The fires were
nearing the neighborhood from the northeast. Smoke, ash,
yellow sky; water pump ready by the pool, roof
sprinklers tested, hoses laid out, connected ready for
the fight; voluntary evacuation, by phone and police
blow horn announcements throughout the area. The roads
were blocked both into and out of the area. The waiting
began. Night illuminated by red/orange glowing only a
mile up the road. To bed. Not to sleep.
The pain, excruciating, across her lower back, right
side; hours of retching. She could not even hold down a
sliver of ice. She held her head up long enough to nod
in agreement to a very late eveningís trip to the ER.
Off to see the wizards. At this point, her recollection
of incidents faded in and out. The drive went on
forever. Streetlights flashed by, headlights from car
were blinding, the sounds resonating in her head like
those of a parade Ö. She disappeared gradually into her
own private oblivion.
There he was, her favorite cowboy, Roy Rogers; riding
his wonder horse Trigger. She had to reach him. Out into
the street she dashed. She wanted a ride. He reached
down, grasped her outreaching hands, pulled her up,
swung her up into the saddle in front of him. She was
moving ahead. Lights, music, Christmas trees on all
sides, cheering, waving; looking down there was a
familiar black figure running alongside the horse
reaching for her, a tone of a voice pleading with her.
She heard herself. No, no, let me be here.
The voice penetrated, broke into her unconsciousness.
"Weíre here." She felt a hand on her shoulder, she
didnít want it there, brushed it away. She wanted to
ride, ride into the sunset. Her closed eye lids
quivered, her tongue stuck to the top of her mouth, so
thirsty, she couldnít hear any music, intense lights,
unfamiliar lights interrupted her parade no longer
colorful but yellow, horribly harsh, "where am I, what
am I doing here?" The pain brought her here.
"Can you walk to that open door", "I think I can, I
think I can, no I canít." It didnít happen, she didnít
walk, couldnít; legs quivering. She was loaded like a
sack of jellybeans, poured into a wheelchair, arms
flapping over the wheels. A Raggedy Ann. Her body,
doubled over, disorganized, too disjointed to move
itself coherently. She could do nothing, collapsed,
really collapsed; pushed through the illumination of a
The guard, his immediacy, the intake nurse, a bed, a
plea for pain relief, needle in her arm, the drip. She
had to vomit; a bag placed in her outstretched hands,
used immediately. She felt warmth, the diminished
consciousness, she did not fight the feeling, deep
breaths, her thoughts left to do whatever they wanted,
and they did.
Back, back to the early days of yester year, out of
the past comes the thundering hoof beats of the great
white horse, Silver. Hi ho Silver. No, no, no, not hoof
beats but the thundering sounds of an airplane engine,
winds were whipping through her long black curly hair,
she felt arms holding her, gripping. Then her world
turned up side down. The sky was at her feet. She was
delirious with joy, clapping her hands, laughing,
shouting with excitement. Another spiral the sky back
where it belonged. The earth at her feet came closer,
closer, she felt the bounce, the roaring subsided, the
rush of wind, speed reduced. The airplane came to a
stop. Arms released her; straps fell, gentle hands
lifted her up and out. Stong arms embraced her. She
hugged back. She heard herself, "Thank you, Mr.
Cummings, some day I am going to fly my own airplane
just like you."
A strange, harsh voice came through the empty air
above her head. But a gentle familiar hand smoothed back
her hair, held her hand, caressed, stroked her arm.
