View Full Version : Wide Awake--Completed

05-13-04, 09:27 PM
“Danny stay with me, you’re bleeding a lot! I’m going to try tie my belt around your leg to slow down the bleeding. Mike, get over here and help me!” David yelled.
David lurched awake with sweat pouring off his face, heart pounding in his ears. That was the first nightmare he had had in almost six months. Rubbing his eyes, he looked over at the clock, 3:30 a.m. What day was this he wondered, Wednesday or Thursday? Yes, Thursday, only four hours till he had to get up for work. He fumbled for his cigarettes and pulled one out and lit one up. He took a long drag in the darkness as he tried to shake off his dream.
After his second cigarette David could not move on from his nightmare so got up and decided to go for a run; he thought the cool early morning air might clear his head. After he dressed into his running clothes, he saw that kitchen clock said it was still only 3:50. A quick stretch and he was on his way.
His feet pounding on the pavement began to sooth the memories pounding in his head a little. On his normal run along the Bayou he was running on auto pilot, free to focus on his thoughts. The streetlights shone on the oaks, highlighting the moss hanging from them. The pounding persisted. Danny had been so athletic, always playing pickup basketball; now he barely could pick up his left leg to struggle, gimping to just to walk, it was a huge effort. David thought he had dealt with the guilt in his counseling; maybe it was just sadness for Danny that triggered the dream. David was replaying the night of the accident, all that blood, the ambulance; he didn’t see the hose on the sidewalk and went tumbling.
He laid down on the drive way, oak trees spinning for a few moments. Blood dripped from his knee where the cement had ripped through his sweats. The throbbing in his bloody knee replaced the pounding in his head. After recovering from the fall for few more minutes, David got up and tried to walk a little, testing out his knee before running again. It felt OK, only a scrape, it looked worse than it really was, he started to lightly jog further down Bayou Blvd.
It was still early as he saw a the newspaper man stopping at all the darkened houses, no one even awake to read all the world’s breaking news. It felt good to run again, the stress of the dream started to dissipate as he picked up his pace a little. David felt good he breath harder, coming back around toward the end of his circle, the endorphins pulsing in his brain. A sense of amazement swept over him he kept running; David couldn’t comprehend that Danny hadn’t blamed him for his leg.
After getting back to his apartment, showering and dressing, David thought he’d go to Denny’s for Breakfast before work since it was still only 5:30. Thoughts of the dream were lingering in the background as he drove through the sparse downtown streets of Pensacola.
As he pulled into a parking spot he saw that he favorite waitress, Joan, was working. David took one last drag of cigarette got out and dragged himself into Denny’s.
“Hi Hon. Where’ve you been, David Bigelow? I haven’t seen you in a month of Sunday’s,” Joan greeted David and gave him a little hug. He took a seat at the counter.
“I’ve been around. I’m taking a full load over at the PJC and I’m still working full time at Ross,” David responded, justifying himself as if to his mother.
“That’s no excuse. I’ve seen Mike, Troy and Danny in here on a lot of Saturdays, real early. Don’t you run with them no more?”
“Not that much, we’ve been doin’ different things,” David said.
“Well, David sometimes that’ll happen, but don’t forget that those boys care about you,” Joan said as she poured David a much needed cup of coffee. “What will you be havin’ today?” changing from mother figure back to waitress.
“Just the Grand Slam with French toast and the eggs fried, over easy.”
“You want sausage or bacon with that?” She asked.
“How ‘bout both?”
“Sure thing, Hon. I’ll put that order in and be back around to check on your coffee,” Joan said as she picked up some empty plates from the vacant spot next to him.
As Joan left David pulled his Journal out of his backpack and opened it up. He began to write until Joan came back with his food. David finished up and asked Joan for his bill.
“Here you go, David. Don’t be a stranger, come see me more often,” Joan chided him.
“Yes Mam!” David said, acknowledging his mild reprimanding. David left enough money to cover his bill plus a generous tip. “See you later, Joan,” David said as he packed up his stuff and headed out the door.
“Bye David, take care of yourself,” Joan said maternally.
As David was walking to his car his cell rang
“Hello,” David said as he opened his car door, just answering without paying attention to the callerID.
“Hi David,” Mike said.
“Hi Mike, ,” David said as he lit a cigarette
“How are you doing?” Mike asked.
“I’m fine, I about to go to work, I was just at Denny’s, I saw Joan there,” David said..
“She’s always asking about you when we go to there,” Mike said.
“Yeah, we talked for a little bit. So, what’s up Mike?” David said wanting him to get to the point. He was still just sitting in his car smoking his cigarette.
“Well, do you want to go out with Danny, Troy and me on Saturday night; it’s Troy’s birthday?” Mike asked.
“No, Mike I don’t want to go out with you on Saturday Night, I will probably be studying,” David told his old friend.
“You’ve been weird lately, David. Are you a hermit or something? I don’t even feel like I know you anymore. We just miss havin’ you around.” Mike said almost begging David to come along. “Well then, how ‘bout you just come out to eat with us, that’s all, we’re going to Chili’s for Troy’s birthday?
“OK, just dinner. What time?” David reluctantly agreed.
“6:30. Need me to pick you up?” Mike asked.
“No, I got my license back a couple weeks ago. I’ll meet you guys there,” David said.
“That’s cool, dude!”
“I’ve gotta get going to work, see ya on Saturday. Bye Mike,” David said as he started up his Honda Civic.
“See ya then, David” Mike said right before David hung up the phone.

