Sunday, May 30, 2010

Story: She Must Be Killed

Published in Houston Literary Review, 2008. HLR's archives are currently incomplete so I add this here. Oh, how I wish I could detail the exact emotions and persons behind this story. -- Sarah Sarai, May 2010

No getting round it. It’s the hair clips, shiny metal girl-clips, springy, worn by a woman my age. She must be killed.

How to do it. Here, at the bowling alley?

Am hauling kid around this day and have dragged him to the Up The Alley, his request. Okay so you don’t really haul someone in a wheelchair, which kid is, which was why he’s in town, to see doctor who studies particular type of disease so much, the doc’s a regular Lourdes for the stricken. I don’t imply the doc does the trick, but exerts a real pull on certain kinds of persons, persons with certain types of diseases, i.e. kid I am hauling.

Soon I’ll fill you in on Miss Thing with girl-clips in her hair, the one I long to mutilate maim and be prime mover of her last breath, but let me say this: I draw so-thin line dimly visible, at pushing kids around. This one is the son of a person-I-know who transports to kid Mytown USA once a year to get knees tapped, chest inspected, platelets withdrawn by aforementioned Our Highly Paid Medical Professional of Lourdes. Then person-I-know turns kid over to me to bond while person-blah-blah does Our Highly Paid Medical Professional of Lourdes knows what.

Clip-woman. Still thin as a plastic shopping bag blown across half-empty street by gust, is she. Been a couple a years since I’ve seen her. Clips are new; she is pretending she is winsome, 24/7. That birth-to-death, girlhood is a universal, inalienable and perennial privilege of us, the sweetly hormoned gender.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Emmeline Pankhurst, Susan B. Anthony, Betty Friedan. You’ve seen their likenesses. Notice any sprightly placed metal clips? Not even Gloria, who wore bunny ears.

Hey, Lady (thinks I). What’re we trying to prove here?

Kid and I have managed to show right after youth league has up and gone. Bumpers are still on either side of the lanes, to keep a ball rolling on its rightful spread of awesomely laminated bowling alley alley-wood so a player won’t attract humiliation like certain men of medicine attract a particular kind of patient, that being the type that’s sick.

I muse, Can I force the gal with the jaunty clips, Christ Almighty, she has five of those things in her lank brown tresses which would be sad enough dangling unaccompanied, to do herself in and save me the effort? A girl-girl would stop at two metals then build on look with shaped barrettes in pastel plastics of animals.

I feel hot as dog in a street stand steam bin and red with shame. I mean kid in wheelchair will live or the will die. No one can put that on me. Fate’s fingered Dr. Might As Well Be Sacred Spa in France for that. But the planet, for its spiritual survival, needs metal clips on chicks of a certain age like I need a Saturday-night special, with the numbers filed off. Illogical, I think. Because the answer sheet to the above reads: No (Full sentence version reading: Our legendarily doomed Earth has no need for women past prime’s rusted hair clips.)

And: Yes. (I could use a lethal weapon, right about now.)

Girly-girl-no-more’s already noticed me (who doesn’t spot kid in a wheelchair at a bowling alley). I guarantee she believes herself to be original Miss Nurture, just like she believes herself to be timeless. Diane Keaton wouldn’t wear lil’ clips in her hair, and she’s been given a whatever-you-want pass through old age.

At our former workplace, being a university, Miss Miss (the broad I really dislike) stuck her nose at me when word went round I talked back to boss, being a department chair who staged a coup after her predecessor dropped dead walking up a hill. You put it together. I’m no longer teaching.

Department Chair was guttural rambling on and over smutty mouth tongue/teeth about benefits for university if there was a salary roll back for part-timers. What’re ya gonna do? philosophized Sheena of the Hair Clips, thereby answering musical question, Do sheep study ethics? Nope. But sheep glare at speaker-uppers like me. Shut up, they glare. Who asked you, they glare.

You shut up, I thought back. Baa baa, I thought over airwaves static as her skanky do. How do you live with yourself, I thought querulously as if word querulously were arrow headed for numskull her.

So now:

“You gotta die.” My tone, fisting the portal of her ear, is sinister-to-freaky and provides me genuine opportunity to utilize ‘blanches’ which is what she does. I point five times, springy silver clip, silver clip, silver clip, silver clip, silver clip. No guesswork needed. I’m good at what I do.

Her eyes fill and she runs out of the bowling alley, which she’d only visited to emphasize her I’m up for anything attitude, plus, it turns out, buy balls for the Department Chair. The little, little downturned lips. Tweet.

People catch on when ready. I dry-wash hands, one against other, it’s quite the Biblical reference not to mention Lady Macbeth’s storied lack of adequate cleansing in her mans’ castle qua home.

Kid hauls bowling ball on little wheelchair lap, oh joy; x and my pulse has slowed although I feel off. Hell.

Woman qua I-Wanna-Be-Part-Of-The-18-to-25-Market is scrambling in purse for mace or car keys. I pursue. Truck lumbers by.

I push. Screech and bye bye. Dash back to kid. You can’t leave a kid in a wheelchair alone in a bowling alley.

Sarah Sarai, reprinted from The Houston Literary Review, February 2008

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