Chapter no 11

House of Leaves

La poete au cachot, debraille, maladif,

Roulant un manuscript sous son pied convulsive Mesure d’un regard que la terreur enflame L’escalier de vertige ou s’abime son ame.

-Charles Baudelaire


[220-Something about the terror of the staircase.] [221- “The poet, sick, and with his chest half bare/ Tramples a manuscript in his dark stall,/ Gazing with terror at the yawning stair/ Down which his spirit finally must fall.” As translated by Roy Campbell. – Ed.]




While Karen stayed home and Will Navidson headed for the front line, Tom spent two nights in no man’s land. He even brought his bag and papers, though in the long run the effects of the weed would not exactly comfort him.

More than likely when Tom first stepped foot in that place, every instinct in his body screamed at him to immediately get out, race back to the living room, daylight, the happy median of his life. Unfortunately it was not an impulse he could obey as he was needed near the Spiral Staircase in order to maintain radio contact.

By his own admission, Tom is nothing like his brother. He has neither the fierce ambition nor the compulsion for risk taking. If both brothers paid the same price for their parents’ narcissism, Will relied on aggression to anchor the world while Tom passively accepted whatever the world would give or take away. Consequently Tom won no awards, achieved no fame, held no job for more than a year or two, remained in no relationship for longer than a few months, could not settle down in a city for longer than a few years, and ultimately had no place or direction to call his own. He drifted, bending to daily pressures, never protesting when he was deprived of what he should have rightfully claimed as his own. And in this sad trip downstream, Tom dulled the pain with alcohol and a few joints a day- what he called his “friendly haze.”

Ironically though, Tom is better liked than Will. Physically as well as emotionally, Tom has far fewer edges than his famous brother. He is soft, easy-going and exudes a kind of peacefulness typically reserved for Buddhist monks.

Anne Kligman’s essay on Tom is nearly poetic in its brevity. In only one and a half pages, she condenses fifty-three interviews with Tom’s friends, all of whom speak warmly and generously of a man they admittedly did not know all that well but nonetheless valued and in some cases appeared to genuinely love. Will Navidson, on the other hand, is respected by thousands but “has never commanded the kind of gut- level affection felt for his twin brother.” [222-Anne Kligman’s “The Short List” in Paris Review, spring,

1995, p. 43-44.]

A great deal of exegesis exists on the unique relationship between these two brothers. Though not the first to make the comparison, Eta Ruccalla’s treatment of Will & Tom as contemporary Esau & Jacob has become the academic standard. Ruccalla finds the biblical tale of twins wrestling over birthright and paternal blessing the ideal mirror in which to view Will & Tom, “who like Jacob and Esau sadly come to share the same conclusion- yipparedu. [223- “[ [They] shall be separated.” – Ed.] [224-Eta Ruccalla’s exemplary Nor True, Man: Mi Ata Beni? (Portland: Hineini Press, May 1995), p. 97. It probably should be noted that while Ruccalla equates Jacob with Navidson, “the clean-shaven intellectual aggressively claiming his birthright,” and Esau with Tom, “unkempt and slightly lethargic, lumbering through life like some obtuse water buffalo,” Nam Eurtton in her piece “All Accurate” in Panegyric, v. 18, July 30, 1994 draws the opposite conclusion: “Isn’t Navidson a hunter like Esau, actively shooting with his canra? And doesn’t Tom’s calm, in fact a Zen-like calm, make him much more similar to Jacob?”]

Incredible as it may seem, Ruccalla’s nine hundred page book is not one page too long. As she says herself, “To adequately analyze the history of Esau and Jacob is to painstakingly exfoliate, layer by layer, the most delicate mille-feuille.” [225-Eta Ruccalla’s Not True, Man: Mi Ata Beni? p. 3.]

Of course it is also an act that could in the end deprive the reader of all taste for the subject. Ruccalla accepts this risk, recognizing that an investment in such a complex, and without exception, time consuming


[Note: Regardless of your take on who’s Navidson and who’s Tom, here’s a quick summary for those unfamiliar with this biblical story about twins. Esau’s a hairy, dimwitted hunter. Jacob’s a smooth-skinned, cunning intellectual. Daddy Isaac dotes on Esau because the kid always brings him venison. When the time finally comes for the paternal blessing, Isaac promises to give it to Esau as soon as he brings him some meat. Well while Esau’s off hunting, Jacob, with help from his mother, covers his hands with goat hair so they resemble Esau’s and then approaches his blind father with a bowl full of stew. The ruse works and Isaac thinking the son before him is Esau blesses Jacob instead. When Esau returns, Isaac figures out what’s happened but tells Esau he has no second blessing for him. Esau bawls like a baby and vows to kill Jacob. Jacobruns off and meets god. Years later the brothers meet up again, make up, but don’t hang together for long. It’s actually pretty sad. See Genesis, chapters 25-33.]


array of ideas will in the end yield a taste far superior to anything

experienced casually. In the chapter entitled “Va-yachol, Va-yesht, Vayakom, Va-yelech, Va-yivaz” Ruccalla reevaluates the meaning of birthright by treating its significance as nothing more than


[226-What follows here is hopelessly incomplete. Denise Neiman who is now married and lives in Tel Aviv claims to have worked on this section when it was intact. The whole thing was really quite brilliant,” she told me over the phone. “I helped him a little with the Hebrew but he really didn’t need my assistance, except to write down what he said, this incredible analysis about parental blessings, sibling rivalry, birthright, and all the time quoting from memory entire passages from the most obscure books. He possessed a pretty uncanny ability to recite verbatim almost anything he’d read, and let me tell you, he’d read alot. Incredible character.

“It took us about two weeks to write everything he had to say about

Esau and Jacob. Then I read it back to him. He made corrections, and we eventually got around to a second draft which I felt was pretty polished.” She took a deep breath. I could hear a baby crying in the background. “Then one day I arrived at his place and the pages had vanished. Also all his fingers were bandaged. He mumbled something about falling, scraping up his hands. At first, he ignored me when I asked him about our work, but when I persisted he muttered something like ‘What difference does it make? They’re dead anyway, right? Or not-alive, however you want to look at it.’ I told him I didn’t understand. So he just said it was ‘too personal’ ‘an unrealized theme’ ‘poorly executed’ ‘a complete mess.’

