Ching... Ching... Ching ching ching ching--it was a magical sound-- coins raining down into the metal tray. I stood against the wall watching her quickly scoop them into a large plastic cup. She grabbed my hand and pulled me through the isles. Washed sound of coins in stereo, synthetic(more) bleeps and bloops and digital little tunes mixed with an incoherent chatter, filling my ears, brightly lit screens, flashing lights, and long panty-hosed legs swirled around me in a hazy cigarette smoke fog. She pulled me onto the escalator moving us to the second floor.
I couldn't believe my eyes: games...for me--everywhere.
Shoot water into a clown's mouth : win a prize. Catapult a rubber chicken into a pot: win a prize. Throw the thing in the thing: win a prize.
She put down a quarter and a man handed me three balls, which I threw at something, and in turn received the stuffed animal of my choice. She put down another quarter and I flung a chicken. I like this. This is fun. She handed me the giant cup of quarters. It was difficult to hold in my small hands--heavier than I imagined.
" I want to show you something."
Looking down to the first floor she pointed to a circle of people sitting around machines poking their fingers at cards on a screen. A new car rotated above them.
"I'll be sitting right down there. You stay up here. I will come back and get you in a little while."
She was gone before I could say anything.
I threw a basket ball: received a giant purple inflatable crayon.
I put quarters in slot machines that dispensed candy.
I threw things and got: things.
I looked for her over the edge in the circle of screen-pokers: she was gone.(less)
"...I'm worried about you."
Jina glanced at Johnny's face as they walked. The top of the sky was darkening.
"Why?" she asked.
"Because this guy, whatever, he's being weird." Johnny's dark eyebrows were drawn together.
They stopped in front of the old house, their hous(more)e, as they thought of it. It was the only really private place they had to smoke, or talk. Lindsay's house was too full, and Jina's and Johnny's were too empty.
They stepped onto the porch and quickly slipped inside. Johnny dropped Jina's backpack into a ratty armchair. He sat down on the floor. Jina sat down too, facing him.
"Do you think he's stalking me?" she asked.
"No, I don't know. I think maybe he's, you know, noticed you. You shouldn't walk around alone anymore, at least until he leaves."
Jina scowled at him. "It wasn't my idea to go to his 'effin campsite and sit there in the dark, you know. Why didn't you guys come?"
Johnny rubbed his face, his eyes, like a much older person might do.
"Lindsay." He said, muffled.
"Ah." The word was clipped.
Johnny righted his glasses and looked at Jina. "Do you really want to go home tonight?"
"No." She said
"Let's stay here."
This was new. Lindsay had always been with them when they'd stayed out at night before.
"There's a couch in the other room. You should sleep on that. I'll sleep on the rug in here."
Jina felt like slapping Johnny. He wouldn't know why, of course, so she restrained herself.
After curling up on the threadbare, rust-colored couch in what might have once been a bedroom, Jina called to Johnny.
She felt him standing in the doorway.
"Why are you going away? Why don't you leave with us? "
the old woman lived alone, but her house was crowded with the past. she had outlived parents, siblings, husband, children, and friends. their memories all moved in, haunting her with blame and judgment. she heard their incessant chatter in hallways and closets, around the dining (more)table and in front of the television set. she pulled her knitted cap down over her ears, but the noise continued muffled and indistinct.
every drawer and cupboard and closet was overflowing with the flotsam and jetsam of the past. she was the sole beneficiary in a genealogical cul de sac. there was nothing to be done with it all now. various infestations of rodent and insect over the years had all but destroyed anything of value.
crippled with arthritis, she lumbered from room to room, pulling open drawers and doors. night had fallen hours ago, and she illuminated her passage with a hurricane lamp. it took all of her strength and resolve to climb the staircase, but she knew it was the last time.
she put the lamp on the floor in front of her, and sat unsteadily on the edge of the bed. as she lay back, her foot knocked over the lamp, the glass chimney breaking as it hit the floor. oil spilled onto a pile of newspapers, yellow and tattered with age. as smoke began to cloud the room, the fire began to engulf draperies and dresser. the crackling of flames was the last thing she heard as she slipped into deep and permanent sleep. (less)
I don't want to write about the TV show *Full House*, but I can't fight it anymore.
I don't want to sing the theme song for ABC's weekly block of "family-friendly" sitcoms, but...The only resistance I can muster is to add those quotation marks (family friendly according to(more) whom, huh? huh?!):
It's Friday night
And the mood is right.
Gonna have some fun,
Show you how it's done.
I smell the soap from my post-dinner/pre-TV shower, I smell dinner's leftovers cooling on the stove, I smell the freezer as I open it to choose an ice cream among the many tubs inside, scoop myself a dish, settle with it into the couch.
We called the room where the TV was the den. So appropriate: wood paneling, TV, couch. It would only have been better had it been in the basement--as it was, it really was too light, what with all its windows, even a door, onto the outside.
We called it a den, which I associate more with male animals than female ones (maybe because Cub Scouts have den mothers?), but we were a family of females: Mom, Annabeth, Belle, Charity, Chastity, Deanna, me (Frannie--I just realized, Mom named us after the school grading system? ABCDF: no E!), Granna (for nine months, 1984-85), and Auntie Taye (off and on, Feb.-Mar. 1989; Jun.-Sep. 1989; December 31, 1989-April 1, 1990; 1994; midnight-oh-one, Sep. 13-eleven-oh-five, Sep. 14). And Englebert. (Hey! The bunny was a boy!) (And an E name!) (Hmmm...)
Anyway, I liked that show, *Full House*, because it didn't seem very full, compared to mine; well, it certainly seemed a lot more fun than mine. I remember instigating Joey's Cut. It. Out. rule once, but without the laugh track, it fell flat. And Chastity got pregnant, and little Tiffany joined us.(less)