Run, Nicky, Run Chapter 2

Ch. 2.

My nurse, or nurse’s aid was “Matt,” but I remember him more fondly as “Banana Matt,” or just “Pain in my ass”. He was obese, and reeked of cigarettes when he got close to me. The nicotine was still lingering in my system on day two, and I really had no stomach for anything. Severe nausea was making the very idea of eating absolutely wretched. I wanted to push Matt out a window. I’m sure that sounds cruel, but you’d understand, if you had been me.

But here comes Matt, like clockwork, with his greasy, dirty blonde hair, and sing-song cheery voice that was about as authentic as pasteurized cheese product.

“Hey, Nicky! I brought you your breakfast. Now, I know you haven’t been feeling quite up to eating, and all, but I had the kitchen make you something really nice for that burning throat.” He placed a tray beside me, and took off the lid with a flourish, as if he were serving me the finest fare from a five-star restaurant. Viola! I stared at an unpeeled banana- the second one I had no desire for, and a small cup of cottage cheese. Normally, I would have really enjoyed the cottage cheese, but I was just not feeling it.

“Therrre ya’ go, Nicky! Now, I want you to be sure to eat this, because you really don’t want that tube feeding deal. It really sucks- and– I know you will want to be getting out of here and back to your life. So, is there anything else I can get for you, sweet pea?”

There are so many things I wanted to say to Matt at that moment. I guarantee he would never again think of the words ” sweet pea” and me in the same thought.  However, my throat felt like raw meat. My feeble attempts earlier in the day to speak to my husband were very frustrating. Luckily, he’s a very patient and understanding man, and very loving. He fed me ice chips from a spoon, and I almost cried. He held my hand and stroked my face, and told me all about the antics of the dog, and the kids. My daughters would both be up this afternoon. We didn’t get into the hows and whys of it all, or how close I came to death. There would be time enough for that once I got out of here. Lawson and I watched TV for a couple of hours, and then both fell asleep. I knew he hadn’t gotten any more sleep the night before than I had. It meant so much to have him there beside me. I’d never needed him more. I couldn’t begin to start processing everything yet. I was still groggy and sometimes would wake up and wonder what the hell I was doing in the hospital. I asked one nurse who came in and woke me up if the tonsillectomy had gone well. She laughed, opened the drapes, and said, “No, honey. I’m afraid not. You were poisoned, remember?”

Today, though, with Matt’s visit, my anger was awakened, which lead me to start thinking about all of it. The run, the drink, the burning. I didn’t know all the details, yet. I took the banana and stacked in on top of the other one on my nightstand. Lawson would be back again, soon. He promised to bring me stuff from the house I might want. I don’t remember what.

Sometime later I was awakened by a doctor, and someone else I didn’t know.

“Nicky, hi. I’m Doctor Lassiter, and this is Nora Dunn. She’s a detective, and if you’re feeling up to it, she wants to ask you some questions about the incident in the park, so they can try to find out exactly what happened and who may have done this to you, OK?”

Really. I pointed to my throat and shook my head- the universal signal for “no”.

“Nicky, don’t worry. I am going to keep this short and simple. The doctor told me you can’t speak right now. I’m going to ask you some yes and no questions, and you can just nod, or shake your head, “no”, OK?”

This sounded agreeable, so I nodded.

“Your drink bottle was full of traces of nicotine. I know this may sound silly, but just for the record, did you have any intentions to harm yourself that day?”

I shook my head no, and tried to stare into her soul and convey that yes, that was a stupid question.

“I didn’t think so. And, did you see anyone near your car at any time? Not just in passing, but maybe someone who seemed to be hanging around, or lurking?”

Again, no.

“Ok. I want you to know we are taking this matter very seriously, and already have prints on the drink bottle that don’t match yours” I thought her eyes were kind, and she seemed honest. I didn’t remember anyone taking my prints, but obviously they had. Never mind. I was still feeling mostly sick, and tired. I wanted to see my daughters, and my husband. I wanted sleep, and most of all I wanted this burning throat to stop. I got an idea. I pantomimed the concept of writing , using one hand for the pen, the other for paper.

“Absolutely, Miss Nicky. Here you go.” She reached into her bag and pulled out a tablet, tore the first sheet off, then gave it to me with a pen. She probably thought I was going to give her some juicy information about the incident, which is what I wanted her to think. I had a good chance of getting the paper and pen that way. I wrote “Thanks” on the sheet, and a smiley face. Then I wrote, “Going to take a nap now. Thanks so much”.

Stay tuned for more….

Hope you enjoyed it.


