Sunday, November 22, 2015

Lovers of Language

I kicked back in my recliner and picked up a copy of Jack Loscutoff's will. Tedious reading. Hereby, devise, bequeath. Who writes like that but lawyers? 

Startled, I learned that Jack had "bequeathed" to me the copyrights for all of his writings. 

I sighed. What good are Jack's copyrights when his writings sit under lock and password key in his computer? It waited, on my dining room table, to be stripped and sold. 

I called Mark Loscutoff. "Do you still have your father's old wooden index card box? The one marked 'Passwords.'"

Mark did. 

Several days later we pawed through the box, seeking the key to Jack's writings. No luck.

For the hell of it, I tried out a few possibles. All abortive. 

Mark's face lit up. "How about the name of one of his pets?" 

His pets! I groaned. Jack had been the loving owner of several poodles, dozens of cats and almost as many turtles. They all bore strange names, even the six aquatic turtles of his childhood.

"Let me." Mark sat down and typed. No go. "Maybe too short." 

"Or no uppercase. Or no number or symbol. This is futile."

"I have a hunch." Mark typed again. Nothing. "Maybe lower case." 

This time when he hit return, the computer screen lit up. I gasped as Jack's familiar blue and beige image of earth swung into view.

Taking my turn, I clicked "Documents."  An alphabetized list filled more than one screen with nary a folder in view. How in tarnation did Jack find a file?

I glanced down. His computer listed more than 2,000 documents. Mostly Jack's writings, no doubt. 

To be sure, during the next four or five days, I classified the files, placing them in thirteen folders, with labels like Bio, Childhood, Novels, Visuals.

I had been right. Most files contained Jack's writings. But what use were they to me?

My answer came quickly. Like most good ideas, it arrived in the morning as I woke.

My Omega Cottonwood Press would publish Jack's work. 

That would make Jack so gleeful! He had won two writing awards, published twenty poems and a sci-fi novel, and seen two short plays in production but his success never satisfied him. The higher my star rose, the oftener he groused. But no more. 

I would publish him just as I am putting out our FzzJack & JuneBug:  A Love Song in Poems & Posts. It features our poems and my posts about his death. Publication date: January 12, 2016.

WIthin a week I had selected and edited stories from Jack's Russian childhood in San Francisco. Listening to him read those tales had been such a treat! His Aunt Gussie's Socks and other family stories will be published on April 7, his birthday.

His last novel, Mr. Mosaic: A Saga Of An Academic Life, waits in the wings.

Now I am choosing which of his short stories to anthologize. I can't publish them all. That would create a book so big it would require two to read it, one to hold it down and the other to turn the pages. 

And me? How does my new job feel?

As I read and reread and cull Jack's work, I sense such closeness to him (both of us lovers of language). I often imagine him still alive as I reach out and caress his succulent words.

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