Tag Archive: larke


When Oumar discovered that he was going in front of the cameras, he felt some beads of sweat trickle along his bushy eyebrows. He was shown into a room where a girl sat before a set of well-lit mirrors. Once he sat down, she eyed him carefully, then took different pots and compacts out of a set of cases that looked to him like tool boxes. She lightly coated his face with something half-dry, half-gooey, then sat back and eyed him again.

“Yes, that’s enough to keep the light from reflecting,” she said. “I’ll show you to the wings now, and a PA will usher you in when it’s time, just before the interview.”

Oumar raised his eyebrows, but said nothing, and followed the girl into another part of the studio. She looked him over once more, straightened his tie, smoothed his jacket sleeves, and left. He looked around; there was no place for him to sit in while he waited.

A few minutes later he heard some sort of little song, then a man waved him forward and walked with him to a chair set by a table. At the table across from him, Oumar saw a distinguished-looking man in a light gray suit, who nodded to him and shuffled a few papers on his table.

“It’ll only be a moment, we’re coming to the end of the commercial break,” the man said.

Oumar waited patently, hands joined on the table.

Another brief melody sounded, then the man looked up at a camera whose red eye had just opened.

“We have here now, in our studio, Kokou Yetognon, minister of foreign affairs for the Republic of Congo. Mr. Yetognon, do you see the effects of the economic crisis in your nation?”

Oumar took a deep breath.

“Congo is not my nation. I’m from Bobigny.”

“Bobigny??” the man asked. “But don’t you live at your consulate in the tenth arrondissement?”

“I don’t live at a consulate. I never worked at one either.”

“But surely as minister of foreign affairs – ”

“I’m no minister of foreign affairs.”

“But Mr. Yetognon – ”

“My name is not Yetognon. My name is Oumar Nkonga. I came her for a job interview, for a janitor’s job.”

The distinguished man’s mouth dropped open.

“Didn’t anyone tell you that you would go in front of the cameras?”

“Yes, but I thought that was how things were done in a television studio.”

The distinguished man picked up the handset of a telephone that was sitting next to him, waited a moment, then said, “Albert, could you see if you can find Mr. Yetognon?” He hung up, put on his largest on-screen smile, and said, “Thank you, sir, for your participation today. The PA will show you to your interview.” He turned back to the camera. “We’ll be right back after a brief commercial break.”

Three Silences by Maude Larke

Ariana opened the door, stepped into the silence of home and sighed. She glanced at the cats’ bowls in the kitchen. She heard no soft noise of paws and decided to leave them hidden wherever they had chosen to nestle. She hung up her coat and walked through the hallway to her den, tossed a file out of her briefcase on the couch, and closed the door. No cat no matter how well-loved could settle casually on her work.

She half-sprawled on the couch to flail with a particular court case that she continued to flip through. It was missing an element. There was a hole in the argument somewhere. But where? She searched and searched again. Her mind’s tongue touched the problem but could not name it. It was just out of her grasp, and backing away, giggling.

It was then that the door burst open, and before Ariana could raise her eyes she felt Celia’s weight on her shoulder, lips hot on her ear. A hand reached down and flipped the file onto the coffee table. Ariana sighed and stretched out on her back.

Frisky Celia stretched over her and gave her several bites on the jawbone.

“Watch it,” Ariana said, turning her head away.

“Don’t worry,” Celia answered.

She obsessively watched and watched the You Tube video.  Even after she stopped listening to the gooey pop songs.  Even after she stopped drinking.  The several creations of a similar wedding went apace.  The dresses were all sumptuous.  Tulle for one, satin for another, an incredible smoky-white lace for yet another.  She chose thirty-three bridesmaids’ gowns, in rainbow colors.  She ordered five sets of engraved invitations and two different wedding cakes.

She made payments for three different halls.  One had the right acoustics for a wedding band (she had found six really good ones), one had a good, wide space in which to leave open a dance floor, the third had a garden in which to serve the champagne (twelve different brands ordered).  She had festoons of lily orange, tender green, rich purple on order in order to decorate them.

When the bank blocked her account and she went to them to discuss the problem, she found them strangely unsympathetic.  Even after she showed them the video.  All the tears and all the different lists and plans that she had written down had left them as stone. They refused to finance any more wedding plans.

Apparently they would have been more resilient if she had produced a groom.

A whole life lost.  A life like running alongside a car you’ve fallen out of.  The whack of fingers against searing sunlit metal as you try to scramble back in.  The memory of the feel of brakes under sneakered feet.  The attempt to console yourself by remembering the native tribes’ veneration of running.  The continued jarring of the fleeing surface.

A roadblock looms and you know that you and the car will unite in it, blood leaking into oil.  Then you do resolve.  You tell yourself what you know.

I don’t get the answer if I don’t ask the question.

An idea is good to use, even if I don’t use it.

I keep scrap paper for a reason.

You never think to let the possessed thing roll away, explode, use the smoke to guide you as you turn your back on it and find a horse, a bicycle, a breath.  You manage to multiply the footfalls before exploding through that barrier and projecting yourself beyond.

You have only a mild curiosity anent footfalls or what they fall on on the other side.  You try hard not to consider that there may be no fall for the foot over there.

You have to think about the possibility of predestination.  That whole notion of ordained events, of characters congealed, as inevitable as iodine in the ocean.  I could very easily just decide to believe in it.  Give myself over profoundly to the planned, programmed rolling out of my days.  To leap into the settled, settling notion that all was fixed and to be relied on to be fixed, even though we get it in the face because we don’t have the right to the roadmap.

It would mean that all the stupid things I’ve done were done just because I was supposed to do them.  Perpetrated out of divine project.  And therefore to be embraced.  Foot placed proudly in mouth, I could assume the position as an ace of alienation, a first-class fabricator of failed relationships, a phenomenal seeming improviser of irremediable faux pas.

It would mean that I was born a putz, that I would have to remain a putz.

It would mean that I would not be responsible for any of it.

It would mean that I would no longer have to try.  I could just give up.  The inevitable, explainable, evidential display of providential design I would need to accept, adhere to.  Like breakfast cereal to teeth.

Can you see how tempting that is?

Genna had collaborated with Ryan on so many projects by now that it felt odd to do the ones he wasn’t part of.  They had developed an easy bond, like that of siblings who had no need of tension and rivalry.  Genna was happy about that.  It seemed a rich second best to what she had originally wanted.

She was especially happy considering how things could have turned out.  She had been so direct with him, he could have been put off.  But he had been so kind in his firmness, talking so discreetly about his wife and their life.  She had adjusted, but slowly, to this new idea.  She even asked questions about her every now and then.

Not too many.  She didn’t want to hear too much.  She knew that if she ever found fault with Kay, she would be indignant.  At least that was the word she used.  She knew what it meant.  That old “worthy of him” expression was always hovering in the back of her mind.  Even though she hated clichés.

So when Ryan invited her to come to a picnic that they were having with friends, Genna hesitated, too ready to pick apart Kay.  The unsuspecting?  Or had Ryan mentioned Genna’s advances?  She asked.  He said no.  She said yes, in spite of the awkward position she was being put into.  Or advantageous?

Genna spent most of the day speaking to Kay, standing near her to help in the kitchen, listening to her.  Noting her ways.

She went home at the end of the day completely devastated.  She found no weak points.  Kay was completely worthy.