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FICTION Like Animals


Forgetting by Jennifer Spiegel


New York City, 1995


Christopher Reeve, a.k.a. Superman, is paralyzed from the neck down.


The thing about really tragic events, the thing


that sufferers of really tragic events, learn—pretty quickly—is that, though others empathize and are genuinely affected by the sufferer’s suffering, their lives go on. When all is said and done, you have to know that other lives continue, despite irreparable change to your own.


Deep in the night, snug as a bug, sweaty from


too many blankets, I get a call. “Is this Sybil Weatherfield?” I pull myself together, sitting upright, tossing


off sheets, hoping this isn’t a hospital. “Yes, I’m Sybil Weatherfield.” “Rob Shachtley named you when we asked if


there were someone we should call.” Rob is my platonic male friend. We all have one or two or many. Like film noir, my eyes widen and my lips part.


Kate Hepburn in a Garfield nightshirt. “Who is this? What’s wrong with Rob?” “He’s okay. I mean, he’s not dead. Or dying.” A


fifteen-year-old girl speaks on the other end. “Where is he?” I’m already looking for my keys


and watch. “He passed out, here at Ramone’s. Somebody’s


gotta pick him up.” I look at my digital clock: 3:07 in the morning.


“He passed out?” “He’s fine. He threw up and now he’s sleeping on


the couch backstage.” Yuck. “I’ll be there as soon as possible.” I slip on


sweatpants. “Do me a favor?” “Yeah?” “If he wakes, keep him there.” “Do you know where Ramone’s is?” “I do.” She already envisions me as uncool. “He’s


okay?” “Yeah, he’s fine. He just needs someplace to go.” 8


I’m a girl in New York City, so middle of the night retrieval is a big deal. I have to take a cab too, since murder is likely in the subway and no direct routes exist anyway.


Linty and unfashionable, I open my front door


and hesitantly sneak up the cement stairs leading to the street. I hate this part. I picture a hand over my mouth, a shove backwards. I act like that won’t happen, but I know it will. The stores are closed, bars and barricades lowered, and it’s pretty damn quiet for Manhattan. No taxis in sight, so I walk with a stiff upper lip to Seventh, where, hopefully, there’s life. After five excruciatingly long minutes in the dead of night, I catch a cab and head to the Bowery, to Ramone’s, a punk rock venue in a seedy part of town. Since I listened to mostly British melancholic suicidals as a teen as opposed to those into self-mutilation and Satan, I know I’m going to be a tad “displaced” by the surroundings. I expect Ramone’s to be closed, but there’s


an after-hours show featuring Bruised Monkey. I’m forced to pay cover, so rescuing Rob takes up my entire entertainment allowance for the week. I better start having fun now. Inside, punk rock greets me. The music bounces


off the ceiling, rolls around the floor, and runs up to you like it’s going to suck the meat right off your bones. Wiping my hands on my sweatpants, I stray down Ramone’s graffiti gauntlet, a cavity of entropic writing on the wall. Like in a funhouse, I can’t walk straight; the walls or floors seem to be moving. It’s dark and objects blur in warped silhouette. It’s a funeral for someone no one knows in post-apocalyptic times. Though somber, no one cares about the dead. We’re the only ones remaining on a war-ravaged planet. We may as well wear leather. Dear God, this place compels me to call on the


name of my missing God, let Mad Max be around here somewhere. Approaching the back, I see a stage. Bruised


Monkey plays. Judging from their appearance, the apocalypse was nuclear. Their hair is gone from either chemo or holocaust; their clothes look like dogs are after


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