Offcourse Literary Journal

Back Formation, by Harvey Sutlive.


[Corrected version: the last few paragraphs were missing in the previously posted file. February 19th, 2004]

The beach on the island before the hurricane — was nothing. Waves crashed straight on our seawall at every high tide. They hit the wall and shot straight in the air — a cannonball sound, then that high sheet of water.

Our house was beside the seawall — spray from the waves made long grass-killing ponds in our back yard. Wave mist in the sea breeze floated through the screen wire of our back porch. When I was a kid I slept on the back porch. I listened for the waves. After every crash the mist came — a coolness on the face.

The Fortson family owned most of the south end of the island. Well before the hurricane the seawall down there had failed completely. But the Fortsons didn't care — they lived on the back of the island, on a bluff, on the Cassina River. Their house was divided from the ocean by a thick belt of pine woods. On the south end at high tide the seawall was under water. Waves were crashing in the Fortson's pine trees.

The Fortsons didn't always live in Cassina. In the early sixties old Mr. Fortson happened to buy a bankrupt Cassina-based phosphate company, and the south half of the island was one of its assets.

Mr. Fortson made money in the trucking business in World War II. He bought up timberland and small businesses afterwards. His fortune rode on the growth of the country. During the war, while he still was still in the trucking business, three men jumped him in a gravel parking lot. They beat him nearly to death. They pounded his face on the gravel until his features were obliterated.

And Mr. Fortson never had his face properly repaired. He kept the white tissuey mask from the gravel parking lot. Flat-nosed and his features tilted slightly — eyes like slits. He preferred that to whatever a doctor might have given him.

Waves washed the earth from the roots of the Fortson's pine trees. The trees stood on their knuckly roots awhile and died and fell over. The pine forest was slowly becoming a beach.

On the south end at high tide dolphins rode across the seawall and they drove schools of mullet and sea bass into the fallen trees. The wave action in the upended roots stunned and confused the fish. The dolphins fed on them. Sharks learned to negotiate the shallow water and they fed on the dolphins' leftovers. At high tide the triangular shark fins glided in the uprooted trees, upon the moving water.

We had the lighthouse on the north end of the island. Coast Guard personnel in clean white uniforms manned the lighthouse. Elephant Island lighthouse duty was considered desirable duty.

Before the hurricane came, Coast Guard personnel lived in the keepers' hamlet, a few old wooden houses remodeled and with air conditioning, situated round the base of the lighthouse. There was a camping place for eight or ten tents or vehicles beside the Coast Guard station.

Campers and residents might climb the steps round inside the lighthouse, inside the curving brickwork, anytime, and ascend to the top. And view the small bright lighthouse beam in its tabernacle of glass prisms. Grasp the thick well-made cast iron railing round the outside ledge or balcony atop the lighthouse. And stare into the strange vast landscape up there — the infinity of sky and ocean.

There was never anything Elephant-like about our island. It was a typical narrow coastal island. Sand and black crumbly soil, a few big live oaks, a few sandy roads. The name came from a longer Indian word that sounded like Elephant to the first Europeans.

At dead low tide, a broken old seawall appeared in the water off the beach. It was old failed protection for a long-disappeared row of houses. The land those lost houses were built upon had become part of the ocean.

Some families in our community continued to pay taxes on those lost lots. They refused to give up title. They reasoned the ocean might recede someday, just as it had come in, and they would have their property back. My grandmother paid taxes for years on a lot in that row.

We had the lighthouse, and we had the old fishing pier beside the lighthouse. Once, the fishing pier had been a dance pavilion. But the dance floor rotted away, and it was replaced with yellow planks dipped in chemicals. The sun bleached the planks almost white. The pier was wide and sturdy and it reached nearly to the old seawall, but did not pass over it.

My friend Tony and I fished the far side of the old seawall in a flat-bottomed skiff we kept tied on the sand under the pier. Once or twice we even tried the North Jetty in our skiff — the fishing was terrific out there. But we were afraid in the skiff. The currents were too strong and unpredictable.

The North Jetty was a simple brutal line of huge granite rocks that protected the north edge of the Cassina shipping channel. Waves and ocean current piled up acres of sand above the huge Jetty rocks. Campers from the Coast Guard station often hiked out at low water on the sand, or on top of the Jetty, and fished the incoming tide.

