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RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR

Richard Brautigan
(1 !" # 1 $%&

In Wat'r(')*n Sugar
B**+ On': In Wat'r(')*n Sugar
In Wat'r(')*n Sugar IN WATERMELON SUGAR the deeds were done and done again as my life is done in watermelon sugar I!ll tell you a"out it "e#ause I am here and you are distant Where$er you are% we must do the "est we #an It is so far to tra$el% and we ha$e nothing here to tra$el% e&#e't watermelon sugar I ho'e this wor(s out I li$e in a sha#( near i)EAT* I #an see i)EAT* out the window It is "eautiful I #an also see it with my eyes #losed and tou#h it Right now it is #old and turns li(e something in the hand of a #hild I do not (now what that thing #ould "e There is a deli#ate "alan#e in i)EAT* It suits us The sha#( is small "ut 'leasing and #omforta"le as my life and made from 'ine% watermelon sugar and stones as +ust a"out e$erything here is Our li$es we ha$e #arefully #onstru#ted from watermelon sugar and then tra$elled to the length of our dreams% along roads lined with 'ines and stones I ha$e a "ed% a #hair% a ta"le and a large #hest that I (ee' my things in I ha$e a lantern that "urns watermelontrout oil at night That is something else I!ll tell you a"out it later I ha$e a gentle life I go to the window and loo( out again The sun is shining at the long edge of a #loud It is Tuesday and the sun is golden I #an see 'iney woods and the ri$ers that flow from those 'iney woods The ri$ers are #old and #lear and there are trout in the ri$ers Some of the ri$ers are only a few in#hes wide I (now a ri$er that is half an in#h wide I (now "e#ause I measured it and sat "eside it for a whole day It started raining in the middle of the afternoon We #all e$erything a ri$er here We!re that (ind of 'eo'le I #an see fields of watermelons and the ri$ers that flow through them There are many "ridges in the 'iney woods and in the fields of watermelons There is a "ridge in front of this sha#( Some of the "ridges are made of wood% old and stained sil$er li(e rain% and some of the "ridges are made of stone gathered from a great distan#e and "uilt in the order of that distan#e% and some of the "ridges are made of watermelon sugar I li(e those "ridges "est We ma(e a great many things out of watermelon sugar here , I!ll tell you a"out it , in#luding this "oo( "eing written near i)EAT* All this will "e gone into% tra$elled in watermelon sugar Margar't T*IS MORNING there was a (no#( at the door I #ould tell who it was "y the way they (no#(ed% and I heard them #oming a#ross the "ridge They ste''ed on the only "oard that ma(es any noise They always ste' on it I ha$e ne$er "een a"le to figure this out I ha$e thought a great deal a"out why they always ste' on that same "oard% how they #annot miss it% and now they stood outside my door% (no#(ing I did not a#(nowledge their (no#(ing "e#ause I +ust wasn!t interested I did not want to see them I (new what they would "e a"out and did not #are for it -inally they sto''ed (no#(ing and went "a#( a#ross the "ridge and they% of #ourse% ste''ed on the same "oard. a long "oard with the nails not lined u' right% "uilt years ago and no way to fi& it% and then they were gone% and the "oard was silent I #an wal( a#ross the "ridge hundreds of times without ste''ing on that "oard% "ut Margaret always ste's on it M, Na(' I GUESS /OU ARE 0IN) O- 1URIOUS as to who I am% "ut I am one of those who do not ha$e a regular name My name de'ends on you 2ust #all me whate$er is in your mind If you are thin(ing a"out something that ha''ened a long time ago. some"ody as(ed you a 3uestion and you did not (now the answer That is my name 4erha's it was raining $ery hard That is my name Or some"ody wanted you to do something /ou did it Then they told you what you did was wrong , 5Sorry for the mista(e%! , and you had to do something else That is my name 4erha's it was a game that you 'layed when you were a #hild or something that #ame idly into

RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


your mind when you were old and sitting in a #hair near the window That is my name Or you wal(ed some'la#e There were flowers all around That is my name 4erha's you stared into a ri$er There was some"ody near you who lo$ed you They were a"out to tou#h you /ou #ould feel this "efore it ha''ened Then it ha''ened That is my name Or you heard someone #alling from a great distan#e Their $oi#e was almost an e#ho That is my name 4erha's you were lying in "ed% almost ready to go to slee'% and you laughed at something% a +o(e unto yourself% a good way to end the day That is my name Or you were eating something good and for a se#ond forgot what you were eating% "ut still went on% (nowing it was good That is my name 4erha's it was around midnight and the fire tolled li(e a "ell inside the sto$e That is my name Or you felt "ad when she said that thing to you She #ould ha$e told it to someone else. some"ody who was more familiar with her 'ro"lems That is my name 4erha's the trout swam in the 'ool "ut the ri$er was only eight in#hes wide and the moon shone on i)EAT* and the watermelon fields glowed out of 'ro'ortion% dar( and the moon seemed to rise from e$ery 'lant That is my name And I wish Margaret would lea$e me alone -r'd A LITTLE W*ILE after Margaret left% -red #ame "y *e was not in$ol$ed with the "ridge *e only used it to get to my sha#( *e had nothing else to do with the "ridge *e only wal(ed a#ross it to get to my 'la#e *e +ust o'ened the door and #ame in 5*i%! he said 5What!s u'7! 5Nothing mu#h%! I said 52ust wor(ing away here ! 5I +ust #ame from the Watermelon Wor(s%! -red said 5I want you to go down there tomorrow morning with me I want to show you something a"out the 'lan( 'ress ! 5All right%! I said 5Good%! he said 5I!ll see you tonight at dinner down at i)EAT* I hear 4auline is going to #oo( dinner tonight That means we!ll ha$e something good I!m a little tired of Al!s #oo(ing The $egeta"les are always o$erdone% and I!m tired of #arrots% too If I eat another #arrot this wee( I!ll s#ream ! 5/eah% 4auline!s a good #oo(%! I said I wasn!t really too mu#h interested in food at the time I wanted to get "a#( to my wor(% "ut -red is my "uddy We!$e had a lot of good times together -red had something strange8loo(ing sti#(ing out of the 'o#(et of his o$eralls I was #urious a"out it It loo(ed li(e something I had ne$er seen "efore 5What!s that in your 'o#(et% -red7! 5I found it today #oming through the woods u' from the Watermelon Wor(s I don!t (now what it is myself I!$e ne$er seen anything li(e it "efore What do you thin( it is7! *e too( it out of his 'o#(et and handed it to me I didn!t (now how to hold it I tried to hold it li(e you would hold a flower and a ro#( at the same time 5*ow do you hold it7! I said 5I don!t (now I don!t (now anything a"out it ! 5It loo(s li(e one of those things in9OIL and his gang used to dig u' down at the -orgotten Wor(s I!$e ne$er seen anything li(e it%! I said% and ga$e it "a#( to -red 5I!ll show it to 1harley%! he said 5May"e 1harley will (now *e (nows a"out e$erything there is ! 5/eah% 1harley (nows a lot%! I said 5Well% I guess I had "etter "e going%! -red said *e 'ut the thing "a#( in his o$eralls 5I!ll see you at dinner%! he said 5O0 ! -red went out the door *e #rossed the "ridge without ste''ing on that "oard Margaret always ste's on and #ouldn!t miss if the "ridge were se$en miles wide Char)',./ Id'a A-TER -RE) LE-T it felt good to get "a#( to writing again% to di' my 'en in watermelonseed in( and write u'on these sheets of sweet8smelling wood made "y 9ill down at the shingle fa#tory *ere is a list of the things that I will tell you a"out in this "oo( There!s no use sa$ing it until later I might as well tell you now where you!re at, 6. i)EAT* :A good 'la#e ; <. 1harley :My friend ; =. The tigers and how they li$ed and how "eautiful they were and how they died and how they tal(ed to me while they ate my 'arents% and how I tal(ed "a#( to them and how they sto''ed eating my 'arents% though it did not hel' my 'arents any% nothing #ould hel' them "y then% and we tal(ed for a long time and one of the tigers hel'ed me with my arithmeti#% then they told me to go away while they finished eating my 'arents% and I went away I returned later that night to "urn the sha#( down That!s what we did in those days

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RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


>. The Statue of Mirrors ?. Old 1hu#( @. The long wal(s I ta(e at night Sometimes I stand for hours at a single 'la#e% without hardly mo$ing :I!$e had the wind sto' in my hand ; A. The Watermelon Wor(s B. -red :My "uddy ; C. The "ase"all 'ar( 6D. The a3uedu#t 66. )o# Edwards and the s#hooltea#her 6<. The "eautiful trout hat#hery at i)EAT* and how it was "uilt and the things that ha''en there :It!s a swell 'la#e for dan#ing ; 6=. The Tom" 1rew% the Shaft and the Shaft Gallows 6>. A waitress 6?. Al% 9ill% others 6@. The town 6A. The sun and how it #hanges :Eery interesting ; 6B. in9OIL and that gang of his and the 'la#e where they used to dig% the -orgotten Wor(s% and all the terri"le things they did% and what ha''ened to them% and how 3uiet and ni#e things are around here now that they are dead 6C. 1on$ersations and things that ha''en here day to day :Wor(% "aths% "rea(fast and dinner ; <D. Margaret and that other girl who #arried the lantern at night and ne$er #ame #lose <6. All of our statues and the 'la#es where we "ury our dead% so that they are fore$er with light #oming out of their tom"s <<. My life li$ed in watermelon sugar :There must "e worse li$es ; <=. 4auline :She is my fa$ourite /ou!ll see ; <>. And this the twenty8fourth "oo( written in 6A6 years Last month 1harley said to me% 5/ou don!t seem to li(e ma(ing statues or doing anything else Why don!t you write a "oo(7 5The last one was written thirty8fi$e years ago It!s a"out time some"ody wrote another "oo( ! Then he s#rat#hed his head and said% 5Gee% I remem"er it was written thirty8fi$e years ago% "ut I #an!t remem"er what it was a"out There used to "e a #o'y of it in the sawmill ! 5)o you (now who wrote it7! I said 5No%! he said 59ut he was li(e you *e didn!t ha$e a regular name ! I as(ed him what the other "oo(s were a"out% the twenty8three 're$ious ones% and he said that he thought one of them was a"out owls 5/eah% it was a"out owls% and then there was a "oo( a"out 'ine needles% $ery "oring% and then there was one a"out the -orgotten Wor(s% theories on how it got started and where it #ame from 5The guy who wrote the "oo(% his name was Mi(e% he too( a long tri' into the -orgotten Wor(s *e went in may"e a hundred miles and was gone for wee(s *e went "eyond those high 4iles we #an see on #lear days *e said that there were 4iles "eyond those that were e$en higher *e wrote a "oo( a"out his +ourney into the -orgotten Wor(s It wasn!t a "ad "oo(% a lot "etter than the "oo(s we find in the -orgotten Wor(s Those are terri"le "oo(s 5*e said he was lost for days and #ame a#ross things that were two miles long and green *e refused to furnish any other details a"out them% e$en in his "oo( +ust said they were two miles long and green 5That!s his tom" down "y that statue of a frog ! 5I (now that tom" well%! I said 5*e has "lond hair and he!s wearing a 'air of rust8#oloured o$eralls ! 5/eah% that!s him%! 1harley said Sund*0n A-TER I -INIS*E) WRITING for the day it was #lose to sundown and dinner would "e ready soon down at i)EAT* I loo(ed forward to seeing 4auline and eating what she would #oo( and seeing her at dinner and may"e I would see her after dinner We might go for a long wal(% may"e along the a3uedu#t Then may"e we would go to her sha#( for the night or stay at i)EAT* or #ome "a#( u' here% if Margaret wouldn!t (no#( the door down the ne&t time she #ame "y The sun was going down o$er the 4iles in the -orgotten Wor(s They turned "a#( far "eyond memory and glowed in the sundown Th' G'nt)' Cric+'t I WENT OUT AN) STOO) on the "ridge for a while and loo(ed down at the ri$er "elow It was three feet wide There were a #ou'le of statues standing in the water One of them was my mother She was a good woman I made it fi$e years ago The other statue was a #ri#(et I did not ma(e that one Some"ody else made it a long time ago in the time of the tigers It is a $ery gentle statue I li(e my "ridge "e#ause it is made of all things. wood and the distant stones and gentle 'lan(s of watermelon sugar I wal(ed down to i)EAT* through a long #ool twilight that 'assed li(e a tunnel o$er me I lost sight of i)EAT* when I 'assed into the 'iney woods and the trees smelled #old and they were growing steadily dar(er Lighting th' Bridg'/ I LOO0E) U4 through the 'ines and saw the e$ening star It glowed a wel#oming red from the s(y% for that is the #olour of our stars here They are always that #olour

RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


I #ounted a se#ond e$ening star on the o''osite side of the s(y% not as im'osing "ut +ust as "eautiful as the one that arri$ed first I #ame u'on the real "ridge and the a"andoned "ridge They were side "y side a#ross a ri$er Trout were +um'ing in the ri$er A trout a"out twenty in#hes long +um'ed I thought it was a rather ni#e fish I (new I would remem"er it for a long time I saw some"ody #oming u' the road It was Old 1hu#( #oming u' from i)EAT* to light the lanterns on the real "ridge and the a"andoned "ridge *e was wal(ing slowly "e#ause he is a $ery old man Some say that he is too old to light the "ridges and that he should +ust stay down at i)EAT* and ta(e it easy 9ut Old 1hu#( li(es to light the lanterns and #ome "a#( in the morning and 'ut them out Old 1hu#( says that e$ery"ody should ha$e something to do and lighting those "ridges is his thing to do 1harley agrees with him 5Let Old 1hu#( light the "ridges if he feels li(e it It (ee's him out of mis#hief ! This is a (ind of +o(e "e#ause Old 1hu#( must "e ninety years old if he!s a day and mis#hief has 'assed far "eyond him% mo$ing at the s'eed of de#ades Old 1hu#( has "ad eyes and did not see me until he was almost on to' of me I waited for him 5*ello% 1hu#(%! I said 5Good e$ening%! he said 5I!$e #ome to light the "ridges *ow are you this e$ening7 I!$e #ome to light the "ridges 9eautiful e$ening% isn!t it7! 5/es%! I said 5Lo$ely ! Old 1hu#( went o$er to the a"andoned "ridge and too( a si&8in#h mat#h out of his o$eralls and lit the lantern on the i)EAT* side of the "ridge The a"andoned "ridge has "een that way sin#e the time of the tigers In those days two tigers were tra''ed on the "ridge and (illed and then the "ridge was set on fire The fire only destroyed 'art of the "ridge The "odies of the tigers fell into the ri$er and you #an still see their "ones lying on the "ottom in the sandy 'la#es and lodged in the ro#(s and s#attered here and there. small "ones and ri" "ones and 'art of a s(ull There is a statue in the ri$er alongside the "ones It is the statue of some"ody who was (illed "y the tigers a long time ago No"ody (nows who they were They ne$er re'aired the "ridge and now it is the a"andoned "ridge There is a lantern at ea#h end of the "ridge Old 1hu#( lights them e$ery e$ening% though some 'eo'le say he is too old The real "ridge is made entirely of 'ine It is a #o$ered "ridge and always dar( inside li(e an ear The lanterns are in the sha'e of fa#es One fa#e is that of a "eautiful #hild and the other fa#e is that of a trout Old 1hu#( lit the lanterns with the long mat#hes from his o$eralls The lanterns on the a"andoned "ridge are tigers 5I!ll wal( with you down to i)EAT*%! I said 5Oh no%! Old 1hu#( said 5I!m too slow /ou!ll "e late for dinner ! 5What a"out you7! I said 5I!$e already eaten 4auline ga$e me something to eat +ust "efore I left ! 5What are we ha$ing for dinner7! I said 5No%! Old 1hu#( said% smiling 54auline told me if I met you on the road not to tell you what the dinner is tonight She made me 'romise ! 5That 4auline%! I said 5She made me 'romise%! he said iDEATH IT WAS A9OUT )AR0 when I arri$ed at i)EAT* The two e$ening stars were now shining side "y side The smaller one had mo$ed o$er to the "ig one They were $ery #lose now% almost tou#hing% and then they went together and "e#ame one $ery large star I don!t (now if things li(e that are fair or not There were lights on down at i)EAT* I wat#hed them as I #ame down the hill out of the woods They loo(ed warm% #alling and #heery 2ust "efore I arri$ed at i)EAT*% it #hanged i)EAT*!s li(e that. always #hanging It!s for the "est I wal(ed u' the stairs to the front 'or#h and o'ened the door and went in I wal(ed a#ross the li$ing8room towards the (it#hen There was no"ody in the room% no"ody sitting on the #ou#hes along the ri$er% That!s where 'eo'le usually gather in the room or they stand in the trees "y the "ig ro#(s% "ut there was no"ody there either There were many lanterns shining along the ri$er and in the trees It was $ery #lose to dinner When I got on the other side of the room% I #ould smell something good #oming out of the (it#hen I left the room and wal(ed down the hall that follows "eneath the ri$er I #ould hear the ri$er a"o$e me% flowing out of the li$ing8room The ri$er sounded fine The hall was as dry as anything and I #ould smell good things #oming u' the hall from the (it#hen Almost e$ery"ody was in the (it#hen. that is% those who ta(e their meals at i)EAT* 1harley and -red were tal(ing a"out something 4auline was +ust getting ready to ser$e dinner E$ery"ody was sitting down She was ha''y to see me 5*i% stranger%! she said 5What!s for dinner7! I said 5Stew%! she said 5The way you li(e it ! 5Great%! I said

