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Short story

November 17, 2000
The Iranian

She bends over, down and into the back of her Toyota Corrolla and struggles momentarily with the groceries, regains her grip and shakingly swings the handles of the bulging plastic supermarket bags up and over the lip of the trunk. She drops them, they plunge toward her calves, flapping the loose skin behind her biceps, sending a ripple through her large breasts. She begins a balanced walk to the kitchen through the open garage.

Her hair is a dirty blonde, the dark roots showing easily, she is letting her clearly once competitive form slip inevitably towards the rear. The dirty white spandex workout pants covered by a large purple T-shirt show her good intentions but time and gravity is clearly winning the battle.

She wears no makeup, no time, and the lines in her face are more and more visible each day. She now wears a regular scowl, eyebrows sharpened and at the perpetual 45 degree angle of anger. She always seems annoyed, exhausted and impatient. She almost never smiles.

As she disappears into the kitchen, an elderly gentleman in gray flannel pants, with a frosted grey moustache and two-day beard, wearing a white shirt and a matching gray sleeveless sweater works his way slowly out of the garage door. He looks like a taller more slender copy of Mossadegh. He locks his hands together, placing them behind his back for support and begins to stroll around the front garden, observing the plants and flowers, like a general inspecting his troops. He occasionally reaches down and yanks an insolent weed from the bushes and continues on. Sometimes he can be seen sitting on his haunches as he plants a new flower or bush. He'll take an hour to dig just a small hole, and place the plant in and add a little water and soil, shifting and adjusting it so it1s just right. You can't help but wonder how someone with such little time can have such patience.

It's afternoon now, and school is out. A lowered black on white Chevy Impala with skinny tires lowered obscenely close to the ground screeches to a halt in front of the house. "Brrrraaaooom, Brrrraaaooom, Brrrraaaooom," only the ground thundering booming bass of the "mutha-fucka" filled music can be heard as windows rattle for blocks. Three teenagers pile out of the back seat and spill out onto the sidewalk, spitting, cussing, laughing, taunting, grabbing, punching, "Yo!" They all look exactly the same, white sleeveless under shirts ("Rekabi"), close shaved punk heads with a couple weeks of growth, long dragging-in-the-dust baggy pants, slung precariously low at the waist exposed at the top to show the boxers beneath.

The loudest and most vocal is the son, I think his name is Ramin. From where I watch, it's the only word I can ever clearly hear as his mom yells and screams incessantly at him. "Kojaa Mireeeee?!!"

The only way I can tell him apart from the rest of the gangsta rap lookalikes, is the telltale never fail arc of the big black beautiful eyebrows that float across his temple. That and his eyes. Shiny, sharp, piercing black eyes that dart around impishly looking for fun, trouble, anything that will cause a desperately needed adrenaline kick. Late at night I hear the rhythmic sound of the punching bag he has set up in the garage. I walk over to the curtain and peek across the street. He is obsessive pawing at the bag, cigarette hanging off his lower lip, baggy pants, rekabi under shirt, sweat glistening off his shoulders.

The father shows up now and then, Sundays usually. I hate him, even though we've never met. He's so smug, in a Kuwaiti businessman kind of way, like he knows he's got the better part of the deal. He talks calmly to his Ramin from the curb, one foot half in the car, door open wide, hands on the roof of his car. The mom is at the supermarket nowhere to be seen. Sometimes the dad comes around the front of the lawn and they talk; Ramin always looking down on the ground, rhythmically kicking at any obstruction with his foot.

Here comes the lecture. There is a moment of silence. I can almost hear his soft tone, "C'mon, please try to be a good boy, for your mother." Then he gets back into his car and leaves. From the car's window, engine running, he says he'll try and return in two weeks as he drives away. Yeah sure, just like the judge ordered.

Ramin lifts his head up, turns and runs back into the garage and when his father is out of site, pulls out a cigarette and resumes punching the bag while he waits for his friends to pull up.

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