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Excerpt from Never Again

(to be published this summer by Black Square Editions)

"A great field in a grand rush," New York. Published by Currier & Ives, c.1888. Courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

When the racetrack closed forever I had to get a job. Want ads made wonderlands, founding systems barely imagined. Adventure’s imperative ruled nothing could repeat. Redirections dictated rigorously, freely. Go anywhere new: telephone boiler-rooms, midnight grocery shooting galleries, prosthetic limb assembly plants, hazardous waste-removal sites; flower delivery, flour milling, million-dollar bunko schemes. Do anything once; then, best of all, never again.

No more gambling, horseplay, poker. Hyperordered strictures posit antipredictability, perhaps.

“References?” Herr Trollenberg interviews, cocked brow adjusting monocle glinting somber intent.


Application blanks require plausibilities, employment doyens earnest applicants, fictions facts.

“William Henderson, Universal Export; Niles Whitehead, Schweppes Flypaper; Sneed Moot, Hunsuck/Moot/Flagwipe; Harley Bloom, Celibate Communuchations; Dr. Sydney Culpepper—”

“Mr. Raymond!”


Phony resume misrepresents George R., 39, divorced, remarried, kids; Foreign Legion, MBA Marketing, BS Economics, appropriated universities fronting posts commensurating mendacity.

“Fice-president, Vhales, Paratron Intercetational?”

“Cetations. Orca brokering. Aquaria, marine rodeos, Hollywood. Tremendous seller’s market.”

“Fending machinegunner, FoMoCo, Edsel Longdivision?”

“Common antiques. Dinosaur V-8 fossil-fueled premiums. Autoclubs, collectoral collages, gaspump themeparks.”



“Hmmm, caveat emptore,” mumbling. “Porter, Vax Museum!”

Duties included mold preservation, mustache touch-up, anticandle eventuation, maniac proactionary vigils viz. sexdoll fetishisms, cathode monitoriums, lollipop fear-reassurance, hunchback impersonations.

Bigger lies fly hire? Entrenchantly fatuous ad-libs pique counterapplicationary formulae, inverting title-position hierarchical privileging. Heretically, lessened discomplishments premiere greaters, resisting progress. Troll deliberates. Protection’s panic button? Applicant’s attire connotes acquiescence, corporate-incorporation. Polite-toned conversing encodes dress. Well-spoken assertiveness forwards tempworker compliance, reallocating proportional cares. Tempagent’s loyalty pinions: Das Ferm oder Der Vorkfarce?

Reliability commands responsibility. Trial ethics ideate intermixable tolerances. Businesses dun personnel, affording prognosticated risks.

“You vant vot?”

Forbidden kneejerks cue; free beer, instant gratification, effortless effort, monkey’s paw nonbacklashing wish-fulfilled deliverances. Rather, employmentality affirms standardizational blubbering inre collar bleaching (white/blue), salary leashing (short/tight), benefit fleecing (bald/fuzzed). Backgrounding whitenoise annoys. Recession-minded exigencies pressurecook thought. Steely lips acclaim eye-lazered consequentiality, commanding reply.


Tilt? Nodded acceptance unclogs processional drainpipe. Headtalk gestures convey protodocuments: workpass, memo allocating stingy directional information.

“Report 8:30.”

$6.50/hr answers unasked interrogative. Duration?

“Ve’ll see. Veeks.”

Among serious wackos, ordinary sober eccentrics hardly rate peremptory heave-ho. Handshaken thank-yous prestyle orderly’s retreat. Deference uber alles.

Ratty glances deface waiting-room youngerlings learning hypocritical deceits enate magazines, sweating runaway apathy. Dressed, cleaned, cool-heeled musicians, artists, hacks, fuck-ups, Janes, Johns belong Paris, Kauii, Venice, SoHo because they’all’re special.

Decades older, 39-year-old leapfrogs polywogs. Assignment: Overseer, Redline Abatement Vault, Transpacific National Bank. Objective: Burma. Entice Asians into dejunkied tenements via liponym (cull non-Asian surnames), purging loan-aps.

