Bad, Bad, Bad

Sorry, folks. After reading what I thought would be the final version of my story, I cannot bring myself to publish it. I’ve always joked about my writings being my own contribution to bad American literature. But, this story is terrible and, as a result, I have condemned it to my literature Purgatory – a vast wasteland filled with past ideas and writings wondering about awaiting their fate.  Will they be resurrected and given a new life, or will they be tossed into the fiery depths of my memory to be obliterated from existence? Only time will tell.

Alas, I cannot, in good conscience, take your three bucks for what I have marked as an inferior product unfit for public consumption. The good news is that Kroger has a sale on cottage cheese this week. You guessed it, a 16-ounce container is going for just a little under three dollars – much more fulfilling instead of settling for my cheese.

Copyright © 2016 Kipling A. Jackson

 

 

The Walk

When my wife and I first started our journey towards an ALS diagnosis, we were chasing the idea that a meningioma was causing fasciculations (muscle tremors) and the weakness in my right leg. After numerous falls and, finally, a concussion, the subsequent MRI turned up evidence of this benign growth in the rear part of my brain. I thought it would be a simple process: open up my skull, remove the offending tissue, sew me back up, do a couple of months of rehab, and I would be up and running again. No problem. But, I knew it wouldn’t be this straight-forward. The one thing in the back of my mind (besides the suspected tumor, Haha!) was the thought that once you crack the shell open, things would never be the same.

I was anxious about the surgery and the possible complications that would come with it. I went to consult with a neurosurgeon and told him about my symptoms. He immediately said my ailments were not the result of a tumor. After observing my gait with the right foot dropping, he referred me to a neurologist.

What, no surgery? Maybe this isn’t as bad as I first thought.

My appointment was two weeks away. I didn’t like waiting for answers – in my pre-ALS days, patience was not a virtue I possessed – so I passed the days researching my symptoms. Everything I came across lead to ALS. I found out it was also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” If you’re an avid baseball fan like I am, it’s impossible not to know who the great Lou Gehrig was and that he also died from this mysterious disease.

Okay, not good, this is serious, but,  wait a minute, Kip. Don’t panic, yet. Surely, after all of this time, there must be a cure. Alas, I found out the cold, hard fact that, despite it being almost 75 years since his death, a cure has not been found – it remains to this day a terminal disease.

My heart sank, I called my wife from work (sorry, bosses) and told her what my hypothesis was. Still, this dismal probability couldn’t deter us from holding on to hope. Maybe, the neurologist could up with other possibilities of what was responsible for my symptoms.

I remember my first appointment and the aftermath all too well. My heart was beating faster with every step I took toward her office door. I couldn’t get a solid grip on the doorknob because my palms were so sweaty. I remember that my breathing was out of control, and I was on the verge of hyperventilating. On top of that, the fasciculations were relentless and firing off over my entire body.

She watched me walk up and down the hallway. After I had done it, we came back into the exam room and sat down. She proceeded to tell me that I wasn’t going to like what she had to say. Before she could get the next sentence out, I blurted, “It’s ALS, isn’t it.” She nodded.

The neurologist sent me downstairs to the lab for a blood test to eliminate the possibility of heavy metal poisoning. There was a long corridor between the waiting room and the lab. I vaguely remember my wife asking me if I needed any help with walking down there. I told her no, I thought I would be fine.

As I began to walk, I could feel my wife studying me with her eyes watching to see if I needed any help. The dimly lit passage was empty: no passing strangers to acknowledge; no activity of any kind to divert my attention from my encroaching thoughts. The only sounds were coming from my slow, shuffling footsteps on the white, tiled floor. I concentrated on walking straight and upright. I was determined to not let my wife see any sign of weakness.

My left foot swung in front of my right flawlessly; I heard the quiet “pat” as the bottom of my left sneaker made contact with the floor. However, my right foot had a mind of its own. To compensate for the drop-foot, I had to raise the leg up, make sure the top of my foot cleared the floor while I swung it in front of the left, then keep it from dropping to the floor with as much grace as I can muster – this takes more strength to accomplish with every step I took.

Pat, shuffle, clump!  Pat, shuffle, clump!  Pat, shuffle, clump! I focused on the rhythm of my gait hoping this would pacify my consciousness so it would block the pure terror that was trying to claw its way into it.

