10. "Coma"

"Rimbaud's career is a tragic example of ultimate waste."

- Enid Starkie, Arthur Rimbaud

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by Edward Lacie

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Episode Ten

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The day of the intended second murder was a day of mixed signals and mistakes. My first error was forgetting to fill the pickup with gas.

I hadn't yet thought of a possibility of a ransom. My poverty! It should have been my first thought.

Another error was in leaving a note at the scene of the crime for at least a day and a half. The note said my captive was dead, not kidnapped. After changing my mind (after being talked out of killing him by Baysans himself), I went back and removed the note but am unsure to this day if it had been seen.

My only public notice was to announce to the JWR that Baysans was dead. I did that before I actually kidnapped him, so sure was I at the time that I was going to give him a little push down the same road I'd already put Poet X onto.

I've also mentioned my name to two people at Boxx's where Baysans is a regular to this day, despite Poet X's "disappearance." Not even Jon, the bartender, recognized the photo of the accident victim (as if a bartender were going to identify a body of someone served way too much alcohol before being hit and killed!). But those two people don't know I even know Baysans.

After his leg was amputated and Rimbaud had returned to the hospital to die, he dreamt of and actively tried to organize plans to return to Harar. His Roche of Africa, a love/hate kind of thing.

From his father's side of the family, Phil Willkie had the recognizable name. From his mother's side, nee Heffelfinger, Phil's family had financial connections. The Heffelfingers owned a large mill, akin to Pillsbury or General Mills.

Willkie's maternal grandfather bequeathed a large turn-of-the-(20th)-century log cabin in northern Wisconsin to him and his siblings. A lot of property was also included. Some of this was sold, and Phil became the primary user of the cabin. Besides a few JWR writers camps, the property would host a few fairy gatherings. The locals would slowly get used to the unusual guests often associated with "the Heffelfinger place."

"Deliver the message," the Log Lady tells Bobby's father, the Air Force major (Don Davis).

I forget why, in the original draft for this episode, I was so intent on presenting the feel of a "cut-up" or montage, a writing style associated with the Beats of 1950s America and also the Symbolists and Dadaists of France in the 1930s and earlier.

Whatever the reason, the style has remained part of the final rewrite despite attempts to smooth at least some of the narrative jumps. -ewl

Son of Sam's surrogate stalking me started in the kitchen at the restaurant where I was working and writing my unbridled, long poem, book-length and including all kinds of notes of my surroundings, details important for this major poet who had just finished his first collection of poems.

It started in the kitchen, the details I wrote, adding them to my poem. Later on, reading newspaper page one stories, I'd remember something I wrote in the kitchen. It would make me think I knew more than I knew.

"I lean my elbows on the table, the lamp shines brightly on these newspapers I am fool enough to read again, these stupid books."

- Arthur Rimbaud, "Childhood" - Verse V

The day I thought I'd be killed I read the newspaper and tried to decide if it was telling me to go to work or not. I read a lot of books that day also, including a Bible.

I had a "vision" in which the family dog attacked me.

A long scene next has Lucy contending with a fly. Why?

"No messages," Andy tells Lucy that he is sterile and her baby can't be his.

The Major brings Cooper news that messages have shown up on radio-telescope monitorings which he oversees: "The owls are not what they seem."

James, I love you, but don't sing. He sings. No wonder he's not done much if anything since "Twin Peaks", much to my chagrin?

The contents of the first issue of JWR consist of writings mostly by members of the Minneapolis writers group. The second issue of the JWR, only three months later, includes mainstream-published short story writer Richard Hall and poet Ian Young, editor of the two-volume anthology of gay poetry, Male Muse and Son of Male Muse.

They were doing something right.

Maddy, the dead Laura's look-alike cousin, is having a vision. She sees Bob, a wild-eyed, dirty-haired blond in a blue jean jacket, previously seen only in Cooper's dream.

"The owls are not what they seem," they seem to say, then say.

Cooper describes Bob to a sketch artist. Ronette, the survivor of the incident in which Laura was killed, looks at the sketch and recognizes Bob.

If I had killed him instead of this accidental kidnapping, I wouldn't be having to feed Baysans. I can't even afford to feed myself. I've decided to interview him and find out more insights I can use in the explications I've already written about the poetry of his with which I am familiar (see "Supplemental Documents" link dispersed throughout this e-novel.)

In 2000, I did my first internet search for Baysans. I discovered his web site which purported to be "the complete writings," but "Is this poetry?" is not among the poetry archived there.

Harold Norse goes unmentioned in many biographies of Ginsberg. He is the author of Beat Hotel, an actual place in Paris where many of the Beats met in the 50s. Burroughs, Norse, Paul Bowles and others stayed there. 

If I compare Baysans to Rimbaud, the years of the JWR compare to Rimbaud's brief time in Paris, publicly playing the poet (and offending enough people to keep himself exiled from their midst the rest of his brief life). And, like Rimbaud, Baysans abandoned poetry. For neither had it been an acknowledged success, financially or with regard to publication of a collection.

What appears on his website are the writings of Baysans after leaving for Africa and attempting to make it in the working world.

From the time of the train ride to Seattle on October 25, 1979, until March or April of 1980, I was experiencing Rimbaud-quality disorganization of the senses. Instead of being better able to write, I was crippled after having reached a stage in which I thought I was free to write.

The poems of Greg Baysans that decry the modern employment situation of the United States of Aggrevated Consumerism ("A Real Education", "Viaduct", "Time Card 2002" and the essay "Ten Months After" in particular) are harrowing illuminations. The reason Baysans writes of this unemployment with such pointedness is, like the Dean of Instructors at a computer college being unable to write a simple business letter, his employment is and was a result of incompetence in high places, a problem of the times that extended to the FBI in their lack of knowledge about 9-11 before the fact.... An explosion in space.... A lack of whistle-blowers.

The topic is too current to try to explain critically; I apologize for trying.

Where's Waldo? What kind of question is that?

I've interviewed Baysans many times as I rewrite and type this and I'll reveal right here that he has revealed little to me that I didn't already know from the poetry. When I told him I'd killed Poet X, though, he had a reaction I don't have time enough to include here.

Is it possible to tell secrets in fiction?.

End of this episode.

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