Archive for June, 2009

they don’t really care about us.

28 June 2009

the bus in front of me turned left as i lightly pressed the accelerator to begin crossing the intersection. i was helped the rest of the way by another vehicle slamming into my car’s rearend, pushing it, the police report indicated, eighty feet before it stopped. in the rearview mirror, i saw the other car, silver in color, quickly turn right. i spun around, watching them disappear away from me, as i contemplated, first, driving in reverse and chasing after them, and, second, leaving my battered car and running to catch them.

i was too stunned to do either, traffic resuming while i sat in the driver’s seat. when i exited the vehicle to survey the damage, no one stopped to check on my condition; on the contrary: they honked, they glared, they sped off. it was just before midnight.

in the days that followed i took extended lunch breaks to walk to the site, making note of the cameras aimed at the area, offering spare change to the homeless for information, collecting evidence. i had found tiny pieces of red plastic embedded in my bumper, and, every time i came across a piece on the street, i picked it up, thinking it was a clue. i found a few larger segments, prying them from the asphalt as traffic continued unabated. at my desk, i pasted them together, returning to the streets to gather more before finding, face down under a parked car, the front bumper plate to which they were once attached. it turned out it belonged to an ohio state fan, irrevocably severing my relationship with that school.

i asked the security of various buildings that lined the street if they would look at their tapes. i’d call back when they didn’t return my calls, pointing out to them, when they told me none of their cameras had a view of the street, that there were at least twelve that met such criteria — and i’d be willing to go through the archives myself.

i wrote to newspapers and put ads on craigslist. i handed the information over to the police officer in charge of my case. i sought the advice of lawyers.

nothing came of any of it. my insurance paid for the repairs, increasing my premium, and i was responsible for the deductible. i know it sounds silly, but something inside me broke when i watched the car that hit me drive away. stunned, i tried to focus on the brake lights of the vehicles dodging around me, converging into vast sea of red. the sensation in my fingertips when i pressed against an object was different, less substantial.

i scanned the parking garages for cars with front-end damage or other tell-tale signs of impact (or allegiance to ohio state university). i became a phantom, sifting under doors and through cracks, hating everyone. i wore the honda symbol from my trunk on a chain around my neck as a reminder that no one could be trusted, and everything would lead to pain.

that is how i changed in the days that followed the accident. for a few moments, though, before everything else, that is, the impuissance of the individual, et alia, entrenched itself in my brain, i was thankful i wasn’t killed, if only because, a year from now, when everyone was busy mourning those whose deaths were reaching a first anniversary, my name would only appear on the tip of the tongue but would remain unspoken, not even as a footnote, as those left behind moonwalked, grabbed their crotches, and tossed their hats aside in honor of michael jackson.


a call for bayou justice.

21 June 2009

in youth, our bladders send a signal to our brains when they are half full; as we grow older, this signal is less emphatic, causing our brains to receive it when our bladders are almost completely full. as we age our bladders become less elastic, preventing them from holding as much liquid. due to the union of these changes, i am sometimes forced to wake in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.

on one such occasion, i awoke in an unfamiliar room to see a hazy shadow in the doorway. it disappeared before i could focus, blinking my eyes to erase the film that had collected during sleep. i sat on the edge of the bed for a moment and then stood up, testing my feet on the carpeted floor, advancing slowly. from the entrance i looked left, again seeing the figure — at this point i was certain it was human — at the end of the hall. he was partially hidden behind the corner of the wall, sporadically revealing his head to see if i was still present. once in the bathroom, i quickly locked the door and washed my face in the sink in an effort to wake further.

the only scenario that seemed possible was that i had risen, by coincidence, at the exact moment someone’s boyfriend wandered into the room while looking for the bathroom himself. walking in on us, albeit by accident, gave him an intense feeling of awkwardness, so he tried to hide. the next morning i told my theory to the girl who slept through it all, the girl to whom the room belonged, and she brushed it aside, ruling that i had probably been dreaming. after all, her roommates never had guys over.

honestly, in her defense, there were a lot of loose ends: most notably (and embarrassingly), why would i lock myself in the bathroom like a chicken rather than approach the stranger? also, we had to account for my vivid, childlike imagination: that is, it wouldn’t be the first or most outlandish story i had conceived.

still, the next day, details kept filtering in, details that could never be confirmed and didn’t lead us any closer to determining fact from fiction, like, he was wearing a green or brown t-shirt, or, he had straight hair, sort of long. it wasn’t until after lunch with one of her friends, who chided her for so easily dismissing my vision, that she confided and, thus, my grasp on reality was confirmed: hey, i know who you saw.

it was someone from work who had dropped her off near her house once. they had had an abbreviated relationship that she ended. she didn’t seem shocked by this revelation, even after remembering that, while i was in the bathroom, he had sneaked back into her room, lowered the covers, and fondled her.

her friend and i were nonplussed by her relative stoicism. she appeared bothered more by our complete bewilderment than by the fact a guy had forced his way into her house in the middle of the night to touch her inappropriately. she assured us this wasn’t the case, regardless of her tone in discussing the matter, and that she planned to confront him at work.

