Crocodile Words


by Dex Quire (April 2011)

“My name is Joffrey Simpson O’Day!”

He introduced himself like that everywhere—-at Sunbreak City University, Clearhaeuser Timber Company, Dayfresh House, at Theodore Roethke Writers’ House and to Fontina, the woman he wanted as a girlfriend. He hoped others saw him as he saw himself: cheerful, tallish, broad-shouldered, long-haired, smiling, chipped-toothed, bobbing slightly—-happy to be living in Sunbreak City. If they didn’t, oh well. Joffrey couldn’t worry about them. You came to the big city to do big things, to do what you wanted, to see if living and dreaming really had anything to do with each other.

Joffrey Simpson O’Day thought he might be doing OK. He had received a Pammy—-a Pamela Prefontaine Scholarship—-that opened his way for graduate studies in forestry at Sunbreak City University, and perhaps, employment at Clearhaeuser Timber Company afterwards. He was taking a creative writing class called God’s and Monsters at Theodore Roethke House with a famous writing professor; he had a free studio apartment at Dayfresh House in exchange for helping with a rotating population of drug addicts. And he thought about Fontina Blanchet constantly. Maybe he was in love.

Living in Sunbreak City life seemed to be getting better by the month. Joffrey had been here since last summer. Every month he seemed to make more friends and they seemed to be interesting friends. It was now mid-winter.

Best of all, he was living in Sunbreak City.


Joffrey sat at his desk in his room at Dayfresh House and wrote out the following letter in longhand:

To: Snowden Branch, President of Sunbreak City University and my fellow students of the same:

Last Thursday our student paper—-the esteemed “Sunbreak City University Daily“—-included an eight-page literary supplement that was the culmination of my graduate-level, writing class project called ‘Gods and Monsters’. Though we were few—-five in all—-my classmates and I covered a lot of ground satirizing some aspect of Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, atheism and, in my case, Islam. Last year I read through the whole Koran (in English)  and thought it lacked the storytelling mechanisms of the Old Testament and the lived testimonials of the New. Its overall tone I found dry and sententious. So in this assignment I thought I would enliven the text by passing it through various dialectizers I found on the internet. These were the Valley Girl Koran, thePig Latin Koran, the Barney Frank Koran and the Pornolized Koran. To these dialectized passages I added my own shaping or editorial hand with results I found funny if not downright scintillating.

Perhaps I was wrong. If I have offended anyone's beliefs with my dialectized Koran I do apologize sincerely. I was not trying to belittle a faith. Wrongly, I did not give the whole assignment the thought I should have. Please believe me when I state that my motives were playful rather than malicious.

Again, I sincerely apologize.

Joffrey Simpson O'Day.

Joffrey tore the paper he had just written on—-in half, in quarters, in eighths and threw the bits into the small garbage can by his desk.


The famous writing professor sat in her office crying into the sweater-padded elbow of her right arm while laying down a few blind, left-hand piano chords until she found a wad of Kleenex. Weeping! She hadn’t cried since she was that victim, so long ago, that battered young wife running through the night, rain-nicked, hysterical, pounding on the door of the First Hill Women’s shelter.

She dried her face with the tissues. Why had she chosen the theme God’s and Monsters? A religious theme? Why? Why had she told her students she would refrain from reviewing their final stories? And, Dear God, why had she arranged for those stories to appear—-a literary insert—-in the student newspaper? Vanity? She wanted her students to love her. To trust her just as she was endowing them with so much trust. I wanted to be loved, trusted. Revered! The famous writing professor moaned. The literary insert lay open before her on her desk. She looked down and against her will and saw, through the teary windshield of her eyes:

The Barney Frank Koran:

…De Howy Pwophet In the name of Awwah, the Beneficent, the Mewcifuw. Now suwewy the cuwse of Awwah is on the unjust. Who tuwn away fwom the paf of Awwah and desiwe to make it cwooked; and they awe disbewievews in the heweaftew…

She checked her tears and looked at her face in a hand mirror. She imagined thousands of students, local businessmen or businessswomen by the thousands clutching at the literary insert as it fell from this morning’s SunbreakCity UniversityDaily. God, what was the circulation? 25,000? 30,000? The readers would glance at Joffrey Simpson O’Day’s Barney Frank Koran or Valley Girl Koran and they would laugh. Would they notice the famous writing professor’s name across the literary insert? That it was her class? Sponsored by the Theodore Roethke Writer’s House? Would they laugh and then look around themselves furtively? Ease the insert back into the Daily? The Pig Latin Koran indeed, The Pornolized Koran indeed.

