I am in the high desert of Lancaster, north of Los Angeles. The air is so dry I am poppin' and buzzin' with static electricity. I feel like the moisture in my body has been sucked right out. My eyeballs are dry and scratchy. I am ready to disintegrate into dust at the slightest push. Or spontaneously combust.
Big Dog's Big Brother underwent emergency surgery day before yesterday. An untreated hernia problem got worse. Much worse. But the surgery went well and Big Brother should be able to go home in a week to ten days. Still, it was only 2 days since the major operation and Big Bro was in a lot of discomfort from all the tubes and pins and straps, not to mention the pain from the operation and a cough that made the pain worse.
"And there's all this noise," Big Bro wheezes.
"At least you've got some white noise to drown it out," Big Dog whispers, cocking his head towards the window.
Big Bro is sharing a room with someone, snoring fairly loudly but rhythmically, beyond the thin beige curtain.
"Did you see him?" grimaces Big Bro's wife. "He's all covered in tattoos...he got shot in the stomach."
Someone who was shot in the stomach is right there? A mere couple of feet away? I have to look. I'm from Japan. Nobody ever gets shot.
Hoping he won't suddenly wake up and freak out at me, I edge myself closer and peek in. He's a young-ish man with words tattooed on his stomach. It's covered just enough by a sheet to render it undecipherable. He's kind of good looking. He looks like.....Tupac Shakur? It's hard to tell if he looks like a man who was recently shot in the stomach, but obviously, he is still alive, so if it was an intentional shooting, won't the bumbling assassins come after him again? Will it be while we're visiting Big Bro? I hold back the urge to peel his sheets back so I can read his chest and stomach, to see if there are any clues.
After dinner, Big Dog and I go back to the hospital to see how Big Bro is doing. He's looking much better and is much more talkative. The TV is on. I can tell it's on the National Geographic Channel by the yellow box in the corner. The World Trade Center towers are in smoke. We cut to President Bush in the school room. Deer in headlights. The scene we've seen over and over again.
Tupac is awake behind the beige curtain.
"I've got another chair here," he offers to Big Dog.
"Thanks, but it's okay. We don't have all the tubes and stuff coming out of us like you guys do," Big Dog jokes.
Tupac laughs back and says something.
"Gall stones? Ouch," Big Dog says back.
"Gall stones? Gall stones? That guy next to Big Bro had an operation for gall stones? But I thought Big Bro's wife said that he was shot in the stomach?" I am incredulous that I just believed her, without a shred of doubt.
"That was just her 'projecting.'"
Sheesh. And here I was, getting paranoid about a violent scene in room 210, with more injury, blood and possibly a few more gun shots!
But wait, I think, as I brush my teeth. Why do I now believe Tupac, just as completely as I did Big Bro's wife? Maybe it wasn't gall stones. Maybe it was gall bullets
. Maybe he was only saying that to appear "normal" in front of us. Big Bro's wife was probably "projecting" but why should I believe anything anybody says anymore?! What is truth anyway?!?
The air is so dry, I think all rationality has been sucked out of my brain.