The Gamayun’s Predicament

Summer, 2019 / No. 43
George Pfromm
Part 1

When you tell the story you note that her boat is in terrible condition. It is twelve feet long, propelled by a five-​horsepower Honda, and its sides have been crumpled by tons of ice the preceding winter. It is dangerous for her. The swells on the lake are relentless, pale yellow tops thinning to foam and sickening wells that draw down so deep they create walls and corridors and spires. Unreal water. Her boat will sink: it is pulled down sideways and her hand leaves the throttle as she looks for something to grab to keep from falling. Over the yellow top she is facing a new direction, then another, and again. She loses control in the drop, landing on her hip, then pushing up all fours. The next drive upward makes her body slap, then stick for a moment. You notice the wound and mention it in the story. Ragged aluminum teeth where the side is crushed has cut and caught the skin just below her armpit. The skin is open and muscle has been crosscut in long strikes. The red white of a rib visible in a deeper quarter-sized recess. She reaches under her arm through blood to check the wound. No pain. The boat swoops and she can sense that it will not come back up this time.

The boat is filled instantly by a single gulp, then it’s gone. Your story conveys the terror the woman feels, and the reader feels it, too. You have shown the contents of the boat collected at the surface in a strip of foam. The woman is rolling under a large wave to save herself from being thrown by it. When she surfaces to breathe, it is her feet that stick up. Below the surface she fights panic and decides it’s best to wait for the water to right her. She has no way of doing this herself against such unpredictable forces. Punched sideways, her head is up and she takes in air. The water being drawn upward around her is pink with blood. She seals her mouth and tries to relax into the next sequence. She notices the waves are changing. The waves are white now. The yellow is green. Her foot brushes rock. She catches a glimpse of single pale grey tree, then is slammed headfirst into stone.

The way you tell this story she has washed up into a narrow channel on a small island. She is not dead but might die. The small stones in the channel are round and smooth and they roll beneath her as waves putt her further up into the shallows hidden below cedar boughs. She looks up at water running over rock. The forest is over her. A spare struggling forest. So here, below and looking up through it, there is more blue than green, more grey than brown. The branches aren’t looking for sun, the sun here is an ordeal. The branches are fighting the winds, the roots are holding on by skinned hooks gripping rock, seeking out uncommitted earth. Your story makes it seem like she is reflecting on the forest and it is possible even for a second, but the truth of it is she has a concussion. Her brow is violently lopsided. Her side wound is severe. She will never recall getting here. She turns on her side to rise and the pain weighs from her head into her fingers, into her feet. She is stopped by hurt.

It takes her an hour to climb up to the forest floor. Her home is five kilometres away, a lakefront property on a new road in a neighbourhood of four cottages and hers. Whiskey Harbour. From prohibition days. You tell of her standing, the terrible wounds, now speckled with twigs and dirt, and her thinking. In your story we hear her thoughts and feel anxiety about her memory.

Well shit. Goddammit, Helen. How the hell did you get out here? Where’s the fuckin’ boat? What the shit happened to my head? My side? Where’s the fuckin’ boat?

Helen calls for help and doubles over. Even breathing feels impossible. Balance is affected. The pain is caused by a fracture in her skull. Hairline from the brow under into the socket.

Well shit. Goddammit, Helen. How the hell did you get out here? Where’s the fuckin’ boat? What the shit happened to my head? My side? Where’s the fuckin’ boat?

You explain that these aren’t repeated lines of text in the story but another glimpse of her thoughts moments later. Helen is forgetting instantly what she has just said to herself. She remembers her name, the morning, all the details of her life outside of the past several hours. She doesn’t know what possessed her to leave shore in a tiny damaged fishing boat in water swelling sixteen feet. The injuries she only can guess at. But will have to make the same guess moments later. Then again moments later after that. You notice out of interest, but don’t put it in your story, that her guesses have small variants, mostly in the pictures she fabricates. The bow cut into a wave. The boat capsized, rolling off the face of a blue cliff. She reached out for the life vest too late. She reached out and snatched the life vest. It saved her. She lost consciousness. The details don’t matter. She makes them up. Her mind tries to calm her with invention. She looks to the shore, unsteady and shivering.

