Tuesday, July 12, 2016

San Berdoo

     I would do anything to distract myself, would love to send my thoughts anywhere but here in this waiting room. On the seat beside me is a recent issue of People Magazine, featuring the 25 Most Intriguing People of 2015. In the upper left hand corner, in a solemn black font, reads "San Bernadino, the Tragedy Changing America." One more thing I don't want to think about. The world is gunfire and bloodshed, yet every time I hear the name of that town that stupid song runs through my head:

"Five little miles to San Berdoo
I woke this mornin' and thought of you
Looked out the window
What a view
Five little miles from San Berdoo"

     "Plus! The Year in Pictures, Hall of Shame, and More!" It's a gorgeous day outside. Blue sky, bright winter sunlight. I take deep, slow breaths. Stare at the plants, so generic I have trouble even seeing them. Stare at the pattern on the carpet, geometric flecks and blandly-colored  blobs. A smiling little boy is carried into the other room. His mother explains to his sister, "Hayden has to have a picture taken to find the penny." I reach for the magazine.

"Three little miles from San Berdoo
My bag was packed and ready
I said to myself, 'Steady!'
Two more miles and you're in heaven!"

     Before I can open it, A teenage girl with braces on her teeth and a pair of crutches starts chattering on about her injury, how she felt her leg go out from under her, how she screamed when she hit the floor. The pain was so bad she blacked out, she says. She laughs when she says it. She has a beautiful laugh.

"One little mile from San Berdoo
My heart was skippin' a beat or two
Oh what thrill when I saw you
Waitin' at the station down in San Berdoo"

    I give in and flip through the magazine, but it's all a swirl of colors and unreadable blobs of text. I try to steady my breath but it keeps skipping ahead of me. I don't want to go into that room. The sound of gunfire echoes inside my head but it's only the pounding of my blood.
     An infant across the room begins to screech. His parents don't say a word, keep tapping their phones. I feel like my brain is being squeezed from my skull. Everything in the room disappears, sucked into the maelstrom of that unholy yowl. Even my own pain and fear is driven from my mind. I am pure and clear, I have disappeared. The sound is horrendous, relentless, ear-shattering. I pray it never stops.

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