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Abysmal visions I’ve had since Kyoko started waiting tables at Eggs & Oysters. Believe me, I’m happy she’s got gainful employment, a distraction, stoked she’s found release in the twelve-mile round-trip, but still I’m terrified. I’ve made certain she’s covered in lights, reflectors, safety tape on her helmet, got her phone ringer cranked—all this even though she’s been road-biking for years, plenty of experience navigating the wild streets of Seattle, Tianjin, Osaka. Still, I picture a minivan clipping her, or a front blowout sending her end-o, unconscious into a ditch. Worse yet, some Easy Rider finale, a pair of itchy meth-heads erroneously yollaring “Chink!” and “Zipperhead!,” beaming my love with rusty lug-nuts, leaving her bleeding as they gas-off into the Washington mist.
Understand this is no random anxiety yanked from my quivering panic glands. Last week, huffing home from Thriftway, pedaling strong with both panniers grocery-stuffed, I’m on a mean, rain-slick climb when two haggard losers, cirrhosis-eyed and leering from a jacked-up Camino, swerve in beside me. Flicking cigarettes at my helmet, they howl, “This is a road, queerboy hippy! Buy a fuckin’ car!” and throttle over the crest of the rise.
Entirely mud-coated, the jalopy was, so a plate number was out. Though this didn’t deter me from spending the next hour fuming, biking all over Olympia’s East Side, hunting the chodes and picturing what I’d do, what I’d say. My seat-post popped out, flipped over for stabbing, for bruising their white-trash kidneys. Or maybe ratchet-off my bike chain? Start swinging it mace-style? Then, once I’ve got Beavis and Buttfuck flat-grounded, I’ll stand between them, a cleat pinching both filthy Adam’s apples, and say. “How about we clarify your critical thinking skills, boys? Why queerboy hippy? Why purchase a car? Do you fellows have a car? Or is the El Camino a truck? Golly, I just can’t seem untangle the complexities of your energy-drink enthymemes.” Continue reading
Tired of the male machismo and sexist attitudes, Ms Delacruz dresses differently. Today, Ms Delacruz wears a cowboy outfit, complete with bolo tie, a departure from her peach-colored dresses with floral prints. She stands up in front of us – one hundred and thirty middle school teachers – as the female Assistant Principal’s indispensable school aide. Those who know, know that she is the real boss. As she reminds us to locate Home Language Survey forms in their students’ records, I notice how neatly she’s dressed, her white shirt tucked perfectly into her black jeans, and the turquoise stone of her tie obscuring the top button locked securely in the button hole. Continue reading
Over breakfast, Jillian refused to go to the funeral. “It will be boring,” she said.
Her brown hair was messily escaping from yesterday’s ponytail and dipped into her cereal. Colette allowed herself to be distracted long enough to minister to the errant hair with a bobby pin, grabbed from a basket of trinkets she kept near the telephone. Her daughter’s funny freckled little face, still puckered by baby fat, looked up at this gesture with an expression hovering between wistfulness and resentment.
Colette kept a hand holding Jillian’s head tilted back, so she could look into her light brown eyes. “You really don’t want to go?”
Jillian shook back and forth, no. Continue reading
It’s your birthday. You sit in your room finishing your homework and listening to music while you wait for him to come over. The television is on the Disney channel, but the volume is down. Your room is very small, and all of the furniture in it is made of wicker. You’re beginning to feel like you’re sleeping in the dollhouse tucked away in your closet. Your mom wants you to donate the dollhouse somewhere, tells you about all the extra closet space you could have, but you can’t bring yourself to do it. Continue reading
Adam’s Rib was located near the office where we spent our days cursing the stock market and counting down the hours, where Robert, Peter, Wess and I no longer sold high-end real estate. Wess referred to the bar simply as “The Chain” although to my knowledge it belonged to no franchise.
“Nooo,” Robert said—this was ritual, “not The Chain.” Robert’s ex-wife was Jane. But after an hour or two of Scotch, she became “Chain.”
Adam’s Rib was mahogany and soft light, no clocks, no televisions and never crowded. Dark and cool in the summer. Its bartender, Derik, had become our friend. At that time, about the only things we hadn’t lost were our companionship and one corner of the bar. Continue reading
Henry had put on a few pounds as he aged, but he maintained them intentionally, believing the fat storage would come in handy when The Disaster struck. He knew that soon, any moment, there could be a plague of pests, glacial flooding, and drought. He did his best in everyday life to prevent these things. He had the right light bulbs and bought recycled toilet paper and had an inflatable raft. He even composted his tea bags and recycled the wrappers. Henry took the bus and rode his bike sometimes, but he knew that his own actions were just a drop in the near-empty environmentally-minded social bucket. His fellow man’s wastefulness meant he had to conserve all the more. So, when his mother called him and told him she was concerned about his weight, he snapped. Continue reading
We are in a small room in the attic of the church. Most of the time it is used for Bible study, but once a week it’s where the support group meets. We talk, we compare symptoms, we complain about drug reactions, we cry. Like each one of us at this meeting, Sandy has a tumor roosting in her head, tucked in the lining around her brain. She’s been here before, maybe ten or eleven times after her first craniotomy. She’s a mess because she has to have a second. The tumor grew back, bigger than before.
Sandy’s whole name is Sandra Dee. She says not too many people remember that there was once a Sandra Dee who was an actor, an ingenue, a movie star. Sandy is from the generation that knows that, not mine. She’s nervous. She rubs her temple. She fingers the bumps on her forehead. She massages the skin that covers titanium screws around the keyhole in her skull. I broke that habit. I tell her it will be okay. After all, she’s still here. She recovered once. She’ll recover again. At least this time, she knows what she is facing. Not like the first time. The first time, nobody knows what’s coming.