Kindness in the Face of Tyranny
BY MOLLY ANDERS
My mother caught me playing hooky one morning and she asked me in the false night of my room what I thought it would be like to really take care of someone, to care for someone who was really sick, and I thought of course about Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our neighbor across the street. I thought about the time my mother asked me to take the cross walk on Wilson and LaFayette Streets to bring Our Lord a casserole.
The house was much bigger than ours with a roof that when the sun set looked like the bristled back of a sleeping animal, the windows like orange eyes that snapped open one at a time, wondering whether you were worth getting out of bed for.
Sometimes I saw girls coming out of that house in the evening and my mother said they were his granddaughters and I wondered if they had their virginity (do you know what that is?) because I heard on the radio that one girl is trying to sell her virginity on eBay for a million dollars. The other man on the radio said “that seems a little steep” and the first man laughed and said “she’ll come around it’s a recession after all” and both men laughed and I wondered how much my virginity might go for, and how much an eBay account costs, and whether I should wait until the recession ends before making any big decisions.
I rang the doorbell of Our Lord’s house and an old lady with beautiful blue eyes answered the door. She was wearing a raincoat and looked like she might have been a waitress at some point, or an announcer on a sports show, she took the casserole off my hands and said “that’s so very nice of you, won’t you come in?” and she also said “do you live in that ranch-style [do you know what that is?] across the street?” I told her I lived in the house with the yellow mailbox and I asked if there was a gas leak in her house. The old lady with the blue eyes and the raincoat seemed confused, she said there wasn’t any leak and would I like to go see the master of the house?
The master of the house sat up in his giant bed as I came in, looking over my head and through the window. His pillows and blankets seemed to billow around him like his own private galaxy, and he pointed to an armchair at the foot of his bed, which I sat in and he said “what if armchairs were living things and every time you sat in one it gave out a big, angry sigh” and I noticed then that the master of the house was wearing a baby bonnet. “Thank you for the casserole” he said “I think casseroles are terribly smart foods and your mother is probably something of a savant [do you know what that is?] in the kitchen.” I thought about the drunk driver who several months ago drove his SUV into a kitchen two streets over from mine, but luckily it was in the middle of the night so no one was in the kitchen. The thing was the SUV also hit a pipe that brings gas from underground into the houses and somehow the gas surged and leaked into all the houses on one side of the street. All the people living on that side of the street died in their sleep. They all died except for the house that the SUV crashed into, first because the people who lived in that house were wide awake looking at the SUV in their kitchen. Second because there was an SUV-sized hole in the side of their house that the gas could escape through. The drunk driver lived on the other side of the street with his wife and baby, who both slept through the night.
The master of the house said “do you know who I am?” I said not really, he said “I’m John D. Rockerfella” he said “I’m Donald Trump” he said “I’m the motherfucking president of Apple Corporation.” I asked how much money he had and he said “I threw a pitch once at a New York Mets game, and no one believes me but that ball was hot, I mean hot like a newborn baby, hot like a dragon turd, I mean hot like those bits of rock they find in the desert that fall from the sky.” I said wow. He said “I think they warm them up for the pitchers so they throw them faster.” I guessed that the master of the house was having a separate conversation, one that ran alongside the one he was having with me, but sometimes curved right, or curved left, and other times curved right back into mine. I said “Are you really sick?” and he pulled up the shoulders of his t-shirt which read “I’m a Cancer Survivor!” under a sunrise with a yellow smiling face bleeding over a hillside like a cracked egg. “This was an impulse buy” he said. “Did you know they make these in every size?” he said “Extra large, large, medium, small, extra-small, one-year-old, six-month old,” he said. I said “that’s very small,” and he got annoyed. He said “Let’s say hypothetically I’m six months old.” He said “Do I deserve to congratulate myself over something I’m not old enough to care about?” I said “Maybe if everyone else wants you to care later?” I asked if there was a gas leak in his house. The Lord said, “I can see your house, I can see your mother leave in the mornings in her little car, I can see it through my little window,” and actually the window was not little at all, in fact one entire wall of Jesus Christ’s bedroom was made of plexiglass (do you know what that is?) and I could see my mother’s car, I could see my driveway and the little window of our bathroom with bubbled glass that won’t open. I noticed that Our Lord’s window didn’t open either. I thought again about the gas leaks and I began to understand the first thing I have ever understood about myself: Whatever happens, wherever I live or die, all of my windows will open.