Welcome to Oktober!
I shall be celebrating the 31 days that contribute to this month by posting each day photos, poems and short stories under the banner of Visions of the Third Eye.
Hear! Hear! To the month that brings us cooler weather, rain, longer nights, colorful leaves and things of the unseen world.
As always, thanks for reading!
I have been dead twice. When I was two, whooping-cough claimed me the first time. The second, it was a heart attack. I have seen the face of my Creator, twice. (That is a whole different story…) And with each death, you see a bit more each time past the veil. Because of this, I know weird. As a small child, you do not discuss those things you see with anyone. When you get older, you recognize that light in others.
If you have a smidgen of what I simply call, The Gift, you know when weird is getting ready to happen. I have lovely moss that grows along my red brick sidewalk in the deep shade that is close to the front porch. Clive the crow has been coming by every afternoon at tea time and starts rooting through the moss, tossing it everywhere. Apparently he is completely oblivious to me as I watch him search through the miniscule golf greens that I have set up for my moor teufels.
“Do you mind?” I asked Clive after the third day. “I have to sweep the sidewalk after each one of your little forays and my small but very neat moss bed looks like it has been driven through with a four by four truck.”
His head came up as he tried to toss a clump of the vibrant green onto the frog that was serenading m in my small water feature and turning to me he replied, “You are getting ready to be picked through. Be mindful. He is a charmer and he likes older, plump women.”
Yes, I am older and plumper and I am immune to charmers. Be that as it may, weird happens at my house but this is the first time a crow has had a ready come back for the many questions I toss their way. Who me? Rattled? Never! I just see this as an opportunity. “As a rule,” I began politely, “and I know all rules are meant to be broken,” I bowed my head to him and he bowed in return, “I generally do not have crows answer me back in the Queen’s English when I address them.”
“That is on you,” he cawed. “Consider this fair warning,” those black eyes stared into mine, his head cocked to one side, the set of his wings announcing his soon-to-be departure. “Your light shines. Maybe you want to consider hiding it under a bushel basket or extinguishing it for a bit and a bit.”
“Great,” I mumbled as he took flight, calling to his many friends and family members as they circled over head and then like a black whirlwind, spun up into the clouds, “a crow that speaks in parables.”
Watching the black ribbon dissolve into the sky, a hideous searing pain tore through my lower left side. That’s when I thought perhaps I had been shot. And if I had been, the one who pulled the trigger, I would not consider this person charming or even a good neighbor as I clutched my side and screamed.
My last rational thought was that I remember sitting outside waving at the neighbors as they passed by walking their Great Dane, Thor, and their All American Mutt, Washington. Clutching my lower abdomen and bellowing, I fell over into the herb garden, my fall broken by the rosemary that had over grown its space and I had not cut back. Lesson learned: Always put off until tomorrow what you should do today. The rosemary kept my face out of the dirt.
There were loud voices and I remember the heady smell of rosemary as I was lifted onto a table with wheels. I thought as I laughed out loud, “Was I dinner?”
Passing my line of sight, the leaves overhead were a perfect shade of fire engine red and a lovely burst of orange and burgundy. Never had I seen a sky so blue. Crayon blue with lovely white horsetail clouds that galloped through the atmosphere, my heart racing right along with them. I thought maybe I had a china pattern with those colors but I could not remember at the moment.
There were quieter voices and there was the sacred wail of sirens demanding all to give way. As we headed out, I realized that the children were home from school and I hoped that Dottie’s new baby would not wake up from her afternoon nap with all the noise.
Pain affirms life, while enduring it, wishing for death.
The thing about pain is that every bounce hurts, to include my chattering teeth, which sounds like death’s bones knocking together and announcing meal time.
We arrived…then out I came, a frozen dinner, or so I thought. If I was going to be pilfered through, their fingers were going to get frostbite!
Emergency Rooms are busy places filled with life…that hangs in the balance. And sometimes they represent the dead. And they do that very well, also. Still, quiet, the breath of life pushed out of them. No movement and for a missing heart beat, the Winged Skull rules the halls. But I must be alive because needles are being pushed into my arms.
Warm blankets are my new best friends. I don’t know what type of oven or the temperature they bake them in, but I want one at my house. Now that I am swaddled….I hear…
“Take this, drink…”
Our hospital in my not overly large mid-western city is just big enough. They can save your life if you have a heart attack and apparently take a look around inside of you when you blow a hole in your intestinal wall. Which is what happened to me.
