Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.
May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others
and a love within recall that alters you.
His alarm woke him at 6:45. He felt heavy and bloated. Pain in his throat and chest. This was not a day to go anywhere. The thought of leaving his apartment filled him with fear. He didn’t want to face another day like yesterday.
He called his supervisor at work and left a message. “Hi Tav. It’s Harris, I’m not going to make it in today. That flu I felt yesterday has turned into a major …. weather bomb. I’ll call tomorrow if I feel better.”
His throat ached and voice didn’t sound like him. A voice that would be more convincing than a text message. He went to the mirror to see how his bruises had developed overnight. He was disappointed that under his chin was merely slightly discolored but his ribs, tender to the touch, were sporting a major black and blue that faded into green at the edges. It was ugly. There was a slight swelling too.
He had a glass of water and it didn’t hurt too much going down. He shuffled to the kitchen poured himself a bowl of sugar corn puffs and turned on the coffee machine. It went though the cycle before he noticed he hadn’t put in any grounds. He put in grounds and started it again.
The wedding invitation was where he had left it. Should he call the police and fess up. But what was he fessing up to? That he had met this woman and that it was so meaningless to him that he had absolutely no memory of her at all other than her face on a telephone pole. But possibly the invite was evidence. Was he withholding vital information. He could claim to have found it on the street. But why take it home in that case.
He took a mouthful of coffee and it went down the wrong way. He coughed it up. Some went into his nose and he couldn’t catch his breath and couldn’t stop coughing either. He leaned over the sink to clear his throat and mouth. The coffee had red clumps in it. Blood? He rinsed his mouth out, coughed into a paper towel and there were fresh blood spots on it.
Fuck did that Dave’s punch cause internal bleeding. What should he do. Call 911? A sharp pain raced across his chest as he leaned, trembling over the sink. Shit was he having a heart attack?
Harris got dressed as quickly as his pain would allow him. He called a cab and didn’t have too long to wait outside his condo building. He told the driver to take him to Saint Mike’s Emerg. He rocked back and forth with the pain and impatience.
The traffic was worse as they neared Yonge and Queen. When they arrived he paid the driver, declined his help and staggered into the triage area. There weren’t as many people there as he expected from the newspaper stories about line ups and hours of wait.
An in-take nurse came over to him. He touched his chest, started to pull out his OHIP card and blood spurted from his mouth. He passed out.
Harris felt hands moving him to a narrow blanket on Andicuri Beach. There was sun in his eyes. Hands pulling his clothes off and touching him here and there. A sucker fish attached itself to his finger tugging sweet and gently on it. He wished it would swim over to his cock. Another fish bit him, stuck in a stinger. He glanced at it. It had a long tail thin that disappeared into the water. Such a long tail. Maybe it was an octopus, perhaps it wasn’t a sucker fish on his finger but the octopus.
Another sting and he was floating on the water. The water was cold though. With all this sun he expected the water to be warm. He was on an ice floe. Yes that was it.
A mermaid pushed his eyes opened and peered into them. Deep. Her eyes bright ice crystals then it was night. More mermaid hands were carrying him in the water. The sea was a mutter of metal and voices around him. He could almost reach out and touch the waves, almost catch the mermaid as she came back time and again to look into his eyes. He felt her seaweed hair flow along his body and around his cock checking to see if he was a suitable mate for her.
The sun faded and it was quiet except for the chirp of sea gulls. Sea gulls beeping to each other with their beepers. Sending each other text messages about the crazy people on the beach who kept walking around. The slap of their flip-flops, the squeak of the handles on pails. The children began to pile sand on him. It dried tight around his ribs. He’d never get a tan this way.
Another sting and the sound of the waves faded away.
He came to in a small room with greenish curtains for walls. He heard his Dad. His Dad was talking to a doctor.
“He’s fine.” The doctor said. “Got banged up but nothing a few days bed rest won’t take care of.”
“Dad,” Harris moved his left arm. His right had a needles in it with tubes that ran up to a murky liquid on a pole by the bed. His chest was stiff. He had a bandage over his ribs. He a cuff taped to one of his fingers. It was hooked up to a heart monitor.
“You gave us quite a scare there.” The doctor stepped to were Harris could see her. “Dr. Chow.” She smiled. “You must have been in quite a fight. Fractured ribs, bruised kidney that caused internal bleeding. We took care of all that while you were out. Good thing you are packing a few extra pounds or those fractures would be worse.” She patted his belly.
“My throat.” Harris touched under his jaw. “He almost ….”
