I had no idea what time it was. I picked up a toy from the living room couch. It resembled a flashlight but was not a flashlight. It was purple and green with two soft plastic tubes hanging like thin transparent arms. A plastic ghost smiled from on top with hands outstretched. The ghost had four fingers on each hand. Its face was giggling whimsy, drunken and smiling. There were words etched onto the toy: "light chaser." i pushed a green button on the flashlight-like body and the plastic tubes filled with a soft, pink light. They spun and the light became one unbroken circle. The ghost on top was spinning as well, and his body also filled with that soft, pink light.
I didn't initially notice what was happening, but when i stopped pushing the button, my terrible and permanent ache... comes back.
That's when i realized that, for a moment, it had gone.
I pressed the button again and watched the lights spin for a couple of minutes. I felt myself completely swallowed up into it. I was pink. I was spinning. Briefly, i was gone. Everything was wonderfully, miraculously gone. Something bushels of flowers, pans of vegetarian lasagna, trunks full of sympathy cards, and the sincerest words, tears, hugs from family, friends and counselors could not do... it relaxes me. My stomach had uncoiled itself for the first time in over three weeks. The feeling was beautiful. I even said "miracle" out loud. ( Amazing how low our expectations can become.)
But then, crash.
Thoughts entered my head and i couldn't get them out: "This thing takes batteries... Batteries keep this going... Like a heart... Like a heartbeat... The batteries will run out... The goddamned batteries will run out!!!!! The batteries will run out... No heartbeat..." and then the stomach muscles recoiled. Time to go back out into the heat and smoke my brains out.
Smoking. I was smoking a lot. I had quit 6 years earlier, although I was guilty of the occasional cigarette on the rare recreational nights out, but it didn't amount to more than about 10 a year. But now I was buying them again. I stocked the drawers full of them. Basic Lights, Camel Lights, Parliament Lights, whatever, I smoked them at all hours. I was a 35-year-old, born again, full time smoker. In a box, if you had them please.
The things I began to notice as I smoked my cigarettes out on the back patio of our house is how terrible the sound of screaming cicadas could be. They screamed “here I am” over and over again, beginning just before dark and continuing until after 7:30 AM. I actually watched one swoop down and spray urine (I guess) 10 inches onto the cordless telephone I’ve carried outside (why I carried this phone around was a mystery. I wouldn't even answer it if it rang.) The cicada these two hollow black eyes on either side of its head. It was all head. A flying head with awful black eyes. This shrieking sex-machine, it occurred to me, was nothing but a vessel for raw motivation. The sounds filled the sky around me as if I was under water… you know, and the water screamed.