Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Rainbow Syringe Gallery
Even the nice neighborhoods in Chicago can be ugly, dangerous places. Last Sunday I went to the beach at Lawrence Avenue. While I managed to escape from persistent mango salesmen, drunken spatula wavers, children with leaky diapers, and glass shards protruding from the imported sand, I was not able to escape from a roving band of backalley doctors in dirty lab coats abducting healthy specimens for experiments with mysterious compounds.
With Chicago policemen blocking off the few streets and parking lots east of Lake Shore Drive, I didn't give a second thought to safety and security. I thought the largest risk posed to my health would be stray frisbees and floating turds escaped from lazy bovine middle-aged women with stretchable one-piece bathing suits. Little did I know that angry Hungarians toting corroded syringes and Powerade bottles of chloroform would be slinking about public recreational areas trying to seize unsuspecting swimmers for genetic manipulation.
I was wading through waist deep greenish water, enjoying the bikini girls and the sounds of splashing and laughter. I'd arrived later than my sizable cadre of friends, and they were taking a break from swimming to char burgers and sausages under the shade about a half mile from the crowded beach. So I was alone in the water apart from the throngs of strangers paddling about babbling excitedly in Spanish and Polish. I dug my toes into the sand and let myself fall backward into the lazy tide, allowing the water to carry me around at physics' whim. The air was warm and the sun was strong, and I could feel my skin converting the ultraviolet light, shading my skin to bronzer tones. Life was perfect.
When strong arms sezied me by the shoulders and a dirty rag was clamped over my mouth and nose, I thrashed about, trying to see what strange public assault had caused my day to be ruined. Unable to emit a single sound, I struggled for a few more seconds until black fuzzy fireworks overflowed the light, forcing sight and consciousness from me.
I can only assume they used the old sheepish drunk friend trick. "Sorry about our friend, he had too much drinky drinky, you know? We take him home, he sleep it off, nice and fresh for work tomorrow, eh? Haha!" They got me out of there somehow.
I awoke in an ambulance, my memory clouded and my lungs burning. I was strapped tightly to a gurney. The buckles dug into my legs and chest, scraping skin from me when I tried to move.
The voice came from an ugly, greasy man with a thick Eastern European accent and a bulbous nose. Joy radiated from his smile. Sadism lit his eyes.
"You will have fun today, my young American friend. Nice and strong you are! Your mother must have fed you good when you were a little beet! Better for us!"
The comedian rubbed his nipples, eliciting laughter from the other crude Hungarian mercenaries. He was pleased with his maternal humor and the buffonish cackling of the other gorillas in the vehicle.
"Today we try something new, yes! You are in for a special treat!"
"Open your eyes, boy. This will only hurt a lot."
I squeezed them shut. Meaty fingers pried them open, scraping my eyes with filthy ragged fingernails in the process. With a dropper one of the imposter doctors dripped three drops of a clear solution into each eye. Surprisingly, it didn't hurt at all. I exhaled. I'd been holding my breath. I relaxed for a moment. Then came the needles. Those did hurt. They stabbed serums into me all over my body. The mystery fluids came in many colors, from grey milk to green foam to blue ooze to thin red syrup. They jabbed these into the soft pads of my feet, the arteries in my neck, the meat of my ass, and between my ribs. My heart sped up faster than should have been possible, my ventricles fluttering like hummingbird wings. I dry heaved, my stomach flopping like a fish on a sharpened stick. My legs clenched, cramps sending agonzing jolts up and down my nerves. I cried out.
"Hush, my sweet prince. We finish now."
With that, a savage blow to the head. I woke up in a lawn chair on the beach a mile away from my friends. The sun was setting. I'd been gone for hours. I looked myself over, poring over every inch of skin my eyes could reach. Tiny red welts like flea bites dotted my skin where deep bruises radiated waves of aching pain to my brain. I felt exhausted and pounded.
I walked wearily up the beach back to my friends' circle. They laid about watching the sunset, belching and farting amidst scattered beer cans and styrofoam plates.
"Where the fuck have you been, Steve? We thought you took off without saying goodbye again. You meet yourself a cute little chickadee and go for a walk?"
"You got it."
I swiped a beer from the cooler and collapsed into a lawn chair. I managed to fake a smile and accepted the hooting congratulations of my crowing friends.
I wondered what I'd be when I woke up on Monday. Still human and healthy, hopefully. It's Tuesday now. Apart from some pleasant tingling during urination and some odd dreams about hovering and lightning, nothing weird. Still, I know some secretive cabal is out there is observing me, and they're waiting for my biological metamorphosis to occur. I might even get superpowers.
At least, that's what I like to think. If they wanted to spread diseases, why not just inject people right there on the beach and take off running? No, that can't be.
I'm special now. Yup. 4:05 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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