THE LEMON JELL-O SYNDROME
Sometimes Bone King cannot go through doors. He has no physical impairment, but at times his brain and muscles simply can’t recall how to walk him through them. Perhaps it has something to do with his being distracted thinking about grammar and etymology all the time, or maybe it’s anxiety that his wife is having an affair with the yardman.
But then renowned neurologist Arthur Limongello offers a diagnosis as peculiar as the ailment: Bone’s self is starting to dislodge from his brain. The treatment is a series of therapeutic tasks; Bone must compliment a stranger each day, do good deeds without being asked, and remind himself each morning, that “Today is a good day!”
But first, as a temporary measure, he also suggests Bone simply try to dance through the doorways. And for a time, Bone’s square dancing, the only kind of dance he knows how to do, seems to more or less work.
Bone’s condition begins to improve, but then his wife leaves him, and after a harrowing ordeal during which he nearly loses his life, Bone makes an astounding discovery about the man who has been calling himself Dr. Limongello.
Below is an animation created by flipping the pages of the book. Great fun!
$17.00 | Paperback | 5 1/2 x 8 1/4 | 272 pages
ISBN: 978-1-60953-141-6 | Carton Quantity: 24
The night before being struck by the Lemon Jell-O Syndrome, his private nickname for his terrible, incapacitating illness, Bone King taught Wednesday night Composition 1101 with an unease with which it has rarely been taught. When reminding his students that the object of a preposition could never be a subject, he spoke as if it came as a personal tragedy. Suspecting your wife of infidelity, and only suspecting – if my wife is cheating – is a subordinate clause that wrings the heart like a mop until there is a declarative sentence to complete it.
The clock by the door told him motion by motion when Mary would be coming home from Grace Church and changing to go out to Jelly Jam: now letting herself in the kitchen door – now making the orbit from kitchen to bedroom to bathroom, changing from work clothes, getting ready to leave – putting perfume behind her ears?
Born in the Tennessee back hills, Bone was an unlikely candidate to become a scholar. He could quote Seneca in Latin, but he was haunted by the dread that he’d never really overcome his pronunciation of “pin” for “pen” nor lost that weighty one-word imperative, “gih-yawn-owwa-hyeah!” he once used against hound dogs in the kitchen or chickens on the front porch. Through monkish solitude and dedicated study, he’d climbed the greasy trunk of academe and published his master’s thesis, Misplaced Modifiers, which won First Place for Books on Grammar and Usage in the Southeast. His further ascent seemed foregone, but the struggle had cost him. Wherever he went, a silent inner voice went also, a running commentary on usage and etymology. Mary had once loved his dreaminess, but now complained he didn’t pay enough attention. The truth was he paid too much, only never to the right things. Sometimes he wondered if this weren’t a sign of mild lunacy but then he’d spot in luna-cy the ghostly lexical thumbprint of the moon, and with that he’d be off in another world.
By the time he got home, the sun had set, and it was dark. She was at the club.
“Chicken and rice on the counter,” Mary’s note said. He turned on the TV and listened from the kitchen as his dinner rotated, humming in the lighted window of the microwave. He sat in the recliner, plate in his lap, bathed in the vapor from his chicken and rice and the blue-white glow of Wednesday night reruns: a medical comedy with a hard-working, no-nonsense doctor, a wise-cracking nurse, and a quirky patient with a strange diagnosis. After his solitary meal, Bone went to bed.
Had another man touched that smooth white skin? Her naked back, where it tapered to her waist. A masculine hand, black hairs bristling around a heavy old-fashioned wristwatch, resting itself along the curve, two fingers lightly curled along the cleft…
Bone noted, observed and tagged the minutes passing on the glowing alarm clock as he lay, alternating between sweats and shivers. At last the front door opened. Boards creaked down the hall and into the bathroom. Flush. The shower ran. A toothbrush scrubbed. A drawer opened and closed. Mary – soap smell and scrubbed skin – eased into the covers beside him. Bone pretended to have just awoken.
“So, how was tonight?” No response. “How was Jelly Jam?”
“It was great.” She readjusted herself on her pillow.
“So who else was there?”