Kyle Bradley Cassidy
Here at InterText, we pride ourselves in putting out issues on a regular basis. We swear that this story has absolutely nothing to do with us. Honest.
Aside from the voluminous yearbook, which approaches biblical proportions in both size and mythology, the literary magazine Bread Basket is the only publication which comes out of the University of Indiana at Weehawken. We don't have a newspaper or anything, only the literary magazine. They've got an office on the fourth floor of the Student Union. The school is big, but the office is small and cluttered with junk. The staff is huge. It seems that everybody with a weird haircut is on the ed-board of that rag, but this year for some reason they haven't done anything, not a thing, and it's almost graduation.
Editorship of Bread Basket at one time was the greatest privilege the student body could bestow upon any sub-mortal undergraduate grunt; now it's more or less a sinecure. My former roommate and mentor Alex Sutpin was the editor for an unprecedented two years. That was a while ago -- he's dead now. (Alex was killed in a gruesome combine accident, but that's another story.) Myself, I've never even really been on the staff. They were always too cool for me. Recently though, they seem to have fallen upon stereotypically hard and unproductive times.
"Have you guys read my story yet?" I say as I push my way into the junk-filled office. Taft is standing on the sofa wearing a toga and little round purple sunglasses. His feet are bare and he has two amazingly grotesque birthmarks on his left calf.
"Has anyone read my story yet?"
"What issue did you submit it for?" asks a dazed young woman with aviator shades and a bandanna tied around her head. All in all there are about seven people in the office. Aside from Taft and this vapid woman, two guys are sitting on the sofa at Taft's feet. One of them is leering down stupidly at two open cans of Joe's Beer he has perched on a mud-brown cardboard lunch tray which is in his lap, the other one I can't see through Taft's immensely hairy legs. Another woman is hunched over the typewriter, not typing, wearing what looks like a wet suit and a diving mask. There is some abstract person in the corner staring up into the shade of the floor lamp.
"November. I gave it to you guys in November."
"Oh," she says.
"Come on, get in the picture," said Taft. "We're taking a picture."
"Huh?" I'm carrying a book bag and thinking that if this keeps up, I'm going to end up working on my dad's farm for the rest of my life and that I'll never get out of this crappy state unless I can get an education. I've been here five semesters and I still don't feel too smart.
"Get in the picture. We're taking pictures for the yearbook." The girl in the aviators stares senselessly at me with her mouth hanging open, like I have duck shit on my face or something.
"Yeah," says Taft, "we're taking a whole four page layout for the yearbook of us just writing poems and working on the magazine."
"You're taking a fucking yearbook picture? Jesus Christ, it's May and you haven't put out a single issue. You're supposed to do nine."
" 'sat the printers," says Taft, striking a melodramatic Grecian pose. There is no photographer in the room, and they all look stoned and lifeless.
"What's at the printers? There's nothing at the printers. Have any of you even looked at my story yet?"
"What was it called?" asks the woman at the typewriter. I can see now that she is wearing flippers.
"What do you mean, 'What was it called?' It's the only damned submission you've got and you lost it?"
"We didn't lose it," says the first woman, the one with the aviators. She seems to have suddenly woken up, and now her mouth closes like a bug trap. "We just haven't got around to reading it yet."
Across from the sofa is a floor-to-ceiling bookcase filled with books that nobody's read. The woman at the typewriter pulls a half- pint flask of whiskey from the machine's guts. She takes a swig of it and then shoves it back inside.
"Keeping in shape?" says the guy with the two beer cans on the tray. He doesn't look up at me. He's wearing a red Bob's Guns T-shirt and an absurdly tall straw cowboy hat. He's got dreadlocks protruding from beneath his hat, which is pretty risque in Indiana, let me tell you. I recognize him vaguely -- his name is Vance or Lance or something. There is a drop of spit dangling from his lower lip.
He doesn't answer me.
"Are you going to read it?"