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RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


She ga$e me a ni#e smile and I sat down 4auline was wearing a new dress and I #ould see the 'leasant outlines of her "ody The dress had a low front and I #ould see the deli#ate #ur$e of her "reasts I was 3uite 'leased "y e$erything The dress smelled sweet "e#ause it was made from watermelon sugar 5*ow!s the "oo( #oming7! 1harley said 5-ine%! I said 52ust fine ! 5I ho'e it!s not a"out 'ine needles%! he said 4auline ser$ed me first She ga$e me a great "ig hel'ing of stew E$ery"ody was aware of me "eing ser$ed first and the siFe of the hel'ing% and e$ery"ody smiled% for they (new what it meant% and they were ha''y for the thing that was going on Most of them did not li(e Margaret any more Almost e$ery"ody thought that she had #ons'ired with in9OIL and that gang of his% though there had ne$er "een any real e$iden#e 5This stew really tastes good%! -red said *e 'ut a "ig s'oonful of stew in his mouth% almost s'illing some on his o$eralls 5Ummmm good%! he re'eated and then said under his "reath% 5A lot "etter than #arrots ! Al almost heard him *e loo(ed hard for a se#ond o$er at -red% "ut he didn!t 3uite #at#h it "e#ause he rela&ed then and said% 5It #ertainly is% -red ! 4auline laughed slightly% for she had heard -red!s #omment and I ga$e her a loo( as if to say. )on!t laugh too hard% de#ry /ou (now how Al is a"out his #oo(ing 4auline nodded understandingly 52ust as long as it isn!t a"out 'ine needles%! 1harley re'eated% though a good ten minutes had 'assed sin#e he!d said anything and that had "een a"out 'ine needles% too Th' Tig'r/ A-TER )INNER -red said that he would do the dishes 4auline said oh no% "ut -red insisted "y a#tually starting to #lear the ta"le *e 'i#(ed u' some s'oons and 'lates% and that settled it 1harley said that he thought he would go in the li$ing8room and sit "y the ri$er and smo(e a 'i'e Al yawned The other guys said that they would do other things% and went off to do them And then Old 1hu#( #ame in 5What too( you so long7! 4auline said 5I de#ided to rest "y the ri$er I fell aslee' and had a long dream a"out the tigers I dreamt they were "a#( again ! 5Sounds horri"le%! 4auline said She shi$ered and (ind of drew her shoulders in li(e a "ird and 'ut her hands on them No% it was all right%! Old 1hu#( said *e sat down in a #hair It too( him a long time to sit down and then it was as if the #hair had grown him% he was in so #lose 5This time they were different%! he said 5They 'layed musi#al instruments and went for long wal(s in the moon 5They sto''ed and 'layed "y the ri$er Their instruments loo(ed ni#e They sang% too /ou remem"er how "eautiful their $oi#es were ! 4auline shi$ered again 5/es%! I said 5They had "eautiful $oi#es "ut I ne$er heard them singing ! 5They were singing in my dream I remem"er the musi# "ut I #an!t remem"er the words They were good songs% too% and there was nothing frightening a"out them 4erha's I am an old man%! he said 5No% they had "eautiful $oi#es%! I said 5I li(ed their songs%! he said 5Then I wo(e u' and it was #old I #ould see the lanterns on the "ridges Their songs were li(e the lanterns% "urning oil ! 5I was a little worried a"out you%! 4auline said 5No%! he said 5I sat down in the grass and leaned u' against a tree and fell aslee' and had a long dream a"out the tigers% and they sang songs "ut I #an!t remem"er the words Their instruments were ni#e% too They loo(ed li(e the lanterns ! Old 1hu#(!s $oi#e slowed down *is "ody (e't rela&ing until it seemed as if he had always "een in that #hair% his arms gently resting on watermelon sugar M*r' C*n1'r/ati*n at i D EA TH 4AULINE AN) I went into the li$ing8room and sat down on a #ou#h in the gro$e of trees "y the "ig 'ile of ro#(s There were lanterns all around us I too( her hand in mine *er hand had a lot of strength gained through the 'ro#ess of gentleness and that strength made my hand feel se#ure% "ut there was a #ertain e&#itement% too She sat $ery #lose to me I #ould feel the warmth of her "ody through her dress In my mind the warmth was the same #olour as her dress% a (ind of golden 5*ow!s the "oo( #oming along7! she said 5-ine%! I said 5What!s it a"out7! she said 5Oh% I don!t (now%! I said 5Is it a se#ret7! she said% smiling 5No%! I said 5Is it a roman#e li(e some of the "oo(s from the -orgotten Wor(s7! 5No%! I said 5It!s not li(e those "oo(s ! 5I remem"er when I was a #hild%! she said 5We used to "urn those "oo(s for fuel There were so many of them They "urned for a long time% "ut there aren!t that many now ! 5No% it!s +ust a "oo(%! I said 5All right%! she said 5I!ll get off you% "ut you #an!t "lame a 'erson for "eing #urious No"ody has

RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


written a "oo( here for so long 1ertainly not in my lifetime ! -red #ame in from washing the dishes *e saw us u' in the trees Lanterns illuminated us 5*ello% u' there%! he yelled 5*i%! we shouted down -red wal(ed u' to us% #rossing a little ri$er that flowed into the main ri$er at i)EAT* *e #ame a#ross a small metal "ridge that rang out his footste's I "elie$e that "ridge was found in the -orgotten Wor(s "y in9OIL *e "rought it down here and 'ut it in 5Than(s for doing the dishes%! 4auline said 5My 'leasure%! -red said 5I!m sorry to "other you 'eo'le% "ut I +ust thought I would #ome u' and remind you a"out meeting me down at the 'lan( 'ress tomorrow morning There!s something I want to show you down there ! 5I ha$en!t forgotten%! I said 5What!s it a"out7! 5I!ll show you tomorrow ! 5Good ! 5That!s all I wanted to say I (now you 'eo'le ha$e a lot to tal( a"out% so I!ll go now That #ertainly was a good dinner% 4auline ! 5)o you still ha$e that thing you showed me today7! I said 5I!d li(e 4auline to see it! 5What thing7! 4auline said 5Something -red found in the woods today ! 5No% I don!t ha$e it%! -red said 5I left it in my sha#( I!ll show it to you tomorrow at "rea(fast ! 5What is it7! 4auline said 5We don!t (now what it is%! I said 5/eah% it!s a strange8loo(ing thing%! -red said 5It!s li(e one of those things from the -orgotten Wor(s ! 5Oh%! 4auline said 5Well% anyway% I!ll show it to you tomorrow at "rea(fast! 5Good%! she said 5I loo( forward to seeing it Whate$er it is Sounds 'retty mysterious ! 5O0% then%! -red said 5I!ll "e going now 2ust wanted to remind you a"out seeing me tomorrow at the 'lan( 'ress It!s (ind of im'ortant ! 5)on!t feel as if you should rush off%! I said 52oin us for a while Sit down ! 5No% no% no Than( you% anyway%! -red said 5There!s something I ha$e to do u' at my sha#( ! 5O0%! I said 5Good"ye ! 5Than(s again for doing the dishes%! 4auline said 5Thin( nothing of it ! A L*t *2 G**dnight/ IT WAS NOW GETTING LATE and 4auline and I went down to say goodnight to 1harley We #ould "arely see him sitting down on his #ou#h% near the statues that he li(es and the 'la#e where he "uilds a small fire to warm himself on #old nights 9ill had +oined him and they were sitting there together% tal(ing with great interest a"out something 9ill was wa$ing his arms in the air to show a 'art of the #on$ersation 5We #ame down to say goodnight%! I said% interru'ting them 5Oh% hi%! 1harley said 5/eah% goodnight I mean% how are you 'eo'le doing7! 5O0%! I said 5That was a wonderful dinner%! 9ill said 5/eah% that was really fine%! 1harley said 5Good stew ! 5Than( you ! 5See you tomorrow%! I said 5Are you going to s'end the night here at i)EAT*7! 1harley said 5No%! I said 5I!m going to s'end the night with 4auline ! 5That!s good%! 1harley said 5Goodnight! 5Goodnight ! 5Goodnight ! 5Goodnight ! 3'g'ta4)'/ 4AULINE S S*A10 was a"out a mile from i)EAT* She doesn!t s'end mu#h time there It!s "eyond the town There are a"out 375 of us here in watermelon sugar A lot of 'eo'le li$e in the town% "ut some li$e in sha#(s at other 'la#es% and there are of #ourse we who li$e at i)EAT* There were +ust a few lights on in the town% other than the street lam's )o# Edwards! light was on *e always has a lot of trou"le slee'ing at night The s#hooltea#her!s light was on% too *e was 'ro"a"ly wor(ing on a lesson for the #hildren We sto''ed on the "ridge a#ross the ri$er There were 'ale green lanterns on the "ridge They were in the sha'e of human shadows 4auline and I (issed *er mouth was moist and #ool 4erha's "e#ause of the night I heard a trout +um' in the ri$er% a late +um'er The trout made a narrow doorli(e s'lash There was a statue near"y The statue was of a giganti# "ean That!s right% a "ean Some"ody a long time ago li(ed $egeta"les and there are twenty or thirty statues of $egeta"les s#attered here and there in watermelon sugar There is the statue of an arti#ho(e near the shingle fa#tory and a ten8foot #arrot near the trout hat#hery at i)EAT* and a head of lettu#e near the s#hool and a "un#h of onions near the entran#e to the -orgotten Wor(s and there are other $egeta"le statues near 'eo'le!s sha#(s and a ruta"aga "y the "all 'ar(
!

RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


A little ways from my sha#( there is the statue of a 'otato I don!t 'arti#ularly #are for it% "ut a long time ago some"ody lo$ed $egeta"les I on#e as(ed 1harley if he (new who it was% "ut he said he didn!t ha$e the slightest idea 5Must ha$e really li(ed $egeta"les% though%! 1harley!d said 5/eah%! I!d said 5There!s the statue of a 'otato right near my sha#( ! We #ontinued u' the road to 4auline!s 'la#e We 'assed "y the Watermelon Wor(s It was silent and dar( Tomorrow morning it would "e filled with light and a#ti$ity We #ould see the a3uedu#t It was a long long shadow now We #ame to another "ridge a#ross a ri$er There were the usual lanterns on the "ridge and statues in the ri$er There were a doFen or so 'ale lights #oming u' from the "ottom of the ri$er They were tom"s We sto''ed 5The tom"s loo( ni#e tonight%! 4auline said 51ertainly do%! I said 5There are mostly #hildren here% aren!t there7! 5/es%! I said 5They!re really "eautiful tom"s%! 4auline said Moths fluttered a"o$e the light that #ame out of the ri$er from the tom"s "elow There were fi$e or si& moths fluttering o$er ea#h tom" Suddenly a "ig trout +um'ed out of the water a"o$e a tom" and got one of the moths The other moths s#attered and then #ame "a#( again% and the same trout +um'ed again and got another moth *e was a smart old trout The trout did not +um' any more and the moths fluttered 'ea#efully a"o$e the light #oming from the tom"s Margar't Again 5*OW!S MARGARET ta(ing all this7! 4auline said 5I don!t (now%! I said 5Is she hurt or mad or what7 )o you (now how she feels7! 4auline said 5*as she tal(ed to you a"out it sin#e you told her7 She hasn!t tal(ed to me at all I saw her yesterday near the Watermelon Wor(s I said hello "ut she wal(ed 'ast me without saying anything She seemed terri"ly u'set ! 5I don!t (now how she feels%! I said 5I thought she!d "e at i)EAT* tonight% "ut she wasn!t there%! 4auline said 5I don!t (now why I thought she!d "e there I +ust had a feeling "ut I was wrong *a$e you seen her7! 5No%! I said 5I wonder where she!s staying%! 4auline said 5I thin( she!s staying with her "rother ! 5I feel "ad a"out this Margaret and I were su#h good friends All the years we!$e s'ent together at i)EAT*%! 4auline said 5We were almost li(e sisters I!m sorry that things had to wor( out this way% "ut there was nothing we #ould do a"out it ! 5The heart is something else No"ody (nows what!s going to ha''en%! I said 5/ou!re right%! 4auline said She sto''ed and (issed me Then we #rossed o$er the "ridge to her sha#( 5au)in'./ Shac+ 4AULINE!S S*A10 is made entirely of watermelon sugar% e&#e't the door that is a good8 loo(ing greyish8stained 'ine with a stone door8 (no" E$en the windows are made of watermelon sugar A lot of windows here are made of sugar It!s $ery hard to tell the differen#e "etween sugar and glass% the way sugar is used "y 1arl the window8ma(er It!s +ust a thing that de'ends on who is doing it It!s a deli#ate art and 1arl has it 4auline lit a lantern It smelled fragrant "urning with watermelon8trout oil We ha$e a way here also of mi&ing watermelon and trout to ma(e a lo$ely oil for our lanterns We use it for all our lighting 'ur'oses It has a gentle fragran#e to it% and ma(es a good light 4auline!s sha#( is $ery sim'le as all our sha#(s are sim'le E$erything was in its 'ro'er 'la#e 4auline uses the sha#( +ust to get away from i)EAT* for a few hours or a night if she feels li(e it All of us who stay at i)EAT* ha$e sha#(s to $isit whene$er we feel li(e it I s'end more time at my sha#( than any"ody else I usually +ust slee' one night a wee( at i)EAT* I of #ourse ta(e most of my meals there We who do not ha$e regular names s'end a lot of time "y oursel$es It suits us 5Well% here we are%! 4auline said She loo(ed "eautiful in the light of the lantern *er eyes s'ar(led 54lease #ome here%! I said She #ame o$er to me and I (issed her mouth and then I tou#hed her "reasts They felt so smooth and firm I 'ut my hand down the front of her dress 5That feels good%! she said 5Let!s try some more%! I said 5That would "e good%! she said We went o$er and lay u'on her "ed I too( her dress off She had nothing on underneath We did that for a while Then I got u' and too( off my o$eralls and lay "a#( down "eside her A L*1'6 a Wind WE MA)E a long and slow lo$e A wind #ame u' and the windows trem"led slightly% the sugar set fragilely a+ar "y the wind

RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


I li(ed 4auline!s "ody and she said that she li(ed mine% too% and we #ouldn!t thin( of anything to say The wind suddenly sto''ed and 4auline said% 5What!s that7! 5It!s the wind ! Th' Tig'r/ Again A-TER MA0ING LOEE we tal(ed a"out the tigers It was 4auline who started it She was lying warmly "eside me% and she wanted to tal( a"out the tigers She said that Old 1hu#(!s dream got her thin(ing a"out them 5I wonder why they #ould s'ea( our language%! she said 5No one (nows%! I said 59ut they #ould s'ea( it 1harley says may"e we were tigers a long time ago and #hanged "ut they didn!t I don!t (now It!s an interesting idea% though ! 5I ne$er heard their $oi#es%! 4auline said 5I was +ust a #hild and there were only a few tigers left% old ones% and they "arely #ame out of the hills They were too old to "e dangerous% and they were hunted all the time 5I was si& years old when they (illed the last one I remem"er the hunters "ringing it to i)EAT* There were hundreds of 'eo'le with them The hunters said they had (illed it u' in the hills that day% and it was the last tiger 5They "rought the tiger to i)EAT* and e$ery"ody #ame with them They #o$ered it with wood and soa(ed the wood down with watermelontrout oil Gallons and gallons of it I remem"er 'eo'le threw flowers on the 'ile and stood around #rying "e#ause it was the last tiger 51harley too( a mat#h and lit the fire It "urned with a great orange glow for hours and hours% and "la#( smo(e 'oured u' into the air 5It "urned until there was nothing left "ut ashes% and then the men "egan right then and there "uilding the trout hat#hery at i)EAT*% right o$er the s'ot where the tiger had "een "urned It!s hard to thin( of that now when you!re down there dan#ing 5I guess you remem"er all this%! 4auline said 5/ou were there% too /ou were standing "eside 1harley ! 5That!s right%! I said 5They had "eautiful $oi#es ! 5I ne$er heard them%! she said 54erha's that was for the "est%! I said 5May"e you!re right%! she said 5Tigers%! and was soon fast aslee' in my arms *er slee' tried to "e#ome my arm% and then my "ody% "ut I wouldn!t let it "e#ause I was suddenly $ery restless I got u' and 'ut on my o$eralls and went for one of the long wal(s I ta(e at night Arith('tic T*E NIG*T WAS 1 OOL and the stars were red I wal(ed down "y the Watermelon Wor(s That!s where we 'ro#ess the watermelons into sugar We ta(e the +ui#e from the watermelons and #oo( it down until there!s nothing left "ut sugar% and then we wor( it into the sha'e of this thing that we ha$e. our li$es I sat down on a #ou#h "y the ri$er 4auline had gotten me thin(ing a"out the tigers I sat there and thought a"out them% how they (illed and ate my 'arents We li$ed together in a sha#( "y the ri$er My father raised watermelons and my mother "a(ed "read I was going to s#hool I was nine years old and ha$ing trou"le with arithmeti# One morning the tigers #ame in while we were eating "rea(fast and "efore my father #ould gra" a wea'on they (illed him and they (illed my mother My 'arents didn!t e$en ha$e time to say anything "efore they were dead I was still holding the s'oon from the mush I was eating 5)on!t "e afraid%! one of the tigers said 5We!re not going to hurt you We don!t hurt #hildren 2ust sit there where you are and we!ll tell you a story ! One of the tigers started eating my mother *e "it her arm off and started #hewing on it 5What (ind of story would you li(e to hear7 I (now a good story a"out a ra""it ! 5I don!t want to hear a story%! I said 5O0%! the tiger said% and he too( a "ite out of my father I sat there for a long time with the s'oon in my hand% and then I 'ut it down 5Those were my fol(s%! I said finally 5We!re sorry%! one of the tigers said 5We really are ! 5/eah%! the other tiger said 5We wouldn!t do this if we didn!t ha$e to% if we weren!t a"solutely for#ed to 9ut this is the only way we #an (ee' ali$e ! 5We!re +ust li(e you%! the other tiger said 5We s'ea( the same language you do We thin( the same thoughts% "ut we!re tigers ! 5/ou #ould hel' me with my arithmeti#%! I said 5What!s that7! one of the tigers said 5My arithmeti# ! 5Oh% your arithmeti# ! 5/eah ! 5What do you want to (now7! one of the tigers said 5What!s nine times nine7! 5Eighty8one%! a tiger said 5What!s eight times eight7! 5-ifty8si&%! a tiger said I as(ed them half a doFen other 3uestions. si& times si&% se$en times four% et# I was ha$ing a lot of trou"le with arithmeti# -inally the tigers got "ored with my 3uestions and told me to go away 5O0%! I said 5I!ll go outside !

RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


5)on!t go too far%! one of the tigers said 5We don!t want anyone to #ome u' here and (ill us ! 5O0 ! They "oth went "a#( to eating my 'arents I went outside and sat down "y the ri$er 5I!m an or'han%! I said I #ould see a trout in the ri$er *e swam dire#tly at me and then he sto''ed right where the ri$er ends and the land "egins *e stared at me 5What do you (now a"out anything7! I said to the trout That was "efore I went to li$e at i)EAT* After a"out an hour or so the tigers #ame outside and stret#hed and yawned 5It!s a ni#e day%! one of the tigers said 5/eah%! the other tiger said 59eautiful ! 5We!re awfully sorry we had to (ill your 'arents and eat them 4lease try to understand We tigers are not e$il This is +ust a thing we ha$e to do ! 5All right%! I said 5And than(s for hel'ing me with my arithmeti# ! 5Thin( nothing of it ! The tigers left I went o$er to i)EAT* and told 1harley that the tigers had eaten my 'arents 5What a shame%! he said 5The tigers are so ni#e Why do they ha$e to go and do things li(e that7! I said 5They #an!t hel' themsel$es%! 1harley said 5I li(e the tigers% too I!$e had a lot of good #on$ersations with them They!re $ery ni#e and ha$e a good way of staring things% "ut we!re going to ha$e to get rid of them Soon ! 5One of them hel'ed me with my arithmeti#. 5They!re $ery hel'ful%! 1harley said 59ut they!re dangerous What are you going to do now7! 5I don!t (now%! I said 5*ow would you li(e to stay here at i)EAT*7! 1harley said 5That sounds good%! I said 5-ine Then it!s settled%! 1harley said That night I went "a#( to the sha#( and set fire to it I didn!t ta(e anything with me and went to li$e at i)EAT* That was twenty years ago% though it seems li(e it was only yesterday. What!s eight times eight7 Sh' Wa/ -INALL/ I STO44E) T*IN0ING a"out the tigers and started "a#( to 4auline!s sha#( I would thin( a"out the tigers another day There would "e many I wanted to stay the night with 4auline I (new that she would "e "eautiful in her slee'% waiting for me to return She was A La(4 at -a)/' Da0n 4AULINE 9EGAN TAL0ING in her slee' at false dawn from under the watermelon #o$ers She told a little story a"out a lam" going for a wal( 5The lam" sat down in the flowers%! she said 5The lam" was all right%! and that was the end of the story 4auline often tal(s in her slee' Last wee( she sang a little song I forget how it went I 'ut my hand on her "reast She stirred in her slee' I too( my hand off her "reast and she was 3uiet again She felt $ery good in "ed There was a ni#e slee'y smell #oming from her "ody 4erha's that is where the lam" sat down Th' Wat'r(')*n Sun I WO0E U4 "efore 4auline and 'ut on my o$eralls A #ra#( of grey sun shone through the window and lay 3uietly on the floor I went o$er and 'ut my foot in it% and then my foot was grey I loo(ed out the window and a#ross the fields and 'iney woods and the town to the -orgotten Wor(s E$erything was tou#hed with grey. #attle graFing in the fields and the roofs of the sha#(s and the "ig 4iles in the -orgotten Wor(s all loo(ed li(e dust The $ery air itself was grey We ha$e an interesting thing with the sun here It shines a different #olour e$ery day No one (nows why this is% not e$en 1harley We grow the watermelons in different #olours the "est we #an This is how we do it. seeds gathered from a grey watermelon 'i#(ed on a grey day and then 'lanted on a grey day will ma(e more grey watermelons It is really $ery sim'le The #olours of the days and the watermelons go li(e this, Monday. red watermelons Tuesday. golden watermelons Wednesday. grey watermelons Thursday. "la#(% soundless watermelons -riday. white watermelons Saturday. "lue watermelons Sunday. "rown watermelons Today would "e a day of grey watermelons I li(e "est tomorrow. the "la#(% soundless watermelon days When you #ut them they ma(e no noise% and taste $ery sweet They are $ery good for ma(ing things that ha$e no sound I remem"er there was a man who used to ma(e #lo#(s from the "la#(% soundless watermelons and his #lo#(s were silent The man made si& or se$en of these #lo#(s and then he died There is one of the #lo#(s hanging o$er his gra$e It is hanging from the "ran#hes of an a''le tree and sways in the winds that go u' and down the ri$er It of #ourse does not (ee' time any more

RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


4auline wo(e u' while I was 'utting my shoes on 5*ello%! she said% ru""ing her eyes 5/ou!re u' I wonder what time it is ! 5It!s a"out si& ! 5I ha$e to #oo( "rea(fast this morning at i)EAT*%! she said 51ome o$er here and gi$e me a (iss and then tell me what you would li(e for "rea(fast ! Hand/ WE WAL0E) 9A10 to i)EAT*% holding hands *ands are $ery ni#e things% es'e#ially after they ha$e tra$elled "a#( from ma(ing lo$e Margar't Again6 Again I SAT IN T*E 0IT1*EN at i)EAT*% wat#hing 4auline ma(e the "atter for hot #a(es% my fa$ourite food She 'ut a lot of flour and eggs and good things into a great "lue "owl and stirred the "atter with a "ig wooden s'oon% almost too large for her hand She was wearing a real ni#e dress and her hair was #om"ed on to' of her head and I had sto''ed and 'i#(ed some flowers for her hair when we wal(ed down the road They were "lue"ells 5I wonder if Margaret will "e here today%! she said 5I!ll "e glad when we!re tal(ing again ! 5)on!t worry a"out it%! I said 5E$erything will "e all right ! 5It!s +ust , well% Margaret and I ha$e "een su#h good friends I!d always li(ed you "efore% "ut I ne$er thought we!d e$er "e anything "ut friends 5/ou and Margaret were so #lose for years I +ust ho'e e$erything wor(s out% and Margaret finds someone new and will "e my friend again ! 5)on!t worry ! -red #ame into the (it#hen +ust to say% 5Ummmm , hot #a(es%! and then left Stra04'rri'/ 1*ARLE/ MUST *AEE EATEN a doFen hot #a(es himself I ha$e ne$er seen him eat so many hot #a(es% and -red ate a few more than 1harley It was 3uite a sight There was also a "ig 'latter of "a#on and lots of fresh mil( and a "ig 'ot of strong #offee% and there was a "owl of fresh straw"erries% too A girl #ame "y from the town and left them off +ust "efore "rea(fast She was a gentle girl 4auline said% 5Than( you% and what a lo$ely dress you ha$e on this morning )id you ma(e it yourself7 /ou must ha$e "e#ause it!s so 'retty ! 5Oh% than( you%! the girl said% "lushing 5I +ust wanted to "ring some straw"erries to i)EAT* for "rea(fast% so I got u' $ery early and gathered them down "y the ri$er ! 4auline ate one of the "erries and ga$e one of them to me 5They are su#h fine "erries%! 4auline said 5/ou must (now a good 'la#e to get them% and you must show me where that 'la#e is ! 5It!s right near that statue of a ruta"aga "y the "all 'ar(% +ust down from where that funny green "ridge is%! the girl said She was a"out fourteen years old and $ery 'leased that her straw"erries were a "ig hit at i)EAT* All of the straw"erries were eaten at "rea(fast% and again% as for the hot #a(es. 5These are really wonderful hot #a(es%! 1harley said 5Would you li(e some more7! 4auline said 5May"e another one if there is any more "atter ! 5There!s 'lenty%! 4auline said 5*ow a"out you% -red7! 5Well% may"e +ust one more ! Th' Sch**)t'ach'r A-TER 9REA0-AST I (issed 4auline while she was washing the dishes and went with -red down to the Watermelon Wor(s to see something he wanted to show me a"out the 'lan( 'ress We too( a long leisurely stroll down there% through the morning of a grey sun It loo(ed li(e it might rain "ut of #ourse it would not The first rain of the year would not start until the 6<th day of O#to"er 5Margaret wasn!t there this morning%! -red said 5No% she wasn!t%! I said We sto''ed and tal(ed to the s#hooltea#her who was ta(ing his students for a wal( in the woods While we tal(ed to him all the #hildren sat down in the grass near"y% and were (ind of gathered together li(e a ring of mushrooms or daisies 5Well% how!s the "oo( #oming7! the s#hooltea#her said 5All right%! I said 5I!ll "e $ery #urious to see it%! the s#hooltea#her said 5/ou always had a way with words I still remem"er that essay you wrote on weather when you were in the si&th grade That was 3uite some8 thing 5/our des#ri'tion of the winter #louds was $ery a##urate and 3uite mo$ing at the same time and #ontained a #ertain amount of 'oeti# #ontent /es% I am 3uite interested in reading your "oo( Will you gi$e any hints on what it is a"out7! -red meanwhile loo(ed $ery "ored *e went and sat down with the #hildren *e started tal(ing to a "oy a"out something 5*a$e you e&'anded your essay on weather or is the "oo( a"out something else7! The "oy was $ery interested in what -red was saying A #ou'le of other (ids mo$ed #loser 5Oh% it!s +ust #oming along%! I said 5It!s 'retty hard to tal( a"out 9ut you!ll "e one of the first I!ll show it to when it!s done ! 5I!$e always had faith in you as a writer%! the s#hooltea#her said 5-or a long time I thought a"out

