portion of the artwork for Ian Sanquist's fiction
Magazine Fiction
Ian Sanquist

Mr. Face wrote adventure stories. I don’t know. That’s what he said. This one should maybe be set in a bar inside an airport, but that’s not the way things happened. Well. The way these pills taste could make me retch—yes, my mouth now waters for a caramel. But you don’t know Mr. Face. You don’t know who might have been on the other end of the phone. But see, I wasn’t the one who forgot to hoist my white flag. I didn’t get lost dreaming in any of those mazes.

First Mr. Face needed a conceit. Then a foil, and a black pit with redemption near the bottom, and a seemingly infinite avenue of all life’s unseemly necessities to provide a setting, or a window. I guess the parrot was the foil in Last Dance for Sandy, Face’s only pirate novel. In History of Orr, a coming of age story, it was the dwarf with sadomasochistic tendencies. My personal favorite, though, would have to be the sidekick in Ace Paparazzi, a clear stand-in for Face’s autistic cousin, who would have made a tremendous character in a book all of his own.

All right. Just so long as we aren’t getting ahead of ourselves. I mean, I want to talk about locked rooms and makeshift prison cells, I guess, but Face would have told me don’t do it if it’s not authentic. He would have laughed if he’d seen me during my existential crises, he would have been like anyone. But I always knew I could put my arm around his shoulder and sing a song or two with him if we were both pretty well drunk. And I didn’t even know he was an author, not for a long time. But, you know. My cup runneth over, my Harley Davidson dreams of a different road, or perhaps some other rider in scraps of leather, someone else I’ve shared my thoughts with. But Mr. Face would have had something to say about that, too, and it maybe would have made me a better person for hearing it.

Look: a long time ago somebody named Sensini edited a newspaper that Face worked for. Of course, Sensini just had to have the most beautiful wife Face had ever seen. That’s why they make thumbscrews, I guess. What I mean is, Face acted like a damn fool. Not like anyone you’ve never seen, though, no, nothing like that. More like a dream, or the barely remembered motif of an adolescent dream. More like diary pages filled with numbers and dashes.

So, the way Face put it, that’s where he got the inspiration for Straw Matador. And when that was published, it allowed him to quit the newspaper and turn full-time to writing fiction.

Now there’s nothing wrong with the device of the internal monologue. Face was quite attached to it, actually, he sometimes wrote internal monologues that went on for hundreds of pages. Now that I’ve read all his books, I can say that one or two of the monologues genuinely frightened me, particularly Lester’s account of his troubled childhood in the stormy climactic scenes of Escalating Dust, and Edith’s psychosexual journey down the elaborate metaphysical stairwell of Places You Can Dance.

Anyway. Yesterday, a young man I know told me he’d been feeling short of breath, weak of heart. He’d been having trouble walking so far anymore these days, he said it didn’t make sense, he said he could barely walk three blocks now without stopping to rest. I could clearly recall a walk we’d taken one night, all the way from one end of the beach to the other. A warm night, neither of us wore jackets. I believe we stopped and watched a ferryboat that was edging towards an island, but we only stopped briefly, for neither of us was feeling the least bit tired then. I believe I told him he should take care of himself. I believe I told him no one was going to save his life.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 36 | Spring 2012