Of Life and Death

It was a bloody mess. There were no other words for it.

An oil tanker had jack-knifed on the bridge late last night, early this morning. Though the spill was minimal compared to its capacity, there was a spill. The bridge was temporarily closed and oh how the morning commuters loved that while a clean-up crew did its best. Still, they are only human and they were not in control of the weather, when they gave the all clear and opened the bridge again.

Several cloudbursts opened up over the city within a forty-five-minute period earlier that afternoon and a drunk driver spun out of control on slick patch of oil and rain. It caused a vicious domino effect that resulted in too many vehicles playing a deadly game of bumper cars before it was over. Emergency services from various neighborhoods were on the scene, sirens closed in from the distance with the promise of more arriving.

Ignoring the police blockade He drove directly onto the bridge and parked. He stepped out of the gleaming pale vehicle and stretched to His full height, His posture very erect as He walked away as the vehicle door slowly swung down and closed. His fair complexion and long limbs belied the strength of the nicely toned body beneath the black suit, shirt and shoes He wore. Though simply calling it a black suit was slovenly; it did not do it justice at all.  It was not simply black. A friend had once joked with Him that it was darker than midnight in hell and dubbed it hereafter. There was a certain something about it, the subtle sheen, the way it fit His form, yet it moved with His casual stride in an elegance that radiated bespoke. His dress shirt was open from the top two buttons that exposed a hint of collar-bone and chest and the expanse of His long neck. He wore an equally black fedora on his dark curls, tilted roguishly over piercing mercurial eyes, a patrician nose and full cupid bow lips. His leather shoes were near soundless, as soundless as the ever-present gleaming black walking stick with silver ferrule and skull head handle he carried.

No one noticed Him, as with a single determination, He stepped out into the middle of the tableau before Him and glanced around. His luminous eyes took in everything.

There was screaming and crying all around.

Two cars had flipped over. Three cars were on fire, a fourth was dangerously close to its own conflagration. A delivery car for Gladiola Florist crashed, flipped on its roof and landed on the roof of another vehicle that had slammed into a guard rail. The angle and weight of the car had it teetering dangerously on the sheer edge of the rail. Terror completely immured the young female driver unable to stop its slow, yet inevitable slide into the murky waters of the river below. He heard babies, children and adults crying and screaming alike. There was at least one body thrown from its vehicle in a tattered, mangled twist of bone, muscle, blood and clothing before Him. There several other vehicles in various states of damage. Those that could move on their own, slowly did, as their respective drivers settled and thanked their lucky stars.

He looked at the dust, gas, oil, carnage around Him and smiled; seventeen vehicles, thirty-nine lives.

Oh, it was a bloody mess, indeed!

With a small amused shake of His head He tapped the walking stick to the pavement.

And.

Time.

Stopped.

A quick tip of His tongue ran across his inner bottom lip. A rich baritone chuckle escaped from deep in His throat as a familiar excitement thrummed through Him.

Let’s dance.”

He grabbed the mangled body before Him first. Male, thirty-two, head chef at a restaurant, had not worn a seat belt, was thrown through the windshield and then struck by a SUV that crushed his torso, yet left him conscious. He had been a decent, if reckless, man in this life; there was no need to let him suffer that much pain.

The young female driver is the first to notice Him. Nineteen years of age, university student, late for class after making a delivery, the car was a present from her father, she had her hair recently cut at the salon. She smiled as her panic abated when He curved his hand from where He stands, yet caressed her face and eased her fear. He snatched claim of her before the car free-felled into the water.

A six-month old infant, shaken badly in the car seat from the impact, and his twenty-six-year-old mother, ribs broken that punctured her lungs in two places were next. The howls of the now childless twenty-eight-year-old widower, sat with them, his face frozen in the pain that will be his life for a long while.

An elderly couple was next. She, eighty-three, heart failure. He seventy-six, aneurysm.

Why you saucy little minx! Married a man seven years your junior. Oh, that had to be quite the tongue-wagging back in the day. I bet you were something!

They have shared fifty-seven years of married life together. In a blink of His eyes neither will know a day apart from the other.

A forty-one-year-old female was going into Insulin shock. He shook His head.

No, not this time. Next time you’re mine.

Even as He thought the words, He could see paramedics, currently frozen in time, were on their way.

He moved about the scene, laying claim to those whose time had come, noting those He sensed were close to His calling. He was moving on to another calling when a scene off to the side got His attention.

A man on the ground, tall, twenty-seven, athletic body – runner, his face frozen in a contorted scream. That was not what caught His attention. It was the man kneeling by his side. Mid-thirties, average height, solid form, blond hair streaked with silver, former military, doctor, his bloodied hands pressed on the athletic man’s abdomen.  An abdomen that was splayed to the world. There was a grim, but absolute determination on the doctor’s face.

