“Blindsided,” Chapter 15
Food coma doesn’t even begin to describe my current state.
Not even a taxidermist can stuff me any fuller than I already am at this very moment.
I am guilty of gluttony, no two ways about it. That third helping of cornbread has done me in, causing me to have one of my worst-ever cases of a food hangover.
I’m sprawling on one of the Ls of the living-room couch, groaning in misery, unable to lift so much as a finger. I’m heading toward gut rot. I can feel it. Which means it’s so bad, I may even puke. I hope it doesn’t come to that. Not with Dickhead around. He’s seen enough of the real me today. But he doesn’t need to witness THAT. Or hear it.
I look over at the other L, where he is lying, looking every bit as miserable as me. He went back for thirds, as well. There’s just no resisting when it comes to great food. Yet another thing we have in common.
The pecan pies still are sitting on the kitchen counter, beckoning us to come dig into them.
Uh uh. Not gonna happen today.
It’s just after 7 p.m., but it’s still light outside. It won’t start getting dark until around 8 or so. It’s what I love most about summertime. Humid or not, the days seem endless.
Mom and Dad are sitting on the middle portion of the couch, looking mighty pleased with themselves as they snuggle in close while watching TV. Can’t say I blame them. Their stall tactic is working. I knew what they were up to when they were plying us with all of my favorite foods. Apparently Dickhead’s “new” favorite foods, too. We saw it coming, but we still stuffed ourselves to the gills anyway. Now, we’re paying for it. I don’t mind too terribly much, though, stomach ache aside. Dickhead is half-smiling in ecstasy, far beyond caring about today’s events at the moment — like me — as the Sandman begins to envelope us both into his slumberous world.
I let out a loud, jaw-popping yawn, still holding my aching belly. Dickhead already is starting to drift off. I won’t be long in following suit, and I embrace it, embrace the inner peace, embrace the imminence of a deep, rejuvenating sleep. My body needs it. My mind craves it. My soul cries out for it.
My eyelids grow heavier and heavier, start to droop.
No sense in fighting the inevitable. Let go, Piccolo, let go.
It sounds like my mom’s cooing voice, but I can’t be sure. It soothes me, and I give in to the darkness that waits behind my eyelids.
I immediately wake up, stomach-down on a skateboard I have no recollection of learning how to ride. It’s one of those longboards that easily accommodates my compact frame. I’m holding onto it in terror as I zigzag through the eight lanes of traffic that make up College Drive, trying to outmaneuver an as-yet unknown pursuer intent on running me down in his — or her — dark, nondescript sport-utility vehicle. The board veers into oncoming traffic and my breath catches on every single near-miss as it manages to dodge honking car after honking car, tires squealing with all of their might as each faceless driver attempts not to hit me.
As I near the overpass just after Crimson Pike, I think I’m in the clear, and an overpowering sense of comfort overtakes my fear of dying. The kind of comfort that comes from parents telling their children that the bogeyman does not exist after their nighttime rituals of checking closets and underneath beds in their roles as our protectors. The kind of comfort that tells me all is well, that nothing can hurt me or the ones I hold nearest and dearest.
But the light turns red as I go under it and I can’t get out of the way of a lone car bearing down on me, about to broadside me, ready to crush me and the skateboard I am riding under tires that are moving too fast to avoid imminent collision. My entire body clenches as I brace myself for the pain I think comes with dying, but I feel nothing. I only see shards of light, like the effervescent colors of a church’s stained-glass windows catching the first rays of a brilliant new dawn as night steadily turns back into day.
I can make out Dickhead’s face above me, and I know then that this cannot be the heaven churchgoers strive for, talk about with such reverence for the afterlife, imagine as they meet God from The Bible, or whomever they know Him as from other written holy works, face to face for the first time in their respective bids to seek salvation for their devoutly humble souls — the unknown those of us who question His existence can only truly substantiate the moment we stop living. We don’t belong there, Dickhead and I. Then again, perhaps he does, because I don’t know what he believes. But it’s too soon for me.
While I cop to being a spiritual person, I’m not ready to find out who or what is waiting on the other side, to discover if the teachings from a book written by people as imperfect as me really is real. I’m not in any way knocking or minimizing anyone’s religious beliefs because we all need something — someone, a higher power, whatever we choose to call It, Him or Her — to believe in, to give us some kind of faith in humanity in this increasingly callous world we inhabit; I’m simply just not ready to know. I am not afraid of what, or whom, I will see. I prefer ignorance, truthfully, though not out of cowardice. But because I find a kind of beauty in the mystique of it all, in the wondering.
