under the bus drivers arm and goes for the bus seats reserved for clientele. She holds up postcards, running up the aisle shouting, sexy men, look at sexy men. One for one dollar.The clientele look straight ahead. They have internalized mothers low impact tourism talk.
          Fenee is black as night and has walnut-size boils on her neck.  Her nose is feline perfect, her cheeks too high for island breeding. The photojournalists calibrate their lenses and attempt a few pictures. They gleam at the contrasts, her native body pressed against reclinable seats. She knows I will give her the money. My contribution to native co-dependency is a dollar for Brad Pitt in a skinny T-shirt. Mother glares at my inappropriate example. She muffles the microphone against her safari jacket as the bus driver escorts Fenee from my seat.
          Feene has a face that cuts a shame inside me. A smile that makes me forget her musty odor. She is a beauty of cooptown. The resort employees have a made smile. A be good and give me one of those crisp dollars smile. It comes in wide, white teeth when your bags are placed on the bell hop trolley, while wearing white soufflé chef hats during the serving of evening buffets. Fenee looks at me like I could grant her the right to live and breathe. She doesnt know what she has. She smiles clutching my dollar while she is being escorted off the bus. The sound of her flat feet dragging against the high traction rubber matting makes clientele stiffen in their seats.
          Mother has a familial policies. They are the special rules she has made for Billy and me. We are not to compromise our security by engaging in any unofficial tours. I dont intend to break the policies until I see my opportunity. I solicit the Boca Grande shuttle driver to take me into the capital. The capital with no electricity. No electricity and no illuminated landing zone for the Red Cross shipments. Armed bands roam the streets in search of food. Anything resembling Japanese electronics has been looted. He will take me if I pay him. I pay him mucho.
          The shuttle driver waits fro me at the place where Fenee sneaks on the bus. Where the concrete meets the water in a jagged mess, what was called a harbor. The remains of shipping crates are here, the wooden slats scattered like whales bones. Crowds of men have piled them together to make fires in the dusk, fires with no food on them. The non-perishable food aid has gone away. Fenee holds up a bare chested Stallone postcard to the under-inflated refugees.
          There is a light in her eyes when she sees me. I give her a can of Coke from the drink bar. She stares at its redness, the puts it up her dress. She calls me purty girl. Purty girl wants sexy men?She holds up the Stallone postcard. “Dr. Samuel Reinhart,” I say. She stares at me. I point to her nose and say words like surgeon and reconstruction. She understands nothing.
            One of the men from the crowd swings his machete into the crate wood. I point ot the machete and make a slicing motion under cheeks. She shakes her head. I say the word doctor. She turns her face from me, I know she understands. The men are talking together. They keep eyeing the shuttle. They have their hungry eyes on me. I look well-nourished. I’ve never been considered even close to fat, but none of them have ever eaten at the evening buffet.
            I hear the sound of the shuttle driver breaking out a shotgun and pointing it through the extra-tinted windows. He tells me to get in. The man with the machete turns. I tell Fenee I want her to take me to the doctor. “No doctor, “ the shuttle driver says, “time to go home.” I get in the shuttle. Fenee shines as we burn rubber.
            I want a surgeon. The kind that will craft a smooth-barreled nose with rounded nostrils that flare with impunity. The kind that keeps cartilage in his refrigerator and plays at carving perfect features over a solid kitchen table. The kind that cadres a Polaroid album of all his previous work, the next-day photos: two black eyes and a shield of white plastic, develop into the after-photos: the bloom of classic features. I’ll select the Polaroid of the smooth-haired, Jewisih girl who wears a diamond pin stuck in her left nostril. That nose will be mine, like when I was eight years old and didn’t stop to look at myself in the mirror, for days maybe.
            Billy says the only thing the doctor will do after months i nCooptown is trade my kidneys for dollars. I will wake up rom a drug-induced sleep with dirty stitches. I tell him it’s my only chance at physical perfection. He tells me he’ll show me physical perfection. Billy’s heard the military junta has commandeered a putting green that wasn’t dismantled by the hurricane. A doctor must know of fabled greens.
