?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Calendar

« previous entry | next entry »
Jul. 7th, 2012 | 09:14 pm

Holidays filled him with dreadful excitement. St Patrick’s Day (Amateur Night, his father had called it). Thanksgiving. The first day of deer season, turkey season, even spring bear season when there was one, though a fatal head shot in Alaska was unlikely to help him.

His calendar was filled with handwritten notations, three-day weekends highlighted, red ink for major events, blue for those he deemed of medium importance, black for the most unlikely—who was going to get sloshed and wrap their Miata around a tree on Secretaries’ Day or Martin Luther King’s birthday?—and he put stars by the ones with gunfire. Fourth of July, Cinco de Mayo, Confederate Heroes Day.

Most of his hope rested on New Year’s Eve. It would be fitting as well as likely, that someone would have one too many or cross an intersection where someone else with one too many laughed or cursed and looked for a dropped phone while accelerating, and then his life would begin again, his resolutions the new leaves of a man given another chance.

He spent long afternoons at the Kawasaki dealership, figuring the Harley riders too slow, too careful with their loud mufflers and group rides, and most of all, too old and full of their own carcinogens. The salesclerks thought him a ‘looky-loo’, but at least one who never asked for a test ride. He noted the patchy-bearded riders still fighting acne, strutting in bandannas and sunglasses and pseudo-Asian tattoos, wondering each time, Will it be you?

He told his wife they’d moved to Kentucky for the weather, better for his lungs, the soft humidity easier on his bronchi than the splinters of January in Buffalo. Laura worked remotely, filing appellate cases, and his disability check came from Frankfort instead of Albany, and the neighbors drawled y’alls thick as the air instead of the nasal resonance of you guys, but the apartment was the same, ground floor, beige rental carpet and exactly one U-Haul’s worth of furniture. The only difference that mattered was in the helmet laws.

They never went out on a holiday, not even to dinner. Around 4PM, he’d lay the table with his cell and the pager from the hospital, pick up the landline and call the phone company and the power company to check for scheduled outages. They’d watch TV or read and pretend that things were all right, that his heart was round and fat and pulsing with bright red fluids, his lungs pink and plush, the alveoli yielding to the touch like apricots in their brief season.

When the phone finally rang, in June, it was World Environment Day, not even a real holiday, not one on any calendar or that he’d bothered to ink in. When he turned from the phone, Laura knew, she had known from when it rang, he saw, and at the same time he realized he couldn’t go.

“Someone’s—”

“That’s how it works,” she said, calmly. “Don’t waste it.”

“I wished it.”

“Intent isn’t action.”

“I wished it.”

He stood still with the phone in his hand, while she got his coat and packed him into the car as gently as a child, reaching across her lap to shift while he clutched her right hand all the way to the municipal airport where the LifeFlite could land and take him to the transplant center quickly, as quickly as catastrophe, as quickly as thought.






whipchick was inspired by basric's mention of holiday weekends, and dedicates this piece to Charlotte.

Link | Leave a comment | Share

Comments {22}

medleymisty

(no subject)

from: medleymisty
date: Jul. 8th, 2012 02:36 am (UTC)
Link

Beautiful.

And I can sympathize with the POV character. Wanting to be healthy, wanting the pain to stop - it can make you think and feel things that you'd never expect.

Reply | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 11th, 2012 01:37 pm (UTC)
Link

Thanks - and, yes.

Reply | Parent | Thread

(Deleted comment)

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 11th, 2012 01:39 pm (UTC)
Link

Thanks - yeah, I wasn't quite sure how this one would turn out, but I was struck by something basric said around Memorial Day, how holidays are big transplant times, and thought, wow, so there's people for whom that's a *good* thing...

Reply | Parent | Thread

blahblahblah, whatever

(no subject)

from: kathrynrose
date: Jul. 8th, 2012 12:47 pm (UTC)
Link

It's haunting. After the first couple of paragraphs there's the, "Oh..." of realization what the perspective is behind it. I never considered leveraging the odds by living in a no-helmet-required state. But of course in that situation everything would occur to you.

It's a story that leaves me thinking and unsettled. Then I saw the tag, "horror," and I thought yes. It's that kind of psychological horror that you can't shake away by telling yourself it isn't real.

Reply | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 11th, 2012 01:39 pm (UTC)
Link

Thanks - yeah, I was trying to go for that kind of "the horror...the horror" sort of moment when you get what you wished for.

Reply | Parent | Thread

Myrna

(no subject)

from: myrna_bird
date: Jul. 8th, 2012 02:39 pm (UTC)
Link

Wow. Very interesting. I never would have thought to increase the odds of getting a donor by moving to a state with no helmet laws on the books.

Reply | Thread

notodette

(no subject)

from: notodette
date: Jul. 10th, 2012 04:49 am (UTC)
Link

This.

