by Arken Cade
Anson is afflicted with a malady of hyper-awareness and almost loses touch with reality.
As everyone got ready to leave for work, Anson savored as best he could the last few minutes of sleep…light sleep, due to a disturbing malady of being overly aware of the family’s normal morning scurry. Hyper-awareness if there is a name for the condition.
Cereal bowls clinking as stoneware bowls touched each other or the ceramic sink bottom; spoons sliding against other silverware and the gallon milk jug being returned to its shelf in the fridge were the familiar and therefore comforting sounds of family. It was perturbing to realize exactly which clink belonged to whom because he was somehow where they were watching them….while he lay in the bed!
Even two months ago, they were all sitting down to breakfast together and everyone cheery…this family was blessed to be what his Mama termed it as Morning People. No one got up in a bad mood, everyone was pleasant and expectant of a joyful day in whatever direction they had to go. They had given up the full blown, grand slam breakfasts complete with 2 strips bacon, 2 eggs, toast, grits, OJ, milk and coffee….well, had it taken away from them was more like it.
Mama got angry at one of his nearly acquired attacks of morning moodiness and said that’s it, get your own breakfast. This isn’t worth getting up to face anymore. Admittedly, his snide comments and sour expressions were contagious. Before week number three, his siblings were bickering and his dad quit smiling and his mama quit humming her little morning ditties and it was his fault…yep, he owned the morning moods lock, stock and barrel. He liked the little power trip it afforded him. He hated himself for liking it but like it, he really did.
This was the year Mom had gotten lazy or crazy or just obstinate in her old age. It didn’t take much for her to refashion a routine she had been set in for all of Anson’s born days. Selfish might be what she had become…or possessed which is what Anson feared was his own case.
Possessed with some third-rate gremlin that niggled his innards and kept him agitated over little stuff that everyone always blew off and/or ignored in the course of a day. Six weeks ago, Anson could blow off the insignificant stuff but no more.
Gremlin or demon or whatever; maybe his Mom got one too…maybe she had it first and it multiplied somehow and one or more jumped into him when she grabbed his hand as he assisted her off their family boat at the dock that day.
Who the hell knew and who the hell really cared was the 64 dollar question that won’t be asked nor answered. Besides, it made no real sense. His mom didn’t seem changed in temperament or acting totally different. Big Jim was saying he had become short-tempered and completely opposite of the man he hired.
The change seen by Big Jim consisted mainly of this siege of an explosive temper that he could not control although he knew this job was not the place for ill-temper flare-ups or unpredictable moods. If he owned this company, he would have fired a certain someone on the spot. He didn’t know why BJ was so willing to take the chance on him (Later explain he thot it was drugs and he had been an addict)
If Big Jim could know how overwhelming it is to be fully aware of what was happening in each of the solitary lives of his family members, he would be disturbed. This awareness can be described as something on the order of the proverbial “fly on the wall,” (adage, proverbial or cliché”) personally observing his younger brother and sister, mom and dad…more aware than aware…painfully and totally tuned in to all four channels at one time. This was torturous and to complicate matters: he was doing more than just observing them. He was under their skin….a conscious feeling of being embedded as a tick or some parasite with the ability to read thought, sense what the inhabited was sensing in all 5 senses. It was mind boggling, frightening, disgusting, embarrassing and just felt so plain damn wrong.
The condition that was pushing his feelings beyond what he could handle and making him able to feel what they felt, think what they thought and somehow do what they were doing…in some sense but not really; yet the activity was sapping his strength as if he were the one physically expending effort in those tasks.
He tried to assess what all this hyper-sensitivity and awareness meant since it was so different from anything he had had happen in his 21 years….one explanation was just familiarity with the old family routine that drew the pictures so accurately in his mind constructing images with the promptings of a certain sound a certain activity provoked. Yes, that explains it for the most part…but why the light works that popped off with every scene…No, wrong on all of the above, it is not so normal, not so normal at all.
Whatever inhabited him made him able to inhabit his family and he did not want this. He couldn’t let them know he was there when to them he was not…freaky. The only way he could stand himself in the course of a day was to compartmentalize everything and block out what he felt about all of it…or, he could simply make a long step off one of the beams at work and end it all.
The thought stopped his musing. He never had suicidal thoughts other than the time he was flunking algebra in spite of Mom hiring that woman to tutor him. His Dad believed in the belt. He used that belt until the strap marks left blood-blisters. Anson would rather die than get the belt.
The part he could not escape, could not turn off was immensely disturbing to him. In his assessment of this part in an effort to find a solution or come to an understanding, he took stock of the situation. His main objection was that he seemed to be connected unnaturally to each of his immediate family members….and it was extremely embarrassing as no act of theirs was private. He had no control over what thoughts of theirs he was thinking, what emotion they were having was owned jointly by him and he was seeing through their eyes equally with them.
Couldn’t they sense something was not right. That they were not alone and ought to watch what they were doing in front of someone.
