margie prequil


For some time now I have been fond of words. However, either in denial of the avuncular logic that you ought to think things through before doing or saying them, or in allegiance to some sort of eastern principle that you ought not, I often use words incorrectly. This should not deter the typical reader. My vocabulary, at the very least, exceeds the national average. I am not proud of my errors. The idea, often used to haunt ESL students, that a language properly spoken is spoken as a native speaker would speak it, irrespective of the fact that native speakers often do not speak properly, has never made too much sense to me. Still, by most measures the tendency continues. Perhaps this owes to a lack of linguistic/ academic rigor; perhaps it has something to with the idea that the sonic worth of a given word does not always line up with the exact meaning of that word. In any event, the reader will please be cognizant of such.

It also bears mentioning that I have always appreciated stories which are able to incorporate some basis for their writing into the narrative—e.g.,…and so the mad man forced me to write my memoirs but without any compound words;…and so I decided to put it all down on paper before I ate the poisoned yams; etc. I do not intend to reveal any such basis at this time, however.

CHAPTER 1 (hereafter ‘***’—as the story’s ordering will not be exactly chronological)

“…well I knew you were going to say that. You see, I can hear the future, but only statements preceded by politeness.” Margie Melnik replied with a sort of sunken firmness that was as much imitation as her own.

“You know one day when I have the means I’m going to take you away from here and lock you in a tower;” continued Tic Verdoliak in the style that so often resulted in him being misunderstood, or outright mistrusted, by others, but which to them seemed as natural and softly certain as the seasons.

“I didn’t hear that.”

“I’ll say this one more time doing my level best to comprise my confession entirely of words reasonably calculated to admit of only the interpretation that I intend…”

“Great start.”

“I have psychic faculties. I am prescient. I know the future…” said Tic.

“Well then I shouldn’t have to continually remind you to floss, tooth decay…”

“However,” he interrupted and then paused in a way that gently showed that the interruption was not out of concern for time, “…these psychic faculties are at slight variance from those which seem to lend themselves ever more to murder mystery television.”

“Yours respect the 4th Amendment?”

“I only receive these psychic intimations a mere moment before they are actually realized.”



“Even with this limitation you should still be able to beat me at gin.”

“Well, this winning streak of yours is not explained by any amount of cunning or competence on your part as much as it is that I can’t just see what card’s next unless it is fated to be chosen…I think. From what I’ve gathered, I can’t see alternate futures—a limitation perhaps explicable by the shotgun timing of it as much or more than any sort of predetermination in the apparatus of things...maybe. You might also be palming aces.”



“How far into the future are we talking?”

“I never clocked it.”

“Do it.”


“As much as it seems unnecessary to give a psychic a heads up let’s say I’ll pick a number between 1 and 8.”

“That’s not how it works.”

“You can’t accept numbers?”

“No, it’s that I could only tell you what’s going to happen once there’s not enough time to even mouth the words.”

“You mean you couldn’t even guess when I’m about to raise this finger?”

“Not in time to alert you to your own design, no.”

“…If there’s no practical application to your mysticism does it really exist?” Maggie said in a way that suggested she was more and more convinced of it as the sentence went along.

“Yes…I can still…hear it” he struggled for the word in a way that might have been expressed by placing a question mark after each syllable in the sentence or by having William Shatner read it.

“Well, I didn’t ask you about a falling tree, so, I’m not sure that hearing it is all that significant.”

“Oh what that rapier wit of yours lacks in subtlety is more than made up for by its speed” he rebounded.

“It’s funny, you know, you who so often are unsure of what you did mere moments ago can see moments ahead.” She continued, “Hey! I got it; perhaps rather than any sort of heightened awareness or ESP you just sort of traded in your focus on the more distant future, present and past for an increased emphasis on the unimpressively near future.”

They both looked confused.

“Even if I did know what the hell you meant by ‘traded in’—as if the component parts of my consciousness were the result of some sort of haggling—, I wouldn’t agree and I’d likely—though certainty would be outside of powers—still pinch you.”

“Ow! Asshole.”



“Alright, raise that finger at an as yet undisclosed time.”


“Hah!!” pointing to the raised finger.

