Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Indexer

This is a manicule, or pointing finger.
Source: This site 

     This is a riff on The Hit Man by T. Coraghessan Boyle. It was a writing exercise suggested by Stephen Graham Jones
     I have the odd urge to remind you that this is fiction, but then I had the odd urge to put these section headings in alphabetical order. Some urges I resist. Some I don't. 

The Indexer
The Early Years
  The indexer’s soft skull bones knit together flat while she looks through the bars of the crib. The world on the other side fits into rectangles. She sorts buttons by color and size. The vase on the wall has a red bird painted on the side. One day it flies across the room and shatters. Words, unexpected, open their wings and change from wall flowers to weapons. 
  Her grades are unremarkable. Her spelling is atrocious and riddled with marks that aren’t even letters.
In Circulation
The indexer likes both LC and Dewey cataloguing systems. The Gov Docs system is designed to lose and hide information; that’s what she thinks. She is in favor of anarchy everywhere outside of the library.
First Date
Art History is charming and glossy, but such a dick. She does a thorough and enthusiastic job. Her spit, sweat, and tears don’t soften his heart. He cuts all the subheadings so there are long strings of page numbers. She hates him until she sees the blueline proof; the spare remains run down the center of the page like the skeleton of a delicate fish. It is beautiful. Useless, in her professional opinion, but beautiful. 
Mother’s Death
The indexer refuses to index genealogies. 
Bar Fight
The doctoral student in semiotics says, “That’s all done with computers now.”
“Oh,” she says. “You want to play? I’ll rack the balls. You break.”
He assumes it’s a game of pool.
“Context is everything,” she says when she steps over him on the way to the door.
The indexer actively seeks out entries beginning with q, y, and z. She is uneasy when the entire alphabet isn’t represented.
The Ps aren’t the problem; the problem is the Qs.  See also Moods.
“Where is Kremlinology?” asks the client. “And Ben Nighthorse Campbell?”
“What?” says the indexer.
“They aren’t in the index,” says the client.
“This is strange,” says the indexer. “I will search for those subjects and revise accordingly.” She finds nothing. She worries and double checks with the press to make certain she has the final pass pages. She reads the pages in reverse order to make certain she see every word. 
“Sorry,” says the client. “Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Kremlinology aren’t in this book. Isn’t that funny? I confused the book with some papers I’m working on! Ha!”
The indexer is sorely tempted to add an entry to the index: Asshattery, human, 1-365. She doesn’t do it because that page range is too big to be useful. 
Sure she spends nights with Texas History and Political Economics, but Science is the boy she always has her eye on—even though she has to stand on a higher step to look into his eyes.
The pages she reads haunt her body like a virus. Blisters bloom and crack on her tongue. She collects specimens of the fluid for diagnosis. Her Doctor tells her with a sweet Castilian lisp that there is nothing to be done. The indexer uses the serum to refill the ink cartridges of her printer. Inexplicably, she begins writing fiction. 
Her output rivals Asimov’s, but nobody know about it.
The cost of making mistakes is clear to her. She knows several skeletons are missing from the Whale Bone Vault. She hears of Hooker’s failure to number Darwin’s fossilsAnd she? She touched the wrong key so long ago, and now she can’t find the passage about the Civil War soldiers in a they paused to twine their guns with flowers and feel the sunshine on their shoulders. She failed to point in the right direction, and now those boys are lost forever. 
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