By Michael G. Glab
— Forty-seven —
It’s the day before Halloween, 1970, a Friday. Anna’s wearing her winter coat for the first time this season. The wind rushing through the highrise canyons of the Loop feels as though it can push her down onto the Wabash Avenue sidewalk. If, in fact, the wind should push her down this at this very moment, she’d kiss the concrete at precisely the spot where Anthony lay, about two and a half years ago, on that April Saturday afternoon following the Civic Center anti-war rally, when her husband first tasted Sal Sanfillipo’s billyclub.
As usual nowadays, though, Anna’s thoughts are as far as they can be from Anthony. She’s often — maybe too often — thinking about faceless men creeping into her bedroom and running their hands all over her body. Sometimes, when she entertains this delicious fantasy, a woman’s hands sneak in but Anna quickly shakes her head and dispels the whole daydream because, for God’s sake, she’s not a lezzie.
Hell, it’s bad enough that some of these men’s hands are dark-skinned.
Anna thinks: None of us can really control our thoughts. They just come and go as they please. It’s not as if I’m gonna go out and marry a Negro, for Chrissakes.
Anna passes through the revolving door of Kroch’s & Brentano’s, creating an ear-popping whoosh. There, on the first table is a pile of the big best seller that she’s been dying to get hold of since it was released last month. She’s been holding off on getting it because, man, where’s she going to keep it? She really doesn’t want Anthony seeing her reading it. It might give him ideas and the last thing in the world she wants to do is give him ideas. But she’s got ideas of her own, ideas that at first jarred her but were so persistent that she realizes now she can’t keep them at bay.
It was one thing, a couple of years ago, to dream about Bobby Kennedy touching her. Hell, the man was a saint, God rest his soul. With Bobby, it would have been a laying on of the hands. But all those hands she dreams of caressing her bare skin — including the dark-skinned ones — there’s nothing holy about them. Even so, Anna doesn’t feel like a such a bad woman now. I’m a mother, she thinks. I’m not a hoor.
That’s progress. The first time Anna had the fantasy about the hands, she told herself she was a no good slut. Then she took the hottest shower she could bear even though it was a hot July afternoon. That made her feel clean again; she felt unsullied by the stink of her fantasies. And her fingers.
But there’s a limit to the number of scalding showers a sane person can take in the middle of a Chicago summer. And there seems to be no limit to the number of times the image of those hands touching her flesh comes into her mind now. Anna has decided not to fight the feelings anymore. Go with it, man. It’s cool. If it feels good, do it — and if you’re too scared to do it, dream it, dig?
So she’s let her mind and her fingers do their thing. And when Tree’s voice, or Sister James Mary’s voice, or J. Edgar Hoover’s voice, or Sigmund Freud’s voice reminds her she’s a hoor for thinking such things, she does her best to ignore them.
“You Are A Very Sick Woman.”
Sometimes the voice is even her own. Her battle to shut that voice up sometimes crosses a boundary. Once, while putting on her mascara, Anna said out loud, “Shut up, you stupid bitch!”
Anthony, in the other room, said, “What?”
Anna replied, “Nothing.”
“Who you talking to?”
“Yes you were.”
“No I wasn’t.”
Which was the third longest conversation she and Anthony had in the year 1970.
But now’s the time to buy that book, the book that she’s sure will give her a further imprimatur to continue entertaining the fantasy of all those hands caressing her skin. Anna scoops up a fresh hardcover copy of The Sensuous Woman by J and strides purposefully to the checkout counter.
Thank God, thank holy God in heaven, no one else is in line just now. Thank Jesus Christ it’s that young guy with the long hair who’s behind the register and not one of those blue hairs. Thank the Almighty Ma’s not in this store, or Sister James Mary. Or J Edgar Hoover. Or Sigmund Freud.
“Would you like a bag?” the kid asks.
“Absolutely,” Anna says.
To be continued
All fictional characters, descriptions, and situations are the property of the author.