Sonny, his cousin, was from Houston, but being from the city wasn’t why Witt found him interesting. It was that while Witt believed in everything—God, the Devil, spooks, not spilling salt without throwing some over your shoulder—Sonny believed in absolutely nothing. Not 9/11 or the Kennedy assassination, not heaven or hell. The way he talked, Witt sometimes wondered if Sonny believed in him.
You’ll notice how the commercials never mention the price. They’ve all got some lab-coated guy with chiseled cheekbones spouting dumbed-down drivel about how emotions have wavelengths, the same as light or sound, which are reflected and absorbed by the objects around us. How this discovery has the potential to revolutionize your life. Yes, you, the one glued to your screen at three a.m., binging YouTube videos.
I got the healing touch when I was sixteen years old kneeling over my dying cat Benjamin in my bedroom. He was trying to crawl under the bed to die, but I wouldn’t let him, hauling him out and wrapping my body around him, my forehead pressed against his. He was a year older than me. He’d been there my whole life. I couldn’t imagine life without him. He stopped breathing, his heart stopped, and I prayed for him, though I rarely prayed then.
The nation greeted Vrath with great warmth and approval. The Burnt Empire regarded its liege as nothing less than a demi-god; in a sense, this was not far from the truth: Whether or not the Krushan dynasty was in fact born of stonefire, they were certainly something more than human. In the Krushan tongue, which was the official language of the capitol Hastinaga and the rest of the Empire, there was no word for “lie” or “falsehood.”
Okay. So. There’s a time when I’m looking for Coyote, because I need to tell him this story. So, I walk the St. Lawrence River from one end to the other, and I cannot find him. Check the Rockies—he is not there. I even paddle to Baffin Island, because he likes to sleep on it. It is Coyote-shaped, a little. He’s not anywhere. But me, I have a story to tell, and so I look for someone else. Raven is not home, and Muskrat is doing Netflix and chill.
The story goes that Jackson Chua, of Chua Drugstore: King of Pills, finally slept the sleep of the dead for the price of one carton of rat poison. For days there was nothing else to say but, Well, that marriage was going nowhere, He was nearly bankrupt anyway, He couldn’t take any more of his mother’s demand for a son. Shameless lies, especially the third, because old Mrs. Chua was the type who played the bouzouki at a faux-Greek restaurant.
Meet Hermes Maleficarum, the reclusive force behind the multiverse’s biggest publishing house. A mystery generations in the making. The first thing I notice about Hermes was how unlike the rest of his family he seems. Hermes’ parents, Taliesin and his wife Morgana, were something of a power couple in the magic business, cutting a twin swath like obsidian blades at every fashionable event.
Three days before Mr. Fareed Halawani was washed and turned to face the northeast, a beatific smile on his face, he had the unusual distinction of entertaining the angel Gabriel at the coffeeshop he operated in the unfashionable district of Moqattam in Cairo. Fareed was tipped back in his monobloc chair, watching the soccer game on television. The cigarette between his lips wobbled with disapproval at the referee’s calls.
Born of water, into water, the boy knew no other world. It would not always be thus. Someday, he had been told, he would leave here for another place. His mother had told him this, in a quiet time, her body swollen and expanded to its widest, spanning banks miles apart, trailing enormous skirts of silt. He loved her at these quiet times, when her icy mountain rage had mellowed to a somnolent trawl, flowing majestically down to the ocean.
I met Violet for the first time when she tiptoed through the museum door in her gray schoolteacher’s dress, trailing the smell of autumn leaves into the antechamber. She pulled her faux-kid gloves off finger by finger as she craned her neck around the mahogany-paneled room. Then her eyes fell on me, sitting at the podium that bars the door leading to the exhibits. “Excuse me, do you know the way to the Bethnal Green Tube stop?”