Steeple guide me to my heart and home
The sun is out and up and down again
~ Smashing Pumpkins
The place is expanding, this place I’ve seen so many times before, alone, filling up with people from my entire life. Different homes, stores, schools, jobs, all melding into one community, though it sprawls. The carnival remains capricious, elusive, and still foreboding.
I’m chilling in a hot tub with some friends and it’s on the third floor of the Baldwin house, the room where I ran on a treadmill in 2000, and typed newsletters in junior high. The room I stayed in with my two kittens while I was in limbo with the ex, where my heart broke and finally shattered. Now here I am with new friends in a hot tub and it’s nice until the water level starts rising and the house begins to sink. I feel an unprecedented, logical calm, and simply remove the tarp that is blocking the drain, and the house stops sinking, but some people had already moved on. I’m beginning to prune so I get out too, and as I dry off, out of the corner of my eye I see two strangers in the yard, in the shadows, and I dial 911 before I can dismiss my gut, except I feel terrible when the operator asks what is going on and people around are yelling at me for pranking the police, and really, I have no evidence, just a feeling, but the strange men are gone and I realize how ridiculous I am being and hang up the phone. 911 calls me back but I ignore it, knowing they’ll eventually go away.
Thank goodness we averted that potential awkwardness, and we’re all able to have a pleasant night before work the next day. We are all at the same job, and around me is the usual day-to-day buzzing, until everything gets very still and silent.
The way someone new gets introduced to at work is the way this new guy is introduced and in one agonizing second I know three things. This is one of the men from the yard, and his costume makes him look like he’s off the set of the “Sabotage” video, and he is possibly here to kill us all.
Sure enough, “This is a man who has a gun, so we need to do what he says.”
I am so enraged at being a sitting duck in a modern office cliché that I feel no fear, just an extreme desire to somehow take this guy down. But then he says, “If you were one of the people with me yesterday who stayed with me while I got my X-ray, you may leave; I will not hurt you.”
And I remember yesterday, I stayed by this man’s side while he was hurt and needed help. And I guess it is a big deal to him because even behind the disguise I see his face soften when I raise my hand to remind him, feeling like a teacher’s pet, as I stand up to leave. “Thank you so much, oh thank you so much,” and I know that is pushing it; I should just leave and be grateful, but there are people in that room I love deeply, and I can’t help myself.
“I love you guys so much, so much…” and the gunman’s face contorts with rage at my insubordination, and he shoots me carelessly, not caring if I die, just wanting me silent. The bullet rips into my waist and I fall to the ground in searing pain and disbelief. I curl into a fetal position and hold on best as I can, pray, and repeat “It’s okay…it’s okay…” and it does feel okay, whether I die or not, and I don’t regret saying I love you. And slowly they’re set free, and I cling to their legs, begging them to help make the blood stop. I’m so happy to see them, but they don’t seem to see me. But it’s okay. I feel safe and I feel loved and I feel very, very sleepy.