White Noise

— Maeve Holler

Got any 2’s?

I’m lying on the living room carpet during a thunder-snow as the bitter winds fight like bobcats in the Valley night. It is a black out & we’re playing go-fish.

With the help of a battery-powered Milwaukee radio, my family is listening to the blaring stylings of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung (for the third time today).

As the radio begins to crackle, my father gets up, tells me, Go fish, and I draw a queen from the deck, waiting for his queue.

My father is preoccupied, fiddling with his stereo and pointing the antenna in every direction, hoping to salvage the signal, but there is only white noise.

Frustrated, he surrenders and turns the volume dial, shutting out the sound. I put my hand of cards on the floor and study the industrial radio.

What’s Milwaukee?

With the flashing frost plague of blue storm light cast against his back, he explains, Milwaukee’s a city in Wisconsin. It’s famous for almost nothing.

The sky, a jaded green, cracks and bellows like an unfolding hunger-boom and my father’s voice, a familiar whisper, leaks into the dark, sullen room: Famous for nothing, except a cannibal.

Hail and snow crash to the ground in tall clusters, their girth trapping us inside like penned babies, and I ask him: What’s a cannibal?

He tries to explain: it’s eating your own kind, it’s a sort of desperation—but mid-sentence, he looks over at my tiny, disapproving mother and stops. He turns to me and asks, Do you have any kings?

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