Saturday, March 17, 2007


'This probably isn't the first time I've seen a man hit with a tire-iron,' I think. 'There's blood and the man and the dog and the zamboni and the ice which is cold and the floodlights which are cold lights and sort of stark and my little hands which are pale and sort of cold and all together it's like a math equation or a recipe for food I could eat.' I stand next to Merna and touch Merna's hand and Merna touches my hand. The dog is licking the security-guard.

"Help me tie him," Aaron says. "We'll tie him to the zamboni." Aaron wipes blood from Aaron's face.

"Okay," says Erik.

"Why did he do that?" Merna says.


"Why did he hit him with the tire-iron?"

Aaron and Erik are dragging the security-guard to the zamboni. Blood smears in a little trail behind them.

"Why did he?" Merna says.

I sit on a nearby bench and remove my ice-skates and look at my ice-skates which have long curved blades with little ice crystals and little red bits of rust and I think about Merna's question and I imagine a long gray hallway with long flickering fluorescent-lights and I'm in the middle of the hallway and even if I walk fifteen miles I'm always in the middle of the hallway. "I think," I say. Merna is looking at me. Merna's eyes are wet and round and green and I want suddenly to have round green eyes that glitter like Merna's and I hate my boring little brown eyes and I imagine removing my brown eyes and replacing my boring brown eyes with green glass eyes and watching my mirror and photographing the me in the mirror. "Would I see other things?" I say.

Merna seems confused. "What do you mean?"

"I think," I say. I throw my ice-skate toward the front counter. "Every living thing is supposed to be tied up sometime, I think, and Aaron and Erik sort of know this like an instinct and they are tying him because he's supposed to be tied and also everything should be hit sometime with a tire-iron and probably the security-guard has never been hit with a tire-iron because he's lived a long and wonderful life with many children and many relationships with many women and he's been mostly happy with one thousand friends and a high school diploma so Aaron hit him with the tire-iron because it was a sort of fate and maybe contrast for this happy security-guard man. Aaron is like god's hand or something or maybe just one little part of god's will or fate's will because everything happens sometime for better contrast." I try to imagine everything happening sometime and it's very pattern-like and regimented and each action's ranked and uniformed and I imagine a gigantic vein-y hand moving individual actions on an electronic grid and I concentrate on this hand's monstrous fingernails which are dirty and long with jagged tips. "Fingernail," I say. "Maybe."

"They're tying his hands to the steering-wheel."

"I'm getting my shoes," I say. "I need shoes." I stand up.

"Um." Merna's following me.

"People should probably always walk barefoot. Shoes are unneeded inhuman objects. If a shoe were inside your body, doctors would surgically remove the shoe because it would interfere with your internal organs."

"That's probably true."

"Then why do you wear shoes?"

"Don't know."

I put my feet into my shoes and tie my shoelaces. "I'm sorry," I say to Merna. "I didn't mean to bring you somewhere where people are getting hit with tire-irons."


"What are they doing now? I don't want to look."

Merna moves to the wide glass window and puts her hand and against the window and leans forward. "They have finished tying the security-guard to the zamboni and they're standing next to it and talking and laughing, I think. I don't know. Aaron's wiping his face with his hand."

"Your kitten," I say.


"I'm sorry about throwing your kitten."

"Hmm." Merna sits next to me. Merna looks at my feet. "I haven't told you yet but I have to tell you something." Merna's face has many straight lines and her hair is tied neatly and Merna's arms seem very thin and long and the arms move fluidly and touch my shoulder. "It's important."

"You're only a little older than me now," I say. "Every year the amount your older gets smaller, I mean the percentage of years, until someday we'll be practically the same age and live together probably in a gray condo-compound for the elderly and forgetful, with nurses and doctors and a recreation room with board games and televisions."

"Listen," Merna says. "I'm pregnant. Noah and I are having twin babies. I want you to help me have the babies and be in the delivery room with me and probably video-tape the birth."

Merna's stomach is thin and flat. "You don't look pregnant."

"I'm only like six weeks. I had an ultrasound yesterday."

"You could probably still abort them if you wanted," I say. "You could stop it now."

"Why would I do that?"

"I don't know."

Merna touches her stomach. "I don't know how people can abort anything."

"It's what people should do because people make more people and there are already billions of people with tire-irons and ice-skates and they're making people and the world's a gigantic people-making machine and somebody has to stop it sometime because things will never end until people stop popping out of our little people-machines. It's impossible and painful if people go on forever and reproduce forever until forever is really forever. Things are supposed to start and stop so this means people too."

"Stop being weird. You're always weird. Like in middle school with the track team and the math teacher and the bear costume."

I stand. "They're coming now. The zamboni's moving."

"You should be happy for me."

"The zamboni's circling and resurfacing the ice, but very slowly, like a wounded zamboni."

Merna touches my shoulder. "You're normal, be normal."

"It starts with kittens, probably."

"You're probably normal, so be normal," Merna said.

It was the first day of high school. I was holding my backpack to my chest. We were in the kitchen waiting to leave.

"Don't talk to me unless I talk to you first. People will know you're my sister already but we can pretend that's not true mostly."

"But you are my sister."

"Learn to live ambiguously," Merna said. "You'll be happier and after a while we can have lunch together at the AM/PM, maybe winter quarter."

My grandmother handed me my lunch. "I gave you fresh fruit," she said. "Fresh fruit is very important. There are no preservatives and preservatives are pretty much evil."

I opened my lunch bag and looked at my mango and my banana and my little green grapes.

"I'm driving with my friends," Merna said.

