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The Characters

Writers have the gift of adapting reality to a liquid state. They are able to take elements of what they know and create an entire new universe - bending and shifting everything to whatever they see fit. The laws of physics and the limitations of consciousness are never an issue in the worlds created in the writer's eye. 

Nick Nordlinger is a creator of worlds. His prose takes you on a journey that leaves you alone at the final destination with a fresh outlook on fictional storytelling all while being thankful you decided to travel with him.  


The Characters

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;

Am an attendant lord, one that will do

To swell a progress, start a scene or two

-The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock



            The dais huffs like a bellows, the great arching stage which rotates in order to display it’s three sections, split halfwise so that one half holds the main stage, Harley’s stage, while the back half is itself halved, so that one quarter, The Solitorium, holds the Gambit, while the other, piped in and connected underneath to that huffing bellows, houses the Generator, wherein the rotating drama fuels the entire mechanism in effective perpetuity. This Generation now faces the Watchers, who, for the sake of those bellows beneath, and the continuance of Harley about rear, call for the pain to feed the system…


again, again


            …and rip roaring in comes Hungry Bull, mad with jealousy,

“oh he’s a very jealous man!” cries Willow Den, she tosses off the Waif, he clatters to the hardwood floor all knees and elbows, pale as ever. Hungry Bull is fire.

the Waif is a puddle, and though he holds back his tears he is tears.

His other tears drip from Willow Den.

“Christ!” goes Hungry Bull and it’s one, two, three quick holes in the drywall. The punches unpatch the old patches, the unpainted parts of the wall, hung ever like a trinity, now reinstated. Waif goes head back, to the ceiling, picking a last image.

Hungry Bull hands up, he has the age of centuries upon his routine, and the little ball in the pit of his stomach sees its efficacy in this bright, declarative, and present realization. I have cast these roles thinks Hungry Bull. Willow Den wraps the sheet about her nakedness, just so, though it is the nakedness defended here for Hungry Bull, yet kept from him, as this is not the same nakedness and all know it.

Willow Den wrings her hands, stuck between Scylla Waif and Charybdis Hungry Bull.

All are weary, but there is a scene to be played. For one quiet moment they all three inhale simultaneously.

And aghast Ghastly floats through, crashing empty mesmerized and lucid, an ever image, as there are many types of apparitions, and left over paltry whispers of times gone by. The Watchers who come to the scene, whisper and worship, wish to see again the scene played out and will pay money, even money, to thin, sick looking Guides, unnecessary narrators, unpaid and unqualified to hold such wild truth in their mouths, and who co opt this wildness for no one’s benefit.

The lights come down, the fluids are washed from the stage, the dry wall replastered and patched, the door mended, and the lovers rejoined. Hungry Bull waits inert offstage.

Though the offstage darkness is but a tireless building of the emotion to crescendo at his entrance.


again, again


and rip roaring in comes Hungry Bull, mad with jealousy,

“oh he’s a very jealous man!” cries Willow Den, the pointed beard of the Patriarch turns unperturbed from the bed to face the oncomer. Hungry Bull is fire.

The Patriarch holds Willow Den still close in afterglow and roots ground, not water for the waves to ripple through but staunch absorption, Hungry Bull a bit more than a pebble tossed undeniably. Willow Den wrenches from the Patriarch, and he slips out, wet, rigid, red, unspat…

“Christ!” goes Hungry Bull and go his fists to the fresh plaster spots like bullseyes, A, B, C. Patriarch, rolls over and attempts reentry. “From behind now,” she has turned away, and now dismounts the bed, to avoid the unhindered menace red and blue for her.

Your role is slipping, thinks Hungry Bull, and puts forth his hands to bring the climax truth. The scene has gone ad lib, and now loyalty reclaims.

Until aGhast, in that one red washed moment, atop the perfect scream, that tri harmony until the third voice quits and leaves the two perfect and complimentary arias in symbiosis, atop that duet comes Ghastly, like a fog.

