Extravaganza In Which I Receive A Lead-Lined Coffin For A Present

    Luisa has decided to move back in with me for my birthday. We now have a luxurious 4 bedroom apartment. Anne will be here in a few weeks for the start of classes and my cousin Mary has decided to leave Oklahoma on a permanent basis to come live with us.

    I thought I had the middle room by the bay windows but it now appears to be the living room. In fact, I don't seem to have a room at the moment though the house keeps expanding, adding layers of rooms on the outside like layers of skin on an onion. Unfortunately each successive layer of rooms become more and more narrow, until we seem to be embedded in the midst of circumferential hallways.

    I look out the bay windows and think of going to the beach for the afternoon. I suspect that I once lived in a house across the meadow, and that my brother lives nearby. We should invite him over for dinner sometime. Since he wants to be a chef maybe we can invite him over and have him cook dinner for us.

    Luisa has just met Anne. I didn't know she had arrived. She decided to come early, just to celebrate my birthday, that was very kind of her. Luisa is talking to Mary while she lights a cigarette. There is a pause in the conversation where I fear they will get in a cat-fight, but to the contrary they seem to be getting along quite well.

    'Oh, things are just sooo *gauche.*' I hear from Mary. Luisa grabs me by the arm and says she needs me to change the lightbulbs in her room.

    When I next look out the window I find my good friend Alfredo Goyburu sitting in one of the trees.

    'Al! Do come in! Where have you been?'

    Last we heard of Alfredo, he was hiding in the mountains of Peru, running from the rebels of Shining Path.

    But Al won't come down. He just nods in his usual way, wishes me a happy birthday. I want to ask him about Jon, what happened to Laura? How did you get here . . did the State Department fix your visa? Then I see that he's not alone in the tree. mjd is sitting a few branches up. I know it is mjd because his head implodes at regular intervals. He has a big hat on to cover his head while it implodes. I ask mjd if he'd like to come inside too. 'My mother's coming over to fix us a cake. She makes wonderful cake...,' but his head keeps imploding. I feel Anne tugging at my shirt.

    'Um, I think one of your friends is here.'

    A pile of black veleveteen leaves formed in the shape of a man is sitting on the couch. The leaves have occasional veining patterns in lime green, yellow and magenta, culminating in a black swirl on top of his head like the top of a Dairy Queen ice cream cone. A few leaves jut forward showing two holes for nostrils in the face. He has one eye. Blink.Blink. A chrome plated eye that we can only see in profile, no matter at what angle we turn to view him. Blink.Blink.

    Ah! !billbill! This must be billbill!


    What do I say?

    'Uh, I offered him some tea, but I don't think he has a mouth.'

    'Hmm. Stick it in his abdomen.'

    Anne takes the cup of tea and pushes it inside the black pile of leaves.


    'It's tea, I made it. You can drink it.'

    Blink. Blink.

    When she pulls the cup out it's empty. I guess we can do the same for the cake.


    He looks like he has his hands on his knees. I want to ask Anne if he came in standing, but then I realize he probably blew in through the window when I wasn't looking.

    I hear Luisa yelling through the foyer.

    'LYNN! PACKAGE FOR YOU! IT'S SUPER_HUGE.'.. and indeed it is.

    It's takes Luisa, Anne and Mary to carry it in. They put it on the coffee table, kicking the magazines and multicolored obects to the floor. It is longer than the coffee table.


    I am grinning from ear to ear. I suspect that billbill had something to do with this, but I am wrong.

    We cut through the wood planks with large forks mounted on a rotating saw. Luia and Anne are sitting on the floor at the feet of billbill. Mary is smoking a cigarette in the kitchen making something for us to drink.

    I throw the last of the planks to the side.

    In the box is a huge lead-lined coffin with a coppery-metallic sheen on the exterior. The top springs open showing an interior filled with confetti and small balloons the size of gumdrops. The ballons pop out of the coffin, sizzling as they fly around the room. In the bottom is more confetti, a small cardboard box with a cheap, red plastic dinosaur in it and a note . . . . . from L. H. Wood.

        This is from L. H. Wood.
        (In England)
        I sent this across the Atlantic.

    Why, how kind, and I've never even met him.... Maybe's he's not such a pompous ass after all, and a big copper coffin, lead-lined..


    Zip POP! a few loose ballons fly from the bedding of confetti. I hear my mother calling from the kitchen. 'Where's the whisk? You haven't plugged in the blender.' To get to the kitchen I find that I have to traverse three more additions of onion-skinned corridors. Maybe I should ask billbill if he knows why these corridors keep proliferating.

    I wonder if he has another eye...

make me a canapary