The sound of chewing snapped me out of this incredible dream I was having about a redhead in a convertible: a glossy red Ferrari 454 Italia Spider with camel color leather interior and custom chrome wheels with the high performance, low-profile tires. I just wanted to drive it around the block four or five times and see what it could do, maybe hit the open road and really open it up. In my dream, I was just about to ask the redhead to scoot over and then sit in the driver’s seat when I heard the loud gnashing sound.
I could feel tingling and moisture on my arm, sharp teeth were tearing into my hand. Surprisingly, I couldn’t feel pain – I guess that’s the first stage of shock. I believe shock is appropriate when being chewed on by a very angry chipmunk. It serves me right for falling dead asleep in that old sagging oak tree in the middle of nowhere. The most important question I had at that time was not: what this pissed off rodent was doing snacking on my arm, but where were my pants?
Pants are strangely important when lost in the middle of nowhere. My keys, wallet, and a .40 S&W pistol with custom grips and extended magazine were all missing. I’m hoping they were together, waiting for me, maybe huddled together. After kindly removing my bloody appendage from the chipmunk’s mouth, and scolding the little rat for taking advantage of a passed out traveler, I sat up and looked around. The tree was the same, but last time I checked Earth had a blue sky, not green, and we only had one moon not five. I think this situation might bump the pants down to priority two.
The air smelled like rotten garbage mixed with old motor oil. The green sky was surprisingly clear and the five moons shone bright, lighting up the vast emptiness surrounding me. I’ve got an oak tree, a chipmunk, and no pants – what was in that last cocktail and this is either an incredibly vivid trip or the most elaborate hoax I’ve ever seen. I guess a distant third choice was that I wound up on some alien planet after having the most insane night ever.
Things started normal enough: dinner at Jimmy’s Fine Italian dining with my buddy Sal, then out to Bubble’s club on the west side – where there was this amazing act involving a…chipmunk! I knew I had seen that little guy before – he does good work! From there I was just a passenger in Ms. Cheeky LaPoosh’s limo. Cheeky kept plying me with lubricant to get me to talk about what I do for a living, but why would Cheeky be interested in a trauma monkey like me. I told her I worked the late shift at the Emergency Center on the south side, the one in the neighborhood where gunshot wounds were passed out like popsicles on a summer day at kid’s camp. My job was a lot like working in a Hong Kong sweat shop making Nike’s – keep on sewing and keep the stitching tight.
The limo stopped at a place called Flush and we all stumbled out. The bouncer recognized Cheeky and hurried us in and got us a private booth in the back. And that’s when thing got interesting, a bottle of some unrecognizable liquid and 3-4 bags filled with an assorted rainbow of pills. I wasn’t the type to participate – I usually just watched and waited for someone to pass out. I’m not sure if something fell into my drink or if it was deliberate, but I think I swallowed a green and a red, and maybe a blue. I do know that the room was spinning and I was on the floor.
I woke up in the back of the limo with Cheeky and Sal and 4-5 other people I didn’t recognize. There was a deep conversation about some pop psychology drivel, but I couldn’t hear it over the roar of the freight train running through my head. Someone handed me a glass of something and I drained it – thankfully it was only water. I leaned my head back against the window and closed my eyes.
I was startled awake by a gunshot and a scream, the smell of gunpowder was close so “we” must’ve done the shooting. Of course, the sound of the scream was also close, so “we” must’ve been shot! One of the girls with us shot Sal in the leg for having inappropriate body boundaries. Can’t say I blame her. But eight years as a trauma surgery in the nastiest hospital in the metro-area had prepared me for this moment. I doused the wound with a half-bottle of Vodka then used the ice cube grabber to dig into the wound to remove the bullet. My tie made a decent tourniquet and then my Armani shirt became a compress. Armani uses a specific type of wool found only in one particular area of Italy, it is known for its high-absorbance properties – in fact after a rain, the sheep usually can’t move because of the amount of rain they soaked up. Crisis averted, I took away the gun and stuffed it in my pocket – why did they need a .40 S&W pistol with custom chrome grips, easy-pull trigger, and extended 16-round high capacity magazine?
Sal was a little worn out at this point, but I was running on adrenaline. We dropped Sal off at his place, it was a dump – walking in you would think that the place was tossed by thieves looking for something, but no, Sal was just a slob. I made sure he was in bed with some pain killers. I figure I would check up on him tomorrow on the way to work. I glanced at the clock on the microwave while walking out the door, it screamed 3 A.M., plenty of night left.