Yesterday’s tomorrow todaybreaks, establishing management toady rank authority’s half-assed accountableness, carelessness. Age’s virtue installs otherwise-unqualified supervisor, but nonjob’s cirrus-status desubstantiates task’s resolution.

Samoan factor complicates mission. Teen gang profilings overshadow rival ethnic delinquencies, mixconstruing Filipino cannery syndicate mayhem, Chinese watertortures, opium tongs, postwar’s abase vengeances interalienating Vietnamese, Laotians, Montagnards, Cambodians, Hmoung-others (essentially, non-Japanese orientals). Unstated jargon slates conquer/divide ghettoization modules platting African-American exile.

“Diversify,” corrects apologist.

Provisional cullsquad scoutmaster briefing interjects clue-in terminology, public-address cistern’s anti-giardial chlorine.

Russel Nakagawa, cleancut Nisei baseball fan, compassionately buttresses Charles Pickford’s teamspeak. Superanglo exec-seminar cant swirls innocent corruptions justifying greed’s underlying heartfelt paternalism. C.P. counterwinks Russel’s admissive shucksing, humoristically ass-backing lest neo-employed tempster unpeel indiscriminatable civil right’s facemask.

Underseated, toilers moil meanly. Para-employed placements file shufflings. Individualistic famines fantasize idling’s idyl, waging workaday’s lickspittle pittance.

Ordinarily, funds greenlight extrafunds; representatively, collateral’s easysleaze guarantees rejection. Speedlabs, coca popstands, greenback laundryrooms, nefarial etcetera forebode sheriff’s foreclosured posse. Mortgagors reshade black/white affluences denoting business-as-usual rubberstamp.

Overlapping instructions tether initiative, complicate supervising’s easiness. Blurred accountability expresses month-old takeover confusion renominating TPNB (nee’ Sasquatch Bancorp), currently B-o-A subsidiary. Triplicate stationery’s letterheads confound drawers, self-inker hazards compel trialballoon blottering, phone-IDs splice trinomials. New-hires, tempists, unbenefited crewlings abound; retiring pension-treaded staffers rotate humanity spares. Pitbosses duck pendulum.

Namescanners scour barrio lien futures. Batteried Walkmen leak clashing Nirvanas’ rhythmic poundings, avert authorizational muzaks. Henry Margashack, Cynthia Pugh, Christine Balder badgily number-name breastpasses. Henry’s fingernails’re longest. Guitarist tendoncies freakishly handsell narrow-gauged ring-sized digits. Cynthia’s unbraed, spikey nipples symmetrate nosepins. Manlike crewcut crowns; midriff-bared navel encrusts lintal crud. Christi redheadedly flips ponytail, repeatedly backpushing hornrims ascrunch. Busy yawns yoke nonunion oxen.

Outputting’s subaverage sag evokes substitute teacher hazing rituals. Intimidative slowdown’s deceitful clumsiness charms, prolonging estrangement as tapes forestall conversation.

Pouting repulsers attractively invigorate casting-couchpotato mashering. Doubledate scenaralio satyricates. Backseat lap sitting apes Yule-logged office party’s bacchanalian abandonings drunkly blundered ruts. Crashpad Romeo duel enscrews, sordid proximity reheating rawly wangled meatpie mincefillings fissured amid filo-layered wallboard tympanically reverbing ruckus.

Realistically untransposed, cullions amass jerkloads. Dull chores sometimes cultivate flattering self-images, battle-ribboned fanciful cicatrixes demarcating angst. Naivete indemnifies foolish defiance.

Secretary sweeps out-basket.

Composing token burden, brevet corporal’s minimalist hand-ins might also rankle esprit d’corps. Bossman’s daydream off-fucking spurs nerve-ridden snits. Elsewhere-presided, martinet impersonation manages efficiently (goodguy persona’s ineffective); herever, friendly manners, industrious attitude, businesslike wiseguy cracking succeeds.

Pee-bound self-excusing leavetaker HM saunters restroomward, savoring unsmoldered cigarette, cloth-bound Cigarettes. Midmorn addictions espressify adulthood’s strapless privilege versus junior high’s strap-on obedience.

Women continue.

