Tag Archives: death

The Match

12 Jan

blood-test

The difference between one brother and another can be as vast as if the two have never lived under the same roof. That was the case for Brad and Erick. Brad was a giver and a pleaser. Erick was a taker and a seeker of pleasure.

The contrast was stark as far back as when they were babies.  Erick was always ripping the toys out of the Brad´s hands which was completely unnecessary because Brad would have simply given the toy if Erick had shown in the most miniscule level of interest in it. Erick preferred violently taking the toy because he would not want to see Brad feel any of the pleasure in giving. Decades of adulthood passed without the two having any contact. This ate at Brad and the latter fact delighted Erick.

One night both brothers received a call. The call came from the same person and had the same information. Their father was dying and both were being requested to take a donor compatibility test.  Brad relished in the opportunity to be a hero. Erick loathed the idea of being so inconvenienced and shuttered at the thought of a needle tearing a hole in his skin and penetrating his vein.  Besides, the thought of his mother being widowed and alone slightly tickled him.

As Brad sat in a thumbing a magazine, waiting his turn to have blood drawn, a disheveled bearded face plodded though the waiting room. “It couldn´t be” Brad thought to himself.

The man plopped down beside him. “Hey shithead” he said.

Brad fought a tear that was burning his eye with will to run down his face.

“Erick! Hey brother! You look, um good!” Brad said.

“No I don´t. But neither do you so we are even” he snapped, fighting the urge to smile. He didn´t want Brad to even dream that he was happy to see him, though he was a little.

“So, how´d they convince you to come?” Brad asked.

“The girl I´m banging said she wouldn´t put out for a while if I didn´t at least take the goddamn test. Even if it comes back positive, she ain´t gonna know” he answered.  The woman he was referring to is his live in girlfriend of five years.

“In that case, I hope I´m a match” Brad chuckled.

“Me too!” Erick roared with inappropriate and slightly forced laughter, sprinkled with a smoker´s hack.

Both men left the clinic with a band aid covered cotton ball on their forearm.  For the next few days Brad waited by the phone with waves of anticipation washing over him. Erick stayed drunk and even forgot why there was a dirty band aid clinging to his arm.

Neither had received a call but Erick´s arm had grown purple and painful to the touch. Brad´s impatience grew to epic proportions. Brad even tried calling Erick even though he knew it was of no use. Even if the number was correct, Erick would probably not answer it anyway.

After a heated, yet typical drunken fight, Erick’s girlfriend walked out promising never to come back.  Went it got this far it meant she´d be gone for at least a week. Usually, Erick relished in these recesses and basked in his freedom, usually getting drunker or higher than usual. This time he wouldn´t. Not even vodka and vicodin could mask the pain in his now swollen, multi color arm.

After seeking for more than three days, Brad finally acquired Erick’s address.  He would not rest until he knew that either he or his brother could be a possible donor. When he arrived to the house he was taken aback. Brad´s living conditions were even worse than he expected. “How could someone live like this?” he thought to himself.

He knocked on the door. No answer. He thought he heard moans coming from inside and they sounded like Erick. He slightly pushed on the door. It was enough to open it. The door did not close properly, let alone have a lock. Erick was on the floor. His face was white and covered with sweat. One arm was raw and swollen, it looked as if it has been burned. It was the arm the blood sample had been taken from. The smell was overwhelming.

Brad said in horror “Let´s get you to the hospital. That arm don´t look so good.”

“It don´t feel no good either” Erick replied, “Ever since that goddamn test. Knew I shouldnt´ve  done it. That bitch tricked me” he was drunk and Brad could smell it over the stench.  “That asshole, son of a bitch of a father of ours is finally gonna get his way after all these years” he stammered.

“What do you mean?” Brad asked.

“Bury one of us! Especially me, the fuck up” Erick said, eyes rolling into the back of his head.

Brad convinced his brother to go to the hospital.  “You have an HAI Mr….”  the doctor trailed off. He couldn´t make out Erick´s last name.

“English, doc” Erick moaned.

“Hospital acquired infection, sir” the doctor replied. He continued ” It´s spread all through your body. Given your lifestyle it has already ravished your weakened system. Let me talk to your brother outside” he said with a forced smile and led Brad to the hall.