The voice dominated. "Letís have your arm, turn your
head away so you donít breathe on me." Who was this
nasty person, dressed in white? If she is so damn
hygienic, why doesnít she wear a mask?" She felt a
needle prick, then more nothingness as she lay on the
bed; glanced down, pulled a loose thread from the sheet,
reached for the blanket, tried to pull it up; cold;
smells, unfamiliar yet not. Sounds of voices echoed,
buzzing sounds, vision blurred. She followed the
The crack of a bat, crowds roaring, she was on her
feet, shouting. She felt the shadow, then a hand on her
shoulder. Looking around lifting her head up. A man in a
uniform, hand reaching. "Youíll have to show me your
ticket, or leave these seats. You donít belong here do
you?" The blood rushed out of her head, feet frozen to
the spot! Caught! She had watched the empty home plate
boxes for three innings from her fifty-cent seat, which
she hadnít paid for either. She knew where and how to
sneak into the ballpark, watch the empties, drift down
section by section to one that was unoccupied, A voice;
"Hey, let her stay, thereís plenty of room, if not she
can sit in my lap." Picked up, placed on the lap of a
man who smelled of cigar like her daddy, but he had
hair, lots of dark hair, a big bushy mustache, prominent
nose, and yes, big cigar. It moved up and down as he
spoke. He was somewhat homely too. Her focus, eyes were
on the moving cigar. She smiled weakly. There were hot
dogs, cool drinks, popcorn in front of her. He was
laughing, all the time laughing, a funny way. She was
laughing too. "Who is your daddy?" Oh my, I know him;
heís the attorney for Sam Goldwyn and Bob Roberts. I had
no idea he had such a grown-up daughter. Tell him hello
for me;" She was having an extraordinary time. Bouncing
around. Being in the box seats her favorite Hollywood
Stars beating the Los Angeles Angels at Gilmore Field
sitting on the lap of Groucho Marx. The game ended. The
shouting did not.
A piercing voice, "We need a contrast CAT Scan. Drink
this." A straw was placed between her lips, sucked on,
she couldnít. Every sip that went down came back up into
her vomit bag. Her body lifted out of the bed, moved,
rolling along on a gurney. She opened her eyes,
everything, everybody misted in a fog of bright lights
and white. All movement stopped. It was dark again. "Get
up here, weíll help you, then lie still." OK. She could
do the lie still part; she had no desire to move. Was it
dark and cold or was she dark and cold? She raised her
un-needled tethered arm to balance herself as she slid
her bottom onto a table, it must be a table it was
certainly not a bed. The sound of a machine
dim star like flashing lights, all else, dark, dark,
darkness. "I donít want to be here." She felt wet with
perspiration, it was washing over her. "Iíll make a
wish. When you wish upon a starÖ"
The pool water so cool: The Beverly Hill Country Club
with Daddy. He played tennis there Wednesday afternoons.
Always movie stars. John Garfield, unpleasant little
man, mean, poor looser kind. As she was having lunch he
even got into a fistfight with that nice Larry Adler,
the harmonica player. She ran out of the dining room,
hated anger and yelling. At the pool today, a tall,
big-shouldered woman, who needed a bath began to talk
about her wild daughter. "Youíre such a sweet child, so
quiet, polite, I should have adopted a child like you.
Wouldnít you like being my daughter?"
She ducked under the water paddled to the other side
of the pool, hung out as far as possible from her reach.
"Why did she talk to me, I donít know, but I watched her
as she kept drinking from a tall glass, talking into the
air. My hold on the pool edge was firm." She reached for
the ladder grabbedÖ
"Tell me" a voice from out of the air above her head.
"When did this all begin?"
She felt heard words coming out of her mouth, they
made no sense. She rambled, knew she was rambling, had
to relinquish her story telling. She turned her head
"Tell him." Grabbed for the bag, vaguely heard her organ
recital. She had been below par for a long time. Gone
What time was it? Did it matter? Yes! Where was a
clock? She could not find the clock. Thoughts were
swirling again. A watch was hanging by a golden chain
above her head, just out of reach. The face was ebony
black with the hours designated with diamonds. Sitting
in a very comfortable lap, her hair being stroked, a
soft voice say nice things. She heard, "quiet on the
set, action, music up, cut, another take. Mr. Young, is
the music placed in the correct sequence?" Her lap
answered softly," yes". The watch was in her hands. It
was so smooth. It was her Uncle Victor. Mother was
working on his hands as the Paramount Studio manicurist.
