KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 2: Winter 2015
Excerpt from   
Commentary: 274 words [R]

[Something Worse]

by Hal Sirowitz

I’ve been accused of shoplifting two times—pre-op and post-op. I didn’t think I was doing anything that might have warranted those accusations, except for maybe knocking over one or two items. But I’d always pick them up, placing them in more or less the exact spot where I thought the collision had occurred. In one store, the clerk spoke to my wife like I was invisible.

“What disease does that guy have?” she said. “My aunt had Parkinson’s, and she didn’t look as bad as him. He must have one of those new types, like one of those viruses going around. I’ve never seen that type of Parkinson’s. Do you think it really is that? It could be something worse.”

Post-op, I was in a 99-cent store, looking for bargain books. They had Conversations with Groucho Marx. I thought he was dead. He was, but that didn’t stop the book company from making a few bucks. He was talking like he was still alive. The security guard approached me and told me to open my coat. I wasn’t sure whether I had a shirt or just an undershirt underneath. I soon found out I had a shirt. She had unzipped my jacket. When she walked away, at first I felt relief, then anger.

Just because I wear a Parkinson’s mask doesn’t make me a criminal. Not everyone with a mask is bad. Look at the Lone Ranger. Look at Superman. Doesn’t the Lone Ranger wear a mask? Doesn’t Superman have a hidden identity? The good don’t just die young, as Billy Joel sang, but also get accused of shoplifting.

—From the essay, “Zombies Are Loose,” in Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability, edited by Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black, and Michael Northen (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011); republished here by author’s permission

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