“You saw me move it.”

“I knew before I saw it.”

“Well, how do I know that?”

“Because you love me.”

“Oh, shut up.”


Margie Melnik was born Marguerrite Melnik in a middle-class suburb of Cleveland. Hers was not unlike the youths of so many around her apart from a few more or less notable exceptions. At some point she went from being a characteristically happy person to a person categorically concerned with, and committed to, being happy. If at first blush this seems unclear, the difference is certainly subtle. This subtlety was borne out by the fact that the shift did not produce many appreciable differences in her. She, and those to whom she explained the change, most likely thought it either a very natural maturing into consciousness, or—as the case may well have been for those with whom this metamorphosis was shared not because of any outward signs of similar transformation in the confidante but, perhaps, because of other more fleeting connections, (be they the indefinable sorority which follows from peeing together or from sometime drug experimentation)—a simple misunderstanding, and misapplication, of the lessons of womanhood. Incredulous types might have described it as the beginning of any thoughtful life or a mere impulse to put feelings into words.

That is not to say, that she paid any additional mind to the whims that from time to time claim hold of us all. Rather, (and it’s uncertain whether this was means or ends) she saw an emotive component to perception and accorded it the consideration she thought due. Few people would find this revolutionary; likely even fewer women for reasons which quite possibly owe to the unity of all women borne of that single hotline to the moon and the tides which they are forced not only to share but through the unlikeliest of places. . (Suffice it to say at the point of transformation she became aware that she wanted to be happy. Whether or not this must have followed from her having been—or having seen herself as—unhappy is unclear.)

Margie was proud to be a female and if she was more inspired by socio-political issues involving women it was only because their place was so often misunderstood. However, Margie’s concern with emotions was decidedly different than the will to catharsis so prevalent among women. Perhaps this was due to her ambitions to be a writer which she thought needed something more than mere candor if they were to be realized—the days of blanket denial long since supplanted, she reasoned, by nights of cleverly woven conundrums which operated to similar confounding effect even if they required an adroit finger to point out the labyrinthine turns which most only walked in their sleep or the comparable psychic condition that obtains when people speak of casserole dishes.

It cannot be overstated that her dream of being a writer was subsidiary to her abiding concern with happiness. True, she did not think the two that distinct but just the same made an effort to not see them conflated. She recalled a conversation with a decidedly unsuitable suitor where this came up: He was a singer in a friend’s band who was known in small circles for getting naked on what makeshift stages their gigs provided them and then collapsing, naked, into a corner after what one could only assume was an emotional crescendo for him where – the jerking of his body seemed to suggest though his head was hidden – he was reduced to tears. “How are you?” he asked Margie at a party. “Walking tall and laughing easy” she replied. “You?” “Well, if it wasn’t for bad luck I wouldn’t have no..” “Reason to get naked and cry?” she interrupted. “No luck at all.” He finished. “Come on give yourself some credit. It’s more than bad luck; it’s bad instincts.” “What’s bad instincts?” “You know: the whole self-destructive front man thing. The band stands poised for untold success thanks to the industrious rhythm guitarist but the damn singer is just wound a little too tight and keeps fucking up.” “But if it weren’t for his emotional depths the band would be nothing.” “Yeah, I suppose it’s songs like ‘the crushing darkness’ or ‘oblivion please’ that put asses in the seats.” “Do you want me to sing ‘the flower’?” “Whatever keeps your toe tapping. Are you always upset?” “Life is suffering.” “It is when you’re around. Don’t people suffer enough with their own lives?” “I stand up to the darkness and give them strength to persevere. I die so they can live.” “Jesus didn’t crucify himself—and he didn’t strip—you pretentious putz.” “He wasn’t given a chance to.” “Ok, how do you keep yourself so sullen all the time? Do you flog yourself too?” “It’s just a matter of thumbing the jagged edge of life all the time.” “Is that what you’re thumbing?” She walked away.

