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Buffalo buffalo, Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

In America, they cite this as the longest grammatically correct sentence made up of all one word. Buffalo of Buffalo! Your fellow buffalo from Buffalo often buffalo other Buffalo buffalo! If I were a buffalo, I might be mad. I try to think of a similar Russian word. Comrade, be a comrade to your fellow comrade! I have a lot of time to consider such nonsense since I have taken over caring for the cripple. The cripple looks close to one hundred. His hair is brittle and white. He looks shriveled, like the teat of a nanny goat. But he is only thirty.

In his leisure time, when I am not bathing or feeding him, he bangs away on an old typewriter. He only ever writes about the accident. He has written it from every perspective: his own, of course, but also from that of the nightguard that witnessed it, his friend the poet who was beside him and died, from the perspective of the beastly machine that did it, and even from the point of view of a goose being plucked for the fire near the circus tents.

The roller coaster had clinched the decision to have the circus on the island. The cripple, then just twenty-one, was accompanying the poet, who wrote for the newspaper, and was there to write a review of the circus and the fair that came along. The newspaper photographer insisted that they take a picture of the poet enjoying the island’s famous Roller Coaster.

I warn the cripple that he should not call the accident “the hand of God”, that the might be sent somewhere worse, without a caretaker. He tells me that nobody cares about a dried-up fig like him. I go on thinking my buffalo thoughts.

The typewriter is fitful. The cripple stops to breathe and it falls silent along with him – sometimes in bursts of five minutes or more, sometimes for only thirty seconds. Nine years of boxes line the hallway to his room up to the ceiling. The cripple re-examines the most significant minute and twenty seconds of his history every day. I wonder if it ever changes.

The photograph taken before lift-off is in a frame above the typewriter. The caption is something tragic, something about the death of a national poet and seventeen others. My charge, the cripple, is unsmiling. Maybe the safety bar was pressing into his balls (it must have been, that part of his anatomy hangs useless now). Maybe the poet had gas. Maybe the cripple was worried about missing the ferry back to the mainland. It is hard to say – does anyone look as they imagine they do as a photograph is being taken? My cripple stares at that photograph every time I help him to the desk, before he begins recounting.

The nightguard screams a warning that nobody hears.

The poet feels his monogrammed pen pierce first his notepad, then his thigh, before it snaps.

The roller coaster squeals dark delight at their doom.

The dead goose lies half-plucked and watches the structure come down.

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