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Fischer, Joan (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 51, Number 3 (Summer 2005)

Benbow, Margaret
Prizes,   pp. 48-51


Page 49

leather, but the effect was far different. 
Not for the first time, I reflected that he 
was lucky he had a teaching load that 
would drop a moose. The chairman had 
wanted to kick Jimmy out into the real 
world for many years. But Jimmy was 
safe as long as he held up the depart- 
ment on his chunky little cement block 
shoulders. Right now he was pouting 
because he'd been forbidden to read. I 
secretly felt the chairman had over- 
reacted to Jimmy's high-spirited pre- 
tense of mooning the audience at the 
last reading. After all, Jimmy's ancient 
teaching corduroys were so rump- 
sprung he went around in a sort of per- 
manent half-moon anyway. 
"You're drunk," I said. 
"Nonsense," Danaan said grandly. At 
this point he spotted Molly Blevek and 
began shouting to her. "Ah, a fleshy girl 
in a pink angora sweater. Bring some of 
that over here, mama. Jeezez, Janey, 
look at the lovely fat can on her, the kind 
that makes a man want to plant his boot 
in it, a truly queenly butt. Yet she walks 
like Bambi. And here she is." 
Molly pushed him away, hard. "Don't 
you know that in this crowd you can get 
murdered for talking that way? You're a 
fat drunken stupid man and you will 
never, ever get tenure." In spite of her 
cold looks and hard words, there was 
something in her voice, and in his gaze, 
that told me they'd recently been to bed 
together, and had been well pleased 
with each other when they got there. 
He put his big red face in her neck. He 
was silent for several seconds, then 
began softly singing lyrics from the rock 
song "Can't Tear It Up Enuff": "I'm in my 
prime to rip it up ... sweetest piece of 
lovin' any girl ever had," looking at her 
hopefully. "Can't tear it up enough!" She 
tried to look coldly disgusted, but her 
face was not made for that expression. 
A delicate flush grew and sat on the oval 
of her cheeks. Just when it seemed 
impossible she would not smile, his eyes 
fell on her neck. "Jesus, Mary and 
Joseph, where did you get those? I'm in 
my little room writing sonnets to you, 
and you're out fucking about like 
Madonna and Catherine the Great and 
all those raving historical sluts?" 
Certainly she did have enormous hick- 
fiction 
WISCONSIN  ACADEMY  REVIEW  SUMMER  2005  49 
ies, I had never seen any so big and 
black, they looked almost like a failed 
garroting attempt. 
"Christ, woman, whom have you been 
dating, Vlad the Impaler?" 
"Shut up," Molly said, showing him her 
fist. At this moment Garrett Palmer 
reached our group. 
Nothing succeeds like success, as the 
saying goes, and Garrett had looked 
pretty good to begin with. Now we 
accorded him the attention we might 
have given a strolling sun god. He was a 
tall, broad-shouldered man with fresh 
skin and a full head of romantically tum- 
bling hyacinthine curls, jet black. He 
looked like an extremely sexy and effec- 
tive young pharaoh. He had java-black 
eyes which noticed everything, and now 
they fell on Danaan, who was filling his 
big coffee thermos at the wine bowl. 
"Topping up your Maxwell House?" 
Palmer said with a smile. 
Danaan, who spent his life moving 
seamlessly from one luridly inappropri- 
ate emotion to the next, stood with the 
dripping thermos in his hand and 
grinned at Palmer. The effect of his 
crooked teeth through his stubbly beard 
was not pleasant. "Congratulations on 
getting the Pinery Boy award, Garrett," 
he said. "Oh, excuse me, of course I 
meant, the Pinehurst." 
"Pinery Boy?" Garrett repeated with a 
baffled smile. 
"Yes, because," said Danaan, taking a 
big snort out of the thermos, "we could 
all see the log-rolling from here." 
I was secretly delighted that this had 
been said, but that I had not been the 
one to say it. 
Garrett, who beneath his smooth exte- 
rior is the toughest son of a bitch you 
will ever meet, laughed handsomely. 
"And that's your disinterested opinion, 
is it?" 
"It is." 
"Well, I'm surprised you didn't win 
some kind of prize or other yourself. You 
write the kind of big, gassy-excuse 
me," he corrected himself, "of course I 
meant, bravura pieces that often win 
prizes." 
"Yes, and so I would," said Danaan, 
picking up a cocktail weiner on a tooth- 
pick and staring at it sadly, "but in col- 
lege I didn't belong to a fraternity, and I 
didn't have any asshole fraternity broth- 
ers, and now when I enter contests, 
there's no old asshole fraternity brother 
judge to remember Jimmy Danaan." 
Now, Garrett did not publicize it, but 
in his college days fifteen years before 
he'd been a Deke; and so had the head 
of the Pinehurst panel. They'd swung 
many a stein together. Garrett laughed 
heartily at Jimmy's remark, showing all 
of his fine teeth. "No, I guess there 
wouldn't be many to remember you, 
would there? You were pretty much of 
an outcast at Bogtrot U., or wherever 
the hell it is that you went, from what 
I've heard. Damn, Jimmy, you should 
have pledged when you had the 
chance." 
Now those shining black eyes fas- 
tened on Jimmy's cocktail weiner. He 
gestured toward it, and spoke solici- 
tously. "Christ, you shouldn't have so 
many of those. They'll clog you all up. In 
fact, as a friend I would have to tell you 
that you look terrible. What do you live 
on, ham fat? Look at that." He pointed to 
Danaan's paunch, which gleamed 
whitely between gaping leathers. "What 
the hell is that? Are you hiding a 
Vietnamese pot-bellied pig in your 
jacket?" 
Danaan put his hands on his stomach 
and smiled beatifically. "This is my beer 
gut, Garrett. Women admire it. After all, 
as a friend told me recently," he looked 
into Molly's eyes with a smile, "a fine 
machine needs a big shed." 
Garrett looked disconcerted, but only 
for a second. Then he said, "Oh, do you 
find that so?" He put one hand on his 
own flat stomach and the other around 
Molly Blevek's shoulders. "I never did." 
The sight of Jimmy Danaan's neck 
suddenly swelling like a cobra's hood 
recalled me to my duties. "Come on, 
Garrett and Molly," I said, "it's almost 
show time and we still have to plan the 
lineup. Zenna Freitag is such a wreck 
with stage fright she wants to be first 
and get it over with. Bill Keller is going 
to do poems from his goat book and is 
going to be in costume, and there's some 
new kid who's been nagging me-" 
This last was Molly's fault. She had 
persistent delusions of democracy, and 


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