-That’s all she wrote.-
Life as I knew it, was officially done. Game over.
Well… almost over.
That night, I felt I’d reached the pinnacle of madness. Nothing made sense anymore. I was locked up and trapped in a labyrinthine prison of my own making. I tried to think three steps ahead and found myself instead retreating, and falling four steps behind. A trillion ideas and thoughts rattled around upstairs, however, I was incapable of locking onto a single one. Each thought I did manage to grasp a hold of made me dizzy and weak, and I’d eventually allow it to slip away within a second or two.
Maybe I did hit that level. Rock bottom. A little “crazy” if you will, but maybe I didn’t.
In hindsight, perhaps I was fully sane. Perspective is always reality. Maybe there truly wasn’t anything actually “wrong” with me and my abstract thinking. Life had been moving so fast over such a short period of time, I couldn’t keep up. At this point, I was so far behind, I couldn’t even hope to catch up to it, let alone keep pace.
For some reason, my consciousness made a decision (without my permission) to journey to a location, that moves back and forth between the wide open doorways separating fantasy and reality.
A forced coping mechanism I didn’t see coming. A complete blindside.
I was confused, scared, and hopelessly lost. The only thing keeping me grounded was the idea I was still upright and breathing.
Everything I owned was housed in three different locations separated by miles of distance, and in the morning, I’d be homeless. Terrified, and shaking from head to toe, because I wouldn’t have a place for my children to rest their heads while in my presence.
If you’ve ever been there… I sympathize. It’s overwhelming to the point of agony.
Having been accustomed to full time access to the kids, during the Old Life, it was bad enough having that time forcefully chopped in half, and even worse not knowing if you’d have a home for them in the future.
The back seat and trunk of the car, contained the immediate necessities for day to day living. The dog sat beside me in the passenger seat whining, and darting her focus out each window.
My hands were clutched around the steering wheel in the ten and two positions. The whitened tips of my fingers burrowed into the leather material surrounding it, digging, massaging and picking away at the frayed edges.
I couldn’t catch my breath.
The inner voice instructed me to activate the hazard lights and the moment the voice spoke, I reached to the dashboard, pressed the button, and my hand shot back to the steering wheel as though they were magnetized.
The white haze of the fog surrounding the parked car, bounced and reflected the yellow flashing hazards around the immediate area of the vehicle, creating a blurry, pulsating blinking bubble of dim golden light and my vision was reduced to feet. My eyes couldn’t penetrate the circling hovering mist.
The only sounds were the dog panting and Led Zeppelin playing through the speakers.
And the thumping of my racing heart pounding in my ears.
All that existed was the Demon Tree standing before me, illuminated bright in the high beams, Shelby the loyal companion, and everything within my little bubble of insanity.
Here’s the funny thing about hitting that place of madness. You have zero idea what to do, or how to proceed. At that point, it all becomes organic and automatic. Thoughts and actions are overrun by something else, conjured from deep within. Something primal. Something out of control. Something… not normal.
I’ve mentioned in previous installments the fact I’m not a violent person. I’d rather talk it out, than have unnecessary conflict. This one evening, however, was different.
Sure, I can spell out my actions that night in the field. I can chat about that Hell spawn Demon Tree, what I said to it out of anger and the number of times I kicked the tires of the car, or how many times I screamed inside the bubble, but I won’t. Some things are better kept private.
But boy oh boy did I give those inanimate objects a piece of my mind. I sure showed them who was boss. At the end of the aggressive rant, they knew who they were dealing with. If the tree had a way to respond to my words, it probably would have walked off a cliff.
If the almighty was sitting on his throne, focusing his attention on me that night, he would have frowned, waggled a finger in my direction and shook his head in disappointment. “Tsk, tsk, tsk.”
Once the last of the tears were wiped away, and I felt myself calming down, my mind snapped back to the moment and I planted my backside at the base of the tree. I was exhausted. Eyes red and puffy. I felt like a dried out husk. I knew if I didn’t sit for a spell, I’d more than likely collapse from expended energy.
Shelby and I sat under the leaves of that menacing evil tree, and tried to relax.
I could have continued on the path to my family that night. I could have easily opened the door to the car and driven the two thousand feet around the corner. I was so close to that place of familiarity, and the safety of loved ones who could comfort me in my time of need… yet, I didn’t. Something was incomplete.
A nagging gnawing urge clawed at my psyche to take the initiative for once. I needed to regain control.
“What do you think, Shelbers. Should I do it?”
She dropped her paw on my arm, and licked the slobber from her drooping jowls.
“That’s what I thought.” She always knew what to say when the time was appropriate.
I reached into my back pocket and withdrew my wallet. Tucked behind a singular dollar bill was the business card Officer Clark handed me not an hour before. I turned the card over and over looking for any details other than his name and number but it was blank, and devoid of any information. “Okay… let’s give it a try.”
No… it’s late. 9:57 on a work night? If you call, it might piss him off. Officer Hulk said he’d do the leg work in the morning. What are you doing?
The only thing that makes sense right now. Deal with it!
The phone rang seven times as I rested my head against the Demon Tree, staring into it’s lit up branches. This is a mistake.
No it isn’t… be cool.
When the man answered the phone, he never said hello. All I could hear through the receiver was breathing, and smacking of the lips. Then silence.
“Did he hang up on me?” I asked out loud to the dog and Shelby perked up to the sound of a motorist moving slow down the street.
“No! I didn’t hang up! Who is this anyway?” The smacking stopped. Maybe he was eating dinner…
I didn’t know how to respond. His reply caught me off guard. The voice seemed angry. “Ummm… I’m sorry to call you so late. Is this, Joseph Everett?”
“I asked you who you are. Do you have a name? Don’t leave me hanging, son. Speak up.”
“Y–yes. Yes, sir. Jeremy. My name is, Jeremy.”
“Are you sure about that? You seem uncertain. Don’t be giving me any false names now. Got it?!”
“Yes. I got it. My name’s, Jeremy, sir. Again, I apologize for the late call.”
Sounds like my grandfather for crying out loud. I suppressed a smile while momentary silence hung between us.
He broke through the quiet stalemate, “Let me guess. Got yourself in some trouble, and don’t know the way out.”
“You could say that.”
“Where are you?”
“I’m about ten minutes north of the capitol.”
“Damn it. All ready for bed and some sexy time with the missus, and some young punk screws it all up. Son of a bitch!” He pulled the phone from his face and yelled, “Jessica, get a pot ready! We’re going to have some company. Yes! It’ll probably be a late night, again.” He spoke back to me. “You know where the gas station is on, Vikkery Lane? Beside Papa’s Diner and Deli?”
“Meet me there in fifteen minutes, and do NOT make me wait.”
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