by R.L. Wisdom
I am on a bus with my wife. I am talking to a tourist’s camera; saying, ‘The second time I died was because of a trolley.’
A trolley races past, off its tracks. The front of it misses the bus but by over-compensating our driver clips the rear of the trolley, sending the bus rolling, rolling.
The rolling stops. Everyone is startled for a long moment but people soon begin to move about and collect their bearings. I can begin to hear sirens in the background. Upon reaching the scene, emergency workers start to help passengers loose themselves from the wreckage.
The workers keep walking past me as I lay there, still stunned. This worries me. I have died once before and the way I feel now is eerily familiar….
Living people cannot see dead people. And, being dead, I cannot see dead bodies. My wife asks me what’s going on, so I explain. We walk away from the wreckage and begin traveling down a side street.
I must warn you that, at this point, I am not sure if my wife is dead or not. I do not know myself whether I have been killed in the crash. All logic is suspended.
My wife asks me to walk back down the block to get some napkins from the take-out counter of a restaurant we’ve just passed. There is a cut on her nose.
I turn around and head back. I come to a storefront with a big glass display window. It is there that I become disoriented and almost lose myself in the mirror-like glass. It takes all of my mental faculties what seems like a dozen minutes to extract myself from its reflective pool/pull.
I continue toward the restaurant. When I reach the restaurant I walk in only to find it perfectly empty. It has just opened for business but sadly no patrons have yet wandered in.
I go up to the bar and grab a handful of paper napkins. An old man tending bar turns around, glances in my direction, and nods. I think nothing of it. As I am walking out of the restaurant I notice how immaculately clean and shiny the floors are. It occurs to me that I’ve probably sullied the area at the bar where I was standing, if only for a bit. I walk back and take out a few napkins to wipe it down when the bartender says, ‘Oh, don’t worry about that. I’ll have someone take care of it.’
I nod, walk out, and cross the street. I head back to my wife. As I walk toward her I pass a group of guys walking in my direction. Maybe they’ll go to the restaurant, I think.
One of them calls out my name. It is Adam, a great old friend from college. I hug him and we chat for an instant. I pull him aside and ask him, ‘Are you dead?’
He laughs and tells me, ‘That is an insane question.’ But I tell him about the accident, the trolley, and how I’ve died for now the second time.
He won’t believe me. My wife approaches us. As I begin to introduce her to Adam, he walks away. I tell her about the conversation but she says, ‘I didn’t see you talking to anyone.’
Then I tell her about the mesmerizing display glass and the immaculate shining floor, and about how my sense of reality was generally breaking down. She looks startled and informs me that I never went into any restaurant, only into a vacant building.
I am beginning to lose it, aren’t I? I think I might be tripping acid. I tell my wife that I’m having some sort of acid flashback and that she’ll have to please bear with me.
She says the only thing I’m saying is, ‘But we’re dead. But we’re dead.’ Over and over. That’s what she says but I don’t believe her. We’re not dead, are we?