Allison Scarpulla

A Short Study of Four Days 

by Peter Golub

Day 0: The Statue of Cortez or the Parable of Spanish Communists

"Thou," she said and her husky voice was fond again. "Thou. I suppose if a man has something once, always something of it remains." 

"Listo," he said, looking at her squarely and flatly now. "I am ready for what the day brings."

"I believe thou art back," she said to him. "I believe it. But, hombre, thou wert a long way gone."

"Lend me another swallow from thy bottle," he said to the man standing next to the woman. "And then let us be going."


Meanwhile Pedro had returned from his assassination of the French General Maurice Chevalier. Maria was waiting for him anxiously at the door. Maria was a Marxist, Pedro reminded himself, and the best kind of Marxist, the kind with a 0.7 hip to waist ratio, perky breasts, and thin legs that reminded him of gazelles. She was one of the few women he knew who could hold two disparate concepts in her mind at once, such as Hegel's dialectics and why Versace's fall catalogue had entirely reneged on its promise to be more environmentally friendly or at least stop using the tears of clubbed baby seals to weather proof their handbags.

She stood before him now in a tight skirt and blouse, and he wanted to possess her − to own her the way he owned any other object, such as his radio or the rubber pig mask he had worn to harass the Nazis in Seville. Suddenly he and Maria were making love − or was it merely sex? He knew there was a difference between sex and love, but always forgot which he preferred on which day of the week. Maria, he reflected, was a soft enveloping presence. Existence, too, was a soft enveloping presence; so were beds, wool sweaters, and that towel they brought to the river when he visited the house of her parents in the Sierra Nevada.

After making love, Maria's head resting beneath his chin, he thought about the great difference between Being and Being-in-the-World, and frowned a little when it occurred to him that no matter what group he belonged to, the other seemed to be having more fun. But this was a brief moment of consternation. The rest of the night was spent in blissful slumber, occasionally interrupted with the watching of sitcoms and more lovemaking. He slept well, but in the morning was awakened by a great knock at the door. The police had come to arrest him for the murder of Chevalier.

At headquarters, Pedro protested his innocence, but he was informed that his fingerprints had been found all over Chevalier's room and on the recovered pistol. When he broke into Chevalier's house, Pedro had also made the mistake of signing the guestbook. It was hopeless − an open-and-shut case.

The trial, which took place over the following weeks, was like a circus, although there was some difficulty getting the elephants into the courtroom. At last, the jury found Pedro guilty, and he was sentenced to death by guillotine. An appeal for clemency was turned down on a technicality when it was learned that Pedro's lawyer had filed it while wearing a cardboard mustache.

Six weeks later, on the eve of his execution, Pedro thought of Maria who'd run off with a Brazilian soccer player from the women's team. He still had a hard time believing the events of the past months − particularly the part about the elephants in the courtroom. By this time the next day, he would be dead. Pedro had always thought of death as something that happened to other people. "I have noticed it happens to fat people a lot," he told his lawyer. To Pedro, death seemed to be only another abstraction. Men die, he thought, but do I die? This question puzzled him, but a few simple line drawings on a notepad done by one of the guards set the whole thing clear. There was no evading it. Soon he would no longer exist.

Pedro had always been an atheist, but when the priest arrived, he asked if there was still time for him to convert. Father Bernard shook his head. "This time of year, I'm afraid most of your major faiths are filled," he said. "Probably the best I could do on such short notice is make a call and maybe get you into something Hindu. I'll need a passport-sized photograph, though."

It was no use; he would have to die without religion. Pedro longed to be free − to be out of jail and skip through the meadow with Maria. (Pedro always skipped when he was happy or very nervous. Indeed, it was this habit of skipping that kept him from major combat operations.) The thought of freedom made him feel simultaneously exhilarated and terrified. If I were truly free, he thought, I would exercise my possibilities to the fullest. Perhaps I could become a marine biologist and genetically engineer a kind of photosynthetic fish that would feed billions without harming the environment; I would engineer its brain so that it would actually enjoy being caught and eaten. The possibilities seemed endless.