The joint-custody of other’s life experience was frustrating and as irritatingly aggravating more than anything the human condition can know and tolerate for long. Back to comparison to a fly…he saw everything in all the dimensions possible and saw them for each family member at the exact moment and all at the same time. An illusion of having multiple lens of a fly and each lens was receiving the images of each family member as if a tiny television screen.
INSERT EACH FAMILY MEMBER THOUGHT AND ACTIVITIY
Deep in his soul, Anson prayed for the endurance needed to wait out this condition which surely would pass away as quickly as it had made an onset. Fear ran in his mouth, reminiscent of a time when he put his tongue on the + and – ends of a 9-volt battery.
It was so far beyond normal that he wondered the only explanation was an evil nature soaking into his psyche as eerily as an out of season fog rolls wetly across a country road from the confines of an abandoned cemetery. He envisioned rusted iron fencing and toppled monuments and high growth of brambles and briars and assorted grasses. He felt the thick, moist air as it enveloped him and seemed to stifle his breathing.
Where could he have picked up a demon, he mused as if wondering where he might have contracted syphilis or anything else dreaded…why would a so-called normal family produce a member whom the devil might want to infect with one of his own.
Stupid question. Why the hell not? Where did that smartcrack come from…Is that me anymore or is it my demon, he wondered.
Anson had carefully explained to his parents that he had to take a few days off his construction job to go to some counseling or he might be in danger of losing the job altogether. He was having temper outbursts and the boss had called him down on it. Sent him on a random drug screen like a common little doper; only thing that made it seem right was that he sent him in his personal truck, a big red Dodge with Ram 3500 displayed on the fender.
As the job foreman and most talented, most productive man on the site, there was a desire on the part of Big Jim Monson to keep Anson Emerson in his employee.
Big Jim wondered what had happened to his protégée. Could easily be a case of burn-out or some stress related malady that can come on a man who is up before dawn and on top of a skyscraper downtown at the crack of day and has personally assigned himself a task of monitoring the ever constant critical measured move of his own steps to include the same responsibility of guarding every step of his entire crew. This was to insure safely getting the job done hundreds of feet in the air and all the men back to safer ground after the day was done.
The crew in the sky made it look easy. Sure it all seemed to go off like clockwork but the whole day was really a carefully orchestrated dance of well trained, skilled workers and the effort of one main caller, the ultimate in a air traffic controller, was the role played by Anson—safety man extraordinaire.
Yep, Big Jim mused, He is far too young and inexperienced for this kind of responsibility and at risk for meltdown, But, he would not forget his own amazement and how he was easily persuaded by the situation to put him in charge of a seasoned crew. The situation being that the man before Anson fell to his death with the misfortune of a single missed step from walking a beam to another 600 feet off the earth. Big Jim needed a replacement and soon or he was going to have to assume the role. It was not that he couldn’t because he could but he was 18 years older than the time when he ran the crew. His timimg was not what it used to be and if he had to think before acting, it could spell another death. He couldn’t react as quickly in thought or deed the way it had to be done. Anson could.
Anson fell into the role like a natural…it was amazing. He quickly gained the trust of the older men on the crew. Big Jim knew all the risks when he made the well thought-out decision to go against his own rule and put Anson head-of-the-pack.
Hell to pay on this one! Seems of late, Anson had popped a cork in the old noodle somehow. Pressure can do that to a man. Divide him to the point where two personalities evolve…but usually the man himself seems whole and operates as one entity.
These days, Anson seemed a Dr Jeckyl, Mr. Hyde, capable of blowing hot one minute and cold the next…really hot or really cold, no in between. With the distinct and radical change in his normal cheerful personality, suspected drug use was the first thought of Selman Thistle who had been on one job or another and always as a sky walker for over 30 years. He had seen em come and seen em go –the way of the drug cult in the wake of the non-existent war on drugs. There weren’t no drug war. Just lip-service of what was being done by society these days to fight drugs was just that in Selman’s opinion. Too much profit in it to fight it.
Selman had gone to Big Jim and suggested a random drug screen, something he had never felt inclined to do with anyone he had ever worked alongside….on the one hand, he was just sick of the unexpected outbursts and confrontations that seemed to be getting more frequent as the weeks rolled and the beams reached higher…there was instability brewing and gut feelings told Selman tragedy was being staged unless it was stopped.
On the other hand, he really liked this kid. If he were using drugs, it would be the ultimate favor to Anson for Selman to have a hand in bringing it to light…maybe. He had seen things like this go both ways, bad and good. No question about it, he was doing everyone a favor if it were simple drug experimentation and simple to stop. How naïve am I he thought….men are simple, my wife says so every chance she gets. I tell her that women complicate things unnecessarily and for no good reason. Women are contentious beasties…and need to harness their tongues...
Men need to be men and keep things as rational and simple as they can to maintain the sanity of anything involving them and their efforts to move forward in life. In Selman’s experience with most women, he found that women don’t seem to want to move on sometimes. They want to pounce on something and expand it and expound on it and make it bigger and more important than it ever needs to be….stall it completely in its tracks and then it does become an issue.
