I became aware of the voices before I had any presence of mind, before I became aware of my surroundings. Everything was a blur. I could hear the faint hum of people talking all at once, a certain edge to the voices. I counted the voices. They were three, no four. There was one that sounded like the drone of a faulty engine and the others sounded alike, like the clang of stainless dishes. My eyes were still closed. I tried to open them but they felt like rock chippings had been piled on them. My mind was shattered glass. Its pieces I could not find. I was still lying down, I knew, but this time not on the ground. I felt elevated. I felt the soft comfort of a bed. I wondered why I was lying down and hurting all over. I couldn’t remember. I couldn’t remember why I couldn’t remember. I tried, for a few seconds to, but everything remained a blur, then a picture came back to me in one painful contraction. I remembered falling into my pool of blood. I remembered the Virgin Mary. Now the Virgin Mary was talking to me, walking me through lush green fields with clear white skies and overly illuminating sunlight that didn’t scorch. She was saying things I could not hear. It was like there was an invisible wall of glass between us so her words came out as a muffle. She kept talking, and soon I did not see her again. I had drifted off.
I woke up this time to solitude; a calm, sweet solitude. I felt hungry and thirsty too. I tried to open my eyes. The left one fluttered a little and then fell closed. The other one didn’t even budge.
Was I going blind?
I lifted my right hand. It was a painful task. My hand now felt like a log of wood to move around. I knew I had a dislocation somewhere there. I had had so many of them in the past, in Memphis. And then it all came rushing back to me, unsolicited. I remembered everything. I wasn’t in Memphis, of course. I had come to LA to find Uncle Terry and…Oh no! These guys beat me up. Mistaken identity most certainly, because I wasn’t a bad guy.
I was glad to at least be alive. I strained my arm to reach my eye and felt my lids. My right eye was swollen, the left wasn’t, just grazed by an open sore that had leaked into my cornea and then solidified, holding my eyes together. I pried my left eye open and managed to open my right eye a bit.
Then I looked around. Virgin Mary was there, only she had no head and only one arm. I wondered what had changed her and broken those parts away. Apart from that, everything in the room looked just as I remembered it. My bag was nowhere in sight though. I wasn’t on a bed. I was laid out on one of the settees in the living room. There was the faint smell of antiseptic in the room, and I saw that most of my body was wrapped up in bandages, and I had my broken arm tied up with a white cloth and a stick. I had to get out of here, but again I was hungry.
I sat up on the chair and attempted to get down. Instinctively, I let out a scream. My legs hurt badly and I collapsed onto the floor. I heard feet shuffling in the hallway. I had to stand up and get away. I tried once again, swallowing every expression of pain and had just made it to the door when I heard the familiar voice of the girl. The one who had let me in.
‘No, wait Chap, wait!’ I was stunned to hear my name, and the familiar manner with which it was called.
I turned. ‘Where do you think you’re going? Put your aching butt down and lemme rustle up something for ya! You like scrambled eggs? And you must stink badly by now. Hell, you need a bath.’
I must have blinked forty times. I looked around the room to be sure I was the one she was talking to.
‘You like coffee or tea?’ she continued ‘If you ask me, I think coffee will do you a lot of good, jerk your sorry bones back to life, yeah?’
I nodded and then found my voice ‘Hey wait a minute, what sort of game is this?’
‘Game. The only game I play is chess, and even that got its moments.’ I couldn’t tell if she was serious or not
‘Is this a kinda sick joke lady? First, you get me beaten up, bloodied and bruised by your thugs, then you here treating me all nice? Where the hell is Hans?’ My voice had climbed by a few decibels now.
‘Where the hell is anybody? What place is this? You better tell me!’ The pain at the back of my neck and the rumbling in my stomach weakened me. I felt vertigo, and placed my hands on the wall for balance.
‘You don’t fucking shout at me in my crib, dude. I’m only doing this cos of Hanson. Who the fuck are you anyway that he talks about you that way?’
‘Where is he?’
‘So he lives here?’
‘He fucking owns this place bob; me and him’
‘You’re his…?’ the disgust must have shown on my face
‘Girl, wifey, fuckbuddy, call it whatever you like. Just get your crappy ass back in that chair and wait for breakfast’
‘So why was I beat up?’
‘We thought it was someone else’
‘Where’re the assholes that beat me up?’
‘Hey cool it dude. They’re out’
‘You their fuckbuddies too?’
‘Hey shut up small man, and for the last time, get your behind into one of ‘em sofas’
She walked back into the kitchen shaking her behind. I felt dizzy.