Urgent That You Contact (excerpt)
claimed to be a detective. Far from it, I'm terrified of cops. As a little kid I
had bad dreams, scary dreams, in which I was chased-in black and white-by dozens
of old-fashioned Keystone Cops on foot, only it wasn't funny. I ran as hard as I
could, but I could never outrun them. I woke up countless mornings, all twisted
up in the sheets, drenched in sweat from the previous night's near arrest.
Later, after a decade of television viewing that stretched from Nixon's
"Checkers" speech to the Kennedy assassination, the nineteenth-century
comic patrolmen evolved into cars full of G-men in black rain slickers, carrying
Tommy guns and silver badges in black leather wallets. These secret agents
lurked around hotel lobbies and underground parking garages-now in color-waiting
to catch me in the act. The only aspect that remained unchanged was the twisted
sheets, soaking wet.
§ § § §
Phyllis Marie (excerpt)
“We interrupt this broadcast to bring you this important bulletin from American Press headquarters in Washington. Flash. The White House announced Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor one hour ago. Stay tuned to this frequency for more information as it unfolds.”
Marie felt her throat catch as she tried to find words, but there were none. She
looked across the room at Perry—standing there in his scarlet letterman’s
sweater from Friends University with its gray Q she had sewn on the pocket for
him—his face scowling with indignation. Just thirty seconds ago, he was the
handsome boy of almost twenty-four with whom she had shared their marriage bed
in the early sunrise light. Suddenly, he looked like a very serious young man.
Although no one spoke a word about the possibility, she knew at that moment that
if there were to be a war, Perry would be going.
§ § § §
An Absence of Doves (excerpt)
Would anyone come for her or would she die here, wherever here is? She remembered for a moment what her mother had looked like, but she could not remember if her mother was alive or dead. She tried to work with her mother’s image to piece together her own identity, her age, where she lived, what she did in her life, before she found herself in the silence and the blackness again.
Despite her exhaustion, she realized that she was not surrounded by silence after all. She could hear the presence of doves. Where had they been before now? Would they fly somewhere on her behalf and tell someone about her? She pleaded with them to go for help, although, like her screaming, her mouth did not open and the words did not come out, but she took comfort from the fact that she had company now, even if it was only a flight of doves.
slept for a while, real sleep, not the limbo state of silence and blackness,
until she awoke with a start. Something was different, she thought. What was it?
The silence was back. The doves had retreated into the silence.
§ § § §