A needless issue and that invites attention that is unwanted and in the end, as has happened twice to Selman, the issue becomes dangerous as a door to something hellish is created. Sort of a modern day Bible story. They don’t realize it anymore than Eve did in the Garden. Women are powerful and that is not always a good thing.
If they would use this power to simplify and cut short confusion, life would move forward at a tolerable speed. To be stopped as pony carts on a racetrack for a length of time, creates a churning of short-circuited energy…and as the adrenalin for the run is subdued, the animals relax and do what animals do….then you have the next level of unnecessary activity as the pony’ pee on the track makes little muddy ruts that will splatter the undercarriage of the buggy and the pony’s bellies and that makes work for the track entourage and the buggy master and the pony grooms….all because somebody slowed the works.
Selman wanted to see the job to completion in the allotted estimated time frame the company had given the main contractors. There was a substantial bonus awarded to an on-time or early finish. He held enough stock this year to care about any reward forthcoming. It was a matter of pride and not to mention to his advantage as he continued to purchase stock in Tall Peaks, Inc yearly. With the end of each job, a sense of accomplishment filled his being as well as a sirloin steak and potatoes meal at Ryan’s; only difference was he had to purchase the meal and an end to a job meant money in his pocket and more shares of stock in Tall Peak, Inc.
He went home that night and wanted to talk to his wife due to the unnerving little remark from Anson. I know what you did, old man. You and I know what you did. I might get you for it. I might not. All depends on how it goes afterward.
A million thoughts were on Selman’s mind…he knew Anson knew he was behind the random drug screen but how. Big Jim had stressed to keep quiet because of the Privacy Act or some damn law thing and he didn’t want trouble for either of them but was going to act on Selman’s suspicion just this once since he was alarmed at how things were turning out.
Anson became at his wit’s end when in the past month, his illusion or new psychic capability which was driving his patience with life to the brink expanded its reach to the men he was in charge of on the job that had his name all over it. He did not like knowing anyone’s interior thoughts and desires and history and future…Oh, God have mercy!
“It”had taken on a new awareness and too much was served up in one moment.
Knowing all the current private information was way too much…the latest development was knowledge of the immediate future of each family member and each crew member….not his boss Big Jim…for some reason, Big Jim was not in the mix.
He felt normal and independent of Big Jim and others in the workaday world such as the truck drivers who came to him on site for material delivery asking where to spot their trailer for off-load. What a relief to still have normal relationships with strangers…he looked forward to strangers…dealing with those closer were becoming a dreaded thing…like getting a shot in the doctor’s office when he was a boy.
Maybe the answer was to move far away. What would this shrink have to say about his problem….should he even tell him? He was not going to believe him and it was hard for Anson to explain it to himself. How was he going to tell a shrink about this case of the crazies that had jumped on him and seemed to consume the old Anson as he morphed into the new Anson….wonder what the finished product would be like….
That guy on TV with the Cat and the newspaper who knew the next days headlines, perhaps? Crap. Anson decided he could no more tell the shrink about the problem and expect to be considered sane than to tell the Man in the Moon. Anson decided to avoid the truth…it was just too strange.
If he couldn’t tell his own mother, how could he tell anyone else…and God forbid, what if he hit it off with the shrink and saw all his private stuff….not to mention his privates and his future. No this idea was too, too overwhelming. How much could a man take before he took his life to escape the abnormal?
Anson decided he needed to go to see Father Al. He had to keep the appointment with the shrink to make Big Jim happy…and possibly keep his job. He had to see Father Al to keep his sanity.
Father Al had sincerely been troubled when Anson decided to drop out of RCIA…there was a sense of real trouble brewing beneath the surface in the clean cut young man who showed up with a friend after an all night bull session at the local college. Anson had been an integral part of the class during the first months of investigation into the Catholic faith…then he began to exchange timid interest and very good question asking to almost spiteful retorts to others questions before Father Al could respond and it set up an atmosphere of hesitation to ask or comment on the topics for the weekly discussions and teachings on the part of the other catechumens. One Thursday, Anson didn’t show. He felt impelled to phone his friend, Mike Daughtery, that he had recently taken a job and could not get back in time to make the class.
Father Al noted that the class resumed its sweet inquisitive, anxious to learn environment and the spirit was immediately lighter and oppression was removed with the absence of Anson.
Father Al knew then that evil was the culprit. If only Anson could find the strength of faith to make it through the course to the time of going through the Rite of Initiation into the church. He would be safe. He could be saved from the clutches of the devil. The Rite of Initiation contains forgiveness for all prior sin and a built-in exorcism.
As it stood now for Anson, he was in danger of losing his spiritual life for all time and eternity. Father Al pointed out to the class that it was always a good idea to pray for others. He began to privately pray for Anson to be healed in all ways; physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.