Another Friday! I hardly know what I've done to warrant yet another Friday, but here it is again!
Shall we get straight to it? After all, this morning's iPod playlist, played during my commute, holds the key to understanding what we can expect over the new few days.
What? Of course it's true! It's true and I absolutely believe it!
Oh just play along. I have so little...
Hurricane by Jamie Lidell
Kundalini Express by Love and Rockets
Radioactive by Kings of Leon
Pardon Me by The Blow
The Hazards of Love by The Decemberists
Black Mirror by Arcade Fire
Buena by Morphine
OK! So avoid the heavy weather, be polite, keep your wits about you, and stay away from needle-injected drugs. I think I can manage all that.
And for your October-sure-is-scary pleasure, I am reserving the rest of the Fridays in this month for "scary stories", stories of unnatural happenings. Some of you may recognize aspects of these stories from last year, for which I apologize and can only say, "hey, how many scary things do you think happen to me a year?!"
So let's all have a seat, dim the lights, crack open a cold one, and listen to your Aunt Pearl tell the story she likes to call 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 money 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 replace all my underwear.
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.
That's not like me.
My line of vision was now less than the windshield. I blinked hard. My arms were tingling, my hands numb. I felt dizzy.
I felt scared.
I spoke aloud.
“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, and said something I will never, ever forget.
“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.
Get off the road NOW.
I cranked the steering wheel, hard, to the right, crossed blindly 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 just a pinhole of light.
I opened the next set of double doors and the hostess approached me.
“Table for one?” she chirped.
The pinhole of light with the hostess’s face in it closed, and I was in the dark.
I was completely blind.
And I say what I always say just before I faint.
“Wait,” I say.
And when I came to, I was on the floor, surrounded by loose change; and whereas just moments ago I could not see but I could hear, now I could not hear but I could see.
There was a crowd around me, all looking down, their faces a ring of varying expressions: I particularly remember a black man, his eyes the most perfect vision of compassion that I had ever seen.
‘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, hard, on my elbows, my knees. The man with the compassionate eyes offered his arm while the rest of the crowd watched.
The next thing I remember was that I was seated at the counter, shakily trying to drink the glass of ice water they insisted I drink. 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 into the plastic bin collecting Coins for Jerry's Kids, crashing them to the floor, the woman who appeared to have had a seizure when she regained consciousness 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 stayed in my house that night, confused. It did not occur to me to pick up the telephone.
I regained enough of my mind to see a doctor the next day, and he put me through a number of tests.
I’m a fainter.
And I have abnormal brain waves.
I paid for that information, you know.
Abnormal brain waves? I'm sure there are a number of people I know who would vouche for that. But that’s not really important, is it, the abnormal brain waves, the cut on my neck, the egg-sized lumps that ran along the back of my head from ear to ear? Those things are 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 to the voice in the car.
So if anyone ever asks you - and they just might! - you tell them that Pearl knows how to take direction.
And then you ask them for her, because she wants to know...
Whose voice was that in the backseat?
9 hours ago