He grew dizzy as he contemplated his choices and was about to faint when a guard opened his cell door and told him that the real murderer had confessed and that Pedro was free to go. He sank onto his knees and kissed the floor then proceeded to skip in circles around the cell until he was taken away by two guards. That year he wrote a series of widely read children's books about the evolution of ants and later won the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for the longest Wikipedia page ever written, a work regarded highly by the avant-garde since it was written seventy years before the advent of the internet. 

Day 1: The Journey to the House in the Forest

He stared out the window now. The train passed fields of yellow grass where cows moved along the bluing horizon. He imagined the house he had never seen and its various rooms, and her in those rooms. Preoccupied with household chores, making calls from the phone in the kitchen, walking to the car in the garage, asleep on the sofa with a book on her chest and the sun falling at her feet. He imagined he could hear her in the bathroom, a room with a dog sleeping on the carpet, a room with open windows and her standing in a yellow dress staring out over the tree line below in the valley. How many rooms were there? he wondered. He saw himself hanging a painting in a room, a painting of her sitting alone in a rowboat with a dark storm behind her. A room full of old children's toys and a large room full of books: an old globe depicting long gone empires stood atop an oak desk and a little girl worked at the desk, looking very serious, concentrating on her work, filling pages and pages with equations and words and little doodles in the margins of her notebooks. Was there a room they would share? Was it in this house in the forest? He did not know, and not knowing this, his mind went to rooms in hotels and Mediterranean villas in Malta, Barcelona, Palermo, Crete, then to the far north, Reykjavik, St. Petersburg, Torshavn, until it reached the North Pole and fell through the Earth to Antarctica and then traveled up again to Tierra del Fuego, the coast of Chile to Valparaiso stopping in a hotel far up in the hills overlooking the bay as the sun rose after a sleepless night with her in his arms. The white curtains blowing in with a warm wind and the open window knocking slightly, a bottle of wine standing next to the bed on a wooden floor painted turquoise, the teal walls with old photographs of a young Salvador Allende working as a physician, Víctor Jara with his guitar, Ernesto Guevara napping on a balcony in Buenos Aires. How many more rooms would there be? Would she ever accompany him to even one? He imagined her as a room with a swinging chandelier and himself as a room with a washbasin and a grey cat. The cat walked out of the room with the washbasin and into the room with the chandelier where the radio played some old whiny jazz. The thin metallic sound of the drums was the beating of his heart.

Day 2: The House in the Forest

…especially if you've done it before

and now

doing it now

with the same feeling, again

in the house in the forest …

memories prey upon it 

these are the apparitions

awake and sleeping ones 

full of time and usually incredulous

the film

we watch

in the lower room

in the double bed

there is a dark deer

at the edge of the dark lawn

some omen

there are angels then


…what else…

your green dress

your green eyes are onyx

reflecting in the windows

your virtues, your forest

are as solid as your flesh

the instant which is also paradise


into the next instant

is it a wonder

we found it at all

a causal point

leading, perhaps

to a marriage of

heaven and hell

where we can all be happy

o mind in sleep, o desire in sleep

o house in forest

o curve of back

follow it, deeper

into noetic darkness

I am asleep and cannot sleep

we disappear


of going, of coming, of returning again

with/within you

the parts of which shift

each corner

presents itself anew

cutting it, each knot is a fire

each knot is made with our hands  

you are lying on the grass

you are playing music

I watch my desire reflected in the window

what we want, we cannot afford

not to want

we have only one course

the nets are flung now

go into it, again

let it not pass

method over method

trouble over trouble

you and

I over you

and I

entrust my hands to you

Day 3: A Dream of a Pelican

¿Amor? ¿Qué es eso? El calmante más natural por el dolor que existe. AMOR.

Imaginemos que la mente es una legión

Con mil variedades de salchichas y vodka

Y también que una chica bella se baña en un río iluminado por la luna

Imagina que estás parado en un banco de arena

Fumando un cigarrillo cerca de una pequeña fogata

A la mañana te despiertas cubierto de rocío

Un pájaro gigante a centímetros de tu cabeza

De regreso al pueblo

Una mujer con dientes de oro

Te pide que la ayudes a cargar dos baldes de agua

Es el día de tu casamiento

Eres el hombre más afortunado del mundo

Day 4: The Return


−There is a house you know.

