Monthly Archives: November 2014


When I got older living in a radiation shelter out West my mother took to visiting me. But it wasn’t my mother now, it was my mother when she was fifteen, my 1950’s mother. When she still wore makeup and had her hair done. She rapped her knuckles on my metal door and the sun burst in when I opened it. She was slight with intense eyes and coal black hair. She’d sit and play the piano while I made myself a drink, watching the radiation levels rise and fall on the various readouts. I’d offer her a soda and she’d give me an odd look, fingers still moving on the keys.

Last Tuesday when my young mother went to leave I gave her a science fiction paperback- one that I remember her reading to us when we were kids. She took it and laughed, dropping it into her leather purse. I’d never seen my mother with a purse or anything made out of leather. I guess she’d shed those things later. I closed the door gently and heard the gravel crunch under the tires of her car as she left.

When I was fifteen myself I remember waiting outside the house of my future daughter, me smoking a cigarette, hung over. I wore steel-capped boots and the same exact plaid shirt every day that I’d taken from my father’s storage in the attic. I finished a bottle of beer, set it beside the steps, and rapped on the metal door.

She wasn’t home yet so I sat and waited. Her dog, a big, fierce-looking three-headed mastiff, rested all three of its heads on my thigh and stared up at me until I scratched behind its ears.

When my adult daughter returned in a convertible with her new husband and some loud friends I lost my nerve and slunk back down the porch, crouching behind an Adirondack chair as the merry group bustled into the house.

But when I left I found myself feeling elated -just at seeing her having such a good time. I strolled down the dirt road alongside the cornfield, bobbing my head to punk rock on my headphones and thumbed a ride all the way back to the city.




Some View

There’s a book called “How to Stop Crime in Your City” –you should read it. It was one of the cornerstones of my early political ambitions. Royhde crossed to the door. There are certain patterns that become self-fulfilling prophesies.

Thanks, I’ll have to read that one. Maybe on the plane.

No, don’t read it on the plane. Read it now. Tonight. Your people are being locked up for no reason. They are being attacked and robbed for no reason. They need to be more… Relaxed. Get control of your city.

I’m just a figurehead.

Don’t say that. Bruce Lee wasn’t a figurehead.

He wasn’t a politician.

What have I taught you about politics in what, how many years? Forty? Thirty? Politician are street fighters. Politics is an arcade game and each year in office is another quarter you play. You get four quarters. Or in your case, one. I stared at Royhde. Maybe he was right. How many people would be killed or made miserable in my city tonight? Could I be Bruce Lee?

I can’t be Bruce Lee, I told him. I just can’t.

Then your city will break like a stick! He took one of the plastic hotel pens and snapped it in half, getting some ink droplets on his hand. I turned toward the window and looked out over the spires and shining squares of light. There had been sirens going all night in my city but they were gone now and there was only the drone of the hotel air systems. Read it, he said, pointing at me with his ink-splotched hand. Then he was gone.

I walked over to the bedside table but instead of reading “How to Stop Crime in Your City” I pulled the drawer and lifted out the Gideon’s Bible. Just then there was a gunshot and I fell forward onto my knees and then onto the carpet, bleeding all over the pages. While I convulsed, a masked teenager stepped over my body and went to the balcony. Check this out, he said to an accomplice. He’s got some view.