Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Walter Walter Walter-- My Coma Guy Is Still In His Crib--

Another Snippet From The Thing I Call "The Lights Go On, The Lights Go Off"--
(Walter is a recently woken coma patient with a pinched face, a metal plate in his head, an aversion to rumbling noises and a crush on one of his nurses... And that tree is a Madrone, found around the "block" from us- the backway to the store on the highway...)

**Baldeeny is stirring on the other side of the curtain. If I tilt my bed up just enough, I can see him through a crack where the curtains join. He’s kicked off all of his sheets again and his hospital gown is jumbled under one of his armpits and he’s a hairy naked mess. Rolls of fat hang from him in weird droopy drips like he’s a melting figurine and he’s all speckled and wrinkled and covered in grotesque black bear hair. His whole belly is hanging downward off to one side of him and the button is lost in one grotesque fold. One of his legs is cranking slowly like he’s trying to kick start a motorcycle or ride a bike.

He’s grumbling something beneath his beard. It sounds like a code. Or maybe, just maybe, he’s cussing to himself? He knows what he is and he does not like himself- even in his sleep. He’s one of those loud-mouthed types who would stomp the head in of a guy like me, just because I tried to reason with him and my face was pinched. He’s an unreasonable type of fat and hairy and I absolutely positively don’t like him.

If I slit his throat he’d be dead.

The blood would silently ooze down into his sheets and make no sound. The blood would rush out of his skin from a crescent slit and flow down his neck like a falling crimson curtain and the show would be over in no time. What little thought he had left in that brain of his would be turned off by a switch before the nurses ever got to him and he’d stop snoring and I wouldn‘t have to be forced to listen to him any longer. When the blood left his brain, the lights would go off and I could stare at my white and glossy ceiling without all of that horrible noise.

Baldeeny would simply be two shades of darkness further than fast asleep.

Baldeeny would go from sleeping to dead with the flick of a very sharp scalpel.

Some would consider it an evil act done by a desperate man. Some would call it heroic and rejoice. There are no reliable sacred texts that talk about Baldeeny. Life is all a mish mash. Who knew it would all become such a mish mash?

I could save a life or I could take a life. It would all be up to me. The switch would be in my very bony hands.

Lights on… Lights off.

Snoring… No snoring.

Life... Death.

Laying in bed like a fat hairy wad of putrid growling flesh… Carried away on a gurney like a dead bull at a rodeo.

If that fat and evil man won’t stop making all that incessant evil noise, he’s going to wake up deader than a corpse.


“Hi Walter! You’re looking chipper!” Caroline. She’s in green and faded scrubs now. Not my favorite. I wonder what made her change? The pink ones made her cheeks look rosy. These make her face look sickly. More like one of us than one of them. “Just wondered how you were getting on? Pain still under control?”

“Yes,” I tell her. “I don’t feel much of anything.”

“Well good. The doctor wants to start winding down on the heavy stuff as soon as possible. Maybe tomorrow we’ll start tapering you off?”

“Tomorrow? I should be better by tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow then. How’s our other patient?”


“Baldeeny. How is the big sleepy giant?”

“He snores all the time. I want to kill him.”

Caroline giggles. It’s spontaneous. She doesn’t realize that I am serious.

“My boyfriend snored like that. I wanted to kill him sometimes too.”

I feel that pain like a pummeling. I was sure I saw no ring of any kind. “You have a boyfriend?”

“Oh no. Not anymore,” she says and I am pleased. I can feel my body release its tension and go limp again. “He’s been out of the picture for quite sometime, now.”

“What happened to the two of you?”

Caroline thinks while she moves closer to me. “He snored too loud.”

“Really?” Now I’m giggling. Caroline puts her hand on my chest and rubs it around and round.

“Kidding! He was sent overseas, silly. He was in the Air Force. He was a mechanic and he was sent to Asia to fix airplanes.”

“You still think much about him?”

“All the time.” Caroline looks right into my eyes with her big round hazel eyes. She has sat down on the bed next to me and I can smell how clean she smells, like a carnation. “But that’s alright. I have patients like you and Baldeeny, Walter, and that helps me pass the time.”

“You like Baldeeny?”

“I do. What’s not to like?”

“He’s noisy and fat and hairy.”

Caroline giggles again. “He is all that, I suppose. But that isn’t any reason to dislike someone. He hasn’t hurt anyone, has he? He hasn’t been unkind or a nuisance? Well, at least on purpose?”

“He reminds me of them.”

“Them? Of who, Walter?”

“The men who stomped me. The ones who kicked a hole in my head. He looks like one of them. Or all of them. He is one of them even if he isn’t. He’s just like them.

My voice is not my voice for the moment. It chatters and sounds feral. I don’t want it to sound like a cornered cat in front of Caroline, so I stop talking.

Caroline reads into me and sees my discomfort. She smiles. She runs her hand up right towards me and starts to finger the hair out of my pinched face. I think I am more nervous now. I stare back at her and marvel at how simply pretty she is with little make-up and a pair of bracketing dimples and a shiny white tooth that overlaps its frontal neighbor in a beautiful way. Even the few moles she has visible are small and dark and sexy on the side of her neck. Her scrubs are buttoned up but I imagine what would be visible to me if I could just sit up and look directly down.

Sensing something different in the way I lay here, Caroline pushes herself gently away from me and stands. She smiles a final time and pulls my curtain across herself and now she is turning from me and looking at a naked and hairy Baldeeny who snorts and snuffles.

I close my eyes.



Stucco said...

What kind of trees are those? I see them here once in a while and the color always attracts my attention.

Scott from Oregon said...

THey are Madrones. The best firewood tree in the west. They lose their leaves in the summer (as a process, not a major dump) and have paper bark that curls.

I love 'em!

(Hey, Mum is ready for your guys' hats for your kids (she just finished Bob's prize) but she needs yarn, man!)

Cheesy said...

Good stuff Maynard....write on!

Mushy said...


I also like the light study on the tree.

Jean said...

Should get really interesting as his pain meds wear off. Baldeeny could be in some jeopardy.