Choose two quotes from each story you read this week to explicate the way that you did on the explication worksheet last week. Why did you choose the quotes you did? What do they reflect about the element of plot?

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Choose two quotes from each story you read this week to explicate the way that you did on the explication worksheet last week. You can look back at the presentation on explication here: https://hcc.instructure.com/courses/109310/pages/explication about what you learned about the elements of plot. Why did you choose the quotes you did? What do they reflect about the element of plot? the stories: The Hit Man 1977
Early Years
The Hit Man’s early years are complicated by the black bag that he wears over his head. Teachers correct his pronunciation, the coach criticizes his attitude, the principal dresses him down for branding preschoolers with a lit cigarette. He is a poor student. At lunch he sits alone, feeding bell peppers and salami into the dark slot of his mouth. In the hallways, wiry young athletes snatch at the black hood and slap the back of his head. When he is thirteen he is approached by the captain of the football team, who pins him down and attempts to remove the hood. The Hit Man wastes him. Five years, says the judge.

Back on the Street
The Hit Man is back on the street in two months.

First Date
The girl’s name is Cynthia. The Hit Man pulls up in front of her apartment in his father’s hearse. (The Hit Man’s father, whom he loathes and abominates, is a mortician. At breakfast the Hit Man’s father had slapped the cornflakes from his son’s bowl. The son threatened to waste his father. He did not, restrained no doubt by considerations of filial loyalty and the deep-seated taboos against patricide that permeate the universal unconscious.)

Cynthia’s father has silver sideburns and plays tennis. He responds to the Hit Man’s knock, expresses surprise at the Hit Man’s appearance. The Hit Man takes Cynthia by the elbow, presses a twenty into her father’s palm, and disappears into the night.

Father’s Death
At breakfast the Hit Man slaps the cornflakes from his father’s bowl. Then wastes him.

Mother’s Death
The Hit Man is in his early twenties. He shoots pool, lifts weights, and drinks milk from the carton. His mother is in the hospital, dying of cancer or heart disease. The priest wears black. So does the Hit Man.

First Job
Porfirio Buñoz, a Cuban financier, invites the Hit Man to lunch. I hear you’re looking for work, says Buñoz.

That’s right, says the Hit Man.

Peas
The Hit Man does not like peas. They are too difficult to balance on the fork.

Talk Show
The Hit Man waits in the wings, the white slash of a cigarette scarring the midnight black of his head and upper torso. The makeup girl has done his mouth and eyes, brushed the nap of his hood. He has been briefed. The guest who precedes him is a pediatrician. A planetary glow washes the stage where the host and the pediatrician, separated by a potted palm, cross their legs and discuss the little disturbances of infants and toddlers.

After the station break the Hit Man finds himself squeezed into a director’s chair, white lights in his eyes. The talk-show host is a baby-faced man in his early forties. He smiles like God and all His Angels. Well, he says. So you’re a hit man. Tell me — I’ve always wanted to know — what does it feel like to hit someone?

Death of Mateo María Buñoz
The body of Mateo María Buñoz, the cousin and business associate of a prominent financier, is discovered down by the docks on a hot summer morning. Mist rises from the water like steam, there is the smell of fish. A large black bird perches on the dead man’s forehead.

Marriage
Cynthia and the Hit Man stand at the altar, side by side. She is wearing a white satin gown and lace veil. The Hit Man has rented a tuxedo, extra-large, and a silk-lined black-velvet hood.

… Till death do you part, says the priest.

Moods
The Hit Man is moody, unpredictable. Once, in a luncheonette, the waitress brought him the meatloaf special but forgot to eliminate the peas. There was a spot of gravy on the Hit Man’s hood, about where his chin should be. He looked up at the waitress, his eyes like pins behind the triangular slots, and wasted her.

Another time he went to the track with $25, came back with $1,800. He stopped at a cigar shop. As he stepped out of the shop a wino tugged at his sleeve and solicited a quarter. The Hit Man reached into his pocket, extracted the $1,800 and handed it to the wino. Then wasted him.

