International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Life is Short
Closed Curtains: Stories of a Never-Never-Land
Kimberly E. Ruth
A few weeks
ago the world heard a story: Gunman Kills 13 and Wounds 4 at Binghamton
Immigration Center. It was a story of murder and hostages and
suicide. Then Gunman Kills 3 Police Officers in Pittsburgh. And
then. 4 Bodies Found in Maryland Hotel. Today there is another
story of murder, another hostage, another suicide. Somewhere.
But the following story begins with Mother, on a subway train,
and it ends in a ten-year-olds bedroom. Actually, it is
not a story at all. It is a game, controlled by you.
It was approximately
7:55 a.m. when she first noticed you take interest in her. Perhaps it
may not have been her at all, but her skirt that kept blowing up as
the wrong trains sped by. You followed her on board and took the empty
seat next to her and ran your hands up and down her body. Apparently
you were not satisfied. So, you forced her off the train and dragged
her to a parkLevel Twowhere you pushed her on the ground
and kissed her and touched her and told her she better not scream and
you better forget my face, or else.
The next scene, level, took place on the black-and-white tile floor
in the bathroom of a rundown pizza joint on the corner of, say, Front
Avenue and Main Street. The mothers daughter was unaware at this
time that you had just impregnated her and that you would later force
her to have an abortion because Your big belly turns me off.
Level 4-- Mothers Youngest Daughters bedroom. Shes
German Gunman, 17, Attacks School in Winnenden; 16 Are Dead.
"It smells like death in our kitchen," I yelled to BJ, a tall
guy who was tormented as a kid, not because of his height, but because
of the unfortunate name his parents dubbed him with: BJ Woodams. He
was sawing some portion of a frozen deers body in half with some
sort of tool resembling a saw. He attributed his taste in fine meat
not to the fact that he was a carnivore, but to the fact that he is
a manly man.
The reason BJ was sawing limbs in a vegetarians kitchen was because
I offered him my stove in exchange for an opportunity to watch him play
video games for the evening. (Fortunately, not Rapelay, the virtual
rape game developed in Japan that was highlighted earlier in this story).
Instead, I got to watch this 25-year-old male from upstate New York
embark on the journey of becoming a professional skateboarder.
Objective: to get sponsored. Wonton Mop-- an Irish skateboarder from
New Jersey. Red ponytail, Robin Hood hat, cowboy boots, a button-down
Hawaiian shirt, and skorts. Communism-style buildings. Sirens. Hot dog
vendors and graffiti. Impress high school kids. Cars honk. Its
raining. A pink van of gangsters stole Wonton Mops friend. Cars
collide. Front side nose grind, heel flip, ollie, nosegrind. Saving
Bribe security guard with hot nuts. Sound of Jackhammer fades into a
digitally manipulated version of Sublimes lyrics I smoke two joints
in the afternoon and it makes me feel alright.
I just about gave up trying to figure out the purpose of this game,
story, until I noticed BJ close the curtains to avoid the glare on the
TV caused by the lights outside.
Gunman Kills 8 at a North Carolina Nursing Home
On June 7, 2003, an 18-year-old black boy from Alabama-- an American
murderer, according to Wikipediawas brought into a police station
in Fayette, Alabama, on suspicion of stealing a car. He was scared.
I dont want to go to jail the boy thought so he snatched officer
Arnold Stricklands .40 caliber Glock. His reaction was that of
the deer in the woods who just made eye contact with the man in the
orange coat and then bamdead. Officer James Crump heard the shot.
He raced toward it, but was met in the hallway andbam bam bam--dead.
Three shots to the head. And then, oh no! Ace Mealer, the 911 dispatcherfive
shotsand--dead. Then the American murderer, formerly known as
Devin Moore, left the station driving a stolen police car. Life is like
a video game. Everybodys got to die sometime, said Moore after
This statement thrilled attorney Jack Thompson, a longtime crusader
against video-game violence, who represented two of the victims
families. (Moore was represented by a state-appointed attorney, who
was prohibited from introducing evidence that the video game in which
the player steals police cars and shoots police officers and pedestrians
--Grand Theft Auto-- incited his shooting spree, even though it was
a game Moore played for hours each day). The American murderer is now
sitting on death rowtime of death (TBA).
According to Thompson, it was Sony and Take-Two Interactive, the makers
of Grand Theft Auto, that were to blame for Moores shootings,
the Columbine shootings, and other acts of violence throughout history,
including the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Thompson argued: What the Japanese
are doing to our kids is insensitive and racist. The Japanese have for
a very long time dumped pornography [violent games] into this country
in a fashion they would not tolerate in their own country. It is another
version of Pearl Harbor.
Actress Was Killed in Hanging Meant as Cover-Up, Officials Say
A few years ago the world heard a story: It was a story of a fake suicide
and a real murder. It was a story that began with a mother, in a New
York office building and ended with a curtain rod.
Actress and mother, Adrienne Shelley, was found dead in a Manhattan
office yesterday. Diego Pillco, a 19-year-old immigrant from Ecuador,
told detectives that he had hit Shelley in the face and had thought
she was dead--So, I faked her suicide--. Officials said she was found
with a sheet wrapped around her neck, hanging from a shower curtain
rod in the bathroom of her New York office building.
Initially my intention for this story was to show violence in video
games. But, it took quite a turn. As more and more mass killings filled
the headlines, I questioned whether this virtual reality was less real
than the reality we live in. It is now a story about a world that is
not far from that in which we live. A pretend world. A story of the
pretend rapes and pretend suicides. A place where it doesnt matter
how many civilians were killed in whichever war because you just took
out an entire police force and men will still pat you on the back and
say, Its not your fault. Where television screens are filled with
images of death and destruction as though the situation goes no further.
There is no aftermath. No statistics. No funerals. No real loss or consequences.
A never-never-land where, after death, you can be reborn as a size two
waist, C bra, blonde-haired, actress from New York, or, an oddly dressed
skateboarder from New Jersey. A place where headlines dont exist
and the curtains have to be closed.
© Kimberly E. Ruth June 2009
Kimberly E. Ruth is a recent graduate from SUNY New Paltz where she
received a BFA in photography and a BA in journalism. She plans to attend
graduate school in the fall, where she will work towards an MFA in fine
art. She is the author of the forthcoming chapbook, Said the Oyster
to the Fly (Pudding House Press) and an e-chapbook,
Between Cardboard Mountains (Gold Wake Press), which is available for
free at http://goldwakepress.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/cardboard.pdf.
You can view samples of her art at http://kimberlyruth.blogspot.com.
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