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by E.P. Lee
Jun 10, 2021
AND the DOG BARKS... CHAPTERS # 60 - 66
“AND THE DOG BARKS..."
CHAPTERS #60 - 66
On Tuesday I gave Mitch, my needy self, and the past five or six weeks, no thought whatsoever and just went about my day as usual. At about 3 p.m. I took Ziggy on his regular afternoon walk and as I passed the equipment storage area I saw that the big two story ladder was gone.
I knew Mitch had a“big job”to do that day, and that big ladder was Mitch’s big tool for big work, so it should’ve been gone. No big deal with that, no big deal at all. I wasn’t supposed to see Mitch until Wednesday and until Wednesday I had no thoughts of Mitch at all.
But Wednesday came, and Mitch didn’t.
And Mitch didn’t call.
And Mitch didn’t text.
But this was routine.Mitch had done this same shit a hundred times before. It was part of the drill, part of the game.
But I flinched,I was disappointed.
I was very disappointed.
But disappointed, or not, this wasn’t unusual, there were usually one, or two, cancellations before we hooked up for the first time after a separation, always one or two. That was the “routine”.So disappointed me went about my day Wednesday as if nothing was wrong, without a hiccup even, and I moved onto the evening, and then to bed as if all was well with the world.
But on Thursday morning, as I opened my eyes, the world wasn’t well. My mood was foul, really FOUL.“Routine”or not, this was what we had been fighting about. Emotionally I couldn’t deal with Mitch’s childishness any longer, his rudeness, his complete lack of obvious compassion and caring. And professionally I seethed that if you can’t fulfill a commitment in“business”call, or text, or something.I wanted Mitch to admit to both the“emotional” and the“professional”stuff going on and to deal with them like a human being, an adult, and to call, or, or, or, text, or“something”. But silence…
I couldn’t deal with “silence”any longer.
I simply couldn’t.
So before I made my morning coffee I called Mitch and of course there was no answer. I’d expected that. So I made my morning brew and a half hour later I called again.
And again there was no answer.
Another call was made soon after that, and fifteen minutes after that, and again, and again, and again, and never was there an answer. And I was angry now, and with my anger I was not going to be denied.
But there was no answer ever.
It’s around noon by now, early afternoon and time for lunch, breaktime, but still there had been no response. And my anger was building, and building, and building, and building, and these thoughts:
“That little shit…”
“How dare he!”
“I can’t stand this anymore…”
“Why did I set myself up for this again…” …
… were running around and around my conscious mind like a bad pop song earworm as I was getting angrier, and angrier, and angrier.
And that’s when I sent my first text.
And 45 minutes or an hour later I sent a second text, then a third, and finally with bile welling up in my throat, at around 2:30, or 3 o’clock, I sent a long, sarcastic, and as menacing a text as I could muster.
Only Mitch would understand the sarcasm or the menace, but it was there.
And sure enough, in less than five minutes, my phone pinged a message received.
The text was from Mitch’s phone, but the text wasn’t from Mitch, the text was from Alcee, and as usual Alcee“got”nothing.
But given what was going down right at that moment maybe getting“nothing”was all that could be.
“All that could be”…
… right at the moment I sent that last text, right at that exact moment, the instant I hit send:
Mitch’s brain flatlined, and Mitch was declared dead.
Sometime in the mid-late afternoon on that just passed Tuesday, after lunch with Alcee, stoned Mitch went back to work on his“big”job of the day; there was some plant debris gathered along the second story roofline near the rain gutters and it had to be cleaned away.
So up the ladder scampered a stoned, somewhat tired from his previous morning labors, weak Mitch. And in that current stoned, tired, and weak state Mitch didn’t think to fasten his safety belt.
Why do that?
And a piece of that plant debris is stuck, a big palm frond was just glued in place, stuck, very stuck, so Mitch pulled it.
And it wouldn’t yield.
So Mitch pulled at it again, no movement.
And then Mitch pulled at it a third time, only this time, harder.
And the palm frond gave way, and quickly.
Debris in hand, Mitch flew backwards from the top of the ladder fast, and then two stories down to the cement driveway below. His head made contact with the ground before any other part of his body did.
That handsome head…
Blood was everywhere immediately,“everywhere”,gushing, and in pools.
Alcee had seen all as it transpired, the pulls, the fall, indeed Mitch had fallen directly through her line of sight.
