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Editor's Note


SNR's Writers



but you don't have to tell me how to eat it

Yes it might seem annoying how I pick off the chocolate crust to expose the candys soft flesh but you are picking at me the same way pulling off shards of my shell to expose my soft squirming pink innards

And also kindly shut up about grunge under my nails  I've lost my life to the rapers and murderers and you think I should worry about dirty fingernails?

As if hygiene was a stairway to heaven-- not just grounds privileges

You better watch it Hank before you become one of them before you make a religion of the Activities of Daily Living 

I have news for you Hank I will pace the day room like a caged animal with the foulest claws my last claim to respect


Hank you've seen the movie

The beautiful girl is hanging from a cliff  The handsome hero rushes to save her 

His muscles strain as he hangs by one hand from a protruding root and with the other reaches for her inch by inch across space until he grabs her and lifts her to safety You are my hero Hank my only hero my Zorro against the evildoers of the Mental Hell System

Slash your Z across the breasts of my Treatment Team members  Make them relent

Make them give me my grounds privileges back 

Slash an H

Make them!


My daddy tied a rough rope tight around my body and made me swim up and down the canal as if I were a dog on a leash and when I faltered he yanked me up  There was no sink or swim there was only swim  My body was rope burned  There were rope burns where my breasts should have been  The rope had little bristles that dug into my body as I swam  I did the breaststroke the butterfly   Afterward I dripped blood and water onto the sidewalk running along the canal  He stood ten feet away from me holding the rope and said  I'm so proud of my little girl my future Olympian 

Then he drove me home in his bright blue Rambler  Daddy was wearing a white buttondown sport shirt  black slacks  shiny black shoes and was humming-- I've got a mule  name is Sal  fifteen years on the Erie Canal  She's a good old mule  a good old pal  fifteen years on the Erie Canal  

He turned to me and said  This car meets my every specification  

There was something fluttering in the back seat but I didn't turn around because I was still bound  The Ramblers engine went taptap  taptap  taptap  taptap

When we got home Daddy went inside for Oreo cookies but he made it clear that the cookies were for him not me and some person —yes  it was you Hank—cut the ropes and I went running down the road  naked  my limbs bulging with swimming and swollen with hate 


They are rough when they come to wake me in the morning—they are mean  They have taken everything and my body is my only possession  and even that is not mine

These drugs these insistent drugs as if I were denying Jesus himself   Everything is gone but they want me to get out of bed and brush my fucking teeth  Can't you hold me?  Can't you hold me close as if I were beautiful? I was beautiful before my father made me swim in Love Canal 

Can’t you see I was beautiful?


You take me to the Gate  I've forgotten how to eat like a human being   The other diners watch me— they are ready with hidden buzzers to call out the murderers and rapers  If you leave me alone  I will be meat for their Dobermans  When you go to the bathroom  I am frightened and throw all our food on the floor

Still you take me to Hightower Pharmacy and buy me a tube of lipstick   I shake from medication and you guide my hand  My lips have not been colored in two years  The angels pour into my head  and on the Texas highway I call out to you--  Hank!

I know you think I am full of disease  You do not realize that the drugs have taken away all bodily ills  because to have illness you must have life  and the drugs have taken away all life   So you are very safe with this zombie  You can afford a tender moment with this zombie

If you don't love me I will hitchhike down the lonesome highway  The roadway is not asphalt but the bodies of Dobermans laid side by side  bodies of black men with huge blue muscles  Sometimes all the Dobermans come back to life  The black men have a stench of pesticide and unwashed flesh  My babies are calling me forever


The whoosh of the eighteen-wheelers carries my babies cries  I smell their sweet shit in the exhaust see them in watercolors beneath the road grime

My babies are calling and trapped behind these walls I can’t go  They are little bunnies in a submarine and I am Mama Bunny in anguish  Up periscope babies  Do you see this ugly face this pointy nose this horrible object that the murderers and rapers have made of me? Yes I am your mother   Can you suck my breasts as if they could give you life and happiness and freedom?

If I had my babies I would lay them in a crib and they would glitter like diamonds  My legs would splash through surf sending sparkles of infants into the sun

But my sister helped them take my jewels  She was always mad that I was my daddy’s water doggie and not her


I swim into the loch  The gates close behind me and I do the dead girl float for as long as I am able (my lungs are as big as accordions) but then I must come back to life

Next to me is a Panamanian freighter—we are two bodies afloat  The water level starts to drop  If it drops too far my daddy will have to let go of the rope and then I'll be free of him  But the rope would still be around my body—I wouldn’t be able to untie it—and the loose end would dangle down to the depths  Who knows what monster would grab hold and drag me down?