The official organs would not be laughing. They would be howling. Perhaps they were howling now. The Muslim Student Association, the faculty senate, the advertisers and professional organizations that supported the student daily, the corporations and local government agencies that sponsored Roethke Writer’s House. They would howl and they would demand a head.


The famous writing professor had, after all, enabled a mocking racist tract to issue forth into the sensitive student collective. She had cleared the way for further unsavory outburst against a vulnerable campus minority. Worse, she had probably jinxed the fifty million dollar endowment to Sunbreak City University from Prince Salih al-Dallah of Dubai. The university president would have to answer for her; or she would have to answer to him.

And Joffrey Simpson O’Day? Did he write his Barney Frank Koran to spite me? Who knows? Who cares? The emphatic lines and planes of his face appeared to her mind. The dark eyebrows. Savage! something shouted inside her. She remembered his brash self-introduction that first night of class. My name is Joffrey Simpson O’Day! He made the famous writing professor laugh. The other students, five others, laughed too. Standing in front of the class, bobbing with good cheer, Joffrey himself laughed. Why not? He didn’t seem like a malevolent jerk at the time. If anything, he came off as Class Star. He sheathed a daring chipped-tooth smile, like a concealed weapon, inside long, parted, black, shoulder-length Indian (make that Native American) hair; he was tall with muscle-bumped arms and (presumably) a wedge torso, nicely chiseled and filed. He damn near ungayed me she remembered joking to her lover arriving home that night after class.

O God, how things change.


Joffrey Simpson O’Day arrived in Sunbreak City last summer. He often recalled those first days. He had just discovered Freeway Park downtown by the market with its wide-open view of Elliott Bay and the Sunbreak City waterfront. He had found a bench on a grassy knoll and took it all in one evening:

A bold sun pressed down at 7:00 p.m. as at noon and continued to glare until 9:30 p.m. when the light began to fade languidly, tippingly like a taffy-stretched fourth movement of Mahler. The hectoring gulls, clacking pigeons, commercial aircraft, student pilots, police seaplanes and TV helicopter pilots dispersed slowly until some kind of quiet reigned. The bay was papery with sailboats pitching in the wake of car-carrying ferries or deep-heaving, diesel-motored yachts (topped with topless drink-sipping nymphs) and razing speedboats with immense roostertails. Battered tooting tugboats nosing international freighters bearing hay bound for Japan’s cows darkened the watery rails that earlier shimmered like freshly cracked cymbals. A breeze smelling of creosote, shellfish brain and drying kelp flowed into Joffrey as he observed tourist families from flat states waiting by fathers twisting Sunbreak City tourist maps as if the maps were king crabs. Local Sunbreak Cityites were easy to pick out: they looked like newly-minted Egyptian hieroglyphs, walking behind a stiff forearm clutching a paper cup of coffee. Joffrey remained at the downtown park until darkness nibbled away the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich sunset.

How Joffrey loved Sunbreak City. The sense he got of churning, flowing enterprise thrilled him. He didn’t miss the long views of wavy, rolling rock of eastern Washington at all.

Growing up in Washington State, Joffrey had been to Sunbreak City before—-to visit an uncle in jail, to see a ballgame or a concert or, more recently, to attend management seminars of Clearhaeuser Timber Company. But now he was socially engaged. Sunbreak City was home. Rainier City, his neighborhood, was home. The Ethiopian grocer across from Dayfresh House grunted at him when he bought gum or soda. He flirted with the baristas at the corner Starbucks and sometimes joined the black pastors’ morning prayer coffee. When they learned that he lived and worked at Dayfresh House, right across the street, their gusts of enthusiasm propelled him to sit down and join in. He had never been around a group of black men before and he didn’t want to act hesitant. So he sat in.


