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Tender Tales of Tremendous Catastrophe

I'm continuing to write this book of essays, along with graphics made by artist, Tony Geiger. Here's the newest!



SUBTERFUGE


The bobbleheads swayed aimlessly on the window sill in Linda’s kitchen as the sun cut a swathe of light that segregated the room in two. She sat at the table basking in a dusty glow, with the steam from a cup of coffee rising up into nowhere. She was reading a tabloid magazine hoping to ignore the barking of a dog somewhere close and irritatingly present. But her breathing was calm and predictable, a view of a photograph come very subtly to life. Her eyes scanned the page with the same metered pace as her breathing, the news of so many celebrities barely eliciting so much as a judgement on their weight or clothing choice.


Seemingly out of nowhere, she swiveled her head towards the window. Linda could no longer ignore the barking. Her gaze turned tense and her eyes narrowed, both shielding her from the sun’s rays and expressing her thought process. “God. Damn. Dog.” She was going to have to do something about it.


She stood up slowly, as if an oppositional force was at work to prevent her separation from the hot coffee and magazine. Once she found herself vertical, her slender shoulder blades slung back, pushing her tiny chest forward, making all 5’2” of her look more powerful like a cat ready to seize on prey. Her “Love is…” t-shirt and stained jeans belied the militaristic posture she presented as she pulled her door open firmly by its knob. She looked out and scanned the house across the street. The dog was a German shepherd and looked to be in something of a panic.


Sighing, she propelled herself forward into her driveway. The dog was relentless. Where was the owner’s wife? Delores (or Debbie or something?). Nonplussed, she walked as far away from the dog as possible and over towards the fence. The lawn was full of dandelions that split underneath her bare feet, with the crab grass both sticky and sharp in between her toes. She reached for the metal latch to enter the backyard, loose flecks of white paint cascading off in the process.


As Linda got closer to the sliding glass windows, she could see the last wisps of Delores (or Debbie) moving into her bedroom from the bathroom in a towel. Boy, was she fat. Linda’s mouth began to part in a soft smile for the thought before she contained it. Expressionless, she began knocking on one of the windows in a rapid staccato. She waited with her eyes thrust downward to see so many houseplants arranged beneath her in wildly colorful pots. When Delores (or Debbie) finally came over in her purple house coat - her short, permed hair jiggling in time with her bosoms – she had a smile on her face.


“Linda. What can I do for you?” The television roared behind the house full of cats and ticking clocks and smells of cinnamon toast.


“Your dog is barking out front. Real loud, like.”


“Oooh. I’m so sorry. Let me get my slippers on. I hear it now.”


“Thank you.” Linda made her way, back across the lawn, the dog now simply an echo of itself in her mind. She looked up towards the sky to see one lone cloud, hanging falsely as if it had been pasted on. She debated her options, briefly, and strode back across the street and into her home, locking the door behind her.


No more steam arose from her cup as she heard Delores (or Debbie) screaming at the top of her lungs. Linda turned the corner into her kitchen and peered out past the bobbleheads. Below the German shepherd rested the body of a man, laying in a most unnatural pose. Above the two was Delores (or Debbie), chubby fingers in front of her twisted face, eyes alight in shock and pain. The barking evaporated, replaced by the clamor of an advancing fire engine and the voices of men.


Linda’s kitchen was now full of raging light and the slamming of ambulance doors. Linda froze in place as she saw a finger being pointed towards her and indecipherable words being spoken. She walked like a ghost to her kitchen chair and sat down softly. She stared into the distance befuddled, arms crossed, two fingers playing absent-mindedly with her lips as a knock began at her door. Scanning the room, she sensed that what she’d seen and heard in the last 5 minutes would change her life irretrievably, no matter how hard she forbade it.





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