There he gave Brad the news that his brother would probably only live for another week. Brad took the news hard and asked if he could be the one to break it to his brother.  The doctor obliged. Erick took the news almost as a relief. There would finally be relief from the pain of his ailment and from the pain that was his life.

Erick was sent home with a smorgasbord of drugs to act as a bridge over pain from the current moment to his eminent death.  One day, high as a vulture with a good draft under its wing, he answered the phone.

“Is this residence of Erick….” the voice trailed off trying to make out the last name.

“Yeah, yeah, sure is” Erick answered.

“I have some good news and some bad news” the voice said.

“Hit me” Erick said.

“The good news is, you´re a match for your father” the voice informed.

“Go on, you said you had some bad news” Erick said with a smile.

“Yes, well, due to the infection I´m afraid we can´t use you and your brother is not a match” the voice said.

Erick sat there in silence with a smile from ear to ear.

“Sir….sir….” the voice on the phone called until there was an audible click.

“This is a great day to be alive” Erick said as he slipped a morphine strip on his tongue,  popped a rainbow of pills and washed them down with cheap vodka.

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Sheep to the Slaughter

4 Jan

sheep-to-slaughter

Filipe got into boxing as a way to get back into shape when he turned thirty. As a high school athlete and college wrestler he stayed in good shape without trying too much until around twenty eight years of age. He had been completely inactive for a few years. When he saw himself shirtless in a photo, he shuttered. “Time to get active again” he thought. He tried going back to his old lifting routine from his high school and college days. It bored him. He found himself dreading his gym days. When he was younger it was so much more fun. Then again, the results came fast and he was always surrounded by friends.

One day as he shuffled into the gym he saw a sign for private boxing classes. He went right to the receptionist and asked about them. A week later, with a brand new pair of gloves and boxing shoes he showed up for a freebie class. An hour later, in much more pain than when he started, he was in love. Boxing turned into Muay Thai, that turned into Jiu Jitsu and a love for martial arts was born.

Felipe got a job offer in another city. Upon arrival, there was a lot to take care of and no time to train. He would get in twenty minute workouts in his garage. He would skip some rope and hit the heavy bag for a few rounds followed by some calisthenics. He was by no means a real fighter, but he was trained by good instructors so he moved with good form.

*   *   *   *

“How we gonna get another fighter on such short notice coach?” Angel asked. He had just received the news that his next opponent dropped out due to an injury.

“Don´t worry, one drops out another steps up” Samuel said knowing full well that was not true in this case. Angel was a dangerous fighter, sure to go pro one day. It was hard to find someone willing to step in the ring with him in the amateur ranks full of hobbyists. “Don´t worry he repeated”

*   *   *   *

One day Samuel was out walking his dog when he heard the familiar thump of a shin on a heavy bag. Thump. Thump. Thump. He noticed a fairly in shape guy kicking a heavy bag in his garage.

“Turn your hip over more. You´ll get more power” Samuel said as he approached the man.

Filipe took his advice. THUMP. “My last coach always had to remind me” Felipe said smiling at the stranger. “Do you train?” he asked.

“I´m actually a trainer, my name is Samuel, nice to meet you” he said.

“Felipe, nice to meet you. That´s really cool. I´m new here. Can you recommend a good gym?” he said.

“Yeah sure, the city´s full of them. How about you come over to where I work?” he asked.

“Great! I´d like that” he answered.

“How much do you weigh by the way?” Samuel asked pretty much already knowing the answer.

“I go up and down a little but I hover around 175” Felipe answered as he took a card from Samuel´s hand.

“Address is right there. Come any time after 6. I´ll be there” Samuel said already working out a plan in his head.

“I´ll be there” Felipe answered.

*   *   *   *

“You just be quiet and let me do the talking, alright?” Samuel said.

“Sure, but I don´t think some guy off the street will just take a fight with a week´s notice” Angel said with a worried look on his face.

“Hey Samuel!” Felipe said as he walked through the door with a big smile on his face. He was truly excited to have found a new place to train.

“Hey buddy, why don´t you get changed, wrap your hands and warm up. I´ll hold some mitts for you” he answered.

Filipe did just that and about twenty minutes later he was in the center of the ring doing as Samuel asked.

“Jab, jab, hook” Samuel ordered. Felipe obeyed.

