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ralph robert moore


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ralph robert moore

Copyright © 2003 by Ralph Robert Moore.

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burglars in black clothes i have to throw chairs at
may 17, 2003

Imagine yourself in my home.

It's late Sunday night/early Monday morning.

You float through the high-ceilinged downstairs rooms, across the bookcases, the paintings on the walls, glance out the tall arched windows in the living room, branches bending in the night breeze, float through the combination kitchen/breakfast nook, into the short hallway on one side, into our bedroom.

A large TV on the right side of the bedroom, off, wide bed on the left.

In the silence, Mary and me, lying on our stomachs, sleeping. The sheet and blanket are up around Mary's shoulders, down around my waist. A couple of cats are sleeping on the bed, between us.

The digital alarm clock on my bedside table changes its red printout to 2:30 a.m.

An incredible crash, glass breaking.

The crash was so loud, so prolonged, that even after I jerked awake, legs switching under the sheet, I still heard it continue.

I fumbled out of bed, somersaulting the cats, stumbling through the bedroom door to the kitchen, thinking someone had broken into our home by smashing through one of our windows (we have a lot of windows, the neighborhood is very safe, no one has ever had a break-in before, but what are you supposed to think when you hear such a prolonged glass-breaking at 2:30 in the morning?)

The french door off the breakfast nook, leading to our garden, was intact. I staggered forward in my bare feet through the downstairs rooms, shaking my head, trying to wake up.

In the two-story entry hall, our six foot tall palm, normally standing proud with wide fronds in a white corner to one side of the carpeted stairs, was lying on its side across the entry hall's tiles. The huge ceramic pot we kept the palm in, elevated on a wrought-iron stand, was absolutely shattered across the tiles.

I felt immediate relief.

At least there weren't burglars in black clothes I'd have to throw chairs at.

Then I felt irritation. The cats who had obviously caused the palm to tilt over were lying on the tiles near the shards, casually cleaning their crotches, blinking back at me.

But fortunately, none of them were hurt.

I got back in bed, reassuring Mary, who had woken up by now.

We'd clean the mess up tomorrow.

I put my profile against the pillow, closed my eyes, started thinking about Marlon Brando.

Do you know what distracts me about Marlon Brando?

Earlier that day, we caught the original Godfather movie on TV. We tuned in about an hour into the movie, so we missed a lot of it, but there were still quite a few Brando scenes.

Every time Brando was on screen, I couldn't forget that he is known for never memorizing his lines, choosing instead to have his dialogue posted on the set so he can read it while he's doing the scene. He's famous for that. His dialogue is written on the wall behind the actor he's talking to, or on a page in his lap, and I think once his dialogue was even written on the other actor's face.

So while I'm watching a scene with him in it, every time his eyes shift, I'm thinking, Oh, it's not his character shifting his eyes at that point, it's Brando the actor shifting his eyes, so the lazy fuck can read the next line.

I was thinking of Marlon Brando, who I normally don't think of while I'm trying to fall asleep, or indeed think of even when I'm awake, because I was trying not to think about the oral surgery I'm having this coming Friday, May 23.

As I mentioned in a recent column, the operation's going to be about two hours long, to get bone transplants placed around the bases of a number of my upper teeth. All of this is because I had scarlet fever when I was a kid, one of the last people in America, I remember the doctor saying at the time, to contract the fever before it was eradicated. The fever caused my teeth, at an important developmental stage, to never develop the hard dentin surface that protects most people's teeth.

I had the same surgery done on a back molar about a year and a half ago. If you'd like to read about that operation, it's here. As a bonus, that Lately entry also includes a singularly unflattering photograph of me taken once I got back home, still doped up on the medication they gave me.

Because of the surgery, there won't be a Lately next Saturday. After that, I'll be on vacation for a week, working some more on my latest story, It Hurts The City (which is shaping up quite nicely). The next Lately will be June 7.

If you're having a bad day next Friday, just remember this. At the very least, you're having a much better day than I am.