Guest Post: John Allison
Thank God It’s Friday
I recall becoming aware, deciding to open my eyes, realizing that I could only open one maybe, realizing that my mouth was full of salty hard barnacles that could possibly be my teeth, and discovering that every muscle silently pushed back, resisting movement. Sections of my arms and legs and torso screamed, as if they were covered with cuts, sharp cuts, long exquisite slits. My ears were ringing; I tried to grunt just to make a noise, and while I felt it in my throat, I heard nothing in my ears. My body then started to roll, over and over on a hard metal surface, grinding my hurting body into my hurting body, rhythmically pounding alternate sides of my head. Then there was nothing. My body was suspended. I couldn’t tell if gravity was still at work, but I had somehow been dumped. I hit what I eventually realized was a very thin, very old, very hard tombstone. The weight of my limp body cracked at least one rib as I folded over that marble slab jutting out of the ground, and I came to rest like a hundred pound bag of spuds thrown over the back of a chair. Dumped.
I couldn’t focus on the complete list of items of immediate concern. What happened to me? Who did this? Where am I? Is it over? Is the next step for me to save myself before I die? I seem to have a memory of walking to work at the bookstore (it was a beautiful summer day), working almost until lunchtime, and going into the bathroom. Nothing between then and being human wreckage.
I tried not to move, not that I could. I tried to be totally quiet and listen. I thought I heard a footstep or two, but then it was just the wind blowing the leaves – blowing a cold November wind. The wind irritated my skin; it screamed as the cold made it sigh in relief.
The curved top of the thin crippling tombstone almost cut me in half. I tried to rock my body a little to one side, then the other. I heard a moan accompany the many layers of pain, as my body randomly decided to slide to the left, down and off the edge, crushing itself onto the ground. I felt my hand hit first with the weight of my body forcing it into the hard dirt. My wrist folded back, accompanied by a new pain that only was matched by the horrid crunch of a wrist shattering. I was on the ground. That was, possibly, a step forward. Unfortunately, whatever, whomever had done this to me, was not gone. I tried to push my face up out of the cold dirt with my remaining arm, tried to will my one eye to open, with perhaps enough of the second for a little depth perception. I saw the tombstone that I had quickly come to know so well. Beyond it was another tombstone and another, and back behind those two, I could see what perhaps was a pair of black steel tipped engineer’s boots, and dark denim jeans. The boots were pointed at me. My body twisted uncontrollably and my gut contorted; hot blood under pressure gushed out between my teeth and onto my arm. The sensation was very different, since usually the feeling would have naturally made my mouth snap open wide, but my jaw just passively watched.
I looked up again and the two legs were no longer where I’d seen them.
I heard the crackle of a boot on the carpet of dried leaves next to my cheek. I tried again to pick my head off the ground. While I had neither the energy nor the ability to cry, pain leaked out of my eyes. The black leather boot glistened with my tears. It was that close.
I heard her cough, and clear her throat. Then she spoke. She said, “isn’t randomness sublime?” She didn’t wait for an answer.
A woman’s hand reached down and wiped off her boot with a patterned silk scarf. She then dropped it on the ground, partially covering my face. I listened as her footsteps faded into the distance. I heard what sounded like a large metal gate creak open and clang shut.
My head filled with a beautiful perfume that seemed to form a thin cocoon around me as I breathed it in. As I slipped back into unconsciousness, I imagined that I was lying on a bed of jasmine petals, in a freshly ironed white cotton nightgown – very elegant.