On Valentine’s Day, 1938, the Chrysler Building got tired of waiting on the corner of Forty-second and Lex for a certain edifice to notice her, and steps off her foundation and sashays across town. At least, that’s how it happened in Maria Dahvana Headley’s “The Tallest Doll in New York City,” a short story about what might happen if two of New York’s greatest creations met on a day built for romance:
At Thirty-fourth and Fifth, the Chrysler stops, holds up the edge of her skirt, and taps her high heel. She waits for some time as sirens blare beneath her. Some of our fellow citizens, I am ashamed to report, don’t notice anything out of place at all. They just go around her, cussing and hissing at the traffic.
The Empire State Building stands on his corner, shaking in his boots. We can all see his spire trembling. Some of the waitstaff and members sympathize with his wobble, but not me. The Chrysler’s a class act, and he’s a shack of shamble if he doesn’t want to go out with her tonight.
It’s Headley’s valentine to beautiful buildings, but it’s not her only ode to love: “Some Gods of El Paso” introduces readers to a very different couple in Lorna Grant and Vix Beller, miracle workers who can change people’s hearts and fix people’s minds by taking on their emotional burdens. But when they begin stealing and illegally trading in strong emotions, this supernatural Bonnie-and-Clyde duo have to go on the run:
Despite the shift in their business, Lorna and Vix still thought of themselves as mainly healers. They were taking pain away from people, after all, never mind that they were transporting it across state lines and selling it. On the way from a stopover to visit family in Florida, they drained the pain and rage from the hearts of ten or twenty normal people: a traveling saleswoman trying to get over losing her samples, a farmworker with a lost dog, a woman with a little son who looked too much like his daddy. Vix and Lorna sat naked on a motel-room bed and bagged that agony and fury up. They had big plans. They’d sell it in New York City, or maybe in Chicago. They got onto the Gulf Coast Highway, their Chevy loaded down with a few hundred grand in emotions.
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