When asked to define himself, Brent Linsley looks to Playboy Magazine to find a good bio.  “I like a man who is strong and who will hold me in his arms in a way that makes me know that I will always be longed for.”  “That sounds good,” Brent says, “Put that.”  So I put that.  Then I set down the whiskey bottle and tied my shoes with much difficulty.

“This is fucking hard to write,” I told Brent.  “Just put anything,” he said as he stared out the window at a girl getting out of her car.  “We can revise later.”  I asked him what he was looking at, and he told me that the woman across the street had been stealing cats around the neighborhood.  She used to stroll around in her front yard, tending to her garden completely nude before the accident.

Hundreds of years of grinding his fingers against the dirty guitar strings left him with permanent brown lines on the tips of his fingers.  Under a bruised sky he used to lay out on the South Lawn and mimic the songs of birds with his ancient strings, humming a tune that reminded him of a girl and the leaves that fell delicately on pools of water that dappled the sidewalks of Henderson that fall.  Her body was cold and soft and her slow wet kisses tasted like mint toothpaste.  He hated mint toothpaste.

Expeditiously he drank.  The bottom of each bottle found him more distant and less inspired.  The momentous force of deadlines washed over him like the ambivalent caress of ocean waves, neither moving him nor leaving him still.

“It’s all shit,” he said, bouncing a crumpled leaf of college-ruled notebook paper off the rim of a shallow wastebasket.  It was no longer enough to hide behind personas and characters; he was now faced with the daunting task of finding oneself, defining in words the nature of his experiences here in this world.  The toilet flushed and a tall, lanky young man stepped out of the bathroom in a karate gi.  “Any luck?”

“Who am I?” Brent demanded, the television screen glinting off his ardent eyes.  “Who the fuck am I—really?”

“I think you’re taking this thing way too seriously.”

“The HELL I AM!” he shouted, knocking his laptop off the table.  He stood up and punched the air with his fist.  “THE HELL I AM!”

Hoot left.

I could see the mysterious woman unloading her trunk.  She had several large boxes that didn’t seem to weigh very much.  The long shadows that glided across the unkempt lawn reminded me that it was getting late and that I needed to get going.  Brent was passed out on the sofa.  In his lap was the dead kitten.

Grinding and crackling under a crimson sun I rode through the mountains towards Lake Ouachita where I could smoke a joint and consider the matter further.  Brent had locked himself in his house tending to nothing more than the typewriter, the bathroom, and the refrigerator full of booze.  He was determined to beat the muses from his soul.  His appearance had become darker and the lines that began to form under his eyes made him look less like the pervert artist and more like a wicked scientist looming over his work with haunting focus.  He paced nervously back in forth from the living room to the bedroom and back again, murmuring to himself and rubbing his hands together.  He took a break, masturbated, and then went back to pacing.

“Brent Linsley is the empty shell of a human being,” his mother said.  “Imagine Jesus without the sense of purpose or crucifixion, and powered not by the will of God, but by an empty bottle of Jack Daniels.  With enough angst to run a voodoo factory, Brent wastes away in a soulless town of licentiousness and shit coffee.  He hates coffee and shellfish.  Shellfish gives him hives.”


(Biographical sketch of Brent Linsley by Brian Grant)