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Spring/Summer 2002

From the Editor
Thom Didato

Robert Cohen
interview

"Three Times Out"
fiction by
Lynn Kozlowski

"The Mysterious Life of Eppitt Clapp: An All-True False Biography"
fiction by
Julianna Baggott

"Teeny"
fiction by
Nelly Reifler

"Proud Flesh"
fiction by
Bill Spratch

"Man Killing Minotaur"
fiction by
Shawn Aron Vandor

"Ballad of the Strong Man in New York"
"In Defense of Eva Braun"
poems by
Suzanne Burns

"Climbing"
"The Sandbox"
poems by
Barry Ballard

"Human Condition"
poem by
M. Sammons

"Icelandic Village"
"Reykjavik Harbor"

"House and Sheep"
"Self-Portrait in Landscape"
paintings by Louisa
Matthiasdottir

"The Demon Downcast"
"The Demon Seated"
"Head of the Demon"
"The Demon and Tamara"
paintings by
Mikhail Vrubel

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Shawn Aron Vandor lives in New York City and will be attending Calarts in the fall.

Man Killing Minotaur

Unfortunately, my dentures were ejected from my mouth when I ultimately confronted the Minotaur of the Western Plains & Fields I had, so long ago, been chosen to hunt. It has been said he was the protector of many precious minerals and gems chief among them a Topaz watch that was greatly coveted by my fellow Plainsmen who had elected me for the task. I was unable to refuse as I was inebriated when the votes were tabulated. I was outfitted with a baby elephant, several canteens of water, one container of smoke, several pounds of explosives, one rifle and, given me by Stuart The Elder upon my departure, the bone necklace of Benign Intent. A ceremony was thrown in my honor where the Man of Song selected a proper chord that he then strummed repeatedly, in varied rhythms, on his guitar throughout the night. Women gathered around and threw salt at my feet.

So much time has elapsed since I departed on that voyage I can hardly remember the faces of my fellow Plainsmen and I doubt I will ever see them again. Not that this would be a bad thing as I never felt quite at ease with the Plainsman but since chance did place me in their company I felt it was my duty to integrate myself into their community. Though I was not quite successful in this task I do believe I succeeded in fulfilling the destiny set out for me in my original myth which I shall explain in detail. It is said that many, many summers ago, dating back to the Age of Conviviality, a hawk swooped down from the blue, cloud-dappled sky into a nearby Hamlet and seduced a small, female child and penetrated her with his seed begetting two offspring. The first born son, Ronald, was an industrious lad who labored for much of his youth to construct wings so that he could fly and locate his father who had long since disappeared. His early attempts ended in vain and, due to one such failure when he fell from the sky landing on a boulder, was left with a severe indentation of the skull and an excessively mangled left arm that was eventually amputated. I witnessed my older brother’s crash which made a great impression on me, as I was very wee. I believe it is a chief reason for my timid disposition today. Ronald did not let the episode deter him, however, and redoubled his efforts to construct wings by assembling a factory of workers who labored day and night. This concerned our mother who was convinced Ronald would one day destroy himself in his attempts at flight. She pleaded with him to stop and he treated her queries with silence.

One night our mother confided in me a wish she had that I leave home immediately under a shroud of secrecy so that I did not witness Ronald’s death, which she was sure would come, and suffer a further degree of timidity. She quickly collected several hygienic products and a parka and wrapped them in a rabbit skin, strapped it to my back and sent me off at dawn while my brother was diligently working. I was not sad to leave home as I had not yet learned the concept of Space and believed the Hamlet would always remain several meters away.

It only took me a handful of days to lose the things my mother packed for me and, being as drawn to laziness as Ronald was to industriousness, I soon found a sunny piece of grass near a stream that I sat upon, unhindered, for many months. It was there, one day while I was napping, that a sparrow flew onto my chest and reported that my elder brother had been decapitated when, after climbing several hundred feet into the air, his flight mechanism malfunctioned. Despondent, my mother consumed an inordinate amount of pebbles causing her Organs of Digestion to jam and she expired after falling into a brief coma.

This bit of news ruptured my period of rest and tranquility and I acknowledged the sparrow for delivering this information to me. I set off at once for the Western Plains & Fields, a land I had often heard about in myth, with no particular destination or goal other than to remain in perpetual motion, distracted from thought. I walked, without rest, for the next several weeks as the landscape changed from the green, hilly climate of my home to a flat, brown expanse populated with spry zebra and the occasional volcano looming in the distance. I must confess that by this point I was in considerable pain due to several rotting teeth which would occasionally fall out of my mouth onto the hard, sand-packed earth below. I thought of the hygienic products my mother packed for me and I stopped for the first time in a great while to sob for the passing of my family. My voice cut out across the plain like a holy siren for quite some time and it is, no doubt, the reason why I was located by a large band of Plainsman who took me in and, eventually, initiated me into their community.

