The narrator, William, is the younger brother of Clive, an enigmatic high school "hippie" who also is a mathematical genius. Most of the story deals with their relationship within a peace activist family living in an affluent Cleveland suburb in the early 1970’s. Two of Clive’s friends, Sandra (presumably his lover) and Elliot, figure prominently in the story. In fact, it is from a secret language which Clive and Elliot share that the title is derived. They also share a sexual relationship and are "discovered" by Clive’s father. This event sends this affable story into a hyperspeed tragic ending, placing William fifteen years later at the bedside of his brother who is dying from complications of AIDS.


For other stories dealing with loss of a brother see Ronald Valdiserri’s Gardening in Clay and Bernard Cooper’s The House of the Future (both in this database).

Primary Source

The Palace Thief


Random House

Place Published

New York



Page Count