Question 62 -- reviewed by Mimi Carmen
Why kill anything at all? But that morning in her garden, even though Mae, and her sister, Anita, vegetarians, never killed anything, not even a fly, the unusual California rains had dumped oceans of water, and brought out an avalanche of slimy snails, "sucking" her flowers ‘til their leaves fell off, and so she did, she killed them, and in the midst of crushing them, she had a vision, or no, it was real, a tiger right there by her fence, and even though she panicked and called for her husband, "Doug," "Doug," it was strange. The animal responded only by "twitching its tail," as if it knew her voice.
Anita, Mae's sister in Wisconsin, didn't think much about it, about killing anything, as a matter of fact, (after all she worked the night shift at the Page Center for Elder Care, and struggled with the shitty sheets, the peeing on the floor, the diabetics with no legs who thought she was Napoleon), and now at 8 a.m. all she wanted was her TV Lean Cuisine Tuna dinner, a few drinks, and the bed, alone, but though she was lonely sometimes since Robert died,, and hard as the bed was in her trailer, it was familiar, it was her home, and even the one-eyed Tom cat, who greeted her was part of her life, (and yes, the four cats she allowed to stay, killed birds, but what about the mice they killed, the mice with their habit of leaving unsanitary pellets for her to clean on top of her hard day? What about that?) But now old Tom, fear in his eyes, darted off to his home under her porch, and it wasn't a cat, but a man, on her steps, as tall as the sky, a mile- wide grin, and no, not a bible salesman, he said. "I just want to talk to you about Question 62."
Things happen, to people and to animals as the story goes on. My heart goes out to Mae, lonely even with her husband, and then the tragedy, the thing she can't believe happens. When she pleads, that this is wrong, nobody listens. Just as Anita needs a man, and she's had a taste, a roll in the hay, but yet there is the matter of her own convictions.
And in the end the author puts the question to us. "What about Question 62?" and it comes around full circle, to haunt us like a ghost.