But on the incoming tide, the sand vanished, then the Jetty vanished. It was easy to be caught out there. It was possible to stand half a mile from shore in strong currents and look landward and see the last of the tops of the big rocks disappear into the incoming tide. Everybody had a story about racing to get back along the top of the Jetty. Balancing and leaping rock to rock across the pickup-sized lumps of slippery granite. While there was still a way to walk back. Every few years somebody drowned out there.

My friend Tony's grandfather, Mr. Sala, was born in Umbria in central Italy. His family raised cigar tobacco and sunflowers on a small farm near Lake Trasimeno. Mr. Sala was an intelligent, friendly person. At the time of the hurricane he was about fifty.

Mr. Sala hated farm work. When he was a teenager he left Umbria to work on the docks in South Africa. "On a farm," he told me, "you work like an animal, with one difference. At the end of the day, animals are fed. But a man — must feed himself." He had a half British, half Italian accent. He crewed on a pilot boat out of Port Elizabeth in South Africa for fifteen years before he got a visa to America.

When he first arrived here, Mr. Sala worked at the port in Cassina. He saved money until he could pay something down on an old ocean-going tugboat. Working nights and weekends he rebuilt the tug's engines and running gear. After his boat was ready, he bid on the Corps of Engineers contract for maintenance on the Cassina River shipping channel.

That job involved dragging the river bottom with a long steel I beam tied to cables behind the tug. Scraping and raking up silt from the channel bottom. Current carried the disturbed silt to the ocean, and the river stayed deep enough for freighters to steam in and out of port.

Mr. Sala's route started at his tug dock on the back side of the island. He got into the shipping channel and dropped his I beam and ran up to Cassina. Above the kaolin docks, he turned and steamed the whole fifteen miles downriver to the mouth of the ocean. After the North Jetty, at the second channel buoy out in the ocean, he raised the beam. Then he could return to his dock on the back side of the island. Mr. Sala made the circuit once a day, six days a week. That was his contract.

Nobody came to our island to swim, because Mr. Sala's tug kept the ocean water muddy. But for the same reason, all that disturbed water, we had good surf fishing up and down the ocean side of the island.

Old Mr. Fortson used to ride the tug with Mr. Sala sometimes. It was a whole day up and down the river. I have no idea what they talked about. Tony and I rode with Mr. Sala whenever he let us — we brought our fishing rods and trolled the North Jetty and the first two channel buoys for cobia and Spanish mackerel. The channel buoys were topped with blinking lights and a bell and a radio transmitter. There was a service platform welded under the lights. We used to try to talk Mr. Sala into leaving us on the first buoy on the service platform over night, but he would never do it.

The fishing was good on the island. Some people rode the ferry over to fish, and they camped in the Coast Guard station — that was allowed. There was a picnic area at the ferry dock. Anybody with a car and three dollars for the ferry could come and stay on the island.

After Mr. Sala got the dredging contract, his wife started bringing over extra family members from Umbria. That was how Tony came — he was Mrs. Sala's favorite grandson, so she wanted him. A harmless, good looking guy, a nice guy, spoiled from when he was small. Mr. Sala grew up in a farmhouse with no books and no money. It bothered him that his grandson wasn't a good worker. But Mrs. Sala always smoothed things over for Tony.

After Mr. Sala dragged the I beam for five years, he saved enough money to make a down payment on the fishing pier beside the lighthouse. Mrs. Sala started a little store on the fishing pier. It was a bait shop and they sold a few groceries as well and some hardware to the small community on the island. They sold supplies to campers who came to the Coast Guard station, and they brokered whatever Mr. Sala could bring over from Cassina on one of his runs in the tugboat.

And Mr. Sala was the type who could fix nearly anything, so he was in demand on the island. Everybody knew him. He could bring down almost anything from Cassina on the after deck of his tug. He handled the big steel boat like it was an automobile. People met him at the tug dock, and he winched stuff straight into their car trunks or into the backs of pickups.

There were wrecks of old wooden sailing ships lying in the silt in the riverbed between Cassina and the ocean. Mr. Sala found a wreck once after the Corps rerouted the shipping channel. He was dragging out undisturbed silt in the new stretch. The state sent a team of divers and archaeologists to excavate.

That was dangerous work, and the divers always used safety lines, because there were two currents in the Cassina River: the fresh water that flowed down from the piedmont and the mountains upstate, and a second salty tidal incursion, ocean water, which over-floated the fresh water well above the Cassina dockyards.

