Behind every face, another piece of corn. Behind every piece of corn, another face. Soon everything became a cornball in his mind. If anything was said he thought was stupid, he’d sneer, “What a piece of corn.” If he saw someone stupid, he’d think, “Oh, you corn face.” Corn had become the wadded archetype of all he scorned. Even the word scorn had corn in it, which he felt was fitting. “You piece of corn,” he said half laughingly half-jokingly to the woman with the fake tattoo standing right in the door of Kirby’s Saloon hoping to pick up some customers and give them a Tarot reading or school them in her other ways. She was a silently laughing but dying inside kind of leftover beauty after everyone else has gone home, and the whole thing is being swept up. “I am not a piece of corn,” she set him straight. “My name is Lulinda Cecile Harkinson, and I am here only as a favor to people like you. Otherwise, you would languish without me, for this is my penance.” Lulinda got so sad she started crying, which reminded him of all those plaster icons who start crying tears of blood all the time for no good reason. “Well, cheer up, Virgin Mary,” he reminded her. She laughed and the two of them went off together down into the town, just laughing and sighing, passing a bag of popcorn. There followed some interaction with the customer service agent, over there near where the old warehouse is, out near the dump, squatting there in a thicket of high weeds, looking like a mean old one-eyed encroacher on the land (being as how it sat out there amidst all the wild growth with two big windows in front and one was all busted and blacked out looking from vandals spraypainting all over it). Many passing wayfarers had set up their camps in the corners and eaves, even now there was a smell of burnt chicken from somebody’s breakfast, and the black smudge of ashes from the tramp’s cook-stove. Oh, hell, what would they think of next? Each former tenant had removed a long thread of torn cloth from his or her bundle of rags and tied it up near the door as a tribute to mark the presence of this or that gentlemen or young lady, person, or traveler. Many had even used shoelaces. There was a whole row of them tied up next to the door. Or maybe he was just imagining it. He kept on walking through the desert and staring up into the hot blank sky until he saw a long stream of faces coming out of the sun in a royal procession.

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