Run, Nicky, Run

Run, Nicky, Run

Chapter 1

I close my eyes, and settle in to bed, feeling the burden of my body’s weight slip away. I am grateful the day requires no more effort on my part. I no longer have to control each muscle, to fight fatigue and pain with every moment. It’s over- for now. I sigh deeply, and smile from the pleasure that a good night’s sleep will bring. Tomorrow will be better. The doctor says I am only months away from being able to take a walk around the lake again, or to swim. Sure, I’ll have to start slowly at first. I see myself, a new runner and only 44 years old. I thought I was past my prime, close to over- the- hill. Looking back on it, that was my prime. I had plenty of strength and mobility, and the best part was at that age, I had learned the value of hard work and perseverance. Nothing could stop me, or so I thought. Over the next two years, I continued to progress. two miles became three, then four. The first day I completed five miles, I was ecstatic. I was not the fastest, by any means. My game was endurance, and I was winning.

The races came, and while I never finished at the top, or even in the top five, I kept going. I was fit, my husband and I had something in common, now. I was happy that we had a new bond. He was happy he had inspired me to run.

People sometimes asked me if I’d been injured, and how long it took to recover. They’d notice the scar on my knee and assume I’d torn it up running. Not even close. I simply fell off my bike because I had been drinking beer and showing off. It wasn’t even that bad, I just scar easily. I’d never been injured running, even though I never ran before the age of 44.  Now, the beer was behind me, and every step I ran, I ran from the past. I ran away from pain, from fear and worry, from feeling I was a failure, and never measured up. I’d see a still snapshot in my mind of one of my daughters, and smile with pride. They were my inspiration.

The treadmill was punishment, but it is what laid the foundation of my learning to pace myself, to judge my timing and know when to push at the last mile or two of my runs. Still, I yearned for the outdoors.

Finally, spring came, and my outdoor runs began. I loved the park. It had a gorgeous lake running through the middle of it, all the way around the 3.5 miles. I was enjoying my time at the park more and more. It was my escape, and my redemption.

One splendid late spring day at the lake, the run seemed especially easy to me. I felt I’d reached a new plateau. It was time to begin to push myself for more speed. At the end of my second lap, I decided I would really put the heat on, and see what I could do.

Pride goeth before the fall. Many times I had already learned this lesson the hard way, but I foolishly wanted to have something to brag about to my husband that night. I wanted him to be proud of me, and I decided in a blink that I wanted to start finishing races in the top five. I knew I had another lap in me, even though I’d already run seven miles.

I slowed when I got to where my car was parked, and grabbed my Zero cal. Berry Energized drink bottle off the top, and guzzled the last of it. It was lukewarm, which I am not too fond of, preferring instead to walk a bit to the vending machine and buy a cold bottle. But not today. Today I couldn’t take that time. I had to keep running.

Security is not something I generally considered when it came to water or drink bottles. I never considered locking down my beverages. My car, yes. My purse and cell phone, naturally. Nothing felt odd or wrong to me when I put that bottle to my lips. It was hydration, and I needed it, and was grateful to have it. After downing it, I put the lid back on as to not litter, and turned the bottle sideways between the slots on my roof rack so it wouldn’t blow away, and I began to pick up my pace. I had just enough of a respite  to really add some speed now.  Within fifty yards, something felt wrong. My stomach felt like it was being stretched and pulled.  A strange burning sensation began creeping up from my stomach and down from my throat simultaneously.  I was still running, but slowing. In fact, everything felt like it was going in slow motion.  The pain increased throughout my entire body, now. Fire, and gnawing, and then I couldn’t breathe very well. I remember looking up at the leaves on trees. The sun was so beautiful, streaming through them. I remember wondering if my head hit very hard. I couldn’t feel it.  I couldn’t feel anything but  fire, and the burning increased to the point where I could feel my eyes protruding and tongue  clogging my throat and I became instantly petrified. I was dying. I saw a face above mine, and I don’t remember this part, but I was told later, in the hospital that the guy who tried to help me and who called 911 was still having nightmares about that day. I guess my purple face, bulged- out eyes and blood drizzling from my nose and mouth kinda spooked the poor soul.

