Former DeanofStudents Dunston Maycroft trembles in the cooler, he’s stopped pacing, all hint of movement, all tremors cease as if frozen fuck you dead fuck you dead you motherfucker fuck you dead motherfuck, he hears the ringing of a telephone it’s the campus police, We’re bringing over two female students who engaged in a brawl in Professor Miyoshi’s humanities class, Dunston wants to answer but finds himself at a loss, Hmm? he says, huh? as he mutely clutches the receiver the shihtzu’s face appears to him, blown up, it assails him, that open mouth, that tense quivering, the confinement, the eyes, the silence of its voice, the silence, the deafening torment, fuck you dead you motherfucker.
He’d brought books to throw in the fire, feed it, they were his favorite books, the complete Shakespeare Homer Milton Ovid Kafka Eco McCarthy Schama, a dozen others, the Heller the Yutang the Wordsworth, the ones he’d always thought he’d take to a desert island if ever shipwrecked, if he was going to die ablaze they may as well go with him — him and the marys and sacredhearts and bobbleheads and trolls and all the other polyetheline icons left behind with the daubers and markers and winter coats, he’d brought an addressbook and a journal just begun (first entry titled Pie Blazencrazed), and a family photoalbum that featured his son Troy in his fifth year, they were all going to join him in the conflagration. He took a deep breath and exhaled and breathed in deeply again and let out a bellow Aaaah — frugeetineledipscreedo and he opened the cooler door which offered no more resistance than weight, he fully expected to usher in waves of famished flames that would send him into instant shock and a quick state of peace. What entered instead, no not entered but quite without a moment’s delay engulfed him books sausages hamberger patties condiments and all was a whirling blackness reeking of skin hair plastic pigments and tar, though his mind registered none of these, only a crushing effluvium of some odious and toxic composition. Dunston Maycroft stumbled through the doorway took two steps and fell with an armload of books into the roiling smoke, thoughtless as the stock surrounding him, timeless now as the curling pages of tale anecdote and wisdom, all language finally reduced to an unheard excruciating gasp.