This is where youd normaly have a title page

but if you dont mind ill dispense with the formalities and jus tell you  
my name is al dixon and the name of this book is the real pleasure in life.

one thing before you get started, re: the spelling.  sorry, please dont take ofense. im an english teacher, i know the rules. but i dont write like that anymore. in fact, i will never write that way again.

why not?

to answer that, ill hafta tell you a story.

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for claire,

over there

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chapter 1


 - – -- an invitation -– - --  - - - -  - -  -   -   -  -   -    -     -    -


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It starts on a wensday. It starts on a wensday. It starts on a wensday. It starts on a wensday. It starts on a wensday. It starts on a wensday. It starts on a wensday. It starts on a wensday.

S L O W    D   O    W     N     .

on wensdays, my first class isnt til ten forty five. but claire, my partner-
slash-babymama  [ or soon-to-be-babymama ]  she has to be to work at 8.
i usualy get up with claire and use the extra time to get shit done. but this
particular morning, the moment she was out the door i was hit with the
over welming urge to go back to bed.

the dream i had was one of those epic dreams, the kind that seems to
take years and you wake up feeling like you had this whole other life.
it was a great life, too, i wish i could remember it. i have a terrible
memory. not just for dreams but for evrything. but for dreams especialy.
all that i now had left of the dream was the feeling i woke up with. it
was the feeling of fulfillment.

is that what we all want? tho we go after it, as william faulkner
would say, in myriad ways?

it sure is what i wanted. i lay in bed for half an hour
racking my brain, tryin to remember what it was about the dream that
was so fulfilling.

Eventialy i got up.

it was too late for a shower so i went straight to breakfest. while i
was waitin for my bagel to finish toasting, i bent down to tie my shoe.
thats when i saw it, peekin out from under the island— a pale blue
card, like the back of a bisness card.

now claire is a planner. and since we got pregnant, it
has become part of the plan to keep the house clean. that means
sweepin the kitchen evry night, including under the island, and im
not makin fun, it only takes a couple minutes and youd be suprized how
it shuts down the bugs.

so it was unusual to see somethin like that on the floor.
unusual enough for me pickitup, anyway.

what i found there changed my life. totally.
completely. in ways that i couldnot even have imagined. and im not
bein hyperbolic, youll see that soon enough.

At this point, two things happend in quick succession.

the first was that i rememberd somethin from my dream. the
name of a coffeeshop. Blue Sky.

the second thing was  i flipt over the card and saw this—

bluesky punchcard bluesky punchcard back

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as far as i could remember,

id never been to a coffeeshop called blue sky, tho i have been known
to forget things. still, your thinkin, all that means is somebody else
went there and got a punchcard and dropt it on our floor, and i
caught a glimpse of it las night and it slipt into my dreams.

But your wrong, for two reasons—

one, there was nobody who could have dropt it. it wasnt claire, i texted her but shed never heard of blue sky, nor had she seen the card when we were cleanin up las night. and nobody else had been to our house in weeks exept the u-p-s guy and the fedex gal and one guy askin for a donation to his campain. and they didnt get past the door, seems we were well on our way to M’s prediction that the end of capitalism is the reduction of all human interaction to the exchange of comodities, it sounds depressing now but then it seemd perfectly natral, like M said, the fish dont see the water.

and two, blue sky coffee does not exist. not on the
internets, anyway. if itd been around long enough to printup cards,
youd think thered atleast be a review in yelp orwhatever. but no, all
i could find was a blue sky coffee roasting company in hawaii, and a
blue sky coffee that is actualy a weed shop in oakland.

So— how did the card get there? on the floor?
in my dreams? good question, one i wanted to come back to but remember
or maybe i havent told you yet, i teach english at a comunity college.
i had a ten forty five and it was ten twenny four now and i still had half a
bagel to eat. so i tuckt the card in my pocket, asuming i would forget about
it for awhile, but that i would eventualy rediscover it, like a treasure,
waiting for me— an invitation from beyond.

