Friday, March 10, 2006

The Martyrs, Part 2

(A tribute and a lesson in three fictionalized vignettes. After the last, I'll give the historical context. The images are copyrighted by Radiology Centennial, Inc.)

(Thomas Edison Pictured in X-Ray Light)

(X-Ray Tubes from Thomas Edison's Company)

       His name in a whisper.
       He turns.
       Glass blowing hot. He spins the rod. A teardrop molten. He spins, shapes, and blows into the rod. His movements dance as the furnace roars. His hair curls in stinking smoke before it grows.
       His name in a whisper.
       He turns.
       Mr. Edison’s face unfolds above his workbench. Watching. Clarence has polished his workbench. Mr. Edison’s face smiles back in reflection. Everyone laughs.
       No one laughs at his fingers.
       His name.
       He drops the switch to bring the power. Mother electricity leaps in blue arcs. Harnessed but not tamed.
       He clamps his creation to the bench. A pear-shaped bulb with plates mounted carefully within. A masterpiece of mystery. He holds the viewing screen in his hand and waves his fingers in front of the bulb. He never tires of seeing those bones. Nature unveiled. Nature beaten.
       He’s made a strong one. He's always the best.

       He wakes from dreams to a hospital bed and wads of sopping sheets. His wounds are leaking, trying to seal.
       “Nurse!” he screams.
       Pain like a monstrous tide. He screams for his life.
       Footsteps come. A light cuts away a little night.
       He reaches, confused. He throws out his arms.
       But something is wrong. He feels, but cannot see his hands. His weight won’t peel from the bed.
       Then, through fever and infection he remembers.

(Studio Advertisement Selling "Bone Portraits")

       They took his fingers. Took his hands. Took his wrists. They chased the cancer.
       They took his arms.

On to Part 3
Back to Part 1.


Jess Riley said...

Wow...these are great pictures!

And you know, your short reminded me of a recurring dream I have.

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

Very intense, Jason! Love the images you're choosing as well. =D

Shesawriter said...

Wonderful, Jason. I really enjoyed this one. It had just the right amount of creepiness. :-)


anne said...

Very powerful ending here.

Anonymous said...

Jess, you can't tease me like that!! Can you tell me the dream? Please??

Kelly, this series is definitely from the "truth is stranger than fiction" department.

Tanya, I appreciate that! Re creepiness: I can't seem to get the suffering of the X-ray martyrs out of my head. I'll recount more at the end of the third vignette.

Anne, thanks! I tried to capture just a fraction of what this man must have endured.

Cate said...

This is so unique. I'm really enjoying this series. Powerful writing yet again.

anne frasier said...

jason, this is one of the creepiest things i've read in a long time. creepy wonderful.

Linda said...

Jason another great job! Luv it and the images you put with it!

Jeff said...

I like the imagery ( pun intended) and the intense ending. I like it, Jason. :)

Melissa Amateis said...

OMG. This is good. I can't wait to read the last one! (And hear all that great historical research you've been doing!)

Anonymous said...

Cate, I'm very happy to have you enjoying it with me! BTW, I've linked back to your blog. :)

Anne, tremendously high praise coming from a master!! Thank you!! =D

BeadinggalinMS, the innocence of that age is a challenge for me to grasp. Bone portraits? Astounding.

Jeff, =D. Re intense: I can't even imagine (oh wait, I did write a story trying to imagine it) what it must be like to endure amputation after amputation.

Melissa, I knew you'd appreciate the research. ;) One of my key sources from a European radiological society is no longer on the web. Not happy about that.

Mark Pettus said...

I wish I was a good critic, then I could tell you just exactly why I love this piece.

Gut level horror.

Terri said...

Great writing - this makes me shudder.

Anonymous said...

Mark, your critique sounds spot on to me. Thanks!

Terri, he was the first of the x-ray martyrs to die in the United States.

Lisa, thank you. I found that portrait in x-ray light unnerving also.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Jason, you're one of a kind.

And it's a shame, because the world could use so much more you.

LiVEwiRe said...

Oh, this is fantastic! I suppose my adoration of Edison helps. When I was in Florida, I visited one of his homes and therefore, one of his labs. They basically had to drag me out! That put in mind the perfect setting for this! Sometimes we forget that there are real people, with tragic stories and endings, behind so much of what we know today.

mermaid said...

I think I'm a little confused about the transition from Part 1 to 2. A little girl was having her arm X-rayed in Part 1, and now Clarence with cancer. Hmmm...

I get the feeling these are two different stories that are going to be connected in Part 3.

Anonymous said...

Sandra, *blushing* What can I really say to that other than thank you?

Livewire, when you see and experience and immerse yourself in the surviving fragments of that time as you did, you begin to understand the innoncent optimism they had for these exciting discoveries. Sadly, some of the lessons learned were bitters ones.

Mermaid, the one thing linking them is the x-rays. The nun put children at ease by using the equipment on herself, and Clarence was a glass blower in Thomas Edison's lab. He constructed x-ray tubes then tested them on his own hands.