I decided to hitch a ride back to my car with Cheeky. I had parked in a dimly light space on the second floor of the hospital parking garage. Cheeky invited me back to her place for a night cap. I figured it would be prudent to turn it down at this point and head home – plus after witnessing the shooting of my best friend, and the strange mixture of whatever I had taken earlier, I figured that would be the safest place for me.
Unlocking the door of my midnight black 2013 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLS63, I sat in the plush leather sport seat for a moment to catch my breath. I had expected a simple dinner and maybe a few drinks, instead I wound up hanging out with a stripper queen named Cheeky, a gun wielding psycho, and had one hell of a headache. Time to go home, take some Tylenol, (yes, Doctors really recommend it) and go to bed!
I backed out of my space carefully. Despite my foibles, I was a fairly cautious driver, mostly. I cruised down the spiral to the garage exit. The road was empty, so I gave it a blast with my right foot. The twin turbo V-8 engine roared 557 horses to life and left a decent strip of tire and smoke in my wake. The zero-to-sixty time of 4.2 seconds passed quickly and the speedometer told me I hit 100 mph in around 6 seconds.
Yellow lines blurred into a paste smeared behind me as I cruised on the highway. I decided to take the long winding road, the path I rarely travelled. I had the speedo pegged at about 110 mph when a deer bound out into the middle of the road. Hitting anything at that speed is like running full speed into a brick wall – it’s going to hurt and something will break.
Blood splattered the windshield. I went off the road straight into a tree. I heard the bang, slam, and smelled the acrid smoke pouring out of the engine compartment. Michael Bay would lead us to believe that the car would burst into flames at this point and then explode into a three-story fireball. Michael, fireballs don’t happen most of the time. The Mercedes was a crumpled mess. I survived, thank God for air bags. I opened the door – good engineering required that the door still be able to open in a catastrophic accident. The deer was in the middle of the road, writhing in pain.
I never shot anything before. But the poor bastard didn’t deserve to go out like this – suffering. The .40 S&W was a powerful round, but highly accurate – the bullet caught the deer just below the eye socket, leaving a small entry wound but the back of its skull was blown out onto the asphalt. I figure that was the most decent thing I’ve ever done in my life.
This is the point where I get a little fuzzy. I was standing there shaking from the crash and from putting the deer down and I remember a bright light. I heard a ringing in my ears and a loud sound like a bomb exploding – and no, it wasn’t the Mercedes exploding into a Bay-esque fireball, I checked.
And that’s when I woke up to being a chipmunk snack.
The green sky and the smell of the air had a disconcerting effect on my fragile mind. I had one weird night, but this was over the top. Where were my pants? I don’t swear much, but I feel that this circumstance warrants it. So I looked at the beautiful five moon sky and let out a stream of obscenities that would make a trucker blush.
Bearings. I needed to get my bearings. I was standing in a field next to an oak tree. The chipmunk was a sleep – maybe he was dead – I could only hope! I stretched my legs, after a nasty car crash you would think that I would start to feel sore or cramp up. I surprisingly felt…alive, like I could run, jump, or wrestle an angry chipmunk.
Scanning the horizon, I saw a glimmering object about 30 feet away, hoping it was my pants, I walked towards it. It wasn’t my pants, but the gun. I worked the action and checked the magazine like I’ve seen in the movies; I knew I had at least 2 bullets. I would imagine that having a loaded weapon in a strange world would have a calming effect, but I felt scared. Where was I? What would I face? How do I get home?
I decided to keep walking in the direction I found the gun, maybe my pants were close as well. In front of me was a dense forest of blue pine trees – not blue spruce, but actual blue pines. Was I in a Dr. Suess book? The important thing to note is that they smelled like pine trees, that sweet sappy smell that I love. I closed my eyes and breathed and it was as if I was at home in my backyard. I lived on 20 acres in the woods – I might be a highly-skilled medical doctor, but I was a country boy at heart. Pine has a calming effect on my spirit.
Venturing into the woods further, I crossed a creek that ran with green water. Flowing over rocks and around sand bars, I figured it was safe to drink, even if it seemed to have a high algae content, at least that’s what I figured it was. The banks of the creek were lined with broad leafed plants that formed natural cups. I plucked off the nearest leaf and dipped it into the cool, flowing water. I had to test it, so I dipped my pinky into the water – it didn’t burn or melt my finger off. Test one, successful. I dipped my finger in again and put a drop in my mouth. It was the best tasting water I have ever had in my life. Although it was cold, I felt warmth in my stomach. I took a long pull from the leaf and immediately felt refreshed. I drank until I was satisfied – about half of a leaf full of the amazing water.
