Monday, September 05, 2005


Dwayne dreamed about her hand, the way she would sleep on her side, left hand over his stomach, so he could look down in the light from the street and see her wedding ring, the big dent in it from when she got her hand slammed in the door of the delivery truck.

Sleeping, he would feel her hand there again, then wake to the stink, to a flashlight moving by, to the blackest night he ever saw. He wanted to drift off again, back to his cool sheets, Honore's sleeping breath behind him, but the fat man less than a foot away started up that moan, that high-pitched sob that creeped Dwayne right down to his bones. "Help me help me, somebody come help me..." No, man, Dwayne, wanted to tell him, Nobody's coming, this is it, we're on our own, but he wanted to believe it, too, wanted to believe that someone was coming, any minute now, any minute and he'd be back home, in his own bed, Honore rubbing a hand over her whole face, yawning like a little kid, like she did every morning, sleepy eyes looking up at him through her fingers, smiling from a sugarsweet dream.

Dwayne blinked his eyes, no difference between open and closed, black inside his lids and out. A thousand people packed in around him, a head rolls against his foot, a whispered argument, feet scraping across floor, he thought he heard a girl the night before screaming, crying, saying Stop please stop, but he couldn't tell where it was happening, the sound comes from everywhere in here.

It would take a hurricane to pull us apart, Honore, thought Dwayne into the night, to wherever she was. He turned his head to duck the memory coming at him fast, her face before the wind took her away, not scared, just looking at him wide-eyed, trying to say something, she had something important to say, but the wind swiped it away, then her, like a story book, like a fairy tale, she disappeared.

Tomorrow, when the reporters come, Dwayne will find a box lid; will print in large letters one word, he'll hold it up for the cameras to see, this is his purpose now, the only thing that matters:



Anonymous said...

Very nice

Daniel Heath said...

see, now, I had a post like this up, and then I took it down again. and now I want to put it back up. but then I'll just want to take it back down again.

do hurricane survivors want me making shit up about being them?

I mean, I think they want you (cb) to. or maybe not; what the hell do I know? if I were them I think I would but I'm not, so who am I to say? but this is the tail I chase, you see? did you chase that tail, too, before you posted this?

I guess we do this all the time. whenever we're not writing directly or indirectly about our own experiences, we're making shit up, usually about bad things happening to people. this particular, you know, catastrophe, just sort of pushes that question right up the forefront, the way it does everything.

Chemical Billy said...

Thanks, Anonymous.

Ah, monkey, that way lies paralysis. If I can only write (directly or indirectly) about my own experience, I'll never write a thing.

Doubtless there are a bunch of people who don't want me to make shit up about them. There might be some who do, I don't know.

And that's the point. I can never know. I can never actually take up residence behind someone else's eyes, no way I can ever know exactly how another person feels. But I can imagine. And maybe that can spark someone else's imagination. And maybe that can grow into empathy, and maybe, maybe that can grow into action.

If you ask me, a lack of charity starts with a failure of imagination.

God, I'm such a Pollyanna.

Daniel Heath said...

well, paralysis, maybe, or sports writing.

I think part of my hesitancy with the thing I wrote was not knowing even how -I- would react to it if I came across it out there. but now that I've seen yours, I think I would react well.

and I share your poly-an-tastic hopes for the happy-happy-bunnies-bunnies effects of imagination. so, okay, you've convinced me, I turned the post on again.

Chemical Billy said...

Go monkey go.