Monday, July 04, 2011
It takes a tall man to cast a great big shadow, boy ( part aye.)
You arrive home between split shifts in the splattering hard nickel breath of late January just after dusk, the forehead of the planet bowed away from the nearest solar bulb so that everything is draped in a cape of winter ink. The stove is still on as you enter the backdoor, a propane Pentecostal bluish-hiss is heard as you wade inside as if being metaphysically reeled through the linoleum igloo-white of the kitchen, through the dining room where plates have been situated in front of the vacant ribcage of chairs. You see him in the living room where the geometric slate of the television is still on, seated in the pink recliner, his head tilted, body seated in the fashion of a upthroned patriarch at a renaissance fair who has just imbibed too much mead. His glasses are still on. His lips are contorted in a rubbery fashion that looks like a preschool mother’s day corsage craftily configured out of pipe cleaners and twist-ties. You touch the back of his neck. It is still warm the way that herbal tea might be described as being tepid in a café menu. You ask him if he is okay. You shake his body gently at first and by the shoulders as if he were some sort of magic 8-ball at a junior high sleep over. You peel open the hush lid of his eyes. You shake him again, this time with distillated vigor. You clap your hands in front of his face. You tell him to snap out of it. You tell him to quit fucking around. You tell him to quit playing. It is like his body is some sort of limp question mark that has been trampled and pissed on and fortuitously placed at the end of a long run on stream-of-conscious sentence teeming with Joycean proportion, say the fleeting narrative blink that is one’s exhaled shot at the expired breath of existence.
You tell him to quit fucking around again. You shake him again. Your voice clads itself in an authoritative monotone devoid of either a scream or that of a yelp.
You reach for the phone with your thumb stamp out a singular nine and twin-tandem ones and tell them that you just arrived home from work and that you found your roommate unconscious and that his neck is still warm but that you can’t seem to snap a pulse out from his deflated anatomy. The voice on the other end tells you that he is sending an ambulance and then informs you that he is going to need you to implement CPR and that he will dictate instructions to you on how to do so. You tell him that you have already been trained in CPR. At the same exact time the siren across the street from the apartment you will find yourself crashing in come two months time nasally begins to shrill as if it signaling an air raid as you hoist and lift and lug his oversize six-foot four frame off the chair where he is seated. His entire anatomy seems like it is dripping, a saturated curtain of listless flesh. He still feels warm. It is almost like you are endeavoring to ferry a sarcophagus made out of waggling hospital jello as you place him on the Persian carpet below, his head toppling back, listless, smashing into the floor offering the domestic area code of the living room an echoing gavel. A punctuating thud.
You got your CPR certificate renewed just two weeks ago.
Down on one knee as if proposing to death you pinch his nose like a light-switch and flip back his head, leaving his mouth agape the size of a neon-turf hole at an abandoned mini-golf course. In supplicatory fashion you kneel close and inhale and bend down towards the nozzle of his lips. For some reason every time you plosively drill breath into his body you close your eyes. It is like your entire body is scrunched into your purled cheekbones and tense facial muscles and that you are cannonballing into the deep end of a pool during summer free swim for the first time.
The first time your lips crash into the crevice of his mouth you ricochet back in jilted disgust. The welt opening that have become his mouth tastes like sandpaper made out of an overturned car ashtray. You reel back in a sort of stuttering revulsion, a sour expression folded into your face. You spit. You cough. Your shoulders seem to perform a little electrocuted tango. You have never had a taste like that in your mouth before. Tersely you think of the expired grocery list you made when you were all of twenty-five at the kitchen table of all the different females you made out with over the years and how they were just a random assortment of etched integer rungs leading up a ladder leading to nowhere. Mike’s body is still in front of you like some sort of raft sans paddles. You can’t get his taste out of your mouth. You tell yourself to be strong. You tell yerself this needs to be done. You tell yourself you can resuscitate him. His body is still above room temperature in spring.
You tell yourself you can do this.
Sans grooming trepidation of any kind, you plug his northern air passages again, press your lips into his face as if you are making a Xerox copy of the god gene and blow like hell.
You listen into his neck for a pulse. You configure your palms in dyslexic prayers and press down into the center of his chest. An audible crackle is heard the first time you knead the lower vector of your palms into the center of his body signaling that you have broken his ribs. It feels more like you are practicing resuscitation techniques on an abandoned carpet filled with broken Christmas tree bulbs then on a viable human being whose organs are still fresh and transplantable. You try not think how in the renewal for CPR they instructed you to perform the rote chest pumps while blithely humming along to the BeeGees ‘Staying Alive.' You perform the twenty interval rote thrusts and administer two more safety breaths, still inexplicably welding close the shutters of your eyelids every time you plough the oxygen of your being into that of his own body as if trying to bulge air in the plastic nipple of a water-wing. You have nothing against kissing a man but the taste seems to linger in your mouth is what can most aptly be described as noisome. You listen to his neck again as if trying to hear the ocean through a conch in the middle of the contiguous states. You order Mike to stay with you. You order him to work with you. His forehead is the color of a thoroughly used q-tip. Everything about his anatomy seems urine flavored and somewhat sallow.
You check the temperature of his forehead as if he is body were nothing more than a holiday oven. He is still all of warm.
You repeat drumming into the center of his chest which now somewhat concave. The hi-pitched sneeze of the West Peoria fire siren is beginning to detumesce. You have been performing cardio pulmonary resuscitation on him for a good eight minutes, hammering into his chest for twenty-chartered increments at a time, before blowing into body, listening for the recess bell of his pulse and then repeating.
You still can not get that taste out of your mouth.
It will be more than a week later when you will come to the cathartic acknowledgement that you just had a 10 minute hardcore make out session with an expiring corpse.
A neon thrash of variegated lights reminiscent of bad disco strobes through the living room window. Two officers with short crisp hair erupt into your home without knocking, one of them is carrying a defibrillator under his arms in the fashion of suitcase explosive and bad cable. You tell them you have been performing CPR on him for about the past eight say ten minutes. One officer begins to open the defibrillating stowing briefcase while the other kneels down next to you and says he’ll pump if you continue to blow. Furniture has already been scattered across the room in unlit bonfire fashion and from the stilt-like shadows cast from the overturned lamp the silhouettes respectively cast the treble-clef shapes of the officer and yourself bowing and pressing and blowing resemble nylon colored pistons culled from a nuclear generator or a silky stage backdrop from the thespian production of the titanic the engine room musical.
He continues to press and you continue to blow. The secondary office has completely unbuttoned the front of his shirt and is applying little crop circle like stickers into the center of his chest. The voice on the defibrillator sounds like a female variation of KITT from Knight Rider counts to three before erupting into his anatomy. After the feminine voice administers a third shock with lilting authority you tell the officers that you need to run upstairs and attend to Anthony. You tell Anthony that Mike is having company and that he needs to stay upstairs. He gets money from the state every month because he’s listed as functioning retarded but he’s not dumb. He can intuit from the echoing pinwheel splash of red and blue light that something downstairs rather significant is somehow transpiring. You rush back downstairs and find that an ambulance has pulled up into the cement tongue of your driveway and that paramedics are kneeling nativity-fashion around his splayed body. More furniture is thrashed and overturned. Butch from next door comes over to see what all the fuss is about. You tell him that Anthony is upstairs and he says that he will attend to him. There is something eerily reminiscent of Titian’s image of a limp Christ’s body being dragged off the cross and Mike’s body is hoisted on gurney and led through the front door, almost like they are trying to ford a canoe midstream. You give the officer your cell number and tacitly try to explicate who you are and your relationship to the man on the steel hammock. The Ambulance skids off in staccato-like bleeps down Heading Avenue. You ride with the West Peoria fire chief who has an albino handle-bar moustache who you know from the bars and who last you hung out with three weeks ago watching the flames billow and snap as landmark Haddads grocery sunk into a nesty graze of ash.
You tell him that he’s had heart problems before. You tell him that he’s been spacey over the past month although honestly you’ve seen him much worse. You tell him how, two years ago, when you found yourself moving back in with him, he weighed a hundred pounds more and was always screaming in his sleep and once even fell asleep behind the wheel and skidded his Cadillac off the interstate. You tell him that two months after you moved in, he bounced back, he lost weight, he had more pesky energy than a jouncy excessive sugary-satiated third grader the day after halloween most days. He just didn’t stop.
You arrive at the almost stagecoach entrance to the emergency room and follow the gurney inside the building like a church procession. Mike is ferried into a room with enamel white doors which flaps open. You can hear them hovering over his body, administering shocks. You can hear some sort of bleeping metronome. There’s more shocks. If you look in you can see the shadow of his body undulate and swerve against the dun paneling of the wall.
Your fucking cell phone doesn’t get service in the ER so you use the phone behind the counter. You trying calling your mom and leave a message. You call your best friend Hale and can’t get through. You call several of Mike’s contacts and leave urgent messages for each one you to call. You can’t phucking get a hold of anyone and right now, you are in the hallway and you are all alone.
There is something overly sterile about the interior of ER hallways, as if the arrival of death will somehow be welcomed germ free.
It has been ten minutes. An aged rocker with a braided cigar ash for a beard and a correlating pony tail who has been in a motorcycle accident is wheeled in next to you in the hallway and he is trying to remove his neck brace and the ER nurse with a voice sounding more like squeaky gymnasium tennis-shoes is asking him not to move while addressing him as sir although he is defiant. One by one the paramedics who were moshing inside the interior of your living room all of twenty minute ago push and exit through the flaps and into the whiteness of the hallway, each of them having their heads askance into the blades of their shoulders like they are trying not to look directly into the sun while operating a vehicle. A few of them seem to be exhaling heavily, their vision skirting nowhere near the direction of your face. There is an aura of everything feeling deflated. There is a feeling of pressing the pause button in the metaphysical video game called life before toppling over the playstation precipice variegated cliff and witnessing the GAME OVER sign sink into the center of the screen. For some reason you are certain that he is going to be fine. He was fine this afternoon before you bitched and groused and kicked the side of the wall after writing for five hours telling Mike that you hated every facet of your life and he made you lunch before you left to go to work a double. More medical personal plow through the doors as if leaving the kitchen to wait tables and note one of them stop to look at you though you make it an overt point to offer a gruff and austere chin nods in their directions. The last one out is the doctor who looks at you and perhaps void of any other pertinent explanation asks you simply if you are the son of the old man who just passed away. The old man who is no more.
The old man who just died.