Yesterday I walked into the kitchen and quickly, even insidiously, something slipped from the counter to the floor. I jumped and lunged forward to catch the monstrous spider, or whatever it was, before it could hide, only to sneak out later and bite my bare feet. That morning was the first time I had waked before the rollicking belching the clock makes when it announces dawn.
Anyway, the creature had disappeared. It wasn’t even in my huge open purse that sits on the floor by the china cabinet. The day passed as usual. I should have been warned by that. Being a teacher of mainly psychotic high school students I am always wary of things with a tinge of normalcy.
Last might I told Mike. A Mistake. He felt I should see a good brain specialist, but since I was not the possessor of a super brain he said maybe a psychiatrist would do as well. He adroitly side-stepped my well aimed kick to his shin and offered to do the dishes if I would recuperate over a glass a wine from my day in the black-board jungle.
The following week I made an appointment with an eye-doctor. I told the receptionist that I would be dead inside of thirty-six hours if they didn’t take me withing the next of twenty-four. This was a dastardly lie but the first opening he had was for six months hence and I was frightened by the denseness and frequency of these vague dark blobs that seemed to be increasing each day.
The day of the appointment I was driving home from school when an apparently a driverless car passed me. My curiosity was piqued as to whether it was remote controlled or being driven by a midget. So I accelerated and as I glanced over and the only reason I did not faint was from the five year habit of the same lights, stop signs and traffic at this time, each day driving to and from school. My reflexes became totally automatic and I could not, later, remember having thought about another thing on that particular drive. I think my reactions pleased the nurse, who eyed every emergency patient as a deliberate and purposeful threat to her dinner hour.
A black, writhing, quivering blob.
“Pardon?” Said the eye doctor.
“Sorry” I murmured, “As he plunged the pencil thin light into my right eye, “just thinking aloud.”‘ “Now” he said, breathing heavily into my ear and gleefully keeping his balance on the poka-dotted bar stool which matched the poka-dotted awning over his tool chest, the floor length drapes in the reception room, and the future plan for a life-size poka-dotted Mickey Mouse Cartoon on the ceiling.
“Now” he warmly breathed again, furtively consulting his wrist watch for my remaining, number of minutes, “what seems to be the trouble?”
Matching his geniality I smiled, “Doctor, I seem to be having an on slought of the blobs.”
“Hmmm.” He minutely inspected a damaged cuticle. His adorable secretary wiggled through the room and diplomatically placed the next case history on top of mine. Her smile congratulated the doctor of his fantastic discoveries in the field of science.
“I see. Perhaps you could be more definitive.” He stood up. A signal that I had about a minute and thirty seconds left.
“Doctor, for the past two weeks I’ve been seeing black blobs, like marshmallows in density, and they all disappear when I get tam close. This morning I reached for the alarm clock and a big black glob covered it. On the way here I looked into the diver’s seat of another car and it was filled with a massive, quivering blob. I thought you might be able to discover if it had anything to do with my vision.”
“I see,” he said giving me his fatherly-concerned-look, “oh yes, I do see.” “We would have to consider this a preliminary examination, and, on the basis of your problem, go into much further indepth in the future. The eye, my dear is an unusual and very finely tuned organ of the body…and blah, blah, furthermore…. and possibly in the next examination etc., etc. Have my secretary schedule for a month from now and afterwards I suggest you take two aspirins and drink plenty of fluids.”
“Try to relax my dear.” As he patted me on the shoulder in the direction of the door, “If your spots are a result of some slight imperfection in vision just put yourself in my care.”
Mike met me at the door with a glass of wine and a hug. The embraces were always the best part of the day, long and saying much with no words.
“I say the doctor.” “Oh” pause,”should we be knitting booties.”
“No idiot, the eye doctor. I’m not sure what he said, if he said anything, but I’m supposed to take aspirin and return in a month.” I responded.
I related the incident driving home and he just frowned and sipped his wine. We were to dine with my parents that evening and the nostalgic sight of my father fondly stirring the martinis dispelled all anxieties. For a while… It was comfortable sitting in front of the fire place, sipping cocktails and teasingly nudging Mike with my knee. He was frowning over his pipe as my mother went into her usual proclamation and dissertation. This time it was about the unique advantages only those who had attended boarding high schools had and she could not understand how one could make it through life without having done so. My father smiled and nodded, sneaking a third martini.
“…don’t you agree Mike?” “Uhm, yes, I see.” said Mike as he tapped the burned tobacco into the ashtray.
“Good. Sissy, you light the candles o the table and everyone else carry their glasses into the kitchen ordered mother. I stopped at the entrance to the dinning room, fumbling for the light switch and froze. The entire darkened room swayed and undulated, quivering and retreating before me. From doorway to the French windows it was filled with a jelly-like spongy black mass. It breathed and sighed and seemed to mesh out toward me when Mike grabbed me by the shoulder. “What’s the matter giddy, what is it?” He flipped the switch to the chandelier. He smacked me on the fanny and muttered “No more martinis for some of us.” as he disappeared into the kitchen.
Dinner was normal. As Mother ran through her usual verbal tirade on the neighbors, the Catholic Church, Miami Beach, and her Family. Dad would wait for her to take a breathe and pounce to change the subject. Between her oratorical kickoffs and his interceptions, we progressed from soup to dessert without a break. The only dramatic relief was Mike quietly breaking the stem of his wineglass. I was the only one who noticed. “….don’t you agree Mike?” said Mother. “Ummm, yes, I see.” said Mike as he calmly broke the handle of his coffee cup.
The comedic relief only lasted a moment when a crackling news announcement interrupted the radio in the room over that had been playing some soft jazz.
“State and county health advisers are announcing a recall on all table grapes and grape products, including wine. A new and, until recently, undiscovered fungus has been affecting the grape crops of this region and others. This new fungus is known to cause a kind of delirium and hallucinations of moving black splotches and blurred vision. Worst yet, it can lead to aggression and psychosis and nerves break-downs.”
Stunned, my jaw dropped and I looked over at Mike. His eyes were bloodshot red and crazed and his broken wine glass stem was being held like a knife. Looks like I wasn’t the only one getting carried away with the local wines… which were highly contaminated.
Mike rose from his seat and lunged for my father, a tussle ensued and the two fell to the floor with Mike on top.
My mother stood over Mike with a rolling pin, who’s body was now pancaking my father to the floor.
She looked at me and said, “Now why couldn’t you have married a nice Catholic boy?!”
—Co-authored by Kevin Klimczak, tech extraordinaire. (The ending scene was my work but influenced by Caroline’s humor- which is delightful!)