i wish this story ended with a degree of retribution. anything, from him being hit by a car while leaving her house to his open eye being seasoned with a mix of cajun spices, would have been better than the truth. honestly, i don’t even want to type it out.

so let us pretend that he never had the opportunity to ignore her when she registered her complaint, replying that he had no idea what she was talking about. let us pretend he didn’t later apologize for his transgressions, but only because the course changed, robbing him of that chance. let us pretend, obviously, that she didn’t answer that late apology feebly, with, well, don’t intrude on anyone like that again.

let us, instead, pretend that when he returned to work the afternoon following the incident he was greeted by the large alligator statue, miraculously come alive, that balances on her hind legs in front of the restaurant. picture her draping a limb roughly across his shoulders, in the process, letting a claw or two scrape against his cheek like an omen, and escorting him to the walk-in freezer where she slowly — and excruciatingly — gnaws off his limbs.

le fabuleux destin d’amelie patisserie.

15 June 2009

after a night spent sleeping in one’s car, waking with each passing vehicle or barking dog or imagined footstep, unable to return to sleep at dawn — the windshield glass intensifying the sun’s heat — one seeks a place to relax, indoors. the place needs to serve great food, provide free wireless internet, and, above all, never close. it’s not just a method of killing time while waiting for something else to open or just an escape from claustrophobia’s grasp: it’s a necessary step, separating one day from the next and signalling to your body that you have awakened, ready to produce.

my recommendation, if one requires such a site in charlotte, falls solely on amelie’s french bakery. they offer a selection of seasonal soups, like tomato fennel and farmhouse butternut squash and spinach asparagus leek, which are made fresh daily from local ingredients. they also serve sandwiches and tartines (basically, open-faced sandwiches topped with, for example, ham and melted gruyere cheese) on fresh baguettes.

many come here for the dessert cases, housing an array of pastries, tarts, and cakes. peering into them, you enter a dream state where apricots and peaches perform ballet, pirouetting on the counter in front of you before coquettishly dancing away; caramels following one another up a slide, then gleefully descending, arms raised, into a heated, salt-water pool where they splash around with delight; passion fruit petit fours and coconut macaroons taking turns on the trampoline or riding a ski lift to the top of a mountain, where they strap cinnamon raisin and pecan sticky buns, respectively, to their feet and expertly maneuver their way back down to the chalet.

bright colors shoot forth from every corner and you feel a spinning sensation. when your equilibrium returns, you notice a table to your right you hadn’t seen previously, a lingering symptom of your reverie. atop is a teapot, colored a pastel green, and a ramekin of creme brulee. a thin-lipped girl sits quietly, the faint trace of dimples on her cheeks, her skin pale as milk, made whiter still by the jet black of her hair, which ends just below her ears, and her dark eyes. positioned in her hand, a spoon, and you watch her close her eyes, breathe out deeply, and gently crack the crust of her creme brulee. her face becomes serene, as if an act of catharsis has taken place.

you leave, contemplating the small wonders of life and thinking of elaborate ways to impact the lives of others, becoming a sort of guardian angel, bringing them joy and satisfaction. just then you hear a ringing noise and, for the first time, notice a phone booth beside your car. you hold the receiver to your ear, but, before speaking, an old metal box catches your eye. you whip your head around, sensing that someone is watching you, but no one is there. your eyes brim with tears as you open the box and remember the tile in your childhood bathroom that you once hid it behind. you leaf through the memorabilia within, remembering happy events long forgotten, awash in emotion.

basically that’s how this place makes me feel every visit.

one day at a time.

9 June 2009

i began watching twenty four as a sort of game: my dad would record it to view with my sister at a more convenient time mid-week, i’d arrive at the house late monday night, watch it, and then drop subtle hints about the plot all the next day. more often than not, i would lie about the twists, making the show more suspensful for them, as they waited for the scenes i described, never knowing if i was telling the truth.

furthermore, i began watching during the time period the story was actually taking place: as the series progressed, i waited until three am and then four the next week and five the following one before pressing play. i wanted to immerse myself in the role, like a character actor, and really understand the timeline in case i was ever asked to thwart a coup attempt or infiltrate an enemy camp (though, honestly, if a (trojan) horse can do it, how difficult can it be?).

there is one thing that bothers me: no one ever trusts kiefer sutherland. even when he is relying solely on instinct, his theories are always correct, yet, at least once every episode, he is detained by security, slowing his one-man mission and further endangering the lives of the many he strives to protect. sure, along the way there are those who back him up, but their support isn’t consistent and their voices are seldom loud enough to make a difference. he’s constantly beaten up and imprisoned by people whom, just last week (actually approximately sixty minutes ago in their real time), he saved in some way.

seriously, police officers and fbi agents, as well as members of the house of representatives, senate, and the white house, his voice introduces each hour of the program, his face is on the cover of every season’s dvd box set, one of which, for crying out loud, prominently features the american flag as if to suggest, this guy is a true patriot. please, in the future, think about these things before lifting your walkie talkies to announce an all-points bulletin. my life is at stake here.

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