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By Eyeshot al Sheriff

Bloodfire -- the first pretty paperback from Eyeshot -- is a short, dense, autofictional, speculative biography (ie, a novella) re: the consequences of living beyond one's means, wish fulfullment, confabulation, and anxieties re: neuropsychological inheritance/genetic dehiscence. Excerpts appear below from the book, which can be ordered for $12 (includes shipping and transaction fees). Note: a few copies remain of the first edition, which includes four known typos that will be corrected in subsequent editions, if any.

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Everything seems set in stone then it turns to water.


Thank god for the nineteen eighties. Everyone wanted a swimming pool, had to have a swimming pool, something to dive into, something to invite kids over to celebrate, a pool of clean water in the backyard. Morris sold the slides and furniture, the diving boards and rafts, snorkels and flippers, the maintenance equipment. In the summer he hired college kids who’d drive all over the area cleaning pools and wearing t-shirts that said Morris Pools. No cute slogan, his name and nothing more. No extraneous words to detract from that beautiful word––pools––what a beautiful word––pools––he could say it forever––pools—and my uncle foresaw a long restorative float in an in-ground pool.

He’d float till recovered from the drive. Straight down the interstate. The central vein. All day moving with everyone else, tense, afraid some lunatic jerks the wheel to the right when shooting down the passing lane. Or cuts across the grass divider, meets you head on. Drivers shoot through windshields. My god another day avoiding a crash. Another day waiting for the car to catch fire and explode.

Morris would take care of him. Keep him secret. Resurrect him in the healing waters of the backyard pool. Float him out in the raft after pouring a vodka tonic down his throat. Send him floating in shorts and sunglasses and water-resistant sun-block, a tape of a Brooklyn Dodgers radio broadcast on a loop, spooling nine innings over and over, the game never-ending, never changing, the twenty-seventh out flowing into first pitch. Each at-bat restores my uncle’s life until he rolls off the raft and holds his breath underwater, holds it so long he learns to breathe through his skin.


So beautiful an idea: thousands of miles across an ocean to locate a fountain in swampy wilderness. How inspired this greed beyond gold, only fulfilled by everlasting life on earth. And what with the church offering everlasting life in heaven it must have amounted to theological rebellion. Gold pillaged from the New World must have made them want to live as long as they could in this life. Only in life before death could they enjoy the treasures they hoarded. See all the palaces they built enjoyed by generations. Make sure no one squandered their fortune hundreds of years in the future.

Everlasting life awaited in heaven. But if they’d be forever in heaven then let the Lord lead believers to concealed waters. Imagine the Spanish king’s influence when he installed the fountain beneath the Torre de Oro. How many favors would be won from the insidious and ignoble looking to depose their rulers? Kings deep into fragility, in exchange for time spent with the fountain they’d hand over how many islands of the Caribbean? Who knows how much of Africa Spain would receive from the French king in exchange for a single sip? All the rulers of the world drawn to the fountain. The Spanish nobility would poison a false fountain, depose of bodies, then take unsettled kingdoms by force.

The quest for the fountain like the race to harness the atom. Godly power. Unholy quest. So beautiful an idea: the quest for the fountain as audacious as building a tower to heaven, which enraged God, who scattered everyone across the globe, scrambled the common language—and to avenge Ponce de Leon’s attempt to find the fountain of youth, the Good Lord turned Florida into the land of the eternally old.


It’s time to make it deep into Virginia by midnight where my uncle will rent a cheap room, but before he goes, he’ll offer for sale a kaleidoscope in which his in-between daughter looked to distract herself from insults. The shifting colors made her think of unexpected beauty in the world, though she’d said it more like so pretty when you look inside even if on the outside it’s just a tiny telescope-type microscope thing. Instead of letting you see the microscopic, the distant, it invited you into a peacefully hypnotic, gracefully repeating set of effortlessly shifting patterns. Not that she said it like that. She held an eye to the kaleidoscope and it helped her through the day.