“He did grunt something about there never having been a blessing to begin with, which I thought was pretty interesting. No birthright, all of it a misleading ploy, both brothers fools, and as for the comparison to the Navilson [sic] twins he suddenly claimed it was justifiable only if you could compare pair of siblings to Israel and his brother.

“Zaxnpanô was clearly upset, so I tried fixing him something to eat. He eventually came around and we read some books on meteors.

“I figured that was that, except when I went to the bathroom I found the pages. Or I should say I found what was left of them. He had torn them to shreds. They were in the wastebasket, some strewn on the floor, no doubt a fair share lost down the toilet.

“As I started to pick them up, I also discovered that most of the pieces were stained with blood. I never learned what seizure caused him to rip it all apart but for whatever reason I was overcome by my own impulse to save what was left, not for me really, but for him.

“I stuffed all the crumpled bits into my pockets and later transferred them to a manila envelope which I placed at the bottom of that chest. I guess I hoped he’d find it one day and realize his mistake.”




Unfortunately Zampanô never did. Though for what it’s worth I did. Bits of bloodstained paper, just like Denise Neiman said, all suggesting the same theme but somehow never quite fitting back together.

On more than a few occasions I even considered excluding all this. In the end though, I opted to transcribe the pieces which I figured had enough on them to have some meaning even if that meant not meaning much to me.

One thing’s for sure: it did disturb me. There’s just something so creepy about all the violence and blood. I mean over what? This? Arcane, obtuse and way over-the-top wanna-be scholarship? Is that what got to him? Or was it something else?

Maybe it really was too personal. Maybe he had a brother. A son.

Maybe he had two sons. Who knows. But here it is. All that’s left.

Incoherent scrap.

Too bad so much of his life had to slip between the lines of even his own words.]



but the Lord Yahweh-that too oft accused literalist- instructs Rebekah in the subtler ways of language by using irony:


And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.


And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.


(Genesis 25: 23-24)

[Chalmer’ s underline]


On one hand Yahweh announces a hierarchy of age and on the other hand claims the children are the same age. [227-Tobias Chaliner’s i’s Ironic Postures (London University Press, 1954), p. 92. Chalmer, however, fails to take into account Genesis 25:25-26.]



Esau comes from the root ash meaning “to hurry” while Ya ‘akov comes from the root akav which means “to delay” or “restrain.” [228-Norman J. Cohen’s Self.. Struggle & Changer Family Conflict Stories in Genesis and Their Healing Insights for Our Lives (Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights

Publishing, 1995), p. 98.] (i.e. Esau entered the world first; Jacob last.) But Esau is also connected to asah meaning “to cover” while Jacob derives from aqab meaning “heel” (i.e. Esau was covered in hair; Jacob born clutching Esau’s heel, restraining him. [229-Robert Davidson’s Genesis 12-50 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), p.


At least Freed Kashon convincingly objects to Ruccalla’s comparison when he points out how really Holloway, not Tom, is the hairy one: “His beard, surly appearance, and even his profession as a hunter make Holloway the perfect Esau. The tension between Navidson and Holloway is also more on par with the tension between Jacob and his brother.” [230- Freed Kashon’s Esau (Birmingham, Alabama: Maavar Yabbok Press, 1996), p. 159.]



The degree of Esau and Jacob’s struggle is emphasized by the word Vayitrozzu which comes from the root rzz meaning “to tear apart, to shatter.” The comparison falters, however, when one realizes Will and Tom never indulged in such a violent struggle.



During their childhood, Tom and Will were seldom apart. They gave each other support, encouragement, and the strength to persevere in the face of parental indifference. [231-Terry Borowska interview.] Of course their intertwining adolescent years eventually unraveled as they reached adulthood, Will pursuing photography and fame in an attempt to fill the emotional void. Tom drifting into an unremarkable and for the most part internal existence.



Tom, however, never hid behind the adjunct meaning of a career. He never acquired the rhetoric of achievement. In fact his life never moved much beyond the here and now.

Nevertheless, in spite of a brutal struggle with alcoholism, Tom did manage to preserve his sense of humor, and in his twelve-step program, inspired many admirers who to this day speak highly of him.

Of the hard times that came his way, he experienced the greatest grief during those eight years when he was estranged from his brother or in his words “when the old rug was pulled out from under old Tom.” It is hardly a coincidence that during this period he succumbed to chemical dependencies, went on unemployment, and prematurely ended a budding relationship with a young schoolteacher. The Navidson Record never explains what came between Tom and Will, though it implies Tom envied Navy’s success and was increasingly dissatisfied with his own accomplishments. [232-Personal interviews with Damion Searle, Annabelle Whitten and Isaac Hodge. February 5-23, 1995.]



In his article “Brothers In Arms No More” published in The Village Voice, Carlos Brillant observes that Tom and Will’s estrangement began with the birth of Chad: “While it’s complete speculation on my part, I wonder if the large amount of energy required to raise a family pulled Will’s attention away from his brother. Suddenly Tom discovered his brother-his only supporter and sympathizer-was devoting more and more time to his son. Tom may have felt abandoned.” [233-Lost.]

Annabelle Whitten echoes these sentiments when she points out how

Tom occasionally referred to himself as “orphaned at the age of forty.” [234 -Lost.] The year Tom (and Will for that matter) turned forty was the year Chad was born.



Ironically enough, Tom’s presence in the house on Ash Tree Lane only served to help Will and Karen get along. As Whitten states: “Tom’s desire to reacquire his lost parental figures transmuted Navidson into father and Karen into mother, thus offering one explanation why Tom frequently sought to reduce tension between both.” [235-Ibid., 112.]

Of course as Nam Eurtton argued, “Why? Because Tom’s a nice guy.” [236-Nam Eurtton’s “All Accurate” p. 176.]



Esau’s blessing was stolen with a mask. Tom wears no mask, Will wears a camera. But as Nietzsche wite, “Every profound spirit needs a mask.” [237-Of some note is the strange typo which appears in the Aaron Stem text: “But the blind Isaac repeated his question, ‘Are you really my son

Esau?’ to which the chosen one replied ‘Annie’ meaning ‘I am.'”

Aaron Stem’s All God’s Children: Genesis (New York: Hesed Press, I 964), p. 62.]