His Dad helped him sit up. The din of hospital activity around him got louder.
“Open wide. Say ahh,” She looked down his throat with a little flashlight. Her eyes looked deeply into his. “Doesn’t seem to be any serious damage. I’ll be back later to check again and if his condition still stable you can take him home.” She left.
“What time is it?” Harris looked for his cell phone.
“In the evening? I’ve been out that long.”
“They gave you a sedative to keep you relaxed while they set your ribs.”
“They called you?”
“A legal guardian had to sign permission. Better me than your mother. They did x-rays, ultrasound, blood test, MRI. Everything except a colonoscopy. What happened to you last night?”
He quickly told his Dad about Dave and his mother.
“I’ll make sure we get a copy of these medical reports. Who ever did this will pay for this.”
“Dad, this isn’t a Judge Judy opportunity.” Harris started to laugh but it hurt. “I thought I was having a heart attack.”
Harris wanted to talk about the curse but a nurse came in.
“Oh I thought Dr. Chow was here, again.”
“Nope. You jut missed her.” Harris wondered where his clothes were.
“Lucky man you.” The nurse checked his pulse. “She rarely gives anyone this much attention. We nurses were sure you must be some movie star.”
“I’m often mistaken for George Clooney.”
As the nurse left a woman in a dark suit pushed the curtain open. “Harris Stevens.”
‘“I’m Detective Val Alverez. The hospital has to report assault cases. I saw your name on that report and also on that incident by the Greendale subway station last night. I’m on the team investigating the assaults.”
“Yes. But this wasn’t the subway assaulter. At least I don’t think it was. The papers never mentioned that the assualter had his mommy helping him out.”
“We have to keep certain information to ourselves.” Detective Alverez laughed. “How seriously are you injured?”
“He’s in a hospital bed for christ sakes,” His Dad snapped.
“I can see that. I want to know if we have to upgrade the charges from simple assault.”
“Right.” His Dad backed down.
“The incident report says you didn’t know your assailant.”
“Never met him before.”
“Or his girlfriend?”
“Not that I know of.”
“Can we have a dna sample? I can get it from the staff here but I need you to sign permission for it.”
She handed him a form. He Dad grabbed it to read over.
“You suspect him of anything?”
“Not at all. But one of the assulter’s victims died. It’s now murder investigation.”
“You don’t have to let them Harris.”
“My Dad’s a lawyer if you haven’t guessed it.” He signed the form.
“Criminal?” Alverez asked.
“Divorce.” his Dad answered.
“Uh huh. I’ll want to talk to you tomorrow when you are feeling better. You can bring your lawyer if you want to.” She gave his Dad a quick up and down look before she left.
“She was hitting on you.” Harris wanted to laugh but his ribs ached too much. “Could be the curse still works.”
Dr. Chow came back around 8:30. She listened to his heart, checked his blood pressure.
“Everything is satisfactory. You can go home, if you want. I can find a room for you here though if you’d feel safer.” She patted the blanket over his thigh.
Her expression made Harris think of Laura, of the way she looked in the picture in her bra and panties.
“No. Discharge is in order.” she stopped touching him. Pulled her hand up as if she had been caught doing something she shouldn’t. “I’ll send a nurse over to unhook this from you.”
“You’ll come back to the house with me.” His Dad was firm. “Your mother will love the opportunity to fuss over you.”
A male nurse came in untaped and pulled out the needle. Harris held a cotton ball over the insertion till the bleeding stopped. He itched to get dressed and get out of there now that he knew he was being discharged.
Dr. Chow met them at the nurses station and give him a script for pain killers.
Outside his Dad waved over a cab.
“I didn’t think lady doctors usually help their patients that much.” His Dad laughed. “There are times the curse works in your favor. Who knows what happened while you were under?”
“To de honest I’d rather go back to my place.”
“But your mother has gotten your old room ready for you.”
“Exactly. She still has all my high school crap.”
They stopped at drugstore to get his prescription filled, at a drive though to get a couple of bacon with cheese burgers and fries, then Harris gave the driver his condo address.
“Call if you need anything.”
Harris longed for the smell and quiet of his own apartment. It was a relief to sit in his living room, look out at the night sky.
He opened a beer, wolfed down a burger and took a pain killer with it. He didn’t bother to check if alcohol was counter indicated.
He was nodding off on the sofa when he heard a rustling at his door. It took three tries for him to get up off the sofa and go to the door. He opened it. There was a hand written note taped to it.
“Next time you’ll spend a couple of weeks not a couple of hours in the hospital.”
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