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A Letter to the Editors

Thank you for an excellent magazine! Number 15 was the first issue of n+1 that I had the joy of holding in my shaky hands.

First and foremost I want to thank Mikhail Shishkin for his bizarre, heartbreaking excerpt of Maidenhair. Although I was a little shocked, as I discovered he had picked up a subject I thought was mine, and mine only.

I wrote the following on The Independence Day of Finland, 6 December, nearly a month before #15 landed on my floor on New Year's Eve.

Pope's Thing
and the Gays of Vienna

- A Play in One Attac -
by Matti Paasio


Forest of the impaled: 20 000 stakes driven through human bodies, the other end stuck to the ground. Some remains hang higher, some lower. Every one in an advanced stage of decomposition.

An empty bottle rolls to the stage. Enter VLAD and MATTHIAS. The latter is high, or drunk, or both.

MATTHIAS  Gimme some.
VLAD   Haven't got any.
VLAD  You got it.
MATTHIAS  You did.
VLAD  You did.
MATTHIAS Don't need much. Just a teeny weeny bit, a little taste is all I'm asking...
VLAD  You. You. You.
MATTHIAS Hey hey hey...
VLAD  Cocksucker.
MATTHIAS Hey, hold your horses. Calm down, man. Easy, man, easy does it. Who do  you think paid for last night? Eh? Man, it was awesome! Lemme ax you a  question...
VLAD  (looking around) We barely got started.
MATTHIAS  What's inside of 16 pale virgins, when you open 'em up, one after  another...?
VLAD  What?
MATTHIAS  Take the Russians, Turks if you must. What's inside? Open 'em, like a letter,  and...
VLAD  Yeah.
MATTHIAS  Pope's pennies.
VLAD  What?
MATTHIAS  It's a conundrum. A mystery wrapped inside a riddle within a labyrinth. He  was here, in spirit, at least, and cash, and now he's gone. With the wind. As  is his mind, evidently, so is his money. What should we do?
VLAD  Take him down? Put him up?
(They consider this.)
VLAD  Why not? I'd love to see his saggy powdered face turn purple red as we  inched the pole into his uptight high strung old maiden asshole. Safer than  his safe, it must be, and just as highly regarded. Guarded, I mean.
MATTHIAS  No. I don't think it's a good idea.
VLAD  Why not?
MATTHIAS Finns wouldn't like it.
VLAD Excuse me?
MATTHIAS Their leader is a Catholic. The Finns? The Northern Allies...
(Vlad gets more confused every second.)
Never mind. Come on, let's go. We'll figure out something. Come! There are  great things ahead of us.
VLAD  You sure?
MATTHIAS Sure I'm sure! They'll talk about us some day. Sing songs, get together...  because of this.
VLAD  Forget it. You, maybe. They'll remember you... a king, a philosopher.
(Matthias goes, walking backwards.)
A philosopher king. Can't even say it. Me, I'm just a bricklayer... a gardener,  really.  I tend the forest.
The forest of my own making, the forest of my dreams. Can you even see it  from up there? You fly so high... like a raven. A raven king. Who likes too see  things diminish. Get smaller, vanish. Me, I like to see things grow. Like the  Pope, for instance. If I  could just see, witness his composure being  shattered by the stake. The truth.  Pushed up so high it comes outta  his mouth.
(Spits.) All right. Enough of this.
(Vlad wipes his mouth on his sleeve, follows Matthias. Music:         Fade to black.)

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