My neighbor, Louise, who called 911, grabbed my purse, closed the door and followed in her car. I was coherent enough to give them my medical insurance card and could sign the consent forms. Blood was drawn, a CAT-scan ordered and then the doc and his surgery team were there and once I was in the operating room that is just about all that I remember.
I woke up for a second in recovery. I smiled, waved, and wished everyone well on their world tour as I blew them kisses and dispensed blessings.
When I woke again, I was in my room.
There is a certain atmosphere of the macabre that comes with nightfall. Quiet is different with the absence of light. I knew daylight was hours away and perhaps death lurked close. Or maybe just the dead. I could hear an older man screaming that they were murdering him as his ghost hovered up in a corner outside the nurses’ station.
The love of my life appeared at my side several times during the night. Thanks to an IED in Afghanistan and an American flag that sits encased in glass and oak on top of my mantel, his smile is no longer mine to gaze upon…except for now. Whatever they are giving me, I want it the rest of my life. “I hope I can see him whenever I want to now,” I smiled as I reached for his hand and went back to a fitful sleep.
My nose twitched at the smell of coffee and in the early morning light I can see the fine, longstanding lines of my room. Our hospital is old, it dates back before statehood. It could tell you stories about the flu pandemic outbreak of 1918. Also the Dust Bowl days and the Great Depression. The original part has kept its structural charm but it has been renovated and has some world-class cutting edge technology that snakes through-out the building, tying the old sections with the new. That said, technology seems to have no bearing on spooks.
I had heard that this wing came with a few haunts. In the light of a new morning, I can now validate that to be true. I thought this was a private room. But there are two others that share it with me. Nathaniel is an orderly that died during the 1918 pandemic, he told me as he sits next to a patient whose name is Violet and spoon-feeds her broth.
Or maybe that is some very fine painkillers they are pushing through my veins as I am propped up in my bed. Here comes my first nurse of the new light, pushing her cart. Nurse Mary, I remember from…from…the old dark, perhaps…someplace…
“Good Moring Miss Ellen, here to check your vitals and take that all important blood sample to the lab.”
I have lost track of how many blood samples I am down. The removal of my blood throughout the night is one of the reasons for my pitiful sleep. They are looking for sludge. My white blood cell count had come in at a rollicking twenty-five thousand when they admitted me. Just a wee bit high from the seven thousand it is on a normal day!
I am a bit more coherent than I have been in the past twelve hours. I see no bag attached to my body to collect poo, only two ball drains stationed in my hospital underwear. (Apparently I now have a pair…oh ha ha…) I seem to remember someone telling me I was very lucky to not have a portable outhouse that accompanies me wherever I go. Be that as it may. I make the remark I always do when they draw blood from me. “Feeding the local vampire are you?” I joked with only a slight slur.
“Yes, ma’am,” she grinned as she filled three vials with my life’s elixir.
“Most excellent,” I giggled. “Always glad to do my part.”
“How are you feeling?” she asked as she took my blood pressure.
“Hurts a bit,” I replied. “Especially when I laugh.”
“Doc says you are to have whatever you want for pain. Do you want the light stuff or the heavy-duty?”
“When do I get to eat?” I asked, as I smelled breakfast being carted past my door.
“Doc says no food or water for three days.”
“He still thinks I might explode?”
“Affirmative,” she replied.
If the light stuff allowed me to see my dead husband, Charles, I was in. But no food or water for three days? Really? “Hit me with the heavy stuff,” I sighed. “I had the oddest dreams and woke every time someone came in. I could use the sleep.”
Day one, then day two passed by. Not a sip of water or an ice chip in sight. My mouth is as dry as the desert. I had often wondered what that meant. I mean, you are always producing saliva. Now I know. Your lips stick together. A white crust forms around your lips. Your tongue revolts at the thought of having to form words and feels like it weighs a thousand pounds, pushing down into your lower jaw. But Charles continued to sit next to me as I floated on the happy waves of a massaging bed and the opiate.
IV bags came and went. Antibiotic bags were hung in multiples.
I was hooked up to numerous machines. One for my legs. Separate ones for heart and temperature. Even the bed was alive, as it inflated and deflated under my body. They all made familiar sounds as I would hum along and keep time with my feet to the different rhythms that keep my body massaged and managed.
