Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Chapter the First: Ignoble endings; Horrific beginnings

The first thought that calmly floated through Trent's mind at that moment was, So, this is what being shot feels like. The pain was like some far off sensation. In the initial moment following the gun blast, everything was muted, slow moving... almost... serene. Ever so slowly, he floated down, transfixed by the surrealness of the moment. The world tilted as his body was thrown out of balance.
Droplets of blood floated at swift yet somnolent trajectories from his side. Everything was gray except the blood. The blood stood out with radiant importance. That wasn’t blood there. That was life.
As he hit the concrete like a sack of disjoined bones, all slow motion and muffled sounds, Trent couldn’t help but feel a little academic curiosity at his own lack of anxiety about the situation. You just got shot. Shouldn't you be screaming or something? Not a panicked or scolding mental monologue, but one of idle interest. But he realized that someone was indeed screaming, he was just having trouble hearing with his ears ringing like this. His hearing, was filled with one far off eeeeeeeeeeeeeee. To his surprise, he realized that the bellow of terror he could hear ever so slightly was coming from himself.
Realization came at the slow/fast speed of this unique moment that he was terrified after all. His Zen-like instant was an encapsulated bubble of eternity, paradoxically coming to a swift end. His last rational thought of the forever/temporary moment was, I wonder if I am going to die.
As he lay on the street amidst rubbish, urine, discarded porno mags, and his own slowly yet inevitably pooling blood, as he lay dying, painfully and ingloriously outside the club he had exited not thirty seconds before with a promise to his friends to be right back, as he lay thinking panicked thoughts and gurgling his own fluids, his assailant riffled quickly and clumsily through his pockets. And found his wallet. Almost as an afterthought, as he was running away, the mugger mumbled under his breath. “Sorry.” Trent, naturally, never heard him.
Thus began Trent's long trek down a path to the the darkness that underlies reality. A path he never imagined himself taking.


***


"There comes a point in everyone’s life where their morals break down." This voice, familiar. Like the voice of a father. Or God. And it seemed to be coming from nowhere and everywhere, just like the voice of God should. Trent was confused, not fully self-aware just yet. He perceived swirling forms, like storm clouds, dark with import all about him. His awareness was floating in a void, unfixed and undefined.
The voice, definitely a male voice--and isn't that what you would expect from God too?-- continued, "For me, my morals break down at food. When it comes to food, I just kind of lose my inhibitions."
Another voice, also familiar, also masculine but more baritone, "Really? But you're so skinny."
"I'm slim. Anyways, that's how you tell, us thin guys are ravenous. We eat everything in site--"
"That's true enough. I've seen you do it at parties. At my parties."
"Well, --sorry ‘bout that-- see, that's what I mean. I spot food and I take it. I don't even consider the moral ramifications until later, if at all. I will eat people out of house and home if I get a chance. A lot of times, I will reach into people's chip bags--even as they are holding them--without thinking about it at all. As if it was already mine. I forget myself until I get incredulous looks."
The singsong reply: "Gluttony will kill ya."
"Maybe. I don't know. I'm not a Catholic, so I'm not sure about the seven deadly sins thing or whatever. Sins! That's what I was driving at! My point was, everyone--and I don't care who you are-- everyone's morals break down at some point. That's how it is. With me it's stealing food. I rarely feel guilt. Maybe cause it satisfies a primal need. Maybe cause my body doesn't want to be this skinn--this thin. But everyone is like that about something. Their morals just... break down."
The other voice again, "Why?"
"I don't know. Probably has something to do with the whole primal needs thing, like I just said. Some things must appeal to a person so much that they don't care anymore. They just take, or do, or whatever, heedless of consequence. Sometimes, they feel bad about it later. Sometimes not. I think there is a sliding scale of humanity involved."
"So, if you still feel guilty, you're still human."
"I was thinking about why Trent was shot. I mean, how desperate do you gotta be before you shoot someone? Before you don't care about ending another human life?"
The other voice was indignant, if doubtful. I don't have any moral breaking points."
The first voice now became incredulous. "Don't you?"
It was at this point that Trent came back to frightful awareness and sat up screaming.


