Nerve Stories

Nerve Stories were written by Leo Ciesa, Nick Didkovsky, and Rob Henke while Nerve was touring Europe in 1993. "Thanksgiving", "Election Night", and "Late" are by Henke, "Her Name Was A Boy, And A Name Is A Terrible Thing!" by Ciesa, the rest by ND. All copyright 1995 by their respective authors, so don't try anything.

Take Your Ears As the Bones of Their Queen

Take your talents beyond the city walls, where children from the North, pale and waxy, can drink of your sap.

Learn to dream the dreams of thine enemy, that in sleep you may do battle, and rest not.

Drink the waters of the filthiest stream until you pass not solids, but play host to treacherous gasses.

Use your ears as the fox uses her teeth, that those younger than the old listen not, and grow not old.

Carry your meals as the woman carries child in the eighth month, and when thy belly is full, even so ought thou swallow the bones of a fish.

Taste the language of the invaders, and serve them as a patriot of their queen, that their eyes sparkle with love for the conquered peoples, and slice them not.

Snap the neck of the traveler with bulging pockets as a bear snaps a twig, and having taken his goods, deliver them to a hole for hoarding.

Take joy in the suffering of others, and suffering in their joy, for only through joy can one know suffering, and through suffering, joy.

Train thy digits in the making of music that you may sing these verses at weddings and banquets, and gaze dumbly at the guest who hisses when you strum these chords.

- Nick Didkovsky


It wasn't so much the sensation of the thorn piercing his thumb as the idea that bothered him. A rose was a gift of love, after all, and he was too much the realist to go for that 19th century "love hurts" sort of thing. His mind rejected the metaphors invoked by thorns and roses with the vehemence of vomit. His thumb bled not because it was punctured by an errant arrow fired by a drunken Cupid. Rather, it bled with clinical correctness, fortifying, not eroding his Weltanschauung.

"Amalia, I love you," he spoke out loud and drove a thorn deeply into his index finger. He was daring himself with love and thorns, as an uneasy glutton might dare himself to stand before a pastry platter.

"I love you, Amalia, more than the Sun, the Sky, and the Sea." He used each subject of his invocation to punctuate another bloodletting wound. His hand was getting messy, and the flower vendor was shifting from leg to leg nervously, like a circus bear waiting for its unicycle. "Will the gentleman be buying roses today?" the bear offered in a voice that cracked just a little.

"A moment, just a moment please," he turned to the vendor, noticing him for the first time. "You see my hand. It's bleeding badly. What do you say, old man, is it bleeding for love?"

"I'd say it's bleeding because you've been pricking yourself with my flowers, and it's high time you put your money on the table or bugged off! And I might add you're acting like a crazy son of a bitch!"

"Well I'm with you as far as the flowers go, and you're right, I should pay for at least this one. You seem like a pretty sensible old man. Let me ask you one more thing and I'll go. Would you still sell roses if they didn't have thorns?"

The vendor leaned in on him. "Now you listen to me. You hit the road now, or there's going to be some trouble here. Clear?"

"Clear enough. See this?" He drew a little pocketknife from his coat and drove the blade clear through the fleshy part between his own thumb and first finger. "When you've loved a woman as much as this, you'll think twice about selling roses."

- Nick Didkovsky

Little Jonny Stinkypants

He wasn't fat, he had heavy bones.
He grabbed another cookie and built up his bones some more.
He chewed and put off swallowing as long as he could.
Food games.
He knew lots of them.
He made them up as he went along.
He wasn't fat, he had heavy bones.

- Nick Didkovsky

The Shameful Stain

Iron railroad bridges scared him. Bad weather scared him. Choppy waters scared him. Unmowed lawns full of crickets scared him. Education scared him. Surgery scared him. Places far away scared him. Bright colors scared him. Spanish spoken quickly scared him. Birds scared him. Hot meals. Public toilets. Ticket counters. Salmonella. Plastic couch covers. Doors. Fences. Forests. Fear.

He loved baby oil. He loved Thanksgiving dinner. He loved the written word. He loved scandal. He loved others in danger. He loved privacy. He loved sleep. He loved exacting revenge on insects. He loved humanity. He loved bananas. Camouflage. Cigarettes. Africa. Overcast winter skies. Leprosy. Termites. High voltage. Tunnels. Blood. Cats. Sperm.

