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Authors: Tristan Egolf

Kornwolf

BOOK: Kornwolf
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Tristan Egolf (1971–2005) was born in Spain and resided in Philadelphia; Paris; rural Indiana; Vienna; Oxford, Mississippi; Amsterdam; New York City; London; and New Orleans. He published two novels during his life,
Lord of the Barnyard
and
Skirt and the Fiddle
. At the time of his death in May 2005 he was living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a city with a sizeable Amish population. In addition to
Kornwolf
he had written a rock opera and recorded a CD with Doomed to Obscurity, his Philadelphia-based band.

Kornwolf

Also by Tristan Egolf:
Lord of the Barnyard
Skirt and the Fiddle

Kornwolf

TRISTAN EGOLF

Copyright © 2006 by Estate of Tristan Egolf

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. Any members of educational institutions wishing to photocopy part or all of the work for classroom use, or publishers who would like to obtain permission to include the work in an anthology, should send their inquiries to Grove/Atlantic, Inc., 841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003.

We gratefully acknowledge permission to reprint lyrics
from the following songs:

“A Good Year for Roses” by Jerry Chesnut. Copyright © 1970 by Sony/ATV Songs LLC. All rights administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, 8 Music Square West, Nashville, TN 37203. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

“Angel of Death” by Jeff Hanneman. Copyright © Death's Head Music (ASCAP). All rights for the world on behalf of Death's Head Music (ASCAP) administered by BMG Music Publishing International Ltd (PRS)

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Egolf, Tristan, 1971–2005
Kornwolf / Tristan Egolf.
p. cm.
eBook ISBN-13: 978-1-5558-4631-2
1. Amish—Fiction. 2. Werewolves—Fiction.
3. Pennsylvania—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3555.G37K67 2006
813'.54—dc22     2005052574

Grove Press
an imprint of Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
841 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

For Emmanuel Augustus—Long live the underdog.

Kornwolf

…
tearing through bull-thistle, jimsonweed, supplejack—brittle with mid-autumn coming of frost—and of pulsating crimson, appendages thwarted and stumbling, slam into fallen timber, as worm-ridden slick with organic decay—to meandering blindly through goldenrod, inkberry, sheep laurel, bladdernut, Solomon's seal—a prickling rash of woodland nettles—cries emanating from lurch of within, as of burning in flame now, at once underfoot—down embankment and plunging headlong into watercress, chilly with runoff from fertilized fields, and of crippling thirst satiated in excess—then up again, scrambling, mud on the incline, a jagged escarpment, then over to stillness
…

Gulping of air / equilibrium reeling as pounding inside, as of inner combustion
…

…
a sharp edge of sassafras borne on the wind—and of chimney smoke, rising from miles in the distance—and rosemary, slash pine, chicory, hemlock—replete with a tang of synthetic emissions … And traces of crimson in putrefaction … Of hunger awakened to ravenous burning … Responding—by light of the moon, with intent now—through corn-cockle, snakeroot and billowing milkweed to wax-myrtle, buckthorn and snapping of aster—then out to a rolling expanse of stubble … with shackles unbridled—elation of freedom, release and ahead, moving / charging—amok
…

Into blackness
.

…
then routing through pestilent cubicle—vinegar, trappings and fat of the lamb—in a large metal box full of scum-lining, refuse and sourly rancid, fermented barley—a groaning of door hinges, outside … Footsteps … Crossing of pavement … The roar of ignition … A panning of lantern light, sweeping the property … Leaving … Then back to the gristle of crimson
…

More blackness
.

To voices now: haltingly. Startled
…

…
the sweet smell of fear and confusion
…

Retreat
…

…
cries of alarm from behind, fading quickly … return to the stubble, and darkness enveloping / stars overhead in a shower of pinpoints—onward proceeding, alive in the night
…

PART ONE
Introductions
Owen

For years, had it been suggested that Owen might ever again reside in Stepford, he would have endeavored to let it slide, but not without having been vaguely insulted. In over a decade away from the town of his birth, he had always defined it outright as the “source of his lasting discontent,” the one place on earth he could never
live
… Weekends “home” were bad enough: fraught, as they were, with urges to seize on the nearest suburban dolt in passing and pummel him into renunciation. In time, the farther he strayed abroad, the brighter such impulses flared on return. By early adulthood, more than an evening in town was a field-tested nonpossibility. He wouldn't have lasted a week as an actual resident. Stepford County.
Jesus
… Better off dead than a prodigal son. The mere idea would have left him reeling.

