Sep 7, 2014

"I've been a good mouse" --- This is heaven (teaser)

Finally a new teaser (we're still handicapped by a torn retina). John and Alex are heading back to the field for the third day of the festival when Alex begins asking questions about his past.

“I was a paramedic, right?” Alex says as I’m driving us up the ramp behind the condo to get on Route One.
“Paramedics earn money.”
“Enough to own a car.”
“You have an idea where it could be, my car?”
“It was at your place last time I saw it.”
“Which was…?”
“Yes,” I say.
“I mean, would be easier if you don’t have to chauffeur me around all the time.”
“The idea was that you shouldn’t go back to your place for a while. That’s what the psychologist said.”
“Her replacement.”
“Her replacement.”
“Okay. Let’s compromise. I’ll pick up the car, is all. Where do I live?”

We arrive at his place, two minutes up Landing Road from the Memorial. The neighborhood hasn’t changed much since Thursday night, it’s still on the wrong side of the hospital (Georgia Beach lost its railway connection long ago), semi-detached structures from the 80’s mostly, semi-run down, and a dog that never sleeps. Not much greenery, few trees.

Alex’s place is a standalone Dutch revival, small. “This is where I live?” he asks.
“The attic.”
“Right. And the car?”
I point at the white Toyota Prius on the driveway. “Cool,” he says, “I’m saving energy. Good to know.” He taps on the dashboard of my truck, pats his shorts and produces a key ring without car key. “I got this from Alice. The house keys, I guess. The car key will be inside, somewhere.”

So we climb the stairs. It’s hot outside already but inside under the roof it’s worse. Alex fumbles with the keys (first time it’s locked upstairs, possibly Alice’s work). He turns the key, the door gives way and we’re hit by a wall of dense, putrid air.
“Smell it?” he asks and steps into his apartment. “Q-E-D, this is heaven. My body still lying---where did you find me?”
“Where’s the bathroom?”

Yes, I really do this, I walk us the fifteen feet to the bathroom.

Yes, I really do this, I walk us the fifteen feet to the bathroom. There’s the body of a mouse decomposing in the spot where I found Alex on Thursday night.

“A case of reincarnation, John.” he says. “Moving up the Hindu ladder. I’ve been a good mouse.” He plants a kiss on my cheek that will---spoiler alert---be his last kiss for some time.
“If it’s reincarnation, it’s not heaven,” I say.
“Oh-no, you have seven layers of heaven included in the reincarnation cycle.”

It’s a tiny mouse, but the stench is overwhelming. Alex picks it up at the tail, caringly, dangles it at nose level, or eye level, then dumps it into the toilet and flushes the water. “So,” he says, “this is where I live.” He looks around until he spots the air conditioning under the window in the den and proceeds to switch it on. It works.
“You knew you didn’t have the car key,” I say, following him into the den.
“I apologize,” he says.

The chaos of the Thursday rescue panic is still in place, Ray and me dragging Alex’s OD’d body through the lack of space of this tiny apartment, low knee walls below the sloped ceilings, all chairs (two) fallen over, a coffee table (yard sale) fallen over, a small couch (yard sale) at an odd angle, a couch table (displaced), a helpless mini-rug (dog-eared), shards of a broken coffee mug spread across the rough-hewn floor. I collect a few pieces and arrange them side by side on the kitchen counter. It’s merchandize spinoff from the Urban Dictionary, saying, “Sucking streak.” There’s also a definition of the term, presumably, still spread across the rough-hewn floor, and perhaps not really needed.


"Let's see how I disposed of myself."

“Let’s see how I disposed of myself.” He looks around. A lone medication bottle sits on the kitchen counter; he picks it up. “Oxycodone,” he says. “Excellent choice. Going out on a high.” He shakes---rattles---the bottle, some pills are left inside. “Good thinking,” he says, “saving energy. Plus, you swallow too much of the stuff you puke, you don’t die. Counterproductive.” He rolls his head. “Must be terrible to wake up from a failed suicide.” He collects the remaining shards of the coffee mug. He ponders what to do with the pieces, then tosses them into the garbage can. He looks mortal.

He walks into the bedroom. I’m waiting for him to re-emerge until I hear the noise of a squeaky bedstead. I enter the bedroom, he’s lying on the twin bed, prone, arms half-spread. “Lying in your own bed. Home sweet home.”
“My bed is larger,” I say.
“Size is relative.”
“Let’s go.”
“I need a time-out.”
“Our bed is too small,” he says.

‘Parse that sentence,’ I think.

Are you still there? Then you'll possibly like the GREEN EYES. The first part is out now, available as Kindle book on Amazon, under this link:

Night Owl Reviews

Go here for the previous teaser of This is heaven, there for the next one, and here for a selection of chapters of the Green Eyes.

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