6D

RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


writing a "oo( myself% "ut tea#hing a"sor"s +ust too mu#h of my time ! -red too( something out of his 'o#(et *e showed it to the "oy *e loo(ed at it and 'assed it on to the other #hildren 5/es% I thought that I would write a "oo( a"out tea#hing% "ut so far I!$e "een too "usy tea#hing to write 9ut it is $ery ins'iring to me to ha$e one of my former star 'u'ils #arry the glorious "anner for what I myself ha$e "een too "usy to do Good lu#( ! 5Than( you ! -red 'ut the thing "a#( in his 'o#(et and the s#hooltea#her got all of his students "a#( on their feet% and off they went to the woods *e was tal(ing to them a"out something $ery im'ortant I #ould tell "e#ause he 'ointed "a#( at me% and then he 'ointed at a #loud that was drifting low o$erhead Und'r th' 5)an+ 5r'// AS WE NEARE) the Watermelon Wor(s the air was full of the sweet smell of the sugar "eing "oiled in the $ats There were great layers and stri's and sha'es of sugar hardening out in the sun. red sugar% golden sugar% grey sugar% "la#(% soundless sugar% white sugar% "lue sugar% "rown sugar 5The sugar sure loo(s good%! -red said 5/eah ! I wa$ed at Ed and Mi(e% whose +o" it is to (ee' the "irds off the sugar They wa$ed "a#(% and then one of them "egan #hasing after a "ird There are a"out a doFen 'eo'le who wor( at the Watermelon Wor(s% and we went inside There were great fires going under the two $ats% and 4eter was feeding wood into them *e loo(ed hot and sweaty% "ut that was his natural #ondition 5*ow!s the sugar #oming7! I said 5-ine%! he said 5Lot of sugar *ow are things at i)EAT*7! 5Good%! I said 5What!s this a"out you and 4auline7! 52ust gossi'%! I said I li(e 4ete We!$e "een friends for years When I was a #hild I used to #ome down to the Watermelon Wor(s and hel' him feed the fires 5I!ll "et Margaret!s mad%! he said 5I hear she!s really 'ining for you That!s what her "rother says She!s +ust 'ining away ! 5I don!t (now a"out that%! I said 5What are you down here for7! he said 5I +ust #ame down here to #hu#( a 'ie#e of wood in the fire%! I said I rea#hed o$er and 'i#(ed u' a large 'ine (not and 'ut it in the fire under a $at 52ust li(e old times%! he said The foreman #ame out of his offi#e and +oined us *e loo(ed (ind of tired 5*i% Edgar%! I said 5*ello%! he said 5*ow are you7 Good morning% -red ! 5Good morning% "oss ! 5What "rings you down here7! Edgar said 5-red wants to show me something ! 5What!s that% -red7! Edgar said 5It!s a 'ri$ate thing% "oss ! 5Oh Well% show away% then ! 5Will do% "oss ! 5It!s always good to see you down here%! Edgar said to me 5/ou loo( (ind of tired%! I said 5/eah% I stayed u' late last night ! 5Well% get some slee' tonight%! I said 5That!s what I!m 'lanning on As soon as I get off wor( I!m going straight home to "ed )on!t e$en thin( I!ll eat any dinner% +ust gra" a sna#( ! 5Slee'!s good for you%! -red said 5I guess I!d "etter get "a#( to the offi#e%! Edgar said 5I!$e got some 'a'er wor( to do See you later ! 5/eah% good"ye% Edgar ! The foreman went "a#( to his offi#e% and I went with -red to the 'lan( 'ress That!s where we ma(e watermelon 'lan(s Today they were ma(ing golden 'lan(s -red is the straw "oss and the rest of his #rew was already there% turning out 'lan(s 5Good morning%! the #rew said 5Good morning%! -red said 5Let!s sto' this thing here for a minute ! One of the #rew turned off the swit#h and -red had me #ome o$er $ery #lose and get down on my hands and (nees and #rawl under the 'ress until we #ame to a $ery dar( 'la#e and then he lit a mat#h and showed me a "at hanging u'side down from a housing 5What do you thin( of that7! -red said 5/eah%! I said% staring at the "at 5I found him there a #ou'le of days ago )oesn!t that "eat e$erything7! he said 5It!s got a head start%! I said Unti) Lunch A-TER *AEING A)MIRE) -red!s "at and #rawled out from underneath the 'lan( 'ress% I told him that I had to go u' to my sha#( and do some wor(. 'lant some flowers and things 5Are you going to ha$e lun#h at i)EAT*7! he said 5No% I thin( I!ll +ust ha$e a sna#( downtown at the #afe later on Why don!t you +oin me% -red7! 5O0%! he said 5I thin( they!re ser$ing fran(furters and sauer(raut today ! 5That was yesterday%! one of his #rew $olunteered 5/ou!re right%! -red said 5Today!s meat loaf *ow does that sound7! 5All right%! I said 5I!ll see you for lun#h% then A"out twel$e !

66

RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


I left -red su'er$ising the 'lan( 'ress with "ig golden 'lan(s of watermelon sugar #oming down the #hain The Watermelon Wor(s was "u""ling and drying away% sweet and gentle in the warm grey sun And Ed and Mi(e were #hasing after "irds Mi(e was running a ro"in off Th' T*(4/ ON M/ WA/ to the sha#(% I de#ided to go down to the ri$er where they were 'utting in a new tom" and loo( at the trout that always gather out of a great #uriosity when the tom"s are 'ut in I 'assed through the town It was (ind of 3uiet with +ust a few 'eo'le on the streets I saw )o# Edwards going somewhere #arrying his "ag% and I wa$ed at him *e wa$ed "a#( and made a motion to show that he was on a $ery im'ortant errand Some"ody was 'ro"a"ly si#( in the town I wa$ed him on There were a #ou'le of old 'eo'le sitting in ro#(ing #hairs on the front 'or#h of the hotel One of them was ro#(ing and the other one was aslee' The one that was aslee' had a news'a'er in his la' I #ould smell "read "a(ing in the "a(ery and there were two horses tied u' in front of the general store I re#ogniFed one of the horses as "eing from i)EAT* I wal(ed out of the town and 'assed "y some trees that were at the edge of a little watermelon 'at#h The trees had moss hanging from them A s3uirrel ran u' into the "ran#hes of a tree *is tail was missing I wondered what had ha''ened to his tail I guess he lost it some'la#e I sat down on a #ou#h "y the ri$er There was a statue of grass "eside the #ou#h The "lades were made from #o''er and had "een turned to their natural #olour "y the rain weight of years There were four or fi$e guys 'utting in the tom" They were the Tom" 1rew The tom" was "eing 'ut into the "ottom of the ri$er That!s how we "ury our dead here Of #ourse we used a lot less tom"s when the tigers were in "loom 9ut now we "ury them all in glass #offins at the "ottoms of ri$ers and 'ut fo&fire in the tom"s% so they glow at night and we #an a''re#iate what #omes ne&t I saw a "un#h of trout gathered together to wat#h the tom" "eing 'ut in They were ni#e8loo(ing rain"ow trout There were 'erha's a hundred of them in a $ery small s'a#e in the ri$er The trout ha$e a great #uriosity a"out this a#ti$ity% and many of them gather to wat#h The Tom" 1rew had sun( the Shaft into the ri$er and the 'um' was going away They were doing the glass inlay wor( now Soon the tom" would "e #om'lete and the door would "e o'ened when it was needed and someone would go inside to stay there for the ages Th' Grand O)d Tr*ut I SAW A TROUT that I ha$e (nown for a long time wat#hing the tom" "eing 'ut in It was The Grand Old Trout% raised as a fingerling in the trout hat#hery at i)EAT* I (new this "e#ause he had the little i)EAT* "ell fastened to his +aw *e is many years old and weighs many 'ounds and mo$es slowly with wisdom The Grand Old Trout usually s'ends all of its time u'stream "y the Statue of Mirrors I had s'ent many hours in the 'ast wat#hing this trout in the dee' 'ool there I guess he had "een #urious a"out this 'arti#ular tom" and had #ome down to wat#h it "eing 'ut in I wondered a"out this "e#ause The Grand Old Trout usually shows $ery little interest in wat#hing the tom"s "eing 'ut in I guess "e#ause he has seen so many "efore I remem"er on#e they were 'utting in a tom" +ust a little ways down from the Statue of Mirrors and he didn!t mo$e an in#h in all the days that it too( "e#ause it was su#h a hard tom" to 'ut in The tom" #olla'sed +ust "efore #om'letion 1harley #ame down and shoo( his head sadly% and the tom" had to "e done all o$er again 9ut now the trout was wat#hing $ery intently this tom" "eing 'ut in *e was ho$ering +ust a few in#hes a"o$e the "ottom and ten feet away from the Shaft I went down and #rou#hed "y the ri$er The trout were not s#ared at all "y the #loseness of my a''earan#e The Grand Old Trout loo(ed o$er at me I "elie$e he re#ogniFed me% for he stared at me for a #ou'le of minutes% and then he turned "a#( to wat#hing the tom" "eing 'ut in% the final inlay wor( "eing done I stayed there for a little while "y the ri$er and when I left to go to my sha#(% The Grand Old Trout turned and stared at me *e was still staring at me when I was gone from sight% I thought

6<

RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR

B**+ T0*: inBOIL


Nin' Thing/ IT WAS GOO) TO "e "a#( at my sha#(% "ut there was a note on the door from Margaret I read the note and it did not 'lease me and I threw it away% so not e$en time #ould find it I sat down at my ta"le and loo(ed out the window% down to i)EAT* I had a few things to do with 'en and in( and did them ra'idly and without mista(e% and 'ut them away written in watermelonseed in( u'on these sheets of sweet8 smelling wood made "y 9ill down at the shingle fa#tory Then I thought that I would 'lant some flowers "ut "y the 'otato statue% a "un#h of them in a #ir#le around that se$en8foot 'otato would loo( ni#e I went and got some seeds from the #hest that I (ee' my things in and noti#ed that e$erything was a+ar% and so "efore 'lanting the seeds% I 'ut e$erything "a#( in order I ha$e nine things% more or less. a #hild!s "all :I #an!t remem"er whi#h #hild;% a 'resent gi$en me nine years ago "y -red% my essay on weather% some num"ers :68<>;% an e&tra 'air of o$eralls% a 'ie#e of "lue metal% something from the -orgotten Wor(s% a lo#( of hair that needs washing I (e't the seeds out "e#ause I was going to 'ut them in the ground around the 'otato I ha$e a few other things that I (ee' in my room at i)EAT* I ha$e a ni#e room there off towards the trout hat#hery I went outside and 'lanted the seeds around the 'otato and wondered again who li(ed $egeta"les so mu#h% and where were they "uried% under what ri$er or had a tiger eaten them a long time ago when the tiger!s "eautiful $oi#e had said% 5I li(e your statues $ery mu#h% es'e#ially that ruta"aga "y the "all 'ar(% "ut alas ! Margar't Again6 Again6 Again I S4ENT A *AL- AN *OUR or so 'a#ing "a#( and forth on the "ridge% "ut I did not on#e find that "oard that Margaret always ste's on% that "oard she #ould not miss if all the "ridges in the world were 'ut together% formed into one single "ridge% she!d ste' on that "oard A Na7 SU))ENL/ I -ELT $ery tired and de#ided to ta(e a na' "efore lun#h and went into the sha#( and lay down in my "ed I loo(ed u' at the #eiling% at the "eams of watermelon sugar I stared at the grain and was soon fast aslee' I had a #ou'le of small dreams One of them was a"out a moth The moth was "alan#ed on an a''le Then I had a long dream% whi#h was again the history of in9OIL and that gang of his and the terri"le things that ha''ened +ust a few short months ago Whi/+, in9OIL and that gang of his li$ed in a little "un#h of lousy sha#(s with lea(y roofs near the -orgotten Wor(s They li$ed there until they were dead I thin( there were a"out twenty of them All men% li(e in9OIL% that were no good -irst there was +ust in9OIL who li$ed there *e got in a "ig fight one night with 1harley and told him to go to hell and said he would sooner li$e "y the -orgotten Wor(s than in i)EAT* 5To hell with i)EAT*%! he said% and went and "uilt himself a lousy sha#( "y the -orgotten Wor(s *e s'ent his time digging around in there and ma(ing whis(y from things Then a #ou'le of other men went and +oined u' with him and from time to time% e$ery on#e in a while% a new man would +oin them /ou #ould always tell who they would "e 9efore they +oined in9OIL!s gang% they would always "e unha''y and ner$ous and shifty or ha$e 5light fingers! and tal( a lot a"out things that good 'eo'le did not understand nor wanted to They would grow more and more ner$ous and no a##ount and then finally you would hear a"out them ha$ing +oined in9OIL!s gang and now they were wor(ing with him in the -orgotten Wor(s% and "eing 'aid in whis(y that in9OIL made from forgotten things Whi/+, Again in9OIL was a"out fifty years old% I guess% and was "orn and raised at i)EAT* I remem"er sitting u'on his (nee as a #hild and ha$ing him tell me stories *e (new some 'retty good ones% too and Margaret was there Then he turned "ad It ha''ened o$er a #ou'le of years *e (e't getting mad at things that were of no im'ortan#e and going off "y himself to the trout hat#hery at i)EAT* *e "egan s'ending a lot of time at the -orgotten Wor(s% and 1harley would as( him what he was doing and in9OIL would say% 5Oh% nothing 2ust off "y myself ! 5What (ind of things do you find when you!re digging down there7! 5Oh% nothing%! in9OIL lied *e "e#ame $ery remo$ed from 'eo'le and then his s'ee#h would "e strange% slurred and his mo$ements "e#ame +er(y and his tem'er "ad% and he s'ent a lot of time at night in the trout