Later that morning the famous writing professor found herself sitting in the office of Snowden Branch, Sunbreak City University President. Once every few months the department could count on Snowden Branch dropping by the door of each professor's office. He would pause, suited, bowing slightly, grinning slightly over the door. He was always of good cheer. His chin hosted a dimple, a hole really as if gouged with a router and the hole was amazingly, to the professor, always clean and shaven. When he smiled he showed intimidatingly healthy gums and lots of bright teeth. (The Famous Writing Professor regretted her own small mouth—-it was small and pretty like an Asian girl’s but she didn’t have the adorable Asian valentine-shaped head, the mysterious eyes, the night-black straight hair, the fragile limbs. The Other, so beautifully othered.) Snowden Branch would ask the professors, “How are you?” in such winsome tones that the most unsmiling, Heideggerized prof found himself, against his will, smiling, rubbed by Branch’s virulent good cheer.

This president had smiled the university into millions of government money and grants. He had smiled the medical school into a major research center for cancer research. He had smiled the computer science school into prominence, smiled the schools of mathematics and engineering to join in some kind of famous venture. He had smiled his way onto the board of directors of a half-dozen northwest companies tipping his yearly income into the seven figures.

Calm. The Valium had begun to speak to the famous writing professor. She was on her way out. No, she wouldn’t let it happen. How easily the wrong thoughts flowed now, brackish, harsh mud thoughts, career smashing thoughts. Why? I am not a mean person. I value The Other. Why should this backflow of negativity wash over me? Ruinous falling thoughts. (Besides, not all Asian women are beautiful. Where did that come from? There were plenty of ugly Asians: the elderly women in the Boren Open Market: chinless, neckless, bowed, short-legged, bent, gabbing over radishes; made you want, as an agent of the Beautiful—-for the professor saw herself as an Agent of the Beautiful—-the Asian community more sauced with infusions of African or Nordic sperm to even out the graceless genetic lumps. To lengthen limbs, elongate the flower, world it away from the peasant huddle. She wished she could show a lot of teeth when she smiled.)

Did Snowden Branch ever worry about getting his teeth punched? No, he was too vital to get any teeth knocked out. Slender in his dark suits, spankily barbered, spikily aftershaved, she thought of his clean dimple as a miniature asshole, a third eye. She just knew Branch had a squeaky clean asshole. Flip, keen, she thought president Branch had the character of a finely-oiled door hinge. Super agreeable, healthy gums, elevated ways.

She, the Guiding Light of graduate writing students who fuck with the Koran, sat in the president’s office and pondered her chances of survival. That would be Nil. Make that nada.

An old lesbian state senator gave the famous writing professor advice which had held her in good stead over twenty years of Iron Maiden spikes of academic bureaucracy: All powerful men have a toy train; try to find out what it is. It always helps to know a powerful man’s toy train.

The meeting happened before noon. She arrived at the president’s office armed with everything she knew about Joffrey Simpson O’Day. She didn’t wait long; Mrs. Lacey, the secretary, was gracious. Coffee? The famous writing professor shook no and Mrs. Lacey told her to go in and held the door open for her. Snowden Branch made a point of rising from behind his walnut desk and sliding over to a black leather chair. Mrs. Lacy sat in the back of the room, taking notes; really she was part of the modern legal furniture; no university president would hold a closed door meeting with a member of the opposite sex without a witness.

His office was a kind of stained sanctum. A chamber lined in dark shelves, dark leather chairs and a vast dark walnut desk with dark leather trim around the top. She loved that leather trim. Would she ever get such a desk for herself? It was hard for her to picture Branch sitting here off to the side of his desk, perhaps in the same leather chair with a towel around his shoulders while a gay Filipino barber clipped his hair and rubbed male perfume into his scalp afterwards. So rumor had it. Three times a week. The books on the shelves—-the spines—-glowered leatherly. Unrecognizable books. Perhaps they were books especially ordered for the stained shelves. “I need thirty feet of dark purple books!” the interior designer would have proclaimed. Otherwise there wasn’t much scholarly in the office. It could have been the office of a Boeing Aircraft executive. Indeed a model Boeing 777 sat upon a corner table. Along with a Japanese doll in a glass case and above both a dangling felt purple pennant: Go Huskies! The only other hanging thing was a splintery-looking dream catcher. Probably a gift from the United Tribes. The famous writing professor fastened her soul upon it, perhaps foolishly, perhaps not. It was the one hospitable, human-crafted thing that would sympathize with her lust to survive.

She swiveled in her chair away from the walnut desk and faced Branch in his chair.