Margie too had a sort of middling mysticism about her: she could, with varying degrees of veracity, tell how people felt. She did not think this was unique (as many women would not); rather she thought it was a common enough quality among women to justify their having their own state (somewhere in the Balkans maybe). Her ability, however, did not always begin and end with conversations involving the word ‘vibe’ as one may have assumed. Hers was skill, and a useful skill at that as this world grows more and more veiled. At times Margie may not have realized that her receptive powers were influenced by the things she thought she’d felt, for reasons that were thereby substantiated even if not explained—a common limitation somewhere between a fait accompli and a priori (nunc pro tunc maybe?). However, Margie was decidedly different in that she believed that by receiving messages of the kind from others she could better understand her own transmissions such to take control of their content and release. Whether she was able to actually send some sort of corpo-telepathic messages or not was made somewhat irrelevant by the fact that she thought most everybody could feel what others were feeling if they’d just try. Just the same, she too thought she was somehow marked (though on certain days she might have called it a smudge instead).


“Is man alone in his desire to press to the beating heart of the essential strangeness of things?” asked Tic in a way that certainly seemed a joke.

“What…oh…men stand alone, but it’s not the heart that they seek in pressing towards the chest of things. It’s woman alone who is not content to wallow in the pretexts and imprecations of that essentially strange creature that is man.” replied Margie in a way that was meant to lightly mock the questioner into submission.

“Hah! Women only care about the order of things in so far as that order concerns them. It is man who can meditate on the relationship between the cat and the dog quite apart from his interests implicated therein. Can a woman ever live slightly to the side of things?”

“I was raised quite happily just over from Shaker Heights if that’s what you mean but stop talking like that.” Margie responded in a way that in the past had been punctuated with a silencing kiss.

“Like what?”

“I don’t know, like a monk.”

“Monks are silent.”

“Well, I’m sure you can make up for whatever was lost in authenticity by a little self-immolation.”

“Isn’t that why you were run out of Shaker Heights to begin with?” said Tic in a slightly exaggerated but still playful form of his previous tone.

“I wasn’t from Shaker Heights, as is clearly shown by the fact that I do not smell all briny”

“Do they smell briny? They’re landlocked.”

“Well ‘sea to shining sea’ never had a better home than Shaker Heights.”

“Love it or leave it.”

“I’m leaving you.”


Truth be told it was now somewhat difficult for Margie to remember how she had been before meeting Tic. She remembered herself longingly remembering past events that now could only be viewed from her present vantage point at his side; and as such, were of decidedly slight concern. Apart from figuring into present states by a connection which was, even to her, largely inexplicable if somehow invoking as yet unexpressed metaphors, she rarely thought of the past. That is, she made no attempt to seal herself off from the past. Why would she? Hers was a happy past. She just questioned Emerson’s logic that the past ought to be dragged into the “thousand-eyed present”. Wasn’t there something inherently contradictory about honoring the present by ceremonially subordinating the past? Why not leave it be? she reasoned. Instead the operating philosophy with which she now tinkered—she always had at least one—might best be explained as trying to feel nothing until something comes along. Though some might find this stupid, rest assured it never took too long for something to come along. This was a fact which Margie thought vindicated the whole enterprise though others might be apt to see it as an even more persuasive demonstration of its uselessness (sort of like thinking that the fact that you were able to resume breathing justified the practice of holding your breath).


“You know there aren’t too many guys who can stand on one leg for as long as I can.”

“There aren’t too many girls looking for flamingoes” she replied as surprised by her response as his statement.



“Most of the guys you’d meet out there wouldn’t even let you touch their food.”

“Is there something you want?”

“I just want you to know that it’s a topsy-turvy world.”

She smiled.


While Margie was by most accounts a rather unique sort it should not be suggested that her singularity was absolute. Rather there was something about her which, when properly contextualized, recalled her home town, its denizens and their manner with the sort of precision that can be attained for the fleeting moments when one tries to hang on to an emotion they’ve just felt—almost as if you could still see its reflection in her eyes. She said ‘pop’ instead of ‘soda’ and ‘gym shoes’ instead of ‘sneakers’ but it was more pervasive than just a predilection for local expression (it was even more than the contempt she felt for people who said ‘bubbler’ instead of ‘water fountain’ or ‘standing on line’ instead of ‘in line’). And if it could not be viewed at regular intervals its cause seemed reasonably clear: Margie was always very fond of her youth. If eventually she would come to stray from some of the endemic vices that suburban lifestyles are shot through with today, and began to speak differently, and began to change her diet and the recreational pursuits that she would prefer, there remained something less susceptible to change by anything short of amnesia. How, then, can this be reconciled with the previously mentioned fact that she rarely thought about the past? Because she didn’t really think of it as a ‘past’ at all. She’d once heard someone say ‘tomorrow doesn’t have to be any greater than yesterday.’ It seemed like a platitude on the order of a greeting card but she liked it. The past did not need to be tended to in order to affect you. She was who she was. And who she was couldn’t help but be shaped by what she’d been. It was thinking herself in circles like that which might have hastened her latest revelation (supra re: thinking nothing…).

