The Toe Tactic


Why is Mona Peek, a 25-year-old temp worker, riding a late night train to return to her childhood home? Is it to prevent its sale to strangers? To deliver the ghost of her father, whom Mona believes resides there? And what is buried in the back yard?

Recalling a cherished childhood ritual, Mona fills pages of her journal with games of tic tac toe, dotting their grids with hieroglyphic designs and symbols. There are two ways to go on the tic tac toe: you can jump in the middle or wait on the side. Patterns repeat, accidents, variations. . . .

Mona's (older) reflection appears in the dark window to protest. But the train's out of the station, clattering forward (or traveling back?) as Mona's imagination struggles with the puzzles of her past.

In her former back yard, Mona unearths a fragment of bone—painted yellow and black by a younger self. This move unleashes a pack of mischievous and powerful dogs, which emerges from under ground to manipulate the lives of Mona and the people she comes in contact with. These include:

Victoria Hadaway—Mona's boss, an imperious ageless literary agent who is obsessed with a former lover.

Elevator Man—a flirtatious elevator operator in Hadaway's building. Also, a performance artist.

Wilson Utt—a 13-year-old loner who can fly. He finds Mona's wallet, which was stolen by one of the dogs.

Lactitia Utt—a masseuse and single mother who performs poetry.

Hector Freegood—A lonely piano teacher with a faulty metronome. His music is magic.

The human characters are guided through a maze of misperception, hope, loss, and kindness, by their own creative impulses and by a cast of misplaced animate objects, which are in cahoots, somehow, with the dogs. Mona's stream of consciousness winds through urban, suburban, past, and present landscapes where omens and everyday epiphanies course without comment. Partly through the process of elimination and with the help of a cautionary tale in the body of Ms. Hadaway, Mona manages to come to terms with the loss of her father and shoulder the responsibility for her own life.

The Toe Tactic uses layers of animated and live-action imagery to depict a world in which perceptions may clash, but ultimately resolve through the alchemy of human contact.

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