I set my lunch-bag on the kitchen-table and leaned against the kitchen-counter. The cabinets were dark and wood and solid and I touched the cabinets and traced the cabinet-handle with my finger and imagined the cabinet-handle as a miniature-kitten with miniature-kitten paws and teeth and miniature-kitten fur and meows and the meows were long and plaintive and the miniature-kitten was very pained and sad because it had been carefully mounted to a cabinet-door.

"Don't worry," my grandmother said. "Grandfather will drive you to school. He'll be back in a second. He's getting some gas."

"Goodluck," Merna said. "You'll probably need it." She disappeared.

"I have leukemia," I said to my grandmother. "I have leukemia and nobody's telling me because nobody's afraid that I'll freak out and run around naked at the grocery store and throw apples at fifteen-year-old bag-boys or something."

My grandmother was laughing.

"People with leukemia shouldn't go to school, right? People with leukemia should stay in bed all day and drink condensed chicken broth and watch television or stare sadly out the window as little children play hopscotch and think about how a person with leukemia could be playing hopscotch if only leukemia wasn't slowly killing my blood."

"You're too old for hopscotch."

"You're too old for hopscotch," I repeat.

"Here's grandfather."

Outside the kitchen-window, I saw a wide white Cadillac slowly stop. The windshield was gigantic and wide and rectangular and slightly tinted so that my grandfather was only a dark rounded lump behind it with little knobby inhuman bulges.

"Go on. Take your lunch," my grandmother said.

"Leukemia," I said.

My grandmother disappeared so I shrugged and walked outside where my breath was foggy and wet. My grandfather was leaning with his arms crossed against his wide white Cadillac. His eyes were wide and blue and rheumy and half-closed.

"This car is old," my grandfather said as I approached. "Doesn't have power-windows or anything but the thing I like to do is pull up next to somebody and open my window very evenly so that the window seems like a power-window and I emit a low buzzing sound from the corner of my mouth." My grandfather demonstrated. "Go ahead, get in."

We sat in the car.

"Try it," he said. "Open your power-window."

"I can't. I have leukemia."

"Shit. That's terrible."

"My blood-cells are like a bunch of pyramid-shaped tumors with jagged little ridges that scratch my capillaries and vessels and stuff and I bleed internally and at every moment there is this jagged tumor-blood in my mouth."

"That's nothing," my grandfather said. "Just before I was shipped off to the war the FBI injected glass fragments into my arm to make me, the FBI Agent said, 'indestructable'."

"Oh?" I said. "I like stained-glass. Was it stained-glass?"

"I said to this FBI guy, 'You know, glass is hardly indestructible. I break glass all the time. It's the weekend pastime in my hometown. We get the gang together with baseball bats and walk down Main Street and smash every window, mirror, and streetlight within say a one-hundred foot radius, and we measure it carefully from a pre-chosen point, to make it official.' So the FBI agent says, 'This is special alien-glass from a Russian/alien technology and it will make bullets and shrapnel bounce off a sort of force-field.' 'No shit?' I said. He was lying though. That Russian/alien-glass shredded my veins and my stomach and I couldn't drink whiskey anymore and the first enemy who shot me shot my thigh, which is why I have this limp. I didn't even dive for cover."

"Goddamn FBI," I said.

"I spent the war in a hospital with twenty-three other soldiers, all with the Russian/alien-glass in their blood and then the FBI agents gave us leukemia. 'The only way to kill the alien-glass,' they said. A lot of us died with excruciating convulsions and green projectile vomiting."

"I wonder if my leukemia is your military leukemia passed genetically to me."

"Do you have glass veins?"

"I don't think so."

"Probably not, then."

The Cadillac was idling at a stoplight. In the next car an old woman with very tall very round white hair and narrow eyeglasses paged through Urban Warrior magazine. She was concentrated and serious as though between the shotguns and crossbows was an important word or phrase, some vital clue that would, finally, define her role in what had proved to be an unending series of unrelated events. The old woman spit at her Urban Warrior magazine and hammered her steering-wheel with the Urban Warrior magazine and tossed it over her shoulder into the back seat. She turned and looked at me with little gray eyes and the little gray eyes seemed malevolent through the narrow eyeglasses so I turned away.

"What's life for?" I asked my grandfather.

"Conspiracy," he answered. "It's all a conspiracy. Christmas, for example."

"I always thought so."

"They want you to think it's one thing when it's really another thing."


"Oh, them." My grandfather released the brake and began, slowly, to drive forward. He kept the Cadillac very far to the left so that we were very close to the old woman with Urban Warrior magazine and I could see her big wrinkled eyes which were very agitated and gray and lined with little red veins and capillaries. "It's like Sweeps month with all the new television shows that are the same as the other television shows except with different taglines and a different theme-song. There is nothing new so anyone who tells you something's new is a hustler or a politician."

My grandfather parked in front of the school.

The school was an eight-story brick fortress with iron fencing bolted over each window and a wide swinging double-door beneath a curved stained-glass window with little white doves and thick purple air in the background. I held my backpack tightly and said to my grandfather, "I'm going to do something sometime because."

"Like what?"

"I have no idea." I stepped out of the car and adjusted my backpack. I smiled down at my grandfather and my grandfather was very small and wrinkled. His body moved in little rapid shivers and when he smiled, his eyes moved in a wrinkled way. I felt suddenly very old as though with my little thin hands I had reached carefully into my grandfather's chest and stolen my grandfather's age and prepared it in a silver bowl with garlic and chives and then mixed my grandfather's old-age with the old-age of one-thousand senior-citizens and slowly spooned this old-age mixture into my mouth and ingested it until I was the oldest human. "I'll probably destroy the human race," I said. "I'll probably kill everything."

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