A Little Before 3 in the A.M.

July 10, 2008
By Nicholas Mecikalski, Madison, AL

It was probably about 3 in the A.M., but he couldn't remember and didn't particularly care anyway. He reluctantly and quickly shelved his thoughts for the moment, swept a mindless hand hastily through most likely disheveled hair, bit his quivering lip and leaned over to dry-heave toward the grass. He'd been at it for hours and not a drop of vomit had splattered to the ground. He was past wishing and was now begging God to just let him barf and be done with it. But no luck.

God also didn't answer his prayers in that the Buick was still in the driveway. He would glance up every few minutes from his post on her front steps to check if God hadn't whisked it and all its memories away so maybe he'd never have to think about what happened again. But it just sat there nonchalantly, oblivious to what lay inside.

He had loved the Buick when Margaret, his wife, had wheeled it up to the driveway on his birthday (however many years ago it was now); he remembered that much if nothing else. It had been her form of apology for losing her temper one night over what the doctors called retrograde amnesia, although what he had actually done to spark it he couldn't remember. It had always been this way, it seemed. His mind just didn't want to hold onto anything for that long.

He'd swept her up in a big bear hug and she'd said...she'd said...aw what was it...?

"I promise I'll never lose my temper over this again you hear me? I hate arguing, I just can't stand it and...but...well yes." She had looked up at him with watery eyes and poked his forehead gently with a pointed finger. "Now don't you forget that ya hear?" A smirk. He smirked back and that was that and he had a new Buick.

Oh no. Not again. Shelve thoughts. Bend over. Retch uselessly into the grass. Wipe mouth. Sigh longingly to be off these porch steps and in a nice warm bed at home. But he simply couldn't get in that dreaded Buick and definately couldn't turn around and face Margaret and her sister. He cradled a red and sweating head in his hands, debating what to do. The hours were rolling on and his condition wasn't improving. A walk home in the less-than-comfortable night air with a stick of dynamite for a stomach was hardly optimal, but he couldn't stay here all night to let Margaret, or worse, her accusatory sister, find him loitering right outside. He didn't even want to think about that. Hell, he hardly remembered what had gotten him into this mess. Hadn't it been something about...something about...

*keys. The housekeys. He'd never been good at remembering where he left those stupid things. She had forgotten something this time, though, he thought, almost with a chuckle. Her promise. She'd started
yelling about the keys and why the hell can't you ever remember and
all he could do was just stand there with his hands in jeans and a fading Mickey Mouse shirt sagging along with a dazzled expression. Completely helpless to fend against her words. It's not like he didn't try to remember where he placed those, he really did try but they just...just...*

"Ugh!" He shot his head up, realizing after a few seconds that he had slightly dozed off in the cradle of his hands. Scanned around, luckily remembering that these was his sister-in-law's porch steps. But the details leading up to this were already becoming sketchy, very sketchy. S***. The horizon was already glowing with hints of a sunrise. He'd probably been asleep two hours or more. His stomach didn't seem to be brewing with false alarms anymore, although it remained sore as did his throat. He tried standing and was promptly jerked back down by a biting cramp in his neck. Double s***.

Massaging the back of his neck, he glanced up. Sure enough, his Buick stood just as nonchalant as ever, appearing almost bored in the driveway. He wondered vaguely why he was still here and hadn't just gotten in the car and left. There was a reason, he knew it, whether or not he remembered it.

*Forget forget forget is that all you can ever do?* The Buick smirked, a blinding ray of sun glinting off its windshield and into his eye.

"Shuddup." A whisper.

*Yes, you know there is a secret here, that something is far from right, but the only one keeping that secret from you is...yourself. Ha! Now if that's not a paradox....*

"Shuddup!" More stern this time. Not a whisper.