***


The screams quickly subsided, they were more out of reflex than anything else, besides, they exacerbated the huge headache that Trent suddenly realized he had, and Trent immediately felt regret about yelling out. He rubbed his eyes as he felt concerned hands gently push him back into the bed. When he truly started to look around, Trent slowly started to make simple inferences. Tacky prints on the wall, windows looking out onto the Atlanta streets bright with light, bouquets of flowers everywhere, the smell of antiseptic and cleaners, and the beeps and scurrying of people, and finally two concerned friends. He was in a hospital. But that made sense, he had been shot hadn’t he? He remembered the strange Zen-moment of his shooting as if it happened to someone else, yet every detail still made crystal clear. An indelible mark on his psyche.
The owner of the first voice, the taller of the two men standing to the sides of his bed, said simply, “Welcome back to the land of the living.”
“Wow,” said the second voice. “We were worried. Jared and I were just watching over you a little. But--”
Jared interrupted the second friend. “This is crazy, you aren’t supposed to be awake this soon! Heck, you weren’t expected to wake up at all.”
“It is a miracle,” stated the second friend matter-of-factly. All things considered. You should be dead.”
Trent rubbed his temples weakly. Finally, he said, “Marcus, I assure you I wish I was dead right now.” That got weak chuckles out of the friends.

***

After a long pause, Jared broke the silence. “Uh, we haven’t contacted your mom yet.”
“No one has?”
“We didn’t really have a clue how. She’s always on the road and all…”
“Well… maybe it’s not so important that she knows right now. It might break her little hippy heart, even though I’m okay.” Trent imagined that his mother was out being happy somewhere at this very moment, and his inner eye saw her perfectly: her slim body, long white hair done back in a ponytail, and a smile on her barely-wrinkled face. No doubt she was camping somewhere in the Midwest, gazing at tonight’s stars, and quite oblivious of her son’s plight. He did not grudge her for it; her free-spirited nature had always been an inspiration to him.
It was because of her that he had gained a love of humanity. Whenever he paused to reflect on it, he could see how his life seemed greatly influenced her kind demeanor in so many ways, even unto his choice of a future career. There would be a time to tell his mother what happened, even a bad mother would deserve that much, and she was far from bad. However, no need to worry her just now.
“I’ll take care of it,” Trent said as he combed some of his long, dark hair out of his eyes with his hand. Then his eyes widened with surprise, followed by quick squinting from the strain of expression. This was worse than a hangover or migraine.
“What is it?” asked Markus.
“School,” Trent groaned.
“Don’t stress it, we’ve taken care of notifying your professors. All your fellow international studies majors send their condolences.”
“And a few flowers,” chimed in Jared.
“I live a charmed life.” groaned Trent as he rubbed his temples. This time, his friends laughed a little stronger, if for no other reason than to relieve stress.

7 Comments:

Grady would make a decent hospital, it's kind of in the Ghetto. Also Crawford Long Hospital, but eventhough its uptown, it has fewer resources than grady. The Atlanta medical center is just a Block over from where we live. So here is the lowdown: Grady has better trauma and emergency care, but it's worse in a lot of other aspects. Crawford long looks prettier, but has less knowlegable staff. Both would have views on the bright streets below. I recon he's at Grady, right next to UGA and Downtown Atlanta.

By Blogger Cantwell Carson, at 9:58 AM  

http://www.gradyhealthsystem.org/services.asp

And

http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=100+Edgwood+Ave,+Atlanta,+GA+30302

By Blogger Cantwell Carson, at 10:04 AM  

thanks, kit! The readers will be confused as to your imput until I update the format, but that's okay. Let them have a little mystery.

By Blogger Clayton, at 11:20 AM  

More quotation errors. At the end: "All things considered, you should be dead."

By Blogger Cantwell Carson, at 6:18 PM  

taken care of.

By Blogger Clayton, at 5:52 AM  

Great read so far. You have a very unique style and I cannot wait to see where the story goes from here.

The only thing I wanted to mention is in the second paragraph, first sentence, I think enervated would fit better than somnolent.

Somnolent makes me think of being sleepy, whereas enervated seems to fit more with the image you are trying to convey. I know ultimately it's six of one and half a dozen of another and I am in no way a writing expert of any sort but you did say to leave comments ;-).

Andha/MsZara

By Blogger Andha, at 8:06 PM  

On second thought, dilatory might be an even better fit for the sentence
Droplets of blood floated at swift yet somnolent trajectories from his side.

By Blogger Andha, at 7:00 PM  

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