A note from the editor

I think we should see other people.

I asked some writers to compose a story or poem that focuses on a character. I live in a place with all these characters. They couple. They room. They drink hairy liquor. They play contact sports.

Where we live, everyone believes books will turn people on. Zadie Smith’s collection of 24 writers, The Book of Other People, knocked my socks off. I was so enraptured by her idea that I wished I had done it. So I did.

Here, with 18 writers — all who live or have lived in a little New England town.

Sara Blaylock
January 2009


Tobie Ludington
Seeing Other People was published in January 2009 by Tobie Ludington.
Please respect the creative property of the 18 fine writers included in this volume. Please also respect the design of Lilly Handley, used in the background of this page and also in the Seeing Other People print edition.
Print editions of this volume are available for $5.00 plus $1.00 s/h.
For author contacts, publishing information, copies, and all other inquiries. please email TobieLudington@gmail.com.

Contains



Mike Young

Gabe Durham

Jono Tosch

Lyndsey Cohen

Edward Mullany

Jeannie Hoag

Rachel B. Glaser

Ari Feld

Lily Ladewig

Brian Mihok

Boomer Pinches

Christy Crutchfield

Heather Christle

Brian Baldi

Jack Christian

Anjali Khosla Mullany

Francesca Chabrier

Seth Landman

Mike Young

Minh-Huyen Wants a Tattoo

Of a beer dipped penny. Of an allowable pillow. wait how bad do u want it? um really bad. hahaha how bad? (this is math, you’re good at math). Breakfast for supper at the Blueberry Twist. On Friday nights, she watches Boy Meets World. TGIF. She’ll graduate in three years, A after A. Her finger makes a Greyhound through the biscuits. Hound gravy. will u get my name tattoed on your chest? um where exactly. i don’t know. i don’t know your chest that well. Enter Corey: fry cook, needs an algebra tutor. is it okay if i call u minn lol thatz my name kind of. Please don’t spill the lighter fluid, MC Oroville. We’ll burn this rice and make the tennis players cough. FUCK ME OH GOD FUCK FUCK FUCK OH GOD YOU FEEL SO GOOD FUCK ME. She sucks him off with her glasses on. Minh-Huyen Meets World. Test the water out here: trace lithium, trace cube steak. <3 ha what’s that? it’s a heart =) oh do u like it? Minh-Huyen is passed out in a nurse’s outfit, flanked by a 40 and a PS2 controller. TGIF. Now she wants a new tattoo. Of a turtle with a hard-on. Of Héloise on a motorcycle. There’s a louder beat, right MC O? Something that’s like, I may loan you one, but I don’t give a fuck. To drown out the boxcar billet-douxs. The initials in the imported palms. Test the equation: so smart you’re bored, then bored into, cracked and spilled and over-easy. Minh-Huyen enters the AM-PM to buy beer for her little sister. No, she thinks. I would trade this for the world. I would press the world’s stupid beard into my cunt and steal all the knives in the house. Minh-Huyen shaves her eyelashes. She goes to medical school, invents a new fix: TGIF. After a trial, it’s fed to all the right names.

Gabe Durham

Joy of Knowing

Although Gabe’s story does not appear in this online version, it is so great that we hope you will purchase a print copy of Seeing Other People so you too can read this compelling adolescent fantasy.

In the meantime, please visit Gabe’s awesome website to read more about his interest in geneology, things that are funny or true, and a cappella.

Jono Tosch

Emily

I visited our home in Carmel.
Do you remember when you said
Half the rooms should be painted
In the spirit of a looming watermelon?
It rained abundantly for one hour
Each time we said hello.
Was it a bone you found in your dumpling?
I remember a conversation about a bird
And the nests it would build
Had it not been partially dead. Nonetheless
I am making progress. Each day
Tensions lead me around
For hours on the landing
And nothing interrupts my flow.
I heard about your sister. I am sorry.
The paper said she had been treated
For wounds.
I know what that means to you.
I have been reading all our letters.

Lyndsey Cohen

She Used To Be A Waitress In Poughkeepsie

The postman came to the door and told Gladys to get spiritual. It feels like a hot bath, he said. She tried to stay positive, but his eyes kept blinking. Do you know how to time travel, he asked. Do you know how to bury in the winter. Gladys wanted to make steak tartare and then cartwheel through the living room. She wanted to be a lamp post or a chimpanzee. But the postman had only two buttons buttoned on his shirt, and he just stood there with his mouth hanging open. She should have been a hunter, she thought. She should know how to kill something with her hands.

Edward Mullany

Roger Ettinger

Roger Ettinger, a department store manager, was a week shy of his forty-second birthday when the following, seemingly unimportant incident occurred in his windowless office at the mall: a common housefly that had somehow survived the winter and was flying in arbitrary circles around his desk and his head, successfully avoiding the occasional swat of his hand, flew into his mouth and was swallowed.

Jeannie Hoag

I’m Not Phyllis

I am not Phyllis, who bathes
in the sun. I am here and
at any moment will be here.
When I come home she is not
waiting for me, she is waiting for me
to leave. The lady behind me
says I am so sorry
I made you wait
to the man behind me,
who is not Phyllis, who is also not
the husband. I am not the husband
of Phyllis, though she calls me
home to her, though she does not
want to see me.
She thinks of leaving me.
The lady behind me considers leaving
her husband, not for the man behind me,
not for any man. Sometimes a lady
just needs to leave, to start over on new snow.
If not in marriage,
there is always the chance
of success in careers, in business attire
and business transactions.
The attraction of careers calls
to the lady, and Phyllis
has a career of calling out the window
to the people below.