Reply | Parent | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 11th, 2012 01:41 pm (UTC)
Link

Yeah, I don't know if anyone actually does that, but I have heard of people moving to be closer to the transplant center so they'll be called sooner (some organs don't last as long so the center is less likely to call a patient in from farther away).

Reply | Parent | Thread

revelgrove

(no subject)

from: revelgrove
date: Jul. 8th, 2012 09:39 pm (UTC)
Link

Very glad my cousin, who needs three organs, is in the south for the same reason as Kentucky.

Reply | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 11th, 2012 01:42 pm (UTC)
Link

You know the weirdest part? It was actually tough to find a Southern state with a "no helmets at all" law that a lawyer would want to move to! Even Kentucky is technically an "adults don't have to" state, but it's the one that occurred to me because I'd ridden with no helmet there.

Reply | Parent | Thread

alycewilson

(no subject)

from: alycewilson
date: Jul. 9th, 2012 02:07 am (UTC)
Link

It would be a sobering call to wait for. I like the introspection in this, the mixed emotions.

FYI, I've finally sent out a personalized version of your LJI press release to my local papers. I'll let you know if there are any takers!

Edited at 2012-07-09 02:08 am (UTC)

Reply | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 11th, 2012 01:42 pm (UTC)
Link

Thanks for reading.

Terrific - I hope you get some coverage!

Reply | Parent | Thread

Charlotte Croson

(no subject)

from: Charlotte Croson
date: Jul. 9th, 2012 02:32 am (UTC)
Link

Heh. :)

Oh, and good job, evocative yet terse.

Edited at 2012-07-09 02:33 am (UTC)

Reply | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 11th, 2012 01:42 pm (UTC)
Link

Thanks :)

Reply | Parent | Thread

the_day_setup

(no subject)

from: the_day_setup
date: Jul. 10th, 2012 06:45 pm (UTC)
Link

As a motorcyclist, I would like to say I deeply resented this entry. But once I caught on to what you were up to, I have to admit, I chuckled.

Reply | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 11th, 2012 01:43 pm (UTC)
Link

Hey, at least I didn't actually call them "organ donors" :)

Reply | Parent | Thread

Kristen

(no subject)

from: pixiebelle
date: Jul. 10th, 2012 07:55 pm (UTC)
Link

This was very surprising. I started picking up hints, but the very beginning made me think that he was a cop or something. It held my interest throughout and you wrote it perfectly to convey just what we needed to know when so that the ending still took our breath away.

One of my favorites by you. Well done.

Reply | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 11th, 2012 01:45 pm (UTC)
Link

Thank you so much - what a lovely compliment!

Reply | Parent | Thread

Lose 10 Pounds of Ugly Fat...  Cut Off Your Head.

(no subject)

from: n3m3sis42
date: Jul. 11th, 2012 11:11 am (UTC)
Link

I think I'm slow, because even without noticing the horror tag I kept wondering what he was going to do with a dead body. Although that was probably your intention. I'm not sure I was supposed to be wondering all the way up until the phone call came, though. In my defense it's early.

This was really well done. I liked the horrorish feel with a true-to-life ending.

Reply | Thread

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Jul. 11th, 2012 01:47 pm (UTC)
Link

You know, I think I do mean that - because I don't talk about the state of his heart and lungs until the sentence before the phone rings. Hmmm...I wonder, are you familiar with describing motorcyclists without helmets as "organ donors"? I'm not sure how widespread that is, I realize now, but I think that's supposed to be a big hint. I did try to make the whole thing short enough that it was OK to not know what's happening until the end. Which may or may not have succeeded :)

Reply | Parent | Thread

Lose 10 Pounds of Ugly Fat...  Cut Off Your Head.

(no subject)

from: n3m3sis42
date: Jul. 11th, 2012 01:49 pm (UTC)
Link

I'm pretty sure I've heard the term before now that you mention it. I feel like I was a little slow this morning anyway, due to crappy sleep last night. Either way, it was cool how you did this piece. :)

I did figure out that his body was breaking down pretty early, though. When you mentioned the smokers in the Harley dealerships, I suspected. For some reason, though, my brain just went to "oh, is he going to steal the person's body"? No idea why, because accidents wouldn't be conducive to that. So yeah, I'm slow.

Edited at 2012-07-11 01:50 pm (UTC)

Reply | Parent | Thread

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors

(no subject)

from: halfshellvenus
date: Jul. 12th, 2012 06:25 am (UTC)
Link

The ending explains the sense of ghoulishness at the beginning, though it must feel that way to the main character. It's so important-- it's everything, if he's going to have a future-- but you still don't want it to happen to any given individual.

where the LifeFlite could land and take him to the transplant center quickly, as quickly as catastrophe, as quickly as thought.
That final sentence was just gorgeous. I love how it carries both the sense of hope and the regrets of what the accident means for other people (and how the main character would not be able to escape thinking he'd caused it).

Reply | Thread