Next Day

Right after he came down, you know, after he collapsed, like, on the floor, right there in the middle of the holiday, he started muttering, real quick, at first, and then he just kind of looked up, right here, you know, right over my shoulder, and he said, he said, something like: just find something to be afraid of and run as fast as you can, and don't ever stop running, you know, just keep running like you can't ever stop. And that was it, he let it go, and a few minutes later, or maybe a few horus later, we were all huddled together, sitting on the front porch, in the cold, in that winter cold, watching him get dragged out under a blanket. And then into the ambulance and gone down the street, like that, just like that, and this time, he wasn't prepared to come back, not from that. He couldn't come back, she said, but I don't think she was really talking to me, not that I would have confused the situation, I mean, I could guess the consequences, sort of, at least more than my little brothers and sisters could have guessed the weight of the situation, they were probably too young then and they were just wide eyed, you know, like big eyed, sitting and watching the ambulance drive on down the street. I huddled with them then, like she kind of told me to do, like she told me to do when she motioned and then walked inside and slammed the door, and we just huddled out there and I all the time thinking about what I was gonna find to get me to start running, you know, like I was a goddamn train, like getting something good to be afraid of was gonna give me an energy supply, some sort of fuel to get me on down the path and onto the street and so on. What I foolish proposition. But I just sat there anyway, thinking about that, all huddled up with my brothers and sisters and thinking this time, maybe, even after this happening right in the middle of the holiday, we'd be able to vacation as a family, you know, maybe go to the waffle house, just as a family, and sit at one of those round tables, where we could all look at each other, look at each other in the face, and I could order a large stack of pancakes and help my brother cut his sausage or something, you know, like a family, on a holiday, and perhaps, she, you know, wouldn't be so goddamn upset all the time, maybe she'd even unzip her coat and stop smoking for a spell and look at us, look at us like her kids and maybe even smile and order something like scrambled eggs and bacon. I don't know, I guess I was in that daze for a little bit until my brother asked me where they were taking him and I said, I don't know I guess they are taking him where they take all dead people and my sister then, well, she started crying because she didn't really understand and then they all started crying because I don't think they really had any idea what had just happened and soon all of them were sitting on the front porch asking me what I had meant and what death meant and when was he gonna come home and I was supposed to ba answering all these questions and looking at them and telling them, I don't know, that everything was gonna be fine, and they were gonna be fine and then it hit me, you know right then, I figured it out, I figured out what I was gonna run from. That son of a bitch had given me something to be every bit afraid of for the rest of my life and so I started running and began to really pray that I never found myself huddled up outside watching another goddamn asshole get carted away in an ambulance and me all out there exposed expecting to answer a bunch of goddamn questions.

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