−Yes, I said, I know.

−You were in it.

−Yes, I was.

−And they loved your nationality.

−That is one way of putting it.

−You were a curiosity?

−Yes, yes I was a curiosity.

−She liked you.


−What will you do now?

−I have no idea. I love her.

−But she doesn't believe?

−Oh, she believes alright.

−But you have loved many?

−Perhaps, but there is more to it.

−What else?

−I don't know. Her voice is like another world, another century. Last night I dreamt of marrying her in a village. I dreamt of the house surrounded by tall pines and cedars.

−What did you think was going to happen? Eh, hombre?

−Will she forget me?

−Did you see the sadness in her eyes when you left?


−You did that. Remember the girl from Panama?


−It was the same look, wasn't it?

−Maybe. Similar.

−The same look, criado.

−That was a long time ago. I was nineteen years old.

−You're an old man now, but not much has changed. Think of the others. The girl from Panama was just the first.


−And if she does go to you? If she does not forget you? If she asks you to return to her tiny kingdom with the astroturf lawn in the back.

−I will forever weep at the sight of astroturf if I do not return.

−And if you return?

−We'll see.

−What if she's pregnant?

−We'll see.


−I love her.

−Concha de tu madre!

−I love her and I want her to be happy.

−And her man?

−It is her decision.

−And your money?

−I can find money. I can always teach.

−And the work? The book?

−It would go better if she were with me.

−And the others?

−She can have as many as she wants. It is her choice.

−As long as one of them is you.


−¡Pinche cabron!

−I love her.

−Тебя действительно надо задушить.

−Ладно, хватит с тебя, иди спать.

−Да чего же остается делать?

−Нечего. Спать иди.


I feel like the bus taking me back is driving along the bottom of the ocean. I watch it all leaving me now. The trees stretch to the horizon. The side of the road is speckled with parking lots for cheap hotels and fast-food Mexican restaurants. American flags and pinwheels in the cemetery. It has happened. Perhaps it happened a long time ago, but only now has it concretized, moved from theory to practice. There is a different voice guiding me now. The shrieking of the stars has sublimated into the voices of the angels − a harmonious cacophony. I cannot make it cohere but it coheres all right. This is a sign of great love. I know it and am changing with it, with no will of my own. For a long time, perhaps years, I've had some rottenness or coldness or blindness or deafness, but now I feel my mind shifting back to that thing I've always associated with William Blake. Once again full of pity and love, and since you are the catalyst, it extends above all else to you.


The world has always taken care of faith i.e. it is not a matter of choice. What I believe in is impossible to describe and probably doesn't even exist, but regardless, you have given it to me. I guess it is important to say here that I do not know what effect I have had on you. I love you, but I don't expect you to love me or that you can even make such a choice of loving or not loving.


Abstract: The subject may suffer from a classic case of ageism (see: Butler 1978). The author of the present study believes that this in many ways is linked to the subject’s academic performance, which has been delayed. Although there are many possible causes of this retarded progression through the academic gauntlet, one possible cause may be William's Syndrome (see: Martens, Wilson, and Reutens 2008). However, although the subject exhibits many of the phenotypic traits associated with William's Syndrome (e.g. "elfin" facial appearance, a long low nasal bridge, an unusually cheerful demeanor and ease with strangers, and strong language skills) FISHing showed that instead of a deletion of the 26 genes from the long arm of chromosome 7, the subject seems to have 10 extra genes. The causal implications of this mutation are unknown (Hills and Todd 2012). One result of the diagnosis here is that it puts into question the previous diagnosis of puer aeternus (a preference for the company of young as opposed to older people) put forward most notably by Simon and Wheeler (2010). It should be noted that prior to 2011 nearly all of the subject's sexual and interpersonal relationships were with people older than himself. Finally, it is the belief of the authors of the present study that this case presents a unique opportunity for the science of psychology and neurology and even opera.

