New installment of the adventure/scifi/fantasy/tragedy/comedy/travelogue/romance/epic serial Acid Fizz. The previous two can be found below or here (chapter 1) and here (chapter 2).
click picture & open link in a new tab for a song while you read
Gasp. I wake. My head is where it was on my pillow, damp with sweat, my body still weighed down against the bed like it was before. I really escaped that time, I really did. I just didn’t get far enough and now I’m back. Chin up, Paulo. You’ll get it. Don’t worry.
“Paulo? Paulo? Are you alright?” Ed says from the bunk above me.
“Yes. I’m fine.” I whisper to hint for him to keep his voice low. I’ll be gone again in a minute, this time for good.
“You were breathing loud,” he says.
“I was having a strange dream.”
“What was it?”
I know he won’t understand it, but I tell him. “I was swimming through a black pond, under the water, and someone grabbed me by the arms, they were trying to pull me to the surface. I pulled away but then I sank to the bottom and I woke up.” It’s strange to tell Ed about these things, like splicing together two movies of disparate tones.
“Do you have my teddy bear?” he asks.
“Why? You want it back? You were going to throw it away, weren’t you?”
“I already told you. Yes.”
“Why is that good?”
I’ll be gone in another second. I don’t want to get caught up in an argument with him. “Why is that good? Because you said why, because it’s too painful, you said.”
“It’s not good. It’s just what I have to do.”
“Yeah, well. But you’re going to throw it away for sure?”
“Okay. Good. Can I sleep with it just for tonight? And then you throw it away tomorrow?”
“Do you want to keep it?”
“No. Just for the night.” I pull another string of stuffing from the bear and chew it.
“And you’ll throw it away tomorrow and you promise, right?”
“Yes,” he says but like it’s a question.
“Okay. Thank you.”
“One other thing.”
“I wrote a letter to Jake Heast. Will you give it to him when you pull hospital duty tomorrow?”
“I do the hospital on Friday.”
“Okay. Will you give it to him when you pull hospital duty on Friday?”
“Yes. Jesus.” Too loud again.
“Shhhhh. Okay. I already put the letter in your pants pocket so you won’t forget.”
He says nothing. The smell of blood wafts up from underneath my bunk. I wish there was music on the radio, but she’s still talking. I lie here for a moment and rest before I leave again. I try to forget the fear that I might not get far again, that I might not be able to leave for good. What then? Forget it. Relax.
This place isn’t really that bad. Of course it is, it’s that bad and worse. I’ve got hurt and seen gallons of blood spill to the floor and men cooped away from their lives. On the outside they’d call that kidnapping. It is, in my opinion, a horror to keep a man from the world when it’s right there, right outside his window. I sometimes have a problem getting my mind around how this is possible, much less lawful.
They take so much away that getting anything feels strange. You get so used to living in a blank that something real dropped into it drives you crazy. The teddy bear is a Father’s Day present, an “I still love you, daddy” present, and it tears Ed up just to look at it.
“If Jimmy wanted us to be close, he should have hid a gun in it so I could shoot my way out of here,” he said. “Or put it to my head and shoot my way out that way.” He really said that. And then he cried and tore the bear’s leg off, poor guy.
She’s still talking on the radio. I’d like to hear one more song before I go. I love Ginny’s music but she just talks too much. “Sorry,” she says and then there’s one of those pauses you only get on community radio. “I was just a little distracted before and I let the Chambers Brothers record play long and had to cut it off, so I do apologize.” She makes more mistakes than any DJ I know of, but it is charming somehow. “We had a caller in here a couple minutes ago and I fully concur with his assessment, that ‘Hooka Tooka’ is a bitching song that does not deserve to get cut off, so I promise we’ll get it in next week’s show or the week after. One of the next few weeks for sure.” She has a hot voice. I bet she’s a fox in real life. We’ll see. I owe myself a Coke if she’s not.
Yeah. It is awful and it isn’t. I can still lie here and listen to the radio, still be me, still fuck Ed, talk to him. I have to get out of here, but it’s not so bad.
The bunk above me squeaks and I stare into the bottom of his mattress, wanting to reach through it and touch him. Ed. I’m still here. I might as well say something to him while I’m still here.
“Ed,” I say.
“Most things in my life, you know, I could take or leave. But you, I’ve always liked you.”
“Okay. Yeah.” He mumbles, “Me too.”
“Okay.” Good enough. “And you’re going to toss the bear?”
He grunts. “Yes.”
“And you promise to give that letter to Jake Heast?”
“Not if you fucking ask me again.”
“Okay. Thank you, Ed.”
She finally starts a new song. She doesn’t play this kind of thing much, but in truth I’ve always liked this song.
I could stay and listen to the rest, but it’s time now. I feel it. Close my eyes. Feel the offering I left under my bed rise through me and lift me up with it, through Ed’s mattress, through Ed, the ceiling, the cosmos, all the way to Oxalá.
Oxalá, Father of Gods, my head is yours. Oxalá, Father of Gods, these offerings are yours. Oxalá, allow me to pass through your realm on my journey. I know I cannot progress without your blessing and I bow to you now and forever.
I breathe in the cell one more time and stare through the bear on my lap. Numbness inches across my fingers, then my toes. I lose my hands, my feet. Breathe out. Feel myself spread. Oxalá, Oxalá, Oxalá, Oxalá. My arms gone, legs gone. Chest gone, breath gone, blood gone, and then, and then. And then, here… goes… my… head. Thank you, body. Thank you, Ed. Thank you, Oxalá. Thank you. Thank you.