I want a limo for this, a huge stretch limo like the one Sinatra rode in, a black one, longer than a semi. I’ll stick my head out the sunroof and breathe and sneeze from the pollen and smell Tommy’s chili cheeseburgers, kimchee on 6th Street, deep-fried Snickers at the L.A. County Fair, runners’ sweat, rubber on racing bikes at the Venice pier, fried catfish, and brine, all in the air. I’ll tap my lips so I know I’m there, massage my jaws, ball up my hand, and thump my thymus where the second button of my shirt touches my sternum and leave this morning’s slog-dream behind. I’ll rise like a pudgy bodhisattva levitating over his cushion. I’ll ignore the placards of grief. I won’t acknowledge death. I’ll test my fear. I’ll take Vitamin C, maybe a whole gram a day. I’ll float like a kite blown so high I’ll see yogis performing asanas on the mountaintop. At eight o’clock it’ll still be light out, I’ll hear the sound of drums and whistles, incantations, grateful cries from people’s windows. I’ll finger the air and float back and forth in a sky-blue sack like a Malibu seal. Sirens will go off in the desert for a sale at Costco, I’ll buy Dexatrim and an apple-scented room freshener, grab free paper cups of sharp cheddar cubes and soy drinks. I won’t be able to sleep. I’ll go take in the poppies. We’ll park right by sidewalks full of people in shorts and smiles, kids eating Dreamsicles, laughs echoing through the crowd. I want all this in one huge breath. Driver, don’t drop me off yet, go around real slow one more time, for one more look, one more breath, so I can remember.
is one of Hollywood’s premier voiceover artists and a published author. His book Parenting for the Digital Age: The Truth behind Media’s Effect on Children and What To Do About It (Familius Publications) is a 2016 National Indie Excellence Award Winner, and he is a contributing author of Secrets of Voiceover Success (Sentient Press). His personal essays and short fiction are published in The Baltimore Review, Blue Lake Review, The Chiron Review, The Coachella Review, Coast Magazine, Feminine Collective, Hobo Pancakes, NiteBlade, Papier Maché Press, Pleiades, Southern Anthology, Spork, The Missouri Review, TV Marquee, and Wolfsinger Press.
One of America’s leading storytellers, Bill’s spoken word performances can be heard on National Public Radio’s Good Food, The Business, and KCRW’s Strangers. He is a nine-time winner of The Moth Story SLAM and a two-time winner of The Best of The Hollywood Fringe Festival Extension for solo performance. He has told stories at Comedy Central Stage, National Storytelling Festival, G.I. Joe Con, Long Beach Comic Con, Portland Storytelling Festival, Timpanogos Storytelling Conference, National Storytelling Network Conference, and Los Angeles Unified School District classrooms since 1985.
Author’s website: http://www.billratner.com
Emily, a poem by Bill Ratner in The Ramingo’s Porch
(13 May 2019)
Bill Ratner: More Than Just a Familiar Voice, an interview by Mark Miller
in Jewish Journal (14 June 2018)