Again? So soon?
That’s right, it’s Thursday, and you know what that means, don't you? Due to a lagging economy and uncertain and therefore terribly exciting changes in employment, it’s my Friday. Let us once again consult the iPod as it predicts my immediate future. Play along, won’t you?
Kundalini Express by Love and Rockets
Dead Flowers by Rhinocerose
Yes by Morphine
Hold Up by The Raconteurs
Frankenstein by Edgar Winter
Why Won’t You by The Rogers Sisters
Ballroom Blitz by Sweet
Perfect. A little here and now, a little “out there” and then, not to mention two instrumentals.
And that’s it. That’s the key. Instrumentals. This weekend I am not only going to be instrumental but I am also going to speak only through sign language and interpretive dance.
Should make the Chili Invitational all the more interesting, don’t you think?
And now, as promised. Scary Story One of Three in October's ode to the abnormal.
This is called The Second Time I Almost Died.
This scar on my neck? Funny story, that. Well, not “funny” funny. Weird funny, actually.
It was 2001, maybe 2000. I had received a tax refund, enough that I was going to the mall, going to buy a new outfit, a new pair of shoes. Heck, I was so rich I was even going to buy a new pair of undies.
It was as I was leaving the mall, leaving the parking lot, that I first noticed it. Something about the sky. No, not the sky. Something about the light. The light seemed to be sharper, somehow, outlined and distinct. The colors were too bright.
‘Flashback?’ I thought. ‘Am I having a flashback?’
I didn’t feel right.
The exit for Highway 100 was coming up, and I pushed the Hyundai to 60. The house was, perhaps, four miles away. I just needed to get home, maybe lay down.
But what was going on? The colors grew more and more vivid, and now my hands were starting to tingle, and what – what was going on with my peripheral vision? I stuck my right arm out to my side, wiggled my fingers.
I couldn’t see them. I couldn’t see my wiggling fingers.
As a matter of fact, my line of vision was changing rapidly; and it was less than a mile later that I noticed that my sight had been reduced to what amounted to the wearing of one of those cone-shaped collars they put on dogs to keep them from chewing themselves after surgery.
I shook my head vigorously. It was 2:00 in the afternoon, the sun was shining, the traffic was moving, and I was having some sort of issue.
My line of vision was now less than the windshield. I blinked hard. My arms were tingling, my hands numb. I felt dizzy.
“What the hell is going on here?” I demanded.
And a very low male voice came from the backseat, as clear as any voice is in a small car.
“You are passing out very slowly. Get off the road now.”
I didn’t think twice. I didn't think at all. When very low, male voices speak to me in declarative sentences, I listen.
I cranked the steering wheel, hard, to the right, crossed over two lanes of traffic, pulled off on to a side road and into a Denny’s parking lot. I got out of my car, grabbing my purse, locking the car behind me.
All of this took maybe 30 seconds, and by the time I crossed the parking lot and opened the external set of double doors, my vision was a pinhole of light.
I opened the next set of double doors and the hostess approached me.
“Table for one?”
The pinhole of light with the hostess’s face in it closed, and I was blind.
“Wait,” I said.
And when I came to, I was on the floor, surrounded by loose change; and whereas just moments ago I could not see, now I could see but I could not hear.
There was a crowd around me, all looking down, their faces a ring of varying expression: I particularly remember a black man, his eyes full of compassion.
‘Oh,’ I remember thinking. ‘Look how kind he is. Someone must be hurt.’
But it was me. I was the one who was hurt. I struggled to my feet, falling several times. The black man offered his arm while the rest of the crowd watched.
The next thing I remember was that I was seated at the counter. I was shakily trying to drink a glass of ice water; but after knocking the glass against my front teeth several times, I gave up. Chipped teeth, I don’t need.
“Would you like some soup?” the manager of Denny’s asked me.
No, no, I’m fine.
“Do you want me to call an ambulance?”
No, no, I’m fine.
And then the manager watched me leave. The woman who walked in to the restaurant, fell heavily to the floor, appeared to have a seizure when she came to and is bleeding from her swollen, wounded neck says she doesn’t need an ambulance? That’s good enough for him!
I got into my car, disoriented, and bleeding.
I saw a doctor the next day and went through a number of tests. The conclusion?
I’m a fainter.
And I have abnormal brain waves.
I paid for that information, you know.
In hindsight, I can fill in what happened. Moments after saying “wait”, I had reached out, looking for something to keep me from going down, apparently grabbing the counter with the cashier register on it, taking out the clear acrylic container housing the change for Jerry’s Kids. I had caught my neck on the corner of the counter, ripping an "L" shaped gash into my neck.
That’s not really important, is it, the cut on my neck, the egg-sized lumps that ran along the back of my head from ear to ear? Small potatoes when compared to what could have happened had I stayed on the freeway for just 30 seconds more, the damage my car could’ve caused doing 60 mph, had I not listened.
But what is important?
That I know how to take direction.
Whose voice was that in the backseat?
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