Saturday, December 16, 2006
She wants to know how many soldiers die in summer. Last summer. The summer before that. Any summer. And how many civilians? In Iraq, in July and August, it's often over 120 degrees (that's 48 Celsius, which sounds better). The man at the senior center who was given a toupe as a gift says he lost his hair when he was fighting in Korea. Because of the heat there. Her husband loves the heat. This summer, when they're going to be in Los Angeles, he wants to take a side trip to Palm Springs. Just to be in the desert, to experience that kind of heat. And he wants her to go with him.
The Internet is everyone's back alley. And she finds several different Bush punching bags (plus one Kerry). Now it's a question of whether or not she wants to take up this much space in their apartment. Whether or not she wants her husband to see this. Whether or not she wants him to know that she's lashing out. But maybe for her house upstate. For the summer.
There's one picture in their apartment that's been driven into the concrete wall over their kitchen window: a still from White Heat that she gave her husband for Hanukah years ago. James Cagney drives the car, his mother seated next to him, the two of them beaming at each other, while his wife is pushed against the far door, pulling her fur coat tight around her. Or was she his girlfriend? Black and white. This is her husband's second favorite movie.
During the last election, the novelty store two blocks away had Bush and Kerry punching bags in its window. As a child she had a Dennis the Menace punching bag. She has nothing now. She's trying to cut back on medication. She's trying to lose weight. She wants to pound her fist against the one wall in her apartment which is concrete and so firm (though covered over with paint) she can't even drive in a picture hook. Her pictures are worthless. She thinks, maybe if she looks hard, she'll be able to find the Kerry punching bag in some store's back alley. She doubts that simplistic child's toy would aid in weight loss. Not enough effort to get the blood flowing. Better to pound her head against a wall, and she can no longer blame it on a headache. She wakes this Saturday morning to find herself alone. It's the second night of Hanukah. She has to, she knows, use this time well.