When the tide was outgoing, the two currents ran together. But when the tide came in, slow whirlpools formed, vertical, inexorable, and they caught divers sometimes and disoriented them, and drowned them in the muddy silty water. When I was in high school a Greek kid on one of the kaolin freighters dove in the river after a soccer ball. He never came up. His body was found later. A dockworker or someone off the freighters died that way nearly every year.

Tony ran the tugboat for Mr. Sala sometimes. He studied for a pilot's license off and on for a long time, and I guess he eventually got one. He always hoped he would drag up something valuable. He never wanted to understand how rare it was to find a wreck. He never wanted to understand he was dragging up and down and loosening the same zone of silt over and over again. Disturbing it and moving it on to the ocean. It was raking leaves more than excavation. He never wanted to see it that way though.

He believed that someday he would probably uncover something valuable. It could happen anytime. No one knew when exactly. Tony's take on life was that someday, something was going to happen, and he would be rich. He was trying and experimenting with combinations of actions that would make that take place.

After my mother died I had our beach house, but I didn't have enough money to live on. For a few years I kicked around the island. The year the hurricane came I was working for the Fortsons on the north end of the island. Old Mr. Fortson was still living then. They hired me to lay a few sidewalks around their house and out to their dock on the Cassina River.

For days before the hurricane we heard news reports about its progress. As it moved closer, the Coast Guard began to evacuate the island. No one was sure where the center would strike land. It didn't seem to be heading directly for us. About half the people on the island refused to evacuate.

Tony and I planned to sit on the fishing pier and ride out the hurricane — we had some cases of beer and a waterproof camera. Mr. Sala wouldn't allow that of course. In the morning of the day of the hurricane, while it was still almost a hundred miles off shore, he had Tony take Mrs. Sala and the rest of the family inland to Cassina.

After he saw his family safely away from the island, Mr. Sala, to avoid or to ride out the hurricane, fired up his tugboat and took it to sea. I drove him to the tug dock on the back side of the island.

I wanted to go with him. I had confidence in Mr. Sala. I thought I would be missing a great experience if I didn't go. Mr. Sala was never a father figure to me exactly. But my own dad was never really around, and I suppose we all do feel compelled on some level to copy somebody, especially when we're younger.

We see those little ducks after they hatch and they follow... a dog for example, whatever is around — we all say ahhhh when that happens, a sound back-formed — from a stronger emotion — from a need below language.

Mr. Sala's tug was an ocean-going craft. It was in good shape, I knew that. I didn't see any danger. Curtly he told me no he wouldn't take me. He climbed on board his tug and started the engines. While the engines warmed he walked to the stern of the boat, to where I was standing on the dock, and he stuck his arm out. We shook hands.

"Board up your house well and go to the Fortsons or go to the lighthouse," he told me. "Those are the two most protected places. I would go to the Fortsons because the lighthouse will be crowded. The Fortsons will take care of you."

Mr. Sala was loyal to the Fortsons. Mr. Fortson had helped him years before with the tug and with the Corps of Engineers contract. Mr. Sala never forgot that.

One big variable when a hurricane is offshore is: how seriously do you take the warnings. When do you start to prepare your house. Because that can be a big job. Mr. Sala had started early. His house had been shuttered and plywooded for twelve hours before he left. The fishing pier store was heavily boarded over. Tony was in Cassina with the rest of the family. So now Mr. Sala could take the tugboat out.

He thanked me for driving him to the dock, and I wished him good luck — I looked in his face — he was squinting a little — he was counting up and calculating about his family's safety, and he was thinking about the tug. I freed the stern line and handed it over to Mr. Sala. I jogged up to the bow and untied that line and tossed it on the foredeck. The tug drifted a few seconds while Mr. Sala stowed the lines. Then he stepped into the pilothouse. The engines revved and water churned at the transom. The tug powered away from the dock.

I waved, and Mr. Sala's arm came up — I could see movement through the pilot house glass. The tug's air horn blasted twice rapidly. Then the bow of the tug was pointing and holding a line for the shipping channel and heading downstream — traveling seaward.

