Monday, March 06, 2006


In Which We Try To Make Sense...

The lights. I remember the lights best.

They flickered by overhead, perfect sodium-light glare. It was like being in a car commercial for a particular type of sedan where the manufacturers want to impress you with such features as its moon roof, the better to allow you to watch the hip urban cityscape fly by while you and your twentysomething friends listen to a thumping pop tune loud enough to redirect the flow of blood in your body.

Blood. I remember that next. Everywhere. Slick on my face. Bubbling in my mouth. Soaking through the t-shirt that covered my crushed chest. I put my hand to my left eye and coughed weakly. My eye fell into my hand, slick and wet and I tried to put it back in.

A strong hand pushed my arm back down and I'm not sure what happened to the eyeball. But I could still see the lights, still flicking by overhead, only now the streetlamps were indoors, dulled by other lights and blocked by blurry faces talking to me and then talking to each other about me.

"Where's the chart? Did someone start a chart?"

"I can't find a vein."

"Can you hear me, Mr. M? We need to--"

"Watch out. Coming through!"

I stirred weakly on my bed. My bed was rolling through a hallway, guided by strangers. As I raised my head, the world moved sideways and the lights overhead spun. Suddenly I remembered being on a bus in Florida. A damp swampy smell. The lights turning over and over. Thomas was shouting excitedly about alligators. Then he was screaming...

"The alligators!" I croaked.

"What's that?" a voice asked. The blurry shape morphed into a large African-American man in blue scrubs. Suddenly I remembered. Or thought I did.

"I was in a bus accident. In the swamp. My family. Where are they? Did they get out? My son. There were alligators..."

It took a lot to say this. I flopped back on my bed, gasping, a fish out of water. The lights flicked by overhead while the man talked over me.

"We have a chart yet? Was his family admitted? Do we have status--?"

"Here, need a BP again. Temp is 104.7."

"We need a chest film--"

I looked down again. My chest was still caved in, but my bloody t-shirt pulsed. I could feel my heart beating, rapidly but faintly, like bird wings brushing against a window.

I coughed once more. I could feel the skin split in the middle of my forehead and my eyeball came out again. I tried to catch it, but someone was holding my arm. The rolling bed stopped, but the lights overhead seemed to keep moving. Next to me, a woman wearing the same color outfit as the large African American man was holding my arm, squeezing it. My arm hurt for a moment, but it was nothing compared to coughing out your eyeball or feeling your forehead split open. The woman was working with something in my arm. I couldn't tell if she was pulling it out or pushing it in. I decided it was a giant splinter from one of the trees in the swamp where the bus crashed.

"Please!" I said to her. "Did my family get out of the bus? I think we were attacked. We were on our way from Disney to...I forget. There were alligators. My son."

The woman just looked at me, then her face went blurry.

I kind of lost it then. They're dead, I thought. I'm the only survivor and no one wants to tell me. I started crying but no tears came out. My crushed chest hitched uncontrollably. The voices became more urgent but somehow less distinct. Even the lights overhead dimmed. I looked to my other side, away from where the woman was working with the splinter in my arm. I was in some kind of white room. Machines everywhere were beeping. It was like being on the set of some hospital TV show. Everyone moved around me, each person a blur of identical blue scrubs.

Except for the man standing in the corner of the room, smiling at me.

He wasn't wearing blue. He had on a fine dark suit with a red silk tie, Windsor knot tight under the starched collar of his immaculate shirt. Bald on top, but what hair he had was combed against the sides of his head, slick and shiny with Vitalis. The light gleamed off his hair, his head, and the pin on his lapel, the pin of a veteran of the 10th Mountain Division.

"Papa?" I whispered.

He laid his finger aside of his nose, indicating I should be silent, not acknowledge his presence. You wouldn't think seeing your dead grandfather would be much in the way of comfort, but I was never so glad to see anyone in my life. Even if he wasn't alive.

He never opened his mouth and I was tired just from trying to breathe with my crushed chest and all, so I didn't speak anymore either. Still, we managed to talk.

This is bad, Papa. The kids. Her Lovely Self. We were on a bus. There was an accident. Alligators--

Ya got it all jumbled in ya head, MM. Ya family is fine. Facrissakes they should be the last thing on ya mind.

But. Alligators--

That was the first day of the vacation. I'm tellin' ya, yer jumblin' it up. There was no accident. You passed out on the bus. Ya not even in Flawrida anymore. Ya don't remembah flying home?

No. No accident? But my eye. My chest. All the blood--

Yeah, well. The blood, that is real, dear. Sorry to say. But ya been coughing it up so no wondah. Ya sick, is what's wrong. Sick as you've evah been. You need to rest and let the doctahs do their job. Close yer eyes, dear. It'll all come back.

Even as he said this, my grandfather was gone, replaced by a nauseating swirl of lights as we moved forward again. I could still hear his voice and somehow it was comforting.

