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Encounters With Covid, or The Hairy Weirdo With the Key Fob

March 16, 2021
Illustration by Sydney Franklin for Red Canary Magazine.

Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I picture the coronavirus. The vision is usually abstract — a coil of light in the sign of infinity. But other times it’s entirely concrete: a hairy weirdo, Rasputin with a shopping cart, who’s found a remote key fob and is stalking the parking lot hitting the little button with a twitchy thumb. This is no ordinary fob; it’s a skeleton key. It knows your code and your neighbor’s code and certainly mine.

In early November of the Most Unforgettable (No Matter How Hard You Try) Year of 2020, my entire family fell sick with Covid-19. I wound up in the hospital, followed by a long (and continuing) dog-paddle in the virus’ stale wake. We are among the fortunate: We are here, drawing breath, reflecting. We are even able to poke fun at our experiences, searching for the strange light of dark humor. In this essay for Red Canary Magazine, my goal was to capture the raw physical and emotional realities I experienced, without the lacquer of hindsight. That is to say, the piece is very frank—and it doesn’t much flatter its author!

You can read the story, “The Hairy Weirdo With the Key Fob,” accompanied by Sydney Franklin’s darkly funny and (for me) haunting illustrations, here.

(By the way, check out other stories on Red Canary as well—it’s a terrific publication, led by the outstanding editor and writer Joe Donnelly, who captained the late, great literary mag Slake.)

– Greg Blake Miller

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