Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ocean Breathes Salty

He sat down on the bench beneath the coat rack. Various odors drifted around his senses from the jackets lined up above his head. Each jacket’s stench told a different story about its owner. He leaned his elbows onto his knees and dropped his face into his palms. He didn’t want to delve into those stories. Pain felt like it was going to rupture out from the middle of his back, or at least seep out through the hole in his left side. The pain was from pressure. The pressure was from old blood swirling around his insides from a long stretch of internal bleeding while on blood thinners during a disastrous hospital stay. He was dizzy from the pills he had taken. He began to shiver, as he attempted to regain his feet and return to work. He closed his eyes and concentrated on his hands as they struggled to retie the white apron around his waist. He heard a voice from behind him ask if he was okay.

“Well that is that
And this is this
You tell me what you want
I’ll tell you what you get
You get away from me”

Red and green cloud the pool’s alternating surface direction inside the bright white porcelain bowl. He managed a grunt of laughter as he thought to himself about how the colors were so festive. He tried to ignore the burn from the infection. He was unable to button his jeans, because his hands were shaking too much. The bandage wrapped around his abdomen had begun to unstick, so he tried to hold it in place with his elbow. The tiny rubber ball underneath the burgundy stained gauze that was connected to a tube that thrust deep inside of him looked like it was filled with Kool-Aid, but it made him think of knife wounds.

“The ocean breathes salty
Won’t you carry him in
In your head
In your mouth
In your soul
And maybe we’ll get lucky
And we’ll both grow old
Well I don’t know
I don’t know
I hope so”

Wrapping his arms tightly around each other, he allowed his head to fall against the stair behind it. His momentum shifted his weight across the steps into the wall. He couldn’t make the ataxia of his torso stop no matter how hard he tried to squeeze himself still. His teeth rattled despite his efforts to clamp down his jaw and arrest control of his muscles from the disease that had already eaten away his soul. He could’ve called out for help, but all he could think about was his impending death. It was past 3 am anyway. He didn’t want to wake anyone. He pondered the notion of his death and what it meant to him. Nothing came to mind, other than a sense of relief and the emptiness that he had always envisioned. He had learned less than two months prior that bleeding to death internally would be a good way to go. It was so relaxing to be slowly drained of life; to delve peacefully into a deep sleep and then never wake up. He did wake up though, and instead found himself sweating, shivering, nauseous and forced into a fallen position on a staircase due to crippling pain.

“Well that is that
And this is this
You told me what you saw
And I’ll tell you what you missed
When the ocean met the sky
You missed when time in life
Shook hands and said goodbye
When the Earth folded in on itself
And said ‘Good luck
I hope heaven and hell
Are really there
I wouldn’t hold my breath’
You wasted life
Why wouldn’t you waste death?”

He stared out toward the horizon. The low autumn afternoon sun still burned bright, if not hot. He considered how the tiny bumps for hills covered with tall trees to the west are blocking his view of the ocean from this vantage point. He had actually never seen the beach along this stretch. He had been to this little town hundreds of times, but never ventured anywhere beyond its two very modest golf courses, which lie just inland. He held his shirt up, as his friend worked diligently to reapply his stained bandage to his side and back. A layer of sweat from the activity and humid heavy coastal air made the bandage a liability. The third member of their group, who joined a few holes prior, asked if he could play through. They nodded and laughed at the circumstance. His pain and mourning have been tempered with determination and a realization at how much he wanted to keep fighting.

“The ocean breathes salty
Won’t you carry him in
In your head
In your mouth
In your soul
And the more we move ahead
The more we’re stuck in rewind
Well I don’t mind
I don’t mind
How could I mind?”

lyrics & title taken from Isaac Brock./Modest Mouse


  1. wow, this needs could be an intro chapter to your first book....