The Return

Chapter 1, Part 1. “Into the Cold”

I’m shivering. This is cold, I tell myself. It’s not the kind of cold that people who suffer from hypothermia experience, but this is still cold. It is so cold that I can’t even think straight. It is so cold that I interrupted my own thoughts to tell myself it is cold. Alas, this is Ohio in January. This street is busier than usual, especially for how cold it is today. Shit. I forgot my wallet at home. If I am late to this dinner, she will kill me. I will wake up one night as she straddles me with a pillow over my face and a gun to my head. I don’t want to disappoint her. She has already been through so much. Maybe I should call her, but my change is limited and I don’t know where the next payphone bank is.

I need my wallet. I can’t get into the damn bar if I don’t have my wallet, and I certainly can’t drink without it. I should have driven. Who drives 4 blocks though? This douchebag does, that’s who. The good thing about living and working downtown is that everything is in close proximity. Maybe if I run I can make it back to my loft and to the restaurant in time. Maybe she will continue putting up with me. Maybe she will let this slide. When we first started dating she was so forgiving. “It’s ok, don’t worry about it,” she would say. “Not a big deal.”

I should run home. I should-

A fucking car just hit me. Where the fuck are my shoes. What is that sound. Fuck. A fucking car just hit me. My head. That’s blood. Fuck .I am lying in the middle of the street, as this car alarm will not stop sounding. That  horn certainly doesn’t help this situation. Where am I? I don’t even remember walking into the street, yet here I am. The woman that hit me is out of her car. She’s screaming and crying  exactly like you would expect to see in the movies. Christ, she’s hysterical. The woman is standing above me screaming and crying, and here I am just trying to catch my breath.

They say that when you are involved in a car accident, especially when you are a pedestrian who has been struck, that you should not move. I don’t have that option. I need to get to dinner. I need to see her. Everything hurts, and the pain in my chest is compounding. This reminds me of my boxing days, before I learned how to move my head out of the way. Everything is a blur, and all I want is to get the world to stop shaking.

I manage to get on my hands and knees, blood pouring from my head. I think. I cough and blood sprays the pavement. The car alarm is still screaming at me, and this woman needs to chill out. Act like you have been here before I manage to gurgle out. There is something terribly wrong. The ground shakes. I hear the sirens now. So much for making it to dinner.

BEEP. BEEEEEP. BEEP. That fucking alarm. Jesus.

I feel like my chest is going to implode, as I begin to cough. This pain is so real, I can’t believe this is happening. There is an odd familiarity to all of this though, as if I know what I need to do. I’ll attribute that to all of the movies and TV I have watched over a lifetime. Take that, mom. The coughing intensifies. I’ve managed to make it to my knees at this point. The coughing hurts as bad as anything else, and with every cough I am becoming more worried about what is happening in my chest.

There is something in my throat.

Again the coughing intensifies, and my vision is fading. What in the hell is happening to me? The pain is crippling. I feel like my chest is collapsing. I continue coughing, and I can feel whatever it is in my throat starting to make its way out. Please don’t be a lung. I am on my knees, hands at my throat, feeling like I am choking to death. And all this time I was worried about her killing me in my sleep. This is how it happens. This is how it ends. I am going to choke to death on blood in the middle of the street, when I should be eating sushi with the prettiest girl I know.

With a final cough I manage the obstruction up. Blood is pouring from my mouth and the obstruction is covered in what looks like blood and slime. I can’t breathe. I squeeze my throat and it collapses under my hands. There is nothing there. I can’t swallow. I want to scream, and I can’t. Steam rises from the obstruction as I move my way to it, slowly. Fear begins to grip me as I realize what this steaming organic tube actually is.

This is not how I want to die, with my throat laying in front of me in a pool of blood on the street. This cannot be how it ends.

Sound stops. The car alarm is silenced and the woman is gone. Vision is fading. Vision is gone. This is it. This is the end. And all I wanted was sushi. Sushi and a beer.


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