The Insect World
The key to the con is not that the con man has your trust; the key is that he convinces you that he trusts you.
No Regrets, Coyote (2013), by John Dufresne

As we drove past St. Jerome’s Church, Carlos hit the brakes, squealed into the parking lot, and stopped. He pointed across the lawn. “Is that a goddamn dead mule?”

Indeed it was. There beneath a live oak lay the bloated remains of a recently expired mule that had apparently been giving children “pony” rides at yesterday’s parish carnival.

"What the hell?" Carlos said.

"It would seem we’re in a Southern novel," I said.

No Regrets, Coyote (2013), by John Dufresne

The short days of winter are made even shorter by thick heavy cloud layers and steadily falling snow. We drove through an elongated twilight and an early night, the headlights of oncoming cars splintering in the water drops on the windshield. The interior of the car became too hot and stuffy, but when I opened a window a crack the air that came in was gravelike: damp and cold, reaching immediately through flesh to bone.

I rolled up the window again. We were stopped for a while in the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, part of an endless double row of murmuring smoking cars waiting like cows at milking time for the gods to solve whatever problem had arisen out of sight ahead. But then the lines began to creep forward again, and we emerged from the tunnel, and there was no sign of whatever the problem had been. There never is.

A Jade in Aries (1970), by Donald Westlake

"Kai thinks you’re gay. You knew that, right?"

"Why?"

"You’re a bachelor." Phoebe put air quotes around the noun. "You act. You collect Fiestaware. Your house is cluttered with vintage bric-a-brac. You live with a cat. You read novels. You talk about movies in public."

"I have all the symptoms."

No Regrets, Coyote (2013), by John Dufresne

“What did he do to you?”

Koberberg stopped smiling, and looked down at his rather large stomach. “Do? He didn’t do anything. Nothing you could measure, or describe, or copy down in shorthand. He simply contrasted us for his pleasure and my embarrassment.” He raised eyes that looked as though they would have shown pain if they had shown anything. But they didn’t show anything.

A Jade in Aries (1970), by Donald Westlake

"And the empty bedroom?" I said.

"It’s night, of course, and I’m not foolish enough to open the door with my flashlight on and lose my invisibility. I ease the door open and see that the room is flooded with daylight, and that the light stops right at the doorway. That’s the first surprise. Across the room, crouched in a corner, is an enormous male lion staring at me, snarling, ready to spring, and then he shakes his ass and pounces."

"This is a dream?"

"This is not a dream. I wrestle the lion for I don’t know how long. I roll onto my side and get a look and see that he’s a feline duplicate of me, and then at some point I pass out and wake up later drenched in blood and sweat with my jeans and shirt torn to shreds."

When I pointed out that it was hardly conceivable that he or any person could vanquish an actual lion in real life, Wayne asked me how then I would account for the actual blood soaked into the real-life carpet. “This sort of thing has never happened to you?” he said.

No Regrets, Coyote (2013), by John Dufresne

The water was running in the sink. I had been staring out the window at the gray air, the white snow, how long? Sometimes I think I will stop like that once and never start again; and in many ways, that would be best. I shook my head, and turned off the water, and dried my arms and hands and face on a towel. Over by the cellar door were my slippers. I went over there, kicked off the muddy sneakers, and put the slippers on. Not to track dirt on Kate’s carpets.

A Jade in Aries (1970), by Donald Westlake

Dad was crying at his table, tapping his knuckles on his forehead, sniffling. I asked what was wrong, and he looked at me and shook his head. I held his arm and told him it was okay. But what did I think was okay? “Tell me what’s going on,” I said. “What are you thinking?” He pushed me away.

I have this belief, or maybe it’s a wish, that if you can just say everything that’s on your mind, if you can express everything that’s in your heart, if you can articulate your every thought and feeling somehow, you will be cured of your torment and relieved of your pain. You’ll come back to life. I don’t know that anyone’s ever done that, of course, and I know that words are not available to some of us. And sometimes I know it takes too damn much effort to try to speak when all your systems have shut down, when death seems like your only hope, and you would welcome death if it came for you but you’re too spent to chase after it.

Dad said, “I fell out of bed one night. And a week before that I fell out again.”

No Regrets, Coyote (2013), by John Dufresne

All my ways she wove of light,
Wove them all alive,
Made them warm and beauty bright-
So the trembling, ambient air
Clothes the golden waters where
The pearl fishers dive.

When she wept and begged a kiss,
Very close I’d hold her,
And I know so well in this
Fine fierce joy of memory
She was very young like me
Though half an aeon older.

Once she kissed me very long,
Tiptoed out the door,
Left me, took her light along,
Faded as a music fades-
Then I saw the changing shades,
Color blind no more.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, First Love (via fitzgeraldquotes)

He needed to be smiled at, to be told that nothing was serious after all, the way most people need to breathe. He was good at wheedling that sort of response, obviously; the smile I gave him now was small and grudging, but honest, and he smiled back at once, managing to smile through tears without actually having shed any tears.

—A Jade in Aries (1970), by Donald Westlake