Notes and Scraps

by jkatejohnston

17-25 November 2014

Dear Max,

“I love the national anthem. It’s actually a good song for once. Catchy.”


Teresa’s entering one of her silkscreens in a portrait show. Enzo: “You could do a picture of me in my boxing pose.” Strikes pose. “That’s not considered cheating.” Most people think of t-shirts when they hear silkscreen, so here’s one of Teresa’s to set the record straight. This is Jack Drinkwater, who we used to babysit, good God!



Explosion noise. “Oh, I blew up the Universe, and that’s including me.” Another explosion. “Oh, I blew up two. Oh no.”


I don’t remember what he was trying to get out of, but … “I think you should take me to the doctor. Diabetes. Sugar too low again.”


“Japan works in strange ways. It would destroy their whole traditions.” (I can’t remember the context for this but it had to do with weapons.) Then on the same scrap of used envelope: “You do not need to write it. You do not need to start another book so soon.” (I’d boasted that I finished my book. Didn’t mention it was a first draft.)


“Do not underestimate the power of a pillow.”


“I’m basically the only one in my class that likes fish more than Legos.” And on the same piece of paper, in Enzo’s printing: “KATE BUT STINKS.”


War—no mere game of chance the way we play it. We hold five cards fanned out in our hands and try to make the other person play first. Most of the time I put down a card first, and Enzo puts down a higher card. Victory. When the five cards run out we pick another five from the deck, only Enzo recycles his favorites, so that they never end up in the discard pile, they’re always among the five he has in play. His very favorite is the ace of hearts. Last night before we played, he was just carrying it around with him. I asked why he likes the ace of hearts so much.

“It’s not the ace of hearts. It’s Death Ace.”

Later he played Death Ace and I played the ace of diamonds.

“War!” I said.

“I won!” he said.


“Death Ace.”

“Well maybe the ace of diamonds is my Death Ace.”

“There can only be one Death Ace.”

But what I want to get down for my own future self is how funny and changeable his face and whole self are when he’s totally absorbed in something: cheeks a little pink from the fire, little Asian eyes almost closed when he laughs, occasional worried forehead, and all unconscious of himself.

More remarks along the way: “I have some pretty formidable cards. You will not want to mess with them.” Also, “Everything you hope will be lost when I draw.”