Executrix by Barry Yourgrau

BOMB 21 Fall 1987
021 Fall 1987
​Jane Kaplowitz

Jane Kaplowitz, Matisse and Laura Ashley Border, 1987, oil stick and paper collage, 38 × 50 inches. Courtesy Jason McCoy Inc.

My hands are suddenly ice-cold. To thaw them, I stuff them inside my mouth. The freezing flesh adheres to my tongue, to the tissue of my cheeks. I can’t get my hands out. I manage to turn on the oven with my feet, and I kneel and stick my head assemblage into its warmth.

Footsteps come up behind me. My girlfriend’s voice announces that killing myself that way is no solution to anything. I try to explain my situation, but my hands gag me. My girlfriend starts tying my feet up behind me. She learned this in class, she explains, they have more successful deaths than I would believe because the professor is so good, he really knows about these things. I pull my head out finally, to try to get across what I’m really doing before she tries anything irrevocable. I twist around and am confronted by the sight of her in scuba gear and feather headdress. I garble a scream into my hands and throw myself to the floor as a harpoon crashes into the oven, missing me by a hair’s breadth. “You little faker!” she shrieks, flinging down the harpoon gun and stamping off to the doorway. “I can’t believe you did that, I can’t believe you’d pull a stunt like that! I thought you were serious!”

I cower on the floor, blubbering and shaking my head and pulling helplessly at my hands. She’s still hot as hell. “Shit!” she cries, banging her fist against the door jamb. “Shit!” But then she stops. She squints down at me nearsightedly. “What is that you’re doing?” she asks. She bends closer. “Oh wow, I didn’t notice that! Oh wow! That’s really amazing, eating yourself up!”

Barry Yourgrau’s book of short stories Wearing Dad’s Head, has just been released by Peregrine Smith Books.

Evening by Barry Yourgrau
Three Stories by R Bartkowech
​Robin Winters 001

“Don’t do that kind of thing to your spine, son,” said his mother. “You’ll only complicate your life … You’ve got to learn how to relax.”

Three Stories by Maria Rapoport

Patty would slap stickers on her calf and ass cheeks to make herself stand out. Problem is, so would the other girls. I never did much of anything.

You Are Not a Stranger Here by Adam Haslett

He has seen these cliffs before, in picture books. He has seen the wide beaches and the ruined cathedral. 

Originally published in

BOMB 21, Fall 1987

James Rosenquist, Julian Barnes by Patrick McGrath, Diane Kurys, Richard Greenberg, and Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe.

Read the issue
021 Fall 1987