First Child
A boy. The Hit Man is delighted. He leans over the edge of the playpen and molds the tiny fingers around the grip of a nickel-plated derringer. The gun is loaded with blanks — the Hit Man wants the boy to get used to the noise. By the time he is four the boy has mastered the rudiments of Tae Kwon Do, can stick a knife in the wall from a distance of ten feet and shoot a moving target with either hand. The Hit Man rests his broad palm on the boy’s head. You’re going to make the Big Leagues, Tiger, he says.

Work
He flies to Cincinnati. To L.A. To Boston. To London. The stewardesses get to know him.

Half an Acre and a Garage
The Hit Man is raking leaves, amassing great brittle piles of them. He is wearing a black T-shirt, cut off at the shoulders, and a cotton work hood, also black. Cynthia is edging the flower bed, his son playing in the grass. The Hit Man waves to his neighbors as they drive by. The neighbors wave back.

When he has scoured the lawn to his satisfaction, the Hit Man draws the smaller leaf-hummocks together in a single mound the size of a pickup truck. Then he bends to ignite it with his lighter. Immediately, flames leap back from the leaves, cut channels through the pile, engulf it in a ball of fire. The Hit Man stands back, hands folded beneath the great meaty biceps. At his side is the three-headed dog. He bends to pat each of the heads, smoke and sparks raging against the sky.

Stalking the Streets of the City
He is stalking the streets of the city, collar up, brim down. It is late at night. He stalks past department stores, small businesses, parks, and gas stations. Past apartments, picket fences, picture windows. Dogs growl in the shadows, then slink away. He could hit any of us.


Remember: Your initial post must be qualitative, be at least 300 words (excluding quotes), and be posted by THURSDAY AT midnight.

Respond to one of your peer’s posts in a minimum of 100 words. Your response should be thought provoking and detailed. Complete your peer responses by Sunday at midnight.

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the second story is: Joyce Carol Oates-thick Tick 1988
She said, I can’t live with you under these conditions, and her husband said, But these are the conditions. And moved out. And did not telephone her for several days. And when he did call she told him quickly, I’m happy here alone — I’ve gotten through the worst of it. Don’t spoil my happiness again.

Since then the telephone rings at odd hours and she never answers. She will never answer — it’s that simple. She does her work in the apartment spreading her books and papers out on the dining room table and she is working well, better than she has in years but it’s all precarious, she knows it’s precarious, not the temptation to kill herself — she understands this is an adolescent fantasy and would never act upon it — but the temptation to succumb to thoughts of despair, self-hatred. Easier, she thinks, to hate yourself than to respect yourself: it involves less imagination.

Tonight, contemplating these matters, she runs her fingers through her hair and comes upon a small bump on her head, the very crown of her head. A pimple, except it isn’t a pimple. A mysterious hardness, shell-like. Could it be a tiny pebble embedded in her scalp? But how? She tries gently to dislodge it with her fingernails but it is stuck fast. What can it be? — she’s fastidious about grooming, shampooing her hair every morning when she showers.

She tries to comb the thing out of her hair first with a plastic comb and then with a fine-toothed steel comb her husband left behind. It won’t budge. Perhaps it is a tiny wound, a tiny scab, she thinks, and then she thinks, It’s alive, it has its jaws in me. And she realizes it must be a tick.

Since her husband moved out and it is possible for her to go for days without seeing anyone she has made a conscientious effort to be better groomed than she has ever been in her life. Shaves her underarms before the harsh stubble appears, keeps her legs smooth and hairless. Always dresses no matter the black rain falling against the windows in the early morning and the faint odors of garbage and wet ashes pervading the apartment building. Puts on lipstick, sometimes even a touch of cologne on her wrist, behind her ear. Pride! she thinks, winking in the mirror. Self-reliance! There you go!

