Warning! Do NOT Lick The Blood!

So I got a new job.  Instead of working in the Advancement Department of a major University down here, I’ll be working in the Medical School as Support for the doctors on the HIV/AIDS research team.  I had to take time last week during the day to go and spend a few moments with the individual who was vacating the position so I could get an idea of what would be required of me.  I left my beautiful and well manicured office and arrived at what can only be called a bunker-like, monolith of a building that could only be more confusing if the halls were lined with mirrors.  I held out hope for the office I’d be in. 

 

Hope failed.  The office was a disaster; I had to turn sideways to go from one side of the office to the other, there were papers piled up all over this lady’s desk…soon to be my desk.  I kept trying to remind myself that I was helping to support some great individuals who were doing fantastic work trying to solve one of our generations great problems.  Well, better get on with this.

 

“Can I grab a chair as you explain this stuff?”  I ask the lame duck employee. 

 

“Well we don’t have an extra.”

 

“Can I just grab one from one of the doctors offices?”

 

“You’d have to lift it over their desk to get at it.”

 

“Ok, I’ll stand.”

 

She spends an hour explaining things, that if they were done properly, wouldn’t need explanation.  It wouldn’t be until later that I and the department would realize that for two-years this woman didn’t do anything:  no filing, no organizing, no reports, no databases, nothing!  But that’s a later post.  

 

Someone mentions that she should show me the lab since I will have to help in there too.  As we walk in there’s blood everywhere.  My fingernails dig into my palms, which are quickly coated in sweat…I think I’m going to be sick.  It wasn’t all over the walls or anything, it was in tubes being rocked back and forth on machines, spun around in centrifuges, locked away in refrigerators, or in doctors hands.  I noticed that the woman I was following was standing next to a massive metal tube that was as tall as me and as wide as a truckers ass.  

 

“This is the nitrogen tank that feeds this freezer here.”  She taps a relatively small machine next to her with a metal tube running into it.  She goes on.

“This freezer holds hundreds of viles of ten year old HIV positive blood….and it’s locked.”

 

I open my mouth to ask a question, but she goes on.

 

“The freezer will beep if it’s low on nitrogen, but that’s not good, so watch this thing here and when it gets to that yellow point, order another one, they’ll deliver it in two days.”

 

“Who does the connecting and disconnecting?”

 

“That’d be you.”

 

“Yeah, but isn’t nitrogen gas that stuff they put stuff into then pull it out and shatter it with a hammer?”

 

“Well you see, the reason this freezer her is locked isn’t because we’re afraid of someone stealing 10 year old HIV positive blood, it’s because if you opened it, the blast of air would give you 3rd degree burns.”

 

“Oh my God!  So, wait, what’s to prevent that from happening when I change out the tank?” 

 

She opens a drawer.

 

“These asbestos gloves.”

 

“Oh, ok…wait?  Excuse me?”

 

“Yeah, asbestos is good for this.”

 

“Yall have any lead cups I can drink out of too?”

 

“That’d be radiology down the hall.”  She says in all seriousness, “You’ll be fine, it’s not hard.”

 

We begin to leave, I’m grateful that I can get away from all the blood, it’s like The Shining in there I swear!

 

“Oh!”  She says, “One last thing.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Don’t lick anything.”

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No Liquor, But Would You Like A Handgun?

It’s been a rough week; I’ve been working all weekend on things that were neglected while I was gone for ten-days. I’m not tired, but I’m stiff and stressed out, I need a damned drink. Not wine, that makes me sleepy. I crack open the wine fridge to see what else we have.

There’s two shelves of soda – soda? Why do we have that, neither of us drinks soda. Hrm…there’s a mystery bottle of wine I found two days ago, I’m still not sure where that came from or who’s it is, ok next. Blech, cheap cooking wine. Cheap brandy and some rum. Oy. We need vodka; I need vodka, time to go to the store.

Down here you don’t find the typical liquor store. Oh sure, we have them, but our supermarkets and big stores like Target also carry wine and beer. I make my way through our half revitalized, half decrepit Downtown to a local large chain whose tag line is “If you can’t find it here, it doesn’t exist.”


I’ve pretty much found that to be true.


I pull in, the parking lot is oddly lacking many cars, and usually this place is a madhouse. Whatever, I find easy parking. I walk inside, past the massive neon rabbit sign – yes a giant neon rabbit.

I make my way through the isles – “Bourbon Street,” “Whiskey Way,” “Rum Road…” yes I know it’s corny, but hey, it seriously helps you find exactly what you’re looking for. Ah HA! Vodka! Sweet, sweet Russian candy.

I grab some weird Irish vodka that Julius always buys, and I happen to enjoy and begin to make my way towards the front of the store, not noticing that half the lights in the store are out and there’s only one register open.

I make my way to register 9, manned by a rather rotund, pale, blond woman with the rattiest hair I’ve ever seen. I smile at her and hand her the bottle.

“No liquor.” She says with a heavy southern accent.

“Huh?” I ask, not sure what she means.