            The sun burns down past the debris-clotted palms. Mrs. Saradon’s still hot to rescue a refugee. We move in closing darkness outside the generator-powered lights. But the Boca shuttle man refuses to take us considering his previous risks and the radio bulletin informing looters that they are to be shot on sight. The military has moved into the capital and Mother has had all clientele sign State of Emergency release forms.
            Billy and I sneak Mrs. Sarandon into a cab. She is uncomfortable riding between Billy and me. She holds her white purse close against the pleats of her blue skirt and asks me if the girl has any family or communicable diseases. Her purse carries a letter from the bishop of Milwaukee. The bishop who has helped to relocate numerous refugees. She will take Fenee to the embassy and wait there until the papers are processed. Fenee will enlarge on bratwurst and sauerkraut in the Wisconsin room of the embassy. Her boils will be drained of the diseases in a fully-insured clinic.
            The three of us cram in the back seat of the taxi. The motor hums against the rutted road. We ride by a bare chested boy carrying a single piece of cardboard wit h Red Cross marked on it. The cardboard red crosses that lie nailed to rooftops. I shrink at the fish and disease smell seeping in through the cracked windows. Mrs. Sarandon’s Hair goes limp. Rouge blots on her cheeks like red stains. I uncrumple Mother’s card, her name, her e-mail, her cell phone number. I wonder what to do with it.
            We are looking for Fenee through the fires by the water’s edge. Other uncontrolled fires, have begun in the capital. In Fenee’s usual place stands an armored vehicle with an attached battering ram. Several members of the anti-looter battalion in full riot gear are stationed at its sides. Billy says he recognizes one of them. I say, how? You can’t see his face. He says he’s sure of it, one of them played the back nine on a makeshift course Billy constructed in his spare time. “You can tell by how he holds the gun,” Billy says. He steps out of the cab, pulls up his Bermuda shorts and walks towards the one wearing the rubber gas mask. The soldier lowers his gun. They pat each other on the back. Billy mocks playing a tough lie with the soldier’s submachine gun stock. They are both laughing. Mrs. Sarandon blots at her rouge. We hear sporadic gunfire.
            I see a flaming bottle in the air. A gasoline-filled bottle stuffed with a lighted T-shirt. It falls towards us. The bottle hits the cab. The roof is on fire. I can’t feel anything but a tingling in my nose as it swells from the impact. I think I’m in a state of shock. I feel Mrs. Sarandon dragging me out of the flaming cab. Her vinyl Reeboks kick in the driver’s side window. She says, “your Mother knows I’m no choir wimp,” and sets down to do mouth-to-mouth on the cab driver’s bloated lips. The riot-geared soldiers fire rubber bullets into the smoke. Billy settles in a three-point stance but loses hold of the sub-machine gun. A fumble. Recovering it by the trigger, he wastes the entire coup into the tires of the smoldering taxi.
            The smoke from the burning tires and the greased heat on the guns fills my lungs. I feel my plan losing ground. The soldiers help Mrs. Sarandon and the cab driver into the armored vehicle. Billy holds the sub-machine gun like a driver. He is swinging it through the smoke. He tells me to get in the vehicle.  I shake my head, I see Fenee’s bony frame in a sack dress. She looks at me and begins to run through narrow buildings. I chase her across the open-fire zone. Billy yells after me. I have lost my mother’s card.
            The shambled buildings crowd Fenee and me into a narrow path. A black stream stagnates beside Sandbags. Fenee runs ahead through the smoke, past the melted fifty-gallon drums. Her callused feet slow when we hear the echo of more gunfire. The bullets clap louder as they pass into the buildings’ hollow insides. It’s all I can do to avoid a mental picture of my nose. I touch it, feeling its swollen, banana shape. I fall to the sand bags in depression. My white linen pants soak black in the stream.
            Fenee walks back down the smoky path. I tell her I need to see the doctor. Her nose quivers. “I will take you if you come quickly,” she says. Her speech is more perfect than before. She waits with her hands on her hips as I get to my feet. “Follow me and don’t stop,” she says. We climb through a window into one of the hollowed out buildings. Inside is an ice cream cart leaning on one bicycle wheel. Neapolitan flavored wrappers stick to my shoes in brown, white, and pink. We pass through hthe back door into a dirt alley. Strong odors come up at me from burning garbage that smolders on either side of us. Fenee points ahead to a fence.
