Dear Lucille Bogan,

Fifteen years ago, when I left the earth, I was just another struggling painter in New York City. My canvases were of two varieties: expressionistic black-and-gray cityscapes which often featured hunched figures collapsed inside oversized trenchcoats, and brightly-colored nudes of you. One June day, I made up my mind to abandon the darker side of my nature and embrace what was good in the world. I came to your apartment and leaned on the buzzer. “Hello?” you said. “It’s me,” I said. We had dinner. We had dessert. We went to bed and drank a few glasses of red wine, after which I made my case for embracing what was good in the world. “You know what that means? For us?” I said. You seemed to. We went to sleep perpendicular to one another. Your head was on my chest. The next morning, when I woke up, I was on the moon. You were not. I cursed. I kicked a stone and it flew for what seemed like miles. Low gravity has its advantages. By noon, though, I had recovered my composure sufficiently to invent the style of painting that would bring me international — indeed, interplanetary — renown. It was brighter and more vivid, even, than the nudes. It exploded with color. Here on the moon that kind of thing was in great demand, and has continued to be.

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Dear Lucille Bogan,

Four days ago here on the moon I fell and hit my head on the corner of a table. I got up almost immediately — low gravity has its advantages — but I had a dizzy spell, then a fainting spell, then a swoon. It turns out that the culprit was not the fall at all but rather a moderately severe case of something called Longtime Moon Resident Dissociative Disorder, or Lam-rod. Symptoms include slight dizziness. I’m going to go lie down for a moment.

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Dear Lucille Bogan,

Another symptom of Lam-rod is that you tend to start letters over again even though you have started them already.

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Dear Lucille Bogan,

Last night I went to see a friend of mine named Krystof Janikowski. He’s here on the moon, too. Has been since ninety-two. He came here with his son Krystof Janikowski, Jr. Krystof Janikowski likes to call him “the Hebe dwarf” because I guess the mother is Jewish. Krystof Janikowski also likes to pretend that he hates his ex-wife although I happen to know that they had a perfectly amicable separation and that he still treasures her opinion on most matters. Krystof Janikowski wanted to discuss a book he has written. It’s called “Blocaine and Shabu,” and it’s a blaxploitation thriller set on the earth in which one guy does another guy a solid. Krystof Janikowski is a god-damned idiot, and I told him so, right in front of that Hebe dwarf. He took a swing at me, and landed a punch on my shoulder, but it barely hurt. Low gravity has its advantages.

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Dear Lucille Bogan,

Another effect of Lam-rod is that you start to question yourself. This letter seems no more interesting to me than a Fabian milk report. And maybe “Blocaine and Shabu” isn’t that bad after all.

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Dear Lucille Bogan,

Or is it terrible? This Lam-rod is immensely frustrating. I am a famous artist. My work has been exhibited in the Art Museum of the Moon, the Modern Moon Art Museum, and the Lunar Art Institute. So why can’t I render a confident and irrevocable judgment on the quality of “Blocaine and Shabu”? I am going to the doctor right now.

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Dear Lucille Bogan,

The doctor, who was short and who would have been considered fat back when I was on earth but is now simply round — low gravity has its advantages — gave me a green pill. Doctors here on the moon are like that. They think that pills solve everything. When I was walking back from the doctor’s office, I saw Krystof Janikowski. He turned to avoid me, but I went up to him and clapped him on the back. “You know,” I said, “my opinion about the book is simply my opinion. If I had listened to every jerk who expressed skepticism during the three hours it took me to become a famous painter, I might have never done so.” Krystof Janikowski laughed. “I know,” he said. “But I appreciate your honesty. And I think I figured out the problem: I think the title should be reversed. ‘Shabu and Blocaine’ is much better.” I shrugged. It didn’t seem to matter. So maybe the doctor and his green pill were the answer after all.

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Dear Lucille Bogan,

Now it is tomorrow, and I am in such despair that I must call the doctor again.

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Dear Lucille Bogan,

The doctor told me that despair is a side effect of the green pill. “First you feel real good,” he said, “and then you feel real bad.” I asked him why he didn’t warn me about that before. “Because I am better friends with Krystof Janikowski,” he said. “The Hebe dwarf is my godson.” He laughed merrily. “You’ll want to tear off your face all afternoon,” he said, “but it should be gone by tomorrow.”

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Dear Lucille Bogan,

Now it is tomorrow again and I am in even greater despair. I called the doctor. “Crap,” he said, and he rushed right over. He gave me a red pill and then began to take my pulse, to listen to my breathing, to palpate me about the neck and jaw. Then he stopped. “Whose paintings are these?” he said. I told him they were mine. “They are beautiful,” he said. “Absolutely beautiful.” I told him that I was famous. “I don’t really follow the art world,” he said. “But I know what I like. I especially like that one.” I followed his finger and found that he was pointing toward a small canvas near the bookshelf. It was a foot square, hung at diamond angle. It was painted from memory. It was a portrait of you. At once, my despair lifted. Unfortunately, it was replaced by a crippling pain that radiated from my Adam’s Apple and quickly reached my head and my stomach. I fell to the ground, screaming. “Aha,” the doctor said. “I think I know what the matter is.” He produced a blue pill and threw it into the air. While it fell, he explained to me what he thought was happening; low gravity has its advantages. “The red pill,” he said, “tends to dredge up emotional pain and then, when the source of that pain is identified, convert all psychological burden into acute physical pain.” I asked him what the blue pill did. “Painkiller,” he said, and left.

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Dear Lucille Bogan,

Another effect of Lam-rod is that you tend to digress before you get to the point. Luckily, the red pill curbs that digressive effect somewhat. So this is the point: I miss you. I miss you terribly. I miss you horribly. I miss you painfully. I know that I am expressing myself clumsily. I am a painter, not a writer. I regret almost every second that has passed since I went to sleep on the earth and woke up on the moon. I was blithely unaware of how wretched and empty my life would feel without you. Remember? I cursed and kicked a stone. These are the behaviors of a child who has misplaced a toy, not a man who has been separated from a woman. Once, about a year ago, I was walking outside, and I saw Krystof Janikowski with Krystof Janikowski, Jr. This was when “Blocaine and Shabu” was just a glint in his eye; he talked about it, but he had not written a word. Krystof Janikowski was on his back on a blanket on the ground. He had his hands behind his head. He was sunbathing and listening to the radio. Krystof Janikowski, Jr., was running around, playing, making noise. Boys will be boys. But then that little Krystof Janikowski, Jr. came and lay down on the blanket. He tucked himself into the crook of his arm, and then he shifted so that he was perpendicular to his father. That little Hebe dwarf looked like he was in heaven. I started to cry. At the time, I had no idea why.

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Dear Lucille Bogan,

This blue pill is making a fool of me. It does nothing. The pain is still in my throat and head and belly. I long for the days before the red pill, for the days when I was afflicted only with Lam-rod. And the despair has returned with even greater ferocity. Evidently the green pill works in cycles. This morning I dashed off a small painting, in dour black-and-gray, of a lone figure scuttling across a rainy alleyway. When I finished, I had a sudden urge to climb to the roof of my house and jump off. I didn’t, though, because I would probably just float to the ground like a feather. Low gravity has its disadvantages.