*And you know that's why Margaret argued with you--she's tired of you and your shortcomings. If you could only remember something as simple as where you put the housekeys....*

"AGH!" He jumped up, stomped back down with the insistent nag of a cramped neck. Kicked the pansies and tulips and roses from their roots in a miniature shower of soil in the pathetic little garden sitting next to the steps. Yes, the Buick was right he was sick of forgetting the random stupid facts that somehow made a difference in his life. And whether or not she'd admit it, he knew that Margaret was sick of him and his retrograde amnesia.

"Damn damn DAMN!" Clenched teeth. Squeezed eyes. He WOULD remember yes he WOULD. To prove to himself to Margaret that yes he COULD.

*Keys. Something about the housekeys. An argument. Yes, he was on the right track.*

OK. Good start. Now after the argument. She hadn't been there anymore had she? No. She had gone somewhere. Where?

*Her sister's house! Yes! Right behind you, you moron!*

Yes! She had said she would walk to her sister's place and...and collect herself, that was it. So next...if she had been at her sister's, he would have been home alone. No, he didn't actually recall that part, but it only made sense, right? Right. Whatever, it probably wasn't important anyway.

*But soon...soon you were somewhere else weren't you?*

Yes, somewhere else. He'd gone to his Buick and...and...s***, what then? Where had he gone? Oh, don't trail off now--


Yes! Yes, he had been headed in this direction to...to fix things. Patch them up with Margaret. But why was he on the porch steps and not fixing them up with her? Or at home, in the comfort of his own bed? What had stopped him?


What? What was that, Mr. Memory?

He held onto the strand of memory, not daring to let it go, replaying it in his mind and groping for more clues, more senses maybe, to tell him where he had been.

*SCREECH! Racing heartbeat. Something was wrong something was very wrong.*

He'd hit something. Yes, that just had to be it.

He cracked open an eye out toward the Buick. Just a small dent in the front bumper. Not enough to have hit another car. But this still didn't solve his original question, what was WRONG with the Buick. Just because he'd hit a tree or something didn't mean he couldn't get IN the car right now and drive off to a safe and comforting home. He opened both eyes, immediately squinting them back into hiding. The sun was almost fully exposed, a glowing nickel on the horizon. Damn, how long had he been out here?! Margaret was bound to get up soon, she was a really early riser, he remembered THAT much. He had to leave these stupid porch steps and get IN the Buick already. Nothing was wrong. He could just drive away what was to stop him? He would come back later to talk with Margaret about whatever was bothering her but at the moment something was just telling him to LEAVE no matter what.

He stood, ignoring the pain in his neck, and strode purposefully to the Buick. Not afraid of you not afraid. Opened the door, got in...EUH it smelled horrible. He glanced down to find a congealed yellow splatter divided between the edge of the driver's seat and floor mat.
Relief. This was it. Just vomit, that was all that had been bugging him, probably from the intensity of the moment of hitting the tree. Yeah, he'd always had a weak stomach. He buckled in anyways, deciding to clean it up at home when something caught his eye. Behind him. RIGHT behind him.

*Turn around.*


*Don't scre--*

Staring at him from the backseat were his wife's staring eyes, glaring mindlessly, the seat around her pooled in blood. A seeping gash on the side of her neck. Shocked expression, hip twisted abnormally. Body stiff, the rigor mortis just beginning to retaliate. And suddenly it all came back.

*SCREECH! Thump. Something was wrong something was very wrong.

Holy s*** holy s*** what did you just do

just go out slowly, see what you hit,

"Margaret! Oh God you're bleeding real bad honey let's getcha in the car...gotta...gotta getcha to a...a hospital...."

And gradually the incident faded to just a blinking red light in the back of his mind, the details all just a blur, or a yellow mess on the floor mat of his Buick. Something was wrong with Margaret, he knew, and the best place to stop would be her sister's house. He sat on the porch steps, still dry heaving and occasionally checking to see if the dreaded Buick was still in the driveway. Soon it was probably about 3 in the A.M., but he couldn't remember and didn't particularly care anyway.*

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