Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

Mourning Crazy Horse

Mourning Crazy Horse
by Harold Jaffe

Hardcover
1982
Price: $19.75

Paperback
1982
Price: $12.50

Buy



Twenty intersecting tales of estranged love, poltical oppression and the human comedy.  In "Mourning Crasy Horse," the Sioux chief's betrayal and final passion and counterpointed with a contemporary American's journey across the United Stated.  "Underbelly (1)" details the bizarre goings on of a yogi who falls in with a pornographer and his band of outcasts.  "Moctezuma's Dreamer" investigates the relationship between enforced deprivation and art, whereas "The Artificial Son" is concerned with the deprivation which promotes kinship, union.  "Swede" is the first of several narratives in which Rosen the humpbacked dwarf practices social commitment on the unwary.


 

"In Harold Jaffe's fiction I always sense that jolt of awareness that comes from seeing the raw need.  Jaffe's people find themselves in the wrong place for what they need, always.  They don't even have words to express what they need.  Jaffe gives us the words they would speak, if only they could, and he expects us to do something about it." —Jerry Bumpus


"Jaffe's intense stereoscopic visions encompass a powerful and contagious sense of mystery, absurdity, and moral outrage.  He has an eye for the marvelously, mythically grotesque, and ear attuned to every ghostly voice." —Joe David Bellamy


 

Excerpt


SWEDE


A large man with rigid broad shoulders, his long back held straight and somewhat stiff.  The exercise trunks worn high, above the navel.  The legs long, well-developed, hairless.  The surprisingly slender ankles sockless in old-fashioned black and white high-top sneakers.  The face pink, rather broad, even-featured, not without refiinement.  But the thinish lips pressed together irritably, and the grey eyes vexed, pained....


The man was obviously a Swede, Rosen called him Nillson.  They met in the exercise room of the Mid-Manhattan YMCA.  "Met" isn't accurate; Rosen saw Nillson, observed him, extrapolated certain crucial data from his appearance, gestures, his encounters with the other exercisers.  Of this last there was almost none: Carlito, a Puerto Rican of chronic cheer, grinned and exchanged a word or two with Nillson.  Supine, side-by-side on their sit-up boards, Carlito might utter something loudly about the weather, and after a pause Nillson would briefly nod his head, or even venture something in return, softly, his lips scarcely moving, wishing neither his few words nor, particulary, the timbre of his voice to be overheard.


Among the data Rosen accumulated was that Nillson had been in the U.S. for about a decade, that he was unmarried, that he lived alone in a small and depressing flat in the West Side, that his isolation and anger were in the process of unbalancing him.


Rosen of course could not speak with him.  Nor had their eyes ever met.  Once nillson was doing bench-press with rather heavy weight, and after the fourth or fifth repitition became stuck with the large barbell on his chest.  This happened on occasion to others, and always the person stuck would call out for someone to remove the weight.  Nillson didn't call out.  On his back on the narrow bench he struggled silently to push the weight from the chest.  His face reddened violently the tendons in his neck stiffened and swelled; with his utmost effort he could lift the barbell five or six inches off his chest, no more....


Rosen didn't intervene, not yet. 


...It continued, and though there were ten or a dozen other exercisers in the wide room, only Rosen witnessed the Swede's silent, losing battle.  Short of someone intervening, the Swede had but a single recourse, somewhat dangerous and very noisy.  It was to tilt the bar either left or right so that the plates (which were slipped, not fastened, onto the bar) would crash to the floor.  Immediately of couse the lopsided end would tilt perilously and perhaps crash into Nillson's body.


Nillson didn't do this, not wanting to call attention to himself.  Rosen came to his aid, helped lift the bar from his chest and set it on the rack above his head.  Nillson, still very red, was breathing hard; Rosen standing above him, one hand on the bar which rested on the rack.


"Thanks," Nillson said finally, softly, in a slight accent, still on his back, not looking at his intercessor.


"Sure," Rosen said.  He moved away.


When Rosen saw him again nearly a week later, the Swede did not greet him.  He moved from the sit-up board to the dumbbell rack, to the chinning bar where he did four chins, then hung to stretch his vertebrae, to the bench-press station where he did five repetitions--with moderate weight.  Between exercises Nillson leaned his right shoulder against the walls and read the Times. When he was finished in the exercise room he went up stairs to the steam room.  Here he sat on a tile bench with a towel drapped around his waist and his heard in his hands.  After fifteen minutes or so in the steam room, he showered.  Then, with the towel tied about his waist, he went downstairs to the locker room.  He wore shower shoes and walked deliberately with long strides.