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The Adventures of Tar-man
      by John Rose

[Tar-man Index]

Episode One

He sneaked into the theater through the roof hatch after the last shift had gone home. This was a nightly ritual, for all the good it did, dodging janitors and other security-minded personnel to attempt a sponge-bath in the sink. Tar-man looked in the mirror. He was dirty, but no worse than yesterday, or the day before. Sometimes he noticed the tar accumulation reaching a kind of plateau, as though for a while it were not subject to increase but contented with it's abundance. Of course, he thought, once the world stopped seeing you the degree of soilage was no longer of importance. Nor was the imaginary quality of the word "soilage." He was alone with his filth. Washing was painful, because although the dirt was removable, the tar was not. As long as the dirt remained, it was possible to deceive oneself about the actual extent of the tar accumulation, or, looked at another way, one's potential for cleanliness. But once the dirt was washed away he had only his face, wrinkled and blackened, only the truth staring back in all of its grim, petroleum-clad horror. If only…no. It would never be.

Copyright 2002. All Rights Reserved.