Today he shares a flat in Madrid with his sister. He closes his eyes, breathes in and sighs, "How delicious."

- Nick Didkovsky


"There is a lot to hate about holidays," he said to himself, dressing in front of the mirror.
"Are you almost ready?" asked his wife. "Are you almost ready? We're going to be late."
"Yeah," he said.
"Deodorant. You didn't forget to put on deodorant, did you?"
"No," he said.
He started looking for the deodorant.
He went to the bathroom, opened the medicine cabinet, and looked inside. There were bottles of aspirin, bandages, old razor blades, pads for corns, staples, and two small combs. There was cold reliever, dental floss, an empty tube of toothpaste, mascara, eyeliner, and apple scented perfume. No deodorant.
"Where the..." he said, and looked about the bathroom. Not in the shower not in the linen closet but between the toilet and the sink on the floor was the deodorant. He picked it up, took off the lid, and looked inside. Not much left. To save time, he undid the top few shirt buttons and reached in. The edges of the container irritated his armpits as he worked it around.
"We're going to be late," she said.
"I'm coming."
The dinner jacket was on. He met her downstairs. They kissed, mechanically, and walked outside.
"I hope we're not late," she said.

- Rob Henke

Dead Silence

"Nine rounds and that fat bastard was still standing, too dumb to drop and die already! Finally Eddie dropped him with a two-by-four to the back of the fuckin' head. Whap! Thunk! Dropped the bastard, didn't you Eddie?"

Eddie had indeed dropped the bastard. Jimmy-the-Eight-Ball would never rat again. Jimmy was a big man, and when he walked into the ballroom, the first bullet reached his guts before the sound reached his disbelieving ears. Too dumb to die. Three more shots, then three more. Then an oath from the stunned gunner. Two more. That's when Eddie picked up a board and dropped the bastard.

You've got to wonder what kills a man: a bullet or his own belief in death? Jimmy knew guns. Really knew guns. Guns were like brushing teeth. Guns were like using the phone. No excitement, no mystery, nothing especially dramatic about a gun. A man pulls a gun at a card game. Happened to Jimmy all the time. In the pool hall. All the time. And Jimmy survived every time. He'd been threatened, shot, cut, and cursed. He was a survivor.

So when nine rounds entered his flesh, snapped his bones, tore his arteries, and lodged in his muscles, well he thought he'd survive that, too. And just couldn't imagine hitting the floor. Even after his heart stopped pumping fresh blood into his brain - he still felt alive. He still felt defiant.

But nobody'd ever hit Jimmy with a two-by-four. It was absurd, a farce, a shock. Like a slap in the face, or a shower on a hangover. Pretty damn convincing.

The gunner couldn't make Jimmy believe in death.
The two-by-four did. Eddie did.
And now Jimmy was dead. Killed by a two-by-four.
A goddamn two-by-four.
A two-by-four.
Jesus Christ.

- Nick Didkovsky


Thanksgiving they were driving the highway down to her mother's house for Thanksgiving.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
It was silent. They kept on driving. Not too many cars on the road. He noticed the blue smoke from tailpipes against pavement in the cold.
"You don't want to go," she said.
"You don't want to go to my mother's house for Thanksgiving. You don't like any holiday at my parent's house."
"That's not true," he said.
It was true.
"No sense in lying," she said.
"I'm not lying. I like your family," he said. They stopped talking. She looked at the small hills in the distance. He glanced at the gas gauge, then scratched the back of his head.
It was Thanksgiving they were the highway driving to her mother's house for Thanksgiving.

- Rob Henke

Her Name Was A Boy, And A Name Is A Terrible Thing!

Once upon a boy,
There was a girl.
Her name was With Held.
His name was Gon Homme.

She was from Frankfurt.
He was from Nancy.

Their love did not last.
With her hold on Frankfurt,
He'd gone home to Nancy.

Oh, what a terrible thing!
When a girl's name is With Held,
And her boy's Gon Homme.

- Leo Ciesa

Election Night on the Radio

And let me tell you something,
a swift kick in the ass is what they got sleeping.
Still, there is a warning.
One percent was pivotal!
One person might have been
a factor...
Looming in the future
a personage,
a possible president
sitting in the corner
two years away.
Remember these words
when you read

- Rob Henke

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