Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Paint Shaker

The lightning strobed across the endless blackness.

I was sitting at a table. It was small, wooden, round. The chairs were plain and matched the dull, cheap look of the table. I was wearing the same clothes I'd had on just moments before. The table was illuminated by a light source that seemed to come from nowhere, above our heads in some impossible place. It's light carried no farther than a few feet from where we all sat. Beyond that lay an inky void.

The lightning strobed across the endless blackness.

There were four men at the table with me. Three to my left, one to my right. The three men to the left were nearly identical. Aging, thinning hair, narrow faces. All wearing ill fitting black suits with white shirts. Their neck waddle hung loosely in their collars.The only way to tell them apart was that they sat in descending order of height from right to left, each a half a foot shorter than the last.

To my right was Paint Shaker. He was shirtless and hairless. His skin was a mottled gray. Over his eyes and mouth, heavy iron plates had been riveted. I called him Paint Shaker because every few seconds, his head would shake inhumanely fast, vibrating until it became a blur.

The lightning strobed across the endless blackness.

The tallest of the three men had dealt a hand of poker and I realized that I was in. All four of my opponents looked at me expectantly, waiting for me to pick up my cards. Paint Shaker's head shook violently.

I reached down and picked up what I'd been dealt. But when I saw what was on the flip side of the red Bicycle backs, I knew I was doomed. They were all coupons. Just coupons. Not even able to beat a simple pair. I considered throwing my hand to the table.

The lightning strobed across the endless blackness.

There was a ringing. A second ring. It was a telephone. A man approached in a suit. He had a fish head and was dripping wet. His suit was soaked. He held the telephone in hands that were human, but covered in scales. He reeked like a pier. The telephone was an old corded rotary number. A faded pea green, its cord trailing off into the dark infinity.

Fish Head ignored the ever growing noise from my opponents who seemed annoyed at my delay. Fish Head brought the telephone to me, its receiver still in the cradle, it's body still ringing loudly. I picked it up and put it to my ear.

The lightning strobed across the endless blackness.

“Hey. Are you okay?” It was Harry. I glanced around and looked to Paint Shaker. Was I okay? Harry repeated his question. “You alright?”

The lightning strobed across the endless blackness.

I opened my eyes. “Yeah, I'm okay.” I was in the passenger seat. Harry was driving. Matt was in back. We were heading out to the theater. Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible.

The above story is true. Sort of. I'd written a version of this quite awhile back and it got lost so I thought I'd give it a go again in honor of my being a bit loopy from my current bout of insomnia.

The reason I say that it's sort of true is that it's my memory, in exact detail, of what happened to me over the course of a few seconds of being unconscious. I sometimes have a vasovagal response to drugs or needles ( the reaction forces blood toward the center of the body, away from the brain, sometimes causing the person to pass out). I don't consistently have the response and have learned to control it a bit as I've gotten older. In this case, I was trying a particular recreational drug for the first time. Based on my response, I never did the drug again. However, I'm the only person I know who has ever reported vivid memories during unconscious periods. This is not my only memory of this sort, but it was certainly the most extraordinary.

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