Two Fictions
Kim Chinquee


The place was Southern England, with green and sheep and rabbits. The base wasn't big in size, but it was worthy and important, in World War II and history. And then there was Desert Storm, but Desert Storm was over.
I was twenty-two. After I arrived and started to unpack and my son started to explore the empty drawers, I gave him a bottle and retired to bed. I awoke to knocking on the door, reminded, and answered to a pumpkin and another kid in a Dalmation costume. "Trick or treat!" they said, almost singing.
There were just five of us: the physician, the desk clerk, and two perverts, male nurse aids and then me, the lab technician. I ordered equipment, supplies, set up quality control. Took down Desert Storm leftovers. When the people left before, they left hard, and now junk was everywhere.
My husband was a lab tech just like me. He was at that base for Desert Storm while I collected blood in Mississippi; when he came home, he came back different, which made me wish he'd stay gone. He acted surprised when I got orders. I ditched him and took my orders. I flew a C5 over, trying to shush my son with suffocating hugs, wax earplugs and a bottle.
I heard stuff, found stuff, ran into women on base and I wondered how he knew them. They laughed and giggled, wearing no bras and thin shirts. I tried to concentrate on work and on my baby. When my boy laughed, he laughed like his father. At work, I found old charts with his initials: documentations, daily checks, temperatures and values.
Now everyone was sick. It was sinuses and viruses. When I didn't have lab work, I checked in patients. I penetrated people's histories. People will tell you anything.
I soaked up every detail. After we closed up, I went to the bunker and dusted out the cobwebs. I expanded an old wheelchair, hearing it creak. I didn't smoke, but found an old pack of Camels and sat on the chair and lit up, thinking of my husband's old butts. I put the smoke out in a plastic spit tray.

Knocked Over

I was about to lose my job and then a lawsuit and my kid was hooked on sniffing. I felt like someone else, like I was knocked over or about to lose a fight or maybe in the middle of a marathon when you hit the halfway mark and the people who signed up for the half can quit, but if you were dumb enough to sign up for the whole and didn't go on then you were still a loser. But I still had strength enough to know I was okay, and I felt nothing mattered although in a hopeful way, because before this mess I felt hopeless, but now I felt dumb for having felt that.
I took Shark for a jog, pulling the leash. He had a fancy collar. He was the biggest dog I'd had and I grew up on a farm with enough dogs to last a lifetime. He had a heavy coat that he liked to launder up with dirt and I imagined his coat infested with peoples' problems. Sometimes I dreamt of secrets, ghosts under his fur. He was smarter than my last dog Muffin, who perished in my father's barn after it caught fire.
Shark made tracks in the snow and I ran on the sidewalk. It was slippery. I was careful.
I still had my boyfriend. He lived far away and I loved him tons and missed him. He listened when I needed. My kid would be in rehab. My job, who knows. There were other things pressing but I felt no urgency. I kept running and the world moved around me: people walking, some in hats and scarves and mittens, hot breaths pushing into cold air. Cars passed each other, honking. Shark ran with me. He started running faster, so I released him, watching him head.