And yet, despite the triumph of Jacob’s ruse, he should have heeded this admonition: “Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way” (Deuteronomy 27:18). And Jacob was indeed cursed, forced to wrestle for the rest of his life with this question of self-worth.[238-From the Robert Davidson commentary: “Jacob wrestled with an unidentified ‘man’ who turned Out to be God, wrestled and lived to tell the tale. Gathered into the story are so many curious elements that we can only assume that here is a story which has taken many centuries to reach its present form, arid which has assimilated material, some of it very primitive, which goes back long before the time of Jacob. It is like an old house which has had additions built on to it, and has been restored and renovated more than once during the passing years.” p 184.]

Navidson was no different. [239-Lost.]






“To me, Tom seemed an incredibly peaceful man. Plain, decent but most of all peaceful.” [240-Ibid.]



Here Ruccalla’s analysis unexpectedly rereads the meaning of Esau’s lost inheritance, sublimely uncovering an unspoken history, veiled in irony and blankness, yet still describing how one brother could not have succeeded without the other. Cain may not have been his brother’s keeper but Esau certainly was [241-Ibid.]



“. . . a cunning hunter”

“of the field”

“plain man, dwelling in tents.”


[242-See Genesis 27:24] [243-Wrong. See Genesis 27:29.] [244- Mr. Truant also appears to be In error. The correct reference is Genesis 25:27. – Ed.]



This then is the meaning of Esau



As Scholem writes: “Frank’s ultimate vision of the future was based upon the still unrevealed laws of the Torah of atzilut which he promised his disciples would take effect once they had ‘come to Esau,’ that is, when the passage through the ‘abyss’ with its unmitigated destruction and negation was fmally accomplished.” [245-Gershom Scholem’ s The Messianic Idea in Judaism (New York: Schocken Books, 1971), p. 133. In taking the time to consider Frank’s work, Scholem does not fail to also point out Frank’s questionable character: “Jacob Frank (1726-9 1) will always be remembered as one of the most frightening phenomena in the whole Jewish history: a religious leader who, whether for purely self-interested motives or otherwise, was in all his actions a truly corrupt and degenerate individual.” p. 126.]



But as a great Hasidic maxim reminds us: “The Messiah will not come until the tears of Esau have ceased.” [246-Lost.]



and so returns to Tom and Will Navidson, divided by experience,

endowed with different talents and dispositions, yet still brothers and

“naught without the other.”

As Ruccalla states in her concluding chapter: “While the differences are there, like the serpents of the Caduceus, these two brothers have always been and always will be inextricably intertwined; and just like the Caduceus, their shared history creates a meaning and that meaning is health.” [247-Eta Ruccalla, p. 897. But it also means [Rest missing].]



By the end of the first night, Tom has begun to feel the terrible strain of that place. At one point he even threatens to abandon his post. He does not. His devotion to his brother triumphs over his own fears. Remaining by the radio, “[Tom] gnaws on boredom like a dog gnawing on a bone while all the time eyeing fear like a mongoose. [248-Ibid., p. 249.]

Fortunately for us, some trace of this struggle survives on his Hi 8 where Tom recorded an eclectic, sometimes funny, sometimes bizarre history of thoughts passing away in the atrocity of that darkness.







Tom’s Story





Day 1: 10:38

[Outside Tom’s tent; breath frosting in the air]

Who am I kidding? A place like this has to be haunted. That’s what happened to Holloway and his team-the ghosts got ’em. That’s what will happen to Navy and me. The ghosts will get us. Except he’s with Reston. He’s not alone. I’m alone. That Just figures. Ghosts always go first for the one who’s alone. In fact, I bet they’re here right now. Lurking.




Day 1: 12:06

[In order to maintain contact, it was necessary to set up the radio outside of the tent)


Radio (Navidson): Tom, we found another neon marker. Most of it’s gone. Just a shred. We’re laying down line and proceeding.

Tom into radio: Okay Navy. See any ghosts?

Radio (Navidson): Nothing. You a little spooked?

Tom: Lighting up a fat one.

Radio (Navidson): If it gets too much for you, go back. We’ll be airight.

Tom: Fuck yourself Navy.

Radio (Navidson): What?

Tom: Doesn’t he go around autographing lightbulbs?

Radio (Navidson): Who?

Tom: Watt.

Radio (Navidson): What?

Tom: Nevermind. Over. Out. Whatever.

[Changing channels]

Toni: Karen, this is Tom.

Radio (Karen): I would hope so. How’s Navy’?

Tom: He’s fine. Found another marker.

Radio (Karen): And Billy?

Tom: Fine too.

Radio (Karen): How are you managing?

Tom: Me? I’m cold, I’m scared shitless, and I feel like I’m about to be eaten alive at any moment.

Otherwise, I’d say I’m fine.




Day 1: 15:46

[Inside tent]


Okay, Mr. Monster. I know you’re there and you’re planning to eat me and there’s nothing I can do about that, but I should warn you I’ve lived for years on fast food, greasy fries, more than a few polyurethane shakes. I smoke a lot of weed too. Got a pair of lungs blacker than road tar. My point being, Mr. Monster, I don’t taste so good.




Day 1: 18:38

[Outside tent]


This is ridiculous. I don’t belong here. No one belongs here. Fuok you Navy for bringing me here. I’m a slob. I like lots of food. These things I consider accomplishments. I am not a hero. I am not an adventurer. I am Tom the slow, Tom the chunicy, Tom the stoned, Tom about to be eaten by Mr. Monster. Where are you Mr. Monster, you stinking bastard? Sleeping on the job?




Day 1: 21:09

[Outside tent]


I’m sick. I’m freezing to death. I’m going. [He throws up] This is not fun. This isn’t fair.


I think there’s a game on tonight.




Day 1: 23:41

[Outside tent]


Tom: What kind of voices?

Radio (Karen): Daisy doesn’t know. Chad said they sounded like a few people, but he couldn’t understand what they were saying.

Tom: Book me a flight to the Bahamas.

Radio (Karen): Are you kidding, book a flight for the whole family.

This is absurd.

Tom: Where’s that bottle of bourbon when you need it? [Pause] Hey, I better sign off. Don’t want a bunch of dead batteries on my hands.

Radio (Karen): Tell him I love him, Tom.

Tom: I already did.




Day 2: 00:11

[Outside tent; smoking a joint]


I call this “A Little Bedtime Story For Tom.”