In youth, on many an afternoon, he had climbed the neighborhood water tower, and, from thirty rungs over the treetops, regarded the rolling, unbroken expanse of forest (three thousand years of native prosperity, two extended colonial wars, an influx of German and Swiss migration and a meltdown at Three Mile Island, upriver, gone by and
still
, by appearances, Penn's Woods, in the actual lay of the treaty) set to emerge from a decade of semi-privileged suburban honky conquest with all but scattered clumps of fauna lost in a maze of development housing—the “
gingerbread eyesore modules
,” he called them—and overlapped highways and
treeless lawns, to the mall, and beyond: to the outskirts of town, hazily gray with industrial smoke, and nary a cropping of overgrowth fit to sustain the groundhogs in between: where once this valley had thrived with game, now it was crawling with Astro Vans. Regarding it thus, Owen felt odd, if ill-suited, in knowing that he, at the age of thirty, remembered
the good old days
.

As good old days they had rarely been.

On most of those afternoons, staring across the as-yet undefiled valley, with nowhere to go, in particular, no one who knew what to make of
Blonde on Blonde
, no parlors or pool halls, and unbelievably,
not one God damned sidewalk, for miles
—just a Quik Mart whose owner prohibited loitering, a half-buried junkyard off in the woods, a couple of churches per every mile, and a ten-acre asphalt and Plexiglas hamburger factory known as Hempland High, from out of the stifling vortex of which only fleeting points of light would escape, through the plasticine tarpaulin thrown over everything, pinpoints suggesting a
world
out there, a place where pedestrians wandered the streets, where music drifted from open windows, where blankets of smoke and aromas of coffee and laughter filled dimly lit taverns at night—around fountains, through courtyards, cathedrals, down riverbanks, into the shallows by light of the moon—where young people met under streetlamps in cobblestone plazas to shuffle and mumble and dance—(instead of resorting in boredom and sheer desperation to feats of vandalism: from hurling garbage toward oncoming traffic on back roads at seventy miles an hour, to golf balls driven through schoolroom windows, dung from the overpass, spray painting, brush fires: anything able to quell the furnace, to strike some
terror
into these people)—where public schooling wasn't a daily incentive to go on a shooting spree, where the architecture reflected the most remedial grasp of human aesthetics, where open discourse was considered a virtue, and everyone read on buses and benches, and people like Owen would not go forever unnoticed by members of the opposite sex—a place suggested in celluloid images, songs from the dustbowl, Keaton and Garbo, late night
shortwave radio broadcasts, veiled accounts from the roaring twenties—instead of the universe Owen had inhabited (captive stooge in the honky tundra) where nothing quite passed for sublime or dismal, discreet or brash, even fair to midland—just solid, implacable, unbroken gray, with the least of all plausible worldly variance.

Owen had grown up dreaming of nuking it. Stepford could render such impulses rational.

So then, the question begged of its own: how did he find himself driving up Old Route 30, heading east in “Chiffon” (his locally insured Subaru Legacy), Owen Brynmor, East Zone Cops Reporter for the
Stepford Daily Plea
: a gainfully employed, taxpaying registered Independent and downtown resident?

Right now, swamped in rush hour traffic, it made no sense. He couldn't get his mind around it. Everything was vaguely incomprehensible—adding to which, his nicotine fits hadn't let up for twenty-four hours and counting …

(His “patch” had been tossed in the can that morning, prompted by nausea, fever and madness. From there on out, he had gone cold turkey—
so
much worse than he could have expected: black as the cosmos, noxious bobbing, as bad as withdrawing from any drug.)

He gripped the wheel.

The road before him was jammed on an angle. The sky was red. And the drivers around him, clearly intending to thwart him at every turn, were to blame. Traffic was tied up for miles. He hadn't been caught on this stretch of highway in years. The landscape had been overhauled completely: more motor resorts, more developments, dining and shopping outlets to every side: another campaign of de-sanctification gone by, and no one the wiser, apparently.

Sickened, impatient and reeling with visions of bombing it all, he could take no more.

He shifted his Legacy into gear and gunned it across the highway divider. Veering in front of oncoming traffic, he vaulted into
a parking lot. From there, he blew by a taffy emporium, rounded a corner and shot up a one-lane strip running under the elevated monorail system of the Dutch Land amusement park. To either side, enormous metal support columns flashed in rapid succession. Off to the left, a moat full of porcelain Dutchies appeared in a fountain basin. The park had been closed for the season, apparently. None of the rides were moving. Horror.

Continuing: under an overpass, back onto Old Route 30 a mile up flow, then three more lights until finally, a left onto 891—a two-lane road winding north through a stretch of forested gray. Owen, relieved to have shaken the clot of humanity, maintained excessive speed. Traffic like that, back there, enraged him beyond all limits of human endurance. Traffic like that was apocalyptic. And like it or not, it was back in his life.

He suddenly found it incredible, shocking, an earth-rendering bolt of primordial awe—to think that he'd actually
chosen
to re-immerse himself in this world of shit. What on earth had gotten into him? Had he come here expecting a rebirth of wonder? If so, he was in for a rude awakening. That's what this was. The traffic proved it …

BOOK: Kornwolf
9.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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