Up, down, sideways. My emotions are all over the place after the terrorist attack. First I’m angry, then depressed, then angry again — this time at something else. One day I’m mad at the terrorists, the next at the FAA, then at our foreign policy, and finally at myself for second-guessing.
Is patriotism the last refuge of scoundrels? Or is it hindsight?
My friend Leonard and I argue each morning on our daily walks. “Nuke ’em,” Leonard says. “No more land wars in countries where we don’t belong.” Leonard, a Vietnam vet, is suspicious of government policy.
I share his skepticism about our leadership until I read an article I find on the Internet about the major players in our state department and their preparations for a response to the attack.
We finally figured out what to do with my wife’s father. We locked him up. “Shoulda done it years ago,” was Kermit’s opinion, expressed at a family meeting called to decide the old boy’s fate. Really, there was nothing else to do. His wife, no spring chicken herself, couldn’t deal with him anymore. Who else was going to take him in? His brothers and sisters were either dead or as crazy as he was, Kermit, the youngest, being the exception. But Kermit, a bachelor, wasn’t caretaker material. Kermit and Earl didn’t get along anyway. “Never did, never will, “Kermit said. I once asked Kermit why he didn’t like his brother. “Because He’s a jackass,” Kermit replied.
I met my first wife in an art gallery in Paris. She was an American girl who had carefully saved her pennies for a trip to Europe after graduating from college. That was my story, too. We spent a month together in the City of Lights. All we did was argue.
When we returned to the States, we went our separate ways, but we hooked up again later in San Francisco. We got married in 1962. We were often at odds, but our contentiousness took on a different pattern after we were married. Periods of peace and calm were followed by stormy disputes. We let disagreements fester, then released our feelings in a torrent of angry words.
When my cousin decided to marry a Catholic, my family was horrified. Her parents tried to talk her out of it, to no avail. The wedding was in a Catholic church, of course, and on the appointed day, family and friends made the trek from my hometown to Fargo for the ceremony.
We gathered in small, uncomfortable groups in front of the wood framed building. Most of us had never been in a Catholic church before. We didn’t know what to expect. We conversed gloomily, making small talk, boring each other to death as Lutherans will.
I recalled the stories I heard when I was a child about the arsenal of weapons that the Catholics had hidden away in the basement of their churches, preparing against an attack, perhaps, or possibly a coup d’etat. Even then I doubted that there was any truth to the rumor, but growing up, I was as wary of Catholics as the rest of my Scandinavian brethren.
by Melinda Fries
“What is explained can be denied but what is felt cannot be forgotten.”
– Charles Bowden
(This is definitely not an explanation.)
I talked on the phone to my father recently – something that doesn’t happen very often – and he asked me what exactly it is that I do, although he still doesn’t really want to know. I remember specifically the day I stopped telling him. I had just shown him a little super8 film which I thought was goofy, not a big deal. And he says, ‘Oh, Melinda, are you still angry?’ Jesus fucking God. Yes, you idiot. Why didn’t you teach me how to fight anyway. You know, all that Samurai shit. Sometimes daddy, a lady has the right to be angry. I laugh as I say goodbye.
a short story
by Nicolas J. Aguina
More than anything I had never intended shooting someone, but I did. He was lying on the floor. Open hands covered his face completely, but did not stop blood from seeping through every crevice of his closed fingers. He was on his back. Knees in the air. Rolling left to right. He moaned loudly, in too much pain to form words. He coughed, then his body cringed. His head and feet lifted off the floor. He removed his hands from his face only to spew saliva, deep red with blood. It was stringing from his mouth to his cupped hands, slinking down his chest like red melted cheese. I looked down at the writhing man and considered what next.