The paramedics had no idea of what was happening to my body.  They briefly suspected a hemorrhagic virus, but it was highly unlikely. The bleeding didn’t continue, anyway. During the ambulance ride, the main concern became keeping me breathing.  A tracheotomy tube was inserted. My heart had to be de-fibbed. Luckily, the guy who found me had seen me go to my car. My key was found safety pinned to my short’s waistband. Other personnel opened my car and grabbed my purse, and found my phone.  I had been dutiful to put my husband’s name in my contact list followed by “ICE” , so he was the first one called.  I am glad there is a hospital right by the park. At first they thought they might need to life flight me away to a bigger facility, but they decided to work on stabilizing me first. Transferring me might be the best option at any moment, though, so staff was ready to move me immediately, if word came. Honestly, they didn’t expect me to live. My poor husband showed up, but I wasn’t there to see his face. I imagine it, though ; all his color drained, his eyes wild with fear, frantically pumping the doctors and nurses for information.

I am glad he didn’t call my mom. The shock would be too much. I lost my sister a couple of years ago, to a long- standing illness. I was amazed that my mom survived it , with her COPD as bad as it is, and only worse now.

The reason I lay there, looking like Linda Blair in the Exorcist, was a complete mystery. At some point, a toxicology report was run. That’s when the real fun began.

Somehow, the nicotine levels in my blood were ridiculously high. The whole thing was nearly missed, being the least likely of the drugs abused and  associated with the area where I live. But, after my drooling and convulsions, someone got a clue.

I was absent during my possession, really. I hope I dreamed good dreams, but somehow I doubt it. Dialysis came next. The suction device for my profuse drooling disturbs me to think about more than some of the other aspects of it all, strangely.

What really saved me, I found out later, was the fact that I had been an avid nicotine gum chewer for years. My tolerance of the shit was so high already, that I was able to survive it better than most. Meanwhile, the whole thing suddenly became an investigation when it was determined that I didn’t choose to drink a large amount of nicotine. My car was searched. The bottle was still on top of the car. Bingo! Loaded with traces of the stuff.

Better news was that there were prints on the bottle that didn’t match mine…

More of Run, Nicky Run coming soon. Hope you enjoyed…

Unbroken- Chapter 1. “Remember Me- Not”

He leaned down to kiss me. I had been dreaming vividly…of something. It was another of my great adventure dreams, torn asunder. The kiss was sweet, though. He smelled of his aftershave lotion- mellow,  warm and sexy. “Mmmn”…is all I can muster, then he was gone. I continued to enjoy the quiet of the morning. I checked the time. 7:08. great. I really had no reason to be up this early. So, I figured I would just sleep in, but that wasn’t  possible, because I could feel a definite morning bladder coming on.

I made some coffee, and an interesting breakfast smoothie with kale, frozen banana, protein powder, spinach, and a handful of frozen blueberries. I blended that all together with almond milk. It was good. I am so far removed from my previous lifestyle of donuts and cold cereal.

I did need to check my e-mail. Not the public account- my work account. Nobody knows about this e-mail address except those who need to know- me, and my boss, and his boss. Remembering a password of the complexity required is nearly impossible, but I have it memorized for this month. I have to enter it a total of four times to finally gain access to my account. I try to check it daily, but never at the same time each day, and never when anyone’s at home. If I go on vacation, or am involved in any other activity of normal life, and cannot access the e-mail, I have to account for my missing time, because I get assignments twice per month. I can only refuse one per month, but that is usually more than enough. What really is hilarious is how each e-mail is supposed to be a cleverly disguised message embedded in a spam-ish looking ‘ad’. They need to work on that. Nevertheless, they are generic enough that anyone who happened to look over my shoulder would never question its content or source. The other nice feature is that it doesn’t look like e-mail, but rather a corporate web-site, full of annoying little fake ads in the corners, just like a clothing store or online cosmetics retailer might have.

Saturday, July 28.

Crosspeak Industries proudly announces the Grand Opening of our newest location! Mark your calendars for August 3., and come down between noon and three o’clock to take advantage of all the great deals!

Take I-5 south and exit at 41. Stay on track until you see the Crosspeak Bridge Banner. Ask an associate how you can save!

There is a cute, but ridiculous 20% off everything- in- stock coupon printed below that, but my job is to first decode the  message within this message. First off, I know the way they do things. Everything is backward. If the message says south, you go north, and the exits are always reversed, as well, but will also always be legit. Again, if anyone gets savvy to the message and were to realize that there is no exit 41 on I-5 southbound, that would never do. Thing is, I won’t be going to exit 41, but 14. And I’ll be headed north. It’s a strange system, but it works. The next thing I have to figure out is Crosspeak- this means there will be a meeting with me, my boss, and one of our clients. The Bridge Banner is most likely going to be the spot, and I have to look for a sign (literally or figuratively) once I get to the exit. Bridge Banner could be a literal bridge, it could be that we meet near a sign on a bridge. It could even be someone’s name on a mailbox or the name of a park. It’s always a  pain in the ass figuring these things out, but the funny part is that my boss always drives the same SUV and I will be looking for that more than anything. I guess asking him to use a GPS app on his phone would be asking too much. All the secrecy we use might have you assuming I am some kind of spy, doing some really important spy-movie shit. No. What I really do is even more surprising but not glamorous or high-budget  like what you see at IMAX-  such as  MI4 with Tom Cruise.  No. It’s not like that at all. Yeah, I do all my own stunts…

