When the white road somersaulted smack into her, sent her winging, Renisha Ali was already indisposed.
It took half a minute, thirty seconds. Anthropomorphic balloon or blind bird jettisoned into the hot intersection—
The sky between Cobalt and Majestic screeched at her sides.
A heart like a globe of marbles rumbled from within; blood mixed with stale breath. Whiz-bang trees camouflaged in sunlight; a string of dark houses; and as the world turned on and off, her inner and outer world whirred like a fan. And so it seemed a discoball bounced in the mid-afternoon, gaslighting the unnatural darkness.
The man inside the silver Elantra backtracked…Stillness like the hour-hand as you watch it.
Hovering over her, his forehead knotted, a black umbrella questioned her.
Can you say your name?
She swung a piece of flesh, an arm, possibly a leg, and he jerked back.
R—shaaa ... Ali.
You are not sure? A woman, for they are easier to discern from the general brightness, was whispering loudly, across the street.
The umbrella had moved away, replaced by the blaze of some silver being, like a horse. The man in the black jacket was scrutinizing the disembowelled Honda, apparently split on impact, with something many times greater in mass. He returned, and this time the umbrella had form and shape, apart from a voice.
Ali. Renisha. Were you drinking?
Straight as a lamppost, but a body of latent venom, he thought, like a snake who had lost consciousness. The man watched eyes slip in and out of the red face. Drunk as an Indian. Before that hit.
It took an hour before the woman could ascertain if the young lady, an installation of vermillion curls and uncooked flesh fetid as a bloodied diaper below her bedroom window, had hurled itself into the truck or if the truck had violently greeted the Honda.
By then Renisha Ali had already been helped to her feet, answering questions with phonemes, vowels and consonants. Her ability to speak, a testament to life, was no acceptable witness to her sanity, lucidity or harmlessness.
The man backtracked, half in terror, half in a daze. The risen creature, with her crown of blood, seemed an apparition too real to risk --
The charge was "discombobulation".
He wondered when the heart would get to a small town in Yemen and when, the man, the fox, who killed her, would get arrested
Kh noticed the redness as it moved through the light. Something half-gold that shimmers darkly as it shies from the sun; a patch, flapping singly, as of a stork’s wing in the afternoon. Red, though. Not beet; or, even, redwood. Like spools of a sari, not yet made. Or a chameleon, turning lipstick red, merging with a fallen nova, before the bald, white road. Turning back to her mantras, she sunk into the round sounds of her daily practice.
Renisha Ali walked from house to house. An ethereal monster visiting block after block of Sunset’s residential East End, and finding most empty, bereft even of a dog or grandfather sprinkled on its unimpeachably self-regarding lawns. At last, hunched like a scarecrow before the patio of a sky-hued house resembling some postcard from Utah, with its pale yellow roof the very skin of wheat, she was coaxed by a soft, grassy threshold beyond an open gate.
Renisha pounded on the window; a closed question mark like the number nine, blackened by shadow.
On the afternoon, a quarter past two, that the giant loomed, and Robert heard a pounding as fierce as a child’s followed by a vision of a thing so disfigured it resembled a numeral more than a sentient being, he was at the tail’s end of his morning routine; Clay woke each day to a painting of a small, coral sun and descended onto the shuttered living room, then down to the basement where a Rider awaited him and accompanied him for thirty minutes of priceless sweat as he gazed blankly at the body moving in place in the glass walls; then, the inevitable sequel of a cold shower, he toasted rye bread on his sleek, black (obviously, Chinese) toaster, dressed as though for office, and for the next three hours, he calmly watched the news, as the TV made the still unveiled living room resound with splashes of fish-like rays, like a technicolour hologram of LA, on his wall.
The mouth opened and closed, and Robert Clay shot down to the basement where he kept his 22 Caliber Wesson & Smith. Already loaded, as though expecting someone
Roberto Clay was of Fijiian descent, which did not say much—for he was a second generation coconut, here in the North American city of Vellein, and passed easily for any of the third generation Italian immigrants who made up the majority in the cool brown quarter.
The creature, meanwhile, looked like a veiled porcupine, or a trail of burnt hair over scarlet widow’s weeds—like nothing he had ever seen. He could not make out a scream. The mouth opened and closed, and Robert Clay shot down to the basement where he kept his 22 Caliber Wesson & Smith. Already loaded, as though expecting someone.
Kh heard the shots and called the police. It was an hour and a half since the strange bird—a creature she would only recognize later-- landed between Cobalt and Majestic, and only twenty minutes since a scarecrow walked up the patio of retired auditor Robert Clay.
AL Lee was a heart surgeon at the Vellein Central Hospital, on the opposite end of Sunset. As a child back in Shanghai he had wanted to be a traffic police, as an adolescent a forensics expert but finally, he chose something less idiosyncratic, though no less curious. His profession made him a kind of brute of kindness; or a kind brute. As he carried the now heart-less body away, he was reminded of a recent death similar to this one, the woman was nineteen and her last name was Mcbride: her first, was the same as this Ali. The case had proceeded slowly, but eventually, the man had been charged: Detroit, last year. It would have been nice if she—this one-- had donated her heart…perhaps through one of those organizations that could ship all the way…to a desert? Senseless thoughts floated. He wondered when the heart would get to a small town in Yemen and when, the man, the fox, who killed her, would get arrested.
A thread blazing red and gold like the strings of a-- harp. She remembered the something red she had seen that day. Delicate on the unsteady mound overlooking the pond, beneath an endless, green filter of sun, Kh held herself, arms meeting like old friends kept apart by some artifice—herself, torso, heart-- knees cupped. Numb or mum, something had sucked the blood out of her voice.
She continued her daily practice, vowels. Aaa Iiii (mmm) UUu. No sound. The wind did not travel. From her depths to the height. Still she tried. Aaa … I am you.
Seema Amin is a fiction writer and poet.