A small Coast Guard truck drove up and down the island. The truck had a couple of loudspeakers mounted on scaffolding in back. The driver a microphone in his hand was urging everyone to come to the lighthouse. The air was humid and still. People were boarding up their houses. Hammer strokes and the slapping sound of unloading lumber traveled, barely, in the thick air. The tide came in strong that morning. Then, when it should have turned and receded, nothing happened. There was no wind yet. Low tide never came. The waves were oversized and smooth and rounded. They crashed on the seawall and shot in the air. Water stayed high in the creeks and marshes.

I spent a few hours nailing up plywood on my house. My mother once had a carpenter make window covers for our house — we stored them underneath in the crawl space — I closed off the whole place quickly. I unscrewed the back porch screen frames and stacked them in the kitchen. I fastened one last piece of plywood to the back door — now I was shut out of the house.

I sat on the porch awhile and looked straight out at the ocean. The wind was beginning to rise. The house didn't feel occupied anymore. Water was churning and booming close to the top of the seawall. If the seawall failed, the road would be covered right away.

I took my truck down to the lighthouse. It was full of people already. The air was stale in the body of the lighthouse. Now the wind was rising fast and it made moaning noises inside the lighthouse. People sat all up and down the curving steps going to the top.

The Fortson's house was stucco and block, two stories high, with a nearly flat roof. It was probably the strongest house on the island. I'd been working at their property for a couple of months, so I knew how it was laid out.

I usually dealt with Joanne Fortson, old Mr. Fortson's daughter-in-law. Her husband was in the military, and she stayed on the island with Mr. Fortson most of the time. I drove down to the Fortson's house. I was carrying water and a few clothes in the back of my pickup, and I had the cases of beer Tony and I bought for our fishing pier adventure.

Lou, the Fortson's maid, came to the door when I showed up at their house. She nodded as if we'd never met. She went away to find out what she should do with me.

Then Joanne Fortson came out and said hello to me, warily. Joanne was early forties. She drank a lot. She was a smart person, active, sexy somehow through the body. Meanness lines showed around her eyes and in the corners of her mouth. Pretending concern for my safety she shooed me in the house.

Joanne needed help getting the house ready. On that level she was glad I showed up. She wasn't a totally bad person. She put me straight to work hauling plywood to the front side of the house.

Mr. Fortson and Lou the maid were fastening plywood over windows. Lou propped pieces in place, and handed nails to Mr. Fortson, and he drove them in. They weren't sawing anything to fit.

"Where'd you get this boy Joanne," Mr. Fortson demanded without looking at me when I arrived at the bluff side of the house. I was holding a full sheet of plywood. The wind was catching and snatching at the plywood.

Once Mr. Sala told me he hunted rabbits with Mr. Fortson on Little Elephant Island, the next island south from us. But he had to stop, because Mr. Fortson skinned rabbits while they were still alive, and Mr. Sala couldn't bear to watch and listen to that.

Joanne introduced me and he turned and stared. "Oh yeah," he said. He recognized me from working on the sidewalks. It was the first time I'd ever spoken to him.

His smeared disfigured face was really shocking. I wondered how it felt to spend years fielding people's horrified looks — unless he truly didn't care — I don't see how someone could not care so many years and stay human though.

Mr. Fortson was in the early stages of Lou Gehrig's disease. He was using a cane. He still had plenty of strength in his shoulders and upper body. The sidewalks they had me pouring on their property were for him — he would be in a wheelchair eventually, on a ventilator, and they wanted the sidewalks so he could be taken outside.

When the Fortsons bought the south end, there was an old plantation house on the property on the little bluff over the Cassina River. The phosphate company used that house for offices and for a barracks for the company workers. Mr. Fortson tore it down and built the big heavy block house in its place.

Downstairs felt like a hunting lodge. Mr. Fortson kept the plantation house fireplace — that was a huge space, like a little room, six feet wide and four feet deep. A long oak table filled the center of the room. There were leather armchairs round the fireplace and glassed over gun cabinets on the walls. The bluff-side wall facing the Cassina River was full of window glass. The wind was so high when we covered that side that Joanne had to come out of the house to help us.

Mr. Fortson and Joanne held up the sheets of plywood while Lou fed nails to me and I hammered. It was late in the afternoon. It was noisy and crazy because of the wind. I was leaning against Mr. Fortson or Joanne and placing nails in between their hands and hammering. They pushed on the plywood hard against the house else the wind would snatch it away. Mr. Fortson was drinking brandy. He had a bottle set on the ground in the grass by the edge of the house.

