12 Days of Significance (19)

By: Shelley Jackson
December 31, 2016

One in a holiday-season series of posts that will reprint stories written — by 12 HILOBROW contributors — for the 2009–2010 SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS project. (In 2012–2013, we reprinted 12 stories by HILOBROW contributors that were also to be found in the Fantagraphics-published collection Significant Objects: 100 Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things.)

The following story is by Shelley Jackson. Enjoy!

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CRUMB SWEEPER
CRUMB SWEEPER

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When I first met him, the moon — a chip of bone in the pale blue of morning — was just past full. I can be sure of that, though it was only later that the phases of the moon became as familiar to me as the seasons or as my breath coming and going. He was crouching against a tree in Prospect Park, nearly naked despite the autumn chill, the pale skin stretched over his shuddering ribs disfigured with a rash. He was swiping at his red, swollen, and tearing eyes with one paw, while the other, with a very practiced motion, was employing what looked at first glance like a bar of soap, to harry clouds of short, coarse, whisky-colored hairs from a pair of loose drawstring pants and a tunic draped over his lap. I did not think anything of the fact that both items appeared to be inside out. I did not pay any special attention to the fellow at all, who seemed to me an everyday sort of eccentric, only (for I have an eye for curiosities, particularly those ingenious contraptions rendered pathetically de trop by advancing technology — clockwork computers, water clocks and the like) to the object he was holding, which I now saw to be a rounded bar of ivory (or an imitation) in which a cylindrical brush had been ingeniously set so that it might skim a smooth surface and rid it of debris — the tool of a butler or maître d’, I thought, for clearing crumbs from a place-setting.

I stopped to comment on it, reaching out a casual hand. He snarled at me, and I took my hand back, the small hairs standing up on my neck.

I hardly think I felt an attraction then, despite his undress; he was not a prepossessing sight, with his wet red eyes and nose, and his rash. So how can I explain, except by some atavism buried deep in the genes, that I did not excuse myself and continue on my way, but cringed down before him on the grass with a truckling grin?

Events followed, many good, some very bad. He left me this object and my life, which was good of him.

He was exceptionally fastidious, for a werewolf. Indeed, his whole family, or, I should say, his pack, was so. They left no bone unburied, and curried the furniture daily to rid it of hair. To do so was their pride, as an ancient, aristocratic family, but it was also necessity, since every member of that bloodline was congenitally allergic to dust, to dander and, such is the cruel levity of fate, to dogs — and a wolf is but a purer, more essential dog.

He is not the only person I have loved whose constitution was at war with his calling, but he handled it rather better than some.

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SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS at HILOBROW: PROJECT:OBJECT homepage | PROJECT:OBJECT newsletter | PROJECT:OBJECT objects (Threadless shop — all profits donated to the ACLU) | POLITICAL OBJECTS series (1Q2017) | TALISMANIC OBJECTS series (2Q2017) | ILLICIT OBJECTS series (3Q2017) | LOST OBJECTS vol. 1 series (4Q2017) | FLAIR series (2Q2018) | FOSSIL series (4Q2018). 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE (AGAIN) | ANOTHER 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE . ALSO SEE: SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS website | SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS collection, ed. Rob Walker and Josh Glenn (Fantagraphics, 2012) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY, ed. Josh Glenn (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY excerpts.

CURATED SERIES at HILOBROW: UNBORED CANON by Josh Glenn | CARPE PHALLUM by Patrick Cates | MS. K by Heather Kasunick | HERE BE MONSTERS by Mister Reusch | DOWNTOWNE by Bradley Peterson | #FX by Michael Lewy | PINNED PANELS by Zack Smith | TANK UP by Tony Leone | OUTBOUND TO MONTEVIDEO by Mimi Lipson | TAKING LIBERTIES by Douglas Wolk | STERANKOISMS by Douglas Wolk | MARVEL vs. MUSEUM by Douglas Wolk | NEVER BEGIN TO SING by Damon Krukowski | WTC WTF by Douglas Wolk | COOLING OFF THE COMMOTION by Chenjerai Kumanyika | THAT’S GREAT MARVEL by Douglas Wolk | LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE by Chris Spurgeon | IMAGINARY FRIENDS by Alexandra Molotkow | UNFLOWN by Jacob Covey | ADEQUATED by Franklin Bruno | QUALITY JOE by Joe Alterio | CHICKEN LIT by Lisa Jane Persky | PINAKOTHEK by Luc Sante | ALL MY STARS by Joanne McNeil | BIGFOOT ISLAND by Michael Lewy | NOT OF THIS EARTH by Michael Lewy | ANIMAL MAGNETISM by Colin Dickey | KEEPERS by Steph Burt | AMERICA OBSCURA by Andrew Hultkrans | HEATHCLIFF, FOR WHY? by Brandi Brown | DAILY DRUMPF by Rick Pinchera | BEDROOM AIRPORT by “Parson Edwards” | INTO THE VOID by Charlie Jane Anders | WE REABSORB & ENLIVEN by Matthew Battles | BRAINIAC by Joshua Glenn | COMICALLY VINTAGE by Comically Vintage | BLDGBLOG by Geoff Manaugh | WINDS OF MAGIC by James Parker | MUSEUM OF FEMORIBILIA by Lynn Peril | ROBOTS + MONSTERS by Joe Alterio | MONSTOBER by Rick Pinchera | POP WITH A SHOTGUN by Devin McKinney | FEEDBACK by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FTW by John Hilgart | ANNOTATED GIF by Kerry Callen | FANCHILD by Adam McGovern | BOOKFUTURISM by James Bridle | NOMADBROW by Erik Davis | SCREEN TIME by Jacob Mikanowski | FALSE MACHINE by Patrick Stuart | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE (AGAIN) | ANOTHER 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | UNBORED MANIFESTO by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen | H IS FOR HOBO by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FRIDAY by guest curators

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