David got to work in time to smoke one more cigarette before he had to punch in and go about working what would probably be another uneventful day at Ross. He sorted out some racks of clothes, waited on customers and was lucky enough to get to train a new person. The one highlight of the day was talking to his friend Steve at lunch.
“Hey Steve, how’s goin’?” David asked as he came into the lunch room.
“Hi David. My son, Jacob, was sick last night and it I take a shift with him for a few hours after my wife was worn out,” Steve said in haggard voice with dark circles under his eyes. David liked talking to Steve because he always had such good advice for him. Steve encouraged David to go to counseling after the accident. He also was extremely supportive of him going back to school and even helped him cover a couple shifts when he had orientation.
“Oh, that’s too bad. I hope the little guy feels better, and you get a little rest.” David said.
“I’m sure he’ll be fine in a day or two. How are things going for you?” Steve asked.
“I had one those bad dreams again after it had been so long; I thought they were gone. I don’t want to stay in the same old rut that I have been in, well, maybe my whole life,” David said still dealing with the lingering affects of the dream.
“What do you mean you’re stuck in a rut? It’s just one dream. Besides, you seem to be doing great!” Steve said with a bright smile that caught David a little off guard.
“It sure doesn’t feel like it today,” said David.
“David, how long have I known you?” Steve asked.
“Well, about long as I have worked here, almost 3 years. Why?” David said wondering where he was going with this.
“This past year you have faced some demons and worked on some hard stuff in counseling. You had to ride the bus everywhere while you didn’t license for a year. I hate riding the bus, but you always seemed pretty cheerful when I saw you,” Steve said, almost like an older brother, but not in an off-putting way.
“I guess so, what are trying to say?”
“Don’t be dense, David. You’re not the same clueless guy that started here at Ross. I’ve seen you change. You seem more present when I talk to you, like a car firing on all cylinders,” Steve said, bringing another one of his car analogies. He sure loved cars.
“Thanks Steve. I guess I didn’t really see that,” David said, a little uncomfortable with the compliments Steve was giving.
“You bet! You doin’ anything this weekend?” Steve asked changing the subject for David’s sake.
“On Saturday I’m going to dinner at Chili’s with some old friends, but I don’t really want to go. It’s with Mike, Troy and Danny; it has been a long time since I’ve done anything with all of them.” David said without having to say much more to Steve.
“Well, maybe it’ll be good to see them again,” Steve said, trying to sound enthusiastic.
“I don’t know. Well at least it’s only for dinner. I’ll let you know how it goes. My lunch is almost over, I better get going. I’ll see you tomorrow, Steve.”
“I’ll be off tomorrow, a 3 day weekend for me. So I will see you on Monday. Try to have fun at Chili’s,” Steve said.
“I will. I’ll let you know how it goes on Monday. David said as he headed toward the time clock. Only 4 more hours until he was off . David had a lot of time to think about what Steve had said to him as he sorted and hung about 10 racks of clothes; someone had called in sick and help was needed in the back room. The rest of his day at work dragged on.

