Jesse Jarnow

the island, no. 8

(Short fiction in even shorter increments.)

The Island: no. 1, no. 2, no. 3, no. 4, no. 5, no. 6, no. 7, no. 8, no. 9, no. 10, , no. 11

The death of Andy Byers came as a result of his exposure to Carlos Dias. The two never spoke, Andy Byers’ sister Mimi told me, just sat facing one another under the pennants in Carlos Dias’s room. “He did not tell anybody what happened,” she said, “but Andy Byers knew.” It was said that they were lovers, but a lot is said.

David Mallis, for his part, knew the swiftness of rumor, and distributed his images like currency: jungle, storms, drums. In the end, though, it was clear that David Mallis did not know what he saw, either, or could not describe it. “Make it sound like air,” he told me in high school, as I crafted a letter to Suzanne Camer for him. “Like–” and he made the sound of an exhalation.

Harold Brown at the Ledger compiled David Mallis’s bits into a narrative. He printed it, two columns wide, on the front page. I read it aloud to my father. “This man is steeped in bullshit,” my father said, when the account reached the part about the attack. “Any man can see he does not know what he is talking about.”

“The island, though,” I protested. “It was there.”

“No,” my father replied, perhaps mishearing. “I was not there.”