I clung to the shore, but Morpheus
held me fast in his undertow. If I could only open my eyes his
loosen. My lids were heavy, my body
not wanting to leave the warm wet blanket of permanent sleep as
thousand snakes slid out of the
water andlingered on my
skin, preparing their strike. We twisted and turned in
the tropical bath; a dance for the
gods. Isaw my feet like two
small detached pillars planted miles away. She
rose up between them, larger than
universe itself. She wore white.
Her face was the sun. Her hair, delicate fingers plucking beads
of light out of
the darkness. Her eyes saw every
yesterday, her smile assured tomorrow's arrival.
"Wake up!" A lush, liquid, resonant
voice no mortal could conceive.
"But I cannot."
"What if I don't wish to wake
"The world is ugly."
"The world is beautiful."
"It's a mockery."
"I am not art. I am nothing"
"You can be anything. Open your
"Not this time."
The shore of my death dream
suddenly shrank into a vacuum. The snakes shot like lightning
into the unseen
distance. I bolted out of bed.
Oxygen hit me like a merciless punch. I found my feet and
struggled through my
doorway, feeling walls, negotiating
the hallway that spun around and around, mocking my journey. I
shape of Dad sitting there,
stealing a moment of solitude before the workday began. He leapt
from his chair:
"What is wrong with you?"
His voice was drawn out in stringy,
syrupy threads that echoed from some far away
"Jay! (jay-jay-jay)What (t-t-t-t)
have you done (ne-ne-ne-ne)?"
"Jay! (ay-ay-ay)" He gripped my
shoulders, shaking me frantically.
" 33 + 3 x@ x 7 x 7=
Dad darted for his car keys and
threw on a jacket:
"Follow (ow-ow) Me! (me-me)"
"Huhh? 7? 9x $?
I landed in his car somehow. More
doors, more halls. Sidewalk, street, stretcher; a movie reel in
"Drink this! You have to drink
The doctor cried frantically, his
voice bouncing like a hard rubber ball off of the cold walls of
the last stop
room. A red plastic cup forced my
mouth open and rancid liquid chalk rushed down my throat like a
I want bubblegum flavor for my
deathwatch, not standard
issue overdose goop!
A sky full of eyes shot down on me
like stars in my dark night. The aliens were probing and
ingravely gabble, consonants and vowels
"Vomit! You must vomit now!"
But you just told me to drink!
Which is it? You make no sense, alien doctor!
The strangers conferred: "He's not
"No, indeed, he's not!"
"He must throw up. He simply
"Yes, yes, of course!"
A bright light. A thousand watt
invasion. Was it the light of man's creation or the sun of a new
the angel lost her fight with
Morpheus?The tired hands of
time: tick…tick…click…clunk. Stop. Sleep.
"You're back!"Chirped the chipper young nurse, bouncing like
a butterfly around my room, drawing the
shades, cruelly inviting the
sunlight to join me. I stole a glance. My world had stopped
"Should I not be back?"
She leaned in close to whisper
serious words that made her uneasy:
"We didn't expect you to be joining
She raised one eyebrow and tilted
her head in a soft scolding, motherly sort of way:
"We're going to have to put you on
"Watch what? I had too much fun,
that's it! I can walk, I can talk! I'm fine!"
Closer still, deeper
"You tried to... die.
There was enough…well…(look around the room, gather your secrets)
enough stuff in
you to take down ten men."
"But…but wait a sec…"
My throbbing skull held me to my
pillow. My words struggled against a sticky tongue.
"We'll check in on you. You just
I caught the clipboard with a
newborn eye as she leaned in: 1600 mgs. Attempted Suicide.
My dealer had given me eight
enchantment pills. They were for life, not death! Why
did anyone dope himself? He'd
handed them off quickly on a forgotten corner, always in a hurry,
"Here you go. You earned it,
soldier. (runner, seller, fallguy, fool.) Just like bein' drunk! But Be damn
He said to never take more than
four. I started at three of course, waited an hour, no glow.
