The Good Sick
Desmond hated his name. It always made him feel sick in the bad way, not the good way. All seven letters of it were like a perpetual punch in the nose. It was an embarrassing, hurtful word, and it made him hate introducing himself to people. He always thought it sounded like a childish insult that you would hiss at someone who annoyed you. Every time someone called him by his first name, he would cringe, and his stomach would cramp in the bad way, not the good way. Why couldn’t he be a Mike, or a John, or a Paul? Stupid fucking Desssmond and his stupid fucking name.
He spent most of his free time avoiding people and conversations. He didn’t really have any friends anyway, but he always thought about how a conversation would go if he did have friends. He would have to talk to them, and discuss the trite details of their rock solid names and insipid lives. They would call him by his first name, and he would have to sit there and take it with a smile like it was no big deal. Every time one of these hypothetical friends would say his name in one of these dreamed up situations, his guts would feel like they were going to explode out of his body, but in the bad way, not the good way.
Desmond leaned forward from the bench he was sitting on and coughed pathetically. Thinking about his name always did this to him. First he would cough, then he would sweat, and then he would feel his insides boil like lava. He had to steady himself while he coughed to make sure he didn’t get ahead of himself and spoil the plan. He sat alone in unremarkable clothes, in an unremarkable shopping mall, thinking in detail about his soon-to-be-executed-plan. His plan gave him comfort, and his stomach started to finally lurch in the good way, not the bad way. Desmond smiled to himself as he watched all the happy parents and their cherry faced children walk by. The sun seemed to be shining on all their names and lives. The good sick mixed with the bad sick, and Desmond found himself both loving and hating the moment.
He exhaled quietly to himself and reached into his pocket. Desmond always planned these outings cautiously and was careful to palm the small brown bottle discreetly. He leaned back on the bench and flipped the bottle around and around in his sweaty palm. He was probably just imagining it, but the bottle felt positively warm in his hand. It made him feel sweetly nauseous in that old familiar way, and the tension in his shoulders melted like butter. A smooth buzzing sensation started deep in his groin and radiated quickly to his stomach. For the first time in several days, he started to feel whole again. He started to feel human, and the feeling caressed his cold insides like a summer day. Desmond’s sickness was finally uncoiling itself from its bad place, and the good vibrations lurched inside his gut. The day was looking up.
Desmond stood up quickly, but not too quickly, and began walking towards the food court. The walk was not long, and he was sure that he could make it there before the urge took hold. He kept his eyes turned toward the floor and hummed to himself as he walked. The tune he hummed did not exist, and he only did it as a benefit to strangers walking by. To Desmond, a man walking alone in the mall and humming to himself seemed less suspicious than a man walking alone in the mall quietly. He was as invisible as the air itself, and the strangers passing by him barely saw his shadow. From the bench to the food court, he was a ghost, he did not exist.
He arrived at the food court, and the delicious smell of cooking meat and fried potatoes almost stole his courage. The smell of cooked food made his eyes water, and a painful stabbing sensation slammed into his midsection. For one brief instant his whole world went backwards, and the good and the bad melted together into one gray lump. He stopped walking and pressed the brown bottle against his clammy forehead. Although he wasn’t instantly aware that he was doing so, Desmond’s lips were moving as though he were silently praying. His eyes were closed, and to any stranger passing by, he looked deep in thought. In his own head however, the good sick and the bad sick tossed and crashed against one another. Waves of filthy emotional sludge rocked through his chest, and for one quick second, he considered running to the bathroom. The flash of one bad second is nothing compared to a lifetime of good sickness however, and the moment of doubt quickly passed. It was time to finish the plan.
Desmond’s eyes scanned the crowded food court, and he found what he needed without much trouble. A mother and daughter sat at a table within a few strides of him. They were eating ice cream and smiling at each other. They both seemed happy, and the soft shine of sun streaming through the windows overhead made them appear to glow. Desmond unscrewed the cap on the little brown bottle as he confidently approached the table. The little girl was the first to notice him, and her eyes fixed on him innocently through her blonde curls. The mother followed her daughter’s gaze and turned to stare at him with guarded curiosity. Their sickening beauty twisted his stomach nervously, but he managed a sincere smile for their benefit. This seemed to break the tension in the air, and the little girl returned his smile from behind her ice cream cone.
“Do you know who I am?” Desmond’s voice was slow and careful, but tears welled up in his eyes as he spoke to the child.
The mother shifted her eyes back and forth between her daughter and Desmond with an aloof look of mild confusion. After an appropriate pause for dramatic effect, the look changed to concern as Desmond wrinkled his brow and tipped the little brown bottle to his lips. The sweet liquid poured into his mouth, and his whole body stiffened. Tiny milliseconds turned into giant minutes in his mind as the mixture coated his throat and cleared its way to his stomach.
An atom bomb detonating can be felt dozens of miles away when it goes off. It can feel like a small earthquake as the shock wave from ground zero makes its way across the landscape. The liquid inside of his little brown bottle was his own personal atom bomb. Pouring it down his throat was like a fuse burning itself from his mouth to his gut. Desmond himself could almost hear an audible pop as the explosion burst inside of him. A split second before the shock wave made its way across his inner landscape, Desmond had one glorious split second to watch the faces of the mother and daughter. In that frozen nanosecond, Mother seemed to understand what was happening just before it happened. Her face was struck dumb with shock at first, followed immediately with disbelief, and ending finally with acceptance. This all happened in three tenths of a second. He would never forget it.
The vomit was a pale orange color, and it was very thick. It flew out of his mouth with purpose, as though it were late for an important appointment. His body was angled towards the daughter, so it sprayed her first. She never flinched, and she never shielded her face. It hit her like a garden hose on full blast. Desmond saw it splash against her face and ice cream and explode outwards. It dripped obscenely down her cone and fell onto the table. He curly blonde hair was coated in the thick orange slime and plastered itself to her fragile beautiful face.
Mother was not as lucky as her daughter. At the last possible moment, she lurched across the table with an instinctive motherly protectiveness to shield her daughter. She was far too late to stop Desmond’s plan, and she probably knew it, but she dove all the same. Like a secret service agent taking a bullet for the president, mom took a puke stream directly to the face. In her shock, she started to scream what Desmond suspected was a reflexive “No!”, but the seemingly endless spray of throw-up quickly filled up the hollow of her mouth and choked out whatever she was trying to say. She landed hard with a thud with her chest flat on the table. Her body lay jackknifed across the table, while she gagged and tried to cough his sickness out of her body.
Since sipping from the little brown bottle, approximately two seconds had passed. By the third second, Desmond was running for the door. Wild manic laughter burst from his mouth as he pumped his legs with purpose. He heard screams and gasps behind him as he ran, but he knew in his heart that he had plenty of time to get away before anyone knew what had just occurred. This was his medicine, and the bad sick had been replaced with the good sick. For a few moments, he felt connected to the rest of the world. He felt needed, and he felt human.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Sam Masters.
Published on e-Stories.org on 20.02.2011.