The Unknown: The Red Line.
  We had a little reading at Paperback Plus Books in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and it was kind of depressing. More than 10% of the books there were remaindered, and there were many copies of A Frolic of One’s Own by William Gaddis. Gaddis was dead, and it was depressing that he was dead. We thought we had played pool with him, but that was only a collective hallucination, that we had had back when he was still alive. Back in 1998. That was such a long time ago. But his books were there, remaindered. There were very few of us there, that had read it. Our reading was complete shite.

We didn’t like each other anymore. We had taken advantage of each other in complex ways and scarred each other emotionally. Scott, in pursuit of his dream that he had assumed was ours, which it was not, had compromised us in unforgivable ways. He had stopped writing, as far as we could tell, though we could not. Who can?

I won’t belabor the point. There was nothing but Garth Brooks on the radio in Oklahoma. We ate some venison and potatoes there, and told stale jokes about Dan Quayle. The jokes were cruel and unfunny but they were the only ways we could get each other to laugh any more. How sad. Scott told a joke about Bambi that nearly made me ill. This was the state of the Unknown? It was not any longer what it once was.

Used books usually make me happy. Remaindered books always make me sad.

I was sad that there were so many used copies of The Unknown there at Paperbacks Plus, but glad that none of them were remaindered. Most of them had their spines cracked, so they were used, but not all the way. By examining the pages, I could tell that some people had only made it to “Grammar Primer,” others had stopped on “Laiku,” and still others, sadly, never even made it past “The Meddlesome Passenger.”

I got mad at Scott, but I didn’t say anything to him. He was walking around with a deep, hurt, wounded, remaindered look on his face. I was mad at him for forgetting how much fun writing hypertext was. He assured me that he had stuff in the works. But you could tell that was a lie.

I won’t talk about Dirk’s bullshit or Frank’s whining, or my own back problems. But I will tell you that life is short, too short to be wasting it on The Unknown.

They called the town Broken Arrow, and that has a lot to do with Native Americans. That’s how I felt that night too. Once we were an arrow piercing the heart of America. But the arrow was broken, really, broken irreparably.

We ate venison and potatoes, and then found a disc golf course. We played without speaking to each other. It would go on for weeks like that. Little did we know.

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The Unknown at Spineless Books.