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Out of Town Guests

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*This was originally submitted to Round 7 of the NPR Three Minute Fiction contest* It didn’t win.

They came in on a mid-afternoon train from Boston to Mystic, stowed away in the dark folds of Ginny’s unmentionables deep within her suitcase. She was excited to see her boyfriend after a month in Europe, but not nearly as excited as the guests she was unwittingly transporting from the bay-side hotel she stayed in after her long flight from Paris. The hunger-bubbles in the bellies of her stowaways were growing, and there was only one thing that would appease their appetite, and that was blood, tasty human blood.

It’s not that this multi-generational, extended family wasn’t happy living in Ginny’s dirty laundry, but they all were looking forward to a new place to stay and a hot meal. Even bedbugs enjoy a little travel and some foreign food once in a while. Luckily for them, since Ginny’s boyfriend, John, lived in the house in the middle of the train station parking lot, both was only a short walk away.

Ginny and John were in the middle of a whirlwind spring-fling turned summer-romance when Ginny’s job sent her off to Paris to cover the goings-on surrounding fashion week. For a month she bounced around from party to party, hotel to hotel, hobnobbing with the fashion elite, updating her renowned fashion column with candid pictures, and all the racy behind the scenes details she encountered along the way. Naturally jealous, John could barely handle her going away so soon after they met, but the numerous pictures she posted every day of herself and all those chiseled male models really wound his guts into tight, sickening knots.

John was excited to see Ginny, and by the time she’d unloaded her suitcase onto his bed, sorting the dirty clothes from the clean, his urge to lustfully pounce upon her won out over the jealousy that was simmering inside him, but just barely. The bedbugs, now more terrified than hungry, quickly scattered to the safety of their new-found home in John’s bed. As the late afternoon sky dimmed to a pale blue, the two of them indulged in each other passionately, a mix of animalistic rawness and pristine, young love. By the time the sun had fully set, the two of them laid spent, a tangle of limbs and twisted sheets, each reliving the afternoon in quick flashes and silly grins.

Soon, however, John’s jealous mind got the best of him, and his blissful bedroom cooing was replaced with a litany of questions, each more pointed than the last. Ginny bristled and pulled herself away from John, and the hungry bedbugs took a chance and began to make their way to a much needed supper. As Ginny angrily packed her suitcase, John’s jealousy became remorse, and John’s legs became a banquet for his still undiscovered guests.

By the time Ginny and John were done screaming at each other, the bedbugs were plump with blood and quite content with their new home. By the time Ginny was on the next northbound train, John began to realize that his jealous demeanor and short fuse made him a bachelor once again. At the same time, a bite from one of his new bedbug buddies began to burn and itch. Weeks later, John figured out why his sheets were covered in little dots of blood, and it was longer, still, before he made the connection that each fresh bite may be a tasty bit of karma for the way he treated Ginny. Sometimes life’s lessons are lost, sometimes they linger in the dark and bite you when you least expect it.

Depot House (from the 4 Roosevelt zine “Chez Depot”)

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The Depot was an answer when we most desperately needed it.

Mystic itself was going though an enormous change. The recession of the late 80’s/early 90’s was a new wrinkle in the fabric of American life. Mystic had always been a town where most kids were able to go to college, and then were expected to move away to more prosperous places. For those of us coming of age at the time, there were no prosperous places to relocate to. Almost all of my friends who were accepted at prestigious institutions ended up graduating from UConn, or other state schools, as the paradigm shifted. Home was to be the haven, and we decided to build it to our own specifications. This was a Mystic first, having a community of young artists stay in their hometown to build a dream. But we really didn’t have any other choice.

This aesthetic allowed an atmosphere of possibilty. With the Depot existing , Mystic folk could return home to a real world, and  Mystic kids could begin to think that there was an alternative to leaving town. The construct of this new actuality was the courant of its time. We called it “Post”.

As in -“Post Everything”- a way to destroy the cultural constrictions of art by using language as a weapon as well as a defining prayer. Music as  communique toward a level that would have symbiotic relationships flourish into audiences. The written word that demanded to be the spoken word, with Hozomeen Press, Fuse,The Root of Twinkle, and Albert Kausch’s poetry series at the Packer helping to drive that momentum.  “Post” was the realization of a common goal. And yet, beyond this cultural currency,  it was simply being in that house- and making it work-  that liberated us.

My most lasting memory of the Depot is the summer of 1992, when we were clinging to each other in an effort to not have to move back home. Matt Hamilton rented the closet under the stairs for $50 a month. The rest of the original members were paying $106 per month to reside there. The Greenman Collective was being built at the same time. We were as dependent on each other as we would ever be in our lifetimes. And that was exactly what we were trying to create.

This became the common thread winding its way through the lives of the Depot members. How do we all coexist? What were the parameters? How would commitment to discipline be attained?

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