Branch swung a plastic remote into the air and aimed it at the red light in the middle of a stack of sleek black stereo equipment. She immediately recognized the high-end nature of the equipment: the amplifier was very flat and black. The manufacturer’s logo was small and discreet. Delicate knobs and thin lines. Branch thumbed down on the remote and Debussy’s piano work began to sound. An invisible pianist had entered the room and was now playing Suite Bergamasque upon his invisible piano. Branch was an audiophile. You could detect the wood of the instrument. The toy train. Stereo gear, this powerful man's toy train.

The famous dimple was so clean. It now spoke:

“I’m sure you’ll agree, professor, the times are not propitious for this kind of thing.” He addressed her as if she were his collaborator on a major funding project and not the cause of his morning mayhem. She intuited that she would not be called on to speak much during this meeting.

Branch began again. “Everyone knows or should know that the Koran is sacred to Muslims in its physical manifestations—-the very bindings and covers and pages are sacred—-even the ink and typesetting are considered sacred manifestations of the prophet and his revelation. And now, through our student newsapaper, we've promoted a set of highly dubious variations on Koranic text.”

The president and the professor looked at each other.

Snowden Branch continued. “I’ve arranged for a candlelight vigil in the quad. We’re calling it a Festival of Affirmation and Light and I would like to request your participation. Perhaps a poem by Rumi or something similar. Something conciliatory. If possible—-I know this is terribly short notice—-I would like you to get an apology from Mr. Simpson O’Day. You would read it. His presence might be a bit discomfiting just now. I can buffer the impact zones. That is my job. But an apology from the writer himself might have an ameliorating effect. We can’t go back in time; an apology is as close as we can get to a time machine.”

The famous writing professor nodded.

President Branch continued. “The leaders of the various student groups will be there as will our chaplains. The editor of the student paper has committed. I see two ways this can go and neither of the contingencies is inevitable. The one—-and the one we hope for—-is that this will die down and nothing much will happen. The satire of Koranic text in question depends upon a fairly intimate tracking of American cartoons and culture in general. The other—-and the one we don’t want—-is that a simple writing assignment will ignite, or go viral as the kids say, and the forces of misunderstanding combust—-and take us down with them. I’d like to prevent that. I don’t want the school to get tagged with encouraging religious intolerance and all the rest. As you can imagine, we are highly vulnerable to lawsuits, controversy, scandal and the like.”

“I know exactly what I did wrong, president Branch,” the professor said. She spoke quickly but couldn't help herself. “I told the students not to show their work to the public and I myself didn’t review it before it went to press. That was wrong. Pilot error.”

Snowden Branch looked down. The professor thought she saw him tremble with an effort of self-control. Maybe she shouldn’t have said anything. She had always thought that honest apology was better than nothing.

She felt the obliterating effect of cornered male power. Branch was angry. So this was it. The beast. The thing that she and her colleagues teased about but never really seen. Male power, no it wasn’t a turn on. Could it be that everything she had trained for was an illusion? Were women so contingent upon male gentility?

“We absolutely must get in front of this,” said Branch. He paused and his silence nudged the professor. “Is there anything you would like me to do, specifically?” she asked.

President Branch stood up and walked to the window behind his desk. The professor understood that the conversation would now dive to a deeper level. The president needed to declaim, to defend his school. Snowden Branch fingered the chubby leaves of a jade plant. He dusted the leaves with his thumb and forefinger while he spoke:

“If we are building a universal culture, and I believe we are, we must be all the bigger for it. It is incumbent upon us to shepherd the least experienced cultures, culture-ward. We either are or we are not representatives of civilizational largesse. As such we have a responsibility to the less big, the less powerful. Just because we can do something does not mean we have to do it. We can’t be seen endorsing adolescent hijinks. We’ve got to be bigger than that. The university is not an echo chamber, but neither is it blotting paper—-everything to everybody. We are a community of conversation and we can set ground rules. We can and do abide free speech insofar as it allows us to maintain community; there isn’t much conversation in a shattered community. A great university must stand as exemplar of its universal greatness. A great university should set the example for wider society by treating its diverse student population with respect. There is no law that every group new to America be demonized or ridiculed. It is no crime against the first amendment to encourage considerate behavior; sometimes courtesy is revolutionary. We are evolving a world culture here whether we like it or not. And what is to be gained by wiping our feet on the sacred mats of another culture? Freedom of speech? People evolve towards freedom. By knocking them down with insults don’t we hamper their progress towards those goals that we want them to move towards?”

