Spring 2008, Volume 4

Fiction by Frank X. Gaspar

William Blake

I am the Angel of Death, he said after we got into the car.  This was someplace in Connecticut.  He wore a crew-cut and horned-rim glasses. He was going into the City to pick up a body.  He worked for a mortuary.  He was driving a regular car and not a  hearse.  He said he had been driving for twenty hours. It was late fall and cold and he kept the window open and would drive for long stretches with his head out over the road.  Sometimes he would roll the window shut and light a joint and pass it.  The joints popped and fizzed like sparklers.  Things were less pure in those days.  Me and JJ, we hitched everywhere together back then. The guy said, I am the Angel of Death and JJ said, I’m King Solomon, and then I said I was the Pharaoh and the Pharaoh’s Daughter.  Then he said, bring me my bow of burnished gold.  What? I said.  Bring me my arrows of something or other, he said,—he said he couldn’t remember how the part about the arrows went.  I didn’t know what he was talking about.  We never knew his name.  We just called him Angel of Death.  We’d say, hey, Angel of Death, light up another joint.  Or, Angel of Death, let’s make a pee stop and get some beer.  When we got into the City he dropped us off near the Port Authority. Tell your pals you rode with the Angel, he said. Good-bye, we said.  Good bye, Angel of Death, and we drifted off into the rouge-and-lipstick lights of old 42nd Street, looking for someone or something, I forget exactly what now.

BIO:  Frank X. Gaspar was born and raised in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and now lives in Southern California. He is Professor of English at Long Beach City College. He also teaches poetry and novel writing in the summer program at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and at Antioch University, Los Angeles. He served three and a half years in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam Conflict and attended colleges and universities after his discharge, receiving an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. Gaspar is the author of four books of poetry and one novel. His short stories and poems have been published widely in literary journals, including The Nation, The Harvard Review, The New England Review, The Sewanee Review, Prairie Schooner, The Massachusetts Review, Ploughshares, The Hudson Review, Provincetown Arts, The Kenyon Review, The Georgia Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Antioch Review, The Tampa Review, The Denver Quarterly, and others. His work has appeared in numerous anthologies including, The Beacon Best Poetry of 1999, The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, and others. Gaspar is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, and his work is included in the 1996 Best American Poetry and in Best American Poetry 2000. He is the recipient of three Puschcart Prizes for literature, and the Edgar Stanley Award and a Readers’ Choice Award both from Prairie Schooner. He is currently working on new poems and a new novel.