He walked away to another scene that caught His eye. A woman, twenty-eight, average built, a nurse in the midst of falling away from the open door driver side of a car. The result of a shove from a meaty hand of the muscular built, forty-nine-year-old male driver, his grey eyes radiated hate that seemed to block out that pain he had to be feeling with the jagged shrapnel that protruded through the windshield into his chest.

Eyes narrowed He unfreezes just that scene.

The nurse hit the ground hard, then got up, and being professional attempted to get the man to see reason, but was cut off from speaking.

“Shut up you stupid bitch. I don’t want you touching me!” It was not as vicious as it could have been when only one lung functioned properly as he went into a diatribe of racist insults until the pain grasped him full on and he starts screaming.

Walk away, go help someone worthy of your kindness.

The nurse walked away to help a woman trapped in her car. Thirty-one, heavy-set, barista by day, student by night, mother of twins. The driver side door pushed in, in a way that was painful enough to render her unconscious.

No, not her; she is mine.

He took her. The nurse saw the moment she went from unconscious to gone, shook her head sadly and went to help someone else.

He looks at the man in the car, the screaming has become whimpering. The whimpering stops as He is noticed. And like the woman who spotted Him earlier, he knows it’s his time. Where she greeted Him in understanding, this one is terrified.

A life lived wrong, will do that to some.

The man belongs to Him, but He does not like ugly. And unlike the first man, He will not take this one yet, He will let him suffer in pain for a while more.

He returns to the scene with the doctor and unfreezes it.

“I promise you, it looks worse than it is.” The doctor keeps pressure on the wound, lashing material tightly around the man’s abdomen, essentially keeping his guts inside his body. “You are not dying today! You’re not!”

The doctor lifts his head looking around and for the briefest moment He is rooted to the spot with the impression of being seen as the doctor’s fathomless blue eyes appeared to look right at Him as he attempts to get the attention of paramedics. Unlike the good doctor, the athlete does see Him and starts babbling. It’s the fear and begging and galimatias of many when they see Him and know. By now He has heard it all in the final moments. He half shrugs, very much as the doctor is doing his job; He’s merely performing His. He sweeps His walking stick over the scene.

The athlete goes into cardiac arrest, becoming non-responsive.

“NO!” The doctor yells, his battlefield training kicking into high gear, applying countermeasures. “I’ve got you. Do you hear me? You’re not dying. I would fight Death himself if I have to. You are not dying on me!”

A sly twinkle appeared in His eyes at the impudence of the statement. Why is He so beguiled by this man, this doctor?

The irony of this literal fight between life and Death is not lost on Him as He watches the doctor, fascinated by his tenacity to keep his patient alive at all costs.

He remembers the other lives in the balance and collects them, including the racist, so he can return to the doctor, now working with paramedics who finally arrived by his side. The athlete is His to take, but for some reason He does not want to disappoint this doctor who has fought so hard.

He sweeps His walking stick over the athlete again whose heart immediately settles. His wounds are still what they are, he will have a harsh recovery, but no, he will not die from them.

He taps His walking stick to the ground once more and all time reasserts itself.

He’ll have to balance this with another life, but this life is His gift to the doctor. The immense relief in the doctor’s face evident, his smile genuine and warm as his patient comes around.

Oh, I will have to come visit with you again Doctor.

But works calls and He must heed. He walks to the pale car that opens to accept Him and drives away to the next site.

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MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie: Wordle-161
Insulin, Posture, Shake, Suffer, Cloudburst, Immure, Hereafter, Slovenly, Radiate, Gladiola, Restaurant, Galimatias
Use at least ten of the twelve words in a story or poem.

The Sunday Whirl: 305
Drunk, Snatch, Sheer, Single, Tattered, Lash, Rooted, Dust, Curve, Sly, Spun, Blink
Use at least ten of the twelve words in a story or poem.

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie: Tale Weaver # 126 – Death
Write a story about death – from Death’s point of view.

MLMM – Tale Weaver #107: Lost

We are wandering through ancient streets and hills. Well, I’m wandering, for I have no clue as to our destination, if any, she is strolling. She’s avoiding the main thoroughfares as much as possible, taking alternate paths as only one who lives and breathes these streets can. I tease that I think we’re lost, but I envy the ease of how she knows her way around, casually acknowledging points of interest. I see how every now and then she starts to go for my hand, but then stops herself. I don’t know what to do about that, so I put my hands in my pockets and try to remember to keep them there. Otherwise, she is charming, engaging and yeah I like her, but nothing more. She knows this. When she smiles at me, the corners waver a little, and it makes me feel a little bad, but what can I do?