6=

RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


hat#hery and sometimes he would laugh out loud and you #ould hear this enormous laugh that had now "e#ome his% e#hoing through the rooms and halls% and into the $ery #hanging of i)EAT*. the indes#ri"a"le way it #hanges that we li(e so mu#h% that suits us Th' Big -ight T*E 9I G -IG*T "etween in9OIL and 1harley o##urred at dinner one night -red was 'assing some mashed 'otatoes to me when it ha''ened The fight had "een "uilding u' for wee(s in9OIL!s laughter had grown louder and louder until it was almost im'ossi"le to slee' at night in9OIL was drun( all the time% and he would listen to no one a"out anything% not e$en 1harley *e wouldn!t e$en listen to 1harley *e told 1harley to mind his own "usiness 5Mind your own "usiness ! One afternoon 4auline% who was +ust a #hild% found him 'assed out in the "athtu"% singing dirty songs She was frightened and he had a "ottle of that stuff he "rewed down at the -orgotten Wor(s *e smelled horri"le and it too( three men to lift him out of the "athtu" and get him to "ed 5*ere are the mashed 'otatoes%! -red said I was +ust 'utting a "ig s#oo' of them on my 'late to soa( u' the rest of the gra$y when in9OIL% who had not tou#hed a single "ite of his fried #hi#(en and it was growing #old in front of him% turned to 1harley and said% 5)o you (now what!s wrong with this 'la#e7! 5No% what!s wrong% in9OIL7 /ou seem to ha$e all the answers these days Tell me ! 5I will tell you This 'la#e stin(s This isn!t i)EAT* at all This is +ust a figment of your imagination All of you guys here are +ust a "un#h of #lu#(s% doing #lu#(y things at your #lu#(y i)EAT* 5i)EAT* , ha% don!t ma(e me laugh This 'la#e is nothing "ut a #la'tra' /ou wouldn!t (now i)EAT* if it wal(ed u' and "it you 5I (now more a"out i)EAT* than all of you guys% es'e#ially 1harley here who thin(s he!s something e&tra I (now more a"out i)EAT* in my little finger than all you guys (now 'ut together 5/ou ha$en!t the slightest idea what!s going on here I (now I (now I (now To hell with your i)EAT* I!$e forgotten more i)EAT* than you guys will e$er (now I!m going down to the -orgotten Wor(s to li$e /ou guys #an ha$e this damn rat hole ! in9OIL got u' and threw his fried #hi#(en on the floor and stom'ed out of the 'la#e% tra$elling $ery une$enly There was stunned silen#e at the ta"le and no one #ould say anything for a long time Then -red said% 5)on!t feel "ad a"out it% 1harley *e!ll "e so"er tomorrow and e$erything will "e different *e!s +ust drun( again and as soon as he so"ers u'% he!ll "e "etter ! 5No% I thin( he!s gone for good%! 1harley said 5I ho'e it all wor(s out for the "est ! 1harley loo(ed $ery sad and we were all sad% too% "e#ause in9OIL was 1harley!s "rother We all sat there loo(ing at our food Ti(' T*E /EARS 4ASSE) with in9OIL li$ing down "y the -orgotten Wor(s and gathering slowly a gang of men who were +ust li(e him% "elie$ed in the things he did% and a#ted his way and went digging in the -orgotten Wor(s and dran( whis(y "rewed from the things they found Sometimes they would so"er u' one of the gang and send him into town to sell forgotten things that were 'arti#ularly "eautiful or #urious or "oo(s whi#h we used for fuel then "e#ause there were millions of them lying around in the -orgotten Wor(s They would get "read and food and whatnot for the forgotten things and so li$ed without ha$ing to do anything "esides dig and drin( Margaret grew u' to "e a $ery 'retty young woman and we went steady together Margaret #ame o$er to my sha#( one day I #ould tell it was her e$en "efore she was there "e#ause I heard her ste' on that "oard she always ste's on% and it 'leased me and made my stoma#h tingle li(e a "ell set a+ar She (no#(ed on the door 51ome in% Margaret%! I said She #ame in and (issed me 5What are you doing today7! she said 5I ha$e to go down to i)EAT* and wor( on my statue ! 5Are you still wor(ing on that "ell7! she said 5/es%! I said 5It!s #oming along rather slowly It!s ta(ing too long I!ll "e glad when it!s done I!m tired of the thing ! 5What are you going to do afterwards7! she said 5I don!t (now Is there anything you want to do% honey7! 5/es%! she said 5I want to go down to the -orgotten Wor(s and 'o(e around ! 5Again7! I said 5/ou #ertainly li(e to s'end a lot of time down there ! 5It!s a #urious 'la#e%! she said 5/ou!re a"out the only woman who li(es that 'la#e in9OIL and that gang of his 'ut the other women off ! 5I li(e it down there in9OIL is harmless All he wants to do is stay drun( ! 5All right%! I said 5It!s nothing% honey Meet me down at i)EAT* later on I!ll "e with you as soon as I 'ut in a few more hours on that "ell ! 5Are you going down now7! she said 5No% I ha$e a few things I want to do here first ! 51an I hel'7! she said

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RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


5No% they!re +ust a few things I ha$e to do alone ! 5O0% then I!ll see you ! 5Gi$e me a (iss first%! I said She #ame o$er and I held her in my arms $ery #lose and (issed Margaret u'on the mouth% and then she went off laughing Th' B')) A-TER W*ILE I went down to i)EAT* and wor(ed on that "ell It was not #oming at all and finally I was +ust sitting there on a #hair% staring at it My #hisel was hanging lim'ly in my hand% and then I 'ut it down on the ta"le and a"sentmindedly #o$ered it u' with a rag -red #ame in and saw me sitting there staring at the "ell *e left without saying anything It hardly e$en loo(ed li(e a "ell -inally Margaret #ame and res#ued me She was wearing a "lue dress and had a ri""on in her hair and #arried a "as(et to 'ut things in that she found at the -orgotten Wor(s 5*ow!s it #oming7! she said 5It!s finished%! I said 5It doesn!t loo( finished%! she said 5It!s finished%! I said 5au)in' WE SAW 1harley as we were lea$ing i)EAT* *e was sitting on his fa$ourite #ou#h "y the ri$er% feeding little 'ie#es of "read to some trout that had gathered there 5Where you (ids going7! he said 5Oh% +ust out for a wal(%! Margaret said% "efore I #ould say anything 5Well% ha$e a good wal(%! he said 5Lo$ely day% isn!t it7 Great "ig "eautiful "lue sun shining away ! 5It sure is%! I said 4auline #ame into the room and wal(ed o$er and +oined us 5*ello% there%! she said 5*i ! 5What do you want for dinner% 1harley7! she said 5Roast "eef%! 1harley said% +o(ing 5Well% that!s what you!ll ha$e then ! 5What a ni#e sur'rise%! 1harley said 5Is it my "irthday7! 5No *ow are you 'eo'le7! 5We!re fine%! I said 5We!re going for a wal(%! Margaret said 5That sounds li(e fun See you later ! Th' -*rg*tt'n W*r+/ NO9O)/ 0NOWS how old the -orgotten Wor(s are% rea#hing as they do into distan#es that we #annot tra$el nor want to No"ody has "een $ery far into the -orgotten Wor(s% e&#e't that guy 1harley said who wrote a "oo( a"out them% and I wonder what his trou"le was% to s'end wee(s in there The -orgotten Wor(s +ust go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on /ou get the 'i#ture It!s a "ig 'la#e% mu#h "igger than we are Margaret and I went down there% holding hands% for we were going steady% through the sun of a "lue day and white luminous #louds drifting o$erhead We #rossed o$er many ri$ers and wal(ed "y many things% and then we #ould see the sun refle#ting off the roofs at in9OIL!s "un#h of lea(y sha#(s whi#h were at the entran#e to the -orgotten Wor(s There is a gate right there 9eside the gate is the statue of a forgotten thing There is a sign a"o$e the gate that says. T*IS IS T*E ENTRAN1E TO T*E -ORGOTTEN WOR0S 9E 1ARE-UL /OU MIG*T GET LOST A C*n1'r/ati*n 0 i th Tr a/ h in9OIL #ame out to greet us *is #lothes were all wrin(led and dirty and so was he *e loo(ed li(e a mess and he was drun( 5*ello%! he said 5)own here again% huh7! he said% more to Margaret than to me% though he loo(ed at me when he said it That!s the (ind of 'erson in9OIL is 52ust $isiting%! I said *e laughed at that A #ou'le of other guys #ame out of sha#(s and stared at us They all loo(ed li(e in9OIL They had made the same mess out of themsel$es "y "eing e$il and drin(ing that whis(y made from forgotten things One of them% a yellow8haired one% sat down on a 'ile of disgusting o"+e#ts and +ust stared at us li(e he was an animal 5Good afternoon% in9OIL%! Margaret said 5Same to you% 'retty ! Some of in9OIL!s trash laughed at that and I loo(ed at them hard and they shut u' One of them wi'ed his hand a#ross his mouth and went inside his sha#( 52ust "eing so#ial%! in9OIL said 5)on!t ta(e no offen#e ! 5We!re +ust down here to loo( at the -orgotten Wor(s%! I said 5Well% she!s all yours%! in9OIL said% 'ointing at the -orgotten Wor(s that gradually towered a"o$e us until the "ig 'iles of forgotten things were mountains that went on for at least a million miles In Th'r' /OU MIG*T GET LOST and we wal(ed through the gate into the -orgotten Wor(s Margaret started 'o(ing around for things that she might li(e There were no 'lants growing and no animals li$ing in the -orgotten Wor(s There was not e$en so mu#h

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RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


as a "lade of grass in there% and the "irds refused to fly o$er the 'la#e I sat down on something that loo(ed li(e a wheel and wat#hed Margaret ta(e a forgotten sti#(8li(e thing and 'o(e around a small 'ile of stuffed things I saw something lying at my feet It was a 'ie#e of i#e froFen into the sha'e of a thum"% "ut the thum" had a hum' on it It was a hun#h"a#( thum" and $ery #old "ut started to melt in my hand The fingernail melted away and then I dro''ed the thing and it lay at my feet% not melting any more% though the air was not #old and the sun was hot and "lue in the s(y 5*a$e you found anything you li(e7! I said Th' Ma/t'r *2 th' -*rg*tt'n W*r+/ in9OIL #ame in and +oined us It did not o$erly 'lease me to see him *e had a "ottle of whis(y with him *is nose was red 5-ind anything you li(e7! in9OIL said 5Not yet%! Margaret said I ga$e in9OIL a dirty loo( "ut it rolled off him li(e water off a du#(!s "a#( 5I found some real good interesting things today%! in9OIL said 52ust "efore I went to ha$e lun#h ! Lun#hG 5They!re a"out a 3uarter of a mile in I #an show you the 'la#e%! in9OIL said 9efore I #ould say no% Margaret said yes% and I was not ha''y a"out it% "ut she had already #ommitted herself and I did not want to ma(e a s#ene with her in front of in9OIL% so he would ha$e something to tell his gang and they would all laugh That wouldn!t ma(e me feel good at all So we followed that drun(en "um in what he said was only a 3uarter of a mile% "ut it seemed li(e a mile to me% wea$ing in and out% #lim"ing higher and higher into the 4iles 5Ni#e day% isn!t it7! in9OIL said% sto''ing to #at#h his "reath "y a large 'ile of what loo(ed li(e #ans% may"e 5/es% it is%! Margaret said% smiling at in9OIL and 'ointing out a #loud that she 'arti#ularly li(ed That really disgusted me. a de#ent woman smiling at in9OIL I #ould not hel' "ut wonder% what ne&t7 -inally we arri$ed at that 'ile of stuff in9OIL thought was so great and had ta(en us so far into the -orgotten Wor(s to see 5Why% they!re "eautiful%! Margaret said% smiling% and went o$er and "egan 'utting them into her "as(et% the "as(et she had "rought for su#h things I loo(ed at them "ut they didn!t show me anything They were (ind of ugly% if you want the truth in9OIL leaned u' against a forgotten thing that was +ust his siFe Th' Wa, Bac+ MARGARET AN) I had a $ery long and 3uiet wal( "a#( to i)EAT* I did not $olunteer to #arry her "as(et for her It was hea$y and she was hot and sweaty and we had to sto' many times for her to rest We were sitting on a "ridge The "ridge was made from stones gathered at a distan#e and 'la#ed in their 'ro'er order 5What!s wrong7! she said 5What ha$e I done7! 5Nothing!s wrong /ou!$e done nothing ! 5Then why are you mad at me7! 5I!m not mad at you ! 5/es% you are ! 5No% I!m not ! S*('thing i/ G*ing t* Ha77'n T*E NEHT MONT* it ha''ened and no one (new what was #oming *ow #ould we imagine su#h a thing was going on in in9OIL!s mind7 It had ta(en years to get o$er the tigers and the terri"le things they had done to us Why would anyone want to do something else7 I don!t (now )uring the wee(s "efore it ha''ened e$erything went on as normal at i)EAT* I started wor(ing on another statue and Margaret (e't going down to the -orgotten Wor(s The statue did not go well and 'retty soon I was only going down to i)EAT* and staring at the statue It +ust wasn!t #oming along whi#h was nothing new for me I had ne$er had mu#h lu#( at statues I was thin(ing a"out getting a +o" down at the Watermelon Wor(s Sometimes Margaret went down to the -orgotten Wor(s "y herself It worried me She was so 'retty and in9OIL and that gang of his were so ugly They might get ideas Why did she want to go down there all the rime7 Ru(*ur/ TOWAR)S T*E EN) of the month strange rumours "egan #oming u' from the -orgotten Wor(s% rumours of $iolent denoun#ements of i)EAT* "y in9OIL There were rumours a"out him ranting and ra$ing that i)WAT* was all wrong the way we did it% and he (new how it should "e done and then he said we handled the trout hat#hery all wrong It was a disgra#e Imagine in9OIL saying anything a"out us% and there was a rumour a"out us "eing sissies and then something a"out the tigers that no one #ould understand Something a"out the tigers "eing a good deal I went down to the -orgotten Wor(s with Margaret one afternoon I didn!t want to go down there% "ut I didn!t want her to go down there alone either

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RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


She wanted to get more things for her forgotten #olle#tion She already had more things than were ne#essary She had filled her sha#( u' and her room at i)EAT* with these things She e$en wanted to store some of them in my sha#( I said NO I as(ed in9OIL what was u' *e was drun( as usual% and his gang of "ums was gathered around 5/ou guys don!t (now anything a"out MEAT* I!m going to show you something a"out it soon What real i)EAT* is li(e%! in9OIL said 5/ou guys are a "un#h of sissies Only the tigers had any guts I!m going to show you We!re going to show you all ! *e addressed this last thing to his gang They #heered and held their "ottles of whis(y u' high% rea#hing towards the red sun Th' 8a, Bac+ Again 5W*/ )O /OU go down there7! I said 5I +ust li(e forgotten things I!m #olle#ting them I want a #olle#tion of them I thin( they!re #ute What!s wrong with that7! 5What do you mean% what!s wrong with that7 )idn!t you hear what that drun(en "um said a"out us7! 5What does that ha$e to do with forgotten things7! she said 5They drin( the stuff%! I said Dinn'r That Night )INNER T*AT NIG*T was trou"led at i)EAT* E$ery"ody 'layed with their food Al had #oo(ed u' a mess of #arrots They were good% mi&ed with honey and s'i#es% "ut no"ody #ared E$ery"ody was worried a"out in9OIL 4auline didn!t tou#h her food Neither did 1harley Strange thing% though. Margaret ate li(e a horse There had "een a longish 'eriod of silen#e when 1harley finally said% 5I don!t (now what!s going to ha''en It loo(s serious I!$e "een afraid something li(e this was going to ha''en for a long time% e$er sin#e in9OIL got in$ol$ed with the -orgotten Wor(s% and too( to ma(ing that whis(y of his% and getting men to go down there and li$e his (ind of life 5I!$e (nown something was going to ha''en It!s "een due for a long time% and now it loo(s li(e it!s here or will "e shortly 4erha's tomorrow Who (nows7! 5What are we going to do7! 4auline said 5What #an we do7! 52ust wait%! 1harley said 5That!s a"out all We #an!t threaten them or defend oursel$es until they!$e done something% and who (nows what they are going to do7 They won!t tell us 5I went down there myself yesterday morning% and I as(ed in9OIL what was u' and he said% we!d see soon enough They!d show us what i)EAT* really was% none of the false stuff we ha$e What do you (now a"out this% Margaret7 /ou!$e s'ent a lot of time down there lately ! E$ery"ody loo(ed at her 5I don!t (now anything I +ust get forgotten things down there They don!t tell me anything They!re always $ery ni#e to me ! E$ery"ody tried hard not to loo( away from Margaret% "ut they #ouldn!t hel' themsel$es% and loo(ed away 5We #an ta(e #are of anything that ha''ens%! -red said% "rea(ing the silen#e 5Those drun(en "ums #an!t do anything we #an!t handle ! 5/ou "et%! Old 1hu#( said% though he was $ery old 5/ou!re right%! 4auline said 5We #an handle them We li$e at i)EAT* ! Margaret went right "a#( to eating her #arrots as if nothing had ha''ened 5au)in' Again I WAS EER/ ANGR/ with Margaret She wanted to slee' with me at i)EAT*% "ut I said% 5NO% I want to go u' to my sha#( and "e alone ! She was $ery hurt "y this and went off to the trout hat#hery I didn!t #are *er 'erforman#e at dinner had really disgusted me On my way out of i)EAT*% I met 4auline in the li$ing8room She was #arrying a 'ainting that she was going to 'ut u' on the wall 5*ello%! I said 5That!s a lo$ely 'ainting you ha$e there )id you 'aint that yourself7! 5/es% I did ! 5It loo(s $ery good ! The 'ainting was of i)EAT* a long time ago during one of its many #hanges The 'ainting loo(ed li(e i)EAT* used to loo( 5I didn!t (now you 'ainted%! I said 52ust in my s'are time ! 5It!s really a ni#e 'ainting ! 5Than( you ! 4auline (ind of "lushed I had ne$er seen her "lush "efore or 'erha's I had not remem"ered so It "e#ame her 5/ou thin( e$erything is going to "e all right% don!t you7! she said% #hanging the su"+e#t 5/es%! I said 5)on!t worry ! -ac'/ I LE-T i)EAT* and started u' the road to my sha#( It was suddenly a $ery #old night and the stars shone li(e i#e I wished I had "rought my Ma#(inaw I wal(ed u' the road until I saw the lanterns on the "adges They were the lanterns of a "eautiful #hild and a trout on the real "ridge% and the tiger lanterns on the a"andoned "ridge I #ould "arely see the statue of some"ody who had "een (illed "y the tigers% "ut no"ody (nows who it

