Thursday, July 4, 2019

Down Where I Live blog post #344

Courtesy of Freepik
Something a little different this week. Last week’s story got a host of hits, 2600 or so. Let’s see if our dream piece this time can beat Me’N Mazie and Nigel.


I lived in an ebony world, a smothering, unchanging lightlessness filled with absolutely nothing. Then there was a faint glow, although I didn’t comprehend “glow,” any better than I understood “darkness,” recognizing it only as a miniscule change in my Stygian cocoon. Then the meaningless noises intruding on this world of oblivion magically morphed into voices discussing some poor sucker in a coma. Who was in a coma? Before I could grapple for an answer, a headache came roaring up and everything shut down, sending me back into that unrelieved blackness.
The halo was brighter the second time I surfaced. Two Hospital voices hovered over me. One voice brought the scent of mint; the other, something less pleasant. They discussed CAT scans and trauma. Brain swelling and edema. Plish. Plosh. Mish. Mash. Mush. But one thing was clear… some dude was in real trouble.
I figured out I was the sucker in trouble the moment I heard my mother’s anxious voice falsely cooing how well I looked and how handsome I was. I knew it was Mother because she carried the perfume of rosewater. Panic bubbled up within me, and even though I couldn’t feel anything, I knew I was bucking something terrible, jerking like I was in the middle of a gigantic orgasm.
That special headache carried me back down where I lived even as I longed for another voice…an eighteen-year-old baritone still deepening with growing maturity, one that called me “Dumbshit” and “Summabitch” with an easy familiarity that sent a thrill knifing through me. Orion Dozier…best friend. Orry! Grew up together. Played soccer together. Whispered about sex together. Stumbled awkwardly toward a new kind of relationship until this coma thing got in the way. Why hadn’t I heard his voice? His absence slugged me in the metaphysical solar plexus so hard I zonked out right then and there, returning to the place where it was safe and comfortable.

“Wake up, you summabitch!” The vibrant, masculine voice reached down where I lived and yanked me into the glow. Orry! Orry was here. “Stop faking it. Say something, dammit!” Even though I felt nothing, I knew he had pulled a chair up and held my hand. “Damn, Thad, I’ve been imagining all kinds of horrible things, but you’re still as handsome as the male lead in a B movie. Man, I wish I’d been with you when old Butch rammed his Austin Healy into that oak tree.”
There was a strange sound like a gulp or a gasp before the voice went on. “Thought I’d lost you, man. Couldn’t have stood it. I love you, you dumbshit. There! How’s that for a confession? Guys aren’t supposed to say stuff like that, but it’s true. You better wake up and get outa this bed, you hear me? We got lots of things to do yet. You’n me together. Things buddies do.” The voice halted for a moment. “Oh, Lord! What if you can hear me? They said I should talk to you, but nobody said if you can hear us.”
My headache came thundering back as I wrestled with his words. They were important… if I could just wrap my arms around them. Then the engine shut down and dumped me back into darkness.

My days sorted themselves into Hospital, Family, and Orry, and I was lying there just below the surface in the time between Family and Orry when my whole body gave a sudden jerk. A jerk! Wasn’t that wonderful? I had moved. My legs tingled. Tingled, dammit. Gotta have feelings to tingle, and they damned well tingled. Lordy mercy. My arms prickled. What does that say when a spasm and a tingle and a prickle are the high points of a guy’s whole existence?
There was a commotion all around me, and I heard a Hospital voice… the one who trailed mint. “Paralytic spasm. Let Dr. Morris know when he comes in. It’s an encouraging sign.”
That’s all I remember because the darkness came to claim me once again. No fair. I hadn’t heard Orry’s calming voice.

“Hey, Thad! Hear you practically got up and raped one of the nurses!” Orry was back. “In case you didn’t know it, it’s Friday night, and I told your folks I’d give them some rest. Gonna spend the entire night right here in this chair.”
My heart soared; my frame gave a little jump!
“Crap, man!” he squawked. A pause. “You okay, Thad? Don’t scare me like that.” I heard him scoot the chair over by the bed so he could give me the lowdown on the day’s events, but despite everything I could do, I sank back into that dark place while he was droning on.
“… realize how close we are, bro.” It was Orry. I about panicked wondering how much I had missed. He gave a laugh. “Remember camping out in the back yard when we were kids? I got a kick outa sleeping beside you. I always wanted to snuggle over and touch you. Didn’t have the nerve.” He gave an embarrassed snicker. “Afraid you’d wake up and clock me.”
He took my hand, and I felt it! Sensations—warmth, pressure. A wonderful sense of comfort engulfed what had been my nerveless body.
“Now I understand what was going on,” his voice got incredibly low and thick. “How come we never did things, Thad? You know, personal things? I always wanted to. I remember once you were wearing one of those muscle shirts, and I saw how your shoulders narrowed to a vee right down to your butt…like a man’s.” Another chuckle. “I about broke my neck trying to see my back in the mirror. And you know what? I was built like that, too.”
I lay there in my hospital bed breathing gently without the help of my respirator and listened to him ramble on as he held my hand. He spoke in a low voice—sometimes thick with emotion—to confide his feelings for me. His wants. His desires. The light grew brighter… brighter still. He spoke of the days when our bodies were changing, maturing, and how we struggled to comprehend what was happening. And now—lying half in and half out of a dark, bottomless place—I finally understood his meaning.
He went quiet for a moment; I willed him to continue. He did, recalling sleepovers, and double dates and long talks when we edged closer to what we really wanted but didn’t have the courage to acknowledge.
Oh, Lord! Here came the darkness to take me away again. This time it was unwelcome. I fought against it, and heard him gasp as my hand closed on his.
Then I was back in my black velvet place. But that was all right. Orry would be there when I surfaced. And I would surface again. I had something to live for now. Someone to live for. A future to experience. Until then, I’d rest in my dark cocoon.


The optimists among us will say Thad came out of his coma to embrace a new life with Orry, and they rode off into the sunset. Doubters will admit Thad regained his health, but in the glare of daylight, neither managed to capture what they discovered in dreamland. “Life got in the way,” they’d say. Pessimists will believe Thad was kidding himself and remained in a coma—or worse. Where do you fit in?

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

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See you next week.


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