richard kostelanetz



OPENINGS (1997)

From her starlet youth, only her gorgeously shaped ankles remained.
Rummaging through his late wifeís papers he found a photograph of her naked,
with her legs apart, and, since they had married when she was nineteen,
wondered who could nave taken it.
I woke up thinking that the world should remember me as a saint.
He was the sort of lawyer who would invent problems and renegotiate otherwise
satisfactory deals, billing liberally for his time.
She could feel his presence, his oppressive maleness, towering above her.
Much as Iíd like to forget what happened, I will now describe the last eight
glorious hours in my brotherís short life.
Most of his best writing focused upon the point where memoir becomes fiction.
Once I gave my nephew an entry-level job, he displayed more bull-headedness
than was
necessary or appreciated.
The only apartment he could find was directly underneath a den of
prostitution.
Home from college for the summer I recognized how much naÔvetť had once
infiltrated my mind.
One truth not to be forgotten is that fiction is largely false.
Disliking childish things, he longed to be a man and, most immediately, to
get out of school.
What an educational experience it was to find oneself attracted to a woman, a
mature women, who was only twenty-six inches high.
The husband was forever getting into trouble over money.
Once I passed through the arches, the well-dressed hostess greeted me with a
smile revealing only three teeth.
My mother taught me all the tricks she necessarily learned when she was my
age about how to distance oneself from an alcoholic husband and yet appear to
be supportive.
My ability to walk on water wasnít learned in a day.
I was invited to take dinner at a table where my utensils--my knife, fork,
and spoonóhad an aura of gangrenous mold. In her husband she saw all the
years that had been taken from her.
Out of shame for her house she never asked men to pick her up at home, always
insisting that she would meet me somewhere else.
She was the only child in the class who didnít know exactly when and where
she was born.
He failed in quick succession as an administrative trainee, a store salesman,
a telephone
marketer, a furniture mover, and a janitor.
My final words to my favorite student were, simply, if your wifeís best
friend ever becomes single again, think first of me.
He failed in quick succession as an administrative trainee, a store salesman,
a telephone
marketer, a furniture mover, and a janitor.
I always carry with me a tape recorder to ensure not only that Iíll not be
misquoted but so that all my utterances can be copyrighted.
If I were alive today, it would be my one hundredth birthday.
I stood transfixed as my new boss drove a nail into his head without drawing
any blood.
He liked every night to take his camera, special film, and infrared light
into a city park where people were having furtive sex.
Returning from a research trip the husband presented his wife with evidence
documenting
that they were indeed fraternal twins separated at birth.
As the coffin fell over, we heard the sound of movement coming from somewhere
inside it.
I knew my husband married me to charm people important to his work; but since
he had so
many clients I often make mistakes and so strike everyone as hopelessly
confused.
Talk to me only while listening.
Both of us found sexy women frightening--he because he was a virgin, I
because anything
unfamiliar made anxious from my fingers to my toes.
Every time I fall asleep I wonder if Iíll ever wake up.
He believed that, firm and strong though his body was, it was not designed to
survive a normal life span.
I saw down with the vow not to get up until Iíd written a million words.
Even as a teenager he imagined what it might be like to fall in love with a
woman, deify her, and have her wash his feet.
His greatest dream was to see what would happen to his family after he died.
She embroidered her name to the thighs of her stockings so that once she sat
down and
hiked up her skirt strange men would know now to address her.
When I was born I weighed fifty pounds.
Even into her sixties she spent every morning a considerable amount of time
making herself up before a mirror, never quite sure what might be needed for
her very best look.
She died thinking--no, obsessing--about her mother.
This is a story that should have never been written, and certainly never
published.
I use a pseudonym to put as much distance as possible between the reputation
attached to
my name and the story I want to tell.
Even twenty years later I can remember vividly the last time I saw my mother.
I donít need to turn on the lights when I enter the front door--I know my
house.
To facilitate his emigration he invited both his mistresses to meet him at
the same place and the same time.
The Devilís coming--everybody hide.
Though those who are older and wiser tell me that compressing my life into a
single book is "impossible," I try, here and elsewhere, to defy common sense.
The purpose of this manual is making the world safe from crime, one crook at
a time.
He worked his animals twenty hours every day.
Inadvertently I wandered into a room full of women masturbating one another.
He spent his days writing fortune cookie slogans and his evening dreaming of
political revolution.
The principal conceit of my fictions was making animals speak words you can
understand.
What would happen if all of us knew everything there was to know.
I discovered in my late motherís diary that she was so promiscuous before I
was born that she didnít know for sure which of several men, in several
countries, might be my father.
My mother was a formal but sensual woman whose confusing taste in clothes
sent contrary signals.
I am now older than everyone Iíve ever known when they died.
What awakened me was the sound of a crowd running over my sunken sleeping
trench. On the wall in front of me, a concrete surface, suddenly appeared the image
of a face that I recognized as mine.
Because I like to dream, I tend to sleep an awful lot.
I donít hate other people as much as I hate myself.
She created the preconditions for confusion by giving all their daughters the
same exotic first name.
If animals donít wear clothes to cover their genitals, why should I?
Though I live only five minutes away from work, I invariably leave my house
at three minutes before nine and speed.
I dreamed that I peed into the toilet until I discovered that I hadnít.
Whenever I visit my in-laws for any length of time, I try to behave like an
incurable alcoholic.
The world doesnít come alive until human beings, homo sapiens, begin to move
in unique ways.
To win is human; to win and make your opponent accept defeats amicably is
superhuman.
My mother repeatedly told me that my dad died because he stole from the rich
to give to the poor.
Morning will be cancelled today.
This will read like a childrenís story until you realize that its theme
isnít childish.
One reason for my well-known reluctance to travel is the ease with which make
new friends.
In most of the board games you love, youíre offered only two possible moves,
each equally credible, one of them more hazardous than the other.
I was so paralyzingly drunk when I awoke that I wondered whether I shouldnít
pee in bed.
When I was twelve, before I could fully understand what she was saying, my
mother told me that my long-lost fatherís penis was a half-meter long.
On first glance my "blind date" for- the evening looks as though she had
applied makeup to only the left side of her face.
There are only a few performers who, after people have paid to see than, are
heckled into restraining, if not halting, their act.
My instruction was to greet the object of my blind date in the costume of a
polar bear.
In the dead strangerís wallet the policeman found photographs of two
teenagers who resembled his daughters.
I never outgrew my taste for very tall red heads and so would stick myself
with women who fulfilled that silhouette but failed in other, less obvious,
initially less visible ways.
One reason that this man of leisure never traveled was an excess of sexual
obligations at home.
The young newly weds made love often but not to each other.
When she ran into the tunnel, she could near, not see, someone running behind
her.
Iíve known some clear truths and rejected some unclear truths.
The most evil social planners are those who fail to consider secondary
results that would be less obvious and less desirable.






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