MEDICINAL
Derek Robinson





        They come as whispers, feather touchings upon the fringes of my mind.
        posterior cricoarytenoid
        The thoughts are so fleeting, so casual, I sometimes wonder if they're even real. Maybe being so desperate to attribute them to a dismissable source makes it easier to ignore the obvious. But even wishing won't make this go away.
        longitudinal esophageal
        The problem is, I don't know what they mean.
        The guy I'm watching from the back of this bar probably doesn't know what they mean either; at least, I'd be willing to bet that.
        But I'm pretty sure these thoughts are about him.
        inferior pharyngeal
        They always start like this: a dull throb, a low keening, a thorn piercing into my skull. These thoughts might just be wisps, but they're painful wisps, and infuriating in their equivocalness.
        I already said that I don't know what any of these words mean.
        But my wife did.
        And now another thought comes, one that is a little clearer than the rest.
       that's the one, michael
        And I just shake my head, because I know where this is going.
        My wife, she's dead. Not too long ago, when she wasn't dead, she was a struggling med student. Maybe not the most brilliant of med students, but definitely a good one. It's a shame that I took so little interest in her career, because I can't even really say exactly what she field she was studying for. Something to do with surgery? General surgery, do they have
those? She would always tell these gross stories about cadaver dissection over dinner.
        superior laryngeal
        The waiter comes by and drops a loaf of bread on my table with a little dish of butter and a bread knife. I ask for another beer and he shuffles off, back into the din of the bar.
        I avoid eye contact with the waiter because I would hate to start having these thoughts about him.
        vagus
        You would think that if I can fully recognize everything going on in my own head, I would have some measure of control over what's happening to me.
        That is not the case though.
        The logic involved, it might be sick logic, but it's still logic. And believe me, if I think about anything these days, I think about these events. My life is defined by these events. I think more about my wife now than when she was alive.
        phrenic
        This guy I'm watching, he's playing pool over in the corner. I see him reracking the balls for a third match with his buddy. He's tall and thin, has black hair, mustache... all these guys start to look the same after a while.
        I know what is going to happen soon. I think to myself, if I could only get up and get out of this seat, I could avoid the next step.
        But I can't. In fact, getting up will only seek to accelerate the sequence further. The way I see it, every second I wait in this booth is another second that something might happen, something that would intervene and allow me to avoid the inevitable.
        cut them, michael
        My wife, she was always into numbers and patterns and these thoughts are like a countdown clock for the upcoming action. When this first started I would scream or panic or even go for the window. The only thing I can do now is whisper.
        To her. To me.
        "That's not the guy, Lorainne," I say under my breath, but it does me no good because the thoughts keep coming.
        transverse cervical
        "Besides, you're dead Lorainne. And I'll never find him. That guy over there... that's not the guy."
        It does no good, because my head still goes all swimmy. Whatever is trapped up there... it can wait no more. It's like, I have enough directions on how to proceed, so what am I waiting for?
        superior thyroid
        I grip the table and say a silent prayer. Please let me not do this. This will not make any difference. No one will be avenged.
        No longer a whisper, the intensity of the thoughts suggest otherwise. My head starts to feel too small to contain them, and the pressure threatens to crack my skull from the inside.
        The pain flashes white on the back of my eyes.
         internal jugular
        And I whisper to myself, "I love you Lorainne."
        I close my eyes and take a deep breath.
        "I love you."
        the knife, michael, the knife
        And I feel a light touch upon my back, like fingers brushing my shoulder. Like her final grasp before she slipped away from me on that fateful night.
        Outside a bar just like this.
        They forced us up against a wall as they mugged us. When Lorainne got out of line, they stabbed her. He stabbed her.
        And she tried to reach for me, tried to grab my shoulder as she fell.
        Before I even know what is happening, I'm out of my seat, sweeping up the bread knife as I go. I'm storming up to this guy who's bending over the table, ready to shoot the seven into the corner pocket, and I grab his shoulder so hard he spins around to face me, wide-eyed in his surprise. He's about to say something when he sees the look in my face, his left arm shoots up to block the knife but I pull back hard, slicing his wrist and before he can even yell I shove the knife forward, it slides effortlessly into his throat, and I can feel resistance from his
        thyroid cartilage
        and the thin layer of yellow fat right below the skin of his neck splits open like an over-ripe tomato and he jerks under my grip, the knife slicing his
        esophageal
        muscle, all the longitudinal and circular and every other variety, and his buddy drops his pool stick and makes to come my way, and blood is spilling out from everywhere, the knife nicking his 
       carotid
        and his head jerking back as I twist the knife around, screaming at this man, this stranger I don't know but feel compelled to kill, and I'm actually starting to froth as bits of his thyroid yes I knew that one on my own dear go flying everywhere and his buddy stops dead in his tracks from this little display and I try to angle the knife upwards and push it home and I'm screaming "This isn't the guy Lorainne!" and I feel no more movement no more resistance and I let go of the knife and step back and this guy just slumps
down a little before keeling forward and crashing into the ground.
        Everyone in the bar is staring at me.
        No one is saying a thing.
        My chest is so tight and I'm dying for air but that doesn't stop me from bolting to the door, out of the bar, straight to my car.
        I can see people coming out of the bar in my rear-view mirror but they're too late to stop me. Only as I'm driving away does my brain start to clear and my chest start to ease.
        I can focus my eyes again.
        Am I haunted? Or am I just crazy?
        This is the only way I can feel my wife, when she pushes me to do these things.
        This is the only way I can get relief.
        This is the only way I can make the thoughts stop coming.
 

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