Helen decides to walk the island. There could be a cache for strandees. Her nose drips blood. The drops hit her feet, slash open rocks. She ignores this. She notices trees cut back to stumps. At the back of the clearing, a tall orange triangle. A navigational thingy. She reaches a plateau of flat rock that extends out to reef then around the entire back of the island. The forest isn’t much of a forest, more like a large tumbleweed, about an acre in size. It looks temporary. Helen spots a picnic table on a raised shelf against the trees. In the telling you quietly change the word “forest” to simply “trees.” Helen has her shoes in her hand now as she walks barefoot on the flat rock toward the table.

Well shit. Goddammit, Helen. How the hell did you get out here? Where’s the fuckin’ boat? What the shit happened to my head? My side? Where’s the fuckin’ boat?

The picnic table feels good to look at. Maybe the people who made it will come back. Maybe they are still here somewhere. Helen sits and rests her arms on the bleached wood. She feels overcome. Sadness. Even depression. Or weakness. These terrible wounds may be fatal. She feels numb. Ignoring her own thoughts that she now recognizes are useless. Crying. The sun will disappear soon on the other side of the island. The clouds will soon be raked, inflated, matted, and coated with raw colour. Helen, still crying, has excluded her own thoughts from any plan she might have. She ponders this, a shock rattles her, and she wonders if she might use something other than thought to figure out what to do.

First thing is to clean and dress these wounds somehow. Well, easy enough to clean them. Helen stands and assesses where is the safest spot to enter the water. A small inlet in the rock provides a pool. She steps down in and lowers herself carefully. The cool water bites her side and she gasps. You say that there are tears, large ones that seem to bounce from her eyes, and then you take it back. Not entirely sure why you do, but it has something to do with showing weakness while she is showing strength. She holds her face above the surface, then lowers it. The back of her neck is horse-hard. The pain is for a moment confined to the injury, then it rains down again through her arms, and into her feet. She lightly brushes her hand back and forth across the grotesque protrusion. Getting out, she vomits on herself and returns to the bath to rinse it off.

You have something to report about her thoughts. To you it is more urgent than what she sees or does at this point. The context pushes back on this a bit. She has returned to the picnic table and has sat for five minutes. And now you speak her thoughts:

Where the fuck did all these cuts and bangs and shit come from? Why am I here? Is Gail here with me? Why am I sitting at the picnic table?

It appears her memory loss refreshes itself after any notable event. It is likely she remembers nothing now but stepping carefully over the rocks to the picnic table. The memory of the boat is gone. She sits and waits for her friend Gail. Gail had come up from the city and is currently staying at her cottage.

A blue heron is flying toward the island. It has immense slow-moving wings. It makes her feel that the island is prehistoric. The pteranodon reaches the smooth outlying rock and swoops up over her. As it folds itself, to let wind past so it can land, she notice its mate, standing tall as a child, in a frightening nest of wrist-thick branches. She scans the other trees, spindly and near dead, and spots others. Other nests, each with there own ghoulish pteranodons. Something nudges her to look down out over the rocks. All those bones. Fish bones and hip bones and beaks. Carp washed up, or dragged up into a pteranodon graveyard. Eyes poked out first. The beak attacking anuses, pulling, then popping the bladder. Devoured shred by shred under a sky of shrieking seagulls raining turds across the stone. She saw all this as she walked. It made these pictures. Now she stares at the bones and thinks:

Where the fuck did all these cuts and bangs and shit come from? Why am I here? Is Gail here with me? Why am I sitting at the picnic table?

Helen adjusts her herself, her posture, collar.

“Gail! Gail!”

The effort to yell makes her stop suddenly. The sound of her voice scares her. It means she’s here and can’t remember. It means that Gail is probably not here. It means that she is alone and for some reason is seated at a picnic table on an island. She sorts through her thoughts:

Where the fuck did all these cuts and bangs and shit come from? Why am I here? Is Gail here with me? Why am I sitting at the picnic table?

Helen touches the overhang above her eye. It is so insistent. So big. It seems an inconceivable consequence. There is nothing she can make normal, no action she can take that will bring things back. She feels that everything around her is going to suffocate her. The wind will pull the breath from her. The sun will take her life. And when the night falls, she will lose all the heat from her body. It will come out sealed off like a balloon and float into a tree where it is snagged and made to end. In your story she is crying and that now feels like a satisfying observation.

She remembers her life though. Who she is she knows. She can draw from that.