Four, nothing. Five,
six and seven, same. What is this
crap? No wonder it was free! Eight was the magic number,
other seven and coursing quietly
through me while I slept; commanding every blood vessel, steering
deep, dark, uncharted
I'd went to the city fair and eaten
too much candy. It was suicide by simple self-amusement, but
believe me. They thought I was a
ghost. I was indeed dying to the world they knew. I was indeed
trying to break
through the surface of
They let me have a guitar in my
room, but I could imagine their whispers, which they later
"I think he has drugs inside of it.
His friend brought it in, right past our desk."
One young nurse to another.
"Right past our desk?"
"He was walking rather
The sudden awareness of their own
naïveté would redden their brows.
"Go to his room and have a
"No, you do it!"
The pair likely listened briefly to
the broken bird beating the strings, stretching his wings,
struggling to sing:
"Well, perhaps it will help him. If
he's taking drugs we'll know."
"It's shift change anyhow soon.
Just make a note of it."
"Sure. (What form is that?)"
Across the street to Occupational
Therapy I walked daily with the chain gang. We'd construct cute
and hear pretty praises. We'd throw
bows on baskets and fashion candy dishes from wooden craft kits.
the first day of school, every day,
for us, the souls who'd wandered beyond the barriers of "normal"
candy dish crew, had fallen, all
but forgotten by the wayside, tripping and rolling away from the
We were handed hobbies as
Is there a diversion factory
somewhere that specializes in basswood cutouts, ribbons and
blueprints for those
who can't quite finish the
marathon? Does our cause feed families?
"Off to work, Dear. See you at
five. Cuttin' soap holders today; can't wait!
The world turned in our absence as
we sat in the safe insulation of our stumblingblocks. Our biggest worry
was keeping non-toxic glue out of
our fingernails and making the tough decision between jelly beans
jubes that would fill our
creations. I was fond of both, and always torn. I never shared.
The true mark of a man is
how much candy he's willing to
part with. Shame on me.
I saw you there, Mother, in your
padded foam cubicle, not far from the padded
with educated guesses. You decided
who was crazy and who was just lazy. Did they give you my file? I
your specialty. I can hardly blame
you for paying me no mind as I walked down your office halls to
dish factory, inching back away
from death. You live on the surface of things. I could never
expect you to jump
into my icy water; you would
surely perish. Surely you found me in one of your books, I know
I'm there in black
and white. But you knew if you
reached out your hand, I might pull you in.
"You're just like your father!"
you'd cuss and spit everytime our paths crossed.
Despite it all, you braved your way
to the fourth floor of the hospital; the floor where death lives,
where I was
given back my marbles by the great
Mystery, where I was to succumb, according to all logic.You sat
with me in
silence, drawn there by a
flickering instinct, searching, but knowing not what your
instinct had called you to find.
Ghosts crowded the room. You saw
them. Was your father among them? You stayed as long as you
was a brave attempt, sticking your
foot into the icy water through a soft spot in your world.
Dad was there too, almost daily,
with candy bars and magazines. It seems that death brought you
to life for a time.
They were baffled by me. They were
sure it was impossible that oxygen ran through me and that I
pronounce the most intricate of
words. I'd told them about the Lady in White, and they nodded and
Helluva drug, eh kid? I can see you
nodding and smiling too:
"Angels live on Christmas trees!
Don't be silly! Call your shrink!"
We are, in fact tied to the
Infinite; the Great Equation that numbers dare not approach, the
great I Am, the
great You Aren't, the One
who could crush us to dust with his baby toe but who kneels right
beside us as we
chase our days.
Stay on the surface of things
Mother; you'll be safer there. But know that I shattered the
surface that night. I
swam deep and stumbled on life. It
took me years to understand it, but perhaps that's part of the
mystery of it
all. Some lessons are stretched
across many miles, like fine wine; time being the only true mark
Perhaps it's this mystery that has
brought us both back together within these pages.