Glossary of Terms

Chinese Children: Although Chinese children are mentioned only once in the above study, it should be noted that the subject seems to be obsessed with Chinese children. The obvious reason for this is his recent encounter with A.M. and her expressing the desire to adopt a Chinese girl. However, it should not be ignored that the subject's mentors D.R. and C.K. adopted a Chinese girl in 2005. It is important to note that since 2001 the subject has attempted to model his sexual partnerships on that of these two mentors who allegedly were engaged after meeting for only thirty minutes at a poetry reading (see: Marshall 2005). At the time both were married, but after the persistent courting by D.R. (mostly in the form of poetry) C.K. agreed to marriage. Two years into the marriage D.R. was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which led to a sharp decline in the poet's health, affecting the couple's ability to have children.

Compassion: In an earlier draft of the present study the following words were found in the subject's manuscript: "I am no hero, there are few opportunities for anything heroic now, but I feel heroic nonetheless like a boy pretending to be a prince. I expect nothing. I don't expect anything. But my heart is full of hope. I will remain as I am but with less rottenness [see: rottenness below] and will have more compassion for the suffering of the animals. Humans, of course, are animals, quite vicious too. No animal is as cruel as the human; it is a great burden to be a member of our species, and yet I love you because I must, because I cannot fuck a koala or be inspired to love and compassion at the sight of a wombat, perhaps some are capable of this but not I. I love you because you are human, but also because you transcend common humanity with your kindness and sense of adventure. But yes, the suffering of the animals, of the animal kingdom is too great and I feel now, since I have been transformed by your love, that I must somehow be less cruel and more compassionate. The only thing I can think of at the present moment is to be a vegetarian, which is convenient because I have no money, and it is cheaper to live on a diet of rice, beans, and leaves. But I will occasionally eat cheese and yogurt and eggs. This I reserve for myself when the occasion arises. As for the human part of the animal kingdom, how can I help them? I could try eating the very bad ones, the bad people I mean, but there are obvious legal and practical constraints involved. Who has the time for all that ethics (how do you decide who is good and who is not?) and butchery (you can't just go to the grocery store and order a pound of serial killer shank or anything like that)? There's got to be something I can do. Maybe when I have more time I'll donate it, my time I mean, to a local prison or a community clinic? I don't know… As a mathematician you probably believe the universe is ruled by Paul Erdős' Supreme Fascist, but when I think about it, I know you know this is rubbish. There are only angels everywhere, looking down upon us as we ravage the planet. Maybe the best thing is to do nothing. O love, I could do nothing with you till the end of my days."

Fate: It should be noted that although the subject believes to have little choice in whom he loves and how he loves them, it is also the case that he wishes his beloved to "choose" him. This double standard seems to be a recurring pattern in the subject's love life and may be the result of acute childhood trauma involving an incident at the Moscow Zoo in which an alligator ate a large tortoise in front of a group of on-lookers. The sense of childhood helplessness compounded by the zookeepers' inability to stop the alligator from crushing the 120-year-old testudine, may have led the boy to consider existence, or at least the existence of zookeepers, as generally powerless when in the presence of the great forces of nature.

Heroism: It is possible that the subject suffers from a complex case of hero syndrome, a phenomenon in which a person seeks heroism and/or recognition by creating a desperate situation, which he or she may resolve. The syndrome may be linked to previous acts of failed heroism, and/or narcissistic slump. In both cases, subjects suffer from a sense of failure to achieve their dreams and ambitions, which in many cases were grander than the subject could have realistically achieved. Hero syndrome may also result from a more general yearning for self-worth. In the present case, the sense of failed ambitions and a need for heroism is expressed in the subject's preference for writers such as Hemingway (e.g. consider the passage in Day 0), Roberto Bolaño (esp. The Savage Detectives and 2666), and also Manuel Puig. (It is interesting to note that this section, Appendix, is actually modeled on Puig's footnotes in Kiss of the Spider Woman).