Helen wipes tears and stands. She is resolved to act. Without acting, she feels, nothing will keep happening. She steps away from the table and walks out far enough onto the promontory to see the shore where her cottage is. She can see the sun flashing on her white roof. She looks back on the trees.

“Gail! Gail!”

The pain again, different now she is standing. From eye into brain. She barks out a short laugh. She is laughing at the pain the way you would laugh at a walking tree or a floating man. The world is broken. She holds her face, her eye in her palm. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. Pass. It does and she has vertigo from not breathing. She waits and this too passes. She thinks.

What the fuck happened to my eye? Gail. Gail. Gail. I need help. I just need some fuckin’ help. How did I get on this shittin’ island?

Gail must be on the other side of the island with the boat. But who would take a boat out when the waves are so big and wind so strong? Gail has an eighteen-foot jet boat that can handle pretty rough conditions. Still, why bother? Why come here? There is nothing here. Snappable trees and pteranodon. Wind and awful sun. Shoes in hand, she walks back the way she came, which, of course, is determined by the terrain and not by her recollection.

On the far side of the island there is no Gail. No jet boat. Just the wind and sun. Worse here facing west. Helen calls back up into the trees for Gail. She sees the silhouettes of blue herons drawn up like puppets, in nests, tall as children. They do this in unison. They are all looking at her and this stops her cold. These are killers. Bladder poppers. This is their island. She steps backward and screams. The birds are goons to her, and you use that word in your story. Goons that run things. They kill everything here. There are no snakes or frogs or mice. Everything has been stabbed and ripped and swallowed. Nothing is left. Even the fish that slide into to the shallows are stabbed and pulled to pieces. For the first time, as she crawls out of the waves, Helen believes she will die here. This belief is not, however, revealed in her thoughts:

Where the fuck did all these cuts and bangs and shit come from? Why am I here? Is Gail here with me?

Helen decides to sit up on the rock and wait for Gail. The goons retract, one at a time, like an amusement park game resetting, into the their nests. She has vertigo again from not breathing.

“Gail! Gail!”

Helen sees an orange dot in the water. Far out. It appears and disappears with waves. It is too far away to identify beyond it being a flickering orange spot. She stares at it hard. Focusing, trying to draw it out. It is a life jacket. It must be Gail. She jumps and waves her arms.

Why don’t I know anything? What happened to me, Gail? Where did these fuckin’ injuries come from?

The goons in their nests rise again, quickly, like the undead from graves. Helen ignores them. Birds. Birds are birds. She realizes Gail is far off and that it may take hours for her to get here. If she knows to get here, even. She returns to her spot behind the rock to wait.

At first Helen studies the orange spot. Looking for arms or a head. Trying to judge how far, and if it is in fact Gail and she is heading here. This contemplation hurts. Her left eye is closed and the socket filled with fluid and inflamed tissue. The optic nerve is being crushed. Helen feels tingling under her armpit. She scratches it. Tingling on her ankle. She looks. Six or seven maggots on her foot. She screams. She slaps at her foot. Lifts her arm and feels a pain, like fish hooks yanked through her side. She thinks. She looks. Maggots are eating the perimeter of an orange-red crater across her ribs. She leaps to her feet and springs into the water.

Helen submerges herself and can feel her own voice reach her ears through water. She snatches at the wound. Dragging her fingernails through her skinned flesh. She turns her hand to the side and scrapes over and over again. Eventually she slows, the panic turns to nausea, and as she rises, reaching for rock, the water is iridescent with vomit and blood.

If you are primordial and your wound is primordial, you ask questions that are no longer asked. You don’t ask other people things, you ask maggots. And you ask them, How long have I been on this island? How long does it take a fly to lay eggs then those eggs to bring maggots and those maggots to start eating me? Not hours. A day? Days? How long have I been here? Her thoughts, which you reveal to remind us of Helen’s predicament, are not these questions exactly:

Why don’t I know anything? What happened to me, Gail? Where did these fuckin’ injuries come from?

The incident with the maggots has erased the orange spot. Helen is now shivering, wet. Her side wound is much worse. Her fingernails left deep raking and pulled yellow fat out in dripping streamers. She is preoccupied with helping herself but has no idea how to do it. The image of the maggots twirling into her will not leave her thoughts. The banging in her brow keeps asking what happened. Her thoughts beyond these nightmare pictures are frail placeholders:

Why don’t I know anything? What happened to me, Gail? Where did these fuckin’ injuries come from?