A long time ago, there was this captain and he was out sailing the high seas when one of his crew spotted a pirate ship on the horizon. Right before the battle began, the captain cried out, “Bring me my red shirt!” It was a long fight but in the end the Captain and his crew were victorious. The next day three pirate ships appeareth Once again the captain cried out, “Bring me my red shirt!” and once again the captain and his men defeated the pirates.

That evening everyone was sitting around, resting, and taking care of their wounds, when an ensign asked the captain why he always put on his red shirt before battle. The captain calmly replied, “I wear the red shirt so that If I’m wounded, no one will see the blood. That way everyone will continue to fight on unafraid.” All the men were moved by this great display of courage.

Well the next day, ten pirate ships were spotted. The men turned to their captain and waited for him to give his usual command. Cairn as ever, the Captain cried out, “Bring me my brown pants.”




Day 2: 10:57

[Inside tent]


Radio (Navidson): Tom? [Static] Tom, you read me?

Tom: (Going outside to the radio) What time is it? (Looking at his watch) 11 AM! Jesus, did I sleep well.

Radio (Navidson): Still no sign, except for [Static] markers [Static] over.

Tom: Say again Navy. You’re fading.




Day 2: 12:03

[Outside tent]


This punker gets on a bus and takes a seat. His hair’s all green, he’s got brigh.tly colored tattoos covering his arms and piercings all over his face. Feathers hang from each earlobe. Across the aisle sits an old man who proceeds to stare at him for the next fifteen miles. Eventually the pumker gets pretty unnerved and blurts out:

“Hey man, didn’t you do anything crazy when you were young?” Without missing a beat, the old man replies:

“Yeah when I was In the Navy, I got drunk one night in Singapore and had sex with a Bird of Paradise. I was just wondering if you were my son.” Day 2: 13:27

[Outside tent]


I feel like I’m in a goddamned refrigerator, that’s what. So what I want to know is, where’s all the goddamn food? God knows I could use a drink.




Day 2: 14:11

[Inside tent]


A monk joins an abbey ready to dedicate his life to copying ancient books by hand. After the first day though, he reports to the head priest. He’s concerned that all the monks have been copying from copies made from still more copies.

“If someone makes a mistake,” he points out. “It would be impossible to detect. Even worse the error would continue to be made.”

A bit startled, the priest decides that he better check their latest effort against the original which is kept in a vault beneath the abbey. A place only he has access to.

Well two days, then three days pass without the priest resurfacing. Finally the new monk decides to see if the old guy’s alright. When he gets down there though, he discovers the priest hunched over both a newly copied book and the ancient original text. He is sobbing and by the look of things has been sobbing for a long time.

“Father?” the monk whispers.

“Oh Lord Jesus,” the priest wails. “The word is ‘celebrate’.”




Day 2: 15:29

[Outside tent; smoking a joint; coughing; coughing again]

Did you expect oration Mr. Monster? Or maybe just a little expectoration?

[Coughs and spits] Navy taught me that one.




Day 2: 15:49

[Outside tent]


Tom: Hey, uh, Karen, I’ve got a bit of the munchies going on here. Do you think you could order me a Pizza.

Radio (Karen): What?!

Tom: When the delivery boy comes to the door just tell him to take it to the fat guy at the end of the hail. Two miles down on the left.

Radio (Karen): [Pause] Tom, maybe you should come back.

Tom: No maybe about it. Is there any lemon meringue left?




Day 2: 16:01

[Inside tent]


There once was a poor man who walked around without shoes. His feet were covered in calluses. One day a rich man felt sorry for the poor man and bought him a pair of Nikes. The poor man was extremely grateful and wore the shoes constantly. Well after a year or so, the shoes fell apart. So the poor man had to go back to running around barefoot, only now ail his calluses were gone and his feet got all cut up and soon the cuts became infected and the man got sick and eventually, after they cut off his legs, he died.

I call that particular story “Love, Death & Nike.” A real cheer me up story for Mr. Monster. That’s right! All for you. Oh and something else:

fuck you Mr. Monster.



Day 2: 16:42

[Outside tent]


The seven dwarves went to the Vatican and when the Pope answered the door, Dopey stepped forward: “Your Excellency,” he said. “I wonder if you could tell me if there are any dwarf nuns in Rome?” “No Dopey, there aren’t,” the Pope replied.

Behind Dopey, the six dwarves started to titter.

“Well, are there any dwarf nuns in Italy?” Dopey persisted.

“No, none In Italy,” the Pope answered a little more sternly.

A few of the dwarves now began to laugh more openly. “Well, are there any dwarf nuns in Europe?” This time the Pope was much more firm.

“Dopey, there are no dwarf nuns in Europe.”

By this point, all the dwarves were laughing aloud and rolling around on the ground.

“Pope,” Dopey demanded. “Are there any dwarf nuns In the whole world?”

“No Dopey,” the Pope snapped. “There are no dwarf nuns anywhere in the world.”

Whereupon the six dwarves started Jumping up and down chanting, “Dopey fucked a penguin! Dopey flicked a penguin!”




Day 2: 17:18

[Outside tent]


Here’s a riddle: who makes a better house? A framer? A welder? A form builder? Give up? A grave maker! ‘Cause his house lasts until judgment day! Okay that’s a stupid joke. An old Sunday school joke, actually.



Day 2: 18:28

[Inside tent]


Now Mr. Monster looks like a frog, a little gribbbb-it frog when suddenly 00000h, little frog has become a… uh… piglet.

[By carefully positioning his halogen lamp, Tom is able to cast hand shadows on the back wall of his tent. He conjures up a whole menagerie of creatures.]

Yes a piggy wiggy creature just olnking along when… uh-oh an elephant! Look at that, the piglet has turned into an elephant. Jesus and look at the size of that elephant, it could… ooops, well I’ll be, it’s turned into a woodpecker, oh, now it’s a snail, hinmm or how about a praying mantis, a sea urchin, a dove maybe, a tiger, or even this… a wascawwy wabbit, and then all of a sudden… oh no Mr. Monster, don’t do that… but Mr. Monster does, turning into a dragon. Yup, that’s right folks, a mean, no game playing, flesh eating dragon. And you say you want to eat me? Sure, sure… Except for one thing, just when Mr. Monster thinks he’s gonna turn Tom the hefty into Tom the short rib, Tom unleashes his secret weapon.

[As the dragon on the tent wail turns toward Tom and opens its mouth,

Tom gets ready to turn off the halogen with his foot.] Ah ha, Mr. Monster! Bye-Bye baby!