"I hope this kills us," he shouted. "Give him another nail Lou." I hammered away. I was a cog in a machine. We were feeling pressure now and danger. We overlapped the plywood and I nailed it hard and I made sure each nail found solid wood in the window frames.

Joanne hated the wind and she hated handling plywood. Mr. Fortson was drunk and exhilarated. They were both unafraid. Joanne cursed when her hair blew out of place and she cursed while we struggled with the plywood. She was angry because her walls were being disfigured with nail holes. She hated me bumping against her, throwing a hammer up and down in her face. Lou the maid was sullen-faced and remote. Perhaps she was afraid, but she never showed emotion. The wind was high. Clouds were coming in raggedy streaks.

After the plywood I brought in water and the cases of beer and my clothes from the pickup. Joanne tried to tell me I couldn't drink, but I pretended I didn't understand her.

My truck was parked on the back side of the house where the pine woods started. I could barely stand against the wind. I realized a big limb might blow out of the pines — if it hit me it would kill me. I could only hear the extreme wind. Thousands of gulls and pelicans had come — they were roosting in the pine trees — weighing down the branches — hunched against the wind, bobbing, veering in the limbs. Above the pines, above the truck almost, I saw a black bank of rainwater in the sky, curved, high like mountains.

Then the hurricane arrived. The always rising wind. You are in a slot between the sky and the soaking ground. Time passes. The insane windforce. The roof flexes when the wind screams.

And you brace yourself — now the house may be destroyed — but the roof holds. Then the wind screams again. Your blood is filled with adrenaline.

Mr. Fortson paced the floor with cane and a brandy bottle. Now he was afraid on an animal level, but he didn't care that he was afraid. Solid water poured down the chimney. It flooded the big downstairs room. Mrs. Fortson had a separate bottle of brandy and a glass. She sat at the long oak table and mumbled to herself and poured shots and drank them. Mr. Fortson sloshed back and forth in the water.

The wind force wore down Lou the maid eventually. She had isolated herself at the long table downstairs sitting head buried in her arms without talking or drinking alcohol. During the night sometime she broke down and began groaning and crying. The lights were out and we were using propane lanterns. I talked to her but she shrugged me off. She was trembling and groaning — she lost control of herself. Mr. Fortson stopped walking up and down the room and stared at Lou and handled his cane — I thought he might strike her and knock her out.

"Just go upstairs Lou and lie down," said Joanne. "Go clean yourself up. Use my room." She was watching Mr. Fortson. She pushed on Lou. Something in Joanne's voice made Lou look up, and she saw Mr. Fortson. "We'll check on you soon. Go upstairs," said Joanne. Lou struggled up from the table — I tried to help her — she choked and groaned as if she couldn't breathe, but she made it to the staircase, and I didn't see her after that.

I sat cross-legged in one of the armchairs by the big fireplace and drank beer. Rainwater cut through the bed of ashes in the fireplace and washed it all away. For awhile a skim of ashes floated on the standing water in the room.

Plywood blew off one doorframe some time I think after Lou went upstairs. Rain was pinging on the jalousie glasses and spattering and rattling them, then cracking some of the sections - and water was blowing in the house — Mrs. Fortson and I ran to the door and jammed towels in the broken places.

When the hurricane eye passed over us we opened a door on the back side of the house. The moon and stars were out. Foam was hanging from the pine trees. The birds were gone. We were afraid to go too far from the house.

All that wind and noise. The house rocking. Water spraying pressurized into the house through broken glass. It overbalanced your identity after a certain point, like being snatched up and beaten when you're a child. It happens but you don't have details. It's pointless to try to make sense of it.

Eventually I suppose it was morning and the wind seemed to be weakening. We agreed after awhile we would open the back door. The pine forest was gone — in its place was sand. I could see to the ocean. A crow flew towards us — sailing in and out of a cloud. Mr. Fortson screamed and raised his bottle of brandy, a fresh one.

Rescue workers found Mr. Sala's tug in the marsh a few miles below Little Elephant Island. It seemed one of his bilge pumps had fouled, and he put down anchor and went below to restart it. He may have been pumping by hand for awhile. He lost his grip and staggered against something — there was a deep cut on the side of his head — it would have knocked him out — so he drowned in the bilge water sloshing in the bottom of the boat.