"I strongly advise that she be admitted." "I want to
go home." She looked at her live-in nurse, pleading in
her eyes. "Home it is. Iíll give her the pain and nausea
Glow of the fires visible as the top of the road.
Pain gone, sleep in her own bed.
She knew where she was going. Not all of it. But it
would come as she wrote, rewrote:
The tiger was being held by the tail. Donít let it
Now time to develop an outline for the progression of
the characterís actions during events; or by the events
that trigger the characters actions? Should it be by
time line or by another means of presentation? Think,
"Youíve got a urinary infection." "I do not, the lab
is in error, I know the symptoms and I donít have them."
I also knew that I had dropped the specimen lid into the
toilet. That was the contamination, not me. Poor, shy
doctor, he of Middle Eastern descent. A tiny man in
stature; had just recently bought this practice from two
doctors who had moved away from the area. He didnít
argue or suggest a re- test. "See you next year for your
annual." Fine with me.
Next year became eighteen months. Eighteen month of
not feeling on top of the world, night sweats, but age
may be creeping up on the energy level. Then over a year
later, came the on and off terrible pain during
urination. Surmising, "If it is a bladder infection it
would be constant discomfort, yes. What in hell was
going on?" Was it from the back problem, the very recent
epidermal to the lower lumbar region? Couldnít be, the
extreme discomfort was before the procedure.
Calling OB/Gyn, symptoms described, sounded like a
chronic urinary tract infection. She ordered an
antibiotic and urinalysis. She was going away, two
Letís see. She had taken the first tablet in the
morning. By coincidence or not, it was that evening that
the acute pain and vomiting started. Was it related, the
Trying to relate all the medical history in some
order was difficult to construct. For over a year her
chronic back pain had unbearable. She couldnít walk, sit
with out extreme discomfort. Time for a visit to the
He couldnít be a doctor! Looks about eighteen and
handsome too. "The best way to precedeÖPlan A go to
physical therapy for two months, before we go to a more
invasive treatment." "Sounds good! I like conservative
medicine, heís not a cutter."
Physical therapy was fun, therapist working on the
right places, the massage, heat, electrical stem and
rest. Mild core exercises. The acute back attacks
diminished but not the overall pain. To plan B. The
total diagnosis via MRI. Yes indeed, problems at lumbar
three and four, pressure on nerves, a spinal stenosis Ö.
An epidural, numbing of the area to reduce pain and
Simple procedure, no sweat. This doctor at a surgical
center spoke to her before the injection. She mentioned
the urinary problem; could it be related to the back
problem? No. After the procedure she was relieved of the
extreme pain. Her back condition was tolerable.
All this happening prior to the acute attack that
took her to the ER. The doctor there surmised that the
incident was possibly bowel infection of bacterial
origin. Given antibiotic and antiemetic. Advised to see
regular internist. Saw him the next day. He thought that
the GI problem might be viral but agreed that the
antibiotic should be finished out. Advised a routine
Called OB/GYN about the antibiotic she had ordered.
Donít take it but come in for another urinalysis so a
more specific antibiotic can be ordered if needed when
the ER antibiotic is finished. She would call the
gastroenterologist with her findings and request ASAP
appointment. A miracle worker.
Next day, visited GI Doctor. His initial review of
the records and evaluation of history and symptoms leads
to possible stone in the common bile duct as the
explanation of attack. It would be gone. However,
imaging reports from ER show some other areas of
question. Within a week the colonoscopy was completed.
All finding OK. Then six days later the Upper GI.
Findings show some areas of irritation in stomach and
duodenum. Ordered acid suppressing meds for thirty days.
Then back with the OB/GYN with orders of another
antibiotic to treat the urinary infection that was still
Finally, a subsequent urinalysis shows that the
infection is gone. No further instances of abdominal
problems. No episodes of back spasms. No nausea.
Then came the shoulder.
A One-Hoss Shay was I.
"How it went to pieces all at once,
"All at once, and nothing first,
"Just as bubbles do when they burst."
Now, how to write this up in a more literary manner.
Maybe later. I have an idea for another story