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RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


was So many were (illed "y the tigers until we (illed the last tiger and "urned its "ody at i)EAT* and "uilt the trout hat#hery right o$er the s'ot The statue was standing in the ri$er "y the "ridges It loo(ed sad as if it did not want to "e a statue of some"ody (illed "y the tigers a long time ago I sto''ed and stared at a distan#e A little while 'assed and then I went to the "ridge I #rossed through the dar( tunnel of the #o$ered real "ridge% 'ast the glowing fa#es% and u' into the 'iney woods towards my sha#( Shac+ I STO44E) ON T*E 9RI)GE to my sha#( It felt good under my feet% made from all the things that I li(e% the things that suit me I stared at my mother She was only another shadow now against the night% "ut on#e she had "een a good woman I went inside the sha#( and lit my lantern with a si&8in#h mat#h The watermelontrout oil "urned with a "eautiful light It is a fine oil We mi& watermelon sugar and trout +ui#e and s'e#ial her"s all together and in their 'ro'er time to ma(e this fine oil that we use to light our world I was $ery slee'y "ut I didn!t feel li(e slee'ing The slee'ier I got% the less I felt li(e slee'ing I lay on my "ed for a long time without ta(ing off my #lothes% and I left the lantern on and stared at the shadows in the room They were rather ni#e shadows for a time that was so ominous% that drew so near and all en#losing I was so slee'y now that my eyes refused to #lose The lids would not "udge down They were statues of eyes Th' Gir) 0ith th' Lant'rn AT LAST I #ouldn!t stand lying there in "ed any longer without slee'ing I went for one of my wal(s at night I 'ut on my red Ma#(inaw% so I wouldn!t "e #old I guess it is this trou"le that I ha$e with slee'ing that #auses me to wal( I went wal(ing down "y the a3uedu#t That!s a good 'la#e to wal( The a3uedu#t is a"out fi$e miles long% "ut we don!t (now why "e#ause there is already water e$ery 'la#e There must "e two or three hundred ri$ers here 1harley himself hasn!t the slightest idea why they "uilt the a3uedu#t 5May"e they were short of water a long time ago% and that!s why they "uilt the thing I don!t (now )on!t as( me ! I on#e had a dream a"out the a3uedu#t "eing a musi#al instrument filled with water and "ells hanging "y small watermelon #hains right at the to' of the water and the water ma(ing the "ells ring I told the dream to -red and he said that it sounded all right to him 5That would really ma(e "eautiful musi#%! he said I wal(ed along the a3uedu#t for a while and then +ust stood there motionless for a long time where the a3uedu#t #rosses the ri$er "y the Statue of Mirrors I #ould see the light #oming from all the tom"s in the ri$er down there It!s a fa$ourite s'ot to "e "uried I #lim"ed u' a ladder on one of the #olumns and sat on the edge of the a3uedu#t% u' a"out twenty feet% with my legs dangling o$er the edge I sat there for a long time without thin(ing a"out anything or noti#ing anything any more I didn!t want to The night was 'assing with me sitting on the a3uedu#t Then I saw a lantern far away and mo$ing out of the 'iney woods The lantern #ame down a road and then #rossed o$er "ridges and went through watermelon 'at#hes and sto''ed sometimes "y the road% first this road and then that road I (new who the lantern "elonged to It was in the hand of a girl I had seen her many times "efore wal(ing at night% o$er the years 9ut I had ne$er seen the girl u' #lose and I didn!t (now who she was I (new she was sort of li(e me Sometimes she had trou"le slee'ing at night It always #omforted me when I saw her out there I had ne$er tried to find out who she was "y going after her or e$en telling anyone a"out seeing her at night She was in a strange way mine and it #omforted me to see her I thought she was $ery 'retty% "ut I didn!t (now what #olour hair she had Chic+'n/ T*E GIRL WIT* T*E LANTERN had left hours ago I #lim"ed down from the a3uedu#t and stret#hed my legs I wal(ed "a#( to i)EAT* in the dawn of a golden sun whi#h would "ring I (new not what from in9OIL and that gang of his We #ould only wait and see The #ountryside was "eginning to stir I saw a farmer going out to mil( his #ows *e wa$ed when he saw me *e had on a funny hat The roosters were "eginning to #row Their "ea( trum'ets tra$elled a loud and great distan#e I arri$ed at i)EAT* +ust "efore sunrise There were a #ou'le of white #hi#(ens that had es#a'ed from a farmer some'la#e out in front of i)EAT* 'e#(ing at the ground They loo(ed at me and then they flew away They were freshly es#a'ed /ou #ould tell "e#ause their wings did not wor( li(e real "irds Bac*n A-TER A GOO) 9REA0-AST of hot #a(es and s#ram"led eggs and "a#on% in9OIL and that gang of his arri$ed drun( at i)EAT*% and it all "egan% then 5This is really a good "rea(fast%! -red said to 4auline

6B

RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


5Than( you ! Margaret was not there I don!t (now where she was at 4auline was there% though She loo(ed good% wearing a 'retty dress Then we heard the front door "ell ring Old 1hu#( said he heard $oi#es "ut it was im'ossi"le to hear $oi#es from that distan#e 5I!ll get the door%! Al said *e got u' and left the (it#hen and wal(ed through the hall that led under the ri$er to the li$ing8room 5I wonder who it is%! 1harley said I thin( 1harley already (new who it was "e#ause he 'ut down his for( and 'ushed his 'late away 9rea(fast was o$er Al #ame "a#( a few minutes later *e loo(ed strange and worried 5It!s in9OIL%! he said 5*e wants to see you% 1harley *e wants to see all of us ! Now we all loo(ed strange and worried We got u' and went through the hall under the ri$er and #ame out in the li$ing8room% right "eside 4auline!s 'ainting We went out on the front 'or#h of i)EAT* and there was in9OIL waiting% drun( 5r')ud' /OU 4EO4LE T*IN0 you (now a"out i)EAT* /ou don!t (now anything a"out i)EAT* /ou don!t (now anything a"out i)EAT*%! in9OIL said% and then there was wild laughter from that gang of his% who were +ust as drun( as he 5Not a damn thing /ou!re all at a mas3uerade 'arty%! and then there was wild laughter from that gang of his 5We!re going to show you what i)EAT* is really a"out%! and then there was wild laughter 5What do you (now that we don!t (now7! 1harley said 5Let us show you Let us into the trout hat#hery and we!ll show you a thing or two Are you afraid to find out a"out i)EAT*7 What it really means7 What a mo#(ery you!$e made of it7 All of you And you% 1harley% more than the rest of these #lowns ! 51ome% then%! 1harley said 5Show us i)EAT* !
5

5/ou are at i)EAT* ! 5What is this7! 5i)EAT* ! 5Oh When are we going to get to i)EAT*7! Margaret was nowhere around I wal(ed "eside 4auline to (ind of shield her from in9OIL and his trash in9OIL saw her and #ame o$er *is o$eralls loo(ed as if they had ne$er "een washed 5*i% 4auline%! he said 5*ow are tri#(s7! 5/ou disgusting man%! she re'lied in9OIL laughed 5I!ll mo' the floor after you lea$e here%! she said 5Where$er you wal( is filth ! 5)on!t "e that way%! in9OIL said 5*ow should I "e7! 4auline said 5Loo( at you ! I had gone o$er to shield 4auline from in9OIL and now I almost had to ste' "etween them 4auline was $ery mad I had ne$er seen 4auline mad "efore She had 3uite a tem'er in9OIL laughed again and then he "ro(e away from her and went u' and +oined 1harley 1harley was not ha''y to see him either It was a strange 'ro#ession tra$elling down the hall 5When are we going to get to in)EAT*7! Th' Tr*ut Hatch'r, T*E TROUT *AT1*ER/ at i)EAT* was "uilt years ago when the last tiger was (illed and "urned on the s'ot We "uilt the trout hat#hery right there The walls went u' around the ashes The hat#hery is small "ut designed with great #are The trays and 'onds are made from watermelon sugar and stones gathered at a great distan#e and 'la#ed there in the order of that distan#e The water for the hat#hery #omes from the little ri$er that +oins u' later with the main ri$er in the li$ing8room The sugar used is golden and "lue There are two 'eo'le "uried at the "ottom of the 'onds in the hat#hery /ou loo( down 'ast the young trout and see them lying there in their #offins% staring from "eyond the glass doors They wanted it that way% so they got it% "eing as they were (ee'ers of the hat#hery and at the same time% 1harley!s fol(s The hat#hery has a "eautiful tile floor with the tiles 'ut together so gra#efully that it!s almost li(e musi# It!s a swell 'la#e to dan#e There is a statue of the last tiger in the hat#hery The tiger is on fire in the statue We are all wat#hing it inBOILS iDEATH ALL RIG*T%! 1harley said 5Tell us a"out i)EAT* We!re #urious now a"out what you!$e "een saying for years a"out us not (nowing a"out i)EAT*% a"out you (nowing all the answers Let!s hear some of those answers !
5

An E9chang' in9OIL and that gang of his staggered into i)EAT* 5What a dum'%! one of them said Their eyes were all red from that stuff they made and dran( in su#h large 3uantities We #rossed the metal "ridge o$er the little ri$er in the li$ing8room and went down the hall that leads to the trout hat#hery One of in9OIL!s gang was so drun( that he fell down and the others 'i#(ed him u' They almost had to #arry him along "e#ause he was so drun( *e (e't saying o$er and o$er again% 5When are we going to get to i)EAT*7!

6C

RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


5O0%! in9OIL said 5This is what it!s all a"out /ou don!t (now what!s really going on with i)EAT* The tigers (new more a"out i)EAT* than you (now /ou (illed all the tigers and "urned the last one in here 5That was all wrong The tigers should ne$er ha$e "een (illed The tigers were the true meaning of i)EAT* Without the tigers there #ould "e no i)EAT*% and you (illed the tigers and so i)EAT* went away% and you!$e li$ed here li(e a "un#h of #lu#(s e$er sin#e I!m going to "ring "a#( i)EAT* We!re all going to "ring "a#( i)EAT* My gang here and me I!$e "een thin(ing a"out it for years and now we!re going to do it i)EAT* will "e again ! in9OIL rea#hed into his 'o#(et and too( out a +a#(8 (nife 5What are you going to do with that (nife7! 1harley said 5I!ll show you%! in9OIL said *e 'ulled the "lade out It loo(ed shar' 5This is i)EAT*%! he said% and too( the (nife and #ut off his thum" and dro''ed it into a tray filled with trout +ust "arely hat#hed The "lood started running down his hand and dri''ing on the floor Then all of in9OIL!s gang too( out +a#(8(ni$es and #ut off their thum"s and dro''ed their thum"s here and there% in this tray% that 'ond until there were thum"s and "lood all o$er the 'la#e The one who didn!t (now where he was said% 5When do I #ut off my thum"7! 5Right now%! some"ody said So he #ut off his thum"% une$enly "e#ause he was so drun( *e did it in su#h a way that there was still 'art of the fingernail fastened to his hand 5Why ha$e you done this7! 1harley said 5It!s only a "eginning%! in9OIL said 5This is what i)EAT* should really loo( li(e ! 5/ou all loo( silly%! 1harley said 5Without your thum"s ! 5It!s only a "eginning%! in9OIL said 5All right% men Let!s #ut off our noses ! 5*ail% i)EAT*%! they all shouted and #ut off their noses The one who was so drun( also 'ut out his eye They too( their noses and dro''ed them all o$er the 'la#e One of them 'ut his nose in -red!s hand -red too( the nose and threw it in the guy!s fa#e 4auline did not a#t li(e a woman should under these #ir#umstan#es She was not afraid or made ill "y this at all She +ust (e't getting madder and madder and madder *er fa#e was red with anger 5All right% men Off with your ears ! 5*ail% i)EAT*%! and then there were ears all o$er the 'la#e and the trout hat#hery was drowning in "lood The one who was so drun( forgot that he had #ut his right ear off already and was trying to #ut it off again and was $ery #onfused "e#ause the ear wasn!t there 5Where!s my ear7! he said 5I #an!t #ut it off ! 9y now in9OIL and all his gang were "leeding to death Some of them were already "eginning to grow wea( from the loss of "lood and were sitting down on the floor in9OIL was still u' and #utting fingers off his hands 5This is i)EAT*%! he said 5Oh% "oy This is really i)EAT* ! -inally he had to sit down% too% so he #ould "leed to death They were all on the floor now 5I ho'e you thin( you!$e 'ro$ed something%! 1harley said 5I don!t thin( you!$e 'ro$ed anything ! 5We!$e 'ro$ed i)EAT*%! in9OIL said 4auline suddenly started to lea$e the room I went o$er to her% almost sli''ing on the "lood and falling down 5Are you all right7! I said% not (nowing 3uite what to say 51an I hel' you7! 5No%! she said% on her way out 5I!m going to go get a mo' and #lean this mess u' ! When she said mess% she loo(ed dire#tly at in9OIL She left the hat#hery and #ame "a#( shortly with a mo' They were almost all dead now% e&#e't for in9OIL *e was still tal(ing a"out i)EAT* 5See% we!$e done it%! he said 4auline started mo''ing u' the "lood and wringing it out into a "u#(et When the "u#(et was almost full of "lood% in9OIL died 5I am i)EAT*%! he said 5/ou!re an asshole%! 4auline said And the last thing that in9OIL e$er saw was 4auline standing "eside him% wringing his "lood out of the mo' into the "u#(et Wh'')4arr*0 WELL% that!s that%! 1harley said in9OIL!s sightless eyes stared at the statue of the tiger There were many sightless eyes staring in the hat#hery 5/eah%! -red said 5I wonder what it was all a"out ! 5I don!t (now%! 1harley said 5I thin( they shouldn!t ha$e drun( that whis(y made from forgotten things It was a mista(e ! 5/eah ! We all +oined 4auline in #leaning u' the 'la#e% mo''ing u' the "lood and #arting the "odies away We used a wheel"arrow A 5arad' 5*ERE% hel' me get this wheel"arrow down the stairs ! 5There ! 5Ah% than( you !

