Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bob Seems Wholly Unsatisfied--More Walter


The lights are dim. There is clacking in the hall outside. Baldeeny is dead. There is a lion on the hospital roof tearing his body into bite-sized pieces. The world outside is shaking and going around and round. Inside here, the lights flicker. It all grows dark. The lights go out.


He’s standing over the bed like a priest and I blink his image brighter while I roll my head to see more squarely what I am trying to see. He’s a man I don’t recognize from my mind inside of me, and as the lights brighten I can see that he is old and kindly and block-headed and broad-smiled and entirely safe. His clothing suggests neither a priest nor a doctor nor a reporter nor family. He’s out of some office somewhere and our family was always out of some factory.

He is looking at me in that way that always made me turn my head before. He’s boring into me with Santa Clause eyes as if trying to actually see my thoughts. My thoughts are inside of me and they are mine and I protect them often the way a bird will protect its broken eggs. I want to roll and turn my head away but I am pinned down to my bed by me and I can’t run like I want to far, far away from him unless I figure out how to get up from where I‘m laying.

If I lay here and say nothing he may not win. My thoughts will stay inside of me and he’ll go away.

If I do not blink or move or smile he’ll know I have installed a wall and move away.

If I say nothing he’ll think this divot in my head is why I think he‘s trying to find out who I am and I won‘t let him. He’s a fascinated man who stares at me without my letting him get himself inside of me. He gazes directly into my divot.

I lay here and I hold still.

He looks me over and looks for other cracks to get inside of me and finally backs his way out of my field of vision.

“What’s wrong with him?” I hear him ask someone outside the door. “I thought everyone said he came out of the coma just fine?”

I hear him mumbling in the hallways and carry on elsewhere.

A curious onlooker. Just a man who wanted to see a hero. I’m glad I didn’t fall for that. There are too many people who want to know me because I cannot leave my bed and I once was in a coma and now I‘m not.

“You there.”

He’s back. He’s poking me where it tickles. The man is persistent if he’s not crazy. But he still looks safe and harmless and I can’t hold back from spitting up sounds and pulling my arm in tight. He broke me down and now he knows.

I am here.

I am unable to fend you off. You have defeated me with a finger poked into my ribs.

“What do you want?” I ask him almost involuntarily.

“You do talk,” he tells me. “You were sleeping with your eyes awake?”

He leaves his finger out to menace me. It’s short and fat and the nail is well cared for and buffered nicely.

“I was hiding from you. But you found me anyway.”

He chuckles. “Hiding? Ha! You’re in a hospital bed, son, and the lights are all on!”

“I was doing the best I could.”

“Ha! You’re a funny one, young man. You always had this sense of humor?”

“No,” I say. “The doctor added it in when he had my head opened up. Just for kicks.”

He laughs. I am funny. That’s new since the stomping. I was never funny.

“Who are you?” I ask him genuinely.

“I’m Bob,” he says. “And you’re Walter.”

“I am.”

“And you have been there and come back,” he says, all mysterious and wistful.

“Been where?”

“THERE. You know… the other side…”


“The other side. You know… like Jim Morrison sang, years ago?”

I shake my head as best I can. I don’t know. Bob starts to sing.

“Break on through to the other side,
break on through to the other side…”

He’s loud and this is a hospital.

“Shhh!” I say.

“The Doors? The other side… You don’t know what I am talking about?”

I shake my head as best I can. I don’t know. Bob looks perplexed. He looks disappointed. I feel bad for him but I am not sure why. I think I know what he is trying to ask.

“The lights go off,” I tell him. “Then they come back on.”

“They go off? Then they come back on?”


“Well I’ll be. That’s doesn’t sound possible.”

“It’s like sleeping when you aren’t awake. You are simply in blackness, and you aren’t even allowed to think while you’re there. Like a library and talking.”

“Who says you can’t think? Is there someone there telling you things?”

“No. You are simply not allowed to think. All thoughts are disallowed. It is a place for pure silence and blackness. You rest there, and you wait.”

“I see. You wait for someone or something to come and tell you what to do next? Where to go? What your next thing is?”

“No. You just are there in it until the light comes on. And then it is gone again. It goes away completely, but it comes back when you sleep. It‘s the part you don‘t remember.”


“Yeah. It’s like that part of sleeping you don’t recall at all. The part you know you were part of, because the clock moved, but other than that, it is not there and never was.”


“Yeah. I have three and a half months like that to account for. That’s a lot of darkness with nothing to show for it.”

“Gone? Just gone?”

“Just gone. I’m lucky to remember what came before. Some of that is gone too.”

“Maybe you don’t remember the other side the way you don’t remember what went on before? Maybe you just can’t remember what was there?”


Bob seems wholly unsatisfied.

1 comment:

Shrinky said...

Gee, I hate the Bob's of this world!

A finely told tale, as ever.