David arrived at Chili’s about 20 minutes early and decided to wait in his car and listen to the radio and have another cigarette. He had smoked more than usual over the past couple of stressful days. The Cats in the Cradle was just finishing on the radio. He love that song, it brought back memories of spending time with his grandpa and grandma at their beach house in Panama City.
After a few more songs and couple more Winston’s it was 6:28 and he decided it was time to head in and see if Mike and the guys were there. He was still the first one there so he put his name in for a table for 4 and waited some more.
It was a short wait, Mike, Troy and Danny came in about 6:35, all smiles and loud.
“Hi Troy, Happy Birthday,” David said as Troy sat down in the waiting area.
“Thanks David,” Troy said.
“Hey David,” Danny said to in a very warm way.
“Hi Danny, how’s it going?” David asked, but really wondering to himself how his leg was doing.
“It’s going pretty good, just been working at my Dad’s store. How ‘bout you?”
“I am good. Been busy with work and school. I’m taking 4 classes this semester,” David said and felt so awkward as her heard his words just hang there for what seemed like an eternity. He was save by the hostess.
“Bigelow, party of four. Right this way,” the hostess said as she led them to a booth by the window.
As they were looking at the menus deciding what to order, they made some small talk catching up with David.
“So Mr. College boy, are there a lot of cute girls in you classes,” Troy asked with a wide grin and a raising of his eyebrows.
“Yeah, there are some cute girls,” David said awkwardly not really wanting to talk like with them.
“Have you gone out with any one?” Danny asked.
“No, I haven’t.”
“Well what have you been doing there, then?” Troy asked, causing everyone, including David to laugh.
The waitress came by and took there orders and came back with their drinks. David was the only one who was drinking soda, but no one made any comments.
“So, Mike, what have you been up to, have you finished working on your Camero?” David asked, moving to some familiar, yet comfortable topics.
“He’s going to be working on the piece of junk forever,” Danny butted it.
“Shut up, Danny. Yeah, I’m still work the car. I’ve been working a lot of nights at Safeway. I’m hoping to make assistant manager some time soon. I was passed up by a couple people who had less seniority than me. I’m thinking about taking it up with the union,” Mike said.
“Well that’s too bad,” David said. “What’s up with you Troy,” David knew but had to ask anyway.
“I’m in between jobs right now. My mom has been riding me to get out there and look more. I will, but I really needed a break. My old boss at Home Depot was a real jerk,” Troy said as he took another swig from his beer.
David and the guys ate and talked while more beers were ordered. He listened to a bunch of stories of parties at the beach and was wishing he could get out of there. When he finished his burger they all ordered dessert because it was Troy’s birthday, so David ordered a piece of mud pie.
All the wait staff came and sang Happy Birthday to Troy in a very load way.
They finished their desserts and were paying the bill.
“You sure you don’t want to go out with us, David, we are going to Roxy’s to play some pool for a while,” Troy asked.
“Actually I am going down to Panama City to see my Grandpa and stay with him for the rest of the weekend,” David said, even though that wasn’t really true.
“OK, tell your Grandpa Hi for me,” Troy said. Troy had been down to the beach house with him a couple times in high school.
“I will, Troy. I better get going so it’s not too late when I get down there. Happy Birthday, Troy. Have fun, be safe,” David said almost feeling like a parent as he said.
“See ya, David,” Danny said as he put out his hand to shake David’s hand, which caught David by surprise.
“Good seein’ you again Danny,” David said with no sense of guilt.
“Bye Mike.”
“Later, Dude,” Mike said with a slap on David’s back.
When David got out his car he was glad he went, but was also glad he would not be going to Roxy’s and eventually Denny’s in the early morning hours. David started his car and head out to Highway 98 and found himself driving toward Panama City. His Grandpa would not be there because he was in Boston visiting Uncle Albert for a couple months. David had a key to the Beach house that his grandpa had given him a couple years back and said he could come anytime. As he got onto Highway 98 he lit up a cigarette and turned up the radio.
When he was at the beach house on Sunday he thought a lot about the past few days and the past year. David spent a long time running down the beach in the early morning. He really thought a lot about what Steve had said about how he had changed. He could see that Mike, Troy and Danny had not changed much, they were doing the same things, going to the same place that he had gone with them many, many times before the accident. When he got back to grandpa’s beach house he made some coffee, took out his journal and wrote for a long time about his life and what kind of changes he could see. He went back out to the beach and wrote a poem for his creative writing class.

