January 27, 2004 9:05 PM

“How’s dinner coming, Jan?”

Thom, sitting flatly against his chair, frowned, his concentration split between the ceaselessly grave newscaster and the walking stock marquee. He had allotted none for her answer.

Likewise, Jan provided nothing in reply, coaxing the rigid pasta about the pot. Secretly, she was amused by this ritual, tallying his suspended queries as she did with clothespins on a line; she gently shuffled them aside. Thom was not so much submissive to her game as unaware of his own promptless questioning. He was too busy occupying himself with equal, if not greater silliness, feigning engrossment in whatever drivel the newscaster puffed, or the alien symbols steadily reported below. He knew nothing of international politics or Dow Jones, and why should he? He was a baker, a man of ovened heat and smelly yeast. It was a plain but honorable work, uncluttered by Irans and Enrons, and thankless boys behind pressboard desks – the reason why she left the school. Why he desired such troubles was beyond her. Salt, she thought, reaching to a side.

“Um,” Thom mouthed inaudibly, letting his head hang forward heavily on his neck, peering at the television from beneath his brow. He had the vague recollection of asking a question a moment ago but couldn’t remember what of. He dropped the thought promptly, intent on the motions on-screen. His senses were at once filled, by a tide of power suits, lawsuits, something of Jesuits. This language catalyzed wonder, a sense of baffling gravity, but – without Jan to talk him through the mess – remained resolutely short of actual. Nevertheless, he was pleased, feeling that he gained something from the habit. Bread, in all its glorious warmth, was still bread – simple, dense, and without mystery. The newscast afforded him an impression of complexity which he marveled at, though it shrouded and at a distance.

“This will not do,” Jan remarked, tasting the sauce. Thom winced. She was right, who was he kidding? He suddenly felt void, his satisfaction emptied of its clout. Jan was a thing to behold with her paperback erudition and robust logic (“a prudent way to think,” she commented once). She effortlessly overwhelmed his reasoning. It was best this way, with her in command. He had once tried to play the sturdy husband of hard-boiled stances, of coffee brewed black and shirts pressed white, but could not, unable to deny his mildness, sugaring his cup and invariably softening the sharp creases. Besides that, she was always, forever right. She would never find this demeaning game agreeable. He admired her for her steady resolve – in fact married her for it. Thom sighed, tilting his head, glancing through the kitchen’s door, forgetting his burst of thought. He wished she would hurry, for he was sure that he was missing something important.

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It's not Woolf, but decent enough for me. And oh yeah, the Linus recordings are rather dissapointing. Too clean, unnaturally immaculate, and they dropped the rock (i.e., void of energy). And what's with the processed vocals? That's a guaranteed soul-sapper. This is the Linus I love -- messy, straight-forward, and rock.