My asumption proved corect, altho not when i hoped it would happen,
between classes or in my office, when id have time to think about it.
no, i made it almost the entire day without giving it another thought.

let me set a scene here. fort worth comunity college. like college, but at a mall. featuring open enrollment.

if youv ever been to a college with open enrollment, you know that any class is bound to have at least a few crazy people in it. especialy if that class starts after five.

this is my five-thirty.

now i liked this class. they were legitimatly crazy.
one of them was schizophrenic. he wrote about what it means, to be,
an american, with commas scatterd librally, evrytime, no matter what
the assignment. but he wasnt even there that day, dont worry about him.

today we were doing one  a my favrite stories, a good man is hard to find
by flannery oconnor. the one about the famly on their way to florida,
they run their car into a ditch and endup gettin shot by this guy calld
the misfit. and the reason that story is great, is the last line. here it is
for refrence—

“Shut up, Bobby Lee,” The Misfit said. “It’s no real
pleasure in life.”

thats it exacly, from the placement of the dialog tag down to the fussy capitalization of The in The Misfit.

ive taught that story to more classes than michael jackson had faces, all i hafta do in the way of class prep is open the book to make sure the line is still there.

it is.

i let them talk about whatever for a while.
classes will talk about the most random shit, this one ranged from
old folks homes to malcolm jamal-warners sweaters on the cosby show.

Eventualy they run out of stuff to say. at this point i would normaly ask a probing question. but for todays lesson i let the silence continue.

a minute passes . . .

[ its longer than you think, in front of a class ]

just when they start to think maybe im havin myself a little freakout, i say, in a sinister southern drawl—

shutup bobby lee. its no real pleasure in life.

say what you will about the iphone-texting-facebook-
andwhatever generation, when it comes to memorizing litterture, they
are easy to impress.

thats what the misfit says, right? at the enda the story?

[ a few nodding heads ]

its the last line, it must be important. . .

[ more nods ]

now i dont usualy do this. but since yall

didnt do all that great on your last paper— i know you can do better—
im gona give you a chance to bring it up.  bonus points,  to anybody
who can analyze the lastline. and remember, analysis means drawing
your own conclusions, but based on evidence. and the evidence has
to come from the story.

When an english teacher says somethin like this, they are usualy
hoping for a certain answer.  thats what id be doing if i knew the
anser, but i didnt. i had some vague theories, somethin to do with
K’s either/or, but you dont want me to go there right now. doesnt
matter anyway, cause none of my theories were satisfying. i kept
hoping someday one a my students would enlighten me. it had
happend before, with prufrock.

two hands are up. i call on the closest.


whens the rough draft due again?

monday i think, altho i told yall i have a bad memry,

did anybody write it down?

someone did, it was monday, we moved on.


can we put the points on the nex paper if its

worse than our last one?

i dont care where you put em, just somebody

say somethin intresting.

[ another hand, a smartass, you never know

what youll get from a smartass ]


define intresting.

smarter than me.

oh good, a new hand, the chick
with the giant gold-cross necklace, she sits in the back lookin
ofended if she comes at all, shes got a lot goin on tho, two little
kids and a full time job, or she had a ful time job until she got fired
last week for bein crazy. this is not hearsay, she told me herself,
she had a letter to that effect from a psychiatrist, whats her effin
name? a sureptitious glance at my seating chart...


i got somethin intresting.

great, lets hear it.

howmany points you say it was?

i dont think i said. lets say five if its smart, ten if its brilliant.

oh, its brilliant.

she lookd around to make sure she had an audience.

she did. they lissend to eachother, they were a good class.

ok you remember how the one badguy was talkin to the other badguy

after they shot that ollady? he was tryn ta be all hard, he said it was fun.

bobby lee said that to the misfit

im gettin there, hang on. i gota get all my evidence.

sorry april.

thats alllll-right. so, but now, that ollady, the grand mother...

she thought the misfit was her baby, she was pretty crazy. but the misfit,
he kinda liked her anyway. he only shotter cause she toldim the truth. thats
why alota people get shot.

so whats your analysis?

do what?

what conclusion have you drawn, about the misfits line?

dont need a conclusion, he said what he said.

yeah but wha does it mean?

it means what it says, you read it. it aint—iznt

no pleasure in life.

means what it says. the one posibility i had not considerd. thats an english major for you.

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My hands when im nervous i put em in my pockets. i did it right then, and felt the flimsy cardstock—

i didnt even hafta look at it for evrything to come back: the epic dream, the bluesky card, my fear that the misfit was right.

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things were fallin off me, it felt like.

i spose in a way they were.

i felt light, or like i was filled with light.

which was realy cool for about a second.

then it was terrifying.

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my face went cold and tingly. then my neck, and my
arms. my legs i wasnt in charge of anymore, my chest was gript with a
fear i could not name, a physical terror—

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or as morrissey would say, i swoond.

grabd the desk in time to keep from hittin
the floor, but just barely. judgin by their faces i lookd like id seen a
ghost, maybe i was the ghost.

nobody was gona say anything, tho.

i was gona hafta say somethin.

so what i did was, i employd a
phrase ive often heard in the movies and on t-v, but which id
never found occasion to use personly, until today,

class dismissd.