Paperback: 105 pp.
Brandishing the caustic wit that is the hallmark of his four previous
books of short fictions, L. D. Brodsky gives "Xmas" an X rating
in this latest volume, with his salty-tongued South St. Louis auto-assembly-line "rough," who
gets way too far into the Christmas spirit(s). At least deserving of
an R rating are some of Brodsky’s other outrageous characters,
such as the guy who disguises himself as a Persian cat or basset hound
to escape the scrutiny of his neighbors; the misguided soul who turns
into a UFO; experts in fecal matter and the mortuarial arts; the husband
who flies home early to avoid a snowstorm, only to surprise his preoccupied
wife; the art forger who’s so good he becomes more famous than
the masters he copies; and men who mate with bears, whales, and themselves.
For at least the last three years, he's been leaving by the pet door at the back, as if to avoid the scrutiny of FBI agents who might be hiding in mailboxes, keeping surveillance of his comings and goings, been passing himself off as a shaggy Persian cat or droopy basset hound letting itself out for its morning constitutional — difficult disguises to effect, especially for one who hates domesticated animals (abominates all animals, for that matter).
What's more upsetting than inconvenient is the eyesore he's been creating in the front yard, for leaving by the back porch: the accumulation of newspapers he's neglected fetching due to his surreptitious exits and entrances (many, not stuffed in blue or red plastic bags, yellowing like bananas in the sun) has grown into an Indian burial mound or giant igloo, a very distressing anomaly for his neighbors. (Grandfathered subdivision ordinances forbid them from initiating suits against him for littering; if he really wanted to, he could park a P-38 Lightning, Cat D9, or eight giraffes on his Astroturf lawn.)
But the papers are a by-product of his anonymity. In trying to achieve invisibility, he seems to have caused unintended consequences, such as curious spectators, who arrive in droves, daily, from all parts of the city, to gaze upon his "junkyard," discuss his idiosyncrasies, eccentricities, as if they knew him intimately, on a first-name basis, instead of by what gossip and rumor have spread.
Conjecture has it that he's out of his head, that he arrived brain-dead, at St. Vitus's, after calling 911 . . . something about falling into his toaster or OD'ing on Ocean Spray cranberry juice or, upon mistaking himself for the Light of the World or the Antichrist, the Prince of Darkness, Lucifer screwing himself into a light-bulb socket. (The data is fuzzy on this speculation, because the hospital — an outpatient clinic, really — refuses to make a statement, clear up the confusion.)
Where he goes when he leaves by the pet door is anyone's guess — FBI's, neighbors', gawkers'. Even he, in his Persian-cat or basset-hound outfit, never has a clue as to the direction he'll take when he starts his '52 Nash Rambler, parked out back, and sputters off through a maze of streets with names like Hyde Park, Stratford-upon-Avon, Bath, Windsor, Wales, and Gretna Green.
However, before the sun sets and he returns home, he'll locate a restroom, shed his costume, then stop at the local library to read the newspaper.