Angel looked on. His heart sank. Sure this guy could move but he was so clearly amateur. For sure he would not take a fight let alone with such little time. Furthermore, it made him feel bad, the idea of beating up a civilian. There was no honor in that.

Felipe wrapped up his work out, said goodbye to everyone whom he had endeared himself to greatly. Everyone at the gym truly liked his contagiously positive attitude.

“What do you think?” Samuel asked Angel.

“You´re not even still thinking about me fighting him after that! I´ll kill him. Won´t even be fair. I don´t like this” Angel answered.

“It´s an easy W. All fighters do it to pad their record. This fell from heaven” he answered.

“God ain´t delivering no sheep to the slaughter anymore, Sam” Angel said, worried that all his fight prep will have been for naught simple because his real opponent hurt himself training. There was not another event for over six months for him to compete in.

“Then take it easy on him. Just move around with him, touch him up enough to get a W” he said.

“I ain´t never gonna go pro like that. You know that” Angel said. He was right. In this town, the promoters want knock outs. To get noticed, you must be ferocious.

“It´ll keep you active kid” Samuel said. Samuel was very convincing. So much so that he convinced Angel to go through with it. He also convinced Felipe to as well. It was a constant goal of Felipe to compete and besides, Samuel told him it was a charity MMA event and everyone was going to go light. It was more of an exhibition than an actual fight. Samuel told him he might get tagged a few times but he could take it to the ground and no one would get really hurt.

*   *   *   *

On the day of the fight, Felipe was a little nervous but very excited. He posted about it on the internet and gave the link where the fight would be broadcast online. He was truly going to realize a dream.

Angel on the other hand felt sick. On one hand, he could just move around with Felipe, showcase his technique, take him to the ground and try to submit him without really hurting him. But that would not advance his career in the slightest.

It was time, no turning back at this point. The two men walked to the cage. As it clanged shut, Angel had a bad feeling. Felipe had butterflies in his stomach but was enjoying the moment.

The two men were given instructions by the ref and they were sent to their respective corners. Samuel told Angel to go with his gut and do what he thought was right. Felipe´s corner, and friend and employee of Samuel told him to move around and take it to the ground if it got hairy.

The two men met in the center of the cage. They touched gloves. Immediately Felipe felt the sting of a solid jab but it had only been thrown half speed. It didn´t hurt that much. His confidence grew. He was loving this. He tried to throw a jab of his own and was quickly countered. That one stung a little more. He tried to throw a combo he worked on with his coach a few days ago. The first two punched missed completely but Angel wasn´t expecting a third from this amateur and it caught him well. It even rocked him a little.

Angel threw a kick to the body but caught the point of Felipe´s elbow. He didn´t feel the pain in the moment but his frustration grew as did his rage. “Fuck this” he thought. He closed the distance. He put Felipe in a clinch. With both hands behind Felipe´s neck he launched a knee to his solar plexus. Felipe blocked it. Instinctively, with Felipe´s hands lowered he quickly launched another knee up higher. This time it connected.

Angel had never felt anything like this before. It was as if his knee made contact with a bag of rotten oranges, just smush. His knee had gone right into the eye socket of Felipe easily crushing all the fragile bones in the orbital socket. Felipe fell as if a sniper had got him right behind the head.

Angel could barely make out the shapes around him. The world was a blur. All he saw at his feet was an abstract outline of a man with a halo of red growing around his head. As the ref got between him and the thing on the floor waving both hands in the air the only thought that he clearly could make out was “God forgive me”

 

 

The Show Must Go On

1 May

show

Pamela worked for the reality television show Gotchya! The premise was simple. The producers would field requests from doubtful girlfriends to test the fidelity of their boyfriends. Pamela´s job was to be the bait. Pamela was a gorgeous woman. Even in real life she looked as though she was being photo shopped at any given moment. The show was a smash hit. Part of its success was the phenomenon that was Pamela. The other part was propensity for people to shut off their intellect and have their most base emotions tickled.

Pamela got her latest assignment. She was to seduce a young man named Ari. Ari was engaged and set to be married in a few months. His girlfriend was having unfounded suspicions, probably brought on by her own obsession with the program. Pamela´s intel told her that Ari liked to have a drink with his coworkers for around an hour every Wednesday after work. The sting was to go down in one month.

