I heard news that my favorite Uncle, who I dearly loved ever since I was a child, was in a coma for many months. From what was told to me, Uncle Charlie had stepped in between a fight, trying to help a stranger when he himself was attacked and beaten in the head by a baseball bat.
The attack was vicious in nature and everyone would have assumed he’d be dead. Taken to the hospital, his head had almost caved in from the blunt trauma. He was in critical health, and the doctor believed he would not make it.
But nonetheless, they did what they can to repair him. He fell into a coma afterward, with his Life hanging by a thin thread. After six months, his family wanted to pull the plug from his life support. They wanted to accept his fate and continue to live on with their Life. They could not wait any longer, and the hospital bills were piling to the rooftop.
On the day they were going to remove his Life, something strange had happen. They found him sitting up on the hospital bed, alert and aware of his surrounding. He greeted the doctors sheepishly and asked where he was, and how he happened to be there. HE asked to see his family, and they came forth, shocked and awed of his amazing recovery.
Yet they were weary and were not at all joyous to see him alive. He should have been Dead, and being in a coma for six months had weakened his body. They knew that there will be more recovering period for him to adjust to his body again.
Uncle Charlie was married to a younger woman his age. They have a son who is currently three years old. When asked to see his wife and kid, his parents offered depressing news.
No longer able to wait for him to recover, and wanting to move on with her life, his wife took their son and left their homes within three months when he was in his coma. The news angered him to an extant. He was not the same ever again.
Some months after he had recovered and is now residing back at his parent’s house, I decided to give him a visit. I drove from Boston to Alabama by myself, leaving my own family behind for the weekend.
When I pulled up to the old house which I used to visit when I was a child, the happy memories of Uncle Charlie floods me with warm reminisce. My Uncle was a bright and happy person, and taught me many things. He was only three years older than me, and we used to go to school together.
I saw him sitting on the front porch of the house, drinking beer and gazing out at the sunset that bask the evening with an orange glow. I crossed the front lawn, and cautiously approach the man who I had admired my whole life.
My happy smile slowly fades as I took in the weaken man sitting on an old rocking chair. He wore a white do-rag over his head. His face is ashen under the evening light. Eyes were sunken in with dark rings all around. Those orbs slowly turned to me as I approach closer. He examined me with no recognition.
“Uncle,” I greeted, “Do you remember me? Your nephew, Ian.”
He stared at me with a blank stare. My heart began to ache. “Do you not remember?” I asked.
“Ian,” he slowly mumbled. Yet his eyes were still cold.
Tears threaten to leak from my eyes, but I tried to push it away. I did not want my Uncle to see how his appearance had affected me. I did not want to depress him any more.
“They told me you were dead,” I said, my voice shaking and soon the tears did fell.
“I feel very much alive,” he answered, still those eyes would not register, “I feel more so than when I was Living.”
He cackled at his joke, but they were not happy sounds. He sneered instead of grinning. His eyes reflected something dark.
“How are you feeling?” I asked, with no other questions to ask.
“I am here, and I am there,” he answered.
There was something not right about him. I accepted that the damage to his head might have caused him a few intelligence. As the saying goes, ‘The light is on, but no one’s home.’
“I came to see you, Uncle,” I said, with so much sadness in me. “I missed you. I was afraid that I would lose you.”
“They wanted to kill me, you know?” he said, sneering and with so much coldness. “My family. They were hoping to rid of me so they can live on! But I am here, and I am there.”
“I still had hope,” I told him. “I knew you could make it.”
“I was dead,” he continued, “yet here I still exist. They’ve lost hope in me. They were willing to let me go, discarding me like an old furniture. Left to the curb. Return to sender.”
I tried to smile at him. It came out weaker than I could muster. “But I’m glad you are here,” I said. “I came to see you, and hang with you. Just like old times.”
His voice was sharp when he speak again. “How’s that little wife of yours?”
“She’s good,” I answered, “And my son, they both are doing well. My son is almost two.”
“Cunt!” he hissed. “They’re all cunts! Don’t trust those bitches. Thieves, they are. Take your heart and never return it back. I fucking HATES them!”
“That’s not very nice to say,” I said, taken aback by his sudden outburst.
“Fucking cunt took my boy away from me,” he continued.
From the doorway, I saw my great-uncle peering out. Checking on the commotion. His face did not show concern. He was more disgusted at the sight of his own son wasting away on the rocking chair. As quick as he had peered out, and without acknowledging my presence, my great-uncle turned away and slammed the door hard.
Uncle Charlie’s eyes bored into mine, not letting me go with his drunken tirade, or so I thought.
“Fucking old man is disgusted of my sight, you know?” he said, referring to his Father. “They all are. ‘An Abomination,’ is what they say about me. My little brother, who I so protected; wouldn’t look me in the face.”
He leaned forward, almost losing his balance. He reached for me with his skeletal hand and tugged at jacket to pull me closer to him. I leaned over so our face was inches away.
“You don’t think I’m disgusting do you?” he asked. His breath smell rancid and I could make out the indention of his caved skull underneath the thin head-rag.
“You’ve changed,” I managed in a weak voice. “You’re different. Your attitude is what’s ugly about you. Why are you acting this way?”
His cold eyes penetrate me. They were the eyes of a dead man. The tiny rays of the evening sun reflected something horrifying. The window to his soul was painted black. They were no longer the eyes of a man who I dearly loved.
His lips curled into a sneering smile.
“You wouldn’t understand what I went through,” he said, venom building up inside him. “I was in the Here and in the There. Six months, I attempted to Return. Six months in the Darkness.”
My own eyes bored back at him. This time, my eyes were dry and no longer the tears threatened to break. My eyes reflected his coldness. My heart harden. I straighten up and stood tall in front of this shell of a person.
“That place that you went to,” I said, slowly and stronger than before, “…You left something behind.”
I turned and walked away without saying goodbye. I did not look back at the thing sitting on the front porch, wasting away with its filth. Soon when Night approach, it will continue to Exist and continue its charade. But deep down, I know for sure after peering into its soulless eyes that my loving Uncle died that night when he was attacked.
Whatever that was sitting on the front porch, it was neither from the Here or There.
© Copyright 2016 Sammy Wang Yang. All rights reserved.