Its value exceeds the stars visible on a moonless night in the middle of nowhere. Should cost ten dollars a star! Walk away with this item forever available to salve your heart. Always there when you need it. Almost free today.
Once the trunk is empty and my uncle’s pockets filled, he will produce from the glove compartment the black-velvet sack of earrings, necklaces, bracelets, stones and shells, assorted souvenirs, the small items of sentiment in ornamental dishes next to each daughter’s bed, ingredients that converged to ward off undefined evils. Simple collections of whatnot in ornamental dishes. Unorthodox Judaism reverted to trinket obsession. Pagan worshippers of soft white stones and sea glass rescued from the Belmar surf, pheasant feathers, a robin’s egg, a pair of black dice, ticket stubs to long-gone matinees, an old photograph of a man’s shrunken head in a jar, another of the same guy with three heads. Trick photography showing the three-headed man my uncle would become when his daughters’ heads sprouted where his had been. Trick photography showing the three-headed son he would have had if his daughters had all been simultaneously born as boys with one body.


All those gambling with their lives should have an easier time. There should be tables surrounded by carpets of plush flames were the dealers wear red leotards and black satin capes, goatees and devil horns. Wisps of fire escape from lips each time they curse the damned at their tables, the gamblers betting their lives, putting it all on the line because they trust something good must come. The break. The edge. The opposite of anxiety. They put themselves in the way of the worst so the best might notice the risk and appear.

All those gambling on carpets of flames should win a few rounds so it’s a sure-fire thing that things’ll go well, then they can decide to press their luck or stick with it and have life made easier by the beneficent casino. But the tables would be too mobbed, so they’d raise the stakes, cause some sufferers to lose everything, the way the infamous Curly Lemon lost the rest of my father’s loan, then was tempted to ask for more, but by then my father was pressuring for the first installment of repayment. The check always in the mail till he learned how to turn his Lucky Strike butts into bright-shining pellets of gold.

That’s the question I have for America now: how much must its citizens endure before the ashes of every cigarette they smoke become bright-shining pellets of gold?


Imagine uncovered legs and feet, swim trunks, inflatable raft, black wayfarers, hair slicked with grease and water, the blessed sun above, the radio playing the latest hits by Gil Hodges and the Dodgers. Sullen daughter not listening to the ballgame. Her brain turning speech into sounds. Thousands of years of advances from grunts and groans to verbs and nouns. Now an understandable set of sounds transmitted across something called airwaves—waves in the air, imagine that—waves in the air on which modifiers and exclamations ride from horizon to shore. In this case, the horizon is the baseball diamond, the shoreline the swimming pool. Extraordinary advancement. Super-sullen Iris Reizenstein kicks at the pool with timid feet, not even caring that Jackie Robinson stole third and a sacrifice fly or wild pitch or any sort of hit will send him home and break the tension the 2-2 tie’s been tightening around the game’s throat since the second inning. Doesn’t care that words ride invisible airwaves and bring the game from Brooklyn to their home in Jersey. She doesn’t care, in fact, so intensely that she doesn’t pay attention and thereby reverses thousands of years of human achievement, turning language into sounds she hears no more than she feels the sun come through her blouse and warm her pale shoulders.
Afraid of the water whether in the pool or waves of sound in the air. Afraid even when the water’s in a classic rectangular swimming pool. Look at her kick at it like a curled-in-defense garter snake, a harmless thing, the girl, the snake, the water in the pool. But she so seemingly afraid of everything, tentative, too quick to let her mind run through the list of terrors. Melinda, her mother, made her afraid of every watery danger: lightning storms, hitting head on walls of pool, swallowing too much water, post-lunch death cramps, kicking the radio into the water, electrocuting her father.

She didn’t want to kick the radio into the water and electrocute her father in the seventh inning of the Dodgers–Giants game, did she? Electrocute he who made life seem as though all there was in the world were pools of colorless water made blue by lining along the bottom (appearances). All there was in the world was all day afloat on a raft, arms submerged, spirit aloft, nose coated in sun block, trunks pulled over navel. No other way to pass the summer, the whole reason they lived and worked and did anything at all was to spend a week of summer days supremely supine on an inflatable raft, hard at work at nothing more than allowing distinctions between self and other melt away, the way an ice cube in a tall glass of vodka tonic melts away, as they say we all melt away, softer and softer until softer than air, a memory.


