Andy On Oleander, Et cetera, Etc. by Christina Louise Smith


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Andy On Oleander, Et cetera, Etc. by Christina Louise Smith


One day, you and Andy observe some kids play fighting with sticks in a vacant lot and you want to tell them to be careful or they might poke an eye out. You know how cliché that is. The cliché is cliché because you know a man whose eye was poked out by a stick when he was a boy. The boy who poked him died of an overdose when he was a teenager. The man with one seeing eye also has a glass eye that does not operate in conjunction with the other so he wears sunglasses most of the time, plus an unfortunate mustache so reminiscent of Hitler that one does not notice the unseeing eye. You, in fact, know many men who fit this description, plus one child who lost her eye to a man once she was grown. She had five more girls, near reproductions of herself in an ideal, symmetrical form—each endowed with knowledge of the martial arts. Andy says this design is unity with variety, or repetition with deviation. As he speaks you think about his hair, which has once again sprung a tuft that demonstrates a point (this time by his ear) for you to later interpret like tea leaves.

You soon realize the children are playing with oleander branches, and rather than being poked in the eye, they just might get poison into their skin and die. Unlike the possibility of a gouged eye, you learned about the poison from a popular movie, so then you must discount your knowledge. You say nothing. They probably do this all the time. You think, their mother probably tells them anyway; then you think, what if their mother is the woman in the house down the street with plywood over the windows, a toilet in the front yard and a particleboard ping pong table left in the rain. You think all this with your boot heels sinking into the wet dirt lot as you walk. When you tell Andy, he tells you what you had not yet strung into a conscious hierarchy of words, and that had instead sat on your brow in dull woolly clumps—they are having fun and must do these things as children, building up a tolerance to poison.

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Christina Louise Smith is a writer and graphic designer in Tucson, AZ. Currently, she has a graduate teaching assisantship and is pursuing her M.A. in Literature at the University of Arizona, where she also received her B.A. in English and Creative Writing. She likes to show off the latest book cover she designed for Heather Cousins’ intriguing first full-length collection of poetry, Something in the Potato Room from Kore Press (11/09), where Christina was Managing Editor until December 2009. Her poems will appear in the February 25, 2010 edition of Backroom Live, featuring guest editor Barbara Cully. When she is not busy writing, reading, or working, she’s been known to fry up an overabundance of chorizo tacos, an act she recently proclaimed to be the only thing in the entire world that makes her truly happy—although she loves to wander, scavenge, and wave to strangers.

This is the third of five stories by Christina, written at our request, to accompany the radio plays we did for Powhaus Productions' POP!: A Celebration of the Cultural Contribution of Andy Warhol and His Factory, at the Rialto Theater, Feb 26, 2010. The stories and the radio plays are unrelated, only presented simultaneously.

"Andy Makes a Movie"