The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2013

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NOV 2013 Issue

A diary of mysterious difficulties...


< April 1 >

Well then, in this mysterious little difficulty, we were stuck in quest of an opinion. What did I really know? Where were we really?

In Edinburgh, Francis and I noticed that that every man we saw was a possible candidate.

We overheard the boy saying to his girlfriend, “What I wish is that the parties really brought up the heart of the matter.” It made her cry, “Oh, how I wish that we weren’t going to a party.” Gentle banter.

Time passed. Presently Francis was stirred into semi-consciousness by somebody—he had been dozing as it was a hot night.

“Really, it could be Mr. Omer, straight ahead.” I looked, and it could have been, since he slowly let his head emerge from his ruff, as Mr. Omer was wont to do. So we watched and listened, waiting for our cue.

It was so peculiar, sitting there with Francis, hoping to find Mr. Omer. Half hoping he would never appear. Of course, in the end he did.

I recollect about half the conversation. I was inadvertently omitting the other half from my notes, careful not glance upon the purity of using the same words again and again.

Everything combined and started all over again, and Francis and I both remembered.


< April 3 >

Francis is not coming.

We were sitting in the house. The simple boys just stared blankly at him.

Mr. Omer and I nodded at each other. Mr. Omer recruited the Captain sensing danger may be creeping up from behind.

It was important to keep it a private matter; but the Captain treated the boys like dogs. I was pleased to realize that the Captain held me in a different regard, and I was grateful to him for his fatherly attention.

The Captain fitted Mr. Omer with the vest and said, “Wear it. Spies, intruders, and informers are watching.” If Francis were here, it would be different. We would be watching them.

So they set to work, and very soon finished.

“No, no, no,” said Mr. Omer, but only to give me pleasure, “Stay by the door as you are. And you boys, stop making such a noise…” His voice tapered off.

Finally, Francis arrived. I shook like a leaf. At first, neither of us could speak of Scotland.


We both remembered.

“Perhaps it is a good thing, Francis,” said I, meaning one thing, but continuing, “to have to look after Mr. Omer who is at the same time both sick and healthy.”

We both looked but nothing was at the window-sill.

The boys showed up.

Despite what I said, I knew who had done all this, but wanting to avoid complications I told them to do as Francis wished. The simple boys cried, and the Captain whipped them into shape.

We were wrong. There was something at the window-sill.

Quickly we ran, and they came after us while we climbed the stairs; and, looking back, I inquired of the Captain, as we went along, “How did they get through the window?”

“Come on, Mr. Omer,” the Captain cried with a frightful sneer. But neither Francis nor I had eyes on him, and then we saw the Captain, speaking as slowly and distinctly as possible, “and- then- you- can-…”

We lost the Captain. He was gone.

And we kept running, Francis, Mr. Omer, and I with the boys behind. We were running so long, that I began to believe we had run away altogether.

I had the intention of saying something but couldn’t. We ran for what seemed an eternity.

We finally arrived someplace safe. Francis said something about how he had been studying the best mermaids, retiring one by one to their bedchambers under the sea.

I loved it when he talked that way. It had all turned out ok in the end.

Mr. Omer sat on the chair, looking harassed and pale. As for the boys, they appeared like a blot.

Unfortunately we could not fly, but we had to go away. And what a heavy relief it was to hear Mr. Omer hail the flower-beds of the heart.

We were done. Mr. Omer was ok, and Francis and I could leave the boys behind.



< April 24>

“I never loved him half as dear as now. Oh, I don’t remember how the rules go. The same statement, it is agreed, can be both true and false, and I fell somewhere in between. It was always like that for us.”

I was telling her our long story.

”What had he once been to me?” I asked myself out loud as she looked at me, with a quick hand wiping away crocodile tears.

I thought to myself, “We shall see for who she is looking presently.”

She started lecturing me again: “We have applied for new opinions. For if you truly think a person can do no better, I think you may be hopeless.”

I said, “It is a strange thing to me that you can take any influence he had upon me and turn it against me. It is impossible.”

And she replied, “On the contrary. The flip side of evil is sometimes a good, sometimes an evil. For you, I hope it is a good.”

Groping my way more carefully, I answered, “For the rest of the journey I begged for Francis to come, and to let me go away with him. I wanted to traverse any boundary or valley, join every gap of information and light.”

In truth, my brother Francis had warned us about this. That we would never be whole without one another. At the time, in training, this did not make us apprehensive. It only made the connection deeper.

And so I sobbed, “Francis, come here, and let me lay my head down.” I had thought I had removed him from me.

When we bought this little house by the sea, in Yarmouth, we could disappear. Together. To forget the opinions, the evil, and the questions. To stop trying to find things which were impossible.

And we thought we were brave. We were just looking though a tiny jet of light, with no promises for the future.

For a little while, his eye kindled and his voice firm; for he knew I was well on board. I remember he said looking around himself doubtfully, “I think I have lived robustly. I am careful, but this search is too much. What exactly do we expect to find?”

We weren’t supposed to talk about it. We had to have to the frontage, the appearance of normalcy, except without Mr. Omer, how could it be?

She claimed there was no love between us, and I let her believe that. It was so much easier that way.

What a mess. Maybe there will be a book written about me.

And when on a Sunday morning, when I mixed the portion of tea or coffee, what did you think? Did I ever cease to be for you? Will you laugh thinking of me sitting here with her, asking questions? Maybe you will help me to understand the terms of my problem.


Laura Raicovich

Laura Raicovich works as president and executive director of the Queens Museum. Her book At the Lightning Field is out this April from Coffee House Press. She is the author of A Diary of Mysterious Difficulties (Publication Studio), a book based on Viagra and Cialis spam, and is an editor of Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production (OR Books)


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2013

All Issues