It wasn’t the first time he’d had the thought. And even though he could feel the blood pooling around his fingers and there was no one around to save him or call an ambulance he somehow assumed it wouldn’t be the last. He wasn’t worrying about that at the moment.
No, what he was thinking about wasn’t survival. It was the phenomenon everybody talked about- that whole ‘my life flashed before my eyes’ thing. That’s where the anxiety was coming from.
Last time- when he’d collapsed on the floor of his bathroom with what turned out to be a heart attack and thought he was dying- hadn’t gone so well for him. He’d spent the whole time thinking about his childhood dog. It wasn’t that he and Barley hadn’t had a whole lot of great times together, it just wasn’t what he wanted to spend his last moments on earth thinking about. There’d been more to his life than that, but his brain didn’t seem interested in it. And by the time his wife got home, discovered him, and called 911 he’d felt pretty damned stupid for having never thought of her.
Now, lying here on the concrete in this dirty alley, listening to the retreating footfalls of the perp he’d stupidly chased down on his own, he felt pretty dumb. Because once again, instead of envisioning the faces of his children or remembering the sigh of his wife as she snuggled into him or anything that was even remotely relevant to his existence, he was thinking of something from his childhood.
He was thinking of Ms. Handelson, his 8th grade biology teacher. She wasn’t his favorite teacher. In fact she’d been kind-of a bitch for flunking him for handing in an assignment without a bibliography without even giving him the chance to write one up. But she’d had a really nice pair of breasts.
They sat on her chest, perky the way that only breasts belonging to a 20-something year-old middle school biology teacher could be, and stared at him. She was always wearing button down shirts- perfectly appropriate professional attire for a teacher- save that the two buttons at the apex were always on the verge of bursting open and spilling forth the abundance held within.
He’d spent each class focusing all of his mental energy on those buttons, trying to loosen the thread with the power of his will. He’d been transfixed with Star Wars like every other boy on the planet at that time and had truly believed that if he focused his mental energy cleanly enough and released all other distracting emotions he could move those buttons.
Day after day, class after class he sat and concentrated. Every now and again as she shifted her stance and the fabric pulled taut over the mound his breath would catch in his throat as he waited for all of his mental machinations to finally pay off. Then she’d move and the shirt would relax once more, leaving him in abject misery.
He’d nearly seen them-once. As she was leaning over him while guiding his cut around the meat of a frog’s stomach he’d caught a small but unmistakable glance of side boob through the gap in her buttons. It hung there, ever so close to exposure, only a few inches away from his greedy mouth. But he’d never actually seen the promised land and was left in a perpetual state of frenzied anticipation.
He wore more long flannel shirts that year than he ever had before or since.
And it was this that he thought of as he lay there in that alley bleeding out. It was this image of young breasts threatening to burst forth and smother him that occupied his vision. And it was this that gave him an instantaneous jolt of embarrassment as a young EMT appeared over him and asked if he could hear him.
All he could do was pray the guy didn’t find a hard on as he went to look at the wound on his thigh.