© Copyright 1982 Nyle Frank


“Could you come open the windows in my room?” she asked. She was pretty, thin, with light brown hair. A sweatshirt reading:

x = 1 + 2 + y
mx -2y = 3abx.

Upon entering her classroom, I noticed cat food and a litter box. “Don’t say a word!” she pleaded. “These cats are living illegally with me in my dorm.” Four statements were written on three blackboards: “All truths are relative, therefore this statement is false.” “All truths except this truth are relative, therefore this statement is false.” “All truth is relative except the truth that all truth is relative (false).” And “All truth is relative except the truth that all truth is relative besides the truth that all truth is relative (extended).” “I like empty classrooms,” she said, “because I enjoy writing on blackboards. On weekends, my boyfriend and I come here to talk, just like others go dancing.”

She was born in Stockholm and raised in Berlin. She became interested in Eastern religion, meeting a guru who changed her name from Janet to Janeela. “I’m now an atheist, but haven’t got around to changing my name back,” she said. “Two years ago a friend came to America to teach at a small Southern women’s college, and I decided to attend. The teachers are fine, but the students don’t care. I tried to start a philosophy club; only one person attended. I told them they were all philosophers, but they didn’t believe me. I’m a prisoner. No car, too scared to walk downtown, and they don’t sell the kind of motorbikes I like in this country.”

“I’ve been a determinist for quite a while now. A lot of people are frightened by this philosophy, but not me,” she said. “I’ve been studying chemistry, physics, and cybernetics. I’m particularly interested in the Bermuda Triangle. I think I can prove how rays can make things disappear. No one has yet done this.”

I asked about her T-shirts. “I’ve got ‘Ding an sich’ (Kant’s ‘Thing in Itself’), ‘DNA,’ ‘ATP,’ and I’m looking for one with a picture of a philosopher. I know a girl with one of Marx, but I think I’d prefer Einstein.” “How about Nietzsche?” I asked. “Never!” she growled. “He’s too irrational!”


I once visited a man who had just checked into Room 111 of an old hotel. He knew neither letters nor numbers. A friend asked his room number. “I’m in the room with three sticks,” he said.


“Listen here,” he said to the mirror on his fortieth birthday, “what’s going on, anyway?” He tore a sheet of paper from a pad. The left side he headed “Dream,” the right, “Reality.”

Dream Reality
novel half a chapter last year
portraits none
wife and family divorce & separation
live where I feel comfortable this ain’t it


He glanced at it for awhile, eventually tossing it into the trash. It was late summer and, as he headed for work, he was surprised by the crispness of the morning. “What a fine day it’s going to be,” he thought to himself.


Having an hour layover in Dover, Delaware, I thought I’d see the State Capitol. I walked to the government complex and asked a postman which it was. “How would I know?” he said “You mean you’re a postman and you don’t know which is the capitol!” I exclaimed. “Well, what do you mean by capitol?” “You know, the building with the dome on it!” I said. “Well then,” he replied, “just look for domes!”


I walked into the chapel of an old church. A man entered as I was about to sit. “What business do you have here?” he asked. “You should have checked at the office first.”


“Say, man, I heard you got married last weekend!” a young man yelled across the street. “Yeah, that’s right, but it ain’t gonna stop me from fuckin’ around a lot,” the other shouted back laughingly.


Driving a late-night Trailways through North Carolina, he stopped at a small town station and left her off. He pulled out a few minutes later, heading for the highway.

Several blocks from the station he spotted her walking with a man down a side street. “Something’s funny,” he said. “I think he came out of the parking lot and started following her.” He pulled up alongside and asked if she knew the man. She shook her head timidly. “C’mon in here,” he said. A few moments later we were at her door. “He might have been a good man, but you never can tell,” he said upon letting her out.

(from a friend in New York)

“One day I was walking near Columbia when a man handed me a card: ‘I’m deaf and dumb. Can you spare a quarter?’ I informed him that I’d used all my change on the subway. He was indignant. ‘You expect me to believe that?’ he shouted. ‘Listen lady, I’m not THAT dumb!’”