[Click. Black.]


[249-Taking into account Chapter Six, only Tom’s creatures, born out of the absence of light, shaped with his bare hands, seem able to exist in that place, though all of them are as mutable as letters, as permanent as fame, a strange little bestiary lamenting nothing, instructing no one, revealing the outline of lives really only visible to the imagination.

And tonight as I copied this scene down, I began to feel very bad. Maybe because Tom’s antics only temporarily transform that place into something other than itself, though even that transformation is not without its own peculiar horror; for no matter how many creatures he flings on the wall of his tent, no matter how large or how real they may appear, they still all perish in a flood of darkness. No Noah’s ark. Nothing safe. No way to survive. Which may have had something to do with my outburst at the Shop today.

I was in some weird kind of jittery daze. Everyone was there, Thumper, my boss, the usual visitants, along with some depraved biker who was in the middle of getting an octopus carved into his deltoid. He kept blathering on about the permanence of ink which I guess really got to me because I started howling, and loud too-real loud-spit sputtering off my lips, snot shooting out of my nose.

“Permanent?” I shouted. “Are you fucking loopy, man?”

Everyone was shocked. The biker could have taught me a thing or two about the impermanence or at least the destructibility of flesh-in this case my flesh-but he was also shocked. Thumper came to my rescue, quickly escorting me outside and ordering me to take the day of f: “I don’t know what you’re getting messed up in Johnny but it’s fucking you up bad.” Then she touched my arm and I immediately wanted to tell her everything. Right then and there. I needed to tell her everything. Unfortunately, there was no question in my mind that she would think I was certifiable if I started rattling on about animals and Hand shadows, mutable as letters, as permanent as fame, a strange be- aww fuck, the hell with the rest. I choked down the words. Maybe I am certifiable. I came here instead. Which in an odd and round about way brings me to the Pekinese, the dog story I mentioned a ways back but didn’t want to discuss. Well, I’ve changed my mind. The Pekinese belongs here. With Tom’s Hand shadows.

It happened last December, a month before I’d ever heard of Zampanô, on the tail end of what had proved to be a rather dramatic November, All Souls Day commencing with Lude’s acquisition of a great deal of Ecstasy, a portion of which he sold to me at bulk rate.

“Hoss, this is our pass to paradise,” Lude had told me, and of course he was right.

Who cared if it was fall, it felt like spring. Lude led the way, zipping from club to bar, crashing Bel Air fetes, desert raves and any after hours open house Malibu mansion madness we could find out about. Remarkably, no matter how zealously guarded these events were-velvet ropes as impossible to transcend as concertina wire without a hand grenade-the pills were our hand grenades. Velvet blown aside with the release of just one tab. They got us in everywhere. Even if noses were already bloody with coke, lungs black with Cannabis or throats dry with bourbon. x was still something else entirely, a spine shivering departure from the regular banquet, offering plenty of love-simulated bliss-bloated diversions. And so it happened that that month-Novem nine and all mine November-Lude disappeared into his own bower of bentdom, while I wandered off and promptly found my own.




Not too long afterwards, Lude made a great show of sharing with me his official and most prodigious tally for that month. Something which, for some reason, I felt compelled to write down.





11/1 – Monique. 36. On her washing machine. She came during the rinse cycle. He came during the spin cycle. Drier broken.


11/3 – Morning: Tonya. 23. Hispanic. Twice. Evening: Nina. 34. Leather choker. Thigh high boots.


11/4 – Sparkle. 32. In a gazebo above the party.


11/5 – Kelly. 29. Dancer. In some host’s sauna.


11/6 – Gina. 22. Said “please” before making the weirdest requests.


11/8 – Jennifer. 20. Naked at midnight on the diving platform at USC.


11/9 – Caroline. 21. Swedish. On her Nordic track. Later, some guy dating Monique (11/1) caught up with Lude. Turned out he only wanted some E.


11/10 – Susan. 19. Surprised him with a golden shower. He surprised her with a raincoat.

11/11 – Evening: Brooke. 25. Midnight: Mann. 22. Poured champagne all over the bed and told him to sleep in the wet spot.


11/12 – Noon: Alison 24-28???? Evening: ????? 23. Did it in wet suits. Neoprene smeared with Astroglide. She kept calling him O’Neil.


11/13 – Holly. 24-34???? vietnamese.


11/14 – Dawn. 19. Leslie. 19. Melissa. 19. From San Diego. They went to The Pleasure Chest together and bought a vibrating dildo for the first time.


11/19 – Cindy. 20. Waitress. “I get bored when I can’t use my mouth.”


11/20 – Erin. 21. Jewish. In a changing stall at The Gap.


11/21 – Betsy. 36. After sex, wanted a pearl necklace. Lude told her he was broke.


11/22 – Michelle. 20. Catholic. Informed him that all anal sex requires is Vaseline and a pillow. She had both.


11/25 – Stephanie. 18. Black.


11/27 – Alicia. 23. On top of her stereo speakers. Big speakers. Big woofers. Apparently very intense. Plenty of woofing.


11/28 – Thanksgiving. Dana. 28. Navel pierced. Nipples pierced. Clitoral hood pierced. Danced for Lude on her bed, then masturbated until she came. An hour later, sex. He couldn’t come for the second time. She called a girlfriend. They 69’d and then played Russian Blow Job-a variation on Russian Roulette. Lude was the gun, they took turns, thirty seconds at a time (he timed); Dana’s girlfriend lost (or won; depending on your tastes) Y N

[Y N

100 tabs of X; 12 AA batteries;

half a dozen tubes of KY jelly;

4 boxes of condoms (ribbed and ultra thin; all w/ Nonoxynol-9);

3 loads of laundry; 2 wet suits; and 1 bottle of champagne.


Quite a month.


Note: This section also elicited several e-mails:


Lude was such a Jerk and a shitty fuck. You can tell him that.

– Clarissa

April 13, 1999



Lude was so much fun. Give him my new number: 323 ____- _____.

Do you know what happened to him? Did he leave LA?

And what about Johnny? What was all that crazy stuff in the introduction about guns and blood? I mean if it wasn’t his blood, whose was it?

– Natalie

May 30, 1999



Hey kids, it takes two to tango.

– Bethami

June 6, 1999




Though clearly not as epic as Lude’s, I too had my encounters that November.