“Can’t buy hard liquor on Sundays, darling, only wine or beer.”

“But you’re a liquor store.”

“Cain’t do it.”

“But why?”

“Do you think the Good Lord Jesus, on the 7th day, when he was restin’, went and had hisself a drink? No sir! No liquor on Sundays.”

I look to my left and see a box with tins of mints in them, they’re called TestaMints, they have scripture on every mint. I look around, half expecting to see a large black woman burst out into “Listen To The Rain,” as I get a scripture lesson.

I notice a TV on over the back of the check-out counter.

 

“Today on Houston’s death row, an inmate pulled out his own eye, and then proceeded to eat it, more on that when we come back.”

 

Did I just enter some kinda crazy-town?

 

I’m half distracted, hand the bottle of vodka to the sacker and walk out.

There’s some flashing lights for a store across the street.  “HANDGUNS!  QUICK APPROVAL!  OPEN! OPEN! OPEN!” it flashes.  Huh….so I can’t get some vodka, some guy eats his own eye, but I can get a handgun…welcome to Texas.

The White Moth; Part III

Her house was dark, deep and dramatically colored with black, purples, reds and blues, Jackson’s heart pounded in his chest.  His head spun and his mind was afloat. The last time he felt like this he had been tripping. The only difference was that this time he didn’t think that the lights were alive and trying to eat him.

Regina led him into a dark living room. The floors were a deep, dark wood and they moaned loudly as they stepped across them to a deep, plum purple couch.  As he fell slowly down onto the couch, he felt like he was sinking into warm water. Regina slithered next to him as the down in the pillows shifted and gave.

The boxes around the room were a sign that she hadn’t been living in the house very long, but Jackson couldn’t remember his parents telling him that it was for sale.  Ruby walked into the room, announcing her presence with the “click, clack” of her nails on the floor, and sat at attention next to Regina, almost in a protective stance.  The only light in the room came from a lone, dark amber lamp and a few lit candles.

He could feel the heat from her breath on his neck; his head floated high above his body as if he were drugged.

“Wha….”  He couldn’t finish.

“Sh,” Regina said as she put her finger against his lips.

Soon her lips took the place of her finger on top of his. They were smooth like silk and warm like liquid heat.  Jackson’s heart pounded with the strength of a machine.

“Just breathe.”  She whispered into his ear, the humidity of her breath lingering on his face.

Slowly she kissed his neck and pulled back, as if to see if Jackson were still in his stupor.  He couldn’t move. His body was frozen and limp, but his mind and heart raced.  Regina’s eyes seemed to grow more intense and almost like a fiery green that blazed within her head.  Then quickly she descended upon his neck and sank her teeth into the soft, supple flesh, deep onto the pulsating vein that lie beneath.

The dark, crimson blood flowed into her mouth and between her lips, a few drops escaping onto his neck.  Jackson tried to get up and push her off of him, but Regina’s strength was much greater than he had anticipated, and she held him back with her thin arms and dug her sharply filed nails into his body.  His head spun and his stomach turned in the pit of his body. The room spun and his vision became blurry. Then slowly, Jackson’s eyes slipped shut.

*                             *                               *                             *                              *

Her tongue lapped against his face like a warm, wet sponge.  Jackson’s eyes slowly opened, but they were still blurry. It was hard to see.  He rubbed his eyes and looked around when her tongue lapped against him again.

“Ophelia!  What are you doing?”  He asked.

He felt as stiff as if he had just gone through an intense workout and his stomach ached as if he had a hangover.  Jackson patted Ophelia on the head and scratched her ears, and then her saw it.  A white moth fluttered by his head and over towards the kitchen lamp. He clomped over the hardwood floors, making them creak and moan, as well as causing shelves to shudder, making his way to the kitchen-table lamp.  Slowly and with precision he raised his hands around the lamp, keeping a distance just far enough from the moth so as not to scare it off.

“Thank God.  You’ve been annoying me forever.”  Then, dimwittedly, Jackson moved in a way that landed the back of his right hand directly against two light bulbs.

“Ow damn it!”  He screamed, stomping his foot, causing the glasses concealed in the cabinets to shudder and shake together, sounding a song of high-pitched tones.  As rapidly as it arose, his brief outburst disappeared, and he made his way over to the sliding doors opposite the kitchen table.  Lithely, Jackson slipped through the door to the back porch and threw the moth up into the air, unable to see its line of flight, but sure that it had gotten as far away from him as possible.

Jackson scratched his neck. His body always got itchy after he had been sweating.  As he pulled his hand away, he noticed that there was blood on it.  Back inside the house, Jackson went into the bathroom and looked at his neck in the mirror. There were two “pin points” on his neck.

“What the hell?  Where did that come from?”

He grabbed some tissues and held them to his neck until the bleeding stopped and made his way to the kitchen again.  On the kitchen table there was something silver that Jackson didn’t recognize.  He picked it up and opened it. It was a cigarette case that contained cigarettes so long and thin that they looked like white matchsticks.  Jackson didn’t know why, but he had a sense of foreboding.

“Hamlet!  C’mon boy, time for a walk.”

The End

The White Moth, Part II

After the interruption, we’re back to our story; if you need a refresher, read Part I.  We continue…

As he stomped up the porch steps, Jackson threw open the sliding glass door, holding back Ophelia, who nearly bolted into his waist, with his leg as quickly she ran towards him, she started to growl and bark.  So much so, that she frightened Jackson out of the way, and she perched herself at the top of the stairs of the porch.

“Get in there!”

Jackson yelled at Hamlet as he shoved him in the house and quickly slammed the door.

“Ophelia!”

He called to the other dog.  She hadn’t left her post at the crown of the steps, and was quietly growling into the air.  He felt bad that he had left her inside alone for so long, so he grabbed a leash off the porch, clasped it around her neck, and tried to walk to the car.

Ophelia was resistant and felt as if she were cemented to her post.  Jackson reached up and grabbed at her collar when, suddenly, with a clap of lightning, Ophelia snapped at him and almost caught Jackson’s fingers within her jowls.

“Hey!  Knock it off!”

He yelled with a yank at her collar.  Instead of walking her around the yard as he had planned, he chained her up to one of the posts on the porch and walked down to the yard alone.  From his pocket he pulled a red and white box of cigarettes, clasped his lips around one of the long cylindrical tube’s brown ends, and sparked a lighter at its tip.

As Jackson inhaled deeply, he could see that a fog was rolling in, not an odd occurrence since his family’s house was in the valley.  He thought that he could see something moving in the mist, but he couldn’t be sure if it was the fog rolling in or the light from the porch playing tricks on his eyes.  No, there was definitely something walking slowly towards him.

Ophelia started to whine and cower on the porch, barking at the house, a sign that she wanted to be inside, away from whatever was coming.  Jackson could see what he thought was a bear emerging from the mist, but it was an odd bear—he thought, no matter how hard it was to believe, that it was a polar bear.  He didn’t know what to think or do.  Should he run?  Should he go back inside?  Then he saw the it wasn’t a bear at all, but a dog, a very large dog—almost as big as his “pups.”  The dog was as white as the driven snow and it seemed frightened.  Jackson squatted down and called to it.

“C’mere baby, c’mon.”

The dog was friendlier than he thought, and it rubbed up against him and then immediately licked his face.  It was almost like the dog knew that Jackson had hurt himself not too long ago.  As Jackson ran his hands through the dog’s coat, he noticed that it had ice blue eyes that were very piercing.

“Who do you belong to buddy?”

Jackson asked as he felt around the dog’s neck for a collar.  The tags read, “My Name’s Ruby, I’ve had all my shots, and my owner is Regina Launderson, 4031 Saints Way, Concord MA.”

“Concord MA, isn’t that Massachusetts?  Well, you’re a very long way from home buddy.  How’d you get to Pennsylvania?”

“Ruby!”

A voice called out from the dark.  Ruby turned around to face the direction of the voice, and Jackson stood up and snuffed out his cigarette.  Ophelia started to bark again, so Jackson put her back in the house and went back to Ruby.  The voice called out again.

“Ruby, where are you?  C’mere sweetie!”

It was a woman’s voice.  Like the dog did, the woman seemed to form out of the fog and walk towards Jackson.  Ruby started barking at her owner and ran towards her in excitement.  By now the woman was close enough for Jackson to meet her halfway and introduce himself.

“Ruby, baby, here you are!”  She knelt down, ruffled the dog’s fur, and hugged her.

“You should know better than to run off like that little girl,” She said in a mock scold.
“You’ve got a very beautiful dog there,” Jackson said to the woman.

As she stood up Jackson noticed that she was a tall woman, not much shorter than his six-feet, and exuded beauty.  Her hair was long and black as the night, and her skin was milk white.  The first thing that Jackson thought of was Snow White.  Her dress only accented her body more.  It was a deep purple that flowed as if it was draped over her body, and Jackson thought that she was rather dressed up.

“Thank you,” The woman said.  “I’ve just gotten back from a business dinner and when I got back my Ruby was gone—nearly scared me to death.  We just moved here, so I thought she went running off back to Mass.”

“Well, she seemed to just be scoping out the neighborhood. You don’t have to worry, people around here look out for one another. Someone would have spotted her. It’s hard to miss a dog so, well, white.  By the way, I’m Jackson,” He said, extending his hand to her.

“It’s a pleasure, I’m Regina. I don’t believe that I’ve seen you in the neighborhood yet,” she said as she pulled a silver cigarette case out of her purse and opened it with a click.  Contained inside of it were cigarettes so thin and long that they looked like matchsticks.  As Jackson struggled to get out his lighter for her, she threw her hair over her opposite shoulder and thanked him for the light.

Her eyes were a hypnotic emerald green, and Jackson couldn’t take his eyes off of them.  For no reason clear to him, the next thought in Jackson’s head was of the sirens in the Homer’s Odyssey. Her eyes sang to him while Ophelia and Hamlet howled of impending danger.