"Oh yeah. Sure." This is the woman in the aviators again. She's wearing a faded, dark blue UIW sweatshirt. "It's really warm outside, isn't it? Did you come from outside?"
"Yes I came from outside. It is warm." I don't know why I am answering her.
"You look like you're really keeping in shape," says the guy with the beer cans. He still hasn't looked at me. I'm wearing a Charlie Daniels T-shirt with this blue flannel thing over top of it to hide my sagging gut. It crosses my mind that I look like a fat slob and that I should lose some weight.
"I'm going home."
"Naw," says Taft, jumping down from the sofa. "Stay here. Get in the picture. You're an integral part of this magazine. Here, get in the picture."
"Integral part? What the hell are you talking about? There's not even a goddamn camera in here."
"Not important," says the woman at the typewriter.
"You haven't put out a single issue of this magazine."
"Not important," she says again with a loud, choking hiccough. I notice that the guy in the corner has his whole head shoved up inside the lamp shade.
"...bright," he says languidly.
"We're advertising on the radio now," says the woman in the aviators; she's not talking to me. "For submissions. We've got commercials on WKBS now."
"The last meeting was really packed," says the guy with the beer cans without looking up.
"We're giving Iowa a run for their money," she says.
"Iowa?" says Taft.
"The University of Iowa."
"Hey, let's all go out and watch the harvest," pipes up the woman at the typewriter, feeling suddenly farmish. Her voice is nasal because of the diving mask. "We could write a group-experience poem about it."
"They don't harvest in May," says the guy on the sofa that I couldn't see before, who now reminds me of an albino Bela Lugosi. "They don't even plant in May. How long have you been living in Indiana?"
"I need a beach," she says.
"Hey," I say, waving good-bye. "You guys have got it all under control without me. I'm going home."
"Really nice out," says Vance or Lance or whatever.
"Yeah. You guys don't need me hanging around here."
"Sure you don't want to be in the picture?"
Downstairs I run into this guy who I went to high school with named Two-By-Four-Tom. We called him this because during the Fourth of July parade when we were both eight, he rode his bicycle full-tilt into the back of a parked truck filled with lumber. Must have been going twenty miles an hour. There's this crazy rectangular scar smack in the middle of his forehead the exact size and shape of a two-by- four end. He's married now and is working on his masters in psychotherapy at UIW. He tells me that his younger brother just got his law degree at Columbia. He's practicing in the city now, in Indianapolis, at Rabinowitz, Rabinowitz, Rabinowitz, Schwartz and Mussolini or something.
"It's really nice out," he says as I'm about to go, and I notice that there's something wrong with his eyes -- they're too green. I wonder if he's wearing contact lenses.
"Yeah," I say.
"Hey," he asks, all manly suave and tanned. "Are you still writing? Have you submitted anything to the literary magazine here? Bread Basket? It's a really nice one, I hear; giving Iowa a run for its money."
"No," I say. "I haven't submitted anything. I'm not really writing anymore."
"It's a shame," he says. "This is a good place to get published. I met a couple of people on the staff. They really look like good writers. You should submit to them."
"Maybe," I say and go outside. The weather is very nice.
Kyle Bradley Cassidy (email@example.com) lives in Philadelphia with his lovely wife Linda and her 28-pound cat Thunderbelly. He has been a frequent contributor to InterText. He also has a great collection of fountain pens. (Bio last updated in 1996.)
InterText stories written by Kyle Bradley Cassidy: "Circles: A Romance" (v2n6), "What Are You Looking For, China White?" (v3n2), "The Nihilist" (v3n3), "The True Story of the Gypsy's Wedding" (v3n5), "Bread Basket" (v3n5), "The Monkey Trap" (v4n5), "This is the Optative of Unfulfillable Wish" (v6n1).
InterText Copyright © 1991-1999 Jason Snell. This story may only be distributed as part of the collected whole of Volume 3, Number 5 of InterText. This story Copyright © 1993 Kyle Bradley Cassidy.