Madonna Complex: The subject's obsession with the Virgin Mary stems from his Christian upbringing and may be connected to his sister, Maria, who later changed her name when she became a Greek Orthodox nun. This abandoning of a sacred name in order to achieve a higher state of personal commitment (in order to become the "bride of Christ") may be linked to the subject's predilection for ascribing nicknames to his love interests. In the case of A.M. the symbol of the Virgin has been replaced with that of Snow White. The Madonna complex also plays a causal function in the subject's preference of love interest. The subject shows a preference for women he refers to as "miraculous." Although it is hard to know exactly what this means, it is clear that in the cases of his most significant love interests (whose initials are the following M.K., J.M., M.M., C.M., and now A.M.) there is an obvious preference for the letter "m," hence underlining the unconscious drive toward a union with a "miraculous" female as personified by the Virgin Mary.

Rottenness: Prior to meeting A.M. the subject considered himself to be in a slump he referred to as "rottenness,"  state of perpetual antipathy and/or annoyance. His excessive exposure to Russian literature is most likely the cause of these sentiments. It is also likely that exposure to Russian literature has led him to believe that a woman can restore his sense of harmony within reality. It should be noted that not any woman is suitable for this purpose. (See: MPDG Complex and Madonna Complex.)

William Blake: The influence of William Blake on the subject's idea of a good person, esp. concerning the subject of sexuality cannot be underestimated (Hayes 2004). The subject describes himself as an "atheist with Christian habits," and calls himself an un-Christian Christian. Although he himself denies this, his description of Christian "habits" inside an atheistic secular framework makes him comparable to many 18th and 19th century mystics and theosophists. Hence, his fondness for the poetry of William Blake stems more from philosophical rather than aesthetic ideas. Blake (considered by some to be an early feminist and a forerunner of the 19th century "free love" movement) was critical of the idea of marriage and was critical of traditional Christian notions of chastity as virtue. His poetry suggests that external demands for marital fidelity reduce love to mere duty rather than authentic affection. Poems such as "Why should I be bound to thee, O my lovely Myrtle-tree?" and "Earth's Answer" seem to advocate multiple sexual partners. In his poem "London" he speaks of "the Marriage-Hearse" plagued by "the youthful Harlot's curse." However, poems like "Visions of the Daughters of Albion" and "The Book of Thel" have made the greatest impact on the subject's idea of innocence and love. Unlike the traditional Christian schema, which frames innocence and experience as a dichotomy, the subject, like Blake, believes the two to be intrinsically bound, in that innocence and experience are two complementary components of love. This has led him to believe that instead of taking innocence away, a sexual act has the ability to purify a person, making them once again virginal.

Selected Bibliography

Allen, Woody. Side Effects. New York: Random House, 1980.

Babenco, Hector. Kiss of the Spider Woman. Sao Paulo, Brazil: HB Films, 1982.

Blake, William, Mary Lynn Johnson, and John E. Grant. Blake's Poetry and Designs: Authoritative Texts, Illuminations in Color and Monochrome, Related Prose, Criticism. New York: Norton, 1979.

Hayes, Tom. "William Blake's Androgynous Ego-Ideal." English Literary History. 2004 71 (3): 141-165.

Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Scribner, 1987.

Hills, T., Todd, P.M., Goldstone, R.L. "Peter Golub and His External and Internal Spaces: Evidence for Generalized Cognitive Differentiation." Psychological Science. 2011, 35 (8): 445-467.

Marshall, Tod. Range Of Voices: A Collection of Contemporary Poets. Seattle: Eastern Washington University Press, 2005.

Martens M.A., Wilson S.J., Reutens D.C. "Research Review: Williams Syndrome: A Critical Review of the Cognitive, Behavioral, and Neuroanatomical Phenotype." Journal of Child Psychology Psychiatry. 2008, 49 (6): 576–608

Sanderson, Rena. Blowing the Bridge: Essays on Hemingway and For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Greenwood Press, 1992

Revell, Donald. The Bitter Withy. Farmington, Me.: Alice James Books, 2009.

Schechter, Bruce. My Brain Is Open: The Mathematical Journeys of Paul Erdős. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2000.



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