“I am the past unacted,” croons Ghastly, and the faint glimmer that perhaps he’s never even once had Willow Den crosses the line-desperate reaching mind of the Hungry Bull. But no matter, it is a past scripted for this moment, it is pre-story, and so all unconsummated ownership, his fuck a million times loosed, her cums contracted and resealed, like a deal, like a fist, they are but a setting...

And Ghastly comes, like a mist, to settle the spell “think to your selves!” This is the thing, wherein he’ll catch the conscious of the Bull, but alas alack…as the Bull drives down the Patriarch, down desperate submitting to the oxygen closed off, by heavy thumbs, the Bull much longer the Patriarch’s lover than the woman…the Patriarch’s whole conquering self and persona for this instant wonders was he ever truly a plunderer of black lands, an explorer of obscure warmths wriggling evasive and unconsented, or was he but the notion of these apotheotical crimes all concentrated but to die here at the hands of the green-eyed Hunger.

The watchers love this moment most of all when Ghastly almost breaks the spell, but after all, Ghastly is a character as well.


again, again…


            Like a clap of thunder so the door through, yet bolt and hinges sturdy. The center simply splinters to his purpose.

“oh he’s a very jealous man!” cries Willow Den, as the Amorphous Thing extracts itself from all round her. It is a miasma of consummation, jelly of copulation, coming back into an ovular mass before Hungry Bull atop the moist mattress. Hungry Bull is fire.

 The Amorphous Thing leaves no trace in her. It is immediate experience, no past or future in which to hold it, keep it.  

And Ghastly goes “the Thing is the nature of you all, yet only It and I can say!”

But they are still characters. The Watchers stir on their heels.

“Christ,” goes Hungry Bull, and Father, Son, and Holy Ghost the wall gapped and his knuckles white and torn, blood beneath the dust cake.

Amorphous dissipates and takes with it the jealousy…


rotate the set…


            It occurred to Harley Wild that every place he went the one called Willow Den was there, and he had never cared for her. Always her, though he had changed locations drastically over the years. Paris, London, New York City, Australia, the tundra of Antarctica, the Orient Express…yet always these locations very static, save the long journeys between. He never journeyed much within the places, instead stayed near clear landmarks, stayed static by Eiffel, Ben, Empire, Kangaroos, Penguins, and Red Lanterns. His travels had felt still and mostly representative. He had experienced only auxiliary interaction with mauve replicas of those nations’ peoples, or lack of peoples. Yet always Willow Den, otherwise involved, yet likewise there. The two had coupled only once, beneath a Pyramid in Egypt (and that was all of Egypt that he saw, though beneath that Pyramid he did much business, conversive, declarative, emotive, Willow Den but one passing gesture in his time below that grand signifier), in what was certainly to her even more than to him, a forgettable event. All the while that they had rubbed naked uncomfortable and close in the hot sand, the air had seemed to pound, in pulsing, whooping gusts. It was like a horse kicking a barn door, and then later there had been a whooshing, and then a high-pitched plaintive wind, like a ghost. At one point across that pagan land he thought he heard a voice evoke Christ. The Pyramid cut the sun like a dial, and spelled the hours he had left to the left of their bodies. But they had never spoken of it again, and when he saw her every elsewhere he did not reminisce her touch as he did other lovers. He simply grew tired, a deep feeling that life would be this endless, static shifting of locations, with the dull and unavoidable accent of her face.

            Harley Wild was a smaller man, boyish and fay from day one through his change. He was portrayed such, tan and shallow bodied, but gangling, like a flame, able to ignite the drab static world through which he made his way. But sometimes he feared that he did not really run but ran in place. His world lacked dimension, he never reached into things, save people. The sky was flat before him, and there was no horizon. And it was all so minimal, even the sand of Egypt that time, one beige wash, or the snows of Antarctica, a white smear. He did not believe each were composed of billions of tiny pieces, they were just the conglomeration and none of the parts.

