21st Century
The Future
World Travel
Books & Film
Original Fiction
Opinion & Lifestyle
Politics & Living
Film Space
Movies in depth
Kid's Books
Reviews & stories

The International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Life is Short

Behind Closed Curtains: Stories of a Never-Never-Land
Creative Non-Fiction
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-old’s 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 park—Level Two—where 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 mother’s 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-- Mother’s Youngest Daughter’s bedroom. She’s ten.
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 deer’s 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 vegetarian’s 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. It’s raining. A pink van of gangsters stole Wonton Mop’s 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 Sublime’s 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 Wikipedia—was brought into a police station in Fayette, Alabama, on suspicion of stealing a car. He was scared. I don’t want to go to jail the boy thought so he snatched officer Arnold Strickland’s .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 bam—dead. Officer James Crump heard the shot. He raced toward it, but was met in the hallway and—bam bam bam--dead. Three shots to the head. And then, oh no! Ace Mealer, the 911 dispatcher—five shots—and--dead. Then the American murderer, formerly known as Devin Moore, left the station driving a stolen police car. Life is like a video game. Everybody’s got to die sometime, said Moore after his capture.

This statement thrilled attorney Jack Thompson, a longtime crusader against video-game violence, who represented two of the victim’s 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 row—time of death (TBA).

According to Thompson, it was Sony and Take-Two Interactive, the makers of Grand Theft Auto, that were to blame for Moore’s 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 doesn’t 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, It’s 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 don’t 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
You can view samples of her art at

More Comment


© Hackwriters 1999-2009 all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibility - no liability accepted by or affiliates.