Branch was rehearsing, the professor understood, his speech for tonight’s gathering. Candlelight, folksongs, handmade posters. Or possibly their whole meeting was being recorded. The red light from the stereo system was blinking on and off. She agreed with everything president Branch said but she wished he would talk about her. What now? What now for the nationally recognized writing professor? And her high-profile writing program?

Snowden Branch must have read her thoughts. He looked up from his jade plant and looked at her. She blinked. He was staring down at her, now, staring at her with his three eyes, the winking chin dimple. “For a number of reasons, professor, I think now would be a good time to ask you a favor. For some time now the board and I have been concerned with our English department extension schools…”


Joffrey lived in Sunbreak City’s southwest neighborhood, Rainier City, and he loved it. (Sunbreak City was made up of neighborhood clusters called “Citys”: University City, Capital City, Queen Anne City, Ballard City, Roosevelt City, Freemont City, Rainier City.) He walked everywhere not wanting miss anything. So many spear ends warmed their points at this campfire: whites with enough money to buy a first house, mostly software workers, young two-income couples. They did stroll the mostly black neighborhood even with baby stroller but they were accompanied by a large, shark-toothed, dog. The couples gathered at a local breakfast diner and the women wore their ponytails pulled through the back of a baseball hat. The husbands looked worn and slightly abused like newly broken palominos.

Joffrey for his part was thrilled to be living among so many blacks. Or maybe he wanted to get closer to glamour. To look at him you could tell there hadn’t been much glamour in his life. The pictures of black men on his uncle’s jazz records embodied glamour for Joffrey. They showed black men in suits and sharp sport jackets or white shirts and ties. They wore a very cool variety of hats, always angled perfectly. Sometimes they were short-sleeved and smoking a cigarette. It made Joffrey want to smoke. Even at age nine. Their sense of style was unmistakable and spoke strongly to a poor kid living in the high mountain desert plains of Washington State. When he thought about it, yes, black men were glamour. Even working class black guys had a certain style, the way they arranged their collar or wore a nifty hat, something gave off style. Without knowing any black men he imagined them experiencing the widest range of American experience from prison to academia and onwards to the executive political and business gauntlets. They had permeated America and they were America’s greatest experiencers. A 21st century black American man would have traveled through the criminal justice troughs and eaten the extreme slops. Traversed academia or local politics and into business—-another set of slops but, again, an extreme range of exposure to everything American, its sexual extremities and crannies and multiple personality disorders; all that would have been tasted by American black man.

And Asians. Viet Wah was a former large supermarket, a Safeway or Albertsons converted into an immense southeast Asian grocery store. A smell walloped you upon entry. Deep fried garlic shellfish in a garlic batter. It featured exotica, the full palette of Asian appetite which was essentially the squirming sea-world. Surveying the plain of Asian edibles is a lifetime project but suffice it to say there is little non-poisonous that cannot be called Asian food. In the fish section mackerel, red snapper, catfish lay with their still fresh underwater colors on ice rubble. Sometimes they featured a large tub of frogs. You peered into the tub and were startled by the dark slightly moving mass and the dozens of swimmy eyes looking up at you. It made Joffrey feel like an anthropology major shopping at Viet Wah. Bent grandmothers and long limbed beautiful girls with sheeny black Asian hair; it was Indian hair, Indian’s cousin’s hair. Nothing like it. Joffrey could easily imagine a distant time and place when such hair was packaged in small silk packets and used as currency.

And Muslims. This was unexpected. At first he didn’t know what he was seeing. He thought the bundled and clad women were catholic sisters or some kind of strict Christian sect. But they were Muslim women deeply wrapped and religiously spoken for. He had news for Mohammed. The wrappings, the burkhas, did not really work. There seemed to be two kinds of wrap. Some wraps were heavier and some were sheer. When a tall beautiful dark Muslim woman stood at a bus stop wearing a headscarf and Allah’s own wind tore at her she appeared essentially naked except for the sheer wrap that clung to her shapely body; the wind hugging her into near blasphemous nakedness. Jesus had a better grasp of the male mind when he said you gobble women down in your heart. Male lust goes all the way down to the roost. Men go all the way in their imaginations; clothing is no barrier to the male mind. Sitting in the coffee shop a Muslim woman enters covered except for a small net at eye level but her ankles are bare and her brisk walk wafts open the floor of her long skirt. Joffrey notices she has smooth brown skin. Joffrey then extrapolates all the way up to her neck. Beautiful skin everywhere, it must be. And besides, there are two generous bumps at chest level; for those bumps to show through all that cloth they must be extraordinary.