Oh my God, I’m going to die!  The proclamation shot up from the depths of my soul, out from the dark abyss where I thought had successfully buried it. This was to be the first volley of an onslaught of ghastly phrases that soon followed. I’m too young to die… You’ve been cheated… What will happen to my wife?… She’s going to watch me die… If she stays… Will she leave?… I’ll be all alone… What about my sister?… My dad?… He’ll have to bury me… No parent should see their kid die… Paralysis… Suffocation… Drowning… A slow death… Alone…  You have nobody… You’re gonna die alone…  

I felt my knees get wobbly. The tip of my right foot caught the floor as I was swinging it forward. I grasped for the side railing as I began to fall forward. My hand found it in time to recover my balance.

Why did God let this happen to you?… God, oh God, where are you?… I need you… It was this thought that brought me to the floor. On my knees, doubled over in agony, all I could do was cry. My torment echoed off the walls of the vacant hallway down to the waiting room where my wife was watching me with tears in her eyes.

I have no idea how I made it to the lab. The only other thing I remembered about the rest of the day was holding my wife tightly in bed that night with fasciculations popping off all over my body. I was so nervous that I couldn’t fall asleep. I was too busy looking up at the ceiling, staring into the unknown.

Copyright © 2016 Kipling A. Jackson

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watching You

“Watching You”, my new story, will be released on Friday, July 31st, 2016. It will be available in paperback and as an audio book – these formats will not be ready for purchase until late July or August. However, you can pre-order your ebook copy on Amazon.com now. Just click on the icon to the right.

Don’t have a Kindle? No Problem. Click on this link to download the free Kindle app.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/digital/fiona/kcp-landing-page?ie=UTF8&ref_=sv_kstore_4

Do you remember your first crush, most everyone’s had one, right? You remember feeling the warmth in your heart and your face flush bright red whenever you saw that one special person. Then, if you were lucky, they flashed you a smile, said “Hi”, and from that moment on you were hooked. You would do anything, it seemed, to make them acknowledge your presence. This would range from hours spent in front of the mirror debating with yourself about which outfit looked the best to instructing your goofy parents to drop you off far away from the school entrance so that no one could see you getting out of the family van (No, mom, I won’t kiss you goodbye!). The crush was a hellish roller-coaster filled with days of euphoria when your obsession noticed you and intense depression – even anger – when you’re ignored.

When you finally got home from school that day, you found out you couldn’t concentrate. Homework be damned, you had more important problems to deal with than figuring out what x was. Lying awake in bed, you didn’t fall asleep because you were too busy wondering what you did wrong.

Before class the next day, you discovered the reason you’d been overlooked: they were hanging out with their special person. Your heart was crushed by the sudden act of betrayal. Like most kids, in time, you would recover and go on with life.

You never forgot about the classmate who refused to accept the rejections. You remember hearing the rumors of a couple of stays at a psychiatric hospital. What happened to him? In today’s world,  information is so easy to come by, so you grab your smartphone and look him up. There, before your eyes is a picture of him; he seems to be well-adjusted and, judging from his clothes, you know he must be successful with his career. The images make a believer out of you, and you think he’s left those dark days far behind. But, your wisdom gained over the years interjects and tells you the pictures don’t tell the whole story –  they only show what the person wants you to see. Then you begin to ponder: what are they hiding? After all, everyone has their secrets.

My Sweetest Love,

Tonight, I sit here watching you in this busy restaurant laugh and gossip with your friends. You have no idea that I’ve followed you here. Except for a few fleeting encounters, my existence – in your eyes – remains, at best, a trivial one. I’m not a part of your world, and it seems like you don’t care. It drives me insane.

No one can ever love you as much as I do. I will never hurt you nor do you have anything to fear from me. I am your lover, protector, and savior. Why can’t you understand this?

I do have a confession to make.  I’ve been observing all aspects of your life to see what I can do to be a wonderful, future husband to you. I make sure I’m the first person that sees you in the morning. I’m there to welcome you home at the end of your day. I watch TV with you – your shows have now become my favorites. And when you go to bed at night, I always make sure you’re tucked in and safe. You see, I’m already a big part of your life, and you don’t even know it.

The possibility of living without me is not an alternative I want you to consider. Therefore, I’ll take responsibility and eliminate this as an option. You belong to me, and I shall stop at nothing to see this through. I won’t live without you, and I’ll make sure you’ll never live without me – that’s a promise.

Until the day you finally accept my everlasting love and devotion, I’ll be watching you.

Eternally yours,

J.