John Alford has taught at Michigan State University, the University of California-Irvine, the University of Virginia, Leeds University (U.K.) and elsewhere. His books and articles cover a wide range of subjects from Chaucer to Wordsworth, from medieval rhetoric to modern critical theory. His awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities (twice) and the Guggenheim Foundation. He now writes full time in Asheville, North Carolina. His first published piece of fiction was “Whistling in the Louvre” which appeared in TMR 31.1. 
Mar 01 2008
Whistling in the Louvre
The smell of insanity: acrid, piss-logged wood. The only way they’ll get rid of it, she told us, is to rip up the flooring. The butch could have done it, too, with her bare hands. A jangle of keys, the reassuring click of a tumbler, and we were back in the hall. My wife, with concern in her voice: But one got used to it, right? No, you never do. Twelve years later, sitting on the hospital lawn, I catch a whiff of it in the breeze. I prefer waiting outdoors. Besides, the sun feels good on my face. Fall is in the air. A typical July morning in New Hampshire.