From time to time, ghost orderly Nate would leave Violet’s side and come over and check on me. He looked solid enough when he would read through the chart or take my pulse using his thumb and fingers on my wrist. I knew he was a spook. No one took a pulse like that anymore. But when he sat back down by his patient, I could see through him.
When day three rolled around with out me eating or drinking I begin to think maybe I could be a super hero. Or a super something…because I was alive and speaking with the living and the dead and the only thing that passed my lips were great words of wisdom. Like: “This room needs to be painted and not this sea-foam green. I like white. If the floors matched the walls, how would you know where to walk? So, do you think insects get confused when they make it inside? Are the walls painted this shade of green so not to class with the lime gelatin? I would really like some lime gelatin! Do you think the spider up there in that corner is lost?” And my all time favorite. “What, you want more blood? I want to meet the vamp that you are feeding.”
By day three I was going to the bathroom by myself. Did I poo? Well yes I did. Thank you so much for asking. Kudos to me. Which made me aware of the mirror and the face that was not mine that stared back at me. “Done been squeegeed,” my sister Lynn said as she came in to sit with me. “What ever color and expression you had has been wiped from your face. I don’t think your facial muscles work any longer,” she laughed as she kissed my nose.
There was not much I could do about the squeegeed. But…foraging for a cleaner look, finding hand soap and a small hand towel, I managed to wash my hair in the sink and pat it dry. Which provided me with a new, sassy look as spikes and tight pin curls now appeared all over my head.
And new thoughts now entered by brain. Perhaps through the tips of my clean hair…
Maybe I should have left my hair dirty. You know, I figure it works sorta like wearing a hat made out of tinfoil. Because when the sun began to set that evening, the machines began to talk not only to each other, but to me as well. Their songs were now “wa-wa-wa-watch,” said the pump that pushed the IVs. “Sh-up, sh-up, sh-up, sh-up and about,” said the leg pressure cuffs.
“War-na, war-na, war-na, warning!” the bed whispered as it lowered my back and raised my butt. And my right arm held the PICC line which kept threatening to make its way out of my arm and swim around in my body!
Having not experienced an anxiety attack, I though this just might be the beginning of a colossal one as I hit the call button and asked for an anxiety med.
“Doc-on-call will be here in a minute,” RN Stephen smiled as he stepped into the room. “Those are not in your protocol. What’s up?”
“I am going to chew my arm off,” I replied, as I nodded toward the IV’s coming into my appendage that was battered and bruised from the many who had tried to coax out a vein when I was first admitted. “In exchange for not doing that, I want those leg pressure cuffs to come off and be turned off and give me a nice pill so that I do not chew my arm off. I would be breaking the no food/water protocols if I did that.”
“Do not blame you a bit,” he said as he removed the cuffs from my legs. “There is no way I could be manacled to a bed. But you are going to have to walk more.”
“Can do,” I replied. “How about now? I have to pee.”
Helping me return to bed, RN Stephen tucked me in and once more checked my vitals and then he was gone. I closed my eyes for a second or maybe two and when I looked up sitting by my side was the doc-on-call. My chart in his hands, his eyes reading through the notes left behind by others.
“You look familiar,” I said coming up from a fleeting sigh of sleep.
“I get that a lot,” he grinned. “I have been in here every night,” he smiled. “Checking on you. I like what you have done with your hair.”
“Not me,” I said with a sad shake of my head as he ran a finger through one curl that lay in the middle of my forehead and I laughed out loud. *“When she was good she was very, very good, but when she was bad…”
“She was horrid!” he chuckled as he handed me the small paper cup containing the pill. “It will dissolve on your tongue,” he smiled as I felt it in my mouth and then it was gone.
“That was really quick,” I felt my tongue roam my mouth. “I was hoping to get a sip of water with that. Apparently not,” I sighed.
“Give it about five minutes,” he patted my hand. “Then you will start to relax and perhaps sleep some tonight.”
Lifting my hand to his lips, I heard him sniff then lick the veins.
“That’s a bit odd,” my eyes fixated on him. “You do not see that type of behavior in most docs. And especially on-call-docs. Are you the vampire they keep in the basement?”