            And he had to listen to her awful poetry. She stood up one day in a New York café, the only place he saw in all of the city, and she read those words, those insipid, pretentious words, and, sick… Harley bit back the notion that he knew exactly what she meant…exactly what she spoke of…because as different as they were…as little taste as they had for one another…they had lived the same life…contrary creatures conditioned by identical stimuli…and though in Paris, or on that train through China, they had talked in separate conversations, with their backs to each other, taking no note of the other, and conducted separate business, and enacted different chains of events leading to different conclusions, it had all been married, and in one way the actions of the one had effected the outcome of the other…and doubtless a few of the people in their interactions crossed over…multiple times…and doubtless they had mutual “friends”…

And Harley thought, listening to that inspid poem in that New York Café, that went something like…” when the death dog calls

                                        And the white bilge drains…”

He thought, “she is mine ever,” and let his head hang heavy on his neck.


spotlight to that corner…


So Gus sits in his own filthy darkness, but feels an idea, or a notion, wash him, like slight warmth. He feels like an eye has turned on him, he feels ready to do. Aches are not just stifledness in him, they are sacks of beads, hanging in every corner, lower side, hollow between, his body could not be stretched sufficient to unclog that garbled gear. His hands are full of glass, and glass is all over the floor, tallying up all the mirrors he’s beat it’s 77 years bad luck now. All he can do is rage against his own skin. That is where the action is prohibited. And Gus pushes and pushes, the skin the bone, clanking rods, acch, against himself, and finally, then finally against muscles red, and through, and slips out of that tight shell, aGhast and slips aGhast and feels at once his true nature, aGhast looking down from above down at his angry shell, fetid and greasy, aGhast now discorporal through the wall before him and wails aGhast at the gyre fueling it all, the energy between those three (the third necessarily recast regularly) aGhast he finally sees and wails and tries to reach those three, or the one at least, those two maybe, til the scene goes dark, and then he feels himself slipping back, back, into that hall of mirrors, all clear, and sees what he hates most, and seeks it out…sometimes it feels better to break a mirror than to just reflect in it, because reflecting doesn’t really have any effect. 



Spot to the Generator…


again again…



“oh he’s a very jealous man!”

“Christ!” tap tap tap.

“Yes?” Crucifixion proceeds.

Most Watchers laugh, though some are offended.




            Breath halts. But there is enough juice now, in the dripping envy, jealousy, insufficiency collecting in glass vials all about the platform, and in the rafters beside the curtain cables. The poor Bull sits in hibernatory fume, poor creature if only he knew that Den was but the draw, Gus but the gambit (the condition of his effectuality ever tantalizing, and ever closer, closer, riskier, more drawing), all for Harley, Harley, waiting inert on the stage opposite, waiting hibernatorily dreaming of more places, and the crew desperately painting his next place.


rotate the stage…


            Harley knew something drove him, he checks himself, “say it,” others. Others drove him. But he did not know who’s suffering he thrived atop, what emotional generator pushed his story. But he waited, now fully impatient, waited, knowing he was stuck in the second act, waiting, hopeful always waiting for his plot point. “when does the movie start,” he might say. All this exposition, these flat backgrounds. What drive us forward.



now sir, I have come to see this marvelous contraption of yours. Please explain to me, what is the nature of your stage?


“Well, it is like nothing else. We have, three compartments you see, it is a rotating dais composed of the Main Stage, or what we call, Harley’s stage, on the back of which thrives the Generator and the Solitorium. In the Solitorium we have Gus, our Gambit. As the nature of our Characters is forever occluded from them the Gambit drives the framing drama, the framing drama being that drama of which the drama is but a mask, the true drama of the characters ever in their cycle. Now our Gambit has gone beyond our initial expectations, we placed him in a room of mirrors so that he could clatter against himself, but, shortly after performances began in the Generator, of which I will speak soon, he learned to discorporate, and send a shade of himself through the wall and into the Generator, where he tries to deactivate it nightly. Luckily our Generating characters are far too wrapped up in their roles to be swayed.  