Ida was a good kid. A full blown bloom at 2:50, 2:40 in the morning. She became a wife at that time. She saw visions and birds and that crap, so I accepted her stories especially the 2:15 in the morning stories. She took fantasism to certain people and certain combinations of numbers, time numbers, two o’ clock, two-forty, twenty minutes after four, two-thirty in the morning . . . As you grow older you grow more stable to stable facts. She had ant . . . ant . . . ant . . . ant . . . anecdotes! Stories that used to ring bells and they ring bells when I’m talking and telling you bells and say “do you ring bells now?” I say I don’t ring bells now. She would come to a story somewhere that she lost faith in it and someone said jeez these are swell pairs of shoes, the best I’ve ever worn, and with that something else would come about, the story of a number, and I would take that number and rumble with it, as I call it, talk a lot of bullshit with it and see how it falls in. The bullshit goes with it or she goes with it and who’s following the story, who goes the most, one attracted to the number to something that they were telling the story of a story of a story of a number that a number’s getting picked up somewhere someplace, had no connection whatsoever and suddenly the story became a story like that, just fumbled out of my mind. Ida was a different thing. She always had fantasies about being gone with big shots, big guys who were guys who could afford to back up a story with facts and fiction, fill them in and give them a ring of truth, some had stories that didn’t have a ring, a ring of fantasy, but for her it wasn’t fantasy. It was that she had an opportunity that didn’t break through whereas the stories were plump and solid and she anticipated something that was working together but lost faith in it and never happened. I never had any stories with Ida.

They were banging all the time, he thought, he said, as he walked. She always had these stories waiting to tell somebody, breaking into a story, and it would come to a point she would not know that it was fantasy. She was on a theme and continuing that theme, there was money to be made in the theme . . . She would have stories that she would build up of cars. She gave the automobile credence to the power it had for her to get there to do this to do that, but sometimes she couldn’t wait, never worked for me any way else. Because of the themes she had in her mind, she had a lot of theories and she would tell them to me already in action . . . that was her dream.


He had learned not to intervene. It was not his role to intervene. If he dared limit his wife’s response to a distended orb of a mark on the garage door he too would be screamed at in a way no human being should ever be screamed at. No one should be screamed at the way my uncle’s wife screamed at her daughters. The way she screamed at me for eating too many M&M candies in a bowl on a table when I was ten years old. I was attacking a bowl of M&Ms, just going at them, coming close to finishing it, when my aunt (through marriage) screamed at me. I don’t remember crying but I do remember resenting her and probably still resent her twenty-three years later for how she screamed because I still remember it and only see it from the perspective of someone standing in the entranceway to the living room. I see the television in the far corner and I see myself on the couch, leaning forward to attack with wonderful clueless gluttony the bowl of M&Ms. I remember the scene from her perspective coming into the living room, which reveals something about how intensely she screamed at me for something as small and forgivable as gorging on delicious chocolate candies––an almost pre-sexual fervency to it, extreme oral pleasure. She screamed so intensely that my memory of the event switched to her perspective. What’s frightening about this switch is that it was just one moment I was exposed to a scream so unexpectedly harsh I must have been standing on the living room’s low coffee table, pants around ankles, shitting into the bowl of M&Ms. If I had been shitting into the bowl of M&Ms, I’d have expected shrieking, but comparatively I only very politely sat. The sound of the wordless scream, how terrible the scream must have been for my aunt, how painful. She was not a sadist, in no way did she enjoy screaming like that. It hurt her to scream, a scream that came from too far down to make rational sense.


He wraps a towel around his waist. The television still shows baseball highlights: back, back, back, and gone! No need to wait for the ball to crush your skull. Take up a bat from inside yourself, man, a rib. Much better than a Louisville Slugger.

He imagines standing on top of the bed as he slips beneath the sheets and readies himself for the ball’s inevitable switch to full speed, the pop of the pitch coming to life, the naturally energized swing. If Morris throws one down the pike he’s taking that shit deep––back, back, back, and gone!

My uncle stands over his sleeping self, anticipating the ball’s sudden acceleration, and as long as it tumbles ahead like a four-seam fastball––crack!––it’ll soar into the night and he’ll kiss his hand as he crosses first base to signal to his first daughter he’s thinking of her at that moment; he’ll kiss his hand as he rounds second to signal to his second daughter he’s thinking of her then; and as he rounds third base he’ll kiss his hand again to signal to his youngest daughter he’s thinking of her, too; and when he makes it around all the bases he’ll kiss both hands and throw them skyward then kneel in front of home plate and kiss it as he would if the base were his home restored.

[Forever after at http://eyeshot.net/bloodfire.html]

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