issue 1 :: Spring 1994

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Fiction: Roddy Collins

After Many a Summer Dries the Radish
One morning J. Samsa Prufrock awoke from uneasy dreams to find that he had turned into an enlarged piece of short historical fiction. He lay awake for about an hour, the sunlight slowly carving through his room. What would he do when his sister came in and saw him, saw him like this, like self-conscious literary snot, reeking of pretensions and bad grammar set in Times Roman Bold? His sister hated Times Roman Bold, having once been the talk of Prague when she had walked into the parlor at D’Gavincis and spat upon Adolph Mergenthaler, who ran the typesetter between the wars. Mergenthaler, of course, had immediately become smitten with his sister and sent her a profusion of love poems in a stunning array of typefaces. But his sister did not so easily forgive and only taunted his goldfish, who all died the next winter. Mergenthaler, however, was big of heart and every St. Hazljwec’s Day sent their mother a single white rose. So what could Prufrock expect from his sister when she came in and saw her brother transcribed into the hated font? Luckily for Prufrock, his sister in the night had been transformed into a wad of used chewing gum whilst walking down the stairs and was even now stuck to the sole of their father’s shoe as he walked stealthily down the back alleys and mews of the outskirts of town, looking nervously over his shoulder as he wound his way towards the hotel where the Lady T_____ awaited, bearing the telegram that would either set free a people or doom them all to three generations of radishes.
But Prufrock, his pages ruffling slightly in the gentle afternoon breeze, knew nothing of this. Introspection had revealed in him no plot, few discernible characters and a dreadful—there was no sense in denying it—a dreadful tendency towards melodrama. Outside the tanks were rolling down the streets. Brave men, recently boys, were giving their lives for a cause. Prufrock searched desperately in himself for an excuse, for a reason, for some justification he could offer. The gunfire was growing more sporadic. Night was falling, and Prufrock was exhausted. Turning reluctantly from the mildly intriguing metaphor he had found on page five, he slept.
The next day it was all over. The revolution had been crushed. Prufrock had come to realize that he was unpublishable, barely printable. The birds still sang, but it was a hollow mockery of the joy that had been crushed in the hearts of free men everywhere. The doorbell rang. A package arrived. It was the first of the radishes.
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