I looked down at my t-shirt again, my chest beneath it miraculously reinflated but still shiny with blood. A jangling to my left caught my attention. The splinter in my arm was an IV now, attached to a bag labeled with writing I couldn't read.

"We're just giving you fluids right now," a deep voice--the African-American man?--intoned. "Are you allergic to any antibiotics?"

"I'm allergic to aspirin," I muttered thickly. "And walnuts. Don't give me walnuts."

"Okay. Just lie still. You have a very high fever with severe dehydration and you're coughing up blood. We need to get an X-ray of your chest."

"There was no accident," I muttered. "Was there?"

"No," another voice replied. "Do you remember anything about the last few days?"

"Just that I was on vacation," I said, and then I couldn't talk anymore. It hurt too much. It took too much air. I closed my eyes, but could still see flickering lights overhead somehow. After a while, they stopped and all was dark.

When I opened my eyes again in my hospital room the next morning, the events of the previous week came back in a rush...

hey, hope you're ok, mm!!!

see, I'm not worried that you're okay - in fact, I *know* you're okay, because you still have the mind to TORTURE us with this cliff-hanger mondo frustration and I could slap you, I really could! grrrrr! :)

This sentiment aside, sending you warm get-better-if-you're-not-already-and-here-have-a-good-natured-pie-in-the-face-if-you-are feelings . . . *fingers crossed*
What the?...

I thought I was reading a really good Twilight Zone intro.

You and your damn cliffhangers...

Seriously, though, hope you're feeling better. And that you escape those alligators.
Jeez Louise MM! I mean I figure you're ok NOW but still. Jeez. And I'd thought you were just enjoying an extra-long vacation. Poor baby!

You'd better write the rest real quick-like. You don't want all that chicken soup coming in the mail...
Sounds like your imagination worked against you on this one. Glad you feel well enough to type.

Get better!
You scared the bejesus out of me! I actually though for a minute that something horrible had happened. Glad it didn't, but still, Jesus!

Your brother's right, you're an asswipe.
Holy Mother MM- did you come down south and get bit by a tsetse fly?

Sounds like you were hurting pretty bad- I'm sorry and hope you are on your way to a swift and speedy recovery.
Man, MM, you really know how to have fun on vacation, dontcha? Seriously, I hope you are feeling much better now. Glad you made it home in one piece!
I don't like this, MM. Not funny! Made me very sad for a good few minutes...I had to cheat and scroll down to see that you are in fact an asswipe. ;) I hope you're okay now...
hope everything's alright.

MM, the master emotional manipulator...

Very well done (though it seems odd to say that about something that someone writes about something that actually happened).

My first thought was bird flu, for some reason. But I don't even know what the symptoms are for that.

No matter what it actually was I hope you're over it now. And if you're writing in your delirium--shame on you! We've missed you but not to the point that we demand a post regardless of your health ;>
Silly me. I was just thinking yesterday that I hoped nothing untoward had happened on vacation, since you hadn't yet posted about your Disney Adventures®

THIS is exactly why you are grounded from vacation.


Get Well Soon.
See, this is exactly what happens when you work too hard and are Forced to take a vacation. Your body relaxes and then POW! illness strikes. Doesn't sound like you got to spend much time with Mickey, which is a shame. Hope you feel back to your old self SOON. We missed you.
Good gravy!!! You're gone forever and then you leave us with a cliffhanger! Ack!!

Coughing up blood? 104.7?!?! WTF!
Obviously, if you're writing then you are feeling better. But, hurry the hell up and finish the story!

OH....and welcome back.
I'm with Sassygirl, I had to cheat and scroll down, which I NEVER do. You scared the crap out of us, MM. But then again, the great ones always do...
Talk about coming back with a bang! You really had me worried there. Hope you're feeling get back on here and finish this!
I forced myself not to cheat and scroll down, but it was extremely hard, as reading it was the longest 60 seconds I can remember in a long time. Amazing writing. Bravo! Whether fact or fiction (and I understand it to be fact), that was some brilliant writing, truly leaving me breathless.

Mr. Man, may G-d bless you and keep you. May The Lord cause His Face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May He cause His countenance to shine upon you and grant you peace.
holy christ on a cracker! what's going on? what happened?? gack! i hate these cliffhangers!
Cheeses, you had me worried there for a minute. Glad to see you're alive, maybe not so well, but alive. Here's hoping you'll recover quickly.
My goodness, MM. At least you're well enough to type.
I hope you're putting us on, making up a reason that you were gone for so long (you don't need to, btw). But, I get the feeling that you're not. So sorry, sounds like you've been miserable.
This is just so not fair, i want to strangle you through the monitor!

you need to write twice a day if you're going to leave us hanging like this.

I hope you and the whole family are healthy and doing ok.
MM!!! You poorest of the poor babies that ever were poor or babied!


Glad you're ok enough to write about it!
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