The large framed thick lenses of his glasses magnify the sorrow. His eyes screaming - "Come in! See how much I hate being here!"
Three to five days in ICU, they promised, two to three in POC. You will be released to recover for eight weeks a(more)t home, they said. He signed. Complications are rare, they said.
Ten days latter and many procedures and test performed because of the many "rare" complications.
I put more of his favorite chocolate bars on the table, with a forced smile. "Look! I brought your favorite." The ones I brought the day before are still there. As if more are going to cheer him up, I keep adding them to the point that there is hardly room for his lunch tray. In which he whispers, "It looks like someone already ate this." He stares down at the - chicken? covered in - stuffing? smothered in - gravy?
He calls me at five in the morning. "I think they are going to release me at ten today. Bring my cowboy boots and a pair of depends."
He slips off his gown. He buttons his shirt and slips the heart monitor through a button hole, putting it in his breast pocket.
I explain, "Dad, they have another test. I don't know if you should wear yourself out getting dressed to leave yet. The doctor may not be able to release you if it hasn't improved."
He gets dressed.
After the results, he undresses. Back his gown and bare butt, he lifts himself into the bed. Winded, he slowly removes his thick lenses so his tears won't be magnified. Then they begin.
"I'm not a baby!" He grumbles, as I help cover his legs.
"You're still a man. You're just a sick man, Dad."(less)
Late night, early august. Dog days. Two A.M. and still no relief from the heat. Doesn't help the insomnia. And I don't make much effort to fight it.
Monitor light plasters itself across my face. Icy crescents in my dilated pupils, grinning like hearthfire. I'm engrossed in the(more) act of forgetting. Reading anything. Everything. Attempting to inhabit someone else's body, someone else's story. Trying to forget I am who I am.
Time was indeterminate in that space. Then the explosion came.
Loud. Enough to rattle the windows in their panes. Like a gas plant going up somewhere out back, but only miles of swamp out there. No light, no smoke. No smell of burning. All that followed was the suddenly deeper silence of a forest made self-aware.
Bud shot up from a twitchy dream and started howling at the back door. Obviously not going to let him out until I know what the hell's going on. He's acting strange. First reaction is a lot of noise. Then he gets real quiet and still. Eerily still. Statuesque. For the first time, he doesn't react when I call his name.
His nose starts to twitch. Almost indiscernab. Then more. More. Until he's suddenly possessed. Barking, clawing, summoning a lifetime's worth of suppressed instinct, not brave, but feral with an almost feverish panic. I try to pull him back. He bites. Leaves a pair of rosy gashes on my palm. Now I know something's very, very wrong.
He keeps clawing. Old wood splinters. He's out out like a shot.
I curse. Fumble for the flashlight in the cabinet below the sink. Kick my way out the door and start following the now distant sound of his voice.
Far and fast. I'm out of my element, but the farther I go the more obvi-
Aching for the beat
Of black hearts thrumming
Smell of herbs
(more) And open wounds
All will be forgiven soon
Hear the tremble
Of soil beneath
As you open the gates
The gates to heat