Like a bird...
And in the silence that was omnipresent after the fall, Alcee started to scream, and then, sobbing, she calledEMS, and twelve long minutes later, an eternity that, an emergency vehicle, ambulance-like, from theFire Departmentwas there, and thirty minutes later aMedi-Vac Helicopterarrived, and off to theHospital Trauma Centerin Downtown Miami did Mitch fly.
Mercifully Mitch was in a coma, Mitch was unconscious from the moment his head hit the cement driveway. Mercifully that…
And“mercifully”Mitch never left that coma ever again, not once was Mitch conscious over the next two, the last two, days of his life.
But of this I have no memory, I’ve been told the story, I know the events, but I have no firsthand memories here.
I have knowledge of what occurred.
But no memories of this do I have.
I had no knowledge, or awareness, of the preceding events when I hear that message alert“ping”.
I knew nothing, I suspected nothing, I thought all was routine,“nasty”, but I thought that all was routine. And as I read the first three lines of the just received text that were visible on the screen of my phone I started to get angrier, and angrier still:
The screen showed:
THIS IS ALCEE.
STOP SENDING THESE ANNOYING TEXTS.”
And my anger built, and built, and built then as my temples were pulsing, my heart pounding. Angrily, quickly, I scrolled down and abruptly read line four:
“MITCH HAD AN ACCIDENT…”
And then line five:
“AND IT IS NOW FATAL!”
Those first three lines had fed my anger, and the fourth and fifth lines rocketed me into disbelief. I froze then, cold was all over me. I froze, froze, froze…
At first I stared at the phone like I couldn’t make out the words on the screen, I was frozen of mind, and hand. And then I texted back:
“Don’t make jokes like that!
That’s not funny.
Fatal means dead…”
And Alcee texted back:
“I’m not joking.
Mitch is dead”
And so began a short series of texts from me to Alcee, and from Alcee to me, starting with my:
And with that:
… Alcee responded with multiple texts that contained the broadest of details on the accident that had happened at around 3 p.m. Tuesday two days before.
… (The accident occurred after lunch Tuesday, in the early mid-afternoon, at just about the same time as I was walking Ziggy, and just about, or perhaps the exact same time, as I saw that the big two-story ladder was gone from its storage place under the house.) …
Texts came in that related the details of the fall itself, and of the massive heart attack on Wednesday where the life support machines had been turned on. And lastly a repeat text of the final deet arrived. That final text repeated that Mitch’s brain had flatlined just moments before, and that the doctors had declared him dead.
Mitch was there no more.
No firsthand memories do I have, but I remember.
Do I remember…
I stared at the phone in complete disbelief then.
For the longest time I did nothing, I just stared at the phone. I was all alone in the house except for Ziggy, and the house was silent. To say that a chill had come over me wouldn’t do justice to the coldness I felt. Some of that was probably caused by the rapidly cooling hot coffee I’d spilled, coffee spilled all over myself, and everywhere around me, when I read the last words of the final text.
And soon I was clammy all over, nauseous to the point of throwing up, and blurry eyed, not crying. I didn’t cry for a long time. I was just cold,“cold”, clammy, nauseous, and blurred, and horrifically unstable on my feet when I moved.
At first, after I got out of my coffee drenched clothes, I sat completely still in the club chair where I was. And I did that for what seemed like an eternity, with Ziggy on my lap. I sat there silently, immobile, for what seemed like a long time. I just sat there, almost naked, with Ziggy on my lap, for that long, long, long time, as I got colder, and colder, and clammier (that spilled coffee residue on my naked skin). I sat and sat, and breathed deeply, and, again, and then I texted Alcee:
"My condolences to you and to his Parents.
Please express them for me.
I wish there was something else I could say…
And Alcee replied:
You were always a great friend to him…
And they know that…”
And then silence.
As I had known nothing of the accident and nothing of the two days prior in the Hospital, I knew nothing about the disposition of the body or the funeral arrangements.
Mitch was an Organ Donor so they kept his body alive for 12 more hours as the donor recipients were alerted, and the organ transfers were made. Everything but his heart was salvaged, his intense green eyes, the liver, the kidneys, any other body part of value. On Thursday the balance of the carcass was dispatched to theCounty Medical Examiner’soffice, and on Friday it was released to the Funeral Home.
The Memorial Service, with the ashes in attendance, was on the very next Sunday.