            Yes, The Generator. You see it is what drives the Main Stage. A perpetual motion mechanism driven by human impulse and emotion. We have to rotate the third character out for each show, our Bull and Willow stay the same, though they experience each performance as the first. Consciously, some worn conditioning must exist in their pock marked brains, some part of them must have  stored a muscle memory of their endless endeavor


Conversation in the dark


what is your name?

fume fume “they call me the Bull”

and how, my Bull, do you feel.


yes. Yes, were you always called the Bull?

“No, no once I…had another name…another thing they called me on that stage”

Well yes, maybe, but you do not play on the stage anymore then do you? That belongs to Harley.

Who?”, his head nods up and down, half-awake. He snorts.

I believe that once you played the stage though. And then, when you played the stage, they called you Othello.

“Yes…that was my name…and I made a terrible mistake.”

Yes, and now you’re motivation is the same…but this time you are not mistaken.

“Not mistaken…then…no tragedy?...just righteous rage?”

Well, who can say. I mean in the original play, what if Desdemona had been unVirtuous…all the while…

“You mean…Iago knew…”

No, Iago was still plotting…believed himself deceiving…but unwittingly read true signs between Desdemona and Cassio…

“Well then…she’s Desdemona no more then…just a harlot, Willow Den”

And you…when Othello is correct…are the moor no more…you become a Hungry Bull…

He laughs. “But if Othello is correct…is he any less paranoid?”

They both laugh. “Of course not, my Bull.”


Where did you find these…actors?


Of course there was the famous case of that man who caught his wife cheating. He killed the man she was with but found the pain unabated. He said “I wish I could kill him again, but fresh, with that rage of seeing you on him, that fresh rage so powerful and all red in my hands.” And she held him close and cried and apologized and said she would give him it again, again and again, and so they’d travel about, and she’d seduce other men, and he’d wait outside, wait for them, wait for it all to swing full ignition and then burst in, rip her from the man, and murder him, all to have it again. But the fresh feeling went stale, and the kills upon kills left him unable to project through the fantasy, unable to forget that the murder was arranged between the two of them for his own sustenance. And so the Bull forgets that it was his own idea to plug him in for Generation, that it was his own wish to repeat the pain each time ignorant, each time the rage afresh…


again again


Now here’s the funny part


Willow Den reaches out, sitting in blood, all her own…’cause the Bull ain’t even through the door yet. But even without him, this time, the Generator is generating. Basher and the Virtuous Warrior are sorting out enough energy between them. Den reaches forth for the Warrior, pushing Basher back, and with a crack! the Bull is through the door. Basher steps up.

“oh he’s a very jealous man!” cries Willow Den, trying to hold her insides in.

She thought she had it under wraps. She thought, he don’t know jack.

“What!” cries Basher, now he flashes his rod at the Bull. “that’s her blood,” he says, getting real up close to the bull, breathing in his face.

But the Bull doesn’t even see him, sees right through him, looks through him towards the Warrior of Virtue, who is backing into the corner, trying to withdraw from the whole generation. Ghastly ain’t even through the wall yet.

Now, as I said, here’s the funny part. The Bull calls through the brigade, a bunch of boys all standing in line behind and afore the history of this moment. The Bull calls on the Gaurdsmen and talks up the Warrior of Virtue. “Hey Jeffers,” he says “this fool and I about to cave you in.” But the Gaurdsmen turns his attention to the Bull. “Nah fool,” he says “I’m for you!” The Bull turns to the Gaurdsmen. “Say what?”