In your story you take the time to express your regret that you cannot help her. It feels disingenuous to your reader, seeing as, unless this a true story, all of this is your responsibility. What it means is not the least of your responsibility. You may be trying to change the pace of the action with your remorse. It could be required that you inject some sanguine aside or broader editorial comment, but now, to be honest, it is best to be quiet and see what she does. And sure enough, there she is, on her side on the cold rock, the sun low and taking its heat elsewhere, she is dying. Is that your regret? Is that why you felt the need to be in your story? You knew there was no time left, you had to say something. Probably you are dying too, then.

The herons are used to her. She is not a threat to them. They know that now. They watch her curl up and they wait to make sure she will no longer move. They drop down into their fearsome nests to warm their moon-sized eggs as light and heat return to the black lake.

Part 2

A man sits on a large orange boulder, just inside the trees. There is a small fire. Helen lies facing it. The body of a woman—Gail—is in the shallows, rolling back and forth on the round stones. She is missing an arm and a foot. The dinosaurs stand at full attention in their nests trying to co-ordinate a response.

Helen pulls a hand from her hip and lays it flat. The man notices and straightens. The pain awakens in her and she puts a hand to her face. The man lays an oval of bone-dry driftwood into the fire.

“Those are bad. I was worried.”

Helen can’t breath deeply. Her upper body is bound.

“Oh, I made a bandage out of my sleeves. That needed covering up. Hope that’s O.K. Too tight?”

Helen feels the cloth, the knot against her shoulder blade. She feels restriction as she works her elbow under to lift herself.

“Look, we’re safe here at least.”

Helen listens but can’t comprehend. Safe here. We are safe here. At least. The words seem sectioned. What they mean is not in them anymore.


Frank nods, a faint smile.

“Why aren’t we safe?”

Frank is checking things he’s lain around the fire to dry. Wallet, socks.

“I think we are safe. Here. On the island. I hope so.”

You almost don’t bother to include what Helen is thinking:

Why don’t I know anything? What happened to me, Gail? Where did these fuckin’ injuries come from?

Importantly, there is some separation between what she says and what she thinks. Her memory of yesterday’s events aren’t coming back, nor will they ever. But now, at least, she can speak past her thoughts.

“Gail. I think Gail is here somewhere.”

Frank chews his lips and rubs his feet. There is something he doesn’t want to say.

“We need to build something for shelter.”

Helen is trying to sit up.

“Shelter? Shouldn’t we be trying to get back?”

Frank fusses over her moving.

“Back? Go back? You almost died getting here. Me too. Gail.”

“Can you help me look for her? I was with her yesterday. At a picnic table.”

Frank goes silent. Helen is now sitting.

“She’s here somewhere.”

Frank reaches back and pulls a life jacket from the branches. He feels it, then tosses it back up.

“Let’s get to work on that shelter. What do ya say?”

Helen is frustrated, the holes in her thoughts make her snap.

“What do I say? I say, What the fuck happened? How am I here? What happened to me? What are you swimming out to this damn island for? Where is Gail? Why did th—”

“Hold on. Hold on. You don’t remember?”

Helen blinks. Thought and speaking just worked together.

Frank frowns.

“Nothing? You don’t remember?”

“All I know is Gail and I are on this island and I somehow got the shit beat out of me and she’s somewhere here. Not a lot of places to hide. That’s it. There’s no boat. There’s no reason to be here. So what the fuck, Frank?”

You start to describe who Frank is—a neighbour—but the story cuts you off.

“O.K., Helen. There’s a lot . . . a lot to say. And it’s not really . . . not really something . . .”

“Oh, come on, Frank. What the fuck is happening?”

Frank assesses her. He has something to say and he’s worried that, in her condition, it may be too much for her.

“O.K.. Can you walk?”

Helen tries to stand but is weakened by loss of blood, exposure, and pain. Frank helps her and turns her toward the lake. He supports her as they silently reach the shore.

Frank points. Gail’s body is now half ashore. Her right shoulder is raw beef; the end of her left leg is a pink taper. Her skin is transparent, spotted; her eyes, open.