“Coffee anyone?” disestablishes once-held pecker ordering.

He-man gofer?

“Double-short latte, pain au chocolate.”

“Triple-creamed mocha, almond croissant.”

Stuporvisor wobbles outward, passing cubicled blurs immuring hive-minded workerbees, uncrowned queens. Binged slid-shut elevator innocuously de-levitates, alighting downwind acrid steams, pastry-balanced butterings, almondian creams. Orders overlap unit’s foursome (HM’s unrequested portions appended), distending huge bag’s protean comeuppance.

Retracing stirs bees. Swarm-drawn organizettes strop stingers, zingering impudence’s cornucopia. Stylish audacity, panache, come-what-may spinners gyrate countertimeclockwise, defying roulette’s revolvered gravity. Officious regulationists chowdown grease-nutted non-French doughs, industrially urned non-Italian java.

“Buncha feinschmackers,” jabbers.

Feast-scale repast strews obliviously underneath capletters spelling offense: FOOD/DRINK/SMOKE PROHIBITED. Compu-copiers interdict room-shared snacking, superinvoking pristine environeeds. Liberties main office’s papermates indulge’re denied tempstaff, foreman comprehends. Delight pollutes guilt. Deficient wage’s squandering ennobles unselfishness.

Solidarity enhances morale, reinstigates saltmine spelunkering.

“Harrumph!” toe-tapped designating.

Evidence condemns ex-post-facto: styrofoam beads, powdery fingerdust, fleshly smeared formica, breathable sweetened atmospherous particulata. Airblown contaminators doubtlessly windvade mechanisensors, altering delicate chemistries. She’s correct. Wienerking’s hotdogging endangers operational sensitivities.


“Xerox specifically warned, contami—”

“Mea culpa.”

Abject groveling unsettles wrath. Roiled angers displace, redouble, mysteriously reintensify. Glib contrition rings wrong? Passive-aggressive lassitude baits shark-attacked retaliation. Manpower-eater jaws self-righteously snap.

“Repairs cost thousands!”

“Heart bleeds,” underbreaths.

Giggles unstifle, tempting shoutrage. Outnumbered spike-heeled toothcutter slinks offstage.

“Uhhh-ohhhh,” milks yuks.

Gleanwhile, scurried wiping, trash concealments, grimescene fleck removals precomb Mac Arthurian beachlanding. Bag-crammed refuse eludes wastepaper’s circularfile (disimplicating mess’s transgression). Ingenues radiate productivity. Document-piled efficiency deletes antipathetic slackusations. Per-agreement compilative nomicultural investigations unstack in-basket, towerstack outgo.

Ogre, stormtrooper twintrude.

“Ready,” perkily welcomes.

“Rules exist,” stonetabletheads preach, “preeminently—” goggled sniffing can’t affirm sugar traces. Aimless fingerpointing merely visualizes refuse’s prima-facie wastepapers.

“Problem?” rallies subchief.

“Eating’s off-limits. Insubordination’s categorically inappropriate.”


“Miz Saludo observed four persons disobeying restrictions, stomached snickering insults—”

“Kindly give proof.”

Grins freeze. Ballsy ploy knocks protocol, teetering King Charly’s mountaintop hegemony.

Tattler lunges purseward.

“Scram toots,” Christy stiff-arms.

Contact braces tableaux.

“Gotta warrant, babydoll?”

Sequestered allegements muddle vigilante moralists. Theft’s casemaking disapplies. Marijuana smoke’s likewise unwhiffable, defeating probable-causeways’ paralegal contraband seizure. Satchels hide plunder, loot, narcotics? Garbage. Incineratable incriminations’d confirm caper. Napkin-wad inferences lie stashed: constitutionally protected.

Speciously espied gluttonies underpin emergent conflicts between corporationists, discorders. Clean-up’s carpetbag rugsweep stashing waste renders accusations untenable.

Fish-hook extrication’s easier. Unprovable charges damn accusers. Command-chain twistily chinks unlinkable apologies. Eagle-eye’s knowledge complicitly echoes headman’s proclivity: believe worst.

