Archive for the Story Every Day Category
While my father was in surgery my family, seemingly all of it, flowed around the waiting area, from the vending machines to a set of chairs, to a cluster of couches when it opened up, to a set of tables when someone took a deck of cards from her purse. I went to the little kitchen to pour water into a foam cup, and my cousin followed.
“Coffee?” he said. There were little packets in a box, and he took one and shook it.
“Could be a long night,” he said. “Just sayin.”
“But if it.” He tore the plastic and the smell filled the space between us. “If it doesn’t go well.”
“Well,” I said, then took a cup while he loaded the machine, as if we’d drink as much coffee as we could if my father died, like we’d want to pour caffeine into ourselves, hot water, so much that we’d shake, vibrate. Like we’d lean there on the counters while our family wept and spoke into their cell phones. Then I thought maybe we would. Maybe we’d just keep pouring it into ourselves until something inside us stopped working or started working, either way.
Let me show you how to carve a country ham. You have to hold the knife like. Like this. No, see. You have to try. I mean. Okay. Look, just let me–you make the Kool-Aid. The Flavor-Aid, whatever. That doesn’t matter. But watch this. Do you want to try it? It’s like–this ham is, you shouldn’t even eat this then. This ham is wasted on you.
There is a thing that can happen in your brain to make you believe you are dead. You might smell your own rotting flesh and feel it flaking away from you and then be afraid to move for fear or stripping off too much of yourself. You might decide that because you can think and speak and wonder despite being dead you are a god and you might perform actions likely to cause injury or true death, or likely to cause embarrassment, although probably you are beyond embarrassment by now, as a god should be. You might be beyond everything and ready for everything.
Just before we left town someone wandered into a gas station on the north side and slobbered blood all over the counter asking for help. His face was a two-tone of dried blood and fresh, and it took the clerk a while to figure out the guy was missing all his teeth.
“Awful,” Kelly said, after we watched the report on the evening news.
“Yes,” I said, and ran my tongue over my molars.
“Imagine seeing that. Like a zombie right there in front of you.”
“I’m sure it was worse for the guy. Without the teeth.”
“But imagine seeing it,” she said.
Then we got into an argument about whether it was worse to have all your teeth knocked out by a maniac or to see someone whose teeth had all been knocked out by a maniac. It was one of our stupid fights that we carried to far, and finally one of us had to leave, and it was 10:30, so the someone was me. I walked to the 7-Eleven and considered beer and orange juice and then, when a door chimed open, wondered if someone would walk in without teeth. I wondered if the next person would wander in without teeth. I watched four people come in, two men dressed for running and a woman dressed for bars and a woman dressed for sleep, and I was certain the next person would be missing teeth but he wasn’t, and then she wasn’t. I stood there in the aisle next to the coolers long enough to get cold and no one came in without teeth but I was sure that if I waited someone would.