I decided to keep moving, those pants weren’t going to find themselves. After walking for what seemed like an hour, the forest started to thin out. I stopped at the edge of a clearing and there ahead of me was the most amazing sight I had ever seen in my life. A wall. This was a special wall, it was 100 feet tall – I guess. And it looked like it was made out of solid gold! But in my mind, all that mattered was that a wall meant civilization, that meant people, and that meant…pants.
The wall was a journey in itself. It took three hours of hiking around the circumference to find an entrance. The break in the wall was a wooden door, about 20 feet tall. There were cobwebs on the door and rust on the hinges – this obviously wasn’t the main gate. I tried the knob on the door, figuring it was locked. Surprisingly it was not and it opened rather easily. The door opened into the pitch black, but better there than in the woods – I was one step closer to pants.
Books, I figured the room I stepped into was filled with books. There was that musty smell of old paper and leather, aged with time into a crisp mildewed odor mixing with the sweet mahogany of the bookshelves. I felt along the wall of the room for a switch, and was shocked to actually find one. I flipped the switch and a single light bulb flickered and began to give off a faint hum and then warmed into a steady dim glow. Sure enough, I was in a library or archive of some sorts, but from all the dust and spider webs I figure it hadn’t seen visitors in years.
The room wasn’t particularly large, about as big as a bedroom in a suburban house – one of those planned community things – little boxes as the song says. Shelves covered every wall floor to ceiling – and dust covered that. There were a few tables in the room, covered in books as well – stacks about ten books high in places, others were open and laying on top of the piles. The floor was just as dusty as the rest of the room and I didn’t see any footprints or signs of life – other than mine.
I had found civilization, but it sure seemed abandoned. I decided to look at the books that were open on the table to see if I could recognize anything about them. Imagine my surprise when I was able to read the writing! I picked up the book and sat in the only place in the room, a huge high backed wooden chair covered with intricate carvings in a foreign script. The seat was padded and covered in a rich red leather – and dust. I began reading the tome and found that it was a treatise on patience and I immediately wanted to skip that book to the next, but I decided to read a few paragraphs and found myself becoming calmer. As I read it seemed as though time stopped and I forgot I was in an alien environment. I finished the book and was amazed at the clarity and reasoning, I felt a measure of new confidence and security – was that book magic?
I picked another book from the pile; it had a wooden cover with the same intricate carvings as the chair, totally unrecognizable symbols. The book was heavy, much heavier than its size would let on, and after reading the first paragraph I figured out why it had so much weight – the subject matter was very deep.
A ship from a safe port had set out to sea, unsure of its destination. It began moving through the ocean in one direction and ran into a terrible storm. The waves pounded the ship and damaged the rudder. The poor ship was throw like a baseball from one wave to another, the sails were torn, and the crew was terrified.
When the storm had passed, the crew made a few repairs to the sails and started moving again, further into the ocean rather than back to the safety of the harbor. Another storm struck the vessel and tore at the mast and ripped at the crew, many lives were lost and the ship took on much water. But then calm came again and the remaining crew set about repairing what damage they could – a tattered sail with patches was the best they could muster. They continued on towards the open waters, hoping to find a new port for repairs. Eventually they came to a port, but it was filled with pirates and thieves, the crew barely escaped in their damaged ship.
Again they sailed out into the open ocean and finally, they ran into a hurricane. The waves ran higher than they had ever seen. The fierce wind hit like a sledgehammer. The ship, already damaged, was destroyed and the crew drowned in the horrible blackness.
The end of the book had a single note:
Think of your life as the ship and the storms as the trials you face. Do you continue aimlessly or do you return to your port of safety?
I sat for a moment after reading and wept. I realize that I had always lived my life going from crisis to crisis, my crazy night was a prime example. So what did I need to learn from this?
That’s when I saw something that caught my eye on the table. A tall yellowed piece of parchment with bold lettering across the top: WANTED. The image was a familiar face – button nose, cruel eyes, buck teeth, and whiskers. Apparently his name was Charmine the Chipmunk. He was wanted for horrible, horrible crimes that I won’t mention here. Dead or Alive – I immediately felt for the gun tucked into my tattered underwear. How I wish I had pants!
Text: Kevin E. Miller
Publication Date: 04-18-2013
All Rights Reserved
Dedicated to all the crazy people I love.