Ripped from the WIP...
Baldeeny is stirring. Well not really stirring, it’s more like he’s confronting demons in his sleep. Well, maybe not demons. Maybe just memories? He’s mumbling something I can’t make out, but in his angry tone.
Baldeeny has a high-pitched voice. It doesn’t suit his barrel chest or caveman hairiness, but there it is, only now it’s more of a squawk like a sea bird fighting over a lobster tail. What are those words he’s spewing to the world?
I should mind my own business.
Barbra had parents who took an interest. Her mother helped us decide what to eat and how to decorate, and her father kept tabs on the finances and helped us pick out a car.
They really looked after their daughter well, and I enjoyed the way they looked after me while they were doing it.
It took the pressure off. It was like having a nurse’s call button handy without having to be sick about it.
We got the best car for the price and the best food-value around. We were handed coupons and a grocery list, and when it was time to move away from living in their garage, they helped us find that house I bought across from the freeway overpass where the bikers drove me mad.
“The price is right,” her father told me.
“It’s got potential,” said Barbra’s mom.
“Oh Walter!” said Barbra. “It’s got a pear tree in the backyard!”
I was so proud the day I signed those papers. I had just bought a house for my wife and I. Things were starting to feel permanent and certain.
I was on the right path.
Caroline’s voice somehow sifts through Baldeeny’s snoring unsuspected the way a singing bird is heard through a tree-riffling wind.
It’s sweet like a birdsong too.
Caroline. My Caroline!
She’s back in her faded pink scrubs and her hair is tied back with a darker red hair-tie that matches the rosy blush on her dimpled cheeks.
“Hi Walter. Miss me?”
“Oh yes ma’am! I did. Did you go home?”
“Did you have fun?”
“Fun? At home? It was pleasant, Walter, if that’s what you mean. I washed up and ate left-overs and fed my cat and watched TV. Then I went to bed and got up and here I am, back at work. Is that what you mean by fun, Walter?”
“You didn’t go out?”
“Out? Me? “’Fraid not, Walter. I’m afraid this ’is’ out. At least most days. Work takes almost all of my time.” Caroline fiddles with the machine that stands guard behind me. “When you get up out of bed, do you wanna take me out, Walter? Is that what you’re getting at?”
I wasn’t. Well, I was. But I like the idea.
“I could… We could go out... I mean, the two of us could go eat dinner out somewhere. I’d sit on the other side of the table from you and we could put a candle between us.”
“That sounds lovely, Walter. So I’d get to be your first date when you get out of here?”
“And the second, if you liked the first.”
I grin my best banana smile.
Caroline smiles. She’s now bent over me and checking the wires stuck to my chest. She’s wearing a dark bra with a tiny rose sewn near its narrowest point, where the two halves join. She smells nice, like a dish full of soaps, the kind you are not supposed to use unless you are a guest in someone else’s house. I still can’t touch her the way I want to touch her. I still can’t really move much at all. There is a sheet and a blanket between me and my Caroline, and they weigh a ton.
Caroline stands erect. She is looking deep into my eyes. I try not to look away but I am afraid and I cannot hold her stare. I stare at the white and shiny ceiling… but I can still sort of see Caroline’s beautiful face on the edges of my vision where her stare is more comfortable.
“So…” she begins, “…what’s it like, Walter? To wake up after all this time?”
It’s Caroline’s turn to probe my mind. My lights were off and now they’re back on, after all.
“What’s it like? It’s like waking up from a nap. Or waking up to go to work. Only it hurts a lot, all over my body. It‘s like waking up from a car crash, I imagine. Or from falling off a cliff. You wake up and you wonder what it was that made you feel the way you feel? “What did I do“, you think, “to make me feel so lousy“?”
“Any great insights? Did you see anything while you were asleep that may help those of us out here in the cold, cruel, world? Were you ‘visited‘?”
“By supernatural beings? Did you hear music? Could you feel the oneness of it all?”
“Nope. There was nothing. At least that I remember.”
“That’s disappointing, isn’t it, Walter? That you can’t remember.”
“I’m not sure,” I say. “It just feels like I woke up from a good night’s sleep is all. Before they put me in a coma, that’s all I was really looking for anyways.”
“A good night’s sleep?”
“Yeah. Just some peace and quiet. I get up early for work, you know? I have a good job sweeping streets all over town.”
“A street sweeper? With a broom and a dust pan?”
I smile. “No. I drive one of the XXXX’s, those machines that come by while most people are asleep, the ones you have to watch where you park your car because… like on Mondays it’s over on Ellis Avenue.”
“You drive one of ‘those’ big machines? That’s impressive, Walter. I didn’t know that about you.”
“I’m good enough to get the downtown route on Fridays. I was hand-picked for that by our boss.”
“Well good for you, Walter! And I bet your boss has been really missing you these last four months. And your co-workers too.”
Caroline makes me feel good. I feel really good inside and so I smile a big banana smile and stare boldly into Caroline’s eyes. They’re pretty blue like my old bicycle, only her pupils are ringed by a gold corona and my bike had silver flecks and red lettering.
She’s got sleep tucked away into the corner of her right eye.
“Well… I need to keep moving, Walter. This is a job, you know?”
“You’re like a shark. Only pretty,” I tell her.
Her hand is on the top of my head and she’s scrunching around with my hair.
“Try and eat what you can when your food gets here. It’ll help you get stronger.”
“I will,” I say, as she wriggles her way out of my room, leaving her essence here by her good smell and the way I see her in my mind.
We’re standing at the edge of the continent, on a cliff over-looking an ocean so big it curves away from us.
Her pink scrubs are no longer faded and are without patient-stains. Her hair is blowing straight back as the coastal breeze rushes up from the crashing ocean below. She puts out her hand and I take it, as I look directly into her eyes.
“Now,” I think. “I’m going to kiss her ‘now‘.”
I lean into her and the world starts to rumble. “This is it. This is the love that rocked the world.”
No. This is an earthquake and I’m standing with my love on the edge of a cliff!
Large pillars of rock and earth begin to peel away from the cliff and fall into the ocean. We’re standing on one of those pillars! I tighten my grip on Caroline’s hand and yell to her, “Come on!”
We leap together just as the pillar of rock and earth we are standing on peels over and falls into the roiling water below.
We’re not safe yet.
The earth we are now on is peeling as well. A nine-story tall pillar of rock and earth has separated from the continent and is falling like a felled tree into the dark-green foamy waters below. We’re standing on its grassy top and running for our lives. We leap.
We’re not safe.
We’re on another pillar that has cracked and peeled away from the land. The continent is breaking off on its edges while the earth rumbles and cracks and we’re running and leaping for our lives.
It’s like running across giant stepping stones, only they’re moving and crumbling away as we step on them.
The earth shakes and the wind howls and the dishes rattle…
“Breakfast!” announces someone at the door.