Your next guess may be that I am an undercover prostitute, meeting with my pimp and ‘john’. Nice try, but disgusting. No. Drug sales? No. It’s all completely legal, mainly because there is no law in the books to regulate what we do. Well, at least not yet.  Besides,  nobody is supposed to know that this sort of service exists. It wouldn’t be seen as…normal, I guess.

People come to me through carefully arranged meetings for one purpose- to forget. My boss has the job of taking care of all the details to ensure that physical clues, documents, and location don’t serve as inconvenient reminders of what the clients want forgotten. This is the trickiest part, because, like the song goes, “…there’s always something there to remind me”. This is the reason we don’t take cases of the brokenhearted lover, wanting to be forever rid of the memories of their ex. Well, the ex has all their memories, as does your mom, sister, uncle Fred, and the mailman. Ditto the three neighbors that you and your ex partied with on last July 4th and New Year’s. How are you going to scrub that memory, really? We also won’t take cases of guilty consciences wanting to expunge some crime- whether illegal or not. What we specialize in is traumatic memories, where our clients have been victimized and feel the only way to a normal life is to remove those memories. My boss is the counselor with our clients first. His sessions are long and extensive, wherein which he explains that as painful as a memory may be, our experiences help to shape us and to make us stronger. He give the client every reason to rethink their decision before we move on. Believe it or not, sometimes what doesn’t kill us, really does make us stronger. However, there are some very real benefits to our program. Victims of sexual abuse and rape are the most rewarding to help. Counseling is also very beneficial here. We feel it is vital that the client process the emotions involved, and especially to work on forgiveness- if not for their attacker, then at least for themselves. Sometimes, we erase the memories, but the person is still not happy. It is vital the would-be clients don’t think that erasing painful memories will instantly improve their entire lives and work like some magic happy pill.  We also have to do the tricky job of setting up the client so that they no longer have any ties to us- no business cards, no records of phone calls, no huge time gaps. Once the memory is gone, if they still remember us and what we did for them, the majority of them, being as all humans, very curious animals, will dig and try to figure out what the memory was that we erased, and thus relive it all or go mad trying to figure out a non-existent conspiracy.

The August third meeting will not be with a new client, but rather with an established one. “Mary” is 34, with persistent thoughts of suicide and an inability to sleep or , well, really- function at all. She is an incest victim. The family has always denied it. She is the perfect candidate for my treatment, and today’s meeting is about the need to start erasing all ‘tracks’ of us in her life just before we undergo the procedure. She confided in her closest friend and fiance’ that she is going to have the memories purged, and they have been required to swear to absolute secrecy- to never tell her about what she has revealed to them, to help her to heal. This part gets very complicated at times. The best memories to erase are the ones that have never been shared. This is no absolute science. If anyone close to “Mary” ever decides to blurt, though, Mary will most likely just be very confused and think the person telling her this is simply mad . We council those close to the client that if they do reveal the secrets, they will simply seem quite crazy to the person they are speaking to, and may cause harm , if any remnants of the memory remain deep inside the  subconscious, by digging them up.

Today, however, there is a second e-mail in my ‘box’. This one looks like a new client, and the business name of  “Freebird” Enterprises is code for me to know that it’s an ex-con. This should be interesting. This has been the biggest growth area to our business. One-time criminals who have served their time often come to us to give them a new lease on life. Our first ‘freebird’ told us that he believed that if he had no memories of the crimes he committed, and the horrific prison years that followed, he would truly be ‘born again’, completely a blank slate, and not trapped by the life he chose in the past. He had spent 30 years in jail for beating his wife’s lover to death after walking in on them as they lie sleeping on the marriage bed. I told him I would not take his case. I told him that his conscience and memories were there for a reason. It goes like that a lot. People just want to dump their bags of crap at someone’s door and not be bothered by their pesky memories reminding them of what they have done. My thinking is this- if you want absolution and forgiveness, start with getting it from God and the people you’ve hurt. You don’t just get to dump those memories like garbage. You deal with that shit, or you keep carrying it.

I won’t know what this is all about until I check in, but my boss already knows how I feel about this, so I am hopeful that there is a really good reason why we should consider the case.

Chapter 2: Unreal