Pamela had a peculiar interest in this case. For one, Ari was an extremely handsome man. He had a fascinating background as well. He was a fighter in the Israeli special forces before coming to America and earning his business degree then MBA from a top school. Pamela poured over his files religiously after her mandatory two large glasses a wine every day. She could not get Ari out of her mind. She found herself mouthing his name randomly throughout the day.

The month passed and the set up was to go down the next day. Pamela was extraordinarily nervous. She could not sleep. She was confused by these feelings she was having. To make her job easier, she assumed the marks she was to set up were all cheating scum bags, guilty before proven innocent. She could not get into that mind set this time.

The day of the encounter, she took extra care in dolling herself up. Even the van driver took notice and told her that she was exceptionally beautiful that day. She shrugged off the compliments with a nervous smile. The bar had been previously wired for video and audio. The owner could not dream of turning down this free exposure on a hit TV show. She herself got wired up in the van. The producers noticed she was out of sorts. She convinced them it was nothing and was on her way.

As she sat down at the bar she immediately noticed Ari a few seats down. He was impeccably dressed as were the four gentlemen with him. “This looks like a goddamned Gucci perfume commercial” she thought to herself. As she normally did, she sent over a round of drinks. When the group of men asked who was the generous soul, the bar tender gave a nod in Pamela´s direction.

“My God!” said Mike, a handsome, single accounts manager. “I got this” he added with a smirk as he approached the beautiful woman.

“Thank you for the drinks, from all of us” Mike said.

“No problem” Pamela answered.

“You have a boyfriend?” he asked.

“No” she answered.

“Want one?” Mike asked, playfully.

“Sure, doesn´t every woman?” she flirted back. “I could see myself with the guy in the grey jacket and glasses” she smiled, referring to Ari.

“Oh, Ari? He´s taken. Gonna tie the knot soon”

“What a pity” she said adding “Well, maybe he and I could just have a little fun then. I won´t even be in town that long anyway”

“Good luck. Ari is so in love with his fiancé, I don´t even think he…..if you know what I mean” Mike said chuckling and he made a fist and moved his hand in an up and down fashion.

“We´ll see, could you call him over here, please?” she asked.

“Sure” Mike said as he whistled and motioned for Ari to come over.

“This young lady would like to say hi, Ari” Mike said before going back to the group.

“Hello, I´m Ari” he said.

“I know, Mike told me all about you. I´m Samantha” she said. She always used an alias for the show.

“Nice to meet you, thanks for the drink. I think I´m gonna get back to the group. Would you like to join us? A lot of shop talk but I am sure we can come up with another topic on your behalf” he said.

“No, I am only interested in one man at a time” she said, running her index finger down his chest.

“Oh, I´m very sorry. I am engaged. Did Mike tell you he´s single? He is a really good guy, too” Ari said.

“I am very good at keeping secrets. Besides, Mike is not my type, you are” she said, trying her best. This is the point where ninety percent of the marks melt. Ari was not budging. She could sense it.

“I´m sorry, I´m just, I mean, I´m not that guy. I love my fiancé” he said. He was so stoic, yet so empathetic for Pamela that it was making her crazy. Crazy for him.

“Are you sure? I won´t even be in town for long. I will be long and so will our little secret” she insisted.

A big smile flashed on Ari´s face “I am. I am very sure. But again, you can join us. Have a laugh with us. You don´t have to sit here alone.

“That´s ok. I was just leaving” she said. Pamela was crushed. Not because the mark didn´t take the bait. That has happened before and those shows were just as popular as the ones where the mark took the bait. She was personally crushed. She went out to the production van and told them it was a no go. The producers were thrilled. They told her they had enough footage and that this episode would be a smash hit. The hot, young successful businessman, faithful!

The production team wanted to shoot the reveal and get the parties involved to sign waivers so their likeliness could be shown on the program. Pamela refused to be part of the reveal. After some heated debate, the producers agreed to film the reveal without her.

That night Pamela could not sleep. She tossed and turned and Ari´s big smile kept flashing before her eyes. She could not get him off her mind. Around two in the morning and a bottle and a half of Merlot later she found herself calling Ari´s cell phone. When he answered, she hung up. She did this for half a dozen times. She forgot to block her number.