“Falsely” slandered noshers appear guilty unless charge’s refuted. Deep-seated disaffections throb. Puny sin’s inconsequentiality compounding contradictory Republican-held worldviews anent bill-of-rights privacy precedence emphasizes oppression. Suspended lectures forecheck lawyerly hockey defenseman reiterations. Eye-contact dominations emulate dogfight etiquettes. First-spoken interruption’s weakening potentially registers wimphood?

“Apologize!,” first-strike advantage’s mine.

Adversaries harmonize ominously sucked-up breaths. Their departure chastens victory-minded rights advocates. Retributions’ll appreciate exponentially, dwarfing normal rollovers.

Formerly committed sorters skitter carelessly, heaping willy-nilly yesses heeding shiftable confabulations respecting nomencultural numerology, concrete noun suggestions, fetched allusions, funny syllables, eeny-meeny-miney-mo. Minutes tumble lunchward.

Noon evacuates working-pooled secretarial strokers, suited mandarins. Errands untangle genders (brownbagger ladies, liquidlunch gents). Pre-fired jobsighter surveys alternatives illustrating optional choicelessness: cafe-carts, messengers, taxis, letterluggers, windowcleaners, leafblowers.

Comparatively, irony enlivens bankster drudgery. Monolithic institution’s drab foilhood targetspots sportively flingminded dart-throwers. Edgewalking stress recommends officework, re: parasite interdependency breakdowns analyzing host/guest needs. Behemoth scratching plague-infested fleas romantifies mites’ mightiness. Dumbo tasks institutionally insure hide-thickened surface.

Postnoon returner X-rays floorstaff’s skeleton. Skullheaded executrix wields envelope’s orthographic hatchetjob: Gorge Ramond.

“…decision, unfortunately, precludes continuance…” rejectionspits minced tidings.

Lowkey upperlackey, well-warned, tactfully ushers axed ex-supervisor closetward. Bricabrac’s prepackaging de-necessitates reentry. Paperbacks (Perec’s Disparition, Katchor’s Knipls), soundtapes (Negativland, BikiniKill), combs, rattlings, material sundries underdefine quirk-sketched dog-impounded lost’n-found cohorts. Waiting hereabouts provokes impatience.

Gatekeeper’s glanceblown acetylenes pantomime may-I-help-yous that’ll tickerset tresspassing’s countdown. Henchmen loiter nonchalantly.

Shrug countersigns impasse-word’s unsaid “git!” Callbutton brings bingabonged elevator’s all-aboard.

Lobby’s desolate, excepting Buddhist securitygod. Benchless marble-lined temple stone propitiates riff-raff disaccommodations, excommunicating unsuitable humus beings. Freed bankculler exeunts.

Presently, gals upstride, unrecognizing co-worker herewithin sidewalk’s chaotic context.

“We’re canned,” reintroduces.

Kaffe klatch kaputted livelihoods, however chinzy. Kiss-and-make-up’s lascivity countercurrents commiseration.

We-word royally presumes this as-yet unconfirmed blanket firing; schmooze incorporating jingoistic anticorporate lingo effectively babbles, stymies cameraderie.

Credibility graduates. Misanthropic, disenchanted, resigned, C&C agree upon powwow, should pink slips accost them.


On Never Again: Fortunately, my computer crashed when I began writing Never Again, and the first horrible 50 pages were wiped out. I then spent a couple of months practicing to write sentences without articles, prepositions and conjunctions on an old typewriter. By the time I got a new computer, the syntax came easily. The difficulty in writing this book then reduced to the most elemental level: I had to come up with the very next word. After writing a phrase or a sentence, I would check each word with the search command (Word for DOS 6, no mouse—a lean and fast program on a rebuilt 386 PC) to make sure I hadn’t used it. About a third of the way into Never Again, I figured out the arc of the plot, which, I had long before determined, would run 200 ms. pages, but it was way back when I was practicing on the old typewriter that I knew I could write this book. Whether anyone would be able to read it, was another story.


Doug Nufer

DOUG NUFER writes fiction and poetry based on formal constraints. His most recent book is Lifeline Rule. He will be reading at KGB at 7pm on Tuesday, 10/27/15, with Tom LaFarge.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2004

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