Jack and Coke

Jack and Coke
Eric Myers

Draped in the same too-big shirt
for three days
It’s fabric film a few washes away
from silk.
The neck is wide and loose,
big enough to slip over
my slick, scabbed scalp
without a painful touch.
I pull it off and wish I could shower
without four Norco.

When I slept I dreamt of Chris,
skin dangling from his hands,
red bone peeking out
when his tendons moved.

He was stealing from me.
Taking my life and stuffing it
into a bag, slowly turning red
from his mangled grip.
Wallet, cell phones, books.
Stealing from me,
and making me watch.
The sting of sweat on my
blood-crusted sutures
forced me awake.
I won’t sleep again until I whisper to my room:
It wasn’t my fault.

Did they clear you to leave?
Nurses had to know,
as I shuffled out of the ER,
smelling like disinfectant and gas.
They couldn’t know I was fine,
beneath the blood matted in my hair,
and the dirt still on my cheeks.
Yeah, I said without turning,
It looks worse than it is.

I started laughing when the air ambulance nurse,
autographed eight-by-ten pretty,
leaned over me
and said I was doing good.
I was alive.
Leaking blood,
missing skin,
my unbroken bones shaking,
but alive. The helicopter
can go as slow as it wants.
I’ll be fine.

That’s my blood, I said
as I felt it drip up my forehead,
up through my hair,
and down to the pavement.
Mingling with the spray of broken window
and gasoline.
I heard Chris call my name from the street
and asked if I was okay.
I told him,
It’s all my blood.

75, 85, 90,
yelling at nothing, our friend
slings around another dark
highway corner, in the wrong lane.
Chris and I sat in repose,
quiet enablers,
holding our breath as he lost traction,
Our friend stops screaming
and asks if I’m okay.
I joke and say,
I’m ready to die.

At the bar I wait my turn and, when I
finally flag the bartender,
the one that reminds me
of a giraffe,
I get a blue whale for me,
a seven and seven for Chris,
and a jack and coke for our friend.
Extra strong on all of them, I say.
We’re celebrating.

Art by:

Sharon Rickard

Sleep I

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