A half hour she received a call from Ari´s phone. She hesitated to answer. She had no idea what she was going to say. Finally she swiped right.

“Hello?” she said.

“Who is this? Why are you calling my boyfriend?” a woman´s voice asked.

A stroke of what Pamela thought was genius crossed her mind. “I´m Sarah. I served with Ari in the Israeli army. We used to hook up back then. I´ve been in town for the past four months and we have been hooking up almost every day since. For old times sake”

There was only a gasp from the other line. The phone hung up. “What did I just do?” Pamela asked herself.

Months went by and Pamela´s obsession subsided. So did the national scandal her actions caused. The scandal only made the show more popular, though. Pamela was made a host of the show. She became so famous that there was no way she could pull off a sting again. Pamela hired a private investigator to catch up on Ari. He was happily married.

One night, as she was halfway done with her second glass of wine there was a knock on her door. She thought it strange, the protocol for visitors in her building had the doorman call before sending a guest up. The knocking was insistent.

She opened the door. Two olive skinned men pushed their way in. “What is this” she gasped.

“Be quiet” one of them said with a thick accent as the other put a gloved hand over her mouth.

“This is for a friend” he said as he produced a silenced IMI 9mm Uzi.

Pamela didn´t hear or feel a thing.

 

 

Good Bye!

21 Jul

Good Bye

As Helen lay motionless in her hospital bed, Walter sat by her side with her slender lifeless hand in his. This scene has repeated itself for the better part of the last year. Helen had a slip in the shower and has been in a coma ever since. Walter holds out hope that she will wake up but deep down he knows the chances are slim. Walter hadn´t told Helen he loved her before the accident for such a long time that he cannot even recall the last time. This regret grinds in his heart.

Sitting in a silent hospital room with the woman he has shared the vast majority of his life has been somewhat of a medidative experience. Memories have come up that he hasn´t thought about since the event occurred. The actual occurances may be slightly curved by the glass of time but to him they happened exactly as he remembered them.

He remembers before shipping off to Europe, the nights they spent trying to be in each other’s company for each moment possible. They would go to the dankest bars as they were the only establishments open into the late hours. Neither drank a drop of alcohol. They just sat in a corner, hands stacked on top of one another regaling each other with stories of the few years they had been on the planet. Now that they have lived many more years and have many more stories to tell, he would give anything to be able to sit in the corner of a dark smokey bar and relive them with Helen.

Like clockwork the nurse comes in to change Helen´s bed clothes. Walter can´t help but feel the pity emanating from her. They have their usual small talk. Then Walter, very uncharacteristically, goes into the story of their wedding day. Although the nurse had a lot of work to do, she was enthralled by Walter´s recollection of this grand, beautiful day. Twenty minutes later, Walter realizes that he was holding her up, apologizes and sends her on her way. The nurse assured him he need not apologize and tried to hide the fact that tears were falling down her cheeks.

The next day, the same thing happened. The nurse came in for her usual checkups and tidying, small talk was exchanged and Walter regaled her with the story of when he returned from the war and how he and Helen celebrated being in each other´s company after such a long, arduous time apart. Once again, the nurse unsuccessfully tried to mask her tears and went ahead with her rounds.

This repeated itself for the good part of a month. The nurse would come in to do her job and it got to the point she would expect a story. She even kept extra tissues in her waist pockets. Walter started to look forward to the nurse´s visits.

One day, Walter checked his watch. It was around a half hour until the scheduled nurse visit. As he sat in his medidative state, reliving years gone by, Helen´s head turned towards him. Walter almost fell out of his chair. This was the first movement of Helen, by Helen since the accident. The slightest smile came to her face. Her cloudy eyes cleared for a moment and they pierced those of Walter. She stared mouthing something inaudibly. Walter put his ear to her mouth to hear what she was saying. There was no sound.

Walter knew this was his last chance. He looked into her clear, blue eyes and said “Helen, you are my everything. You gave me three great sons. You made a beautiful home for us. Without you, I don´t know how I could have had a happier life” he saw her eyes clouding again, he continued though the words were breaking up in his throat “Helen, I love you. I always loved you. I will always love you. I´m so sorry I didn´t tell you more often. I´m so…..” The machine Helen was hooked up to let out a piercing beep.

Walter could barely make her out through the tears; the nurse who he told his stories to ran in. “Walter, please go into the hall” she said, sternly but with care and love in her voice.