Rachel B. Glaser

Paul is the only person

everyone is by mistake butt
Paul is on purpose

millions of people have bodies
by mistake they make careers

Paul Newman is a homepage
his boyhood beats my bookcase

when I saw him I was
now I still am

Paul Newman is cuter than Michaelangelo’s David
and way funnier

Travolta is cheesy
Brando too cruel

a butt is something to butt up against
a man is a space heater

a man hugs you hard
he stretches you out
in the dark with the blanket
it feels Japanese-like
experimenting in the dark

I saw young Paul from my blinds
revving on his ride

I’d already emailed his websites
I said

BLOW SOME DIRT ON MY TOWN’S FACE

it was the only way to touch
I didn’t want him to slow down

Ari Feld

The Homeowner

A steel mill scabbed the pasture. Its stacks jabbed the low-slung sky, pointer fingers, or middle fingers spiking from the raw-knuckled factory roof, goddamning the locked gates and rotting lots and whatever had cut its hands from production. The compound looked like a castle when I loosened my eyes and thought of Transylvania. The women I was staying with had told me that junkies and scavengers scoured the site for copper and nickel. Live wires still veined the place and made their work uncertain. A welder had sculpted a twelve-point buck from the less perilous salvage. The trophy head arched three stories high, its neck sprouting from a boiler, the tips of its antlers visible from the porch where I squatted, swilling gin and waiting for the women to return.

Wood smoke cracked the air. Imitation brick hung in strips from the house across the street. A car with bumper stickers stopped in front of the house. Kids got out and looked up and down the street, trying not to see me. They creaked up the porch and reached for the screen door. A shout met them and they skittered back into the car. It pulled up to the next block and the kids got out and entered a demolished doorframe. “Get off my goddamn porch,” the homeowner shouted. He cracked the screen door and looked around and went back inside. The women had told me to stay on their porch. I took a hit and whistled at a bird through numb lips. Another car drove by. The driver seemed to see the first car and squeaked to a stop behind it. The car idled. A man got out of the back seat and stood by the first car. He leaned back on the passenger side and tried the handles. He scoped the street and scooped something from the curb. I slouched out of sight. He straightened and bricked out the passenger window. The kids shouted from the condemned house. The man got in their car and got it started and squawked away with the other vehicle. The kids unspooled from the stoop and chased the caravan around the block, spilling plunder.

Wood smoke clotted the gusts. I took a hit, mingling the coniferous gin with the smoldering smell tingeing my palate. The screen across the street slapped open and the homeowner stepped out, “Hey, man,” he said, “you got a phone?” I looked around the porch and shook my head. A car thick with chrome and tint coursed the street and wheeled around the barricaded middle school. I tried to whistle. I caught an acrid flavor in the air, like someone was burning trash. The homeowner burst out the screen door, lugging a footlocker and a suitcase. Smoke wisped around him, trellised against the doorframe like dark vines. We stared at each other. I took a hit. He dumped his luggage and plunged back in. Flames slithered between the shingles and the roof sloughed smoke. Cinders popped from the chimney. He kicked the screen from its hinges and dropped a mini-fridge and a stack of LPs on the lawn. He dredged out a TV, a bicycle, folding chairs and a folding table, handfuls of silverware, a hotplate, a baseball bat draped with clothes, a single mattress streaked with smoke, a sewing machine, and toy trucks and dolls. He dropped each haul a little further from the blaze. I could hear fire gnashing the structure. He stumbled out of the gaping inferno, trailing flame and soot like some demon shit from a nightmare. He smacked out the flames and added a coat tree and welcome mat to the rescued articles in the street, righting the kitchenware and furniture, stacking a yard sale. “You want any of this shit?” he said. “I’ll sell it cheap.” Fire engorged the house, spilling from windows and finding new exits. I had to shade my face from the heat. A section of the roof collapsed, splintering into the sky. “Well, fuck you,” he said. “You drunk motherfucker.” I inclined the bottle at him. He left his heap of things and leaned on the stoop. “You don’t have no phone?” he said. I pointed the bottle. He took a hit, “Fuck it, then.” I waved him on and he swilled a long one and wiped his mouth. We sat passing the bottle until flames started to stand out against the dusk. Sirens coming. A husk cradled the embers. A hoop of burnt grass girdled the wreck and smaller fires had sprung up on the next-door roofs. The sirens swelled. He shoved off to stand by his salvage. Lights swirled down the corridor of darkening homes like a fireball, paling as they pulled up in front of the real thing. Firemen swung from their rig, hooking up hoses and cinching gear. I saw the homeowner talking with the chief. He pointed to the smoldering hulk and then at his scraps. The chief marked a pad and nodded along. Jets of forced water hit the flames like a pit of snakes. The chief took out a wallet and picked a couple LPs. She bought the fridge and a lieutenant hefted it into the rig. The homeowner circulated among the firemen. The TV went and the hotplate and the folding table and chairs and most of the rest and when I loosened my eyes the fire truck looked like a moving van for hell. The homeowner mounted his bike. He caromed the length of the empty street and hooted like a surfacing miner.