(this is annie)

magazine on the TV

I wrote the title as a twist on TV on the Radio, but then I thought that it could be misconstrued as Magazine on the telly. Anyway, if you watch the Channel 7 news in Chicago around 11:15am today, you will see yours truly on live television. SET YOUR VCRs.

the five-oh

The police station on Wood Street smells of urine, sweat and fried food. I soon attach the first two odors to a puffy old man who stands motionless near the entrance. He wears his pants belted high, their waistband hugging the underside of his man-bosom.

When I pull myself up to the counter, I spot the remaining smelly culprit: Four officers are unwrapping foil packages to reveal their crispy beige dinners. They joke around with each other before acknowledging my existence. A sergeant—the officers actually call him Sarge, which amazes me—lumbers up to the counter. His right eye has blood in it.

I give him my ID and explain the situation as he takes notes. "Anyone holding a grudge against you?" he asks. "Boyfriend, ex-boyfriend or somethin'?"

"No," I say quietly. The old man still hasn't moved. Sarge takes my ID over to a computer from the triassic period and starts to enter numbers. I pass the time by stretching. A couple of patrol cops walk into the station. One is about my age, and he gives me a funny look. Maybe he's been talking with the Polish guy, I think, and he's going to arrest me for suspected prostitution. Then cop who looks like Hulk Hogan says, "Whoa, look at those guns!" and points at my arms. "That's my dad," he continues, thumbing in the direction of the old man. "He waits here for me sometimes." At first I think he's joking in a junior-high way, but then he says, "How you doin', Pop?" to the old statue of a man and I figure he might be telling the truth.

Sarge finishes his computer work and hands me some paperwork. He gives me his business card and tells me to call me if I have any further information or if I'd like to have coffee sometime. When I leave the station, I squeeze my thumb until a bright, tiny dot of blood surfaces under the sun.


profane neighbor

The sound of fury jolted me out of sleeping. I'd been dreaming about moss-colored flip-flops, and in my dream I was telling my companion that there was no way they'd fit me, because they were tiny size-five sandals. So when I heard a man yelling, "The fuck I will! Who the fuck does he think he is? He's fucked if he thinks I'll still be his friend!" it took a moment to realize that I was awake, and not merely dreaming about flip-flop disagreements.

More profanity plunged into my ears, and from them I pieced together a plausible story: The yelling man had been wronged and wounded by a friend, and he was covering his hurt with anger. "I don't need that sort of fucking 'friend,'" he bellowed. "He doesn't deserve my friendship. He's not fucking good enough for it." It sounded as though he was trying to convince himself of this sentiment. Hypnagogic, I slowly tuned out of his ranting and rolled back into slumber.


rice street

The gray sky is swollen with rain. I'm walking my bicycle to the gas station by my house, where I expect to find an air pump that can fix my deflated rear tire. As I lock my bicycle, a ruddy-faced man approaches me. He could be 45 or 65, but either way his body shows the signs of years of mistreatment. He's wearing a white tank top with too-thin straps. When he reaches me, I expect him to ask for change. Instead, he says, "I speak only Polish. You speak Polish?" The only Polish I remember from my youth means either "good" or "I love you."

"I'm sorry, I don't speak Polish," I tell him, hoping that he will go away.

He looks confused, then points to me. "You sad?" he says. Now I feel my heart soften, and I am grateful for the empathy of strangers.

"Well, yes," I say. "I suppose so."

He smiles, and I think we have somehow crossed the language barrier to connect, and it makes me feel better. And then the man starts pointing at the bank across the street. He gestures wildly, first at the bank, then at my breasts, and finally he makes the universal finger-rubbing sign of money.

"You sex?" he says, grinning wickedly.

Oh my god, I've been mistaken for a prostitute, I think. "No," I say emphatically. "Sad, not sex. No sex!"

"I pay," he says weakly.

"No. No sex," I say. "Please leave me alone." He wobbles away, and I go buy a Coke to get change for the air pump.



In the late afternoon, after we have worked and eaten and napped, my mother and I walk toward the dusty gravel road that leads to and from our house. Max, the dirt-nosed kitten, romps happily behind us, alertly enjoying her first summer. We watch her long, lanky body twist and stretch, and when she pounces at bugs, we laugh at her newness. Max follows us to the property line, and then she watches us disappear.

As we walk, the gravel crunches below us. My mother's breathing is louder than mine, hers a soft rasp developed from smoking thousands of cigarettes over the years. I wonder if I've walked this road a thousand times. We turn right at the hill, look carefully for speeding pickup trucks as we cross the black-top pavement, and walk to the lake.

Three skinny-legged little girls are splashing merrily in the water. They are all wearing modest bikinis, and I remember living that perfect phase of girldom, when I hadn't yet learned to curse the existence or lack of curves. My mother sits on a large rock, and I sit across from her on a squatter one. The rocks are warm from the midday sun that beats down on us, and the effect is one of being heated from the earth and sky. As though I'm drawing all the warmth of the world.


say hello

    it's anniet at gmail.


© 2009 avt

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