Why the Network Needs to Bring Katie Back

C.J. Trotter

(after B. H.)

“I tried for years to write something less dark,”
the historian DK said to Katie Couric,
who crossed her shapely legs at the knee.
I imagined the sheen on Katie’s skin the byproduct
of some expensive body oil. “Fiction would have
offered a lovely diversion,” the scholar continued.
“A murder mystery? A giant relief. They’re just,
well, not me.” Katie stared for several seconds
into DK—a large black hole hovering
just above the guest couch, a circle of darkness
like a puncture in space, made even more apparent by
the cream-color seatback that offered contrasting relief.
Estimating DK’s diameter at three feet, I feared
the petite Katie would get sucked into its blankness.
Yet feisty as ever she held her ground. “But you’re
so successful,” Katie said, “and people just love reading
your work.” She ran her fingers along a shiny leg.
“Irresistible terror, page-turning awfulness.”
She looked up from the paper she’d been reading.
“Is that why your books have never been turned
into documentaries? Too gruesome for the human eye?”
“Good question.” “Then how do you make history read
like fiction?” She flashed one of her big Katie-smiles.
The studio audience clapped wildly until
a booming screech followed by a bang rocked the studio,
as if a semi had collided with something solid and deadly.
The audience clutched their seats, bracing for impact.
Katie didn’t flinch. “Like it or not,” the guest answered,
“my books contain facts. Nothing more, nothing less.”
They took off on a tangent then, something about
greed and growth and a dishonored planet,
and I must have drifted off, daydreaming I’d held a party
on the beach, everyone drinking and kicking up the sands
of time, skin baking in the sun until it withered and sagged,
before the inevitable bloat and rot, flesh falling off
the bone, but they kept laughing and drinking, believing
there’s a reason to smear lotion on their faces, even as
they went putrid and rank, even as the liquor ran out,
when I heard Katie say, “You mustn’t be so hard
on yourself. Stripes on a tiger and all that.”
“Precisely my reason for being here today,” DK said,
“to share a fundamental truth.” The host leaned in
toward the darkness. “Yes?” You could hear a pin drop.
“Objects hurling through space tend to pick up speed.”
“Yes?” “So check your brakes.” “You’re saying
we need to check our brakes.” “Yes.” “But to what end?”
The darkness pulsed like a heartbeat, growing ever
so slightly. “Exactly my point,” DK replied.
“To what end indeed.”                                        (Note)

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C.J. Trotter is a teacher of internationals as well as a writer living in New York City. She has published “Punch” in Following, a short story anthology, and studied with Pushcart Prize winner Alex Mindt and novelist Teddy Wayne.

Cimarron Review

Spring 2018

Stillwater, Oklahoma

Oklahoma State University

Editor: Toni Graham
Associate Editors: Dinah Cox, Claire Paniccia, Amanda Hays
Poetry Editor: Lisa Lewis
Fiction Editor: Toni Graham

One of the oldest quarterlies in the nation, Cimarron Review publishes work by writers at all stages of their careers, including Pulitzer prize winners, writers appearing in the Best American Series and the Pushcart anthologies, and winners of national book contests. Since 1967, Cimarron has showcased poetry, fiction, and nonfiction with a wide-ranging aesthetic. Our editors seek the bold and the ruminative, the sensitive and the shocking, but above all they seek imagination and truth-telling, the finest stories, poems, and essays from working writers across the country and around the world.

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