Gabriella was the first. Her body was covered by a terrible birthmark which ran from her collar bone across one breast, over her belly and down both her legs. You could see traces of it on her wrists and ankles. But you couldn’t feel it. It was textureless. Purely a visual shift. At first she turned out the lights but after a while it didn’t matter. She was gorgeous and gentle and I was sad to see her go. She left for Milan the following morning.


Barbara came next. She’d been spending alot of time at the Playboy Mansion. Said she didn’t want to be a centerfold but liked the atmosphere there. When we got on her bed, she tore my shirt open. I could hear the buttons skitter across her floor. By midnight she was saying she loved me. She said it so many times, I stopped counting. By morning, despite numerous hints, she couldn’t remember my name.


And then I hooked up with Clara English. For just one night but at least it had started off well. Plenty of drinks, the buzz happy thrum of our newly ingested X-ray vision, lap dances for both of us at Crazy Girls, and then back to her place for a whole lot of fucking, only there wasn’t that much fucking before there were a whole lot more hesitations and even tears set off by a series of interior tics I couldn’t see. My fault for asking to see. I shouldn’t have been curious. Should have left the blinders on. Probably could have made it through the tears. But I didn’t. I pulled out the old Question Mark (QM) and Clara English didn’t even think to answer with a joke. She didn’t even conjure up some ridiculous story. She just took one sentence to tell me about the rape.

That stopped the tears. Replaced now by well practiced meanness. I guess I can’t blame her. Who knew how I was going to respond to that kind of confession, though she didn’t exactly give me the chance to respond. Suddenly she hated me for knowing, even though she’d been the one to tell me. Though I had asked. I had asked. When I called her the next day, she said she was finished fucking around with guys who belonged in a zoo. She hung up before I could ask her if she saw me with the cats or the birds.

I guess I still think about her. Fixed smile. Those removed gestures. That terrified gaze whenever it wasn’t lost to something dull, angry and broken, an image that invariably returns me to the same question: can Clara English ever recover or is she permanently wounded, damned to stagger under years devoid of meaning & love until finally the day comes when she stumbles and is swept away?

I haven’t seen her since. Maybe she’s already been swept away. Now though when I look at Lude’s list I don’t see what I wrote down back then. I pencil in additional thoughts. They’re made up of course. All of them born out of Clara’s memory.


Back then November had seemed like nothing but fun. The drugs robbing it of any consequence. The sex erasing all motives. Now, however, thorns have surfaced. Sharp thorns. My blissful bower’s fallen, overrun by weeds and deadly vines. So is Lude’s. Spiked with hurt. Heavy with poisonous bloom.





Monique – Husband recently left her.


Tonya – An ex- and a restraining order.


Nina – Silence.


Sparkle – Rage.


Kelly – When she was only eleven, her mother had forced her to perform oral sex on her.


Gina – Hiding from a stalker. Her fourth.


Caroline – Grew up in a commune. Had her first abortion when she was twelve.


Susan – Said “Who cares” two dozen telling times. Hole in the roof of her mouth from too much cocaine.


Brooke – Numb.


Mann – Uncle would come over and finger her.


Alison – Father killed when she was eighteen.


Leslie – Raped by gym coach when she was fourteen.


Dawn – Date raped last year.


Melissa – Ex-boyfriend used to hit her. She finally had to get a nose job.


Erin – Walked in on her mother screwing her boyfriend.


Betsy – A reduction left jagged scars running around her nipples and through both breasts. Ashamed before. Ashamed now.


Michelle – Engaged.


Alicia – Lost her virginity to her father.


Dana – Prostitute.


And as for my list, my Gabriella and Barbara, to say nothing of Amber & Christina, Lucy, Kyrie, Tatiana, the Australian gal, Ashley, Hailey and I suppose others-yes there have been others-who’s to say. Scratch in your own guesses. No doubt your postils will be happier than mine, though if they are, you clearly don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you have got it right. I mean if you’ve lasted this far, maybe you do know what I’m talking about. Maybe even better than me.

People frequently comment on the emptiness in one night stands, but emptiness here has always been just another word for darkness. Blind encounters writing sonnets no one can ever read. Desire and pain communicated in the vague language of sex.

None of which made sense to me until much later when I realized everything I thought I’d retained of my encounters added up to so very little, hardly enduring, just shadows of love outlining nothing at all.

Which I guess finally brings me to the story I’ve been meaning to tell all along, one that still haunts me today, about the wounded and where I still fear they finally end up.

The story of my Pekinese.


By the time December came around, I’d run Out of B and energy. For at least a week, I was hung over with no sense of what lay ahead, plenty of untraceable guilt and a mounting sense of despair. One thing was sure though, I needed rest.

Lude didn’t care. A 10 PM call and an hour later he was dragging me to the Opium Den, into the harangue of voices and amplified rhythms, all of it mixing, on ice, with a combination of cheap bourbon and better bourbon, though surprisingly little talk or smiles; feast to famine; or was it the other way around?, until towards the end of the night, Lude, noticing my isolation but secure in his own AM plans, pointed across the room – “I think she’s a porn star” he yelled at me, though the music turned his yell into a whisper. I glanced over at the bar and immediately

knew who he was talking about. There were plenty of girls milling around, ordering cosmopolitans and beers, but she stood out, literally, from all the rest. Not height wise, mind you. She couldn’t have been more than 5’5″. A petite figure, platinum hair, way too much eyeliner, nails as long as kitchen knives and lips stuffed with god knows how many layers of tissue collected from the ass of some cadaver. But her tits, they were what told the whole story: enormous, and that’s an understatement. We’re talking DDDD, entire seas sacrificed to fill those saline sacks, Red Sea on the left, the Dead Sea on the right. Given the right storm, they could probably take out coastal townships with no guarantees for inland villages either.

“Go talk to her” Lude urged me.

“What do I say?” I yelled/whispered. Bewildered.

“Ask her how big they are.”


I did go up and talk to her and we talked for a while though never about her tits which constantly drew my eyes into their orbit no matter how hard I tried to resist-moon and sea tied together. Turned out she liked to listen to country music or Pantera, depending on her mood, which at that moment was completely unreadable, her bloodshot eyes flashing out at me from beneath all that liner, sad? drunk? dry? or just permanently red? After a good twenty minutes of talk, talk interpolated with countless conversation ends, huge uncomfortable gaps where I always expected her to cough and excuse herself which for whatever reason she never did, waiting for me to continue our conversation-could anyone call that a conversation? “What kind of music do you like?” “Country.” LLong pause] “Really, country? hmmm?” [Long pause] “And Pantera.”