There was a furrow up into the marsh that lead straight to the stranded tug - the mark the dragging anchor made. If the anchor hadn't failed, the boat would have filled with water and been lost at sea. Mr. Sala's body might never have been recovered.

A couple of shrimp boats dragged the tug off the marsh a few days after the hurricane. Tony and I pumped the water out of the hull and changed the oil in the engines. They fired right up. The propellers weren't even damaged by the soft marsh mud.

For a year afterwards, Tony ran the tugboat up and down the shipping channel. The hurricane after it moved over us traveled deep upstate. It dumped water all over the piedmont and up into the mountains. Cassina had flood damage for weeks after the hurricane. It took the river almost two months to get back to normal level. Huge volumes of fresh water poured through the shipping channel.

Just three weeks after the hurricane, Tony found a wreck. He was dragging the I beam in the usual channel and there was a shock on the boat — the winch chains snatched back hard on themselves — when he hauled up the I beam he found chunks of old wood on its forward lip. The bed of the channel had been disturbed by the freakish discharge of fresh water from the uplands. Tony was dragging at a new depth. He had found something.

He marked the location carefully on his charts. That night he welded saw teeth on the bottom of the I beam, and a row of wire mesh and iron bars across the top. The next weeks he dragged back and forth over the wreck. Slowly grinding at it and gathering it up. He threw away the chunks of wood and selected out everything metal.

The first week Tony pulled in pounds and pounds of metal rigging, and a brass signal cannon, and some muskets and gold coins, and a ship's stove. In two months he ground away the whole wreck and took everything out of it. A crooked antiquities dealer out on the west coast got rid of the valuable stuff for him.

He moved back to Italy, to Umbria, and bought a house in the Trasimeno area where he still had family.

The North Jetty failed in the hurricane. The storm surge moved all those millions of cubic meters of sand from behind the Jetty and straight up onto our beach.

The beach is huge now. The seawall is covered. Those booming belly thumping wave sounds on the seawall and the sheets of crashing water at high tide are vanished — all of that is tamped down under the cool damp sand.

The high tide mark is beyond even the old seawall — the barnacly top of the old seawall is barely visible now in places in the sand. All the disappeared house lots behind the old seawall have re-emerged as sand dunes.

Most houses on the island made it through the hurricane. Life went back to normal afterwards, except there was more beach. The Coast Guard station measured hundred and ten mile an hour winds at the peak of the hurricane — not the worst storm on record by any means.

My house came through without much damage — I had to re-cover the roof, and there were an extra few feet of sand under the house which I had to shovel out.

With the beach so much wider there was a little clamor for a while for better public access to the island. The Fortson family was against a bridge and so were most of the rest of the community.

The Corps of Engineers rebuilt the North Jetty. Mrs. Sala sold the tug after Tony moved away. Another pilot has the channel contract now. The new pilot docks his boat in Cassina. We rarely see him up close.

In the end there were only two fatalities: Mr. Sala, and one camper from the Coast Guard station. The camper left the lighthouse to try and salvage something from his vehicle, and he was swept off. They found him in the sand where the pines behind the Fortson's house used to be — a little blue speck of a person in a blue shirt — a camper who drowned.

Mr. Fortson told me afterwards he was happy he lived to see the hurricane. His disease progressed, and eventually he was confined to a wheelchair. He used the sidewalks I laid down. He was able to get out to the very end and wheel himself around in the fresh air.

About two years after the hurricane, when the strength of his arms was almost gone, he wheeled out to the dock beside the river one morning and shot himself. Per his instructions, they buried him on the bluff.
Mr. Fortson's son flew in for the funeral. Mrs. Sala as well as a few other people on the island were invited. A string quarted played music, and a senator came and gave a talk. The senator mentioned all of Mr. Fortson's accomplishments. The service took place on the bluff outside Mr. Fortson's house. There was music after the senator's talk.

But the breeze was up and that made the music seem thin. And after the music, they buried him. Nobody cried. It was an uncomfortable ceremony. Actually — someone did cry quietly during the talking and during the music as well. That was Mrs. Sala. But everyone who noticed her knew right away she must be thinking of Mr. Sala.



Harvey Sutlive's stories appeared in Offcourse Issue #15 and in Issue #16. He lives in a rural area outside Athens, Georgia. You may contact him in care of


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