“Well yes, I am,” he replied, kissing my hand and then I felt a small prick. I watched as the blood welled up from the vein and with a delicate flick of his tongue, it was gone. “I understand you have been asking to meet me.”
From the corner of my eye I could see Nate winding up to pitch the spoon. When he let it go, Dr. Vampire reached out and caught it.
“You can see Nate and Violet?” I asked.
“Yes,” he nodded his head as he tossed the spoon back and Nate caught it with a deft hand. “He does not approve of me chatting you up. And honestly, I do not either. But it has been a while since I have tasted blood that is not clogged with the artificial ingredients of today’s living. And since your gut has been purged, well,” he sighed, “takes me back to my youth.”
“Have you a name?” I asked. “In my head, I am calling you Dr. Vampire. What does RN Stephen call you?”
“Dr. Vampire,” he smiled.
“Really?” I chuckled.
“Yes,” he nodded.
“Is he a vampire also?” I asked.
“No,” he smiled. “But I own the hospital. Some know me and I pay very well. For a job well done and well…” he smiled, “for a job well done.”
“What do those not in the hospital call you?”
“No matter how tasty I am, you are,” I stressed, “eventually going to let me go home…” I stated with as much authority I could muster out of my parched, stuck together lips.
“Well of course, insurance will only pay until we get you fixed,” he chuckled. “These rooms and our expertise do not come cheap. No matter how lovely the occupant just might happen to be.”
“Charmer,” I batted my eyes at him and then thought about Mr. Clive Crow. Yes, my insides and been pilfered through, all right! Damn crows!
“Excellent,” I smiled. “Man in charge. I like it. And if you have any clout at all, how about some food and water. Come on and impress me and make that happen. I am missing those. But,” I because thoughtful, “I guess you understand how odd that is not to well…eat and…,” I hesitated, but only for a second. “And drink. That, I think, is the oddest thing so far.”
“I do indeed understand,” he smiled. “And it is most odd. I believe the general consensus is you are past the critical stage and you are not going to explode. I believe I see ice chips in your future,” he grinned.
Maybe there was more conversation. Maybe not. The anxiety was gone and he had a needle full of something that he was pushing into the IV that I was hoping would let me sleep the night and forget that I dreamed about vampires that greatly resembled my dead husband at a much younger age.
When I woke the next morning there were indeed ice chips. Once I could prove that was tolerated…then ice water. Then broth. Then lime gelatin. It was good to be back!
After five days, my sister Lynn drove me home. I was still a fall risk so she moved in for a week. My dearest baby sister purchased every bland food ever made by the gross. Payback she said, for me hugging the covers at night when we were youngsters and shared the same bed.
Once the pain meds were done, I told her I was fine and sent her home so she could go back to tending her chickens and mulching leaves into her fall gardens.
I was still using the walker to get around but I could now sit out on my front porch and watch the neighborhood. Folks would wave and call out as they passed by. Stop by with gossip or some really bland food they would put in the fridge (word had spread, pbbbllltt on the baby sister! I would love cake or pie or ice cream, anything with empty calories!) or bring me my mail.
Two weeks ticked past. I was still on a bland diet and had two more weeks of well…things that were white and tasteless.
Taking my dish of instant mashed potatoes out with me onto the porch, in the friendly watchfulness of the full moon I observed its rise over the trees and with it came the headlights and purr of what appeared to be an expensive luxury sedan.
Exiting the vehicle was, well, Dr. Jon Irving. Who I thought perhaps I had dreamed
I heard the crows set up a ruckus from their perches.
“So you are real,” I chuckled, as I heard the crows warning, “Charming…charming…charming…!”
“M-m-m-m,” he grinned with just a bit of fang, showing. “How goes the bland diet?”
“It sucks the big ugly one,” I sighed. “How is Nate and Violet?” I asked.
“Good,” he nodded. “Nate has resigned himself that Violet is never going to get any better nor is she going to get any worse.”
“M-m-m-m-m,” I nodded. “He does know they are ghosts, right?”
“Most of the time,” he replied. “It was very touching to watch him wipe your brow that first night. He had completely engaged with you. That is when I knew you had The Gift and that your blood, once purified, would be magical. I can be,” he grinned and ran his finger down the side of my face, “very grateful. I did a little snooping around. You’re a widow and I don’t smell another male. You are funny and wise and you carry your light for all to admire. And you have a fine flock of crows that guard your perimeter. This speaks well for you.”
