May 30, 2016 Comments Off on Signals By Lou Gaglia
Bicyclist, wracked with guilt over WW II, can’t bring himself to make a right turn signal. Girlfriend begs him to try, just once, and tells him that the Nazi salute was made with the right arm. No use. Bicyclist carries on, tears at his hair. Lots of pathos, lots of angst. Then he gets run over by a vegetable truck turning right into the parking lot of his favorite bakery.
Girlfriend goes on a campaign to get the signal laws changed. Protests and is jailed. Appears on 60 Minutes. Later marries a train conductor, who feels no pangs of guilt over his own hand signals, on or off the job. But he beats her, and so does their infant son. She and the son go to NYC where she tries to become a model, but she’s told they’ll only model her wearing army boots, so she travels to Portland, Maine, to work for LL Bean. On the way she meets another cyclist, a free spirit who doesn’t know who Hitler was and has the weed to prove it. He only signals left when he bikes. Can’t signal right because of rotator cuff issues. He dies fifty years later of natural causes, and she gets put into an old ladies’ home by her son, who is later run over by a train when he crosses against the signal then stops to pick up a shoelace.
At the old ladies’ home, Girlfriend wins a rousing campaign to have the wheelchair pushers signal for right turns by twisting their arms behind their backs and pointing right. The Wheel Chair Pushers Union doesn’t like it and puts pressure on the home Director. He doesn’t like the waves she’s making, or the way she picks at her food, so he decides to poison her, but she dies peacefully in her sleep moments before he brings her his special homemade pudding.
The slightly chagrined Director goes home to his wife and daughter, happy, after all, that he hadn’t killed an old lady who was ready to croak anyway.
At breakfast the next morning, Director accidentally pokes his wife in the eye when signaling for his daughter to “get out and catch the goddamn school bus.” The wife has to wear an eye patch for a week, and the Director considers this to be his just punishment from God for trying to kill an old lady. Later he tells his daughter that he’s sorry for yelling at her to catch the goddamn school bus. Then God Himself appears, and hastily forgives him.
© 2010 Lou Gaglia, Previously Appeared @ Indigo Rising Magazine, 2011
Lou Gaglia’s short story collection, Poor Advice, received the 2015 New Apple Literary Award for Short Story Fiction. His stories have appeared or will soon appear in Menda City Review, Serving House Journal, Halfway Down the Stairs, Thrice Fiction, and elsewhere. Lou is a long-time teacher and T’ai Chi Ch’uan practitioner who still feels like a beginner.