Dickhead is speaking — nose-to-nose close as he kneels above me — but I can’t hear what he’s saying, can’t read his lips for the sheer distraction of the glowing colors that continue to dazzle me in all of their glorious radiance. The light gleams at an angle over us, through us, growing ever more blinding with every passing second as it reflects the countless hues from the … hearth’s mosaic tiling?!
What?! This can’t be right, can it?! Heaven is here, in my home?! This has to be a mistake!
“Piccolo! Piccolo! I know you can see me! Answer me! Answer me, NOW, damn you!”
Nope, this isn’t heaven. I’m pretty sure people don’t yell at you in heaven. And I’m still not so sure either of us is a good fit for heaven. He’s too much of a dick and I’m too much of a bitch, anyway.
Of course, this may very well be heaven. Dickhead is not one to use the word please, so some kind of divine intervention must be taking place for him to resort to asking for anything. He sounds like he really cares if I live or die, as if I mean something more to him than just a mere employee who carries out his every order.
Progress. We’re progressing further into the uncertainty of the unknown.
“Am I dreaming? Is this heaven?” I ask, at last finding my voice that sounds like it’s coming from someplace far away as I tentatively reach up to touch his face to see for myself if he is, indeed, real.
“Are you OK?” he asks, moving in closer still — so close that his lips faintly graze mine — much calmer now that I answer him.
“Your breath REEKS!” I cringe, abruptly turning my face away in disgust, unable to stop the words from spilling out of my own pungent mouth.
Way to go, Piccolo! The man shows genuine concern for your well-being and you thank him by bitching about his bad breath because you’re such an insensitive fucking oral-hygiene psycho whose mouth, by the way, smells worse than raw sewage! Without a doubt the wrong, most trivial thing to say to a man frantic with worry! FOR YOU, no less!
The volcanic eruption that follows is Dickhead at his most ruthless, and his most hurtful. But I deserve every bit of his verbal onslaught, and each dart-like barb is a bull’s-eye hit.
“I’m not trying to kiss you, for fuck’s sake!” he jerks his face away, yelling the way only HE can, completely losing all traces of civility to — whether unwittingly or not — throw down the first gauntlet of what appears to be a new day. “This isn’t a romantic tryst! You’re not my type, not even close! And just for the record, YOUR breath smells worse than mine from that long nap of yours in the car yesterday!“
So much for our truce. The camaraderie of the previous day and the divulging of our darkest secrets must be a figment of an imagination that’s now dancing along the borders of insanity with all of this thinking of being in heaven with him. A gal still can hope, right? Still can hope, that is, for things to go back to the way they were before yesterday, when I did not know then what I know now. It was far simpler that way.
Sure, if hope is a sword with sharp edges on both ends that cut deep into you no matter which side you hold.
But there’s no going back. All we can do now is limp forward and make the best of this thing happening between us.
Nothing worth having comes easy, or however that old maxim goes. There’s so much truth to that phrase. You can’t expect to just sit there holding both of your hands out expecting charity from others when something worthwhile requires constant hard work on both sides to flourish and succeed.
“I’m sorry,” I say, reaching out to right my wrong, pleading with him, trying to salvage our previous pact in the name of diplomacy even as I shrink away from his angry outburst. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean it, not the way it sounded. I just don’t think things all the way through before saying them sometimes. I can’t help that. You know that. You know me.“
And yet, HE looks just as capable of killing as my dad did yesterday in this very instant, and I shrink further away from him like the spineless jellyfish I am despite my apology, sincerely hoping it’s not true.
Please don’t let it be true.
The fight goes out of him when he sees what it’s doing to me.
And then the realization strikes him — like a dart to the heart gauging by his reaction to the fear I can’t quite veil from those piercing eyes of his — this terrible thing I’m helplessly thinking.
“I am many things, Piccolo, but I am NOT a murderer! I’m not the monster you think I am! When are you going to see that?! What do I have to do to make you believe that?! Tell me! Please, just tell me!“
The answer eludes me like fine grains of beach sand endlessly blowing into the fathomless ocean waters that swallow them whole, blindly falling down, down, down on all sides until they reach the bottom floor.
I don’t know.
But I’m going to plunge in anyway and take that same leap of faith I preached down his throat only yesterday in the car because I find HIM worthwhile.
I just hope I don’t live — or die — regretting it.