Bigfoot Dreams

Read Bigfoot Dreams for Free Online

Book: Read Bigfoot Dreams for Free Online
Authors: Francine Prose
stops in on Peter Smalley, their resident specialist in the ghost-occult. Lately he’s been turning in articles under the byline Kuldip Kulkarni, bits about modern-day Kali cults and thousands of untouchables tossed down village wells. As usual his door’s closed, bare except for a card with a typed-out quote: “Here we will talk of nothing but God.”—Sri Ramakrishna. Inside, Vera knows, it’s equally spartan, just Peter’s Harvard diploma and a photo of Meher Baba’s “Smile Don’t Worry Be Happy” goofy and comforting grin. But if it’s comfort she’s after, she’d do better smoking a joint with the brothers in the mail room, whose stoned jivy conversation works better than the view of Herald Square to remind her that there are other ways to live besides writing for This Week . Any day, Vera can walk into the business office and one of the secretaries will be wearing new shoes or a funny hair clip and they can talk, like normal people, about that. Today, though, Vera just doesn’t feel like discussing funny hair clips.
    Three offices combined into one room lined with old papers, the morgue is the closest This Week comes to the Dickensian splendor of the Basenji Society. Ever since Mary Alice, the librarian, attended a workshop on newsprint preservation, a whole ecosystem of fans, conditioners, and humidifiers have kept it a perfect temperature, deoxygenated as the cabin of an airplane.
    Today Mary Alice is nowhere around. Vera’s on her own. She takes six months of back issues off the shelves and then just sits there, trying to remember one single event from six months ago. She might as well be thinking back to the womb. Somewhat desperately she reassures herself: her problem’s not premature senility but the amnesia of everyday life; she blames it on being so far from Lowell and Louise. Without old friends to verify the past, to remind you of what you’ve forgotten, your whole life could blow away like the breeze from Mary Alice’s fan.
    In Vera’s search for some marker in time, This Week is no help at all. Its ageless plots could have come from the ancient Greeks. Its NEW AIR FORCE UFO PICS might be reprints from a decade ago. It’s no surprise that the only mention of past, present, and future occurs in the syndicated column, “Karen Karl’s ‘I Predict!’”
    One night Vera saw Karen Karl on TV, wearing a tenty black cocktail dress with pointy witch’s sleeves. David Susskind ridiculed every word she said, but that wasn’t what made Vera doubt her; she couldn’t believe that a real witch would feel compelled to flirt with Susskind. Now, reading Karen Karl’s March predictions, Vera sees that she’s been batting zero in the intervening months. Castro hasn’t been assassinated, nor has Jackie O. remarried. If the Reagans have become grandparents, why would they keep it from the nation? And she seems to remember Liza Minnelli—twins predicted here—having a rather well-publicized miscarriage. Vera gets no pleasure from Karen Karl’s misses; instead she feels badly for readers who care about such things and who six months ago believed—as Liza Minnelli must have—that there was something to look forward to.
    With a batting average like that, it’s a wonder she stays on the team, though probably modern witchcraft has less to do with ESP than with letting Susskind make fun of you. Not that the rest of the This Week staff would win any prizes for accuracy. If one of Karen Karl’s predictions came true, she’d write a column about it; if theirs did, it would go round marked “Too close for comfort.”
    Vera leaves Karen Karl to her mistakes and starts looking for her own. All and none of the pieces look familiar; it’s a tribute to the staff’s ability to write uniform This Week -ese. The first to ring any sort of bell is DWI ON GOD:
In an unprecedented court case, the Reverend Dewey Smoot of Sump City, Georgia, has pleaded innocent to charges of vehicular homicide on the grounds that

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