I am swimming across oceans across continents  This is wonderful exercise  my daddy calls  marvelous training  And you'll probably make the Guinness Book of World Records!


I was eighteen

My sister had a boyfriend but I didn't so I wanted hers   We were on the beach  I decided I didn't want to live on land anymore— I wanted to return to the sea 

to be a dolphin  I walked into the water and started swimming   I thought I would swim forever  I kept swimming until I couldn't swim anymore  I felt myself sinking

I don't know how he got there—I thought I'd left him on the beach   My sister's boyfriend threw a carry on me  His hand massaged my breast as he towed me  

He dragged me onto the sand  It was very coarse and rough  like sandpaper  I wanted to scream Why are you torturing me? but couldn't get any words out  He gave me mouth-to-mouth  I thought that meant we were married without violence  I sat up and vomited in the sand  My sister came over with a child's shovel and covered it up  The shovel was bright green

Later I realized it wasn't a shovel at all  It was a mystical frog  It squirmed in her hands and she shrieked and dropped it  The mystical frog peed in the sand and froze everything for eternity

That was the end of my swimming career  I was supposed to make the Olympics  I was supposed to beat all the East German women  their bodies swollen with steroids  A thousand miles of water had lengthened my slim limbs

Instead I was left wretching and rolling in sand like a filet being rolled in crumbs spineless without will-- incapable of even the first and last human skill-- to protest

The water was my element and now I can never return  I had to give up my marvelous swimming career  Daddy's only dream


Hank you tell me you’re a swimmer too  I drift away from you  drift back  drift in and out of focus  You're afraid I will drift off forever  and want to tie me down with similarity  But Hank I know without seeing that you're a dilettante in the water  splashing back and forth between walls as if your splashing was something significant and macho  When you get out you want all the girls to admire your porpoise body  slick and hairless  You jump in and out of hotel pools  but I am the Love Boat engines fouled tossed helplessly by the merciless sea

You swim in shallow safe chlorinated waters but I swim among the great whites the moray eels the monster squid  You swim in a predictable lane  You say Brush teeth make bed  brush teeth  make bed comply comply comply  But how can I comply when I have no shore no breath no friend?

Can't you just be my friend Hank kiss me even if my teeth are dirty even if they are grimy gritty not Close-Up teeth?


Don't be cruel  Hank  You're my only Hank  my only protection I'm Olive Oyl in the world of Bluto  And you're Popeye  snorting spinach  hero of the locked ward

Out on the Oklahoma plain bats swooped around my head and I could hear your voice And I called out for you  

I called out for your kindness

Look into my eyes  Hank  and tell me I'm sick  


Mama became self-employed stealing my Social Security Disability checks  She rented a trailer in Quincy Florida and a satellite dish and watched me on TV-- Americas Most Reviled 

My swim lanes became dusty highways  The rapers and murderers behind the steering wheels of their eighteen-wheelers raised bottles of tequila to their lips  They clamped a mask to my face  It was hammered copper and I gagged at the smell of used motor oil Then they opened the valve on their tank of Agent Orange and while I lay there in a coma they ripped my babies from my body  

The angels came into my head  and I could hear them calling ---Mama---- calling for me from their limbo land of lost souls  


You're my surfboard my skim board  my boogie board  my only only vehicle my Hank  You're waxed my knees are knobby from the ride  The red tide announces the fullness of love   This half-eaten candy bar in my hand is a skeleton key  When you share your swimming experience  Hank  I want to choke you  You tell me-- The way you develop endurance is to endure.


Listen you can hear them now  The angels slice into my head like crystal  I don't need to be in the Mental Hell System  I can hitchhike to California  At night I hear the waves calling  Tiffany  your babies are awaiting you  Where are you  Tiffany?  Where are you? Where are you?

Farewell old Hank   I see you from on high as if I were with Jesus  You look around for me  puzzled by my absence   You are naked  You are like me

I am by the roadway—the trucks are whooshing by like they always have  There is no air— there is dust  snowflakes  every space is filled  I am swimming through pure texture through plaster through a volcanic landscape of drying paint  I am swimming to my babies

Copyright 2007, Mitchell Grabois. © This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws.
It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.

Mitch Grabois’ fiction has appeared widely in literary and commercial magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada since 1988. His story “These Notes Are Personal” is based on experience at Florida State Hospital, Chattahoochee, Florida. During this millennium, Grabois has completed four novels, Princess of the Knives and Forks, The Brotherhood of the Sacred Armadillo, Two-Headed Dog, and Crackle. His agent solicits your prayers for their publication. Grabois and his wife raised two sons, now adults. They celebrated their thirtieth anniversary last year, and live in the ancestral farmhouse in northwestern Michigan.