Episode 9 — Chapters 8 & 9
9-1-1. What is your emergency?
A man’s lying in the street in a pool of blood. Must’a been hit by a passing car. Looks like a hit-and-run. In real bad shape. He needs immediate help!
Did you witness the accident?
Do you know how long he’s been there?
I’m sorry, I have no clue…
Does he appear to be breathing?
I think so.
What’s your location?
Ponce De Leon and Juniper. Hurry! His face is badly mangled… I just sensed a pulse, but I don’t think he’s gonna make it if someone don’t get here now!
I’m dispatching emergency units …
“White male. Unconscious. Faint pulse. Excessive blood loss. Appears to be in his 20’s—face badly damaged, fractured facial bones. Broken leg, arm and ribs. Contusions and excessive bruising. Significant loss of blood. Transfusion needed–urgent.”
“Transfusion underway. Breathing tube in place. Face damaged beyond recognition. Cheek bones, nose and jaw broken. No identification.”
I look out into the audience, but it is impossible to see anything other than vague outlines in the bright lights. My delivery of lines has never been better—the rousing reception from the crowd bears witness to that. It is my best performance ever!
My stage girlfriend enters from the side, but she looks different than the girl in Act One. Something isn’t right. That’s not her! What happened to Sue McManaway? I wait for my cue and finally she begins to speak; but her words are jumbled and make no sense. She appears to be infected with stage fright… now, she not talking at all. Without her cue, I’m lost. Omigod, what comes next?
Oh, there it is. Thank God! I open my mouth to speak, but my tongue, teeth and lips feel thick and heavy, I can’t utter a single word!
I feel perspiration forming on my face. I try again, but just a guttural growl emerges from my throat, like a phonograph playing a record at half speed. My mind goes blank again. A profusion of disparate words and phrases invade my consciousness… but none of it makes any sense.
I hear laughter and jeers. The lights dim and I see people pointing at me in derision. I’m ordered off the stage, but I can’t move.
Looking into the sea of raging faces, I recognize him. Why is he here? The look of shame on my father’s face cuts me to the very bone; he is humiliated by my stage failure.
Suddenly, to my horror, I see my father’s face beginning to disintegrate. It is a hideous sight and I try to turn away, and close my eyes. But I am powerless to control any part of my body and my eyes continue staring…
His body crumbles before my eyes. I cry out in agony! The stark realization comes to me: It is my mortifying performance that has caused my father’s gruesome death.
The torment is more than I can bear and there’s a pounding ache in my head as everything begins to swirl around me.
My head is swelling…
I feel my cranium splitting apart…
Insufferable agony greeted his waking consciousness, as the horrific images began to fade. He tried to scream, but the attempt sent a tidal wave of excruciating pain to his facial muscles. As he struggled to breathe, he felt a piercing ache in his chest. Instantly aware that any movement at all would trigger another torrent of unbearable pain, he endeavored to remain immobile.
Suddenly a loud noise assaulted his senses, causing his eyes to flicker open. As rapid glimpses of the surroundings were processed by his brain, he gradually became aware that he was lying in a bed, his left arm in a cast and one leg hoisted upward and covered in plaster. He wrestled to free his right hand, but it was restrained. Why? Where was he?
He tried to lift up, but another jolt of agony engulfed him.
The pain was so intense, he could endure it no longer.
His consciousness faded.