Though, as stated, this phenomenon never really changed in Margie it did at times fall prey to that autonomic ordering process within us all which sometimes covers its tracks by making pain simpler than pleasure. That is to say, at times it slipped into a sort of dormancy. However, when Margie went home the collective carriers of this system pressed out towards Margie’s pores to get a look at the land of their birth. This produced in Margie a feeling which was at once as light as the ether and still leaden in the detail with which its dictates expressed themselves. This contradiction led to those very dictates often being impossible to understand or obey but no less capable of producing a churning that would swear itself perpetual by the continuing struggle between the opposing—or at least incompatible—forces. The result was, as most travelers have experienced, a mild constipation.


“… I … don’t know what to say.”

He bends his left elbow and allows himself to fall, slowly rolling, in that direction. He lies recumbent looking up at the ceiling or beyond. Successive expressions seem to dawn in him yet wilt before they are breathed. Several minutes pass.

“The male ego is a …” she says in a way that could have been intoned with budding anger or fatigue.



Several more minutes pass.

“It’s a strange apparatus.” He says, immediately realizing that his wit could not help.


“Are you pissed?” The emphasis was included to express his surprise. There was a rough protocol in this as in most of even the strangest things, he thought.

“Yeah, I’m not down with that … whack … shit.” She said with staccato bursts like gunfire to which were added an additional measure of shock for the fact that she had never said ‘whack’ before.


“I don’t care about all that…but how do you think that makes me feel when you suddenly don’t want to touch me when hit with the news of your wounded pride.”

“It’s not that…”

“There are other things we could do.”

He had almost no room for the inexpressible feeling he felt at hearing her say this—as if it was written in his mind somewhere—so he continued, “OK, but it’s not like I’m sitting there mourning the suddenly wan prospects of future sexual conquest. It’s embarrassing.”

“It’s self centered.”

“Any woman should know that there is something which factors in onlookers’ presumptive opinions into self-consciousness. I’m thinking about the way you’re thinking about me and I’m embarrassed. Does that help?”


He knelt and hid his face. But he did not do this with the desperation that makes you think that it’ll all go away; nor was it with the thought that if there’s any justice in this world it would demand that you see your end coming. Rather he did it because he knew full well that the way people had looked at him throughout his life—somewhere in between the way you’d stare at a deformity and the way you’d stare at a star—would offer him a singularity that he’d gladly refuse today (or so he flattered himself offering testament to his enduring arrogance: he wasn’t that good looking).

It didn’t work today. The thought which typically followed from someone just missing a train—If I hadn’t checked the part in my hair again I would have made it—was usually silenced when Tic thought that he had more foresight than he should already (the fact that this assuaged regrets about the past, notwithstanding. Silly? Yes, but so marches the mind of someone who thinks they’ve a gift). Today nothing of the sort took place. Today the world did not approach him in the ways he’d thought had been agreed to. The thought occurred to him that it’s the sort of people who think they hold themselves to high standards that never apologize because they’d have to acknowledge more than just the fact that they were wrong—they’d have to acknowledge that the world was not as they’d thought.

Looking back he might have known something was going to happen. (But I suppose looking back you always might have known something was about to happen.)


“Are those underwear between the couch and the wall clean or dirty?”

“Sort of in between.”

“You know God loves you just the way you are but he loves you too much to let you stay like that.”

“Don’t you ever feel like the only part of this world that isn’t tragic is that sliver that’s pressed between our wet, naked bodies?”