They were a nomadic people of several hundred who roamed the Western lands with their vast fleet of elephants, setting up tents and banquets for the nightly festivals and gang bangs that was their custom. It was with them that I learned to dance and consume great quantities of alcohol. Music was an integral part of their existence and this exposure to song taught me a great many things such as Rhythm and Otherness. After touring with them for several weeks, I was officially initiated into their tribe. I was wrapped in a Zebra-skin and hung from a pole at a supreme height. The elder members of the community took turns beating me with elongated sticks for multiple days and nights. It was during this time that I lost the remainder of my teeth and suffered a ruptured kidney that ails me to this day. On the final night I was lowered and three satyrs, whose names were drawn from a hat, triple teamed me on an altar in front of the cheering throngs. I did not enjoy the attention as I have long been on the shy side but I was eager to be accepted into the community.

We traveled about the Plains in this fashion for some time and I befriended our resident Oral Hygienist on a hunting assignment who set about making me a pair of dentures from wolves’ teeth he had been collecting since childhood. I thanked him copiously—I had begun to grow tired of consuming liquid meals and longed to eat solid food. After several adjustments the teeth fit into my mouth perfectly and I soon found many of the younger female members of our tribe wanting to spend time with me. I tried to oblige them all but soon grew tired of each and began disguising myself with wigs I made from animal hair, as I needed more time alone for contemplation. In hindsight I can see that my predisposition for solitude was met with disapproval by the tribal elders who, soon after, raised the issue of the Minotaur and selected me to leave the tribe to put him down.

It occurred to me much later that the method used to select me, though apparently democratic, was rigged. It seems possible now that the Plainsmen elders were trying to get rid of me but, at the time, I couldn’t be sure. The Minotaur had long been a nuisance of the Plainsmen, being a cohabitant of the Western Plains & Fields, and would frequently disembowel or eat members of the tribe who wandered off drunk or who were separated from the main due to irregular weather. An all-tribe meeting was held and it was explained to the group that I had been chosen to find the Minotaur and slay him for the purpose of retrieving the Topaz watch which he had been seen wearing on several occasions. Like I said there was a ceremony held in my honor and I was sent off with an elephant and a host of supplies to hunt the Minotaur and I felt that night, for the first time in my life, that I had a purpose greater than that of relaxation. I felt I was serving a greater good.

For several fortnights I rode about the plains inspecting the earth about me for any trace of the Minotaur and occasionally found tracks that I determined had been made by hooves. At dawn I would scan the horizon for his bulky form imagining the silhouette of his impressive shoulders and long, white horns. Finding no more significant leads I ventured in the direction of a nearby volcano where my elephant was, unfortunately, lost to me when it stumbled into a lava pit taking with it my rifle and supply of water. Fortunately, and I believe I owe this to the bone necklace of Benign Intent, the rest of my supplies were safe as I unloaded the animal before making the climb to the summit. That night I camped in a jagged rock formation in the valley and examined the box of smoke given me by the Plainsmen. When I released the smoke I was shown a vision of the Minotaur approaching me at a great distance, his form growing larger and more detailed as he approached. I could see the elegant Topaz watch on his left wrist and thought again about my mother who spoke frequently and excitedly about minerals and gems. I sealed the smoke back into the box and fell into a deep sleep.

When I awoke I saw the Minotaur standing atop a nearby plateau with his back to the newly rising sun. His form was as impressive as I imagined though I was surprised to find such a thick mane of curly, blonde hair and neatly trimmed mustache. I don’t believe he saw me as I was hidden in a cluster of rocks but perhaps, I feared, he could sense me. I decided, against my timid nature, to take the initiative.

"Minotaur", I called out waving my hand, "you have something I want." I could hear a grunt emanate from his position as he cocked his head and peered in my direction. In a burst his hooves beat the ground as he started to race towards me. My chest tightened and I began to lose control of my breathing. I touched the bone necklace of Benign Intent and picked up the pouch of explosives as the beast neared me. I could see now his bullhead and awesome human torso, his thick belly and whip-like tail. As I steadied myself I saw on his left wrist the Topaz watch glitter and I lit the match and held the flame to the explosives. The wick caught fire and I lobbed the pouch from behind the rocks at the Minotaur who was at this point only several meters away. He caught the bag out of the air and continued to run towards me as I turned to flee.

The explosion tore the left side of his torso completely off, scattering organs and limbs and his head, which only seconds prior let out a deep bark that I will never forget, remained attached to his body only by threads. The force of the blast threw me to the ground causing my dentures to eject from my mouth and I was unable to recover them. When I came to I surveyed the scene and was pleased to find the Topaz watch largely intact strapped to the severed forearm. I can’t say that killing the Minotaur was not thrilling for it was one of the most exhilarating events of my life and, in that moment, I wanted nothing more than to kill again as soon as possible.  Fortunately, this urge drifted from me in the following moments as calm was restored to the landscape and my genitals, which had grown erect, became flaccid. I pulled up my tunic and urinated upon the corpse as the golden rays of light burst upon the morning. I can say, in all honesty that it is a magnificent watch, the quality of which I have never seen before or since.  I was able to eventually trade it for a small piece of property in a Hamlet near my birthplace where I now live comfortably.

2002 by Shawn Aron Vandor

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