AMC Theaters, Northwest Highway and I-35.
Tuesday evening, 7:26 pm . . .
We’re in the back row, at the very top of a stadium theater. This was not our plan. However, nothing after me seeing the spooks has been following any kind of a plan. So this is par for the course.
The original idea was that we’d stay in Ricky’s truck and I’d lay down in the back, do my little self-drowning thing, and viola! But, as we realized upon pulling into the crowded parking lot, that was not going to be an option. They have full-time security vehicles patrolling the parking lot.
So, we piled an IV bag full of normal saline, some needles, a thermometer, a few insta-heat packs, and a flashlight, into Ms. Josephine’s large purse. Ricky didn’t say it, but I know his hydrogen sulfide syringe is hiding around here somewhere. I so hope they don’t check her things, otherwise they’ll think we’re into some really kinky stuff. And there’s no way we would ever be able to explain this.
Ricky decided that we needed to find a movie that nobody would be watching. Cartoons are full of inquisitive kids. Action flicks are packed with people. Comedies are filled to the rim with goof balls yucking it up. So I recommended a romance film.
“The Queen’s Affair it is, then,” Ricky said as he purchased us three tickets. It’s supposed to be some English film about a queen who sleeps with just about everyone in tights. It is 157 minutes long, and should have everyone bored to tears by about the third minute. I have to crossover, now, just to avoid this movie.
Luckily, as we get there, the theater is relatively empty. So, here we are in the very top, back row, preparing for me to die for a little while. And why not. This is good Tuesday night fun. Ricky checked the Weather Channel and found out that sunset was at 7:39 pm. Knowing this, he had a few minutes to spare, so he raced off to the concession stand and came back with a bucket full of popcorn, several drinks, and a fat green pickle.
I looked at him, shaking my head.
“What? Just because you’re racing off to hang out with the dead, doesn’t mean I can’t eat. While you’re conquering the mysteries of the universe, I’m going to watch some British chick bang the royal court.” And then he turned instantly to Ms. Josephine and apologized.
He took a sip of his drink, “I got Dr. Pepper for everyone.”
I took my drink, swigged the sweet brown liquid, and took a deep breath. “The book is nearby?”
“Right here, child,” Ms. Josephine says, patting her purse.
I feel my neck for the reassuring necklace of curious ingredients. “Okay,” I say to them, “time to die.”
“Hopefully not,” Ricky said, shuffling through Ms. Josephine’s purse. He pulled out the saline bag, the tubes already attached. He then attached the fast patches from the cardiac defibrillator. He was careful not to attach them to the burn marks from the last time he jump-started my heart. “You want me to start the IV now, or wait until you’re a quivering mess?”
I wasn’t keen on having him stick me with a large bore needle in the dark, but even less appealing was the thought of him doing it after I start to die—the for real die.
Apparently he could sense my apprehension, and comforted me by saying, “Dude, as many of these as I’ve done, I could probably hit you from across the room with a sixteen-gauge catheter. With one eye closed.”
“Please don’t do that.”
“Drunk and dizzy, even,” he added.
“No, that’s fine. Maybe now is a good time,” I said.
So now he’s on my left, shoving a needle that is bigger than a piece of industrial pipe into my wrist, while Ms. Josephine is on my right, gently stroking my other wrist. She’s talking to me about keeping my mind open, and my heart free of doubt.
She’s saying how proud she is of me, and how I was meant for all of this—as if she had been reading my thoughts all along. She lowers her voice, still reassuring me and I hear Ricky say, “Okay, little pinch.” And then something that feels like a garden hose is inserted into one of my veins.
“First time, every time,” he says smugly to himself. Then he nods to himself, turns to me and whispers, “Kick rocks, Saint Jack.”
Ms. Josephine, she’s still talking to me, her voice nice and soothing, but not even in English, anymore. It’s French, I think. And it’s creepy, yet calming . . . like French people.
Now my eyes are closed, and I’m walking back down towards the dark water. Instead of messing with the countdown, she’s talking to me in some kind of cadence that locks me in. Before I know it, I’m falling deeper and deeper. The warm water is up to my waist.
And that’s that. I’m drowning. I initially hold my breath for a few moments, then I force myself to let go. No point fighting it. Besides, I need to get used to this. So I summon all of my courage and open my mouth, taking a big breath of water.
I cough and fidget for a few seconds, but this time around, dying isn’t quite as painful. It’s Death Lite, again. And before I know it, I’m swimming around, looking for sparkles of light that I know are the boundaries of my supernatural chest wound.
My otherworldly autopsy.
My horrifying rebirth.
I cast my hands forward to reach the light, getting a good hold of the edges of my skin. And I pull myself towards the Deadside. The Land of Sorrows.
Oh, the things you can get used to.