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The Third Person; Transfarency by Charles Rammelkamp

The Third Person

While at the day care lady’s

picking up my daughter after work,

one of the moms, Kathy,

is telling us about an accident

that just happened on Monroe,

a narrow, two-way residential street,

cars parked along the curb

tight as bricks in a wall.

First, a football rolled into the street,

then a boy darted out like a squirrel

between two cars.

The driver of the van

may have been speeding

slightly over the posted limit,

but no way he could have stopped.

Tommy’s father comes in

in the middle of the story.

“That happened to George,” he mutters,

as if in a trance,

his eyes glassy, masking

a terror so profound

we suddenly can’t breathe.

“George was driving up Keswick Road

when the kid ran into the street

chasing a frisbee.

George couldn’t stop in time.”

What really catches our breath

is the way George speaks

in the third person.


Oddly, when the young woman’s head

accidentally falls on my shoulder,

as she loses consciousness

in the seat beside mine, I remember the kid in college in the sauna, boasting about having sex with the stewardess. (They were still called that then, “flight attendant” not yet a job description). It was back when they still served hot meals, even on domestic flights. The boy, a muscular football player, bragged how the girl in the airline uniform brushed his leg when she put the TV dinner onto his fold-out tray, rolled her eyes to the cabin in back. “We did it standing up,” he chortled, “banging against the wall, her pantyhose dangling from her ankle.” The rest of us on the sauna bench either grunted in acknowledgment or just nodded off in the dry heat. Maybe he hadn’t even spoken. I wondered if he were making it all up. Just then the woman wakes up, apologizes for slumping on my shoulder. “You remind me of my grandfather,” she blushes,

a woman about half my age. I don’t tell her what she reminded me of.

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