“Elephants of the Platte”

My story “Elephants of the Platte” is in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet #25! The spring 2010 issue. Available—as you will see, if you click through the link—in paper and non-paper formats, both manatee-free.

My bio starts off true, but by the end of it, it is not true:

Thomas Israel Hopkins owes a debt of gratitude to chapter three of Merrill J. Mattes’s history The Great Platte River Road; Nathaniel Hawthorne’s essay “The Canal-Boat,” published anonymously in the New-England Magazine in 1835; and modern dentistry. He dreams of a future in which his blog, tomhop.com, is wind-powered; as of this writing, it still appears to be running on energy generated by squirrels, magnets, and inertia.

Chapter three of The Great Platte River Road is actually titled “Elephants of the Platte.” In this non-paper future everyone keeps talking about, perhaps both that chapter and the Hawthorne essay could be embedded in the story; they both contain a lot of words, though, so they might need to be spiced up a bit, like as multidimensional animations, or with futuristic weaponry, or just with lots of explosions added. Or smells. Since both concern travel in the early nineteenth century, smells might be just the thing.

A Variation on the Dream Gig

‘If you want to be a writer, it’s dangerous to have a job,’ [Wallace Shawn] says. ‘My own father was an example. He wanted to be writer. He ended up getting a job, and his life followed the direction of the job.’ Back then, Wally was forced to follow his own quirky, unconventional path. He told me he’d ‘sold stock in himself’—his way of rationalizing a twenty-five-hundred-dollar loan he took from a consortium of friends in the sixties, in order to go off and write his plays. (To this day, the investors receive a small yearly check).

—John Lahr, “The Dangling Man,” The New Yorker, 15 April 1996

See also.

The Flood of Is Now

Is now friends with someone you don’t know, someone you both went to high school with, someone well respected in your shared milieu, someone you chatted with briefly at a party ten years ago, and 6 other people. Is now friends with a former coworker whom you secretly despise, the enemy of a friend, a dislike for someone whom you haven’t seen in a while that doesn’t really rise to the level of hatred but also never quite dissipates, the strangeness of feeling like you have actually grown up to become someone who has enemies, the digital equivalent of crossing the street to avoid meeting someone, someone whom you find somewhat gratingly impolite but who you think might be able to help make the right connections necessary to possibly get you published in that excellent new magazine you love, someone famous who uses a code name, and 2 other possible scenarios. Is now friends with the dream of the return of hats, a crumb of matzoh under a chair in the kitchen in the shape of an isosceles triangle, the end of the idea of coolness, the smell of the edge of the fried eggplant slice that fell out of last night’s hamburger, the memory of sleeping out under the stars in Joshua Tree National Park, the particular smoothness of one side of a Jesus Christ Superstar record that was left out for too long in the hot sun, drawings of skyscrapers that will never get built, and 42 other idealized notions. Is now friends with dogs, cats, horses, cows, and 3 other domesticated species. Is now friends with rocks, trees, bugs, and 15 other outdoorsy-type things. Is now friends with a, e, i, and 2 other vowels. Is now friends with the word “friends,” the word “like,” the word “news,” the old definitions of the words “friends” and “like” and “news,” nostalgia for former meanings of words overwhelmed by the emergence of newer meanings, and 98 other things that get lost in a now in which there is nothing but the flood.