Helen’s knees release her weight and she goes down. Frank reaches under her arms and suspends her above the rock. She makes a noise. A long-keening note, like a whale singing. Frank pulls her up. She has lost consciousness.

Helen lies still, warmer in the early morning sun. Frank is in the trees snapping branches. The blue herons watch over, patient as snipers. Gail’s body has been removed. The lake is much calmer and a light breeze crosses the island. The blue herons have left their nests and in your part they have abandoned them. Carp by the dozen line up along the reef and they move slowly toward the island then back out. They are beautiful beyond words.

Frank returns and adds sticks to the fire. He gently lays a heron’s egg at the edge of the coals.

Helen opens her eyes, remains still on her side.

“Morning. Try this, eh? Heron egg.”

Helen doesn’t move. Her face is streaked with vivid colour, black and green.

“Where’s Gail?”

The question annoys Frank, and Helen notices.

“You’ve had a bad, really bad, concussion, I think.”

Helen slowly rises to sit. The pain is crippling.

“How did that happen?” Where did all these fucking injuries come from?”

Frank is dragging coals into a semicircle against the egg.

“I don’t know exactly how you got them. My guess is you hit rock when you swam in yesterday. That on your side I really don’t know. Unless that happened earlier. That’s totally possible.”

Helen stares at the egg. Pale blue as if water-​coloured. Small circles and imperfections like an oily painting of the moon.

“That doesn’t make sense to me.”

Frank shrugs.

“I can only guess. What’s important is that we keep those clean and covered. And you just rest.”

Helen feels dismissed. As you tell it, this conversation was confrontational. We include that now.

“What happened yesterday? I don’t remember.”

“Well, after all hell broke loose, you must have got away in that boat, which I assume sank. And somehow you made it here. I swam. Five hours it took. The life vest saved me, but sure didn’t help with swimming.”

“Where’s Gail?”

Frank snaps.

“Look. Let’s just deal with what we’re doing, O.K.? Gail isn’t here. It’s me and you.”

Helen frowns, hurting her face. She takes in a sharp breath and holds it.

“I wish you’d answer my questions, Frank.”

Frank tosses a stick into the fire, sending embers up and over Helen.

“Shit, Frank. Fuck. What are you doin’?”

Frank jumps up and kicks the embers back into the fire.

“Look, I’ve answered all your questions but I can’t keep answering the same questions over and over again.”

“Where’s Gail?”

“Gail . . . Gail is . . . I don’t know.”


“She’s not here. Christ, Helen. We got enough to—”

“Where’s Gail?”

Frank licks his fingers and rotates the egg.

“Where’s Gail, Frank?”

Frank cranks the stick over his knee. He hurts his thumb.

“Shit! Shit! Fuck!”

Helen watches as he holds his thumb waiting for the pain to pass.

“If I answer all your fuckin’ questions again, I’ll just have to answer them again later.”

“That’s not fair, Frank. I can think. I can remember.”

Frank ignores her.

Helen sighs, touching the heavy mass that closes her eye.

“Why are we here, Frank? Why are we on this island?”

Frank ignores her.

“I’m going to go around the other side, see what’s there.”

“Simple question. Why aren’t we . . . why are we staying here? Shouldn’t we be trying to get back?”

Frank has found a long white stick, a walking stick.

“I’ll be back. You rest.”

Helen feels anger slip to fear. He is not telling her something. Something big. Something bad.

“Watch the egg. I don’t know how long it takes to cook a heron egg. But it’s huge so . . .”

Helen looks up, scowling. The colors on her face make her look violent.


She glares.

“O.K., for fuck’s sakes. I’ll be back. Don’t do anything stupid.”

This last remark bites at her. Unnecessary. Do anything stupid? Stupid? Really?

“Where’s Gail, Frank?”

Frank flashes a brief insincere smile, turns away.

Moments later he is out on the rock table to the south. Helen watches, waiting for him to disappear from view. Helen leans forward against her knees. She pushes with her hands and stands. Her knees threaten to give out but she steadies them. The pain in her eye is severe. It is an injury that telegraphs its progress. The eye is going to die in the socket. The optic nerve is nearly destroyed. The profound swelling has distorted the eye’s shape. She touches it. It feels like something has been added to her face.