“Country and Pantera? Really? hmnimm?”-on and on like that until finally, after twenty minutes, the club started closing down and bouncers began herding people towards the exits. And we walked out together. She’d come with a girlfriend who she waved goodbye to outside, ignoring me, though after the wave, suddenly returning to me, asking me to escort her to her truck.

As we waited for the light to change, she told me her name was Johnnie, though some people called her Sled, though her real name was Rachel. This is a simple telling of a much more difficult series of questions, the answers to which, in retrospect, were more than likely all made up. Then as the light changed and we crossed to the east side of Vine, we found on the corner a black bug-eyed Pekinese without tags. It was dirty, scared and obviously without owner, snot pouring out of its pug nose, every part of it trembling as it cowered on that grimy sidewalk, motionless, finally, after how many hours, how many days, at a loss where to go. All directions leading to the same place anyway. Its own end.

“Oh my poor baby” Johnnie cooed, those cold and indifferent spaces in our talk suddenly full of affection and concern, though the notes seemed wrong, not dissonant or flat or played at an improper tempo, just wrong, the melody somehow robbed of itself, meaning not another melody either, just something else. At least that’s how it sounds now. Back then I hardly noticed.

Still, I was the one who picked up the frightened thing, cradling its small head in the crook of my arm, wiping some of the snot off on the sleeve of my buttonless corduroy coat, deciding as I did this-making a mess of myself-to take it home with me. To hell with the cramped space. I wasn’t going to let this animal die. Not after it had snotted on my coat and sighed in my arms. But Johnnie wanted the poor thing.

“What kind of place do you have?” she asked. “A studio,” I replied. “No way,” she said, growing increasingly more emphatic and insistent, even if all this was spoken in that strange melody, not exactly atonal, I don’t know, just wrong. So despite my instincts I relented. After all, she had a home in the valley, a yard, the kind of place dogs are meant to have. “A happy pet land,” she called it, and really, considering the hole I inhabited, there was no argument. I handed Johnnie the poor Pekinese and together we placed it in the truck.

“Call me the momma to all strays,” she said and gave me a weird smile.


Johnnie ended up giving me a lift back to my place. Oddly enough, when we pulled up in front of my building, I didn’t ask her in She seemed grateful. But I hadn’t ducked the invitation on her behalf. Something seemed wrong, very wrong. Maybe it was the vacancy I had begun to taste, brought on by November-Novem ovum nine and all mine. Or maybe it was her, the salt full breasts, the deformed mouth, the fresco of makeup, her entire figure so perfect(ly grotesque) and all at the age of twenty-four, or so she had told me, though she probably was closer to six thousand years old.

Something about her frightened me. The knotted fingers. That blank stare, permanently fixed on some strange slate bare continent lost deep beneath ancient seas, her seas, dark, red, dead. Maybe not. Maybe it was that Pekinese pup, hungry and abandoned, suddenly rescued, suddenly with hope; a projection of myself? my own place in the way of straydom? Maybe. Who knows the real answer, but I’ll tell you this, I sure as hell wasn’t thinking then about Johnnie’s tits or her lips or the positions, the absurd positions, we could have made together. I was thinking only about the Pekinese, its safety, its future. The Pekinese and me: a contract of concern. I rubbed the top of its ears, stroked its back and then I climbed out of the truck and said goodbye.

As Johnnie pulled away, she smiled again, that weird all wrong smile. For a moment, I watched her tail lights trail down the Street, still feeling uncertain but a little relieved, until as I turned to go inside, I heard the thump. The one I remember even now, so clearly, an eerie and awful sound. Not too loud. Slightly hollow in fact, amounting to just that-a thump. Like that. Thump. I looked down the street. Her truck was gone but behind it, in its wake, something dark rolled into the light of a street lamp. Something Johnnie had thrown out her window as she passed the parked cars. I jogged down the block, feeling more than a little uneasy, until as I approached that clump of something on the side of the road, I discovered much to my dismay all my uneasiness confirmed.

To this day I don’t know why she did it: my abandoned Pekinese, found on Vine, bug eyed, with snot pouring out of its pug nose, re-found not too far from my front door, that very same night, lying next to a car with half its head caved in, an eye broken and oozing vitreous jelly, tongue caught (and partially severed) in its snapped jaws. She must have thrown it with tremendous force too. In truth an almost unimaginable amount of force.

I tried to picture those claw like hands grabbing this poor creature by the neck and hurling it out her window. Had she even looked at what she held? Had she even glanced back?

Later in the week Lude told me he’d been wrong. She wasn’t a porn star. She was someone else. Someone he didn’t know. Did I know? I don’t know why I didn’t tell him. Probably because his real question was had I fucked her, and what could have been further from the truth? Me, staring down at that lifeless dog, not a speck of blood mind you, just a shadow looking alot like some kind of a charcoal drawing, featureless & still, floating in a pool of yellow lamp light. I couldn’t even say anything, not a cry, a shout or a word. I couldn’t feel anything either, shock alone possessing me, depriving me of any emotional meaning, finally leaving me in a mad debate over what to do with the body: bury it, take it to the pound, throw the thing in a garbage can. I couldn’t decide anything. So I just crouched there, my knees burning, finally filling with enough of that distant pain that tells all of us, especially in our sleep, that the time has come to move. But I wanted to give this dog a name first and lists skipped through my mind, endless lists, which in the end ran out. There was no name. I was too late. And so I just stood up and left. Call me an asshole (and fuck you too) my Pekinese friend was gone. Ant food now. At the very least-I reasoned-the body was close enough to the curb. The street sweeper would get it in the morning.

Another mother to all strays.]




Day 2: 19:04

[Outside tent; smoking another joint]


Enough. I’ve had enough. Man, this is just not fair.

Day 2: 20:03

[Outside tent]

Radio (Navidson): [Static] We hear something [Noise] going [Noise] – ter it.

Tom: Good luck bro’.





Day 2: 21:54

[Outside tent]


Radio (Karen): I’m scared Tom.

Tom: What’s the matter? Are the kids alright?

Radio (Karen): No, they’re okay. I mean I think they’re okay. Daisy, stays In her room. Chad prefers being outside. Who can argue with that. It’s something else.

Tom: What?