“But….” Walter resisted.

“Please” she answered. Walter acquiesced.

As he stood in the hall, his legs were so weak he could not stand. Not even after the biggest atrocities he saw in Europe did he cry with such force. Between sobs, he cried to the heavens how much he loved Helen in hopes that her spirit would hear him.

The nurse came into the hall and gave Walter the bad news. Helen was gone. All Walter could think was that he was soon to follow. He felt some relief in knowing that Helen left him knowing how much he loved her.

Till Death Do Us Part

9 Jul

Death

Dan and Carol were together for many years. They fought a lot. Carol thought that Dan´s lack of ambition made him a loser and was vocal about this. Dan thought Carol was cold and incapable of loving anyone. Their fights were never over anything of substance. They just didn´t like the way the other talked. It was a very volatile relationship. One or the other giving an opinion on a current even could lead to a knock down drag out fight resulting in them not talking to one another for a week.
They finally came to a point where they had enough. The both agreed to go their seperate ways. They were able to remain friends for the most part, as long as their contact was short and far between. Dan felt a responsibility to Carol. He didn´t´feel she was truly capable of taking care of herself.
About one year after the break up Dan got a call from Carol. She was hysterical.
“Hello?” Dan answered confused. He knew it was her but was perplexed by the volley of sobs be thrown over the phone.
“I just got back from the doctor” she said.
Dan knew this was not going to be a pleasant call. Carol was a strong person. She rarely cried so he knew this was serious. “Do you want to talk?”
“Of course I do, stupid. That´s why I called” she said.
Dan was about to attack but pulled back. He realized she must be very upset about something. “Ok, then tell me”
“I have cancer. Very agressive cancer. I have to start chemotherapy immediately. The doctor thinks that will only buy me….” she trailed off.
“Oh my god that´s….” he was cut off.
“Months. The chemo will only buy me a few months. I´m going to die” Carol said.
There was silence. Dan had no idea what to say to this. “Can I see you?” he asked.
“Sure. Let´s have dinner tonight” she answered, her sobs coming under control.
That night they met at their favorite restaurant. Carol gave Dan more details about the doctor visit. Carol decided that she was going to forget about the diagnosis, just for the night. She was going to throw caution to the wind. She ordered a bottle of wine. Then another, then another. Although Dan was not comfortable with that but he understood and after the first bottle his level of comfort grew.
They paid the bill and made their ways to their respective cars. In the parking lot Carol turned to Dan and said “Come home with me. I cannot be alone tonight” Dan obliged. He got in his car and followed her home.
They made love that night for the first time in over a year. It was like the first time only better. Carol asked Dan to move in with her. She would need him as the chemo sapped her strength. Dan was weary about this. In the back of his head, even though he was ashamed to admit it, he knew she would not be here too much longer so there was a way out. He did still love her after all and she needed his help so he agreed.
The fighting started almost immediately. Carol complained about the things Dan brought from his apartment. Daily she would remind him how much of a pig she thought he was, she insulted the food he prepared for her and would frequently threaten to kick him out if he didn´t stop fighting with her.
Dan pushed through it. He knew she needed him. He knew of her limitations and again, he knew this was not permanent. Three months in, Carol´s health deterioted rapidly. She lost so much weight that Dan was afraid of breaking her when he put her in bed. She asked him to marry her because she did not want to die single. Dan agreed. They had a minister come to the house to perform the ceremony. It was official, they were married.
Around the sixth month a remarkable thing happened. Carol started to gain weight. Her skin started to look healthy and resumed its normal color. The life was coming back into her eyes. With this new life came more ire thrown Dan´s way.
Each month Carol´s health improved. Her blood exams were confirming what the eye could see. She was getting better. At the one year mark, the doctor told her she could stop chemo. The cancer was completely contained and could possibly go into remission.
Dan thought that with this rebirth maybe Carol would change. He was now contractually obligated to be with her, after all. He was horrified of the thought of giving Carol half of his considerable assets after having nursed her back to health over the past year. He would have to make this work.
A few tortuous months passed. To Dan they felt like an eternity. How did he ever get himself into this situation? He asked himself this every day. One day Carol came home with a grave expression on her face. She told Dan they needed to talk. She informed him that she was seeing another man. It was serious. She was going to divorce him, leave him the apartment and not ask for a dime from him. Everybody involved lived happily ever after.

