And as soon as the thought flickered through his mind, he knew he had read that somewhere. Probably from a novel he had read recently. And fuck it, just fuck it all to hell if even that, had not been his original thought. He was losing a little bit more every second now, he knew this, losing another piece of himself as he gave in, no, submitted, to this blinding, white, because that was what it was, white, piercing that rammed through his head and brought him down to his knees.
Asphalt met knees, and damn it if he hadn’t decided to wear his cut off camo pants today. But then that too, became secondary, because nothing else mattered, not even the blinding pain throbbing in his head, as the distorted images whizzed in and out of vision like some twisted, clearly damaged, old films, forcing him, because that’s what it was, a force, he hadn’t asked for it to happen, he didn’t ask to see these…to see, witness, this bizarre strings of events that was happening but not really happening in front of him.
Hands, firm and big, he had missed this, this assuring hands, always like a comfort blanket in uncertain pasts, now grabbing his shoulders, pulling him back up to his feet. If his mind hadn’t been somewhere else, seeing things that he shouldn’t be seeing, this distorted, damaged movie, he bet he could hear his voice too. Concerned and worried, most likely asking him if he was okay.
He was not okay, not by a long shot. You don’t just randomly drop to your knees with head splitting migraine, on your friend’s backyard while you were supposed to be shooting some hoops, and then on top of all that, you saw things others around you couldn’t see. Visions. He was almost afraid to say the word but that’s what it was, a vision and he knew, deep down somewhere in him, knew that if he ever told a soul about it, he’d be wearing the strip jacket and dumped in some asylum because that’s what they’d think of him - crazy, full of shit; and even though he’d been called that a gabillion times before, you’re so crazy full of shit man, this time, he knew would be different. The context, the meaning behind those words, rid of lightly banters and jest and instead full of diagnose, of incrimination and the glare, that look in their eyes telling him that he’d finally lost it, and they’d believe, not of his visions, but of him, being crazy (and full of shit). And that would definitely kill him, the look.
Then it was gone, just like that. Migraine gave way to dizziness and nausea and smell - spring, of the freshly mowed lawn, of sweat and rubber, all invading him at once. The voice, asking him again, if he’s okay.
“Move.” And he was going for the newly trimmed bushes, felt for that split second how sorry he was that it had come down to this, and emptied his stomach. He tried to not make a sound, perhaps for some kind of consolation for most likely damaging his friend’s well trimmed bushes and then knew if he wasn’t so busy puking, he’d laugh at well trimmed bushes because it had sounded…naughty.
When he was done redecorating the bushes with his impromptu projectile vomiting and his eyes regained a decent level of focus, he turned towards his friend, who was still frowning, and the orange basketball tucked under his right arm and this was wrong, but he laughed anyway.
Only Kevin could hold an orange ball in one arm and still looked worried and oh, how he had missed this, the presence of this constantly over bearing, over protective man, the closest he had to an older brother. How for almost a year, a year that was filled with touring together again, after that painfully long hiatus, a year that was supposedly filled with good memories, he had pretended that his friend’s desire to leave the group, to leave him, was a joke. A long time coming joke, a prank Kevin had intended to pull on them, especially him, as a payback for all the pranks he had ever pulled for the last fourteen years.
When he finally left, when it was made official, when the ink was marked above those dotted lines, when he felt as if the weight of the world dropped on his shoulders, he knew he was slowly losing his friend, a man he had come to regard as his brother. Things will never be the same again.
It was also because of this that Kevin had called him the day before, inviting him to his house to hang out. But the invitation wasn’t lost on him, he knew, the reason for the sudden call was because he was worried. It didn’t surprise him, in fact he had the suspicions and just knew, that the other guys had phone conversations with Kevin before this friendly invitation to his house came about. He couldn’t blame any of them though, for this intervention, because part of him was glad, overjoyed, that these guys showed concern over his well being, that it kept on reaffirming his believes that the guys are more than just his work buddies but long time friends, brothers, a relationship forged for the last fourteen years and can never be broken.
But another part of him was scared, because calling Kevin was the last straw, the final option, Plan Z, last trick in the fucking bag. They were scared now, and hopeless, because they suddenly realised they didn’t know what to do with him, and his spastic migraines, and the sudden change in his demeanour, and even though Kevin left, he was still a part of them, forever the final piece in this five part puzzle, and so to him they returned, in hope for an answer, as if Kevin was some God, and yeah, sure, back when he was young and na´ve, he’d thought Kevin must have been some kind of God, because for fuck’s sake, he always, always, seem to have an answer for everything but still, this was uncalled for.