“Why are we wet?”



“Even within us, there’s just no way around it. We are being pulled apart by the horrors of this world. Sometimes it feels like a breeze. But it can’t be resisted for too long.”

“You’ve got honey in your voice tonight.”

He laid his head on her lap.


People started calling him Tic because he once got so high he started very lightly convulsing. Tic would seem a cruel nickname for someone given to fits but people will tell you that he sought them out—he liked being so high that he had almost no control over such things. There is an argument to be made that this was a gift from his mother who, in somewhat similar fashion, enjoyed offering reports on the progress of her indigestion to her child. He’d always assumed that one of the reasons she did this was because she liked that physical manifestations substantiated the depression in her which people stopped believing long ago. At the very least these things interested Tic: psycho-sexuality; psychosomatics; telekinesis; etc. However whatever the latent abilities and mechanics of the mind, the force with which it could turn against you—should capitulation to the demands of those around make strategic sense—was not to be underestimated.

‘Where was she’, he thought. Surely there should have been something in the immutable shape of the world which would bring her back—something like the thing that brings your bowling ball back. Then he remembered a party he had been at years earlier. He walked up to a girl and said “Don’t I know you? Weren’t we on that game show together called ‘Name that Jewish athlete’?” She played along by saying “Yes, you beat me in the lightning round by answering Moses Malone.” He approached her again later and said “Say we don’t know each other and I’ll walk out the door.” She did and he did.

He lay in his bed. Since she left him, he’d gotten into the habit of turning the music off and giving himself a good talking to before falling asleep—not in the way that a high school guidance counselor would give someone one about the need for extracurricular activities to show breadth and initiative, more in the way that a father might attempt to get to know his son again after the son took to calling him ‘guy’. But as the morning, seeming as it did to gather around itself, was able to spare enough to light his lime green walls, being alone with his thoughts was not necessarily what he wanted. Still, he always believed—and the trite formulation belied the vindication he’d found in its results—that it was those thoughts that were only half thought—the other half consisting of drift, spectacle and, perhaps, his ideas about proper pant length (to wit, no sense in waiting for the creeks to rise before you realize that pants that are too long just don’t drape right) etc.—which were damaging. Occasionally these cathartic assignments were crowned with a sort of prancing distribution of forgiveness—a leftover from a revelation during a college course called, Poli Sci 606: justice as love and benevolence (grade: B-; student won’t stop giving hugs; pretext suspected). But today his mind could not seem to pass the psychic fog of morning. An adherent to his previously mentioned theory might have argued that as he had only just woken he did not yet have the cognitive heft to complete his rounds, rather than thinking it demonstrative of some inherent flaws in the theory and its practice. He tried a quick service of forgiveness—but there was no one to forgive. He thought of the way that the color of the room and his lifestyle were almost full realizations of a dream he had had years earlier which, reduced to its simplest terms, could be called a desire to live in the seventies—though he had long since lost the feeling which he pursued into that desire (something about the supernatural properties of earth tones and the way you can smell peace on polyester in the wind) and certainly found nothing waiting for him here at the finish line. He thought of his dream from the night before but in it he found nothing indicative of any other world such to lend the morning additional enchantment—rather, just a stale reordering of the same world (more specifically, the same world but with daily boat tours through the typically dry halls of his days). He thought of the stricken and the charmed (would someone with congenital whooping couch feel their mind halved the way he sometimes did?). He thought of the sleep which he sought as a mother tongue wrapping him in its warm folds. He thought of the ‘other things’ they could have done. He thought of the girls whom must have been lined with breeze-spread and wave-washed Newport pleasure: girls whose blue eyes lit up at the mention of perennials. He thought of a life lived through a gradual transformation as his mind narrowed and the bright waters rose. He thought of another girl from whom you’d leave to go to work and you’d think only split-hoofed devils could force such separation. He thought of another girl the facility and fluidity of separation from whom was like a wire. He thought that everything is irrevocably sheathed and that beauty—like all things—can only live within its own confines. There’s no access at the middle. To enter, you’d have to trace it back to an arguably imaginary beginning and start re-writing it. Whether that’d help him remember or forget was unclear to him.


Creative Commons License