We stop at a quaint trattoria for one of the best meals that I can remember, which is not saying much. I am enjoying the meal immensely, lost in the deliciousness of it all, but she barely touches hers. I’m watching her push the pasta from one end of the plate to the other, not really knowing what else to do. As we pass the maître de upon leaving, he gives us a hearty enough sendoff, but somehow I know he knows what is going on between she and I.

It was early afternoon when we started this impromptu tour. It was now dusk and the city was becoming a different kind of alive. There was something vaguely familiar, comforting about it that tugged at me, but I could not put a name to it. Ever watchful, she could tell it was bothering me and blatantly grabbed my arm to pull me around a block or two, turn a corner and then stop. I look up and grin.

We had been strolling around these Rome streets all afternoon, and I knew I saw it in distance earlier as we walked a part of Via dei Fori Imperiali. It seemed so far away then, I was wondering if we would get to it at all, but here we were now standing right in front of it. The Flavian Amphitheatre, or as the  name the world mostly knows it by, The Coliseum, beautifully lit up for the night.

As she had held my arm, it was only natural that she takes my hand to hold; I don’t try to retract it. Her fingers are long, her nails short, yet well-manicured, and like her soft smile, I see the tiny tremors belying her nervousness as I notice the ring on the third finger of her left hand. A ring that I know was not there a few minutes ago. I am lost for words as it all comes together. I thought she was a good friend. Yes, but no.

She is my fiancée.

This afternoon, the places we stopped, the maître de at the trattoria, this moment – all of it a rehashing of the day I proposed to her, at dusk, here in front of The Coliseum. For me this afternoon was a random, but wonderful wandering. A change of pace from the emptiness that has become my life. For her it was bittersweet reminiscing. A gentle rehashing in the hopes that it would trigger something of the life we had before the car accident wiped my memories. An urgent prayer it will trigger something. A desperate plea trigger anything.

It triggers nothing.

She knows me intimately, yet I really don’t know her from any of the other tourists milling around us. Her eyes are beseeching the words that cannot fall from my lips. I shake my head sadly, watching as tears form and start to trail down her cheeks, with neither of us doing anything to abate them, as I feel lost anew.

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This week, Lorraine asks us to weave a tale with the threads of lost.

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie – Tale Weaver #107: Lost 16.02.17

 

Tale Weaver #98: December 29th – Celebration

  • What I have done since last year.
  • What I haven’t done.
  • Do I still want to do it – whatever it is – this year?
  • New things I want to do this year.
  • Plot out the general steps to accomplish such.

In what has become ritual, I spend the first couple days of the new year contemplating all the days of the previous one. It starts here with my being on this roof, making lists. It’s late and I enjoy the silence, but non-silence that is the norm for the City in the middle of night as most of the noisy fantasy that is New Year’s Eve revelry has faded into the quiet reality of New Year’s Day.  It’s cold, but I like it. It means I have the roof to myself.  Having done this for so long, everyone that matters knows where I am, and not to bother me. I come down when I’m ready or at 3am, whichever comes first.

I create these lists and then put them away in a drawer, not to be seen again until the next year. More like goal setting than resolutions, I try to accomplish what’s there to the best of my ability. Having done this for a dozen or so years, I like to review old lists first. See how my priorities have changed over time. Some years, every single thing I thought to do gets transferred in whole to the coming year. Some years, like this one, though not complete, I’m surprised and delighted by how much was done. However, one specific bullet point has transferred over for the past two years. It annoyed me to no end it somehow remained uncompleted for three years. I was determined it would not carry over into yet another year.

I glance at my watch, it’s 02:57. And as expected, I hear the old massive springs of the roof door screech when it opens at 03:00 exactly. The hall light spills onto roof momentarily, revealing a familiar shape, before plunging us back into semi-darkness as it closes. I immediately pull out a flashlight and turn it on, letting her be the moth to its flame as she makes her way to me.

Once she’s in front of me I let the flashlight shine on my notes, specifically on the last bullet point for this new year as rainbow points from the diamond ring resting in the crease of the notebook sparkle on the page while I silently plead to the heavens

  • Ask her to marry you. Pray she says yes.

I rise from one knee when my prayers are answered and swing the bright flashlight over the side of the roof in big circles.

“What are you doin– oh!”

I laugh hearing my brother’s cheering from street level as he lights fireworks at my signal. One of her favorite things, I cannot help but grin as she is completely entranced by the glittering skies for a few moments before remembering I am there. She sheepishly turns to me when the roof door squeals open again as family and friends also knowing the signal join this new celebration.

changing-seasons-01-1

Image © Mara Eastern used with permission

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We are prompted to use the picture and weave a tale in which a celebration occurs. Being it’s the end of the year, a New Year’s celebration is the obvious go to; I just gave it a little something extra.

Tale Weaver #98: December 29th – Celebration