Friday, July 13, 2007

hail to the chief

Skin pinches, needle sticks in. No noise comes from my mouth. No. Not this mouth. Teeth grind a little, molars crunching roughly on molars. Muscles in the jaw tighten, sinewy chords in neck bulge, and fists clench straining against canvas restraints. They can’t take me. No. Not this guy. Stainless steel spike withdraws, giving way to the big, forgery of a smile stuck on a pretty nurse’s face. My eyes roll. The walls are a pastel blue - and I haven’t seen anything so pretty in such a long time.

The mirrored sunglasses of a dozen young suits. Ear buds planted in alert ears. Hands ready to fly through lapels at the first sign of—

Another pinch. Another stick of the needle. This chair is my home now. These four blue walls, my whole world. Ghastly chrome apparatuses. A confusing array of tools. A single window, the outside closed off from me by clinical white blinds. I gasp, and the pretty nurse hushes me with a slender finger pressed to nude lips. “Shh,” she says. “Everything’s going to be all right. You’re going to be just fine.” But I don’t believe her.

Trouble. There’s a quick silvery flash in the crowd of onlookers lining the street just as the old man’s glistening motorcade rounds the corner. Billowing fender flags and white wall tires. Gleaming lapel pins and a helmet of white hair. They told him not to take the convertible. They told him to keep himself behind glass.

This liquid is hot in my vein, and I can feel it travelling down my forearm and up through my bicep. Numbing. Anaesthetizing. Killing all sense as it goes. Entire arm is soon dead. Shoulder, useless. There’s a slight tickle of concern on the pretty nurse’s lips. She breathes in gently, filling her lungs, holding her breath. Her eyes meet mine before jumping away. She exhales shakily, withdrawing the spike from my vein.

That flash in the crowd. The young suits converge, wrestling the perpetrator to the ground. The old man glides by oblivious, smile on his face, hand waving in the air. The crowd is ecstatic. No-one seems aware of the struggle but me. A set of mirrored lenses spot me through the masses. Words are spoken into a lapel. In that instant, it was made very clear to me that I had just seen something that I wasn’t supposed to see.

“There, there. I told you everything was going to be all right.” The nurses words are soft, and her hand is patting me gently on the shoulder. She tousles my hair. “Nothing to it.” This chair is my new home. These four pastel blue walls are my whole world. “The doctor should be in to see you straight away. Until then we’ll monitor your vitals.”

A quick pursuit. A little resistance. A long drive to nowhere.

My jaw doesn’t clench anymore, or else it would be right now. My teeth don’t grind. My mouth doesn’t open. No. Not this mouth. And something tells me it won’t be doing much from this point forward. No eating – that’ll be handled intravenously. No singing – these lips have been patriotic enough. And certainly no talking. No. No talking. And I’m not even sure what I ever had to say in the first place.

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