“Oh, oh, he got ROCKED!”
And suddenly, I was learning to walk again, my legs unable to support my vision spinning rapidly out of control. “He is absolutely getting teed off on! WOW!” The roars of the crowd grow louder and louder; the stinging blows, coming like a hurricane from all angles until the lights go out and gravity becomes my new friend.
So this is what it feels like to die.
* * *
In heaven, there is no work to do. Every Wednesday, I am reborn. Sometimes as a dad or husband, mostly as a college-age son, female occasionally, maybe a cop, super-villain, or roommate, but always, always pouring beer from a tap.
* * *
I wake up next to a girl lying underneath the stars. Her contours are familiar, her face, warm, almost like an angel.
The moment I turn away from her, I sense her contours distorting into a grotesque, disturbing, unnatural grin. Not really evil, but the image is burned into my head. I turn back towards her and panic at my inability to undo anything.
* * *
3:05 a.m. It was just a bad dream, although I suppose nothing good can ever really come of this hour. I want to yell at the alpha fraternity bros bellowing a horribly drunken rendition of “Closing Time.”
Instead, I close my window and open my laptop because I’m up already anyway. Images of someone else’s dreams float past in a curious parade of angst, passive nostalgia, and laughter. Somewhere in the neighborhood, a couple dogs are barking and yapping. Probably at the fraternity bros to shut up and go to sleep.
* * *
“You okay man? Dude, don’t move. You’re going to be okay.”
“Wh-where am I?”
The doctors are cutting off my wraps. My hands feel like they’re broken and my head is spinning.
“You got knocked out. You’re in the hosp—no, sit back down.”
My eyes are bloodshot and swollen, and the contusion on my forehead is throbbing. I try to force a grin, but the sutures holding my left eyebrow together are tugging at the edges of the chasm on my forehead.
“You got caught with a good left, a couple uppercuts. It was just a bad matchup. Happens to everyone, man.”
I don’t remember.
“Good fight though.” I look around to a room of solemn faces, nodding in unison like a bunch of priests. Bartering with God for my life or something.
“Thanks, guys. And I’m sorry I didn’t win—”
“Naaaah, man. You’re going to be fine…what’s that? Yeah, I promise. You’re going to be alright.”