When I was six years old the thing with the open sores and the razor sharp teeth lived in the shadows at the back of my closet. At night, unable to sleep but too afraid to open my eyes, I would lie in bed and listening to it rustling about, waiting for an opportunity when my guard was down to attack. One night, I knew, it would eat the very flesh from my bones.
When I was ten years old my father went away on a business trip. I had a terrible dream that his plane fell burning from the sky. There were bits of burning wreckage scattered across a distant field, a place where nobody would ever find them. I woke screaming and inconsolable. I insisted on phoning his hotel room, and listened to ring after ring. When he came home two days later he brought me a bone-handled penknife with a picture of Niagara Falls.
When I was twenty-one I began to get migraine headaches and dizziness. I read medical texts and decided that I had a tumour of the brain. I lived recklessly. I bargained with God. I made promises. I went for tests. Months later the symptoms passed and I was still alive.
A few hours before my daughter was born, my wife’s blood pressure shot up. There were dangers, possible complications. I put on a reassuring mask. The long hours of the night seemed filled with omens. We’d been so lucky for so long. Terrible things happen every day. In the morning my daughter’s beautiful head rested against my wife’s shoulder. We wrapped our child in blankets and drove her home.
Ten days before the November second U.S. election I read a prediction that George W. Bush would win another term in office. In the pit of my stomach I knew right then that this would come true. A vision of the world of the near future passed before me. I could see fighter plains flying over sleeping villages. I could imagine the burning houses and crumbling buildings. I could imagine the beggar-filled streets, the wasted landscapes, the riots, the rolling tanks, the oil drenched beaches, the fixed bayonets, the grinning skulls, the barbed-wire fences, the radiation victims, the hungry children, militias with gas masks, the rich feeding on the flesh of the poor, tomorrow’s screaming headlines, the static on the radio.
I hope my streak continues.