Work Makes Free

5 Jul

Work Makes Free

Rudy needed to be shaken out of his destructive patterns. His partying, which started out as fun on the weekends, had started to seep into the work week. His mind started to see Wednesday, the middle of the week, as a bridge to the next weekend. Then Tuesday became a bridge to Wednesday, Thursday a bridge to Friday night, until Rudy realized he was not partying anymore but strait up abusing drugs.

Rudy was honest with himself. He knew what he was doing was wrong but he could not stop himself. He would wake up saying to himself that this was going to be a clean day. Cut to moments after work, he found himself in the gas station in check out with two tall boys in hand asking for a pack of cigarettes. On his way home, the two beers would give him the courage to say no to saying no and he found himself at his pickup spot and yet another night was forgotten and another morning was difficult to face.

Rudy decided to call his uncle, who lived on a farm an hour outside of the city, and asked him if he could crash there for a while. His uncle understood why without Rudy even having to say so. Rudy´s uncle was a wise man so he made Rudy tell him regardless. He wanted Rudy to admit it to another human, out loud, knowing this would help Rudy manifest the necessary changes.

Rudy was fortunate to not have physical withdrawal. He was using for such little time that his body never adapted to the point it needed it. In fact, Rudy didn´t even miss getting high. Being on this other path made Rudy´s brain forget the need for escape. The only hard part for Rudy was waking up so early. Breakfast was at five in the morning and they were at work by five thirty.

After a week, even the early wakeup call became easy. Rudy´s uncle was getting used to the help. It was a big farm and good help was hard to find. When he did find it, it did not last long as the workers were generally migrant and did not stay put in one place for too long. Rudy felt great. He believed his system pretty much reset to zero. Rudy felt he could go back and face the world.

His uncle asked him to stay for at least another week. He explained to really make these changes concrete, Rudy would need a little more time. Rudy felt confident. He wasn´t even thinking about getting high. With a lot of reprehension in his heart and an open invitation to return, Rudy´s uncle said his farewells. There were even a few tears shed by both men during the farewell.

As Rudy pulled into his apartment complex parking spot he felt and acute, heavy darkness. He looked around at all the fairly new, financed to the gills, fancy cars, the dilapidated low rent buildings and felt a little confused and a little disgusted. This is life, he asked himself? Live in a particle board box, go to an unfulfilling job just to drive a car that is barely affordable on a month to month basis. Rudy didn´t have the tools to stop such negative thinking. He climbed the rickety stairs to his one bedroom apartment.

He opened the door and a waft of familiar smells greeted him. Stale cigarettes, a glade air freshener and musk attacked his senses. He hadn´t had the foresight to clean his apartment before his farm retreat. In the ashtray were two half smoked cigarettes. One was a standard tobacco cigarette and the other a hand rolled marijuana cigarette. His first impulse was to throw them away. But something told him not to. That something told him that he paid money for those things and one does not throw money away. If he wasn´t going to consume them, at least a friend could, he thought. Of course he was kidding himself because he had no friends.

He put the ash tray under the sink and turned the TV on. At the farm, he would have already been sleeping by now. After flipping through the channels he realized how bad TV was. He hadn´t noticed before because he was high. Even commercials seemed to reveal  deep secrets of the universe while high. He told himself he should go to bed but again, something convinced him he was not even tired. That something told him to light the marijuana cigarette. It would at least make this unbearable television more palatable.

He gave in and smoked the joint down until it burned his fingers. Then he lit the cigarette and waited for that familiar feeling. As the cigarette burned down to the filter he realized he felt no different. There was no altered feeling, no euphoria, no giddiness. Nothing. The feeling of nothing actually made him feel worse. Why did he break his drug fast if he weren´t going to feel high? Since he had already started the engine, he was going to have to at least “go deep” as he liked to call getting high.

He got in his car and drove to the pickup spot. He got his usual little plastic baggies and barely drove away before pulling over and consuming the contents. He was desperate. He could not get the drugs into him fast enough. He used more than the normal dose and immediately nodded off. As he rolled in and out of consciousness thoughts of the farm passed through his head. As he did chores in his mind his physical body, planted in the front seat of his car, went through some of the motions.

