Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bohemian Rhapsody

Having never been drunk before, Josh wasn't entirely sure how it all worked. So he did what most people when they haven't the foggiest idea what they should do: every single thing he shouldn't have done. When his friend offered him wet for the first time he said "OK". When he was asked for a ride home from a friend he said "why not?" And when someone not quite as inebriated as he was pointed out that he shouldn't be driving he said "No worries, it's cool."

It wasn't that there was no forethought at all, it was that the thoughts that occur all left out the logic sober people are capable. 'If I was really that out if it,' he reasoned, 'wouldn't I feel it?' He felt fine. A little hot body-temperature wise, which he found slightly odd since it was October, but fine. Besides- it was a crowded party. Anybody'd be a little hot.

He made it to his friend's house with little incidence. They joked for longer than his girlfriend liked and made plans to hang out the next day. As he walked back to the car he smugly took note of the fact that he was perfectly in line with the curb. He gave his girlfriend a big, wet kiss as he got and was quickly reminded of why it'd be a good idea to get home fast as his pants got a little tighter. Bohemian Rhapsody came on the radio as he started forward and he turned up the radio to sing along.

He and his girlfriend sang along joyfully, loudly and terribly out of tune. Both were "in the now" and totally unaware that his speed had increased with the volume of the radio and their voices. He belted out the lyrics- or as many of them as he could remember- at the top of his lungs and when the famous guitar solo came on he did what anyone of his generation would do. He head banged.

He didn't feel it when the car slammed head first into the a large oak tree at 83 miles an hour. He didn't feel it when the windshield shattered and sprayed him and his beautiful girlfriend with broken glass. Nor did he feel when the air bag deployed and slammed his neck back into the seat with enough force to break it. And he certainly didn't feel anything when he passed out.

What he did feel was sticky, wet drip coming from somewhere around his right hand. Having been unconscious for a good chunk of time he wasn't aware of what that feeling might be from, nor could he turn his head to find out. He was only vaguely of losing consciousness again.

It wasn't until a large unfamiliar man was shining a flashlight in his eyes that he had any awareness of his surroundings and even then all he could make out was noise, lights, chaos and pain in every part of his body. It was entirely too much input to sort out so his mind went into hibernation figuring it'd sit back wait and sort the whole mess out later. He watched as the firemen worked the jaws of life over the door thinking nothing other than 'so that's what one of those things looks like.' He watched as they pulled his body out onto the gurney with total detachment to whose body it was. And he witnessed the trees overhead as her rolled to the ambulance with a vague interest in the way the moon streamed through the leaves. Everything else was beyond him.

He was slightly irritated as his gurney was jostled into place in the ambulance and his eyes caught sight of something large and red on the side of him. He couldn't turn his head to look as it was safely braced and secured, but he could reach his hand over and feel as a blind person would. He felt the same sticky wetness that had awoken him in the car earlier and could tell that it was covering fabric and skin but that was all. Until he felt the bracelet.

It was a small, sterling silver bracelet with a turtle emblem that he'd given his girlfriend for her birthday a couple of weeks earlier and for reasons he didn't understand or question he'd become very fond of staling it from her to play with the turtle's head and spin it around in his fingers. He felt that head now and he realized who was under all that dark, sticky wetness.

For years afterward he would re-live that moment in dreams having forgotten just about everything else about the accident save for confused snapshots of scenes he never really understood. But the feel of that damned bracelet was burned into his brain stronger than any evolutionary imprint.

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