Monday, July 25, 2011

I Still Quit, Part 2

On your own, And I'm alone
In the shadow of what we've done.
And I can't help but think
That some day you'll be back home.
Fly away, fly away,
To your new home across the bay.
Leave your nest, oh baby leave the best
Thing that you've been.
- Quiet Riot, Metal Health, 1983

I don’t know about you, but when I realized I was dying, a wave of calm, anti-nausea floated down over me. Like cool linen sheets after the heat of a sapping July day. I felt it touch my head, my brow, coating me all the way down. Vanilla ice cream under my skin.

Or maybe it was the blood loss. But I saw my heart rate slow, the arcs of blood were heaving from my neck in fewer quarts per second.

My first aid knowledge is marginal and my on-board medical equipment was even lighter. As my vein or artery or whatever painted an abstract portrait of my death on Razor’s office wall, I went through my checklist.

Gauze? Nope, that’ll just stop the gusher from hitting the wall.
Tourniquet? Sure, if I want to die of asphyxiation rather than blood loss.

Bandaids? Geeze, c’mon idiot! Teflon suturing thread and curved number 8 needle? Too Rambo to even try.

5.5” curved lockable Kelly Forceps? ( I could clamp off the bleeder. Hawkeye and B.J. would drink a still-brewed martini to me if I could pull it off. Standing outside myself, as I write this though, it’s a ludicrous thought: forceps jutting out of my neck while I sashay down the promenade, tipping my bloodied top hat to all the ladies and ships at sea. If the CEO of my former employers hadn’t thought it a wonderful and symbolic parting gift for my “bereavement and healing leave”, I wouldn’t even have a pair of these things.
I ripped open the velcroed leg pocket and slid my thumb and finger into the smooth-edged instrument. To open it, you have to squeeze it together and then force your fore finger and thumb to move in opposite directions. Then you can pull apart like normal scissors.

I must have done it. I must have found the vein on the first shot. Klick, klick, klick. As the locking-teeth pushed over each other. The blood stopped shooting. Holy Virgin-Mary-in-a-lawn-tub, I just stopped dying!

Now I had to focus on getting out of there. Razor and his deli-slice arm-bands had gone out the door and might be rallying some troops, or the cops even. So I picked the dirt caked window. Already open, it led onto what must be one of Toronto’s last iron fire escapes.

As my feet hit the back alley’s black top, my knees buckled and the rest of my body sagged down. My face was a few inches from inhaling a used condom, a wizened mouse corpse, and several shards of beer bottle glass. It all started to fade… literally to black.

Oh right. Passing out. The Kellies had stopped the blood exiting my neck, but they were also keeping it from reaching its intended destination: my brain. 

As carefully as my palsying fingers could manage (they were already getting cold!), I unlocked the clamp and let the blood flow onto the pavement. Sharing body fluids with the condom, trying to resurrect the mummified mouse, re-filling the shattered bottle shards… and since the black stepped back, it must have replenished my thirsty brain.

A few pulses and then I re-locked the forceps in my neck. Had to keep enough blood in my limbs to make it to the car around the corner. And then?

St. Michael’s was the closest hospital. Trivia that comes with administering a medical database for pharmaceutical distribution.
As I staggered, using the building walls and lamp-posts as crutches, I pulled off the mask and helmet. Avoided eye contact, because goddammit, I didn’t want anybody to ask if I was okay. Yeah, shit-for-brains, doesn’t every Kevlar-wearing avenger have bloody forceps stuck in his throat? Just fucking move on, there’s nothing to see here, people.

I had to do the unclamp and re-clamp thing 4 more times. The last time it didn’t work. The black negligee that was being drawn over my eyeballs didn’t go away. I cracked the car into a solar-powered parking meter (How do they work at night? Where does my VISA number get stored? How fucking long did I sit in the dead car making it my casket before I threw open the door and collapsed a few meters from the yellowing plastic emergency sign at the anus end of St. Mike’s?)

The dead thick white light of the emergency sign became that light at the end of that tunnel. The so-called near death experience.

Yes, your brain gives a jerky playback of the highlights, lowlights and a few crushingly neutral moments of your life in a more or less reverse order.

The whirring sound of the bullets. The tungsten-egg-crack of a skull bone being forcibly swung open. The mewing of “Daddy! Daddy!” as she felt the word coming out of her perfect puffy lips; playing with it like a gelatinous bubble toy. The stab of an appendix rupture, more light than pain. Not the wedding, but the walking by a store window and feeling the tug of the dress on my eyes, even though her hot hand, always moist, kept heading down the gum-dotted sidewalk. Long sweet kisses peppered by the tongues of lovers with no names. The curdling rev of a motorcycle jiggling my thighs. The stench of my mother’s unwashed panties as proof she was human. Bright bouncing balls and twinkling dinkie cars in the duvet of summer sand. Air harrumphing from my lungs as the bicycle handle-bars punched me in the gut for trying to jump it over a too flexible plywood ramp. The rash of heat around my nose and eyes, the coming of a great guilty cry, even though the yellow callused hand of my father never descended towards my frightened vulnerable butt cheeks; the crashing scream scraping out of my throat “It’s not right! It’s not fair!”, before the flood of phlegm closed it up and a blazing white yet cold light blinded all my selves’ eyes.

It began to recede, that light. There’s no after life, damn you all! It’s just the brain shutting down in reverse. Neurons and nerves. Liquids and bio-electricity. All scientifically explicable and philosophically depressing. Playing the tape one last time in the opposite order that it was recorded.
And when I woke, knowing that the afterlife was a joke, a tool, a promise that had no punchline, no purpose, no pay-off… when I woke knowing that, I knew that they were gone. My girls, whose memory made me kill, cut, and torture.

No afterlife. They were gone forever. It made all this, my last purpose, my last remaining distraction, meaningless. It no longer mattered. Wow. Again the air is hammered out of my little lungs. And I don’t feel like making the effort to inhale again.

And so I quit. Fuck it. I’ll just stay here in the life-affirming blue and beige of St. Mike’s ICU and drizzle away. The tubes can feed my veins. The nurses can sponge my flaccid cock till it bleeds. The doctors can clipboard my health and practice their bedside manner at the side of my armour-plated bed. Go ahead, heal me back to Olympic standards. 

But I’m done. I’m staying right inside here.

No comments: