Sunday, July 13, 2008

Entry #22

Crisscrossing Over
by James R. Tomlinson


O’Malley’s leathery hands tremble more than ever, the interference in his head keeps time, counterclockwise, with his infirm grip of the throttle. He’s awash in the blue cataracted hue of flashing chrome. He slows down, but doesn’t stop. Not now. He leans into the handle bars, his down-turned helmet deflecting the oncoming dirt.

The squad car follows, its siren blaring, flanked by paramedics.

O’Malley loves the silence. He ditched his hearing aid minutes earlier. “I’m not deaf,” he screams at his daughter. “You needn’t shout,” she yells back. “Mummy,” he whimpers, “too much mumbo-jumbo.” Then he dismisses her with the wave of his hand—a non-symbolic gesture for curbing him like a piece of broken furniture.

“What do you mean, he’s gone? I just visited him,” she says.

The nursing home director explains their preventive measures. “Several alarms went off. Someone had’t’ve helped him.”

“On a motorbike? You mean like a scooter?”

O’Malley’s confused; he thinks he’s on a dirt bike, on a dirt path, tearing up the earth. He has to poop.

“Actually, I’ve got two bikes, Mr. O’Malley,” the healthcare intern says after changing bedpans. “The one outside your window and another one in my parent’s garage. I’m just doing this to defray the expense of motocross racing.”

O’Malley grunts.

“You’ve got quite a grip, Mr. O’Malley.”

His forearm weakens. He believes he’s near the finish line.

“You okay?” the policeman asks.

The paramedics wheel out a stretcher.

“I didn’t make it,” he cries.


[James R. Tomlinson teaches for the Michigan Department of Corrections. His writing has appeared in the Pebble Lake Review, Glass Fire Magazine, and Foliate Oak Online. A flash fiction story will appear in NANO Fiction this fall. He keeps a journal at jrthumbprints.blogspot.com.]

22 comments:

Sarah Hina said...

His mental confusion is rather heartbreaking, and yet sometimes the mind can set us free. For a moment, anyway.

The last line was particularly poignant. This character feels authentic to me, as are his circumstances. Very nicely done.

Sheri said...

This makes me never want to get old... I loved how he ditches his hearing aid.

Charles Gramlich said...

Yes, a very nice touch when he ditches his hearing aid. I want him to make his escape.

Wannabe Writer said...

Good story... I was hoping we would escape, but to where would that be?

klgilbert said...

I agree with Sheri, this makes us all think about the problems of old age. On the other hand, the alternative is bleak, of course. This story was poignant and heartrending. Good job.

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

Poor demented O'Malley :(

Very well narrated!

Beth said...

This is one of my absolutely favorites. Excellent and I mean excellent writing and story. Just absolutely wonderful and sad yes, but true to life.

SzélsőFa said...

You make me feel sorry for him. Well done, James.

the walking man said...

Old bikers never die, we just crank the throttle a little more, and young ones will always help an older member of the fraternity.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Thanks for all the feedback. I'm so used to rejection letters, rejection emails, rejection, rejection, rejection. It's so nice of Jason to give us an outlet. I've read 45 entries and my personal favorites are ... oops, that's Jason's job.

JaneyV said...

I love that he's so free in this awful predicament. The ditching of the hearing aid is a beautiful touch - so that outside noises couldn't intrude on his fantasy.

Very moving, oddly funny and deeply though-provoking. Wonderful writing.

Scott said...

I'm blown away.

'Nuff said.

Erik Donald France said...

Reminds me of David Lynch, truly. Love the flashing changes in apparent PoV. Cheers!

Whitenoise said...

Great story, quite a lot packed into only 250 words.

September said...

Wow. Parallel worlds - real and the patient's imagination of what's happening. I don't feel sorry for him. He's in another world - the only way to escape the real one he is in.
Great job on this story and conveying all that in such few words.

iLL Man said...

Great stuff! First word to the last, I was hooked. Really good piece of writing there. Seems like so much more than 250 words as well.

Jo said...

That was very poignant. It has a "Fried Green Tomatoes" feel to it. O'Malley is determined to go out in a blaze of glory, isn't he?

JR's Thumbprints said...

Thanks for the added comments. And yes, September, he does seem to be in another world--one he doesn't fully realize--perhaps until the last line of the story.

Dottie said...

I love this one.

laughingwolf said...

excellent tale, j r....

jason evans said...

I was rooting for him. I wanted him to get away! Strong technical use of language.

Aine said...

I have a soft place in my heart for tales of elderly folks fighting to live (not just survive). I hope that wasn't his last ride.