(not quite) a literary journal


Yakov, With Vassily Not Far Behind, by Rudy Martinez

A year ago, I was sitting in a room in San Marcos (TX), on what I remember was a

somewhat comfortable bed, writing aphorisms for an ex-partner. Had a barely recognizable me

from 2018 knocked on the door of somewhat comfortable me from 2017, he would’ve shared an

odd vision of the future: “A year from now, you’re going to be sitting on the toilet at the IFC

Center (NY), at 11:45 PM, a ticket to Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain in tow, an hour removed

from finishing Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a book about a number of

things, including authorship, the Soviets, the meaningful death of Stalin’s son during World War

II, cows, pigs, sex, consequences, Descartes (see: Cows and Pigs), man’s fall from grace, and the

Prague Spring, amongst a bevy of other things, and because this is the last book you’ll finish in

2018, you want to find a lasting lesson, some wisdom that will remain at your side as you walk

toward the unknown—you’ve been reading a lot since June, because there’s not much else to do

in New York besides buy books and drag yourself to punk shows that make you jealous—so the

one “lesson” gleaned from Kundera’s book comes via the shameless behavior of one of the main

character’s mothers, who apparently understood our species’ fall from grace and so she wasn’t

embarrassed to break wind in front of her friends, much to her young daughter’s chagrin. You’ll

think about this on the toilet and realize that you want your body to be somewhat comfortable

during this odd film—you’ve become a lot more squeamish when confronted with blood or talk

of mental illness (wait until you read through the suicide attempts in The Bell Jar!), so you freely

empty your bowels, not thinking of what the yuppie taking a piss will think because, let’s face it,

everyone who’s ever had a large meal and quite a bit of coffee and cigarettes has been there.”

Future-barely-recognizable me would continue, “And now, for the first time in your

twenties, you’re set to end a year without having consumed hard drugs, having had sex, and best

of all, without any plans for New Year’s Eve.” “Well, what’s the night going to look like?”

“You’re going to get home from that job you hate, frantically type away at your laptop because

you’re desperately trying to overcome writer’s block and think it would be a good omen to end

the year by releasing what some might deem as esoteric rambly trash on Sybil, and then keep

reading that book about The Russian Revolution—you’re becoming further disillusioned with

Marxism after learning how much of a mess Russia was from February 1917 onwards, and

realizing that you have much in common with the generalized image of Lenin: A sectarian

troublemaker with authoritarian tendencies. I guess you can take solace in the fact that you’re

beginning the year reading the work of a female historian (enough of your DeLillo novels,

damnit!) (though, let’s not really sell that point to strangers you meet, since it’ll seem like a

cheap attempt of keeping up with the times, dig?).” “Have I known New Year’s Eve was going

to be this, er, subtle for a while?” “You have, but to quote Nigel from Children of Men, you ‘just

don’t think about it.’” “Sounds like New York’s really done a number on me, hey? I suppose it

still beats being here though, right?” Future-barely-recognizable me, standing on the foot of past

me’s bed, would tilt his head, mixing curiosity with pity, ala Alexander the Great, slightly smile,

glance up while processing the naivete that seems so natural to those on the precipice of major

change, and place a folded piece of paper on the floor. He leaves, and past me lights a cigarette

before reaching for the piece of paper. Smoke fills the room but is quickly picked up and dragged

along by the wind outside:

“This next year’s going to be defined by dissolution. The dissolution of your ego (this

correlates to everything else listed), certain friendships, creative endeavors, your academic career

(we hope this is temporary, but you’re 0-1 on graduate school attempts), your family (I’d rather

you discover the specifics on your own), and to some degree, your mental health. I don’t want to

this to happen to me a year from now, so it’d be swell if you practiced some humility, along with

truly weighing the consequences of your words. This isn’t a Salinger novel and you’re not Zooey

Glass. Now go on, this dream’s over: Reality awaits.”

[Int. High angle. Brooklyn apartment. Early morning. Light rain can be heard outside. RUDY is

waking up on 1 January 2019. He rolls over onto his back, staring at the roof so as to resist the

day, but also trying to recall dreams. Minutes pass and another alarm sounds, RUDY sighs and

gets up: It’s time to go to work.]

Cut to Black.

Tip Jar