He would come to, see where he was, cry a little and nod off again. This went on for a few hours when his dealer knocked on the window. He rather impolitely told him to take his party elsewhere. Rudy obliged. He was so out of it in his mind he was starting the tractor and not his car. He told his dealer that lunch time was over and that he´d get back to work. The dealer, perplexed, told him to go wherever he wanted, just to get out of there.

Rudy made his way towards his apartment but missed the exit. He kept driving. He came to and found himself on the highway. When he was not driving slowly on the highway, he was cleaning pig troughs or spreading fresh straw. He drove until he found himself back at his uncle´s farm. He opened the car door, stumbled a few steps, fell down on his face and passed out.

In the morning, Rudy´s uncle walked outside and on his way to the barn saw Rudy´s car. A smile came to his face. As he walked to the car his smiled vanished in an instant when he saw his nephew face down in thick mud. He ran to the boy´s body. He tried to wake him. There was no pulse. He was not breathing. He cried for help despite the fact he was the only soul for miles.

Rudy´s uncle called an ambulance. Rudy was pronounced dead on the spot. Only an autopsy would reveal if it was the drugs that killed him or if he was asphyxiated in the mud. Rudy´s uncle could not shake the chills from the irony if it were the latter. The farm offered salvation to Rudy but in the end might have been his demise.

Floating Towards the Future

7 Jun

floating

Marcus has had a crazy idea simmering for months. As of late, it has started to boil over. He wanted to float a truck inner tube from his city to the next one over on the river. The trip would be around 35 miles with varying levels of difficulty. Marcus wrote for a hobby and he felt that this would give him something to write about.

Marcus procured himself an inner tube. Given the danger in a few parts of the river along the way, his family and girlfriend were dead set against this. It had been raining fairly hard in the past few months making the volume of water even greater than usual and the force of the current, stronger.

This did not dissuade Marcus. Despite his 35 years of age, he still felt as indestructible as he did at 21. He could be described as slightly reckless. Marcus felt that a life not lived, red lining the RPM’s, as he often joked, was not worth living at all.

One Saturday morning, Marcus woke up early. He got his stuff together and put it in his car before his girlfriend even noticed he was no longer in bed with her. He then gently woke her up. She was to drive him to the starting point, then drive to where he was hoping to end his successful little journey.

They got to the opening in the tree line where Marcus was to shove off. They said their good byes, Marcus wide eyed and electric, his girlfriend sleepy and yawning. He was off. It was not long that he was out of sight of his girlfriend as he rounded a bend. She got back into the car, gave one more big yawn, turned the key and was off to the final destination.

Marcus was enjoying himself. This part of the river was barely touched by the hands of man. It was fairly virgin wood. It was beautiful. He thought to himself, this is what it is to truly live. He could see some rough rapids in the distance but he did not want to worry himself with the future, he wanted to bask in the now.

In the quickly approaching rapids there were two distinct sides. One has flat smooth rocks that are, for the most part, laid over for precarious, but otherwise safe passage. The other side has jagged, sharp rocks the shoot up from the river bed taunting anything raging down its lane to be ran through.

Marcus turned his back to the rapids as to put them out of sight. They were making him nervous, and that made his enjoyment of the present all the more difficult. He could hear them and just the sound of the water smashing against the rocks made his heart beat faster so he covered his ears. His smooth floating started to rapidly pick up speed. He thought about turning around as to look at the rapids and make a choice but he wanted to savor the serenity in which he was enveloped in for just a few moments more.

Finally, the serenity was gone. His gracious floating became more and more turbulent. He had to face the fact the rapids were upon him. He turned the inner tube to access the situation and he was in horror. He know that the first rapids had two sides and that he had to choose the side with the smoother rocks. But, he could not. It was too late. He was now getting sucked into the rapids and there was no way to steer the inner tube away from the side with the sharp rocks jutting out of the white foaming water.

His last thought as he was violently torn apart upon the millennia old meat grinder was that he should have thought about the future just a little more.

His girlfriend waited for him in the neighboring city until nightfall. When Marcus never arrived the cops were called. Rescue teams were put into action. His inner tube was found floating along the river only a few miles up from the city he was rendezvous in. Some of his gear was found near the first rapids that took his life, his body was not.