Friday, November 19, 2004


Anthologist from Outer Space

"Come on," Bill says, "you're imagining things."

"Am I?" I say, sliding into my foil pajamas. "I don't think so."

Bill's not getting ready for bed. He's sitting in the chair, tipped against the wall, strumming a badly tuned guitar and smoking.

"I tell you," I say, "one of them's an impostor."

"Mullah Billdoug loves masquerades," Bill says. "He's a fool for mummery of every kind. Could be both of them are impostors. But they're still Mullah Billdoug."

"Then why doesn't he remember our days in the Lincoln White House?" I say, climbing into bed and plumping up my pillow.

"Maybe he does," Bill says simply.

"Something's not right," I say, and close my eyes to sleep.

But as soon as I do, I realize something: it's not just that the guitar's out of tune. Bill's playing it strangely. I keep my eyes closed, listen carefully, and finally it hits me: he's playing John Prine's "Sam Stone"--backwards. And somehow it's the squeak of his fingers on the strings, not his voice, that sings "Paul is dead," which is very odd, because Paul's the only one who isn't dead.

So then I open my eyes, put on my glasses, and notice something else: he's smoking through the lit filter end of his cigarette.

And then I think: omigod, he's the anthologist from outer space ...

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