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December '04  

news: Hobart #4 available now; 2004 Pushcart nominations

Guest Edited by...
by Ryan Boudinot

Plane Crash Stories
by Stephen Elliott

by Stephany Aulenback

EP No. 5
by Calvin Liu

by Lee Klein

Evenfall and the Residents Return from the Casino
by Matthew Simmons

   An Excerpt from

   Looking Forward to It

    (the genesis for Hobart 4's "Plane Crash Stories," explained)

            by Stephen Elliott

I'm heading west via Phoenix. It's nighttime already, and I've taken ten milligrams of Adderall and chased it down with four cups of coffee. It cost me $150 to upgrade to first class, and I keep sqirming in the large seat. Ever since 9/11 I've been certain I'm going to die in a plane, and so each time I fly I write a short tale about the plane going down and record it in a document titled "Plane Crash Stories." The woman next to me has her headphones on and is watching Queen Latifah on the small screen, and I'm remembering my first political experience.

When I was in third grade I started a petition to give everyone eight years and older the right to vote. I'm not sure what I was angry about or what I was looking to be empowered against. I clearly didn't want to do anything for second graders, a year below us, whom I probably saw as childish incometents. My classmates wouldn't sign my petition, even when I pleaded with them. They said we were too young to vote. "That's what they want you to think. "You're like sheep."

I didn't know at the time that democracy didn't always work. Better than Communism, I suppose, but nowhere near as efficient as a good king. Anyway, what I knew was that we kids had less money and earlier curfews than another part of the population who exercised, it seemed, unearned power over us. Why should we follow their rules? What made them so smart? Did they really have our best interests in mind? The only one who would sign my petition was Mark Holtzman, a weird and unpopular kid who ate from the garbage cans and shot chocolate milk from his nostrils during lunch. Mark was a discipline case with a lenient single mother. Our teacher was Ms. S., a kind spinster with gray hair in a bun and short black shoes. Mark gave Ms. S. a hard time all year, and at the end of the year, after spring had taken hold and after Mark said something he shouldn't have (and I only wish I could remember what it was), Ms. S. leaped from behind her desk like an elderly, blue-veined squirrel. She grabbed Mark in her claws, punching him in the face. He burst into tears immediately. We watched in disbelief as she pulled him to the floor and laid into him with the pointy toe of her shoe as he tried to curl into a ball. She didn't stop for a long time. She beat that kid within an inch of his life.

Stephen Elliott's fourth novel, Happy Baby, was co-published by McSweeney's and MacAdam/Cage and is available everywhere except Borders. His first non-fiction book, Looking Forward To It, about the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, was released by Picador in October.