Who is crueler: the wolf that kills the chicken or the coyote that steals the eggs?
At King Louie’s, my sister’s friend choked on a thick chunk of sweet-and-sour pork. Over three hundred pounds, she stood, clutched at her throat, and tried to ask for help. But she was so dark and huge and in such distress that she became a storm front, and her fellow diners evacuated the region, or tried to lash themselves to their chairs.
Why do we celebrate the soldier more than we celebrate the pacifist?
But my sister, who weighed two-seventy or so, rushed around her suffocating friend’s back, wrapped her arms around that epic chest, somehow lifted that heavy woman, squeezed her diaphragm, and shot that pork chunk across the room.
Which of our primate ancestors was the first to look into the sky and name a star after one of her children?
When I asked her later where she found the strength, my sister said, “About a year ago, I saw this show on the Discovery Channel about a mother who somehow lifted a big truck off her kid. That woman, inside herself, found super strength, so when my friend was choking, I remembered that show, and just pretended that I was a mother who would always be strong enough to save her daughter.”
Why do we always look better in mirrors than we do in photographs?
“Damn, that’s amazing,” I said. “I can’t believe you used some reality show to save your friend from choking to death.” And my sister laughed and said, “Yeah, I know, and that’s why I hate people who hate TV.”
Sherman Alexie lives with his family in Seattle. His most recent books are Face, a collection of poetry from Hanging Loose Press, and War Dances, a book of short stories from Grove Press.
“Testimony” appears in our Winter 2009 issue.