o Rob and
I arrived at Dirks place, which was pleasant,
just the way I remembered it. Rob talked a lot about the architecture
was different from that of Chicago. Sort of a how-he-imagined-Atlanta-thirty-years-back-look
I think Rob said, and then he was riffing on some German album and Neofuturist
theater as adopted by the people at the Neofuturarium
in Chicago. We kidded around about Joe Tabbis theory of autopoiesis
and how it related to our personal lives.
The note on the door said Go to DuBois.
It wasnt unusual that Dirk and William werent there.
It was unusual that they had left a note.
Further, a note which specified a location.
And not Duttenhoffers, Dirks favorite used bookstore within walking distance.
But DuBois. Which was known as your basic chain-type college bookstore,
which exploited everyone who touched it. And
So we went there. The cashier looked kind of beat-up. He was reciting
Coleridge. I didnt see Dirk or William. So I asked him if hed seen the
Unknown. The guy, his nametag said Ralph, replied:
the first rule about the Unknown Club is you dont talk about the Unknown
Yeah right buddy you read the Unknown? Where is Dirk? And what did he
do with William? Whats he on?
the second rule about the Unknown Club, Ralph said, is you dont talk
about the Unknown Club.
Ill admit I was getting pissed off. Rob was too, apparently. He asked
Ralph if that was a sestina he was working on. Ralph got all sensitive
and covered up the sheaf of poems in front him. Rob grabbed him by the
What did you do with the Unknown? he asked, Im doing research
for a book, and I need to speak with Dirk.
Di . . . Dirk?
Ralph looked scared, Ya . . You . . . Kne . . . Know . . . Dirk?
Yes. Hes in the Unknown.
Ralph began sweating profusely. The plip plip plip of his fear-induced
moisture falling steadily on his manuscript seemed to be amplified by
the eerie silence that seemed quite uncharacteristic of the DuBois I remembered.
Hey, Ralph, I said, where is everybody? Whys the store so empty?
Empty was an understatement. Somehow, in our eagerness to find Dirk and
William, we had failed to notice that DuBois seemed virtually abandoned.
Not only was Ralph the only person in the store, he was about the only
material object as well. The shelves were bare, for the most part; a few
tattered notebooks lay on the floor intermingled with dirty Bearcats merchandise:
a keychain here, a coffee mug there. No one
had bought anything here for some time; that much was clear.
the third rule of the Unk
Rob shut Ralph up with a vicious backhand slap to the face. Robs Rolex
did most of the damage. Listen, Ralph, Rob said, in a voice that was like a straight razor married
to a pit bull that dripped sulfuric acid from its gleaming steel canines, were anarchists. We dont believe in rules. Answer our questions, NOW,
or plan to get intimately involved with your new friend Mr. Rolex. Capiche?
I was glad Rob was my friend. Id never seen this side of him before,
but it didnt surprise me, really. You know what they say: violent waters
run deep. Or, wait . . . something like that.
Ralph was a blubbering wreck by now, spitting out broken teeth, blood
bubbling from his nose and mouth. I felt sorry for him, but in a way,
he brought it upon himself. I decided it was time to play good cop.
Back off, Rob, I said softly. Let Ralph get himself together. He wants
to help us . . . dont you Ralph?
Ralph nodded pathetically, and wiped away some of the blood with a Bearcat
t-shirt I picked up off the floor. Rob relaxed his grip, but continued
to hold his Rolex-ed arm conspicuously close to Ralphs now-compromised
O.K., first things first. What happened to