about the author

Ian Sanquist lives and writes in Seattle. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Juked, SmokeLong Quarterly, The Coffin Factory, and others.

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Scenes of Torture

Ian Sanquist

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They tried to talk to the man about what was making him sick, but he wanted to call his business partner before anything went too far, any confessions got signed. Later, they told him they’d stop cutting off his fingers if he just had a nice discussion with them about what was making him sick. He said, Fuck you, I like the way it feels, and barely winced when they lopped the next one off at the second knuckle.

Later, the young author of that lurid fiction is writing a letter to a critic he regularly corresponds with, who he considers a sort of father figure to his craft. In the letter, he refers to the world as a miserable place, and refers to a certain young woman by name. He briefly considers the repercussions that sending this sort of letter could entail, but he sends it off anyway, as it’s only to a friend, and someone whose discretion he trusts entirely.

For the moral of his next novel, the author reaches for something close to him, something he earnestly suspects will resonate closely with many readers. After the book is published, he can’t decide if he got it right. It looks to him like a locked bedroom, without a doubt, but it doesn’t look sturdy. It looks like a bedroom with too many windows, probably, and not enough curtains. It doesn’t look like anywhere he’d feel totally at ease making love.

One night he takes a metro into the city. He is, of course, trying to lose himself, but he’s walked these streets many times, and he recognizes every place he sees. He feels like someone else’s parable, or allegory. He thinks the world is a miserable place.

He realizes too late that the metros have stopped running. He sees a cab coming down the avenue, waves his hand, steps into the street. The driver, too eager to show his fare that he’s seen him, runs the author down in the curbside lane. He speeds away. No witnesses come forward, and the driver is never found.

The obituaries for the author are tasteful and respectful, and his posthumous material slowly trickles out over the course of the years in magazines and journals of great prestige, like a soliloquy or an aside to the more thunderous blows being made all the while in contemporary literature by his peers who continue to ripen and mature.

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