            On the other side is Cooptown. Cooptown, the Red Cross relief station. A cage of wire surrounds it. Billy told me it was made of hardware gauge chicken wire. The crate wood frames encased in the chicken wire have families inside them. The Red Cross built enough cubicles for twenty families. I can see their huddled blackness in two-storied rows. Outside the cubicles, crowds of refugees surge together like waves.
            Fenee pulls up the rusted lip of the cage. I slip underneath it. In the crowd of the refugees towers a white-skinned man. They press towards him, climbing over and around each other. Fenee puts both hands on my back and plows me through their dusty smells. The man in the white bathrobe looks at the ground. He wears gold-rimmed glasses. The California driver’s license is his. Below him in the packed dirt is the body of a woman. The most beautiful woman I have ever seen. She is solemn and noble like hieroglyphs of an Egyptian Queen. A high-caliber bullet has pierced her forehead. He sees me and looks away. He looks back and asks ”Why?” ”Does she look like a looter?” he asks. ”This is beauty here, this beauty in the muck.” Then there is a sound of heavy rumbling.
            The armored vehicle runs through the outer cage. It quakes and rumbles the packed dirt. The crowd splits in two and the doctor is left to face the blunt surface of the battering ram. He steps over the body, his glasses are fogged. He bends to lift her as the crowd begins stoning the vehicle. The clodded dirt and rocks fall off the armor like plinking rain on a tin roof. I help him with her bare arm. We drag her to the first chicken wire cublicle, onto the floor of bare two by fours. His mad scientist eyes shift over her. The bullet in her forehead is like a spiritual red dot. She seems not dea, meditating with closed eyes and silent lips. Meditating on where her beauty got her.
            ”She was my lover,” he tells me. ”The most beautiful thing I’ve ever had.”
            ”You made her very beautiful,” I say.
            ”Made her beautiful,” he says, ”she made me feel like a tired old man with new skin. She sucked my life and gave it new breath.”
”Your surgery is amazing,” I tell him.
            ”Surgery, I haven’t cut a thing since I was defrocked. I buried my knives under Saint Theresa in the square. I injected all my anesthesia into the first dying woman I saw. They cancelled all my credit cards and put my condo up.” His red eyes blaze at me.
            Fenee runs in and drops to the group. ”They shoot gas at us,” she whispers. White stuff comes out of her mouth. Convulsions begin to shake her body. The doctor tears his robe to the waist. He scrapes his index finger inside her mouth. A fog of white gas seeps through the spaces of chicken wire. I hear the screams of them through the fog. High-pitched screams, wailing and angry that will keep me up at night. A terrible thirst scratches at my throat, my eyes tear. I can’t use them. The doctor gives me a piece of his cloth.
            Someone else is inside the cubicle. A man in a rubber mask has me. He holds my body in his thick arms, pulling me against an extended stomach. I see Bermuda shorts. Billy, his hands tight as vices around me. Fenne? The doctor’s knuckles are over his face, he bends to Fenne’s still black-as-nightness.
            Billy is forcing me down into the armored vehicle. As I sink below the metal surface, I see the doctor running half-naked through the haze. His ribs pink against the red flares. Fenee in his arms. He runs up the burning runaway, headed for the ocean. Headed for the only clean air on the island.

            The island is on fire in the morning sunlight. No news makes it past the electronic gates. From the balcony, smoke chars the horizon. Billy is out trying to piece the smog with a bucket full of balls. Mother checks on me. Te-checking the surgical tape across my cheeks. I hardly feel my nose. I hardly care.
            Mother looks hard into my face for things. She asks what she has done wrong as a mother. She wants to know if Fenee was the girl always getting on the bus. She wonders why she never recognized her. ”She’s beautiful,” I tell her.
            ”You’re beautiful,” she says, ”and I don’t want you to do that again.” Tomorrow the bus will go on tour of smoking Cooptown. I will go down to the edge of the harbor. I will look for Fenee.