Taking a deep breath, I let it out. I heard snooping, widow, and crows. I am hoping he only helped himself to the hospital records. Widow, well yes, for ten years. Crows, well you have to admire anyone who understands about my crows. But still…snooping….I am a mite bit pissed. “I am what? Now your tasty snack? You were what? Forty when you were turned? Well I am sixty and old enough to be your mother.”
Laughing, he pulled me into his side, his arm around my shoulder. “My mother,” I thought he could devour me with his eyes, “did not look anything like you. And your neighbors are going to congratulate you on the very fine younger man you have taken to your bed. Just wait until I tell them I am a doctor,” he chuckled. “You are going to feed me small sips and I am going to rock your world,” he laughed.
“If my husband were alive,” I pulled back, “he would kick your ass,” I arched an eyebrow at Jon.
“Yes, Ellen,” his voice was low and sincere, “I know he would. But I would never put the moves on a married woman.”
Even the crows became quiet as they thought about that. “Charmer,” was cawed once more then the night settled back in. I thought about that as well and I thought I believed him.
“You remind me greatly of him,” I whispered. “I thought I was dreaming…that I finally had the ability to see my husband on the other side of the veil.”
“What was his name?” he asked as he pulled on a curl.
“Charles,” I smiled. “Never Chuck or Charlie and once in a while, when he had been drinking, Chaz…”
“I am Jon,” he smiled as he waved at the ladies that went jogging by and we sat and rocked and watched the moon. “In moments of passion, call me Jon…or you big stud…or…”
I elbowed him. He had enough graciousness to make a noise. “So what, I am a cheap date,” I shook my head at him. “You think I am giving up my blood for sex?”
There was shock on his face… “Sex,” his voice sounded horrified. I think maybe he was mocking me. “Of course not. Dinner and dancing. Movies. I know how to treat a lady.”
That left me a little stumped. “Dinner?”
“I’ll sit next to you and feed you and let the world think what they will. By the way, with this spray on tan, I can cheat things a bit and we can actually watch the sun set. There is a lovely place on the lake. I have photographs of the western sun setting behind the sailboats with the chapel on the island glowing white.”
“Those photos in the hospital are yours?” I asked.
“Yes,” he grinned. “Those are mine.”
“Very nice,” I murmured, appreciation in my voice.
“Thank you,” he said with a slight bow of his head.
Vampires are real…what the fuck! Well, why not. I talk to ghosts and crows. What happens next? Well, ask him a question and see where it goes.
“So what about TV vamps….are they anything like what you really are?”
“We don’t put up with cry-baby vamps and we don’t abide whiney ones. That will get you staked. Either embrace it or frolic in the sun.”
Huh? That was interesting. “So that vampire that was on TV…the one that fought for the South…he whined a lot, about everything.”
Jon rolled his eyes and put his finger down his throat and gagged. “Obviously, none of us were consulted about that series. If that had been true to life, first thing seen in the very first opening scene of the very first episode would have been to stake his ass. Cue the whining and sniveling vamp with side burns that date him. Next, all you see is an arm with a stake as it strikes him through the heart, he turns to goo and it covers everything, throwing chunks of the ass wipe out into the universe,” he shook all over. “Turns to goo…we were so-o-o-o not consulted. But I digress. Then cue the music and the opening credits. Once more, I am just back to gag.
Think Dracula. We are strong, silent, aggressive when we need to be. And once you get past the we are vampire trust barrier, we are disgustingly truthful.”
“So tell me a universal truth,” I queried him.
“You have a very nice ass,” came his reply.
“What?” I was not expecting that! Besides I have seen my ass. Nice is not a word I would use. Scary, frightening…! “How do you know that?”
“Everyone on the surgical ward has seen your ass,” he chuckled.
“Oh,” I thought back. “My midnight full moon strolls when I went out looking for Were Wolves. Apparently there were none on that floor,” I chuckled.
“Apparently not,” came his reply with a smile.
So were there Were Wolves?
I need to stick to a more neutral subject…yes right, like vampires. “So, any other vampires going to come knocking on my door?”
“No,” he shook his head.
“How do you know that?” I asked.
“Because Tulsa is mine. And those that venture in I kill.”
*There Was A Little Girl” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow