Tiny Upward Shove


December 10, 2009 by The Citron Review

Melissa Chadburn

(After the Girl)

The cops got in their black and white car with the rainbow flag on the side-this is West Hollywood after all-and drove away. They just left. I guess to understand you would have to know that West Hollywood is home for two distinct communities, gay men and eastern Europeans with a very low tolerance for homosexuals. Then there’s the homeless. There are two parks that mark the borders between Los Angeles and West Hollywood. One is Plummer park, a small park with tennis courts where the older Russian men sit around and play chess all day, a woman pushes a cart selling warm homemade perogies. The other park is Pointsettia park, which has a large field and a small area for dogs and their owners to run around off leash. The homeless flop between both parks. They each host a little plot of grass where the homeless addicts, tranny prostitutes, and mentally ill congregate listening to music, sleeping, doing drugs and tracing the air with fluid crazed movements being loud and sometimes fighting. The homeless know where this jurisdiction begins and ends and can easily avoid the police department’s wrath all year long. So for anyone that has been on either side of “the cops” you know there’s a thing that happens. We don’t want to waste their time, there’s always something more pressing that they were unsuccessful at tending to and we think we are in trouble or behave in a composed upstanding manner even if we were the person that called them. Like I was at that time. There seemed to be the good cop, bad cop dichotomy. One guy was dirty blond, chubby silent, the other was a darker skinned black man, balding the rolls on the back of his head hugging shaving bumps and ingrown hairs making his head like my armpits. One of them, the one that was supposed to be “the nice one” told me he does not like to “get mixed up in these things”. I avoided them up until this point because I was afraid of their opinions. I mean what would they think? What did this relationship look like, me ten years older messing with this girl. I’m sure I looked ridiculous sort of professional in my moderately conservative attire save for some tattoos which also felt ridiculous in the presence of cops. I was afraid they would shine the light on my too-old-for this-crapness.

There we were playing she said-she said and they were not going “to get mixed up in these things.” Which I took to mean this warped relationship with all of its confusion and age discrepancies and us dirty deviant dykes needed to settle things ourselves. The other way to look at it was that they didn’t think that she presented enough of a threat to have to interfere. This was the part that infuriated me. This was the response that I had been trained to combat as a social service provider. I wanted to tell this asshole to do his job but knew that I might have to face him at work the next day. Underneath it all I believed the other implications.

This was sick. She was too young for me. I was too old for this. I deserved what was happening. What you’re hearing now are the ramblings of a very insecure woman who would believe most negative things said about her. But it is sick isn’t it? Dating a woman ten years younger than me that was my client in a housing program. Someone I was paid to mentor and had an unfair advantage over. I had access to her personal files, her psychiatric records, her mental history. It was this power dynamic that I felt was very wrong to insert into a relationship, although it is this exact dynamic that gets fetishized over and over again one doesn’t actually ACT on it. Where was my impulse control? I was no better than the sexed up teacher (admit it, it’s great) with their high school student, or priest with choirboy, or psychologist with patient. So it was just as well that this cop did not want to get involved. I was afraid of what he might uncover.

She left too but I know it’s only a matter of time before she comes back.


Melissa Chadburn is a former law student, who is of Black, Asian, Hispanic, Filipina, and Irish descent.  In addition to her mixed background, while in her teen years, she became further aware of racial and cultural differences/similarities when she was adopted by Dutch/Indonesian and British foster parents.  Following some minor frustrations with blow dryers and blue eye shadow, she has come to appreciate and write about the smorgas-Obama-borg that is her life.

Her credits include Splinter Generation, several articles in political journals, Political Affairs and People’s Weekly World, a chair on the editorial committee of Dynamic magazine, a contributor and journalist with The Examiner, appearances on NPR’s WBAI, as well as CNN, and she has recently acquired her MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University.


2 thoughts on “Tiny Upward Shove

  1. “…the rolls on the back of his head hugging shaving bumps and ingrown hairs making his head like my armpits.” – Priceless. Fiction? Really? Excellent.

  2. You are so good at this, naked honesty and volunerability. Way to go, Melissa.

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