A baby almost killed me as I walked to work one morning. By passing beneath a bus shelter’s roof at the ordained moment I lived to tell my tale. With strangers surrounding me I looked at what remained. Laoughter from heaven made us lift our eyes skyward. The baby’s mother lowered her arms and leaned out her window. Without applause her audience drifted off, seeking crumbs in the gutters of this city of God. Xerox shingles covered the shelter’s remaining glass pane, and the largest read:
Want to be crucified. Have own nails.
Leave message on machine.
The fringe of numbers along the ad’s hem had been stripped away. My shoes crunched glass underfoot; my skirt clung to my legs as I continued down the street. November dawn’s seventy-degree bath made my hair lose its set. Mother above appeared ready to take her own bow; I too, as ever, flew on alone.
Well, I haven’t heard of anyone bombing their babies out of windows or off balconies onto ground-floor pedestrians, but as for someone opting for crucifixion? Just a little more than a year ago today, someone did just that here in South Korea: and he one-upped the imagined, anonymous character in the Womack novel by (apparently) inflicting it on himself.
Of course, the horror in the Womack passage is the line that follows: “The fringe of numbers along the ad’s hem had been stripped away” signals a society hardened already by insane levels of violence, just as does the narrator’s comment that the audience for the baby-dropped drifted off “without applause” — as if applause was expected, or might have been received if the madwoman above had scored a hit.
And yeah, I’m reading the Tor paperback with the awful cover, sent to me long ago by a friend. Why it took me so long to get to it, I’ll never know. Maybe the cover?
But after how much I loved Random Acts of Senseless Violence, the only thing that’s kept me away from Heathern is my teaching load.