Pictured above: Mackerel fish chromolithograph (1878) by Samuel Kilbourne. Original from Museum of New Zealand. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.
Monsignor on the Lam
As a boy in Nowhere, Illinois, I came across Ratline: Nazis on the Lam, a book about death-camp goons snaking through the high grass of Paraguay with Vatican papers and fake optical frames. This got me thinking. Why did our priest have a Lithuanian accent? As an altar boy, I watched him fold the purificator and wipe the chalice lips. I watched his stony jaw. Had he lathered up the midnight mob? With plainsong to the bobbing pitchforks? With swings of the thurible that lit the killing-barn straw? Whenever he touched my shoulder, I tensed up big time. Yet, years later, I learned that he never left Illinois. A lot of Lithuanians settled near the mines.
The Stages of Cannes
At a Stage 1 party, you meet the boss of Film Slovakia and a sun-leathered location scout from the Mad Max remake. You also spot a '60s-era bombshell holding a white poodle. She steadies herself between two Paco Rabanne-scented grifters. She laughs easily despite mild disfigurement from plastic surgery. At a Stage 2 after party, the bouncer wields his flashlight like a border guard. Under the Cuervo tent, you run into a chain-smoking B-lister who screwed James Caan's fourth wife at a wedding in Los Cabos. He drinks 3 whiskies in 10 minutes. Then he repeats the story. The grandstand, sponsored by Dos Equis, features a salsa band in white suits. You dance with a Russian socialite whose husband bankrolled a Miramax movie. She invites you to the after-after party. At the Stage 3 after-after party, a jasmine-scented driveway snakes up to a Belle Époque hotel lit in yellow from below. The drummer is so suave, he only beats with brushes. The pianist never moves his hands. At the caviar station, Dustin tells you that he caught a mackerel on the set of Papillon. From a rowboat. Very angry. That mackerel. A fighter. "So you caught a fish?" In a silk bathrobe, Mr. Weinstein joins the mix. "That's all you got? That's your f&%$# story?" "Not a fish, Harvey!" Dustin pops a cracker in his mouth. "A 9 pound mackerel." You look around for the socialite. She left in a cab, the doorman says. In the direction of Stage 4.
Stefan Sullivan is a Washington-based author and philosopher. His book of philosophy, Marx for a Post-Communist Era: On Poverty, Corruption and Banality, was published by Routledge London in 2001. His Sibirischer Schwindel (Berlin: Die Andere Bibliothek, 2002) is a collection of two adventure novels. Sullivan has written essays for Playboy (Germany), Newsweek, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, and Ethnic and Racial Studies. His poem, “The Ordering Impulse,” was published in the May 2021 issue of Global Poemic.