A Parting Gift

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Vacation for Yabbatz

Brian awoke in his computer chair when the remains of his last vodka coke hit the floor. He was instantly amazed to notice he was not drunk. He smacked his keyboard to dispel the screensaver and glanced at the lower right corner of his monitor. 5:33 am. Then he jumped up, remembering the wreck, the trucker and the ambulance. Mrs. Gottleib had called about catching a whole raccoon family and a semi destroyed his work truck while he was relocating them. Had he just dreamed it? He turned in a circle three times; slapping himself to be sure he was awake. That’s when Alex Lifeson’s familiar guitar began its set up for ol’ geezer Geddy. Brian grabbed his phone and checked the time. 5:30 am. Reluctantly he answered in his best “I never sleep!” voice.

“Is this the trapper guy?” Déjà vu in effect; it was Mrs. G. all right. Next she would say her husband checked the crawlspace before work. . .

“Yes it is ma’am.” He answered, expectantly.

“Well before he left for work, my husband said,” She continued predictably. Brian felt like laughing. If only he could make this happen with the lottery! Was it the amount he’ drank? Could he somehow repeat this phenomenon? Was he psychic? What Mrs. G said next answered all these questions.

“Look behind you.” She finished. Brian took the phone away from his ear and stared at it.

“Ma’am? Did you say look behind me?” He asked the object in his hand, truly dumbstruck.

“Yes.” Came the reply, but it wasn’t Mrs. G.’s voice. The whispering gravel speaking to him now was like no voice he had ever heard. Now it was amplified, coming from every direction of the room and finally, resonating most audibly, behind him. Brian whirled around and came face to face with the trucker. The crushed side of his face pulsed, the blood ever flowing and spurting. The broken jaw wiggled uselessly as a long, black, tentacle tongue writhed like a frenzied slug out of his mouth. His one good eye locked Brian with the stare of Hell itself and he heard the voice, its voice, in his head now.

“Do not squander the gift.” The trucker-thing said as Brian’s apartment melted away to reveal the streambed and the metallic carnage.

“Gift?” Brian asked weakly, sure he was going into shock again. “Wuh, what is it?”

“Everything you want.” It replied, then, after a pause, it’s only working hand shot out and grabbed Brian’s face. Its bloody thumb curled into his mouth, the root like index finger scratched his ear and the other three dug deep into his neck. He tried to scream, but could not, even as it yanked him close.

“Everything I want!” It demanded from only inches away.

Brian screamed then, a real scream, loud and strong. Nurses and doctors flooded into his hospital room as he awoke. Despite his terrified state, he had no doubt this was reality. The pain in his side and arm left no room for doubt. Even so, it took several moments for him to calm down.

“Easy sir,” cooed one nurse. “You had a bad accident, but you are going to be fine.” She was younger than Brian, pretty and plump, her auburn curls bobbed as she nodded to him, mimicking her motion like symbiotic vipers on a benevolent, bubbly medusa.

“You’ve got someone looking out for you, that’s for sure. You’re only banged up a little bit. It could have been a lot worse.”” She assured, patting his chest lightly.

“Banged up?” He inquired, calming considerably from her touch. A short, elderly man, a doctor, Brian decided, noticing his attire and clipboard, stepped forward from behind the nurse.

“Hello Brian, my name is Dr. Gibbons.” He announced. Brian nodded him a greeting and the doctor continued.

“You have been admitted to the ER. It appears that you have a few broken bones, several severe gashes and possible internal injuries. We have given you something for the pain. He needed you conscious before operating. Are you a right or a left hander, Brian?” The good doctor asked, cocking his head to one side and pulling a pen out from behind his ear. The answer actually took a moment to come to him. He was still digesting the details of his injuries.

“Left.” He answered, surprised by his own steadiness, there was a numbness to his lips as he spoke. He was hurting, there was no mistake about that, but the pain seemed dull, distant and softened. When he moved his good arm, it felt rubbery. When he looked around, it was as if his head floated in a haze. Considering the list of injuries, he should have been feeling a lot worse. Brian E. Abbott might have had a talent or two, but high pain threshold was not one of them. Enjoying euphoric states on the other hand, he had no problem with that. Whatever they had him on, he wished he could take it home.

“Well,” doc sighed, “do the best you can with your right. If you’re up to it, we need you to sign for the operation.” He smiled patiently, extending the paperwork to Brian, a pen held between his thumb and the clip board. Auburn Curls was there instantly to hold it for him while he signed the line, clumsily, but effective enough. He smiled at the nurse as she took the pen from his limp hand. She smiled back. It seemed like everyone was smiling.

“I don’t have insurance.” He confessed aloud, the words tumbling over each other like dirty clothes out of a knocked over hamper. Realizing, that by now it was too late to ponder that, his smile faltered a bit.

“Don’t worry yourself, Mr. Abbott. We contacted your employer. The insurance on the company vehicle will cover the expenses.” The happy little doc said with a hint of a chuckle. Brian considered this. It was unlikely any of this would please Mr. Sanders and for once, he couldn’t blame Brian. If they were going to fix him up, with no expense to him and all he had to do was take drugs and sleep, he would have given them a thousand chicken scratch signatures with his right hand. Back in full smile mode, he scanned the room with his eyes. He paused briefly on the TV, hanging from the ceiling at the foot of the bed. Well, he thought happily as the nurse prepared his chemical cocktail, I guess this is my vacation.

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