<D

RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


We 'iled the "odies out in front No one (new 3uite what to do with them% e&#e't that we didn!t want them in i)EAT* any more A lot of 'eo'le from the town had #ome u' to see what was going on There were may"e a hundred 'eo'le there "y the time we got the last "ody wheeled out 5What ha''ened7! the s#hooltea#her said 5They made a mess out of themsel$es%! Old 1hu#( said 5Where are their thum"s and features7! )o# Edwards as(ed 5Right o$er there in that "u#(et%! Old 1hu#( said 5They #ut them off with their +a#(8(ni$es We don!t (now why ! 5What are we going to do with the "odies7! -red said 5We!re not going to 'ut them in tom"s% are we7! 5No%! 1harley said 5We ha$e to do something else ! 5Ta(e them to their sha#(s at the -orgotten Wor(s%! 4auline said 59urn them 9urn their sha#(s 9urn them together and then forget them ! 5That!s a good idea%! 1harley said 5Let!s get some wagons and ta(e them down there What a terri"le thing ! We 'ut the "odies in the wagons 9y then almost e$ery"ody in watermelon sugar had gathered at i)EAT* We all started down to the -orgotten Wor(s together We started off $ery slowly We loo(ed li(e a 'arade "arely mo$ing towards /OU MIG*T GET LOST I wal(ed "eside 4auline B)u'4'))/ T*ERE WAS a warm golden sun shining down on us and on the slowly nearing 4iles of the -orgotten Wor(s We #rossed ri$ers and "ridges and wal(ed "eside farms% meadows and through the 'iney woods and "y fields of watermelons The 4iles of the -orgotten Wor(s were li(e #hun(s of half8mountains and half8a''aratus that glowed li(e gold An almost festi$e s'irit was #oming now from the #rowd They were relie$ed that in9OIL and that gang of his were dead 1hildren "egan 'i#(ing flowers along the way and 'retty soon there were many flowers in the 'arade% so that it "e#ame a (ind of $ase filled with roses and daffodils and 'o''ies and "lue"ells 5It!s o$er%! 4auline said% and then% turning% she threw her arms around me and ga$e me a $ery friendly hug to 'ro$e that it was all o$er I felt her "ody against me Margar't Again6 Again6 Again6 Again in9OIL and the "odies of his gang were 'ut into a sha#( and dren#hed with watermelontrout oil We "rought along a "arrelful for that 'ur'ose and then all the other sha#(s were dren#hed with watermelontrout oil All the 'eo'le stood "a#( and +ust as 1harley was getting ready to set fire to the sha#( where the "odies were% Margaret #ame waltFing out of the -orgotten Wor(s 5What!s u'7! she said She a#ted as if nothing had ha''ened% as if we were all down there on some (ind of 'i#ni# 5Where ha$e you "een7! 1harley said% loo(ing a little "ewildered at Margaret% who was as #ool as a #u#um"er 5In the -orgotten Wor(s%! she said 5I #ame down here early this morning% "efore sunrise% to loo( for things What!s wrong7 Why are you all down here at the -orgotten Wor(s7! 5)on!t you (now what ha''ened7! 1harley said 5No%! she said 5)id you see in9OIL when you #ame down here this morning7! 5No%! she said 5They were all aslee' What!s wrong7! She loo(ed all around 5Where!s in9OIL7! 5I don!t e$en (now if I #an tell you%! 1harley said 5*e!s dead and all his gang% too ! 5)ead7 /ou must "e +o(ing ! 5Why7 No% they #ame u' to i)EAT* a #ou'le of hours ago and they all (illed themsel$es in the trout hat#hery We!$e "rought their "odies down here to "urn them They made a terri"le s#ene ! 5I don!t "elie$e it%! Margaret said 5I +ust #an!t "elie$e it What (ind of +o(e is this7! 5It!s no +o(e%! 1harley said Margaret loo(ed around She #ould see that almost e$ery"ody was there She saw me standing "eside 4auline and she ran o$er to me and said% 5Is it true7! 5/es ! 5Why7! 5I don!t (now None of us do They +ust #ame u' to i)EAT* and (illed themsel$es It!s a mystery to us ! 5Oh no%! Margaret said 5*ow did they do it7! 5With +a#(8(ni$es ! 5Oh% no%! Margaret said She was $ery sho#(ed% daFed She gra""ed ahold of my hand 5This morning7! she said% almost to no one now 5/es ! *er hand felt #old and aw(ward in my hand as if the fingers were too small to fit I #ould only stare at her who had disa''eared into the -orgotten Wor(s that morning Shac+ -'1'r 1*ARLE/ TOO0 a si&8in#h mat#h and set fire to the sha#( that #ontained in9OIL and the "odies of his gang We all stood "a#( and the flames went u' higher and higher and "urned with that "eautiful light that watermelontrout oil ma(es

<6

RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


Then 1harley set fire to the other sha#(s and they "urned +ust as "rightly% and 'retty soon the heat was so "ad that we had to stand farther and farther "a#( until we were in the fields We wat#hed for an hour or so and the sha#(s were fairly gone "y then 1harley stood there wat#hing $ery 3uietly in9OIL had on#e "een his "rother Some of the #hildren were 'laying in the fields They got tired of wat#hing the fire It had "een $ery e&#iting at first% "ut then the #hildren grew tired of it and de#ided to do something else 4auline sat down on the grass The flames "rought total 'ea#e to her fa#e She loo(ed as if she had +ust "een "orn I sto''ed holding Margaret!s hand and she was still in a daFe o$er what was ha''ening She sat "y herself in the grass% holding her hands together as if they were dead As the flames diminished to $ery little% a strong wind #ame out of the -orgotten Wor(s and s#attered ashes ra'idly through the air After while -red yawned% I dreamt

B**+ Thr'': Margar't


8*4 I WO0E U4 feeling refreshed and stared at my watermelon #eiling% how ni#e it loo(ed% "efore getting out of "ed I wondered what time it was I was su''osed to meet -red for lun#h at the #afe in town I got u' and went outside and stret#hed again on the front 'or#h of my sha#(% feeling the #ool stones under my "are feet% feeling their distan#e I loo(ed at the grey sun The ri$er shone not 3uite lun#h8time yet% so I went o$er to the ri$er and got some water and threw it in my fa#e to finish the +o" of wa(ing u' M'at L*a2 I MET -red at the #afe *e was already there% waiting for me )o# Edwards was with him -red was loo(ing at the menu 5*ello%! I said 5*i ! 5*ello%! )o# Edwards said 5/ou were really in a hurry this morning%! I said 5/ou loo(ed li(e you needed a horse ! 5That!s right I had to go deli$er a "a"y A little girl +oined us this morning ! 5That!s fine%! I said 5Who!s the lu#(y father7! 5)o you (now Ron7! 5/eah *e li$es in that sha#( "y the shoesho' Right7! 5/eah That!s Ron *e!s got a fine little girl ! 5/ou were really mo$ing along I didn!t (now you had that mu#h s'eed left in you ! 5/es /es ! 5*ow are you% -red7! I said 5-ine I 'ut in a good morning!s wor( What did you do7! 54lanted a few flowers ! 5)id you wor( on your "oo(7! 5No% I 'lanted a few flowers and too( a long na' ! 5LaFyhead ! 59y the way%! )o# Edwards said 5*ow!s that "oo( #oming along7! 5Oh% it!s #oming along ! 5-ine What!s it a"out7! 52ust what I!m writing down. one word after another ! 5Good ! The waitress #ame o$er and as(ed us what we were ha$ing for lun#h 5What are you "oys ha$ing for lun#h7! she said She had "een the waitress there for years She had "een a young girl there and now she was not young any more 5Today!s s'e#ial is meat loaf% isn!t it7! )o# Edwards said 5/es% IMeat loaf for a grey day is the "est wayJ% that!s our motto%! she said E$ery"ody laughed It was a good +o(e 5I!ll ha$e some meat loaf%! -red said 5What a"out you7! the waitress said 5Meat loaf7! 5/eah% meat loaf%! I said 5Three meat loa$es%! the waitress said A77)' 5i' A-TER LUN1* )o# Edwards had to lea$e early to go and #he#( on Ron!s woman and the new "a"y to see that they were doing all right 5See you later%! he said -red and I stayed there for a while and dran( another #u' of #offee at our leisure -red 'ut two lum's of watermelon sugar in his #offee 5*ow!s Margaret doing7! he said 5*a$e you seen her or heard from her7! 5No%! I said 5I told you that this morning ! 5She!s in 'retty "ad sha'e o$er you and 4auline%! -red said 5She!s ha$ing a lot of trou"le a##e'ting it I was tal(ing to her "rother yesterday *e said she!s got a "ro(en heart ! 5I #an!t hel' that%! I said 5Why are you mad at her7! -red said 5/ou don!t thin( she had anything to do with in9OIL +ust "e#ause e$ery"ody else does% e&#e't 4auline and me7 5There!s no 'roof It doesn!t e$en ma(e sense in the first 'la#e It was +ust a #oin#iden#e that lin(ed

<<

RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


them together /ou don!t "elie$e she had anything to do with in9OIL% do you7! 5I don!t (now%! I said -red shrugged his shoulders and too( a si' of his #offee The waitress #ame o$er and as(ed us if we wanted a 'ie#e of 'ie for dessert 5We!$e got some a''le 'ie that really tastes good%! she said 5I!d li(e a 'ie#e of 'ie%! -red said 5What a"out you7! 5No%! I said Lit'ratur' WELL% I!$e got to get "a#( to wor(%! -red said 5The 'lan( 'ress #alls What are you going to do7! 5I thin( I!ll go write%! I said 5Wor( on my "oo( for a while ! 5That sounds am"itious%! -red said 5Is the "oo( a"out weather li(e the s#hooltea#her said7! 5No% it!s not a"out weather ! 5Good%! -red said 5I wouldn!t want to read a "oo( a"out weather ! 5*a$e you e$er read a "oo(7! I said 5No%! -red said 5I ha$en!t "ut I don!t thin( I!d want to start "y reading one a"out #louds !
5

Wor(s A "ird was loo(ing near the ashes for something The "ird didn!t find what it was loo(ing for% got tired and flew away I saw 4auline wal(ing through the 'iney woods u' towards my sha#( She was #arrying a 'ainting with her It was a sur'rise for me I saw some (ids 'laying "ase"all in the "all 'ar( One of the (ids 'it#hing had a good fast "all and a lot of #ontrol *e threw fi$e stri(es in a row I saw -red dire#ting his #rew in the ma(ing of a golden 'lan( of watermelon sugar *e was telling some"ody to "e #areful with his end I saw Margaret #lim"ing an a''le tree "eside her sha#( She was #rying and had a s#arf (notted around her ne#( She too( the loose end of the s#arf and tied it to a "ran#h #o$ered with young a''les She ste''ed off the "ran#h and then she was standing "y herself on the air Th' Grand O)d Tr*ut Again I STO44E) LOO0ING into the Statue of Mirrors I!d seen enough for that day I sat down on a #ou#h "y the ri$er and stared into the water of the dee' 'ool that!s there Margaret was dead There was a swirl of water on the surfa#e that #leared the 'ool all the way down to the "ottom% and I saw The Grand Old Trout staring "a#( at me% with the little i)EAT* "ell hanging from his +aw *e must ha$e swum u'stream from where they were 'utting the tom" in That!s a long way for an old trout *e must ha$e left +ust after I did The Grand Old Trout did not ta(e his eyes off me *e remained stationary in the water% staring intently at me as he had "een doing earlier in the day when he lay "y the tom" they were 'utting in There was another swirl of water on the surfa#e of the 'ool and then I #ould not see The Grand Old Trout any more When the 'ool #leared again% The Grand Old Trout was gone I stared at the 'la#e where he had "een in the ri$er It was em'ty now li(e a room G'tting -r'd I WENT )OWN to the Watermelon Wor(s to see -red *e was rather sur'rised to see me down there for the se#ond time that day 5*i%! he said% loo(ing u' from a golden 'lan( that he had "een #he#(ing out for something 5What!s u'7! 5It!s Margaret%! I said 5*a$e you seen her7! 5/es ! 5What ha''ened7! 5She!s dead I saw her in the Statue of Mirrors She hanged herself from an a''le tree with her "lue s#arf !

Th' Wa, -RE) WENT O-- to the Watermelon Wor(s and I started "a#( to my sha#( to write% and then I de#ided not to I didn!t (now what to do I #ould go "a#( to i)EAT* and tal( to 1harley a"out an idea I had or I #ould go find 4auline and ma(e lo$e to her or I #ould go to the Statue of Mirrors and sit down there for a while That!s what I did Th' Statu' *2 Mirr*r/ EEER/T*ING IS RE-LE1TE) in the Statue of Mirrors if you stand there long enough and em'ty your mind of e$erything else "ut the mirrors% and you must "e #areful not to want anything from the mirrors They +ust ha$e to ha''en An hour or so 'assed as my mind drained out Some 'eo'le #annot see anything in the Statue of Mirrors% not e$en themsel$es Then I #ould see i)EAT* and the town and the -orgotten Wor(s and ri$ers and fields and the 'iney woods and the "all 'ar( and the Watermelon Wor(s I saw Old 1hu#( on the front 'or#h of i)EAT* *e was s#rat#hing his head and 1harley was in the (it#hen "uttering himself a sli#e of toast )o# Edwards was wal(ing down the street from Ron!s sha#( and a dog was following "ehind him% sniffing his footste's The dog sto''ed at one 'arti#ular footste' and stood there with its tail wagging a"o$e the footste' The dog really li(ed that one The sha#(s of in9OIL and that gang of his lay now only as ashes "y the gate to the -orgotten

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RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


-red 'ut the 'lan( down *e "it his li' and ran his hand through his hair 5When did this ha''en7! 52ust a little while ago No"ody (nows she!s dead yet ! -red shoo( his head 5I guess we!d "etter go get her "rother ! 5Where!s he at7! 5*e!s hel'ing a farmer 'ut a new roof on his "arn We!ll go there ! -red told the #rew to (no#( off for the day They were 3uite 'leased when -red told them this 5Than(s% "oss%! they said We left the Watermelon Wor(s with -red suddenly loo(ing $ery tired Th' Wind Again T*E GRE/ SUN shone fee"ly A wind #ame u' and things that #ould rustle or mo$e in the wind did so all a"out us as we wal(ed down the road to the "arn 5Why do you thin( she (illed herself7! -red said 5Why should she do a thing li(e that7 She was so young So young ! 5I don!t (now%! I said 5I don!t (now why she (illed herself ! 5It!s +ust terri"le%! -red said 5I wish I didn!t ha$e to thin( a"out it /ou ha$en!t the slightest idea% huh7 /ou ha$en!t seen her7! 5No% I was loo(ing into the Statue of Mirrors and she hanged herself there She!s dead now ! Margar't./ Br*th'r MARGARET!S 9ROT*ER was u' on the "arn roof% nailing "lue watermelon shingles down and the farmer was #lim"ing u' the ladder% "ringing him another "undle of shingles *er "rother saw us #oming u' the road and stood u' on the "arn roof and wa$ed at 3uite a distan#e "efore we got there 5I don!t li(e this%! -red said 5*ello% there%! her "rother yelled 5What "rings you u' this way7! the farmer yelled We wa$ed "a#( "ut didn!t say anything until we got there 5*owdy%! the farmer said% sha(ing hands with us 5What are you doing u' this way7! Margaret!s "rother #lim"ed down the ladder 5*ello%! he said and shoo( our hands and stood there waiting for us to say something We were strangely 3uiet and they 'i#(ed u' on it immediately -red 'awed at the ground with his "oot *e drew a (ind of half8#ir#le with his right "oot on the ground% and then he erased it with his left "oot This too( only a few se#onds 5What!s wrong7! the farmer said 5/eah% what!s wrong7! her "rother said 5It!s Margaret%! -red said 5What!s wrong with Margaret7! her "rother said 5Tell me ! 5She!s dead%! -red said 5*ow did it ha''en7! 5She hanged herself ! Margaret!s "rother stared straight ahead for a little while *is eyes were dim No"ody said anything -red drew another #ir#le in the dust% and then (i#(ed it away 5It!s for the "est%! Margaret!s "rother said% finally 5No"ody!s to "lame She had a "ro(en heart ! Th' Wind Again6 Again WE WENT and got the "ody The farmer had to stay "ehind *e said he would ha$e #ome along "ut he had to stay and mil( his #ows The wind was "lowing harder now and a few small things fell down N'c+)ac' MARGARET!S 9O)/ was hanging from the a''le tree in front of her sha#( and "lowing in the wind *er ne#( was at a wrong angle and her fa#e was the #olour of what we learn to (now as death -red #lim"ed u' the tree and #ut the s#arf with his +a#(8(nife while Margaret!s "rother and I lowered her "ody gently down *e too( her "ody then% and #arried it into the sha#( and laid it down u'on the "ed We stood there 5Let!s ta(e her to i)EAT*%! -red said 5That!s where she "elongs ! *er "rother loo(ed relie$ed for the first time sin#e we had told him of her death *e went to a large #hest "y the window and too( out a ne#(la#e that had small metal trout en#ir#ling it *e lifted u' her head and fastened the #las' of the ne#(la#e *e "rushed Margaret!s hair out of her eyes Then he wra''ed her "ody in a "eds'read that had i)EAT* #ro#heted u'on it in one of its many and lasting forms One of her feet was sti#(ing out The toes loo(ed #old and gently at rest C*uch WE TOO0 Margaret "a#( to i)EAT* Somehow e$ery"ody there had already heard of her death and they were waiting for us They were out on the front 'or#h 4auline ran down the stairs to me She was $ery u'set and her #hee(s were wet with tears 5Why7! she said 5Why7! I 'ut my arm around her the "est I #ould 5I don!t (now%! I said Margaret!s "rother #arried her "ody u' the stairs into i)EAT* 1harley o'ened the door for him 5*ere% let me o'en the door for you !

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RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


5Than( you%! her "rother said 5Where shall I 'ut her7! 5On the #ou#h "a#( in the trout hat#hery%! 1harley said 5That!s where we 'ut our dead ! 5I don!t remem"er the way%! her "rother said 5I ha$en!t "een here for a long time ! 5I!ll show you -ollow me%! 1harley said 5Than( you ! They went off to the trout hat#hery -red went with them and so did Old 1hu#( and Al and 9ill I stayed "ehind with my arm around 4auline She was still #rying I guess she really li(ed Margaret T*(*rr*0 4AULINE AN) I went down for a wal( "y the ri$er in the li$ing8room It was now nearing sundown Tomorrow the sun would "e "la#(% soundless The night would #ontinue "ut the stars would not shine and it would "e warm li(e day and e$erything would "e without sound 5This is horri"le%! 4auline said 5I feel so "ad Why did she (ill herself7 Was it my fault for lo$ing you7! 5No%! I said 5It was no"ody!s fault 2ust one of those things ! 5We were su#h good friends We were li(e sisters I!d hate to thin( it was my fault ! 5)on!t%! I said Carr*t/ )INNER T*AT NIG*T was a 3uiet affair at i)EAT* Margaret!s "rother stayed and had dinner with us 1harley in$ited him Al #oo(ed u' a mess of #arrots again *e "roiled them with mushrooms and a sau#e made from watermelon sugar and s'i#es There was hot "read fresh from the o$en and sweet "utter and glasses of i#e8#old mil( A"out halfway through dinner% -red started to say something that loo(ed as if it were im'ortant% "ut then he #hanged his mind and went "a#( to eating his #arrots Margar't./ R**( A-TER )INNER e$ery"ody went into the li$ing8 room and it was de#ided to hold the funeral tomorrow morning% e$en though it would "e dar( and there would "e no sound and e$erything would ha$e to "e done in silen#e 5If it!s all right with you%! 1harley said to Margaret!s "rother 5She!ll "e "uried in that tom" we!$e "een wor(ing on They finished it this afternoon ! 5That would "e 'erfe#t%! her "rother said 5It will "e dar( and there will "e no sound% "ut I thin( we #an ta(e #are of e$erything ! 5/eah%! her "rother said 5-red% will you go and tell the 'eo'le in the town a"out the funeral7 Some of them might want to go Also alert the Tom" 1rew a"out the funeral And see if you #an find some flowers ! 5Sure% 1harley I!ll ta(e #are of it. 5It!s our #ustom to "ri#( u' the rooms of those who li$ed here when they die%! 1harley said 5What does that mean7! Margaret!s "rother said 5We 'ut "ri#(s a#ross the door and #lose the room fore$er ! 5That sounds all right ! Bric+/ 4AULINE AN) Margaret!s "rother and 1harley and 9ill% he had the "ri#(s% and I went to Margaret!s room 1harley o'ened the door 4auline was #arrying a lantern She 'ut it down on Margaret!s ta"le and lit the lantern that was there with a long watermelon mat#h There were now two lights The room was filled with things from the -orgotten Wor(s E$ery 'la#e you loo(ed there was something forgotten that was 'iled on another forgotten thing 1harley shoo( his head 5A lot of forgotten things in here We don!t e$en (now what most of the things are%! he said to no"ody Margaret!s "rother sighed 5Is there anything you want to ta(e with you7! 1harley said *er "rother loo(ed all around the room $ery #arefully and $ery sadly and then shoo( his head% too 5No% "ri#( it all u' ! We ste''ed outside and 9ill started 'utting the "ri#(s in 'la#e We wat#hed for a little while There were tears in 4auline!s eyes 54lease s'end the night with us%! 1harley said 5Than( you%! Margaret!s "rother said 5I!ll show you to your room Goodnight%! 1harley said to us *e went off with her "rother *e was saying something to him 5Let!s go% 4auline%! I said 5All right% honey ! 5I thin( you!d "etter slee' with me tonight. 5/es%! she said We left 9ill 'utting the "ri#(s in 'la#e They were watermelon "ri#(s made from "la#(% soundless sugar They made no sound as he wor(ed with them They would seal off the forgotten things fore$er M, R**( 4AULINE AN) I went to my room We too( off our #lothes and got into "ed She too( off her #lothes first and I wat#hed 5Are you going to "low the lantern out7! she said% leaning forward as I got into "ed last She did not ha$e any #o$ers u' o$er her "reasts The ni''les were hard They were almost the same

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RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


#olour as her li's They loo(ed "eautiful in the lantern light *er eyes were red from #rying She loo(ed $ery tired 5No%! I said She 'ut her head "a#( on the 'illow and smiled e$er so faintly *er smile was li(e the #olour of her ni''les 5No%! I said Th' Gir) 0ith th' Lant'rn Again A-TER W*ILE I let 4auline go to slee'% "ut then I had my usual trou"le slee'ing She was warm and sweet8smelling "eside me *er "ody #alled me to slee' as if it were a "and of trum'ets I lay there for a long time "efore I got u' and went for one of the wal(s I ta(e at night I stood there with my #lothes on% wat#hing 4auline slee' Strange% how well 4auline has sle't sin#e we ha$e "een going steady together% for 4auline was the girl who went for the long wal(s at night% #arrying the lantern 4auline was the girl I wondered so mu#h a"out% wal(ing u' and down the roads% sto''ing at this 'la#e% this "ridge% this ri$er% these trees in the 'iney woods *er hair is "londe and now she is aslee' After we started going steady she sto''ed her long wal(s at night% "ut I still #ontinue mine It suits me to ta(e these long wal(s at night Margar't Again6 Again6 Again6 Again6 Again I WENT TO T*E TROUT *AT1*ER/ and stood there staring at the #old undelightful "ody now of Margaret She lay u'on the #ou#h and there were lanterns all around The trout had trou"le slee'ing There were some fingerlings darting around in a tray that had a lantern "y the edge of it% illuminating Margaret!s fa#e I stared at the fingerlings for a long time% hours 'assed% until they went to slee' They were now li(e Margaret G**d Ha( WE WO0E u' an hour or so "efore sunrise and had an early "rea(fast When the sun #ame u' o$er the edge of our world% the dar(ness would #ontinue and there would "e no sound today our $oi#es would "e gone If you dro''ed something% there would "e no sound The ri$ers would "e silent 5It!s going to "e a long day%! 4auline said% as she 'ut on her dress% 'ulling it o$er her long smooth ne#( We had ham and eggs% hash"rowns and toast 4auline #oo(ed "rea(fast and I offered to hel' her 5Is there anything I #an do7! I said 5No%! she said 5I!$e got e$erything under #ontrol "ut than(s for the offer ! 5/ou!re wel#ome ! We all had "rea(fast together% in#luding Margaret!s "rother *e sat ne&t to 1harley 5This is good ham%! -red said 5We!ll hold the funeral later on in the morning%! 1harley said 5E$ery"ody (nows what they ha$e to do and we #an write notes if anything out of the ordinary #omes u' We +ust ha$e a few moments of sound left ! 5Ummmm , good ham%! -red said Sunri/' 4AULINE AN) I were in the (it#hen tal(ing when the sun #ame u' She was washing the dishes and I was drying them I was drying a frying 'an and she was washing the #offee #u's 5I feel a little "it "etter today%! she said 5Good%! I said 5*ow did I slee' last night7! 5Li(e a to' ! 5I had a "ad dream I ho'e I didn!t wa(e you u' ! 5No ! 5The sho#( yesterday was something I don!t (now I +ust didn!t e&'e#t things to turn out this way% "ut they ha$e% and I guess there!s nothing we #an do a"out it ! 5That!s right%! I said 52ust ta(e things the way they ha''en. 4auline turned towards me and said% 5I guess the funeral will,! E/cutch'*n MARGARET WAS )RESSE) in death ro"es made from watermelon sugar and adorned with "eads of fo&fire% so that the light would shine fore$er from her tom" at night and on the "la#(% soundless days This one She had "een 're'ared now for the tom" We mo$ed in lanterns and silen#e a"out i)EAT*% waiting for the towns'eo'le to #ome They #ame Thirty or forty arri$ed% in#luding the editor of the news'a'er It is 'u"lished on#e a year The s#hooltea#her and )o# Edwards were there and then we started the funeral Margaret was #arried on the Es#ut#heon we use for the dead% made from 'ine ornamented with glass and little distant stones E$ery"ody had tor#hes and lanterns and we #arried her "ody out of the trout hat#hery and through the li$ing8room and out the door and a#ross the 'or#h and down the ste's of i)EAT* Sunn, M*rning T*E 4RO1ESSION mo$ed slowly and in total silen#e down the road to the new tom" that now "elonged to Margaret% the one I had wat#hed them "uilding yesterday% 'utting the finishing tou#hes on for Margaret It was getting warm as the sun

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RICHARD BRAUTIGAN: IN WATERMELON SUGAR


#lim"ed higher in the s(y There was not e$en the sound of our footste's or anything Th' T*(4 Cr'0 T*E TOM9 1REW was waiting for us They still had the Shaft in 'la#e and they started the 'um' going when they saw us #oming We% turned the "ody o$er to them and they went a"out 'utting it in the tom" They!$e had a lot of e&'erien#e doing that They #arried her "ody down the Shaft and 'ut it in the tom" They #losed the glass door and started to seal it u' 4auline% 1harley% -red% Old 1hu#( and I stood there together in a little grou' and wat#hed them 4auline too( my arm Margaret!s "rother #ame o$er and +oined us After the Tom" 1rew had sealed the door% they turned the 'um' off and remo$ed the hose from the Shaft Then they harnessed u' some horses with ro'es to the two 'ulleys that were hanging from the Shaft Gallows Ro'es went from the Shaft Gallows to hoo(s in the Shaft itself That!s how they get the Shaft out The horses strained forward and the Shaft was 'ulled free from the "ottom of the ri$er and was lifted u' onto the shore and was now half8hanging from the Shaft Gallows The Tom" 1rew and their horses loo(ed tired E$erything was done in total silen#e Not a sound #ame from the horses or the men or the Shaft or the ri$er or the 'eo'le wat#hing We saw the light shining u' from Margaret% the light that #ame from the fo&fire u'on her ro"es We too( flowers and threw them u'stream a"o$e her tom" The flowers drifted down o$er the light #oming from her. roses and daffodils and 'o''ies and "lue"ells floated on "y Th' Danc' IT IS A 1USTOM *ERE to hold a dan#e in the trout hat#hery after a funeral E$ery"ody #omes and there!s a good "and and mu#h dan#ing goes on We all li(e to waltF After the funeral we went "a#( to i)EAT* and 're'ared for the dan#e 4arty de#orations were 'ut u' in the hat#hery and refreshments were 're'ared for the dan#e E$ery"ody got ready in silen#e 1harley 'ut on some new o$eralls -red s'ent half an hour #om"ing his hair and 4auline 'ut on high8heel shoes We #ould not start the 'arty until there was sound% so that the musi#al instruments would wor( and we #ould wor( with them in our own style% mostly waltFing C**+/ T*g'th'r 4AULINE AN) Al together #oo(ed an early dinner that we had late in the afternoon It was $ery hot outside% so they 're'ared something light They made a 'otato salad that somehow ended u' ha$ing a lot of #arrots in it Th'ir In/tru('nt/ 5)a,ing 4EO4LE -ROM T*E Town "egan arri$ing for the dan#e a"out half an hour "efore sundown We too( their Ma#(inaws and hats and showed them into the trout hat#hery E$ery"ody seemed to "e in fairly good s'irits The musi#ians too( out their instruments and waited for the sun to go down It would only "e a few moments now We all waited 'atiently The room glowed with lanterns The trout swam "a#( and forth in their trays and 'onds We would dan#e around them 4auline loo(ed $ery 'retty 1harley!s new o$eralls loo(ed good I don!t (now why -red!s hair loo(ed as if he hadn!t #om"ed it at all The musi#ians were 'oised with their instruments They were ready to go It would only "e a few se#onds now% I wrote This novel was started May 13th, 1964 in a house at Bolinas, California, and was finished July 19th, 1964 in the front room at 1 3 Beaver !treet, !an "ran#is#o, California$ This novel is for %on &llen, Joanne 'y(er and Mi#hael M#Clure$

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