“You stole her from me! Remember!” Something slightly occurs to the Bull, that maybe he wasn’t always this role in the story. And the Gaurdsmen calls on the Hipster

“yeah Hipster and I about to cave you in!” Now the Bull’s backing up, blocking off the Warrior of Virtue. A line extending back from the head of the snake, where now Gaurdsmen and Hipster are up on Bull cause he stole what he’s now fighting for been stolen from him, and the line is all boys, behind Hipster is Cost Benefits and behind him Kingpin and the Twins, and of course the Original. Some other characters are scattered through the line, of course many more would be there had the Bull not already fed them through for generation. Where’s Ghastly? Basher’s trying to find his fight, going up and down the line showing all the boys his bloody zweihander and saying “I bash good…right?” But everyone’s too focused on their individual vendettas to validate him. Just as Gaurdsmen turns on the Bull thinking he’s got Hipster in the pocket, Hipster turns on Gaurdsmen and says “nah fool, Ima cave you in.” Hipster always goes down in fights though, if he even fights (there never are witnesses.) Despite the blood Willow Den starts to get a little turned on, watching the line sort itself out. Cost Benefits cuts a space in line past Hipster and Gaurdsmen and straight to the Bull “Im a cave you in,” he says. “But not for the Den, for the Laustic.”

“The Laustic?” Hungry Bull backs up confused. The Warrior of Virtue has managed to remain mostly uninvolved with all this ugly business. Realization washes the Bull’s face as a stolen spring floats up out of tangled memory


When in that morning I held her hand and looked up at the pale sky, I pointed out constellations that weren’t visible. She looked back at me with that coy mischief, that which the spring into summer would deal in plenty, buffeting me and raising me up, above that abyss o’er which I had so long hovered. And a twitch in the rosy cheek beneath her eye seemed to slip all that wickedness into me, like kindling. I was arush with her, and the sky held our story blankly in the light. It would be spelled out for generations to come, there immortalized above, it would turn and cycle with the days and be retold again. And I would play different characters, later to become the foil, to turn against the self I now played with her. I didn’t stop to think that the constellation had been there long before us, in some caveman’s story, and that I was waiting to play those ancient roles before even our planet’s birth.



“Oh…the Laustic,” he says, smiling, hands up, facing Cost Benefits. “Oh but that was so long ago…and just once…well not counting the lead in…or the reprise”

And finally Ghastly, right on time, just before the rowdy dow…

“Three alone! Three alone! Otherwise there’s too much confusion. The Generator floods! You’re generating too much!” And truly, the Generator is bright and hass filled the whole dais with a deep, heavenly hum…and bloody Den’s about to cum…and so the lights go down and the excess boys are ushered out…Basher, still pacing up and down the row with his proud tool out falls through a trapdoor into a mess of guts…and the dark stage is left, mid-scene, with just the Warrior of Virtue, The Bull and Den. Ghastly slips back through the wall, into Gus…


Now it gets even funnier


So Virtuous viscera lines the walls and ceiling, Willow Den is screaming, covered in blood, and now it’s not all hers. Virtuous intestine are twisted along the ceiling spelling out LIES. And Hungry Bull is all aflail covered in Virtuous guts and crumbling down to his knees and screaming “how could you do this to me! How could you do this to me!”

The Generator is full hungry. Hungry Bull is fire.


And in from the other side comes Harley Wild, sees the Virtuous mess, and the Warrior’s face plastered like a mask across the Hungry Bull’s, who is peering through the Virtuous eye sockets and screaming, screaming at Harley, begging for a third opinion, asking “what color are my eyes?! For god’s sake what color are my eyes?!”

And Harley can’t stand the sight of the poor cow, and so slaughters him right quick, for his own sake, and takes the naked Den by the hand, ushers her out the door, out the generator and back to her place beside him on the main stage. They crawl behind the wheel of a cardboard car and head towards a flat sunset.

“Do you love me?” asks Willow Den, cuddling up to Harley, nibbling his ear.

“Not at all,” says Harley, his eyes on that drab San Francisco horizon. “In fact I can’t stand you. But it’s obvious we were meant to be together.”

They blaze forward, comfortable in that feeling that this is a new beginning, when it’s really the end of everything. The generator quiets, quiets, and halts.




Adapt reality


Nick Nordlinger | Age 23 | San Francisco, CA

Allergic to trunko but owns three of them. 

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