Selected Stories

“The Girl in the Picture” - Excerpt

Third Coast, Fall 2006

This was after 9/11, before the drumbeats of the Iraqi war. Every night that Jinny and her husband, Tom, watched the news the world seemed to have gone crazy in a delirium of fear and paranoia. One day they found out they had an unplanned/planned pregnancy, and late at night they talked of escaping the big city, Los Angeles, like a jail break.

In the accounts of the traffic fatality in the local newspaper, she was surprised to see her name, Jinny Minnow, printed alongside that of the dead girl. Wasn’t it common practice to print only the name of the victim, and that only with the permission of the family? Her face reddened in the solitude of her own dining room, waves 

of anger and panic washing over her, and she thought of picking up the phone and calling the newspaper to complain. Invasion of privacy maybe? But what would that look like if Tom found out?

She grabbed the paper and trapped it face down under a bowl of fruit.

It was a reaction not so uncommon after reading the paper in those days. The familiar had become strange, even the innocuous polyester confines of an airplane. Who among us has not suspected that heavy-set man with a crew-cut sitting in first-class of being an air marshal? Ready to shoot us if we carry nail clippers to the bathroom?