She’s in the bathroom trying desperately to inspect the top of her head in the medicine cabinet mirror. Roughly parting her hair, stooping, her eyes rolling up in their sockets. But she can’t see — it’s impossible. She runs for a hand mirror and holds it at such an angle that she can see into the cabinet mirror where she parts her hair clumsily with the fingers of one hand and she gives a little scream and nearly drops the mirror: it is a tick, bloated and purplish-black, stuck fast in her scalp.

She instructs herself to be calm. Not to panic. Not to give in to nausea, gagging. It’s only an insect after all, one of those tiny black spiderlike things, parasites that suck animal and human blood, it’s said the woods and fields are filled with them because of the rain this spring, and the heat, or is it because of the dryness and the heat, they’re remarkably quick, darting and leaping and flying, raining from the trees onto unknowing human heads which is how she must have picked this one up — walking through the park the other morning, forcing herself to look and to really see the beauty of the natural world which she’d lost these past several months or has it been these past several years, embarked upon the precarious enterprise of adulthood, wifehood, loneliness.

She recalls that ticks secrete an anesthetic when they bite so you can’t feel the bite. She recalls they’re so hardy they can’t be killed by ordinary methods, can’t be squashed — the most practical method is to flush them down the toilet.

She is digging furiously at her scalp with her nails and the sink is flecked with blood, her blood, and a number of hairs. No reason to panic but she can’t stop the frantic digging, she’s bent low over the sink, panting, cursing, blood beating in her eyeballs and rivulets of sweat running down her back. She feels a sensation of nausea, a taste of something hot and acid at the back of her mouth but she manages to swallow it down. She thinks of the book she’d been planning to read this evening and the piano pieces by a contemporary composer whose work she admires she’d planned to study and work out though she hasn’t a piano in the apartment yet (she intends to buy one, or rent one, soon, now that she’ll have more time for it, and more energy) and these activities strike her suddenly as remote, preposterous.

Her husband once had a medical handbook, she goes to look for it in the bedroom in a pile of books he left behind but can’t find it, she tries the bookshelves in the living room then the stack of books in the kitchen beside the refrigerator, mostly paperbacks and shamelessly dusty, and when she’s about to give up she discovers it, The Family Medical Companion, thank God her husband was so angry and hurt, so eager to get away from her, he’d left it behind. With trembling fingers she opens it to the section “Insects” that begins, “Insects are both friends and enemies of man. Some simply annoy by their bites and stings, but a few carry disease-bearing microbes.”

The paragraph on ticks is disappointingly brief. She reads that she should not try to yank the tick out of her skin since ticks embed themselves so snugly, part of its body will very likely remain and there’s the chance of infection. She has her choice of several procedures: she can hold a lighted match or cigarette against the tick’s back until it wriggles free; she can coat it with Vaseline, gasoline, kerosene, or turpentine; she can pick the tick off gently with a tweezers.

She tries the tweezers. Tries repeatedly, a dozen times or more, at the bathroom sink, until the tweezers slips from her numbed fingers. She’s crying. Her face is flushed as if with sunstroke, her eyes in the mirror are those of a deranged woman. To her horror she feels, or believes she feels, the tick stirring in her scalp — enlivened, enraged, burrowing more deeply into her flesh. She wonders if it has the power to pierce the bone, to embed itself in her very brain.

She jams her knuckles into her mouth to muffle her screaming.

She’s close to hysteria so she leaves the bathroom and paces about the apartment, from one room to another, one room to another, in an effort to calm herself. Minutes pass: she has no idea how many. She beats her hands softly together, the fleshy parts of the palms, she tries to breathe deeply and rhythmically, after all this is such a minor problem, hardly a matter of life and death, if worse comes to worst she can take a taxi to a hospital to an emergency room but what if they laugh at her there? — what if they’re furious with her there? — her with her face like death, trembling and panting as if she’d been physically assaulted, a mere tick embedded in her scalp. More plausibly, she might go next door and ask for help from her neighbor — but when she envisions knocking at the door, handing the astonished young woman the tweezers and begging her to extricate the thing in her head, she knows

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