He felt the rush of blood and then the heat on his cheeks, knew he was blushing, either from embarrassment for his little stunt or simply from the exertion of having to throw up when he only had friggin orange juice for lunch.
“Sorry about the bush man,” he offered, waving his hand over his shoulder, to the unfortunate bushes.
“Been wanting to name them, now I know what I’m gonna call it,” Kevin replied lightly as his left shoulder rose for a little shrug, as if having his plants thrown up on was a norm in this household.
“I don’t know what’s troubling me more Kev,” he ventured, knowing his friend, brother, was trying to keep the conversation light, to not go head first into the topic he knew Kevin was desperate to get into. The old Kevin would do that, dive head first without a care when it comes to pressing issues, perhaps this new found leisure, of not having to keep up with the never ending schedules, had made Kevin calmer, to take his time with pressing matters, to still keep that smile on his face at all times. “You naming all your trees and bushes or what you’re going to name the one I just puked on.”
“Puky, a mash of puke and Nicky.” And Kevin ended that with a huge grin on his face, he almost thought he was joking.
He cringed instead, because two can play this game. “It’s not even original dude, and you, are not right in the head.”
“Hey, I’m not the one on my knees clutching my head as if it was going to explode just minutes ago.”
And there it was. He was sure Kevin hadn’t intended for the topic to come out that soon, but there it was, in all its glory, naked and staring back at them both. A fleet of ‘oh fuck’ crossed his face, he was sure of that, before he regained from the shock and tried, even though he knew it was useless, to mask back that nonchalant look.
“I think you managed to skinned your knees there when you decide to re-enact that Incomplete dramatic drop,” Kevin said, finger pointing at the mess of blood and asphalt grains on both kneecaps. “Come on, lets get you inside and maybe I’ll let you have my Disney handy plus.”
He didn’t feel the burning pain until after Kevin had pointed to his knees. He felt four again, running around at the park and falling face first to the course ground. He had gotten up, not feeling a thing, was even thinking of joining his friends again in the chasing game when his mom had stopped him, yanked him by the hand to pull him away from the crowd so she could check him up for any signs of injuries. There were lacerations on both his arms and legs and a nice bruise on his chin. It was while she was nagging, voice rising an octave with every word yelled that he started feeling the pain, his head suddenly achy, the burn behind his eyes before the tears started to leak and then he had whimpered; because it was all he dared to do before mom raised an arm and slapped him on the cheek to stop crying, and that it was his fault in the first place.
“You got a problem with that?”
He shook his head as they made their way back into the kitchen, which was as huge as his room back home. His four-room apartment, which was a quarter of this huge fucking house. He used to have a huge house back then, and then woke up one day and realised it was a waste of space, all of it, because in all honestly, all he ever needed was a bedroom, a living room for his television and playstation and a kitchen where he could plug in a fridge and a microwave (the latter every bachelor's best friend) and stock up on his frozen pizzas and cans of ginger ale, and yeah, beers, of course. So, he had rented out the huge houses, sold the rest, and bought himself a decent apartment and slept easy at night, not having to worry about intruders coming in from the kitchen where it would take him ten fucking minutes to reach from his master bedroom or that annoying drip drip drip sound one of the lose taps leaking drops of water made, and yeah, it was scary as all hell.
“Nope, but there better be Pooh, he’s a Disney right?”
Kevin didn’t say anything, just shook his head as if to say, this kid is unbelievable, and no, he wasn’t using it in the positive form either.
Behind Kevin, slowing down his pace a second, he involuntarily shivered, unsure just how much he was going to spill to this man, his estranged brother, while his mind still reeling at the vision, fucking vision, unsure what that was all about and surely, having a vision, couldn’t be normal and the fact that it had even happened, surreal, even for someone like him, who sometimes still looked under his bed before going to bed at night (and he had no immediate plans to tell anyone this).
One thing he was certain though: this conversation, the one they were surely going to have once the scraps had been cleaned and covered with Pooh and hopefully after swallowing a glass of drink, because visions, apparently, made him thirsty afterward, was going to fuck him right up.