July 17, 2002

Arm

My grandfather didn’t want me to see the magazine. He said, “I don’t think you’re old enough.”

He worked the front register; I dusted. He said, “If you see it, you’re going to have nightmares.”

I had no way of understanding this at the time, but my grandfather must have been doing very badly to have to work on Sundays in his son-in-law’s pharmacy.

“Michael,” he said, “I want you to trust me.”

As much as I loved him, I couldn’t accept this, and in the end he was forced to relent, recognizing, as I imagine it now, that he couldn’t protect me from anything, as much as he wanted.

The magazine was a tabloid. It had a cover story about a dog that had attacked a baby. There was an enormous photo of the baby and its mostly-eaten arm.

I’ve forgotten the rest: what I thought about it, what we said.

My memory ends with the arm.