Heroes and Villains is a collection of nine short stories from the shadows cast by such legendary figures as Patty Hearst, Richard Nixon, and Charles Manson, and from the denser obscurity of simpler folks. Some of the stories are comic, some almost as sinister as their subjects.
"Jerry Bumpus has an eye for freaks…His place is American space, mainly the Southwest and Midwest: highways, motels, diners, used car lots, golf courses, cabins in the woods. There he unleashes his monsters, watching them settle the territory." —The New Republic
"Novelist Vance Bourjaily has called Jerry Bumpus the 'king of underground writers.' His tightly written, precise, and surrealist stories are definitely not for the squeamish, but the effect is overwhelming." —Library Journal
"Jerry Bumpus is one of those extraordinary writers whose imagination is never dull… His vision will shock, surprise, and intrigue you." —Diane Wakoski
When she came home Marie asked if the girdles
worked. "I don't want to talk about it. I'm not going to waste
weekend thinking about it." She stood with her hands on her hips and
looked around. "Do you know what?"
"We're going to redecorate this place."
Saturday they painted the apartment from one end to
the other. White enamel. The place gleamed. They lugged furniture
around, put things here, then tried them there. Stephanie decided to
get rid of all the old stuff.
"Don't worry?" she said, holding up her hand to
stop Marie's protests which weren't forthcoming. "I'm buying!"
She rushed Marie to the nearest furniture store and
bought two large chairs, black canvas with chrome frames. $300 each!
And two huge straw cockatoos from Haiti to hang on the wall, though
she said she didn't like them but she saw Marie looking at them so
she bought them for her. $120 for the birds. And a new lamp to match
the chairs. And just because she was walking past it, a big ceramic
pot- "We'll save pennies in it. We'll be rich!"
Standing with her hands on her hips, Stephanie told
the clerk that unless all this stuff could be delivered this
afternoon, it was no deal.
They rushed back to the apartment and moved all the
old furniture down to the basement. Stephanie paced up and down
until the new things came. Now the apartment was the way they wanted
it. Simple. Most people would call it bare. Marie was one of those
people. But if Stephanie liked it, Marie liked it.
They would spend all their weekends here, Stephanie
explained, bringing Marie a beer and lighting her cigarette as Marie
tried one of the new chairs. They wouldn't waste their time going
out. They had everything here they needed, right? It was a beautiful
"Sunday is my favorite day," Stephanie confided to
Marie the next morning. "You didn't know that, did you?" Marie
admitted she didn't, and she said she liked Sundays, too. Stephanie
turned on the radio and found some music and they read the newspaper
and sat in the new chairs. Now and then they traded. After lunch
they set up the cardtable and played gin. Late in the afternoon
Stephanie switched on the light and the tall narrow windows
reflected the two of them, framed by the gleaming white walls,
Stephanie jerked the curtains closed. "Go take a
bath. This whole goddamn room stinks. Give yourself a douche, for
Chrissake." She walked down the hall to the bedroom and slammed the
Marie took a douche and showered. She put on double deodorant and, after she had cooled from the shower, her best perfume.
Heroes and Villains
Heroes and Villains