Radio (Karen): All my Feng Shui- Oh Christ, this whole thing doesn’t make any sense. How are Navy and Billy doing? Have they found anything? When are they coming back?

Tom: They heard someone crying. I didn’t get it all ’cause the reception was so poor. From what I can gather, they’re fine.

Radio (Karen): Well, I’m not. I don’t like being here alone, Tom. In fact I’m fucking fed up with being alone. [She starts crying] I don’t like being scared all the time. Wondering If he’s going to be alright, then wondering if I’m going to be alright if he’s not, knowing I won’t be. I’m so tired of being frightened like this. I’ve had enough Tom. I really have. After this, I’m leaving. I’m taking the kids and I’m going. This wasn’t necessary. It could have been avoided. We didn’t need to go through all this.

Tom: [Gently] Karen, Karen, wait a minute. Just back up for a second.

First, tell me what you were saying about your Feng Shui stuff.

Radio (Karen): [Pause] The objects. I put all these objects around the house. You remember, to improve the energy, or some such shit.

Tom: Sure. Crystals and bullfrogs, goldfish and dragons.

Radio (Karen): Tom, they’re all gone.

Tom: What do you mean?

Radio (Karen): [Crying harder] They disappeared.

Tom: Hey Karen. Come on. Did you ask Daisy and Chad? Maybe they took them?

Radio (Karen): Tom, they’re the ones who told me. They wanted to know why I’d gotten rid of it all.




Day 2: 22:19

[Outside tent]


Radio (Navidson): How’s Karen [Static]?

Tom: Not so good, Navy. She’s pretty scared. You should get back here. Radio (Navidson): Wh [Static]? [Static] [Static] [Static] [Static]ear you.

Tom: Navy’? Navy’?






Day 2: 23:07

[Outside tent]


This is such bullshit. You hear me Mr. Monster BULLSHIT!

What kind of house do you got here anyway? No lights, no central heating, not even any plumbing! I’ve been shitting in a corner and pissing on a wall for two days.

[Getting louder]

Doesn’t that irk you a little, Mr. Monster? I’ve been shitting in your corner. I’ve been pissing on your wall.

[Then softer]

Of course, the piss has dried up. And the crap just vanishes. You gobble it all up don’t you? Turtles, shit, It doesn’t matter to you.

[Loud again]

Indiscriminate bastard! Doesn’t it make you sick? It makes me sick.

Makes me wanna retch.

[Long series of echoes]





Day 3: 00:49

[Outside tent; reaching Into his ziploc bag for the last joint]


And all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. Not even you Mr. Monster. Just Tom, poor 01′ Tom, who was doing plenty of stirring around this house until finally he went stir crazy wishing there was a creature any creature-even a mouse.




Day 3: 00:54

[Outside tent]


Radio (Navidson): [Bang] We’re in shit now [Static] Tom: Navy, what’s happening? I can barely hear you.

Radio (Navidson): Jed’s been shot, he’s bleed [Static]

Tom: Shot? By who?!





Reston: I can’t see a fiicking thing.


[crack… crack… crack



Reston: Awwwwww-wwwww shit!


[…cracK -BANG- craCK… craCK



Tom: What the hell was that?!

Radio (Navidson): Tom [Static] [Static]. I’m gonna [Static] [Static]

[Static] [Static] Wax. We have to-shit- [Static…] Tom: I’m losing you Navy. Radio (Navidson): [Static]

Tom: Navy, do you read me? Over.




Day 3: 01:28

[Outside tent]


Radio (Navidson): [Static] it’s probably gonna take us a good eight hours to make it back to the stairs. Tom, I need you to meet me at the bottom [Static] We need help. We can’t carry them up ourselves. Also, you’re [Static] [Static] [Static] [Static] eed to [Static] a doctor [Static]


[Static… ]




Day 3: 07:39

[Outside tent]


[Tom looks down the Spiral Staircase, ignites a lightstick and drops it.] Are you down there, Mr. Monster?

[Below, the lightstick flickers and dies. Tom recoils.]

No way. Not gonna happen, Navy. I’ve been alone in this shithole for almost three days and now you want me to go down there alone? No way. [Tom descends a few steps, then quickly retreats] No can do.

[Tom tries again, makes it dawn to the first flight]

There that’s not so bad. Fuck you, Mr. Monster! Yeah, FUCK YOU!!!

[Then as Tom starts down the second flight, the stairs suddenly stretch and drop ten feet. Tom looks up and sees the circular shape of the stairwell bend into an ellipse before snapping back to a circle again.] [Tom’s breathing gets noticeably more rapid.] You are here, aren’t you Mr. Monster?

[A pause. And then out of nowhere comes that growl. More like a roar.

Almost deafening. As if it originated right next to Tom.]

[Tom panics and sprints back up the stairs. The shot from the camcorder instantly becomes an incoherent blur of walls, banisters, and the dim light thrown by the halogen.]

[A minute later, Tom reaches the top.]




Day 3: 07:53

[Outside tent]


Tom: Karen…

Radio (Karen): Are you alright?

Tom: I’m coming in.





A Short Analysis of Tom’s Story


How does one approach this quirky sequence? What does it reveal about Tom? What does it say about The Navidson Record?

For one thing, Navidson edited this segment months later. No doubt, what would soon take place deeply influenced the way he treated the material. As Nietzsche wrote, “It is our future that lays down the law of our today.”

All throughout Tom’s Story, Navidson tenderly focuses on Tom’s mirth and his ability to play in the halls of hell, those dolorous mansions of Isolation, Fear, and Doubt. He captures his brother trying to help Karen and him with their foundering relationship, and he reveals Tom’s surprising strength in the face of such utter darkness and cold.

There is nothing hasty about Tom’s Story. Navidson has clearly put an enormous amount of work into these few minutes. Despite obvious technological limitations, the cuts are clean and sound beautifully balanced with the rhythm and order of every shot only serving to intensify even the most ordinary moment.

This is a labor of love, a set piece sibling to Karen’s short film on Navidson.

Perhaps because Tom’s antics are so amusing and so completely permeated with warmth, we could easily miss how hand shadows, an abundance of bad jokes and the birth of “Mr. Monster” ultimately come to mean Sorrow.

If Sorrow is deep regret over someone loved, there is nothing but regret here, as if Navidson with his great eye had for the first time seen what over the years he never should have missed.

Or should have missed all along.

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