It took me several months to make it back, and he grew annoyed. When I finally let myself in through the front door, he didn't get up from his chair. His form sagged so exaggeratedly into the sofa, it was as if thieves had crept through and stolen his bones and left him there. He gestured at the smoky stone fireplace with its enormous black andirons and said, "Boy, I'm sorry the wood's so poor. I had no idea i'd be alive in November." He watched as though paralyzed while I worked at building the fire back up. He spoke only to critique my form. The heavier logs at the back, to project the heat. Not too much flame. "Young men always make that mistake." He asked me to pour him some whiskey and announced flatly his intention to nap. He lay back and draped across his eyes the velvet bag the bottle had come tied in, and I sat across from him for half an hour, forty minutes. At first the talked in his sleep, then to me. The pivots of his turn to consciousness were undetectably slight, with frequent slippages. His speech was full of mutterings, warnings. The artist's life is strewn with traps. Beware "the machinations of the enemy."
"Mr. Lytle," I whispered, "who is the enemy?"
He sat up. His unfocused eyes were an icy blue. "Why, boy," he said, "the bourgeoisie!" Then he peered at me for a second as if he'd forgotten who I was. "Of course," he said. "you're only a baby."
I'd poured myself two bourbons during nap time and felt them somewhat. He lifted his own cup and said, "Confusion to the enemy." We drank.
(john jeremiah sullivan, from pulphead)