The Somalian Muslims lived in the revamped public housing section near Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. These were new town houses available for rent or purchase. In the mornings the women stood with their kids on street corners waiting for school buses. A scene right out of the Dick and Jane readers of Joffrey’s youth except the mom was gowned in full burkha, the little girl wore a headscarf and the boy, a little man, free and running circles around his sister.


The famous writing teacher looked around her office. She did not want to go back. Back to the un-professor days, the zero-land of non-professorship. That dead TV-screen-turned-off-world outside the university. Sitting in her office she knew that she would do whatever president Branch told her to do. Anything. She felt herself the precise equal of any crack-head ‘ho groveling at the gold tipped, iguana skin boots of her Mack Daddy. Snowden Branch, you’s my pimp. Twenty five years of sneering, snorts and finger-air quotes at the words “male” and “man” might as well belong to some stranger’s life. Twenty five years of deriding male hegemony blown, poofed away. Sneeze, as substantial as a sneeze—-never had she felt so strongly the hollow evanescence of words, their spittle-flecked nothingness. Of Branch’s body there was no protuberance she would not suck, no orifice she would not probe, tongue-wise, to maintain her status as university professor. Not that Branch would ever make such demands but the famous professor needed these clarifying blasts to get a handle on herself.

She felt a chill and crossed her arms, her hands rubbing their elbows opposite. She yawned. How did president Branch put it? The extension schools—-Snohomish campus, Skykomish campus, Snoqualmie campus—-needed help just now and they could do worse than receive the oversight of a seasoned and prestigious senior professor. Great. It came to her unbidden that when a fan wrote Walt Whitman asking why he hadn’t made a visit to Washington territories Whitman wrote back teasing and said why would anyone want to visit a place where you can’t pronounce any of the names. The world-famous writing professor would be a kind of higher-ed missionary then, bringing the enlightenment of freshman composition to the natives in the unpronounceable boondocks. And when visitors came to the main campus from Dubai or Saudi Arabia she would be, conveniently, nowhere in sight.

The famous writing professor glanced at the literary insert spread out on her desk. She looked away quickly but she couldn't unsee the title: The Koran: 4 Translations by Joffrey Simpson O'Day. The rare winter light coming through her office window drew her eyes back to the paper and she read:

The Valley Girl Koran:

Surely, like, Allah does not do injustice to thuh weight of an atom, like, wow, and if it is like, ya know, a bitchin' deed That dude multiplies it and gives from Himself an awesum reward.

She couldn't read on. She was afraid she would laugh and enjoy it. And there was more. The Barney Frank Koran, The Pig Latin Koran, the Adult Koran. Why did he have to write up four versions?

The famous writing professor looked around her office and scanned hopefully her talismans: the small bronze naked dancer given to her by a famous lesbian Mexican sculptor, the set of Sunbreak City cityscapes, charcoal, by famous gay Portland artist Toshihara, the large pine cone from the Whidbey Island Wymynz Retreat, the shelves of thin poetry books, how she loved them, the whale vertebrae found on the beach at Seaside, the poster of Susan B. Anthony, the poster of Mao offering apples to smiling apple-cheeked children, the Che poster. She beheld her autographed, framed poems by Adrienne Rich, Richard Hugo and Tess Gallhager. Everything seemed to agree with her gut-feeling: not much hope here; everything would soon be boxed and in transit.


Joffrey didn’t like it when the Muslim guys walking along MLK pressed a thumb and forefinger to a nostril and, blowing hard, hammered a huge gob of snot to the pavement. Sometimes Hispanic guys did this too.


At nearby Aki Kurose playfield about sixty to eighty Somali men ranged in enthusiastic weekend soccer games. They had lightbulb shaped heads, stick legs and tallish frames. They were good players and fun to watch. One thing Joffrey didn’t get was: how could they tell the difference between teammates and opposing players? Every player wore a different colored outfit. There was no uniformity on either side. Red white black socks shirts shorts and jerseys. Joffrey didn’t want to know; he didn't want to speculate even. It was his private, delicious question, a grace note of his neighborhood. He didn’t want to wreck it by knowing.

Dex Quire is a Seattle writer and posts at

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