In the trees Helen finds there are areas in here that are relatively open. She can make her way through. The floor is dry and tough. Little soil, mostly caught in pockets in the rock. The trees are growing out of nothing. Potted mostly, in handfuls of dirt. Complete skeletons of carp, of herons, lie in startling white piles. It is strange, she almost thinks, to see these bones undisturbed. Little discrete piles, all perfectly clean. Helen avoids them, stepping over or around. The trees and the bones are almost the same colour, the same thin sticks. She tries to avoid snapping branches. No one, maybe no one ever, has walked up through here. She whisper calls:

“Gail! Gail!”

She sees a line of red rust on the ground. Something metal. Something left behind. She pries up a rebar from under roots. She handles it. A metre long and heavy. Not a walking stick. She holds it in two hands and goes further in.

“Gail! Gail!”

The woods are empty. You would like to mention the life that could be here—other birds, snakes, frogs. It feels like a diorama in a museum. Dead trees and moulded plastic rock. Nothing living. Merely presented.

She freezes. Something is covered up. Sticks and handfuls of dirt. A small intrusion of activity in an inactive world. She sees a hand, pink and curled up, sticking out between sticks, halfway down the form.

She straightens to yell, to call for help, but stops. Covering her mouth she cries into her hand. She doesn’t have to look at the body. She knows it is Gail. Gail is the only other person on this island. It is Gail. You want her thoughts, and we defer willingly.

You fucker! You killed her! You shit cock fucker! You killed her!

You are confident that memory will return, but it will not. You reserve the right to say her thoughts again soon as proof. She is sobbing, supported by the rebar, she pushes downward with both hands.

You fucker! You killed her! You shit cock fucker! You killed her!

She somehow feels it is important that she act now, while the impetus is there. You want this too, her to act, even though nothing is known. You are responding to some readers’ desire and it feels dangerous to the story. Helen hears the clack of rock hitting rock. She ducks and looks through the thin trees. There are no leaves at this level so she can see far. Frank. Moving just beyond the tree, by the picnic table. She wonders why there is a picnic table on the island and thinks:

You fucker! You killed her! You shit cock fucker! You killed her!

Helen crouches down, the rebar held like spear, low and pointing ahead from her side. She navigates her way forward, silently. Little shells and bones are softly crushed underfoot, cutting in. She is almost to the trees’ edge on the west side of the island. She adjusts her grip, two hands at the base.

You fucker! You killed her! You shit cock fucker! You killed her!

Frank is at the fire pit. Helen is breathing hard. Adrenalin has killed all the pain in her body. She experiences this as strength and doesn’t want it to fade. She needs it now. She turns back into the trees. Her feet are bleeding. Filled with splinter bones. She glances up at the monster nests in the trees. From below they looks like futuristic structures, saucer shaped and carefully designed to appear dangerously heavy. Helen sees Frank. He is standing by the fire.

You fucker! You killed her! You shit cock fucker! You killed her!

Helen quickens her pace, trying to ignite the adrenalin. A low branch bends against her upper arm and loudly cracks. Frank turns. Helen knows that it has to happen now. Right now. The rebar comes down and Frank sees the whole thing. You decide your tale needs to slow here. The way you tell it, we see Helen in detail. She is spectacular so, again, we defer. The rebar is in full swing and, at this moment, it stands upward like a killing pike. Her face is a mask of encased blood, streaks of orange and bursting blacks. Her one eye is snatched inside a chain glove and her other eye is mad. The bindings are tight around her chest, a blood drenched pattern of skulls and hearts. Her feet have left the ground, one forward in full charge, the other back and up, as if the ground stood in the air beneath her. Beads of blood leave the soles of her feet. Her open shirt, marked ferociously with her own blood, curls and folds up behind her, held like this, all subtle and dynamic. She is vengeance.

The bar comes down and splits Frank’s skull. His divided brain fires pointlessly. His shoulders fall first, making him appear to slump before he drops. Frank is dead. Helen has tumbled past him, has rolled through the fire and hangs off the edge of the shelf by the lake.

You fucker! You killed her! You shit cock fucker! You killed her!

Helen sits at the picnic table. Behind and above her herons are stepping down in their nests. A large empty shell lies broken in the rocks. The sun is below the tops of the trees, but still visible as an orange ball. Its light comes through and creates hot panels around her. She looks anxiously at the rebar, then abruptly to the trees.

“Gail! Gail!”