Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More Stuff I Keep Nosing Forward Like A Kid At A Picnic In A Race

I've been working in my construction field on a regular basis lately. When I have some free time, I still work on "stuff" involving words.

Here is an excerpt from "The Lights Go On, The Lights Go Off". There's lots more where this came from. And there will be lots more, some more...

There’s a new man in my room. He’s got blonde, kinky hair but he’s black of skin. He’s got lots of gold in his left ear. He smiles at me. His teeth are huge and his smile is like a banana on its side. I like him already, but I don’t know what he is, or why he’s in here.

“Hi Walter!” he sing-songs. His voice is full of music. “I’m Walter too. Ain’t that something? I’m your physio. I’m here to help you jump and shout.”

“My physio?”

“Physical therapist. I’m the guy who is gonna teach you to dance.”

He shakes his butt at me and makes it do circles.

“Shake that thing!” he says. “Shake it and… whooo lawd! Break it, baby!”

“I don’t dance,” I tell him, as he moves over the top of me and just looks at me. He isn’t pleased. He shakes his head and his smile is now a pucker. I’ve soured him.

“You are all bones, my man. You are Halloween on a street corner. You are one of them Auswitches in a day time TV. My oh my! You look like the victim of some serious ass whipping. Like they done sucked the life right out of your skin.”

“I broke sixteen bones,” I tell him.

“Sixteen? Lawd, that’s a lot of bones. They feedin’ you anything?”

“As much as I can eat. They said I’d have to start slow.”

“You’re gonna have to start by going backwards, my man.”

“I don’t feel anything much. I feel pretty good, actually.”

“Can you sit up?”


“You can’t sit up?”

“I tore the muscles in my stomach sitting up. When I woke up, I sat up. I don’t know why I sat up, but I did.”

“Ain’t that something!” he says, and he leans over me and puts a hand on the bed right next to my ear. “We’re gonna have to start backwards, and go from there. You ready to go backwards?”

“I think so.” Backwards seems better than just laying here.

“Alright, then. Backwards here we go.”

Walter picks up parts of me and moves them in and out. He picks up a leg. He bends the knee. He moves the hip joint around and round. It all hurts but it all hurts good. He’s a big man. And a happy man. And I like watching him work. I don’t have to do anything but just lay here. I keep my eyes rolling, and I watch what he does. There go my ankles and feet. Around and round. He puts them down, and comes up near my head again.

“They tell me you’re a hero.” he says to me.

“I am,” I say. I don’t know why I tell him that. I like him. And he likes me.

“Amazing!” he says. “Then this shall all go pretty easy for you- Mr. Hero, sir!”

“I sure hope so.”

“I gotta run. But you’ll be seeing more and more of me. And Walter? You is gonna dance!”

Walter backs out of the room dancing in turning circles. Joyful circles with snaps of fingers and banana smiles. I envy him everything, as he bounces out the doorway.

“Lawdy!” I hear him yell to someone in the hall. “Lawdy, that white boy sure can’t dance!”


I danced at my wedding. I took my wife Barbra’s hand and I led her out to the middle of the room and we hugged each other and turned around and round. Barbra was afraid of dancing and I was unfamiliar, so she hid her face against me and I just rocked her back and forth as we turned around and round. The band was playing that Michael Jackson-when-he-was-a-kid song “Ben”. It was the only slow song that they said they could play. They played it with some humor, and the singer had a deep voice with some gravel in it.

I never thought about it then, but I’m thinking about it now. The first dance I ever had with the only woman who would marry me, was a love song about a rat. The band all worked at my Daddy’s light bulb factory and they all claimed to have bright ideas. That’s what they said anyways. They were the idea guys. I never thought about that before either but I’m thinking about it now. Bright ideas. Those were a funny group of guys.

I had a friend named Jason once when I was ten. He was funny too. He made me laugh milk out of my nose and I liked him lots. We were friends for awhile and then we weren’t. He had lots of other friends. I don’t know what happened. He and I sort of drifted in different directions, I guess. He started belonging to a large group of other friends. And I started doing more and more on my own. We were different people, really. Like we needed different things. He had a dog that bit his grandma, I remember. And a cat named Suzie Q.

My wife was short for her width and prone to looking down. She was smart for her personality and rather plain for her disposition. Her parents’ were happy she found me and I was happy I found her too. There was a time in my younger days when her company was better than all the things I did by myself. I had someone to do things with and I liked knowing that when I spoke out loud, someone heard me.

Barbra often nodded and agreed with me. That was nice too. There were many years before Barbra that I thought I was the only one who thought the way I thought. And that can be pretty lonely. When your thinking wanders out and never comes back, it loses substance. Barbra was plain and heavy and short, but she gave my thinking weight that it never had before.

I started having opinions on everything.

“I really like asparagus,” I told Barbra.

“I’ll cook you some tonight.”

“I like Radar better than Hawkeye.”

“Me too.”

“It sure smells in here.”

“I’ll open some windows.”

There is no one like that now.

This ceiling should have sparkly things in its texture instead of flat and white and shiny. There can be no fighting dinosaurs here. This room is for sick people, who don’t need disturbances. Out in the hallway, I can hear the murmurs of nurses and the squeaking of a wheel. Time is odder now than it used to be. Now, I mark the passing moments on arrivals and departures. The nurses enter. The nurses exit. The nurses change their shifts.

My pink carnation is out there somewhere. She is walking the halls and she‘s all wriggly.

She is in a room hovered over a bed like a bouquet over a body.

She is in my dreams while I am wide awake.

She has impressed upon me all things wondrous and worthy, and I am full of her.

I have a doctor out there somewhere too, saving lives. He comes and goes like a hero and smiles. He’s missing half his hair but he doesn’t seem to notice. He stares at his clipboard. And he stares at me.

I found a guy in a gutter once. He was not breathing and he had no pulse. He didn’t look dead though, just extremely happy. He filled out a black suit and his tie seemed way too tight. I loosened it, and he still remained the way he was. I dragged him up onto the curb and tilted his head back. I blew in. I blew out. I pressed on his chest and pumped his blood around and round. He seemed less happy out of the gutter- but he seemed cleaner. I breathed for him. I pumped his blood for him. After awhile, his lights came back on and he staggered to his feet. He glanced around.

“I had a hat.” he said.


Billy said...

This is priceless (sorry about the cliche)! Walter the "physio," who will teach you how to dance. Very entertaining, with lively, engaging prose. I loved it.

amusing said...

The gutter guy at the end? I think he must have fallen out of a Magritte painting....

Tammie Jean said...

Another installment of what's turning out to be a great story! I can't wait to read more...