David poked out his cigarette as he pulled into the parking lot of Pensacola Junior College and opened his box of Altoids. He didn’t want anyone at school to know he smoked; he’d been trying to quit for a long time but just couldn’t kick the habit. It seemed cool to smoke back in high school when he hung out in the “stoner Area,” but it wasn’t so cool now more than ten years later.
David entered the classroom and took his normal seat against the left side wall. He was early so there were only a few students in there that he didn’t know yet. He said a couple polite “Hi’s” and made it look like he was reading a book. He had time to look at the various pictures on the wall of the room. One of them there was a picture of foreboding sky with lighting bolts and through the middle of the lightning was the following quote:
"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." ~Mark Twain
There some random posters of some writers such as Shakespeare and John Steinbeck and other writers David had never heard of. More students filed in the room and David always notice that most of them were younger than him. There were some student in this class who were older than him, certainly not old at 26, yet he was on the older side of the bell curve.
As it was 5 minutes until 7 and class was soon to begin, David notice a quote that he had not seen before against the back wall in the corner, almost hidden:
"[Poetry] may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves and an evasion of the visible and sensible "world." ~T.S. Elliot
The quote seemed very true to him at this moment. David decided to jot it down in his journal before class began.
“OK class, why don’t you get together with one or two other students and share your poems with each other,” Mrs. Fischer said.
“Hi Melissa. Hi John how are y‘all two doing?” David said as he was nervously getting out his poem.
“Hey David! I’m good. How ‘bout you?” Melissa asked.
“OK, I guess,” David mumbled.
“Who’s going to go first?” John asked.
“I will. I just want to get it over with,” David said.
“OK, sounds good to me,” John said as Melissa nodded in agreement
David cleared his throat and began reading.
“It’s called ‘Wake Up Call’

Rolling and spinning, I’m at times dizzy.
The crunch of the metal faintly echoes in my head.
Awakened with a start, I thought it was over.
Haunting and chasing, my dreams pursue me.

The rescue team is gone and the broken
Shards of glass are swept clean.
The blood won’t wash from my hands.
Out of breath, I keep running and running
But am not able to find my parking spot.

The basketball keeps bouncing off the rim,
It won’t ever make it in again because the
The ball hit the shards of broken glass.

I don’t want to sleep away my life anymore;
I’m wide awake.”

David breathed out a sigh of relief as he finished his poem.

“Wow, that’s pretty intense, David! I like it” Melissa said.
“Man, I don’t know what to say. Can I ask what this about?” John asked.
“It’s about a car accident I was in over a year ago,” David almost whispered.
“Were you hurt, David?” Melissa asked.
“No I wasn’t, but a friend of mine, Danny, was in the car and he almost lost his leg. It’s been over a year since the accident. Danny has a severe limp in his left leg. The doctors were able to save his leg but there was a lot of nerve damage and they said that Danny won’t ever regain full use of his leg. I was driving. I was drunk and I lost my license for a year,” David said, things he wasn’t expecting to say.
“How did it happen?” John asked.
“All four of us were drunk from a night of partying out at the beach and we decided it was time to go to Denny’s and try to sober up before going home. We all loaded into my Mustang; I should not have been driving at all, but I told everyone I was fine. We were heading down Bayfront Parkway where it starts to turn into Main Street and I was going way too fast, you know where it starts to curve?” David said as they both just nodded.
“I hit the guard rail there and the cars started to go up the guard rail and then it rolled. Three of us were OK, but Danny was pinned in back seat car and piece of metal was stuck in his leg. He was bleeding a lot and I was yelling to him, ‘Danny stay with me, you’re bleeding a lot! I’m going to try to tie my belt around your leg to slow down the bleeding.’ I then remember yelling to my friend Mike, ‘Get over here and help me!’ And he came over and started talking to Danny to help him stay awake until the ambulance arrived.”
“You sounded like you kept your head in this accident,” Melissa said, still hanging on David’s every word.
“I had a lot of guilt for a long time; I went to counseling for about 8 months. I would have nightmares about this all the time. Then earlier this week I had a nightmare after I hadn’t had one in over 6 months,” David said and stopped to collect his thoughts for a moment.
“That sounds hard,” John said.
“Yes, it was. I was at my grandpa’s beach house this weekend by myself on Saturday night and all day Sunday. I spent a lot of time thinking and writing in my journal. It clicked! My counselor, the doctors, and even Danny, all had said at different times that if I had not thought on my feet and tied my belt around his leg he may have lost his leg completely, or possibly even bled to death. I finally believed that I helped save Danny’s life instead of ruining his life,” David said, tears welling up in his eyes.
“That’s sounds like it is probably true, David,” Melissa said she looked into David’s eyes.
“I saw Danny on Saturday night at Chili’s before I went down to my grandpa’s beach house. He shook my hand as I left and really seemed friendly and warm towards me. It dawned on me while on the beach that he was saying thank you to me without saying it through his hand shake,” David said, no longer fighting back the tears.
“On Sunday, I also came to understand that this past year since the accident has been one of the best years of my life. I have lived more in the past year than I had in my previous 24 and ½ years, pain and all. I wouldn’t trade this year for anything.”