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These are three excerpts from

Curiosity to Satisfy and Fear to Placate

by J. J. Steinfeld.


Magnified under your empty shot glass, halfway between epiphany and

hearsay, is the tiny newspaper headline, DRINKER CHOKES TO

DEATH ON WORD, the cruelty and unfairness slapping you like a

forgotten morning or an erased night. You refill your glass, simple

ceremony, slight piercing pain of dislocation, and wonder what the lethal

culprit was—perhaps fear or pity or shame, or, you reflect, it could have

been a longer weapon, polysyllabic bullets, vengeful projectiles, like

betrayal or unredemptive or meaninglessness. (...)

* * *

from "Would You Rather Have Sainthood or...?"

(...) I bet you the devil can be pretty petulant out on the greens,

breaking golf clubs at the least little mistake, sending caddies into the

eternal flames of damnation, turning entire 18-hole, par-72 golf courses

into something nightmarish, like out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting.

Just the other day, I heard a golfer say that golf is hell and then hit the

ball farther than the human eye can see. Quite the sight, I tell you. That

golfer smiled, and it was the most transcendent smile I'd ever seen. The

Devil, leaning against a nearby tree, chuckled, the most self-satisfied

chuckle I'd ever heard. They both had gotten what they wanted. I merely

recount what I saw and heard. There is no moral or warning in what I say. (...)

* * *

from "Marriage Vows"

When the announcement was published of the forthcoming marriage of

the six-foot-ten, thirty-seven-year-old woman to the five-foot-three,

twenty-eight-year-old man, in what was supposed to be a small, private

ceremony in a sparsely populated, rural area of the province, it caught the

attention of a local newspaper reporter, who told a local cable-TV-station

producer, who contacted an old buddy at the CBC, who told a journalist

at Maclean's, who informed a foreign-correspondent friend, and before

you knew it, the event became the focus of worldwide attention. At the

summer wedding there were eleven invited guests and over four hundred

reporters, photographers, and curious onlookers. "Talk about craziness.

We were nobodies," the small man said. "Why couldn't people leave us

alone?" the tall woman said. One of the locals, standng in the crowd,

commented, "All the cameras and folks here, you'd have thought it was a

real important politician coming by or some rock concert taking place." (...)

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Curiosity to Satisfy and Fear to Placate excerpt ©2003 J. J. Steinfeld

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