portion of the artwork for Dave Clapper's story

Spike. Resonance.
Dave Clapper

Under the Dempster El and off in an alley, the girl taps the vein. The buildings moan. Thirty below wind chill, and the girl’s jacket is cast aside. Her pupils dilate.

“My mother, my mother, on this night, my mother, she died,” she says.

I stare at the big whites of her eyes, framed by the shimmery blue-black of her must-be-Ethiopian skin. The needle, forgotten in her arm, vibrates in the wind.

“B-flat,” she says. “That’s the key of the wind the night, my mother, my mother, she died.”

I lean across her to untie the rubber tourniquet. She offers no sign of sight. The syringe falls to the pavement, tinkling like icicles.

“We live in Evanston, this night,” she says. “Lake Michigan is frozen—it freezes, you know…did you know? Lake Michigan freezes, makes mazes of its glaciers.”

The spike is broken. “Shit,” I mutter. I won’t get a fix. Not this fix, anyway.

“Mother, my mother, hears B-flat rattle the windows. Daddy won’t, Daddy won’t, Daddy won’t touch her.”

I raise the hem of her dress. My fingers are ice as they creep inside her panties. She doesn’t flinch.

“The strings of her cello—we had money, then—sing with the wind, and Mother’s cheek lies across the wood. ‘Sing to me,’ says Mother, my mother.”

I have two fingers inside her, slowly warming, slowly moistening.

“She takes her vorpal strings in hand, long time the manxome woe she caught. Mother, my mother, to the cello with her lake, she went.”

I unzip my jeans.


I slide my cock into her, the fabric of her panties pulled aside.

“Spike in the ice, spike in the ice. Naked Mother, my mother, B-flat concerto on Lake Michigan ice.”

I thrust. Her body is slack.

“Bach, Bach, B-flat, B-flat.”

I thrust harder and faster. It’s freezing.

“Tonic and dominant, Daddy won’t, Daddy won’t, Daddy won’t touch her.”

My breathing quickens.


I ache to come, but can’t. My thighs are raw with cold.

“And they never did, never did, never did find her. Only a cello, ice-planted, Lake Michigan forest of one.”

I lie across her, my cock shrinking inside.

“My mother, my mother, on this night, my mother, she died,” she says. Her eyes snap to mine. “Daddy won’t touch her.”

Cacophony, a novel I started more than two years ago, will probably never get finished. But there are little pieces of it that keep jangling around in my head, so I revisit them once in a while. The characters in this piece are entirely new, but a lot of the details are lifted straight from Cacophony. The locations (Chicago and Evanston) and the details about the mother (playing cello on Lake Michigan, never being touched by her husband) come from there. It was an interesting exercise to graft those pieces onto completely different characters. In many ways, I like this piece better than the scattered chapters I have.

Return to Archive

FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 8 | Spring 2005