It's good to see you again.  Seems like it's been more than just a couple of weeks. Here, let me buy you that coffee.

I've been convalescing at home.  Well, feeling sorry for myself is more accurate.  I went to see my doctor two weeks ago, and I wasn't too happy with how things went.

I started out hopeful. Dr. Parker ran me through the usual routine: strip to my boxers, hop up on the table, take a deep breath, another deep breath, another deep breath while he listened to things rattling away inside me.  I remember thinking how stupid it was that they put a tissue covering on the examination table when it tore every time I moved.

He got as far as, "I'm going to check your blood pressure," before he went off the routine.  It wasn't like I hadn't told him.  It was the main reason I was there.  He squinted at the underside of my arm for half a minute before he said anything.

"How long have they been like this?"

"I noticed they were darker about three weeks ago," I said.  "I thought I must be imagining it, but they've been this color since Sunday."

"Have you been drinking a lot of coffee?"

I laughed at that one.  "Yeah, but I didn't think that would turn my veins black."

I noticed that he wasn't laughing.

"I'm going to take some blood.  Lie back."

I wondered why he asked about coffee.  I had been drinking more, when I went out to the cafes at night, but I couldn't see what that had to do with the darkness in my blood.  I leaned back on the table and heard the tissue rip.  I thought of Lucifer falling from heaven, the wind tearing his wings as he tumbled.

That was the other reason I was lying on his tissue-cloaked table.  These disconnected thoughts kept distracting me.  It was like someone sat on my shoulder whispering to me.

Don't look at me that way. I know how it sounds, but I don't actually hear anything.  The thoughts come at me from nowhere.  When I drove to work that morning, the light strobed through the pines, and I thought of Jesus nailed up in the trees blinking a message at me in Morse code: "I should have stayed in the desert."

The large rubber band sang its twangy rubber band song as Dr. Parker tied it tight around my upper arm making my livid veins squirm.  I watched him pull the cap off a needle with a vial on the end.  I don't usually like to see someone stick a needle into me, but things had gotten too weird not to look.

A week earlier my hand started twitching.  No, not twitching, dancing.  It made looping arcs across the table when I sat down to dinner.  I watched it pirouette left to right for almost a foot, then hop back to where it started and begin the dance all over again.  The whole time I thought about blades of sunlight slicing between the floorboards of an old porch and leaving thin, gold scars on the faces of two runaways hiding from the man who looked just like their father.
Brian Collier -
- Fresh Heads